On a largely residential street, tucked away from throbbingly busy Ladbroke Grove and Portobello Road, St Helen’s appears to cater solely to in-the-know locals. Regulars are greeted warmly, and the café’s mix of Italian and British dishes, as well as its packed shelves of dry and fresh deli items, keeps them coming back.
On our visit, a couple of hot bakes and savoury pastries, as well as four or five interesting salads, were available for lunch. We opted for a portion of parmigiana accompanied by rocket, dolcelatte and walnut salad, as well as that Sicilian favourite, arancini balls. While there wasn’t enough meat, sauce or flavour in the latter, the parmigiana’s tangy tomato and firm aubergine compensated.
The cake choice is plentiful, ranging from a slightly wet brownie to voluptuous bread and butter bake. The small interior is lacklustre, but the pleasant outdoor seating makes this a sunny-day destination.