Crockford Bridge Farm
New Haw Rd, Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 2BU (01932 853886/ www.crockfordbridgefarm.co.uk). Addlestone rail. 10am-5.30pm Mon, Wed, Sun; 10am-6pm Tue, Thur-Sat.
A huge garden centre near Weybridge that incorporates: a farm shop, café, gelateria (the ices made with own-grown fruits), beehive, playground and 75 acres of picking fields. On our recent visit, the glut of Sonata strawberries was almost obscene. Through July feast on berries, beans, carrots, courgettes, beets and mange tout.
Garsons at Esher
Winterdown Rd, Esher, Surrey, KT10 8LS (01372 464389/ www.garsons.co.uk). Esher rail then 515 bus. 9am-6pm Mon-Sat; 9am-5pm Sun.
The Thompson family have managed 155 acres in Esher since 1871, and for the last 29 years they’ve run what they claim is the most extensive picking farm in the country. It’s not organic but they use a minimal amount of pesticides, preferring biological methods. Some 40 crops of fruit and vegetables mean you need to arrive with a plan of attack.
Heathfield Farm, Coombe Lane, Croydon, CR0 5RH (01883 743636). Coombe Lane tram or East Croydon rail then 466 bus. 9.30am-5.30pm daily.
Small but more central than some, this farm only has a couple of crops, so call ahead to find out what is currently being picked.
Hewitts Rd, Orpington, Kent, BR6 7QR (01959 534666/ www.hewittsfarm.co.uk). Orpington rail then R3 bus or Knockholt rail then ten mins walk. 9am-5.30pm daily.
A footpath leads from Knockholt rail station over the golf course to 78 acres of family-run farmland with a shop and picking fields. Berries, courgettes, spinach and beans are available throughout July, but the expected bumper crop of 13 eating apple varieties will keep the pickers coming into the autumn.
Home Cottage Farm
Bangors Rd South, Iver Heath, Bucks SL0 0BB (01753 653064/ www.homecottagefarm.co.uk). Uxbridge tube then 58 bus. 2-5pm Tue-Thur; 11am-5pm Sat, Sun.
Opening from late July for picking, this farm shop is run by the friendly Hinde family who keep bees and encourage bats and birds. Noisy gaggles of guinea fowl and turkeys will greet your arrival and follow your movements as you wander among the gnarly old apple and plum trees.
Hadley Rd, Enfield, Middx, EN2 8LA (8367 2035/ www.parksidefarmpyo.co.uk). Cockfosters tube or Gordon Hill rail then W8 bus. 9am-5pm Tue-Sun.
FARMA (National Farmers’ Retail & Markets Association) has awarded Enfield’s Parkside Farm the best PYO award for several years. Picking here is made easy. Pluck strawberries from tabletops then get cream (and honey) to eat them with in the shop. Around 20 different crops ripen through the seasons.
Birchwood Rd, Wilmington, Dartford, Kent DA2 7HD (01322 669711/ www.stanhillfarm.co.uk). Bexley rail then 233 bus. 9am-5.30pm Mon-Sat; 10am-4pm Sun.
Specialising in vegetable box delivery, this farm and shop down Dartford way opens certain fields for pickers, depending on crop availability. Call ahead to find out what’s ripe.
La Bodega Negra (restaurant)
The neon sign outside reads ‘sex shop’; the mannequin in the entrance wears a PVC gimp suit. But the real excitement begins when you descend the stairs into the bowels of this nightclub-like restaurant. It’s so dark and loud you’ll need a moment to adjust (the light bulbs have been blacked out). By comparison, the homely Mexican cooking can feel run-of-the-mill, though effort is put into presentation. On our visit, soft flour tacos with a tender beef filling arrived beautifully arranged on a specially designed wooden board; a crunchy cheese and roasted tomato quesadilla was served ‘open’; pinto beans with a spicy chorizo kick came in a dinky glazed bowl. The real highlight was the dish least concerned with its own looks: a rich lamb shank in intensely dark juices. Seafood cazuela (a one-pot dish like a wet paella), containing clams, squid, prawns and mussels, was creamy, tangy and perfectly fine, though not especially memorable. Factor-in the small portions and two-hour table limits (though you can decamp to the bar), and you might wonder what the fuss is all about. But that would be missing the point. You come here to see and be seen, and for a thrilling atmosphere and exceptionally friendly service. A must-try. La Bodega Negra also have a cafe round the other side (entrance on Moor St).
Venue says: “Get 50% off food Sunday to Wednesday if you dine before 7pm. Book using the code 'Frida'.”