Eating Out in London is a truly incredible experience – there’s as much delicious food and coffee on offer as there is culture, history and architecture. Every kind of traveller is bound to find something inspiring!
Being one of the world’s most visited cities and an extremely popular travel destination, London caters to everyone: from history, architecture and culture to fine food, drink and city life. This being my first trip here, there were touristy things to check off my list – A trip to the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Big Ben were almost mandatory. We really struck gold with the weather, barring the one evening that was grey, overcast and rainy, we had pretty much our entire trip with sunny skies ( with some days getting a tad bit too uncomfortably hot).
A truly multi-cultural city like London is honestly best explored through its food scene for it is here you find the greatest influences of the regions from where people have migrated. With one in three Londoners foreign-born, representing 270 nationalities and 300 tongues, it is possible to sample a wide range of cuisines in the city which was pretty much my agenda for our time there.
Best Coffee Shops in London
Kaffeine – Safe to say, I came to London armed with a list of coffeeshops to try and was largely very impressed with what we uncovered. Easily one of our favorites was Kaffeine, stellar coffee with a courgette, feta and pesto scroll before we head out. The place was bustling as people walked in and out getting their morning cuppa while we had the luxury to sit down and savor. Hallmark of any great vacation, isn’t it?
Timberyard: Another morning we started off at Timberyard when we needed sustenance paired with our coffee – their Hummus & roast peppers sourdough sandwich was seriously simple but memorable, sweet tooth cravings satiated with their Cherry Cronut, a Hot chocolate for him and a perfect latte for me. Just the fuel needed to walk around and explore London!
Honey and Co.: Pretty much Shakshuka perfection here – runny eggs baked in the warmth of spices and tomatoes served with a coriander zehug & sesame bread. Really attentive happy service, pretty little blue tables outside for people watching, a strong black cardamom coffee – that’s really my kinda breakfast! Also, the Dark chocolate & hazelnut babka there is what I call indulgent. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so we shared this (as we always do with any desert). So brioche-y in texture with the right amount of sweetness, an absolute must try!
The Gentlemen Baristas: One of the very best Almond croissants & lattes for two here – a quirky little coffee spot to start the day. Gotta love mismatched coffee cups. Also can we take another moment to appreciate just how perfect that croissant is?
Brooklyn Coffee: Lattes with @compartes bars for company – coffee and chocolate needs sorted in one place. What could possibly be better? Also, really great old school tracks playing in the background, my kinda place to hang. There’s something upbeat about the vibe here.
Dishoom: Desi (Indian) breakfast game strong at Dishoom – Akuri (Parsi style scrambled eggs with spices) mopped up with buttered pav bread & a finger-licking housemade ketchup. The sausage stuffed Naan was the great mix of Indian-influenced-British cuisine. If you’ve spent any time in Irani cafes in Mumbai, Dishoom definitely manages to capture that spirit. Time spent here felt like a slice of Mumbai in London, great service and fabulous vibe to boot!
London’s Best Restaurants:
NOPI by Ottolenghi: Lunch at my favorite Chef Yotam Ottolenghi ‘s NOPI was easily the highlight of our London trip – I went with all the expectations of a true fan having owned and cooked through most of his books and following his work on social media. That we were blown away would be an understatement- whether it was this perfect Rainbow trout with a punchy yuzu kosho labneh or the burrata with peaches, toasted coriander, plum wine or the roasted aubergine with saffron yogurt, even the heritage tomatoes with red onion & sumac as well as roast okra – every dish with its intelligent use of flavors and ingredients made a lasting impression. The coffee & pecan financiers with maple cream for dessert were the perfect ending. It’s safe to say I left a bigger fan than I was when I walked in.
GunPowder – Never did I expect that one of my favorite Indian food experiences would be in London. Gunpowder bowled us over completely with this Aunty Sulu’s Wild Rabbit Pulao, one of my absolute favorite rice dishes EVER! Jam packed with flavour, perfectly cooked rabbit, just the right spice to rice ratio, beautiful crispy golden fried onions. So many great dishes on the menu here – the Karawari soft shell crab, grilled tandoor Broccoli and the Chettinad pulled duck w/ homemade oothappam. We thoroughly savoured every last morsel, I couldn’t recommend highly enough.
