Isn’t London looking lovely at the moment? I am suffering pangs of London-sickness watching the Olympics on television from the other side of the world. Since London is very much on my mind and the city is flooded with visitors at the moment I thought it was the perfect time to reveal my little black book of London tips. I’ve previously posted about my top ten restaurants in London and if money is tight there’s my top ten cheap eats as well, but here is my ultimate guide to a “best of” London.
|The London Eye – I lived in London for five years and never went on it – whoops.|
It’s lovely to escape the bustle of Borough Markets for a leisurely lunch at Elliot’s Cafe but my all time favourite lunch spot is Ottolenghi (try the Notting Hill or Islington branch) the salads are amazing and save room for the cakes and meringues afterwards.
|Squid at Elliot’s Cafe at Borough Market – one of the best lunches in London|
For afternoon tea
The afternoon tea at Sketch is a fun quirky alternative to the big hotel high teas but the all time best afternoon tea in London is at The Lanesborough – there’s even a tea sommelier.
The restaurant that really sums up the best of London’s British cooking for me is St John where you can eat “nose to tail” food (like a whole suckling pig) but if you want some celebrity factor with your food try Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner for a modern take on British food, particularly the roasted meat.
|Afternoon tea at Sketch – in my little black book for London|
I love the atmosphere and food at Le Cafe du Marche which is hidden down a cobbled laneway in Clerkenwell, you can almost imagine you are in Paris. Another great option is the London branch of Parisian chain Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte which only serves one thing – steak and frites.
For a cheap eat
A great solution for a cheap eat is just to head to one of the many Vietnamese restaurants in Shore Ditch, I can recommend Cay Tre. In Soho, Polpo is a great option for bite size bites and tumblers of wine and for a bustling BYO restaurant with great Pakistani food head for the legendary Tayyabs.
|Polpo in Soho – one of the best cheap eats in London|
The food is actually Pakistani but the price is more than right at BYO favourite Tayyabs, if you are looking for something more polished and in a more central location try Dishoom – it’s a great take on a traditional Bombay cafe.
In Soho try and score yourself a seat at Polpo which is styled on a Venetian bacaro, if it’s pizza you are craving then I love Pizza East for its great elastic and slightly charred pizza bases.
For dim sum
It’s a little out of the way in Earls Court but its worth the journey for the XLB alone to the cheap and cheerful dim sum restaurant Dragon Palace.
|Dim sum action at Dragon Palace – my favourite place in London for dim sum|
London is not great for Thai food. If you are a visitor eat another cuisine, if you are Londoner I think the best Thai place in London is Patara Thai.
|The game at The Ledbury is sensational and I think it’s the best fine dining restaurant in London|
For fine dining
The food at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner is seriously good as is its glamorous Knightsbridge location but I think the best fine dining in London is at The Ledbury in Notting Hill where Aussie chef Brett Graham is cooking up a storm.
For food shopping
La Fromagerie in Marylebone is one of my favourite places in London and the cheese room has to be seen to be believed. Browsing around Borough Market is a brilliant London experience, just remember it is only open Thursday to Sunday and if you want to avoid the crowds go on the Thursday or Friday rather than the weekend.
For a pub
The Bull and Last in Hampstead Heath has brilliant food (the triple cooked chips are a must) but I have to nominate my old local, The Prince Bonaparte in Bayswater, as my all time favourite pub.
For a drink
I love the wine bar at 28/50 just off Fleet Street because the staff are so knowledgable while a visit to Gordon’s Wine Bar under the old stone arches in Charing Cross is as atmospheric as you can get. That said, the bar that serves up my favourite cocktails (Twinkles anyone?) in the most fabulous surroundings has to be the Zetter Townhouse.
|The amazing Zetter Townhouse – go for a drink or to stay the night – it’s the best hotel in London|
For a locals experience
Go to a supper club. They’re a big thing in London and there are hundreds, you can find their details on the internet. The most well known in London is The Underground Restaurant in a flat in Kilburn but my favourite is the brilliant London Cooking Club in Islington.
Where to stay
My favourite hotel in town is The Zetter Townhouse. It’s completely British, completely bonkers and a truly brilliant place to stay from the stuffed kangaroo in the bar to the Roberts Radio in each room.