Books for Cooks is an oddity. Odd in that it only provides one serving of food per day. Odd in that I’ve been turned away because it’s full more times than I’ve actually managed to eat there and I’m still willing to endorse it. And odd because it only charges a fiver for a two-course meal of gourmet grub even though it is situated in the iconic and generally pricey vicinity of the Portobello Road Market.
The daily crowd know how good a deal they are getting and as such competition for seats is stiffer than at a professional game of Musical Chairs. Lunch – and oh what a lunch it is – is served at midday, which means you have to arrive by 11:45 at the latest if you want to secure a table.
There is no telling what will be on the menu each day apart from that Tuesday’s meal will be vegetarian and Friday’s will include fish. Being that Books for Cooks is one of London’s best-stocked cookery book shops, the chefs, who pick a side and main from their kitchen library each day, have a whole world of dishes to choose from. Generally speaking, if you acquire a table you can expect to enjoy a fresh seasonal salad and a top quality main with matching sauce and side.
Get there early – you won’t regret it!