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Oi! London Calling

Pro Tips

EAT

Local Foods To Try

English Breakfast

Full-english-breakfast

Brits really like their fry-ups on the weekends. A traditional full English breakfast meal includes eggs, grilled tomatoes & mushrooms, and various pork products like ham and blood sausage and toast.

I find that I've adopted a more European preference for breakfast since moving from the US. I'd much rather have something small like a crumpet and coffee to start my day. This is mainly because I'm usually walking around vs sitting in a car for a couple hours like in the US. I just can't get moving after having such a big breakfast.


Fish, Chips & Mushy Peas

Fishandchips

The most well known fried food meal in England with it's origins as a working class meal. Dish includes fried white fish served with chips or (thick cut french fries) and mushy peas which are what they sound like, mashed up peas which look like baby food but tastes pretty good. Fish is usually served with a lemon wedge and vinager on the side. Take away versions of this meal usually don't include the peas for obvious messy factor reasons.


Bangers & Mash

Bangers

Another traditional English with working class roots, which is simply a hearty combo of sausages (usually Cumberland) and mashed potatoes and gravy. The sausages, called 'bangers' got this name from the WWII era where sausages were likely to expload when cooking due to the added water because of meat rationing at the time.


Ploughman's Lunch

Ploughman

A common menu item in pubs and again another worker's meal, this one being a filling cold meal that ploughmen could wrap up and take to the fields. A basic lunch includes bread, cheese, cold meats or meat pie, raw vegetables, pickles and chutney. I like to think of it as a picnic type meal since you could easily imagine sitting outside with this spread and piling the items onto your crusty bread to eat.


Salt Beef Sandwich

Saltbeef

This beloved New York, Jewish Deli sandwich has made it across the pond and has happily established itself in London as a favorite take away - cheap eat with quite a bit of debate over where to find the best. The sandwich is simple: A couple pieces of bread (preferably a nice rye) with a pile of freshly carved salt beef (referred to as corned beef in the US), mustard and served with a gerkin. Mmm, makes my mouth water just thinking about it.


Afternoon Tea

Tea

Afternoon tea is a centuries old tradition steeped in British culture. It's origins date back to the early 1800s where Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford decided to schedule time for an afternoon snack daily to curb her hunger between breakfast and dinner meals. Tea service is generally served between 3-6pm and includes of a pot of tea served with a variety of tasty savory and sweet snacks including: delicate sandwiches cut into 'fingers', sweet pastries and cakes, and scones with clotted cream and jam.


Cream Tea

Scone
Cream Tea is a quintessential English experience. It's simply tea served with a scone (English quick bread biscuit), jam and clotted cream (very thick cream made from cow's milk). Well actually it's not that simple...

There has been a long standing debate between Cornwall and Devon over the proper way to top a scone. The contraversy being over what goes on first: the jam (Cornwall) or cream (Devon)? I'm not sure which side I'm on because truth be told, I prefer my scone with just the jam - no cream *shrug*

Another variation of cream tea is 'Thunder and Lightning' -- I love this name :) This version is a scone or round bread topped with clotted cream (or whipped cream if clotted cream is not available) and golden syrup, treacle or honey.


Meat Pies vs. Pork Pies

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Meat pies are filled with savory ingredients like steak and potato or chicken and mushroom and served warm. Versions of this dish are often found on pub menus with a side of mashed spuds to soak up the gravey or small hand-held size pies are sold as take-away foods.

Pork Pies are another traditional British food, but don't get them confussed with a meat pie. These piggies are stuffed with chopped pork and pork jelly in a hot water crust pastry and is normally eaten cold. You might see them on a Ploughman's Lunch plate as one of the snacks.


Sunday Lunch: Beef Roast & Yorkshire Pudding

Roast

This is a hearty family meal served on Sunday afternoons. A traditional Sunday lunch will include sliced roast beef & gravy, roasted potato and Yorkshire pudding. Although beef is the typical roast meat for this meal, you'll also find roasted chicken, turkey, goose or pork being carved up. Oh and Yorkshire is not what some commonly think of as a desert pudding - instead it's a puffy bread that can be used to mob up the roast gravy. Many pubs and restaurants serve Sunday lunch and you'll often see families with kids dining out for a relaxing lunch - pops with a pint and mom happy she didn't have to spend hours in the kitchen cooking a roast.


Cornish Pasty

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This traditional Cornish meat pie is popular as a take-away food. It's a brilliant way to eat a hearty meat and potato pie with your hands! A traditional pasty is simple: baked pastry filled with delicious meat, potato, onion, salt and pepper. Shops also sell pasties with a variety of other creative fillings like steak and stilton, lamb, chicken and mushroom...the possibilities of what you can stuff into one of these pastry shells are endless.


