London, with thanks to friends

Posted on January 10, 2010

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Despite coming from just outside London and having lived in London for 5 years, I feel marginally out of depth here. In fact, I rely on foreign friends in the city, particular an Australian girlfriend as my guide. I have decided that foreigners often explore a city more than natives – you never appreciate what is on your own doorstep. That’s my excuse anyway!

So here’s a few random thoughts on places I have discovered since leaving London:

Breakfast at The Wolsely right next to the The Ritz on Piccadilly. A vast old hall with a mile high ceiling that is full of ladies who lunch and businessmen. I felt posh (but strangely not out-of-place) just being there. The eggs Benedict are good.

Wander around Borough Market and when the sight of all the yummy food gets too much, go to Roast upstairs and watch the hustle and Bustle of the market.

One thing that’s worth doing at least once is tea at the Ritz. My mum took me there just before I moved to Paris several years ago and I loved it. It is all the pomp and ceremony that you would expect – a stunning room with chandeliers where the tea of your choice and an array of english ‘tea’ goodies are served by waiters in starched uniforms. The three (or was it four?) tiered cake stand included unlimited sandwiches – including cucumber – all with their crusts cut off (for anyone that follows old wives tales my hair is curly enough already so that was just fine.); scones with clotted cream and jam; and yummy cakes. So much in fact that mum ate a little too much and went home felling quite sick!

Nam Long Le Shaker on the Old Brompton Road for, as they say and I can’t deny ‘superb vietnamese cuisine and fabulous cocktail drinks’. That’s all you need to know.

There are some great Italian restaurants, especially around Fulham and Chelsea. I used to love Napule in Fulham where they sell pizza by the metre. It is part of the Made in Italy group which have been so successful that they now have a number of good restaurants in London.

I am a real sucker for Lebanese food and if you are in the Kings Rd area then a stop at Al Dar is well worth it. If you are in a rush, grab a fresh kebab. Maroush is also a good bet. Again, they have been successful and now have Maroush II, III, IV and V.

A very English food, though not from London, that has become increasingly popular for food on the run is the cornish pasty The West Cornwall Pasty Company is a decent bet and in summer I really like their shop/restaurant in Covent Garden where you can sit and watch the street entertainers.

Another summer favourite is tea The Orangery, Kensington Palace which has yummy food in beautiful surrounds. A more low-key alternative is the recently refurbished Serpentine Bar and Kitchen in Hyde Park but beware of long queues on a nice day.

Oh, and Ottolenghi’s. I haven’t actually been there myself but I have never heard anything other than a glowing review, usually with the reviewer watering at the mouth, and besides. I have their cookbook which is fantastic!

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Posted in: UK