3.5 days in London = 7 precious meals I intended to maximise fully. After dedicating one meal to Gordon Ramsay, it was tough to sieve out just 6 out of so many eating places in London. Luckily, this is the type of homework I don’t mind doing =)
Remember I mentioned the kick-a** apple tart from Poilâne that not even 3-star Michelin G.R. can surpass? Here it is, in its glorified buttery form with huge chunks of apple. Any description won’t do it justice so I shan’t attempt to. Just know this: it’s small, it’s innocent-looking, and it’s tempting beyond anything else!
Poilâne has been around since 1932 and lest you think it’s from London, it’s not. It’s a traditional French bakery which originates from Paris. And even though I was going to be in Paris just a couple of days later, I couldn’t resist popping by the only outlet in London to admire (and gobble up) the beautiful loaves of bread and pastries.
You won’t find any baguette in the bakery as it refuses to bake baguette cuz that’s a modern invention that purists scoff at. That’s how traditional Poilâne is! And in case you are curious, France’s ancient bread is a large sourdough boule miche—the oversized round bread in the picture below.
46 Elizabeth Street, walkable from Victoria Station.
Another good bakery I’d recommend is PAUL, also a French bakery with a long history. Founded since 1889, it’s now a successful chain of bakeries with over 250 outlets across France and over 30 shops outside France.
We went to the takeaway kiosk on Tower Wharf (just outside Tower of London) which only has outdoor seating. It was awesome to sit in the cold, munching on our morning croissants, sipping our hot coffee, with a perfect view of Tower Bridge right before our eyes. Simple bliss.
Lunching at Borough Market is a must if you love fresh produce markets as much as I do. It’s bustling with stalls selling fruits and vegetables, ready-to-eat poultry and game, mountains of cakes and pastries, exotic (read: expensive) fare like ostrict eggs and huge gems of black truffles (below, bottom right), and so much more. Noisy, colourful atmosphere; enthusiastic stall owners; wondrous smells; full of life and celebration of food.
That’s what Borough Market is all about.
I didn’t take note of any particular stall cuz truth be told, everything looks and smells so good. My strategy was simply to wander around the huge market first, nibbling on the generous samples and making mental notes of which stalls to head back later so that we could buy more of whatever delicious food they are selling.
We had hot-off-the-grill Chorizo sandwiches, lovely seasonal salads, interesting quinoa patties, juicy berries, soft and tender canelés, brownies and cupcakes, crumbly falafels, pricey teeny-weeny shots of wheatgrass juice, marvelous mushroom pâté on fresh bread, and a pot of silky smooth creme caramel (below, bottom right) that reminds me of the fantastic caramel pudding from Ma Maison.
Don’t get too hyped up over the food and forget to take care of your belongings though. The market is extremely crowded and I can imagine pickpockets having a field day with unsuspecting tourists.
8 Southwark Street, just south of Southwark Cathedral.
For budget eating, The Stockpot is a great option. Established since 1958, it’s famous for being one of the best dining bargains in London. Generous portions, hearty dishes, small price tags. No wonder it’s a London institution. There’s nothing fancy about this place, tables are close together, and don’t expect pretty presentation on the plates. It’s just traditional home-cooked grub—unrefined, good and cheap. Our choices of typical British steak & kidney pie, cod in parsley cream, grilled pork chops, and warm apple crumble with vanilla ice cream left us feeling happy and satisfied.
38 Panton Street, near Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
I don’t know about you, but I love supermarkets, big or small. Last semester, I did a case study on Whole Foods Market (remember AB311 Strategic Management?) and was so fascinated by it that I listed it as a must-go destination on my itinerary. Photography is not allowed inside the market so I can’t show you how amazing it is—incredible range of food and personal care products, all natural, organic and minimally processed. There’s even a long buffet spread of prepared food which seduced me into buying some for lunch tomorrow. And on the top level, there’s a Market Food Hall with different stations selling burritos, pizza, sushi, crepes, gelato etc etc. Wow. Why can’t it open a branch in Singapore??
I didn’t go to Whole Foods just to gawk. I went with a hungry tummy wanting dinner. Or specifically, wanting Saf. Hardcore carnivores, you can just skip this part since I doubt this will interest you. Saf at Whole Foods (situated at one corner of the food hall) is a new offshoot of the award-winning Saf in Shoreditch, a vegan/raw food restaurant. Most dishes are cooked below 48°C to preserve optimum nutrition and flavour. It’s the kind of feel-good restaurant churning out feel-good feel that doesn’t compromise on taste. I had spiced tempeh with rye crackers, sea vegetable salad with lots of hijiki and wakame in a ginger-sesame dressing, and gyoza stuffed with roasted aubergine, wood ear mushroom and water chestnut. Adored them all!
The Barkers Building, 63-97 Kensington High Street.
The one and only disappointing eat in London goes to Patisserie Valerie, a chain of cafes that’s been around since 1926. A friend speaks highly of the eggs benedict here, but my eggs benedict royale came with 2 overcooked eggs with no chance of flowing yolk, sigh. The Croque Monsieur was so-so and the waitress’s recommendation of chocolate tiramisu was all cream and no substance. Enough said.
15 Bedford Street, near Covent Garden.
There you go, 6 different places to get breakfast, lunch and dinner. If I have to choose, I’d say the experience at Borough Market is my favourite. Having been to many farmer’s markets in Australia, New Zealand and different parts of Europe, I personally think that Borough Market is one of the best foodie’s heaven around!
Read Full Post »