Indian Food

Tikka

(aka 'the other British food') Indian cuisine is a favorite food among Brits with chicken tikka masala as one of the country's most popular dishes. Its an interesting contrast to traditional British fare which is void of heavy spices and sauces. You're sure to spot lots of curry houses all over the city where you can get your spice on. Or, take a walk down Brick Lane in East London, and you'll see why this street packed with Indian restaurants is often called 'London's Curry Mile'.


Marmite

Marmite

For one wicked moment, I thought I might play a cruel joke and say that this is by far the most delicious thing to eat - but, here is the truth: I think this is one of those acquired tastes you would love if you grew up with it. It's a thick, strong smelling yeast-based spread that is put on sandwiches, toast or I've even seen a recipe on Nigella Lawson's site for pasta & marmite!

The British company who sells this stuff has the slogan 'Love it or Hate it' which pretty much sums up the sentiments of this food product. I am firmly in the 'Hate it' club. On the company website, they offer the following description for 'Haters': "Eat Marmite? You'd rather rip the wings off live chickens. You'd rather be stripped naked in public. You'd rather swallow rat's tails and snail shells..." Yea, thats exactly how I feel about it but all means try it for yourself, who knows you might find yourself in the camp of 'Lovers' who think this stuff is heaven and would slather it on just about anything.

Ewww...I have a bad taste in my mouth just writing about this stuff, so nuff said.


Where To Fill Your Belly

Beigel Shop (Salt Beef)

155beigel

The Beigel Shop is a local stop for a casual and incredibly cheap take-away option to get your salt beef fix. Don't let the queue detour you - it's worth waiting. Such a simple thing and done incredibly well: moist salt beef, fresh baked bread, mustard, gherkin. Mmmm. Bagels are made fresh all day and are done just right (boiled, then baked). If you have a sweet tooth, there are a tempting variety of bakery sweets filling the display cases for you to drool over as you wait in line.

  • Location: 155 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB (Area: Shoreditch)
  • Telephone: 020 7729 0826


Brass Rail Salt Beef Bar (Salt Beef)

Thebrassrail

A serious salt beef sandwich experience (Some argue it's the best)! Cafe is located in the fabulous Selfridge's food hall. And yes, like everything in Selfridges, the sandwich is a bit pricey at £7.50 - but you can't put a price on perfection right? Go ahead and indulge in a sandwich that is immaculately prepared, carved and assembled and don't even think about getting the smaller size sandwich option - go all in and get the large!

  • Location: Selfridge's Food Hall, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB (Area: Piccadilly)


​​Borough Market (The Ultimate Market)

Germandeli
Oliveshop
Bmmap

A place you must visit! It's the ultimate food market with traders selling a with range of high quality, local and international foods. I love coming here, especially on Thursdays when it's not so crowded to pick up groceries and find inspiration for my weekend cooking. Even if you're not shopping for groceries, it's a fun to look around, taste samples and talk to the traders.

Another reason to visit are the numerous food vendors in and around the market. Go hungry and eat your way around, sampling a gut busting variety of delicious foods. Below are a few of my favorites, but there are so many more and all ridiculously good. Follow your nose and fill that belly!

German Deli - These ladies serve up delicious brats. It's pretty much a must eat for me whenever I'm at the market (Green Market. Open on market days)

Kappacasein - Cheeeeeezzzzzeeee! Bet you have not had a toasted cheese sandwich this good before (Green Market. Open on market days)

Hobb's Meat - There is always a queue here for their pork, turkey & salt beef sandwiches (Open Wed - Sat, located just outside of Green Market)

Monmouth Coffee Co - They take coffee very seriously here from the sourcing, roasting, brewing and it all shows in the end product (On Stoney Street, outside of Middle Market - Open Mon - Sat)

Rabot Estate - Fancy a cuppa chocolate instead of coffee? Rabot Estate is a cacao producer from St Lucia who also makes chocolates. Chocolate lovers should not miss this stop (On Stoney Street - Open Mon - Sat)

Gelateria 3Bis - Oh yea...gelato. Need I say more? The owners make this treat with locally sourced ingredients (On Park Street. Middle Row turns into Park Street when you cross Stoney Street. Open Mon - Sat)

  • Location: 8 Southwark, London SE1 1TL (Area: London Bridge)
  • Market is open weekly on Thu, Fri, Sat. Thursdays are usually less crowded and often have fun demonstration kitchen events. Details can be found on the website. Shops with permanent locations around the market are usually open during the week Mon - Sat.
  • Website: http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/


La Fromagerie Café (Cheese & Gourmet Food Store & Cafe)

La Fromagerie cheese

This is a food lover's den. This small shop is packed with gourmet foods including incredible fresh produce that you won't find in an ordinary store. But the real show stopper here is the cheese room - holy cow! Packed full of all types of cheese. It's no wonder they were voted the best cheese shop in London. I'd love to be a mouse locked up in that room.

