The Wet Fish Café: Not your typical English breakfast


Rating: 8/10

Address: 242 West End Lane
West Hampstead. London, NW6 1LG

Tube: West Hampstead (Jubilee line)
5 minutes by foot

Hours: Mon 12:00–23:00;
Tue-Sun 10:00-23:00

Price: Food £2-18. Drink £3.50-6

Official Website

By Daria Dergacheva

What are the techniques of travel journalists who try to find a good local restaurant? 

Right: to open your eyes and ears, to look where locals eat and create a bit of craziness. So why not do the same in London neighborhoods? Board a tube, pick a station, and wander around without purpose or destination.

This is how I found The Wet Fish café. 

A West Hampstead café

It’s a small restaurant in the middle of West Hampstead, a district mostly populated by families, yummy mummies and various types of nannies. Read more on West Hampstead.

These locals were surprisingly unanimous in choosing this small, darkish-from-the-outside venue, which is currently replete with disturbingly loud construction noises.

A sign on the door says: “the modern British café”. The interior has been transformed from a local fish shop, with Art Deco tiled walls and a brick bar. As the café's website describes it, the building was a classic wet fish shop for most of the 1900s.

I picked a distant corner table, to sit and observe the crowd and try to sneakily photograph the food, little details and the menu.


At first, the prices seemed just a bit over the budget... I ordered a breakfast salad (£7.50) and Americano (£2.20) and this was about twice of what I usually spend on my student lunch. 

But when the salad arrived (10 minutes later), I thought that I might have just travelled somewhere else, far from Britain. 

Anyone would agree that when thinking about typical British food, or – even better – breakfast, it’s usually something greasy. Eggs and bacon, and sausage, and beans, and hash browns, and... not exactly the definition of ‘healthy’ or ‘light’.  

In the morning, you wash it down with a cup of coffee, in the evening – with ale.  But this breakfast, or rather brunch, was the opposite of ‘English’.

Avocado, spinach, feta, tomato, herbed scrambled eggs and brown toast.

The whole menu is composed with that light, healthy food that will save you any guilt trips you might have about your diet. Surprisingly, the ‘healthy’ can also be tasty, which is exactly what my breakfast salad was.

Special deals

The downside is that, in spite of all the healthy eating benefits, the menu is not cheap.

But there are special offers.

One such offer is the ‘Early Bird Deal’, which gets you two main courses for £15 if dining before 8pm. I haven't tried them, but ‘scallops fettuccine with Jerusalem artichoke and butter-sage sauce’ sounds as if it’s worth it. 

There are also little details that are – or could be – a nice addition to the dining option.  As the café's website says, they do live jazz nights, and there is currently a small exhibition of oil paintings of a young London artist named Kinga Markus.

Read about a foodie blogger experience in the Wet Fish café