Here I am, at the last stage of sharing my trip to London, and lamenting the fact that it is already October. Personally, I believe that London food is very underrated. I question why it has a bad rap when I look at the amazing diversity of quality food and restaurants the metropolis has to offer. Seriously, why does everyone roast British food when it holds the distinction of creating Fish and Chips and Afternoon Tea Time, two of the most amazing things ever invented, among other classic additions to culinary culture (Beef Wellington anyone?).
Being a mega european financial center, giant tourist destination, and mecca for performing and fine arts, London has a vast array of great restaurant options. You can practically find anything you want in the city. This being said, it might be hard finding places that truly capture the local culture of the city. I did extensive research to find restaurants that were unique and original British eats. Below are some suggestions on what and where to eat while visiting the amazing city.
- Duck and Waffle (In the Heron Tower): There is nothing quite like eating a fabulous brunch on top of a skyscraper while gazing out at the city of London through transparent glass walls. From the moment that you are whisked into a restaurant owned glass elevator, you know you are about to have a one of a kind breakfast. Be amazed at the view while you enjoy freshly prepared unique breakfast food.
- The food ranges from a traditional scrumptious english breakfast to a spicy ox stuffed donut. The donut is a most try.
- The Greek yogurt was some of the best I have ever tried. I had the honey one which was coated with honey comb along with other sugary sweets. The pastry board was a worthwhile starter.
- The view from the restaurant. Be prepared to be amazed.
- While a lot of hotels offer fine afternoon teas, it is always fun to try something a little out of the ordinary. I am personally convinced that tea time is the greatest invention by man, so for me, I will enjoy anything with the name tea in it. However, if the stuffy tradition is not your forte, an unconventional choice such as the Mad Hatter’s Tea is a fun way to enjoy the english specialty. Located in the avant-garde Sanderson Hotel’s courtyard, you will truly feel like you fell down the rabbit hole upon entering the vicinity.
- The fun interior of the Sanderson, which makes it a very subtable location to host an Alice in Wonderland themed tea.
- The tea leafs are presented in little flasks to help you smell what tea you want before ordering. The flavors are very flavorful and unique. Brought to you on a tier, the little candies and desserts are shaped into fun themed items such as mushrooms and hearts.
- The tier also has the cute little savory bits and the “drink me” potion, a tiny sweet strawberry purée and marshmallow drink that looks as trips as it sounds. Fresh scones accompany the tea with the traditional pairings of preserves and clotted cream.
- As a special endings to the tea, you are given a flower pot filled with chocolate mousse and edible “dirt”. Also pictured is the teapot that the tea comes in.
- Because of my hectic nature and desire to see a lot in a limited time, I didn’t really have actual scheduled lunches while in London. Instead, I ate at “pit-stop” like places while shopping which included places in the food halls of two great department stores. In London, the department stores take selling food to a whole new level with in store cafés, and freshly prepared to-go items.
- Fortum and Mason has a great little place nestled in the back of their famous food hall. You overlooks the aisles of tea and delicacies while enjoying classic British dishes such as gravlax smoked salmon, scotch eggs and welsh rarebit. The place is perfect for a quick comfortable eat while in the middle of hustling and bustling around the crazy high streets.
- The food halls in Harrods are known world wide to be immense and extravagant. They are also very convenient if you need a quick pick me up while roaming the overwhelming collection of clothes the store has in stock. I got a smoke salmon and cream cheese “pillow” and a roast beef and cabbage salad to go, along with multiple elder flower sparkling cordials. It is a super easy delicious place to grab gourmet food on the go.
Before dinner drinks/bar:
- The Shard is the tallest building in western Europe while being a architectural wonder to the London skyline. There are many restaurants in the building, in addition to a luxury hotel. There is also a high end bar near the top of the building that provides some of the best views of the city. The gourmet cocktails are all designed to represent a famous movie director and their movies. There is a Harry Potter cocktail for David Yates, along with two floating neon colored Star Wars ones for George Lucas. It is fun to check out all the funky creations while enjoying the breathtaking view of London from up high.
- The Wingardium Leviosa from the Director’s Bar.
