Eating in London: From East to West
Two food tours in London.
English food gets a bad rap sometimes. Before arriving in the country, I’d heard that the cuisine was bland and uninspired and unoriginal. I figured that I’d just end up eating fish and chips at a pub and call it a night. Every night.
(Not that I have any problem with that. I pretty much lived on fish and chips in Ireland because it’s one of the greatest combinations ever invented.)
But, in actuality, I ate some of the best food I’ve ever had in London.
The four-hour Eating London tour included stops at eight places in the East End, where we sampled each place’s best dish (yes, including a stop for fish and chips) and ended with such incredibly full (but happy) bellies.
Our first stop was St. John Bread & Wine for bacon sandwiches: juicy salty bacon, thicker than the American kind, between toasted fresh bread, slathered with some homemade ketchup.
The banana bread pudding at The English Restaurant was creamy with a caramelized crust, almost like a creme brûlée.
Next we sampled three cheeses at Androuet. Most everyone else liked the blue cheese best. I hated it, but that is only because, as much as I try, I just don’t like blue cheese. For me, the cheddar was my favorite.
The fish and chips from Poppies were crispy and tender (there is nothing worse that a soggy breading on fried fish). I could see why this place is famous for this quintessential British dish.
After all that food, it was time for a drink break at Pride of Spitalfields, a local pub. We tried a beer and a delightful cider that was wasn’t too sweet, like many ciders tend to be.
And then we stopped at Aladin for curry, the national dish of England (and the dish I was most excited to eat). We had three dishes that ranged in spiciness, my favorite was a medium level lamb dish that was slightly sweet.
Beigel Bake’s salt beef on a boiled bagel was one of the highlights of the tour for me: it’s really hard to find a good bagel while traveling in most places in the world, and this one was phenomenal.
Our last stop of the tour was Pizza East, but not for pizza. We were there for dessert: a salted caramel and chocolate tart with a crispy crust and just-creamy enough filling. Paired with a cup of traditional English tea, it was a lovely ending to a tour of the East End of London.
If you’re traveling to London and fancy tasting samplings of some of the city’s best dishes (and seeing some amazing street art and getting some history lessons along the way), I highly recommend booking an Eating London Tour. Every single thing we ate (and drank) that day was delicious. (Except maybe the blue cheese, but I told you my feelings on blue cheese.)
My friend Krista lived in London for some time and just so happened to be visiting when I was there. Perfect timing. We met up in Soho one afternoon and she took me to some of her favorite restaurants in the area. She runs a food blog, and loves dining out, so I knew we were in for a good night.
I’ll start at Spuntino. I technically ate there for lunch the day before, but if I hadn’t we probably would have gone there anyways (it was on a list of places to eat in London that she had previously sent to me.) I stopped there for lunch on Thanksgiving, so I didn’t want to eat anything too heavy (as I had a party to get to that night). But the charming bartender managed to up sell me on everything. From the “special of the day for Americans” pumpkin bourbon to make a pumpkin manhattan (and OMG pumpkin manhattan? Brilliant) to a pork slider to go with my creamy and crispy celeriac salad.
I met Krista the next day at Koya Bar where we shared some Japanese tea, some salty pickles, and some shrimp and vegetable tempura.
Next we made a quick stop at Princi for a salty and chewy olive breadstick.
And then we dipped into some hummus topped with guacamole at Hummus Brothers. A hummus restaurant. That exists. The hummus was tasty but the pita bread that came with it was a little dry (bring me more of those olive breadsticks!).
As we were walking to the next place, we passed by Paul A Young Fine Chocolates and Krista asked if I wanted to stop for chocolate. As if that was even a question that needed to be asked. I chose the new classic: salted caramel. And it was so good.
After our detour we headed to Fernandez & Wells where we had some crisp white wine and perfectly greasy chorizo with manchego cheese.
Next it was time for another sweet treat: macarons at Yauatcha. They had so many flavors, it was hard to choose. But I went with Earl Grey, because it seemed perfectly English.
Our last stop of the night was Pizza Pilgrims, a pizza place that was new to us both. We went for a carafe of wine (!) and the bufala (a classic margherita topped with fresh mozzarella.) The pizza was delicious though it went from super hot to super cold really quickly, and was a bit soggy (I had to eat it with a knife and fork or risk spilling sauce all over my person).
It was great to see Krista again (I don’t think I’d seen her in over a year) and I had a blast checking out all Soho had to offer. While Krista’s tour was totally unofficial, check out her blog if you’re looking for somewhere to eat in London. (Or Chicago. Or wherever else she’s traveled to.)
For good measure, here are a few other places I ate at while in London…