With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to wrap up our final Table Talk of 2019 than with a floral flourish and family-food extravaganza…may we welcome to the table Lil Caldwell and Mary Wood, founders of Grandirosa Floral Design Studio. After waving goodbye to their corporate careers in law and marketing five years ago, duo Lil and Mary wanted to embrace change, follow their creativity and strike a better balance between work and family life – Grandirosa was born. From working up weekly floral masterpieces for The Ned and Kettner’s to wowing guests at events for the likesof Annabel’s and Burberry, everything is most certainly coming up roses for Lil and Mary. Alongside Grandirosa, Mary is mum to Leo (5), Molly (3) and Emmy (10 weeks) and Lil is Mum to Roddy (1.5). When the girls are not working their magic with flora and fauna in their East London studio, they can be found brunching, munching and moseying around London with their broods.
From Eastern treats including Mare Street Market and Pophams Bakery to West London date night dinner spots, join us as we tuck into Lil and Mary’s little black book of family feasting across London…
1. I’d like a table for…
L: Two at Colbert in Sloane Square. For Mary and I to unwind after a long day at Chelsea Flower Show where we’re always kept busy in May. It’s old school and unpretentious – the most authentic French bistro in London.
M: Two at Roka, Charlotte Street – a proper treat night in town. And if I can really daydream then a table for Lil and I at Juan y Andrea in Formentera, a short boat ride across from Ibiza – to take us back to our 20s!
2. Early-birds catch the coffee at…
L: I count myself lucky that Popham’s Hackney outpost opened opposite my house this Summer, so it couldn’t be easier for me to grab a good flat white en route to nursery.
M: The wonderful Tala on Shacklewell Lane. They’re a couple of doors down from our studio – we wouldn’t get quite so much done without their delicious coffee – always served with a smile too!
3. Best brunch with kids?
L: For special occasions, you can’t beat The Ned’s Sunday brunch ‘Feast’. The food is heavenly and caters for everyone in the family – the Bloody Mary cocktail corner is the icing on the cake!
M: Jim’s Cafe Clapton is great fun and great food all served up inside a former ice cream factory on Chatsworth Road. Big booths mean lots of room for the whole brood!
4. Children’s menu must-visits…
L: We’re regulars at the Frog Prince music class at Hackney City Farm – and the food at Frizzante Cafe there is always a winner. Ingredients are all either grown in the gardens or sourced locally from small suppliers so you know there’s no nasties!
M: Bella Vita on Broadway Market. It’s always chaotic but the kids are really catered for and made to feel welcome, so it’s relaxing as a parent too.
5. Where do you grab a bite with mums en masse?
L: Mare Street Market has become a bit of a staple as there’s so much room and a nice relaxed vibe – but when summer comes around, you can’t beat a picnic in London Fields.
M: E5 Bakehouse is a firm favourite, they don’t seem to hate you for bringing a pram in – which is always a bonus!
6. Hidden gem for treating tiny ones?
L: Not exactly a hidden gem, but if you want to escape London, The Crown at Bray is wonderful fun with kids. They have a glorious garden and even run seasonal activities for wee ones.
M: You can’t go wrong with Lily Vanilli, just off Columbia Road. For treating the kids – and myself! The cakes are out of control.
7. Best piece of advice for dining out with kids?
L: We don’t go anywhere without my son’s Ponchlin. Stylish but practical – it is a total lifesaver.
M: Order something you can eat with one hand! Or no hands…
8. Date night – takeaway or take me out?
L: Take me out! Preferably to Scott’s…
9. My earliest food memory…
L: I’m from Ireland, so I can honestly say that it’s potatoes – and they’re still my favourite part of any meal.
M: Heinz tomato soup. It’s my No 1 cupboard staple to this day, a true saviour for hungry Mums when the kids are napping and you haven’t got much food in!
10. Five mums, one table – who’s joining you?
L: Mary, of course, my sister who lives in Sydney and I don’t get to see nearly enough of, Princess Diana, Pandora Sykes and Natalie Massanet.
M: So many of my friends have become the most amazing mums in the last few years so I’d actually have to up the headcount to 10 to squeeze them all in, along with my mum and my sister.