In the back, there is a small space with tables where you can taste a small menu of freshly prepared food of the day for breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack. They also have wine & cheese tasting plates.

  • Location: 4 Moxon Street, London (Next door to The Ginger Pig butcher)
  • Telephone: 020 7935 0341
  • Website: lafromagerie.co.uk


The Dorchester Hotel (Afternoon Tea)

Dorchester3

The decor of the hotel Promenade area in the lobby on the ground floor, sets the mood: Plush sofas and chairs are nestled between columns of marble, fountains and lush flowers and plants. Tea service includes everything you might imagine a traditional afternoon tea to be from the delicate finger sandwiches with smoked salmon, egg, chicken, prawn and cucumber, to fresh scones and with clotted cream and jam, ending with a jaw dropping platter of pastries including white chocolate and praline pyramids, miniature raspberry macaroons, pineapple financiers on a coconut mousse, apple and macadamia delice, and a fresh berry crumble tart.

  • Tea Service: £39 (or £49 with champagne). Five sittings every day at 1.15pm, 2.30pm, 3.15pm, 4.45pm and 5.15pm. Reservations are required. Dress is 'smart casual'.
  • Location: Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 1QA (Area: Mayfair)
  • Telephone: 020 7629 8888
  • Website: http://www.thedorchester.com
  • Note: There are many other places in this Mayfair area that are regarded as having excellent afternoon tea service including: The Lanesborough Hotel, Athenaeum Hotel, Four Seasons Park Lane, Grosvenor House


Mad Hatter Tea @ Sanderson Hotel (Afternoon Tea, Mad Hatter Style)

Sanderson-mad-hatters-tea-party

Traditional tea service with a magical Alice In Wonderland twist. Sandwiches are made from rainbow colored bread, they have an 'Eat Me' strawberry mouse, creative 'Drink Me' potions in flavors like Apple Pie, Blueberry and Hazelnut Ice cream lollipops that have unique textures and amazing fluffy scones with clotted cream and jam. Tea service also includes a glass of bubbly.

  • Tea Service: £35 per person, Casual dress, 2:00 PM-5:30 PM Mon-Fri, 1:00 PM-5:30 PM Sat-Sun
  • Location: Sanderson Hotel - 50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG
  • Telephone: 020 7300 1400
  • Website: http://www.sandersonlondon.com


Gentlemen's Afternoon Tea @ Sanctum/CSDR (Afternoon Tea, For Men)

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You man not hip with the idea of holding his pinky up while drinking out of a little china cup? This is a brilliant solution: The Sanctum hotel offers an afternoon tea designed for men which includes snacks like mini burgers, bloddy mary oyster, roast beef sandwich in a Yorkshire pudding, fudge cake with Jack Daniels ice cream, tea, coffee, a tankard of Jack Daniels 'Gentleman's Jack' and a cigar to be smoked on the roof garden.


Teanamu Chaya Teahouse (Afternoon Tea, East meets West)

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East meets West afternoon tea service in a charming shop in Notting Hill. The tea list is comprised of dozens of asian tea blends to choose from. The tea cuisine menu changes regularly and includes both sweet and savory treats like a lotus leaf parcel filled with sticky rice, braised mushrooms and sweet azuki or sweet potato pudding with creamed coconut sauce. They are only open on weekends and reservations are required.

  • Tea Service: Tea and treats are sold a la carte with a £10 minimum. 12pm - 6pm Saturday & Sunday.
  • Location: Coach House, 14a St Luke's Road, London W11 1DP (Area: Notting Hill)
  • Telephone: 020 7243 0374
  • Website: http://www.teanamu.com/teahouse/


Hardwood Arms (Gastropub)

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Classic British food prepared with the highest standards using seasonal products + Casual setting where you can relax and enjoy a pint = An exceptional gastropub, regarded as one of the best in London.

