Once upon a time, whenever "London" and "food" were used in the same sentence, it was typically to say something along the lines of: "London has such bad food" or "London is not a good food city at all."
Well, times are a-changing because not only is London a great food city, it is arguably one of the best food cities in the world. Yes, the entire, massive world. You heard it here first-ish. The bad food stigma has faded and been replaced by renowned chefs, trendy restaurants and just plain old darn good food.
During my time living in London, I had a number of meals I loved and a bunch I didn't love so much, just like in many other cities. More often than not, though, I really enjoyed what I ate. In my subsequent trips to the UK since moving back to the U.S., I've continued to have great food experiences, with my last trip this past November being my favorite food experience so far. My family and I ate very well during our five days in London, so I figured instead of a general daily recap of our trip, I'll give you a daily food highlights recap from London. Starting with Day 1...
Our first day in London also happened to be the day we discovered something very dangerous - Sainsbury's Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate cookies. Yes, grocery store cookies. But they are so gooood. I'm not going to say how many packages of these cookies we ate during our time in London but it was definitely more than one. And it was worth it.
I also had fantastic pre-dinner cocktails with friends at The Bling Pig at Social Eating House. This speakeasy-esque bar serves up inventive and pretty-to-look-at drinks in addition to small bites. I'm a gin cocktail lover, so I went straight for a gin drink followed by a fruity concoction made with ginger. Both were fantastic and the space itself is cozy and a great place to spend a few hours.
For dinner, my family and I headed to the May Fair Kitchen in Mayfair, which serves up Spanish and Italian small plates. We tried many things, but in particular we loved the patatas bravas with garlic and paprika, the gambas al pil pil, the seared tuna with caponata and the orange and avocado salad. This place is a great stop if you find yourself in the neighborhood and is right next to the very popular May Fair Bar.
No trip to London is complete for me without a visit to my beloved Borough Market. There are so many vendors to choose from, and I strongly believe one shouldn't limit yourself to just one vendor, but the first stop for me is always Kappacasein for the toasted cheese sandwich. I've been eating that sandwich for about six years now, and it never fails to put me in cheesy bliss. Another favorite from Borough is the paella! I had never tried it before this last trip, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted. It's officially been added to the list of favorites. And, lastly, there's Greedy Goat, which makes amazing ice cream from goat's milk (apparently lower in fat and calories than regular cow's milk ice cream). The flavors are deliciously unique and well worth trying.
For dinner, my family and I were very indecisive and strolled around Soho until we came upon Bibigo. I'm not sure what made us end up going for Korean food, but I'm so glad we did. For anyone looking for something different (but still delicious) to eat, head here. This place is very reasonably priced and also happens to have great drinks and food. In particular, I loved the Korean vegetable pancakes, deep fried marinated chicken, traditional bulgogi and bossam. We left so happy that we made the decision to give Bibigo a go.
We started our third day in London with a full English breakfast at a pub that, quite honestly, was the most lackluster meal of our trip, so I'm going to skip over that one.
Instead, I'm going to include a place I love that I didn't actually get to visit this last trip but highly recommend – Duck & Waffle. Located in the Heron Tower on the 40th floor, this 24/7 restaurant has great food AND great views. The must-try dish is the signature duck and waffle, but I also suggest the more adventurous spicy ox cheek doughnut with apricot jam and smoked paprika sugar.
As for nighttime, one of my mom's favorite (or should I say favourite) places in London is the famous Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club. They have an impressive lineup of musicians (not all of them jazz musicians) and they serve great food and cocktails like their popular espresso martini. It's a place we always visit anytime I'm in London with my family.
On the fourth day, we ended up grabbing an orange and oatmeal scone, brioche and mushroom and goat cheese danish from Ottolenghi on our way to Buckingham Palace. All of them amazing.
For lunch, we decided to forgo the usual lunch meal and instead do an afternoon tea. Through Groupon, we got a great deal for Galvin at the Athenaeum, which included traditional afternoon tea with champagne. This was likely my fifth or sixth time doing afternoon tea in London, and I can easily say Galvin at the Athenaeum was one of my favorites. The atmosphere is decidedly more modern but the sandwiches and pastries are really good and the champagne comes in beautiful flutes. It was a great way to do something traditionally British in a not-so-traditional yet still fancy atmosphere.
Dinner was one of our favorite highlights of the entire trip. Thanks to Yelp, my hangry family and some fast decision making, we ended up at The Grenadier, one of the cutest pubs in London, where the British pub food is seriously good. We ate fish and chips, bangers and mash, scotch eggs, a massive burger with chips and, of course, drank pints (and maybe some half pints) of beer and cider.
For our final day in London, we grabbed breakfast at Pont St, which has some of the best eggs I've ever tasted. And I eat eggs approximately every four hours. I actually originally ordered yogurt and granola but you can get that anywhere. Go here and get the eggs.
Not far from Pont St that is also a must-visit is Dominique Ansel Bakery. For starters, there is NO line for the cronut. I just don't think the British are that excited about it, which means more for you. In New York, the cronut is still a hot commodity and sells out regularly, but in London they are just sitting there, waiting for you to buy them.
And because we loved our Ottolenghi pastries so much, we returned there for a healthy and delicious lunch (balanced with a not-so-healthy but still delicious double chocolate cookie). Highlights included the vegetable quiche, roasted aubergine and cauliflower.
So, there you have it – highlights from our five days of eating in London. There are so many fantastic restaurants and meals in this city that I now think anyone who says they didn't have great food in London must be lying. Or maybe you really did not have great food, in which case you should write down all the places mentioned in this blog post and return to London as soon as possible.
Do you have any favorite places to eat in London?