This past MLK Day, I took an extended long weekend and went to London! London is my favorite city in the world, and I hadn’t been back since I studied abroad there more than 4 years ago. Back in October, I’d found a US Airways flight for 30,000 miles roundtrip (normally it’s about 60,000-70,000 to go to Europe) and knew I had to book it immediately since I had a lot of frequent flyer miles anyway. I convinced one of my friends from Birmingham to come along with me and later a friend of mine in Florida decided to book her trip as well! It was a great reunion with friends and the city I love.
Now I could go on and on about everything we did but I wanted to share some of my favorite eats with you. The London food scene is booming, and it’s definitely evolved since I was there in 2010. Not to say there wasn’t good food there before, because there definitely was, but it’s taken on a trendier, more farm-to-table, artisan-cooking feel. They’re modernizing British cuisine and incorporating many of the flavors and cultures of the city into cool new restaurants that are popping up everywhere. It was fun to see (and taste)!
Here are some of the top dishes I had:
Donuts from Bread Ahead at Borough Market These donuts. Oh my goodness. I have never had a better donut in my life. I got the Salted Caramel Honeycomb Donut and let me tell you, I could have eaten a dozen of them. The dough was so moist and bready, but not in a heavy way. It had the perfect combination of lightness and denseness (I promise you this makes sense if you could try them). And the cream. Oh my worddd the cream. You could tell it was homemade and the salted caramel flavor was not overly sweet and paired perfectly with the crispy honeycomb piece on top.
Vegetarian Curry from Gujurati Rasoi at Borough Market You can’t go to London and not get Indian food. It’s some of the best. So on that first day when we went to Borough Market (one of my favorite markets in London) and we passed a stand with some of the best looking vegetarian curry I’ve ever seen, I knew I had to try it. You could choose two or three curries, served over Basmati rice, and top them with cilantro, onions, tamarind sauce, and other toppings. I opted for the Cauliflower Curry and Lentil Curry. The flavors were so complex, not too spicy, and the perfect belly-warming meal on a chilly London day. (Sorry guys, curry does not photograph pretty)
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese and Hiver Honey Beer from Whyte and Brown Ok so apparently I ate a lot of cauliflower on this trip. But anyway, Whyte and Brown is in Kingly Court off Carnaby Street and is known for their free-range chicken dishes and craft beer. I actually did not get a chicken dish, but my friend did and loved it. I opted for the crab and avocado toast with a side of cauliflower mac and cheese. Both were delicious, but I especially loved the use of ditalini pasta for the mac and cheese. The real standout though was the recommended accompanient to the crab toast, a Hiver Honey Beer. It’s made from the honey of London’s urban beekeepers and is one of the best beers I’ve ever had.
Falafel from Kazan Let me start by saying everything we ate at this Turkish restaurant in Victoria was amazing. It was hard to choose just one dish. We ordered an appetizer sampler (vegetarian mezze platter) to share and then I had chicken shish kebabs with grilled vegetables for my entree. Everything was great, but what really stood out was the falafel on our mezze platter. It wasn’t dry like some falafels tend to be, and the ingredients inside weren’t as finely chopped and ground, so you got a lot of texture, crunch, and flavor. I couldn’t get enough of it. Also, we had amazing Turkish lemonade to drink, made with fresh mint, lime & lemon juice, rose water, and grenadine.
Beef Carbonnade from Belgo We went to a Belgian restaurant in Covent Garden one night on the recommendation of a friend since the day trip we were supposed to take to Brussels on Saturday didn’t happen (long story – but for the best, a fire in the channel tunnel caused train shutdowns for two days). I ordered the Beef Carbonnade, which is beef stew made with apples, plums, and Gueuze beer. It was served with stoemp mash, a traditional Belgian dish made of creamed potato with carrots, savoy cabbage, and leeks. The stew reminded me of my favorite German dish, Sauerbraten, due to it’s slight sweetness and heartiness. And of course, I ordered a Delirium Tremens beer to go with it (one of the most famous beers from Belgium)!
I hope you enjoyed reading about these dishes as much as I enjoyed eating them! Stay tuned for some more posts about London and make sure to check out these places if you make it across the pond.