Amaya- An Indian Restaurant
- Due to the heavy influence of Indian culture in England, London plays host to some of the best Indian food outside of India itself. Everywhere you look there are different types of Indian restaurants, and you really cannot go wrong. It just depends what you are looking for. The Indian place that I went visited this time was a very contemporary fine dinning place called Amaya. It is the sort of place where the Indian community goes for special occasions, and locals and tourist go to experience a high level of Indian cuisine. The dishes are not totally what you expect from an Indian restaurant, but every dish is extremely tasty and beautifully prepared in the visible kitchen. The atmosphere is dark and chic, making pictures slightly difficult…
- Freshly prepared paneer (Indian cheese) with seasoning and a ton of flavor. A traditional Indian dessert that was simply amazing.
- Smooth and creamy grilled goat cheese with pomegranate purée. Deliciously prepared grilled oysters in a creamy curry sauce.
- Naan (otherwise known as the best bread ever) comes with a beautiful selection of curries and sauces. A plain yogurt Lassi which is a delicious sweet drink. At Amaya, it comes with eatable flowers on top.
- It should also be known that Amaya had literally the best Biryani I have ever had. It came with a sweet yogurt pomegranate sauce, and it literally melted in my mouth.
Bellamy’s- A classic French, with British influences, bistro
- Bellamy’s is a small local bistro that echoes a traditional Parisian fine dining experience. Very popular with the locals, it is a simple place that serves very well prepared traditional fare in a classic old-time setting. The place also takes on the claim to fame of being the Queen’s favorite restaurant. It’s easy to see why since it’s a bit hidden and out of the way. This is a place where people dress up nicely for a good solid meal. It was really refreshing to see everyone in semi-formal clothes and suits to enjoy dinner, something that is unfortunately hard to come by in America.
- The dimly lit interior of the restaurant echoes an old-time feel with pictures of movie stars, and classic french posters. A simple but divine split pea soup.
- I chose to eat a classic meal of oysters and foie gras. Both were excellent with the oysters being very fresh, and the foie gras being paired with apricots and great bread.
- I had an amazing experience at Harwood Arms, a gastropub located in the quite residential neighborhood of Fulham. Again, this is clearly a place that locals know of and cherish. The place is very unassuming, being located in a cute little blue building, and having a very British pub like interior. However, Harwood Arms is the only pub in London to hold a Michelin star, a premier distinction that guarantees a special dining experience. The atmosphere is different, but it is very refreshing to experience high quality food in a classic casually British atmosphere. What is more, the pub distinction makes for a more reasonably priced Michelin starred experience than most restaurants that share that distinction.
- As you can see, the atmosphere is very open and welcoming. As bread, the Harwood Arms serves homemade Irish soda bread with gourmet butter that is to die for. It’s a great start to dinner.
- I personally adore Scotch eggs in general, but the venison one at the Harwood Arms was one of the best things I have ever eaten. If you go here, make sure you order one as a pre-starter. It will seriously change your life.
- The bar is very eclectic at the Harwood Arms with a big buffalo head perched up on the wall beside it. For an appetizer, I had the trout tartare which was brilliantly prepared with vibrant colors. It tasted amazing.
- One of the desserts that I tried. It was a brown bread ice cream with scotch whisky jelly and raspberry. It sounded very weird, so naturally I had to give it a shot. It was surprisingly delicious, and it kind of tasted like bread pudding in ice cream form.
- Another dessert that was simply amazing. I had the lemon curd filled donut holes with earl grey cream, enough said. For my entrée, I had the pork belly which was covered with bacon marmalade and apple. It had to have been the best pork I have ever tried; prepared to perfection and extremely tender.
- I also tried the beet salad with goat cheese which tasted like summer, and the Cornish sole which was tasty and light.
Well, there’s that! All the great places I ate at in London. I hope you enjoyed this guide full of great suggestions from the British capital.
- Duck and Waffle: https://duckandwaffle.com
- Mad Hatter’s Tea: https://www.morganshotelgroup.com/originals/originals-sanderson-london/eat-drink/mad-hatters-afternoon-tea
- The Shard: https://www.the-shard.com/restaurants/
- Harrods: https://www.harrods.com/en-gb
- Fortnum and Mason: http://fortnumandmason.com
- Amaya: http://www.amaya.biz
- Harwood Arms: http://www.harwoodarms.com