Forget Carnaby Street. Her much lesser known little sister round the corner- Foubert’s Place – is much more interesting. Especially if you appreciate chocolate. Or Hawaiian burgers. Or mobile phone cases covered in sequined pineapples.
Start at flamboyant artisan chocolate boutique Choccywoccydoodah (yes, Choccywoccydoodah) at Number 30-32. Think white chocolate love birds with red hearts on their bellies and fluttering dark cocoa eyelashes; choccywoccysauruses, dipped ginger, dark chocolate violet creams and chocolate popcorn lollies drizzled with jelly babies. I can never leave without buying a packet of their milk chocolate fudge in a brown paper bag, and I also recommend their chocolate ducks inside a reusable mould (you can buy the extra chocolate in store – duck is £9.99). The craftsmanship and colour of the pricier pieces is extraordinary; the chocolate animals are so detailed at first glance they look like taxidermy.
They also do marshmallow pyramid cakes that drip with Belgian chocolate ganache and tilt to one side – like something that would form the centrepiece at the Mad Hatter’s tea party (starting at £34.99).
Upstairs, there’s a ‘Bar du Chocolat’ cafe with pom-pom-plastered lampshades protuberating from the ceiling. Try the spicy ginger drinking chocolate with chocolate straw (£4.49) or the chocolate Guinness cake (the owner’s favourite) served layered with white truffle (£5.99). Be prepared to queue at weekends.
A ‘secret garden’ upstairs decorated with fake grass and mismatched garden chairs is available to hire – £300 for 10 people, including all food and drink (strawberry champagne milkshake anyone?).
At Number 8 is one of my favourite fashion boutiques in London, Dahlia, run by sisters Tracey and Leigh, who started out at Portobello market before catching the eye of the buyers of Topshop, and then finally opening their own boutique.
Their pieces have a are fresh, flouncy, English and finely detailed – think powder-blue play suits with frilled capes, and marbled-effect flap bags decorated with the face of a cat. Prices are very reasonable: accessories starting at £25 and clothing between £50-£100+.
For coin purses made from cork and pineapple-charm-encrusted bumbags, and multicolour-tassled handbags finished with floral embroidery, head to Skinnydip London at Number 6.
For such quirky, thoughtful options, prices are fantastic, with lots of options around in the £20-£30 category. Also check out the zany mobile phone covers, decorated with everything from flamingo glitter sequins to pink fur.
Upscale ladies fashion shop AQ/AQ at Number 12 is worth a nosey for eye-catching cuts, intriguingly twisted fabrics and detailed tailoring. This place is great for LBD shopping around the £100-£200 mark, with pieces inspired by Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel.
There’s a little clutch of sports boutiques on Foubert’s Place too. DESCENTE LONDON is at Number 14-16 – think Sweaty Betty for ski lovers, and a colourful range of running and cycling gear.
There’s also an Adidas Originals at Number 15, which has transformed sportswear nostalgia into a lucrative niche two-floor enterprise, and LDN19 Pro-Direct at Numer 19 has a kaleidoscopic range of football shoes, that float in illuminated glass cases like historical artefacts.
Cafe Pronto is fine for a snack or tea at some point; more exciting is Kua’Aina for Hawaiian burgers at Number 26.
Think beef from Devon topped with pineapple, avocado and Huli Huli rub, encased in brioche buns baked each morning by a Michelin-starred chef. I also love the chilli cheese fries – order plenty of jalapenos on top.
Shinola at Number 28 sells an interesting combination: watches and bicycles – though I guess it’s dangerous to be whipping out your iPhone to check the time when you’re caning it up the Bayswater Road.
For waxed jackets and quilted jackets and country wear, Barbour at Number 29 is second to none. Lots of genteel accessories here too, from tartan golf umbrellas to cashmere scarves.
Why not end your Foubert’s Place outing at the Cowshed at Number 31.
Think if Cath Kidston made spas – country-kitchen-chic with bowls of lemons on weathered tables and bunches of lavender in jugs. An express 15-minute facial is £35, and they do sumptuous evening primrose body wraps (£120), as well as speedy manicures (£35).