Som Saa: Another stellar recommendation for some incredible Thai – the Nahm Dtok Pla Thort – brilliant deep fried sea bass in Isaan herbs that seriously impressed the seafood lover in me. Such a fabulous spot this is for catching up with friends over day time cocktails and some amazing Thai food, we also loved the grilled prawns, Burmese curry, stir fried chicken with chrysanthemum leaves & flowering garlic chives and the Jungle fish curry. The bar menu wows too.
Pizza Pilgrims: All the walking around in this great big city means a sometimes a quick lunch pitstop for pizza is in order – their Salsiccia E Friarielli white pizza with fresh fennel sausage, pickled chilli, wild broccoli, basil and Parmesan is marvelous. Cloud-like pillowy dough base and beautiful simple flavors! Fuss free and delicious.
Hoppers: Knock-out Sri Lankan dinner at Hoppers in Soho, a no holds barred spicy feast – we got the deviled shrimp, shellfish kothu roti, and this beautiful chicken kari, hoppers, pol sambol (dry coconut & Maldivian fish chutney) and THE BEST Brinjal Moju pickle I’ve had outside of Sri Lanka. Well worth the three hour wait ?
Sweet Tooth Satisfaction in London:
Milk Train Cafe: I may not be a big sweet tooth but I got totally onboard the Milk Train for this Salted Caramel PopCorn Ice-Cream with a candy floss cloud. In one bite, I was 5 again, on a London street, with messy fingers and the husband (instead of my mum) rolling eyes at me ? I’d happily do it all over again because life is better with a candy floss cloud isn’t it?
Gelupo Gelateria: We truly had some incredibly sunny days in London like you wouldn’t believe it. So we resorted to Gelato – these Pistachio ( can’t ever go wrong with it) and sublime Lavender + White Chocolate flavors are just what the doctor ordered for this weather!
Borough Market: A trip to the food heaven that is Borough market was high-up on my list and rightly so. Local heirloom tomatoes, incredible local produce laden stalls- what an experience it is to walk around and soak up the sights, sounds and delicious bites all around! I could spend hours there and never realize how much time has gone by. Secretly wishing I could have brought back some of this produce.
There’s much to eat around Borough market and something for every tastebud so I’d totally recommend walking around and stopping for the things that tickle your fancy. Seriously loaded Spanish Seafood Paella with a side of bottomless PimmsCup, there were also fresh oysters, crab tortellini, empanadas and even Desi dosa- talk about the world on a plate. My only recommendation for this place – GO HUNGRY!
Camden Market: Character in Chaos is what best describes Camden market to me. A trip there is a true assault on all your senses. There’s much to do and even more to see – from arts and crafts to bits and bobs all interspersed with crowds, its easy to feel a little bit intimidated. What to do when that happens, grab a seat at one of the many communal tables, get a cold press juice or Ethiopian coffee and some delicious food and you’ll be snug as a bug in a rug!
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter: As a Potter nerd, I feel no shame in acknowledging that a trip to the studio was one of the single greatest reasons for my London trip. What is most striking here is the sheer extent of detail that went into bringing the books to life – whether it was in the looks of the characters or the large scale sets of the common rooms or Weasley’s home. I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of dedicated team work that would be required to pull off bringing a series of books like the Harry Potter to life.
We spent the better part of our day at the studio exploring and taking in much of it – I feel for the husband who’s not particularly magic-inclined. Butter Beers were involved and memorabilia scored, I left a very very happy child. I would only recommend this to a true blue fan, it takes a great love for the story, the books and the movies to truly appreciate this.
Stunning views of the Shard as we walked around the city – we managed to have a pretty great vacation in London, made better by really good weather – almost 5 days of blue skies that surprised us ( and shocked most of our London-based friends)! I was really taken by the architecture, immaculate public transport and most of all it’s food! London, we will definitely return.