  • Recommendation: Scotch Egg
  • Location: Walham Grove, London SW6 1QP (Area: Fulham)
  • Telephone: 0207 386 1847
  • Website: http://www.harwoodarms.com/


Bull & Last (Gastropub)

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A local favorite for Sunday lunch and all around excellent gastropub that elevates simple British tucker, but keeps their feet on the ground by serving up real London ales in a casual pub setting with lots of stuffed animals on the walls. The Hardwood Arms seems to get a lot more hype, but I'd recon this place is just as good and perhaps even sliding ahead by a little fuzzy bull nose for their awesome bread basket - and don't get stingy and skip the bread because it costs a couple pounds extra, it's worth it.

  • Recommendations: Sunday Roast, Homemade Charcuterie Platter, Bread Basket
  • Location: 168 Highgate Road, London NW5 1QS (Area: Parliament Hill/Dartmouth Park)
  • Telephone: 020 7267 3641
  • Website: http://www.thebullandlast.co.uk


Halepi (Greek)

This is THE place to go for an authentic Greek meal. The Kazolides family have been running the restaurant since 1966 and I can see why they have been so successful through the decades! After visiting Athens recently, I can say this place really does authentic Greek food well. The food from starters, mains and dessert are all incredibly flavorful and the portions generous, so you're going to want to be hungry enough to try a little of everything.

Atmosphere is intimate and casual with closely placed tables and brightly colored table covers. It can be quite crowded and hard to move around, but I think it's part of the charm - it feels and tastes like a family owned and operated restaurant. Service was speedy and friendly. Overall a remarkable experience!

  • Recommendations: Greek Sausages (Loukanika), Tzatziki (Cool, creamy & tangy cucumber yogurt dish which is especially good on pita or with grilled meats), Saganaki (Pan fried Greek cheese), Lamb on Spit, Galaktoboureko (Custard in Phyllo Dough), Greek Wine
  • Location: 18 Leinster Terrace, London W2 3ET (Area: Bayswater)
  • Telephone: 020 7262 1070


MEATliquor (Burgers & Drinks)

Meatliquor

Burgers and booze are a combo that put a smile on my face. Unfortunately the long queue that can quickly build for Meat Liquor can easily wipe that smile away. Try to avoid 'peak' times by coming early to avoid the long queue.

The burgers here are 'American diner style'. Patties are of ground chuck steak, seasoned and served in a slightly sweet/soft roll, with pickles, ketchup and French's yellow mustard. There are other toppings available as well like mushrooms and bacon. Fries are thing cut and you can opt for a chili cheese version which you should of course go for. Just remember there are no forks here so it will get messy. Wash all this down with a boozie bevy served in a jam jar.

  • Recommendations: Burger, Chicken Sandwich, lots of napkins!
  • Location: 74 Welbeck Street, London W1G 0BA (Area: Marylebone)
  • Telephone: 020 7224 4239
  • Website: http://www.meatliquor.com


Pizza East Portabello (Pizza)

Pizzaeast

Located right in the Portabello market area, this place gets very busy and is always buzzing with a mixed bag of couples sitting at the counter and families with kids. Seating is casual with weathered blue metal chairs and wood tables with two floors indoors and outside seating as well.

The pizzas are made to order with fresh ingredients covering a light, chewy dough with a slightly crip and chared crust from the wood fired oven. I usually get the simple combo of buffalo mozzarella, tomato, basil. I recommend snagging a spot at the counter where you get a good view of the action and can see how the pizzas are made. This is a great spot for lunch or a casual dinner.

They also have another (original) location in Shoreditch if you're on the other side of the city.


Ittenbari (Ramen)

Ittenbari

Ramen is my idea of comfort food. And the typical cloudy, rainy London weather really sets the mood for wanting to warm up with a big bowl of noodle soup. A favorite place to go to satisfy this craving is Ittenbari in Soho. This small ramen shop is an offshoot of the noted ramen restaurant in Ryukishin in Osaka, Japan.

The menu is simple, they have 2 kinds of ramen: Shio or Shoyu (Miso coming soon) and in 2 sizes which comes with egg, boiled pork, bamboo shoots and green onions. Very simple and very delicious. There are other rice dishes on the menu, but don't get distracted, you can get curry rice elsewhere Get the ramen and maybe a gyoza to start.

Slurp and enjoy!

  • Recommendation: Shoyu Ramen, Gyozas
  • Location: 84 Brewer Street, London W1F 9UB (Area: Soho)
  • Website: http://ittenbari.co.uk/
  • Note: They open at noon and the place fills up quickly so get there a little early if you are going for lunch.


Waterway (Outdoor Dining)

Restaurant and bar overlooking the canal in Little Venice. The outdoor drinking area is a really nice spot (especially in warm weather) for drinks and nibbles like their Spanish cheese and olive plate. If you want more than just a nibble, just move into the restaurant which has really nicely done bistro fare.

