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2.28.2014

London {Where to eat}

Cocktails in London  // Acquashard

Best fish and chips in London // The Golden Hind


We recently spent a few days in London.  The focus of the trip was the Teenager's audition for the Berklee College of Music, but in-between marathon practice sessions we ate. Craving ethnic food and wanting to revisit old college haunts of mine we didn't venture far into the new hipster areas to the east, but instead stayed mostly in central London and close to our rented apartment in Earls Court. We ate in places that have now become empires but were once a single small spot and also in well known and beloved local institutions.

A perfectly cooked steak with a zingy pepper sauce, creamed spinach and slices of warm baguette slathered with salted butter all washed down with a crisp cider is one of my all time favorite meals. Served by a charming Neapolitan on a drizzly London night and it is just about perfection.

Fernandez & Wells 
The ridiculous queues (no matter how orderly) at Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden have always put me off so I was thrilled to see that Fernandez & Wells a) had a branch inside the vast Somerset House where the extraordinary Isabella Blow  exhibit was showing (which I highly recommend seeing) and b) served the legendary Monmouth Coffee, hopefully without the wait. I sat in a pretty room eavesdropping on Fashion Week journalists and gallerists chatting about projects and pitching pieces and enjoyed a slice of Ras al Hanout + molasses cake and a cup of strong, bright tasting Monmouth Coffee. Without the wait. 

Addies Thai
Credit for this find is all Mark's. I was tired of being the decider and asked for someone else to please pick where to go for dinner and this winner close to the apartment is where we ended up. Warned by the internet reviews that the service is rushed and they want to turn your table as fast as you can swallow, that was actually just fine with us as we hastily gobbled up plates of drunken noodles with fiery green chilies  Weeping Tiger (sizzlingly sirloin steak) and vegetable curry and tamarind prawns all washed down with cold Singha's and sweet Thai iced tea. We were fine with the swift pace and happy to be soon be back in our cozy apartment watching olympic figure skating. (OK some of us were happier than others)

Wahaca
A few years ago there was just one Wahaca in Covent Garden.  Now there are outlets all over town.  After a visit to a lovely exhibit of works by James Turell we strolled through Soho with me pointing out places I loved and remembered from my university days (and surely boring the Teenager to tears with my tales.)  Wahaca serves small plates of Mexican street food and starved of tortillas and cilantro we ordered a lot of them.  We devoured dishes of guacamole and salsa with fresh tortilla chips and enjoyed a rare daytime paloma cocktail tangy with Juaritos grapefruit soda, fresh lime juice and smooth tequila. A more sensible daytime drink was the Tamarind Twist with a salted chili bite. We loved the Pork pibil and Grilled British steak tacos best.

The Golden Hind
73 Marylebone Lane
020 7486 3644

There are very few authentic chippies still left in London.  When staying with relatives in Kent when I was the teenager, I loved Sunday evenings when my uncle would drive to a favorite hole in the wall and bring back crisp pieces of plaice wrapped in paper and piles and piles of chips that we would drown in malted vinegar.  I wanted to share this experience with my teenager and remembered a place in Marylebone we had missed trying on our last trip to London. Despite the quite posh post code, linoleum floors and battered wooden tables are the decor and the menu has only a few choices.  We salted our crispy cod and plaice pieces and drowned out chips in malted vinegar and hopefully a tradition endures.

Acquashard at The Shard 
The London Eye, The Gerkin and now the Shard are all new things to me with my knowledge of London being decades old now.  We talked about having a spin on the eye, but we are wisely counseled by the knowledgeable Elizabeth that cocktails at the Shard would be much more fun. Of course she was right, and while we had some chaotic and confusing service to start we finally settled on a spot at the bar where all of the mixologists were Italian and our evening got infinitely more entertaining. My Harry’s Cocktail made with Monkey 47 gin, Antica Formula, absinthe, fresh mint and an olive had a wonderful herby quality.

Dishoom
My energy was flagging after an afternoon of shopping on crowded Regent Street, but I didn't want to eat and ruin my appetite for dinner. I headed to the cozy Dishoom  which was recommended to me by the very helpful and very knowledgable  Communications Manager of the Dorchester Hotel group and ordered both a warm and spicy chai and a cold salty lime soda (nimbu pani) My blood sugar restored, I headed back out to the crowded London streets.

Dragon Palace
Just steps from the Earls Court underground stop and from our apartment the Dragon Palace was our pick for a Saturday Dim Sum Lunch. Calm and minimal is could't be more different than the kind of places I love in New York, but the offerings were fantastic. My favorites Char Siu Bao and Cheung Fun were light and elegant. Endless cups of hot green tea in a sunny dining room made a perfect Saturday start. 
  
Byron
I couldn't possibly do all of this eating out and not try at least one burger.  I didn't have the patience for the chaos and queues promised at Hawkesmore or Patty & Bun so I took the advice of a London burger blogger who declared the chain Byron to be a solid choice. We processed the intense day spent at the Berklee audition over fingers of Buffalo Trace bourbon and Byrons own house pale ale, giant onion rings, rare burgers on squishy buns and a surprisingly authentic caesar salad. We finished the night with a towering glass of Banoffee mess and three spoons, a sweet balm to sooth away the stress.

Breakfast in London // Fernandez & Wells

Best fish and chips in London // The Golden Hind

Best Burgers in London // Byron








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