Clockwise from top: food options abound at Brent Cross; Youmesushi for light bites; Three offers waiter service at Fenwick; creamy dreamy Patisserie Valerie; thirstquenching ShakeTastic keep young shoppers from a full-scale meltdown. For those shopping after work or at children’s bedtime, the restaurants in the food court stay open an hour after closing time — so you can celebrate your spoils with a proper sitdown meal.
If you’ve exhausted north-west London’s boutiques and eateries and have moved on to Westfield London at Shepherd’s Bush, you will encounter a few outlets where you may not have snacked before.
Australian export Boost Juice bar offers a healthy start in the form of “brekkie to gogo”. The super-smoothie of whizzed up muesli, banana, honey, skimmed milk and vanilla yoghurt should be enough to jet-propel you round the stores, especially once they’ve added an “energiser” of minerals and herbs including ginseng, chlorella and wheatgrass.
For something slightly more hedonistic, try Le Pain Quotidien’s filled croissants, organic porridge, breads and breakfast pastries. The healthysounding quinoa and spelt scone was less righteous than expected — sharing a plate, as it did, with mini pots of cream ( sssh) and jam. It was admittedly very good.
Balans Soho Society is an edgy option for a range of breakfasts, from smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, avocado and sourdough toast to kedgeree or a Swiss Cheese omelette or French toast with warm maple butter.
There are various streetfood-style counters on the Balcony at the centre. Try saintly salads from Tossed, where you can pick and mix your leaves and lentils with more exciting options like grilled haloumi. Or for a Middle Eastern snack, Comptoir Libonais (Lebanese Canteen) offers wraps and salads plus platters of hummus, falafel and other mezze dishes.There is also Chip and Fish (no prizes for guessing what this one offers); Pho, the Vietnamese noodle bar; Indigo for Indian street food; and Square Pie, offering pie and mash, mushy peas and other trad English nosh; plus Japanese, Mexican and Chinese options and a tapas bar. All are self-service; you may need sharp elbows to snag a table but the food is tasty.
Lighter lunchers may prefer a stylish sandwich at New Zealand-styled coffee bar Sacred, which serves up fab coffee and gorgeous cakes and filled breads on the ground floor. For a calmer experience, head for the Southern Terrace, where all restaurants have indoor and outdoor tables facing the grassy planted wall — which will be all sparkly for the festive season. There will also be an ice rink, which could entertain the husband and kids while you get on with some serious shopping.
Children will also be wowed by the brightly coloured sit-on scooters at ice cream and milkshake bar Joe Delucci’s. It’s adjacent to a small play area — but be warned, all the stores in that area will have them writing Chanucah lists on the spot.
Good luck out there. However you get on with the gift-hunting, you won’t go hungry.