Gourmet Chick’s London Olympics Little Black Book

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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. 


For breakfast
I admit I’m biased but I think the Antipodeans make the best breakfasts in London and you know the coffee will be good as well – I like Lantana in Soho and Providores in Marylebone.

For lunch
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.

For British
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

For French
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

For Japanese
Roka in Soho is fabulous for sophisticated Japanese food and also in Soho I love Koya for a bowl of slippery udon noodles

For Indian
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.

For Italian
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

For tapas
The place that started proper tapas in London is Brindisia and it has a great location for visitors at Borough Market but my favourite tapas spot is the tiny bar at Barrafina in Soho.

For Thai
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.

For a burger
The place to get a burger in London is Meat Liquor, but for a seriously posh burger the “piggy” burger at Bar Boulud in the basement of the Mandarin Oriental is sensational.

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.

 
 

15 comments

  1. Bookmarked this! I’m off to London for work at the end of the month and was wondering how I’d feed myself.

    Thanks for the brilliantly useful post 🙂

  2. One of my biggest London regrets was not eating at Burough Market. That squid looks yum!

  3. I’m suffering London pangs too and this post has lifted them even further! I’m very grateful for it though – what a great round up. I’ll be in London later in the year so will refer back.

  4. I’ve bookmarked this too! Not sure when I’ll get to London, hopefully some day soon!
    x

  5. Great round-up! I’d add a few of the small places in Brixton Village too, but realise it’s a bit out of the way for all but the most intrepid foodie.

  6. I’m STILL wanting to go to Elliot’s… let’s home I can make it at least before the Olympics! (that squid just looks very biteable!).

  7. Great list – a lot of classics on there, makes me feel proud of this city! For afternoon tea I’d add The Wolseley as it’s actually cheaper than comparable places like the Ritz next door, and the whole room and atmosphere is a very London experience. Maltby Street market for people visiting Borough area, too – lots of more interesting stalls and a real London atmosphere. Plus Broadway Market for anyone who wants to explore east London.

  8. Ooh – must re-read this before I go back to London! And I am seriously craving a proper afternoon tea now. Thanks for the great list!

  9. I’m feeling exactly the same way and that’s why I’ve barely watched the Olympics (apart from the fact that NBC’s coverage for people in the US is pretty awful). Good thing I’ve been to almost half the places you’ve mentioned. Ledbury, Dragon Palace, Borough Market… omg. Will try the rest whenever I can get back there, thanks!!

  10. Great round-up! I agree with everything on the list!

  11. Sophie – Lucky you I’m jealous

    Annette – You will just have to go back then (a great excuse)

    Kari – Have a great trip. Hopefully it is not too cold by then.

    Shellie – Well when you do I hope it helps.

    Blonde – Yes I tried to stick to the main places people would go. I agree there are gems all over London.

    Katherine – I’m not sure if the squid is still on the menu, but it’s great

    Katie – I haven’t been to the Wolseley for afternoon tea but did prefer the Lanesborough to the Ritz which is probably the most famous. Great tips.

    Carla – Yes London does afternoon tea really well.

    Soot Soot – Sounds like you know your way around London pretty well.

    A Lady in London – Good to hear you agree

  12. Love this list 🙂 But wish you were here!

  13. Hi, You’d be surprised that London is pretty good for Thai, specially with some of the non chain type restaurants…Have you tried Rosa Thai Cafe? It’s on Dean St in Soho… maybe you should do a bit on Thai restaurants in London?! I’m sure that will go down well.

  14. If it’s Thai, you’re after I thoroughly recommend Siam Central on Charlotte Street, just off Tottenham Court Road. I don’t know how authentic it is, but it’s some of the best food I’ve ever had in the Capital.

  15. I agree with flowerGirl26, Siam Central is a brilliant Thai restaurant. Try Victoria, there’s some pretty good restaurant their too. There’s a Thai restaurant next to our Serviced Apartment London called Thai square.

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