Just as underwear is the new outerwear, making a good impression en plein air is the hottest new trend. During this season that still dares to call itself summer, despite constant deluges of the wet stuff, some people are just too cool to care about raindrops dripping down backs of necks and frizzled coiffeurs – no matter how much Moroccan oil you lovingly apply.
The trick is finding that halfway house of mezzo al fresco where you can be in out, in out and shake it all about. An outdoor patch with a bit of cover might be too much to wish for, but intrepid hunting reveals a number of places where you can emulate the Great British Barbecue and eat and drink out-of-doors under umbrellas or awnings.
The Crayson hey presto, mezzo al fresco guide reveals Ottolenghi in Ledbury Road, where a small metal bench and two matching chairs perch jauntily out front. Close enough for that mad dash indoors when the heavens erupt, there’s that added bonus of observing all who cross the cake and salad emporium’s threshold.
Up the road, Beach Blanket Babylon makes a resounding semi-splash with pretty round tables, wooden chairs with cushions, bay trees, awnings – and even a heater to get you through the most unpredictable summer nights. And, nearby Melt provides a round table, chairs and highchairs for young and old bent on hovering outdoors when indulging a passion for high-grade chocolate.
202 has always managed to please hardy adventurers that will turn up no matter what the weather’s doing with plenty of tables and wicker chairs in its garden out back. Not to be outdone, Daylesford, a new entry in Crayson’s mezzo al fresco Hall of Fame, provides smart grey metal tables and tables safe and dry under generous awnings. And, a hidden secret is Tom’s round tables and stools on a small rear terrace behind the café.
Meanwhile, The Grocer and Mr Christians in Elgin Crescent and Café Respiro in Kensington Park Road supply outdoor seating, with the promise of internal warmth and comfort when showers threaten to water down cups of cappuccino and turn croissants soggy.
Don’t forget Osteria Basilico, with its famous antipasto dal buffet, where you can sit out front and watch the great and good from Notting Hill pass by. And, for those wishy-washy, will-it-or-won’t-it moments, Kitchen & Pantry’s voluminous windows can be slid open or closed at the flick of a Polish waitress’s wrist after checking Met Office’s latest forecast on a smartphone.