As I write this, I am feeling (dare I say) that I need a break from food. Yes, you read that correctly. I, Greedy Guts, have over-indulged one too many times recently and am in serious need of a healthy eating binge.
I am currently visiting London for work and, when I’ve not been working, I’ve been squeezing in as much sight-seeing and food discoveries as I can, which is to say that I’ve been over-indulging. I’ve not had time to leave Central London so my discoveries have been confined to that area. London has so many options that I am over-whelmed with narrowing down my selections but here are some of the places that I’ve visited over the past week:
Flat White Coffee Shop (Soho):
I can’t rave about this place enough. Flat White refers to a type of coffee that you can get Down Under and this place really excels in producing fine cups of java, served alongside golden, flaky pastries, or hearty, affordable breakfasts. Flat White reminds me of the Melbourne coffee shops that we visited in Australia. The café is quite grungy and the staff are super-chilled as they deliver your coffee to the table. They also have a sister café called Milk Bar, not far from this Soho location.
Simple, but delightful, scrambled eggs with toast from Flat White.
Jamie’s Italian (Covent Garden):
Everyone reading this blog knows by now that I love Jamie Oliver, but even I was a little hesitant to try this place as I usually don’t have a lot of hope for chain restaurants (there are 30 “Jamie’s Italian” in the UK alone). But being such a fan, I had to go, and it was everything I thought it would be: mediocre-to-good food in a busy, rushed space. Although the pasta was decent and the risotto consistency was bang-on, I couldn’t help but feel that the liberal splashes of truffle oil were masking a lack-lustre end product. Ah well, not badly priced at only about £7 each. And yes, I still love my man Jamie.
Wild mushroom cilindretti pasta pillows from Jamie’s Italian.
Wild truffle risotto from Jamie’s Italian.
Gail’s Artisan Bakery (Soho):
You can ignore what I just said about not liking chains when I talk about Gail’s. Gail’s is an artisan bakery chain that I stumbled upon during my walks around Soho and was immediately attracted by the cupcake display in the window. As I walked through the door, I was immediately surrounded by loaves of crusty bread, colourful quiches, golden pastries, and of course, those incredible cupcakes. I’m really excited by this place! It’s the type of bakery I’d love to see back in Vancouver.
Vanilla and raspberry cupcake from Gail’s – amazing!
Burger and Lobster (Mayfair):
When a place has a queue and an almost 2 hour wait on a Tuesday night, you know it must be good. Thankfully, by being solo, I was able to squeeze in at the bar and was seated almost immediately. This place does only three things; a burger, lobster (done two ways), and a brioche sandwich stuffed with lobster and Japanese mayo. Every dish is the same price, £20. I couldn’t pass up an order of the lobster sandwich. It was decadent and rich and worth every pound (money-wise, and weight-wise). The space is hella noisy and extremely busy. Plan ahead.
Lobster sandwich from Burger and Lobster.
Busaba Eathai (Soho):
This mod-Thai restaurant is part of a chain (what is it about chains?!) but one I’ve been back to three times now. I got lured in the first time by their creamy, aromatic red lamb curry. Since then I’ve returned and have been slightly disappointed by each subsequent dish since that original curry. I’ve only had curries there (red lamb, green chicken, and jungle curry) so I’d like to try some of the noodle or rice dishes. Prices are pretty good, with almost all dishes under £10. Very chic interior and the communal tables are very “Wagamama”. Too dark inside for good photos.
Laduree (Covent Garden):
OK, seriously, I don’t see the big deal about these macarons. I was ecstatic to find the store in Covent Garden and got my sought-after macarons. As I bit into them…disappointment reigned down. I even attempted to love them again in Paris, the home of the famous store, but nope. I’m not converted. In fact, I’m kinda over macarons.
On my first night in fair London, I visited Nopi on a recommendation. Nopi is apparently pretty popular right now so, perhaps it was the jet-lag, but I didn’t find myself that impressed. I ordered the whole twice-cooked baby chicken that you sprinkle yourself with lemon myrtle salt and chilli sauce, and a side of the mixed heritage tomato and basil salad, both dishes that were recommended to me by the server but both fell short of my (possibly too high?) expectations.
One thing is for certain, London has certainly shaken off its old label as a city full of bland British food (yes, I realize that stereotype died years ago). I, for one, am truly impressed (and as I mentioned earlier, slightly over-whelmed) at the amount of options. London, you have, yet again, won my heart.