MELROSE AND MORGAN, HAMPSTEAD

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I’m proud of myself. Proud of myself for not having plonked myself in the first cafe I came to, Gail’s. I mean absolutely no disrespect to this lovely little chain of bakeries. On any other day it might have been the destination of choice, but, by casting my net a little wider, quashing the lazy voices in my head and wandering just that bit further I happened upon Melrose and Morgan.

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The modest sign ‘grocery store’ that adorns the entrance belies the treasure trove inside. Grocery store to the gods perhaps. If only I could fill my food cupboards with Melrose and Morgan. This gorgeous space is a feast for the eyes. A bounty of pure, unadulterated, quality produce that nestles alongside the most indulgent ingredients and the ultimate ready meals.

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Sympathetic lighting, exposed brickwork and generous tasters are the icing on the cake. Of course you could protect your purse, pay for the inevitable purchase and run, but if you want to linger a little longer, this branch in Hampstead has the perfect solution. The beautiful balcony that nestles above the shop offers you the chance to sample bits from downstairs. Fill a basket or pick from the salad counter and a few hot dishes.

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I mulled over my choices for longer than is probably normal but eventually settled for a soup, salad and a last minute impulse packet of Leighton Brown beetroot, horseradish and dill crisps. The soup was a 10/10 hug in a bowl. Tomato and basil with a healthy dose of garlic it was delicious. The orzo and herb salad wasn’t as punchy but the crisps over-delivered on flavour. It was the height of self-indulgence, my snatched moment alone, not rushing anywhere, not worrying about anything, eyes roving a veritable foodie nirvana.

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There’s another branch in Primrose Hill which I’m confident will be just as lovely so swing by if you’re ever close. They do some delicious-sounding picnic packages that are another perfect way to sample their wares in the sunshine.

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