So, London is the bee’s knees. The hubs and his team recently had to travel to London for work, and since I’ve always admired London from afar, I jumped on the chance to hop over the pond. You’re probably already familiar with the typical London sightseeing destinations; Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, The London Bridge, Abbey Road and all of that jazz, so I won’t bore you with those details…but maybe just a few pictures.
My mission for this post was finding good food in London. Traditionally, London doesn’t have the best street cred when it comes to the food scene, but I had a feeling epicure might be afoot beneath all of that fog. (Please excuse the image quality in this post. I didn’t want to lug all of my camera equipment around on this trip, so I relied solely on my trusty iPhone and did my best to make good use of the ambient lighting).
Once we settled into our flat, first thing was first: pints at the local pub in the quaint, charming-yet-design-forward and slightly yuppy-ish (in the best way possible) Clerkenwell neighborhood. Good cider and simple pub food were a welcome introduction to the London pub scene at The Slaughtered Lamb. Here is a helpful guide and deeper peek into Clerkenwell courtesy of Airbnb, which we used to find a great flat in Clerkenwell.
The first morning D and I woke up knackered, so we lollygagged our way down to a cheeky little coffee shop that served up a fair amount of sass with their no bullshite menu, including drinks with smarmy names like Dirty Sanchez and Shitstorm. Goswell Road Coffee gave us the punch in the face (and the in card) we needed to get our day going.
Later that day, we had a leisurely lunch at a minimalist and elegantly styled restaurant called The Modern Pantry. The food was simple, fresh and trendy with a daily menu that changes with what’s in season. We shared an order of roast courgette and I had a bright seasonal tomato salad with Mediterranean flavors and thin and crispy chickpea lavash.
Late in the afternoon, we began feeling the effects of the flight and agreed we needed some kind of pick-me-up. We found a darling little cafe in our neighborhood called the J+A Cafe. It straddles a charming alleyway that serves as an outdoor dining room, adorned with string lights and an assorted array of brightly colored tables and chairs.
By day they serve tea, coffee and pastries out of the cafe side, and by night the beer, cider, and mixed drinks flow out of the bar. We stopped in for a coffee but left with a moreish variety of British baked goods and extra strong cups of coffee. I opted for the flat white and a classic scone with clotted cream and jam. Back at our apartment, we divided and conquered the tasty pastries and got the rush of energy we were after. I quite fancied the scone and especially the rich and creamy texture and semi-nutty sweet flavors of the clotted cream. (stay tuned for a clotted cream recipe post, it’s gonna be bloody brilliant!)
If you can snag a seat in the alley at J+A Cafe, it’s an intimate and inviting spot to unwind with a pint after a long day.
If you know me, you know that my bakery radar is always on high alert. My ears perk up and I develop a bit of a hound’s nose for finding the best baked goods in any city I visit. London did not disappoint. There always seemed to be a well dressed bakery right when I needed one. My lovely friend Anna and I enjoyed a tasty Nutella stuffed cookie situation with a glass of rosé up near Primrose Hill before embarking on a long London day. After a slow stroll through Regent’s and Hyde Parks, we wound our way down to SOHO through the chaos that is Picadilly Square.
After all of that walking, we figured we had earned a another glass of rosé and a swirly little raspberry cream stuffed Cruffin at the cozy and casual Cafe/Bakery FoxCroft & Ginger.
The bakery hunt continued throughout the trip, leading me to experience these big beautiful sweet and savory brioche buns from GAIL’s Artisan Bakery in Exmouth Market, a ridiculously fetching pedestrian street chockfull of bustling restaurants, pubs and small independent shops.
Afternoons in Exmouth turn into a street faire of popups and food carts, an inexpensive way to grab a bite of street food and enjoy a stroll through the Clerkenwell and Farringdon neighborhoods. I loved this local strip so much that I brought D back the next day for breakfast at Caravan, a relaxed but sleek space that rests comfortably on a busy little corner. It’s a casual chic indoor/outdoor space that serves up well-crafted food and pridefully poured coffee drinks.
One morning, D and I quickly huffed it over to the Shoreditch neighborhood in the east end of Central London. It’s an uber hipster area that reminds me of a larger, more condensed and grittier version of the Mississippi/Williams hoods of Portland, OR melded with Hayes Valley and SOMA in San Francisco. With the hopping Urban Food Fest that serves up street food daily from 12-12 in the Euro Car Park and Boxpark, a modern concept shipping container mall filled with pop-ups, this hood definitely caters to the hopelessly hip crowd.
While squeezing our way through the creative clad masses loading onto double decker buses, the words “Humble Pie” illuminated in the warm glow of a golden neon light drew us into the hipster pastry haven, Hoxton Pastry Union. The interior looked like a real life version of a casual Urban Outfitters ad. Neutral tones are warmed up with subtle gold flourishes in both the decor and accented in the drop shadows of the swoon-worthy, hand-painted signage. My outfit matched so perfectly that my pals were asking if I scouted the location prior to this photo. Nope, just a match made in heaven.
Our British friend, Paul, insisted we try sausage rolls while in London, so when we spotted the tender flaky numbers at HPM we ordered one immediately, and it was a scrummy snack indeed. I regret not getting an actual pie. I guess I’ll just have to go back since I already have the perfect thing to wear.
Since Indian food is practically the national cuisine of London, I had been anxiously anticipating an Indian feast-fest before we even touched down in London Town. We’d been trying to get in for dinner at Dishoom in Covent Garden all week, but never made it into the crazy long queue in time. When we discovered there was another location closer to us in the Shoreditch district, we went early and prepared ourselves for the wait. As it turns out, the wait really wasn’t all that long and we were able to sip on interesting infused Indian classic cocktails in the bar while we waited.
Dishoom was hands down the best Indian food I’ve ever had and one of the most enchanting and flavorful meals of my life. I am sure we ordered one of everything and ate our weight in Naan, Vegetable Samosas, Chicken Tikka, Black House Daal, Lamb on the Bone, Biryani and Raita. The most surprising and fan favorite of the night was Dishoom’s signature dish, Pau Bhaji; a bowl of mashed vegetables with a hot buttered pau bun, Chowpatty Beach style. Apparently, no food is more Bombay. It was incredible. Seriously. I wish I had photos, but the restaurant was intimately low lighting and an almost sexy ambiance rendering food photos impossible (probably intentional on their part). The space housed a funky and eclectic blend of worldly styles with vintage fixtures and bold Bombay decor, materials and finishes. All around, a fun atmosphere with unforgettable food. When in London, Dishoom is a must try, trust me.
On our last day, we made our way to Camden Market, a jam-packed wild and wacky feast for the eyes. The vintage shops and eclectic booths went on and on as we snaked our way through the crowds. There was plenty of food to be had, but we just grabbed a quick falafel and made a beeline for a less crowded street. It quickly became a bit overwhelming.
The sights, sounds and kind people of London pulled at my city-seeking heart strings. I left longing for the hustle and bustle of a big city and inspired by the energy flowing through the cobblestoned streets. I was pleasantly surprised that such a big city felt simultaneously quaint and welcoming with a genuine relaxed and courteous vibe. It turns out, finding good food in London is pretty blasted easy. If you get the chance, I highly recommend hopping over the pond and diving head first into this historic, diverse city. It’s worth weight in quid.