  • Location: 54-56 Formosa Street, London W9 2JU (Area: Maida Vale, Little Venice)
  • Telephone: 020 7266 3557
  • Website: www.thewaterway.co.uk


Simpson's In The Strand (British)

Roast & Yorkshire Pudding


Shanghai Blues (Chinese)

Location near Covent Garden, hip atmosphere and good food all set the right mood for a fun night out. Restaurant decor is Shanghai art-deco luxury with comfortable seating areas that are good for groups. They also have jazz music giving the place a bit of a club feeling. It's a nice alternative to Chinatown and is a nice place to start out an evening with a group dinner before heading out to enjoy the night-life scene in the area.

  • Location: 193-197 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BD
  • Telephone: 020 7404 1668


Sale E Pepe (Italian)

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My favorite Italian restaurant in London. I love the warm welcome and enthusiastic shout of 'Bonasera!' from the manager Tony when entering. The staff make you feel like you're coming back to visit an old friend. The food is excellent and exactly how Italian food should be: simple and prepared with fresh ingredients. Perfetto.

  • Location: 9-15 Pavilion Road, London SW1X 0HD (Area: Chelsea, Knightsbridge)
  • Telephone: 020 7235 0114
  • Website: http://www.saleepepe.co.uk


Moro (Spanish, Tapas)

  • Location: 34-36 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE (Area: Clerkenwell)
  • Telephone: 020 7833 8336
  • Website: http://www.moro.co.uk


Goodman, Mayfair (American Steakhouse)

Goodman

Being an expat from So. California, I really miss eating a good steak which is damn hard to find in London.

I am happy to say Goodman has USDA cuts and tastes just like I know a good steak should. There are a few locations in London. I've also been to the Canary Warf restaurant, but think the Mayfair branch is the best for service and steak grilling consistency. The burger is also an outstanding choice: It's juicy and tastes like a steak -- and thier chips that are served along side the burger are perfect squared blocks of creamy potato on the inside and crispy outside.

The restaurants are owned by Russians but they seem to have nailed that American steak experience - I've been to the Goodman in Kiev and it's easily one of the best places for a steak there as well. The owners have branched out a bit further in London opening a place called 'Burger & Lobster' which is a casual dining spot where you can get a lobster roll or their delicious burger. I've been meaning to check it out too, except there is always a long queue and I hate lines.


Hawksmoor, Seven Dials (British Steakhouse)

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A good British steakhouse is a rare thing indeed. Hawksmoor holds the honors for being the best in London and for good reason. They source high-quality Brisith beef from my favorite butcher shop The Ginger Pig and the meat is dry aged for 35 days to develop a rich extra meaty flavor and results in a proper steak. They also do a very good Sunday beef roast here. The restaurant has 3 spots, with the Seven Dials branch conveniently located in Covent Garden.

  • Recommendations: Steak, Sunday Roast
  • Location: 11 Langley Street, London, WC2H 9JG
  • Telephone: 020 7420 9390


Wolkgang Puck's Cut Steakhouse (Steak)

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

DRINK

Where To Get Your Caffeine Fix

Cafe Nero

Bar Italia


Where To Wet Your Lips

Circus

After entering through a non-descript street entrance, you can let the front desk know you'd like to go to the bar if you're not there for dinner and they will lead you into the scene...

This is a place that you have to check out yourself to get the full effect -- Designer did an amazing job, kinda has a Cirque du Soleil type of feel. Not the circus of your childhood that's for sure -- no dumbo and peanuts - and thankfully no scary clowns when I was there (I hate clowns, they creep me out!).

Bar is located in the back with a view of the periodic entertainment - misc performers including cabaret style dancers and acrobats. They have a unique selection of signature cocktails and excellent bartenders who will nail any drink you ask for. Serious mixology in practice here - Bartenders really know their stuff!

This is the place to go to for a proper drink and check out something fun- don't take the place too seriously - just enjoy. Location: 27-29 Endell Street, London WC2H 9BA (Area: Central London - Covent Garden)


69 Colebrooke Row

This tiny (20 person max), discret 'Bar With No Name' has an established reputation for delivering an elevated drink experience through their scientific approach to mixology and impeccable standards. They also offer cocktail masterclass sessions on Satruday afternoons for £40 if you are keen to hone your own drink making skills by learning from some of the best.

  • Location: 69 Colebrooke Row, London N1 8AA
  • Telephone: 07540 528593
  • Website: www.69colebrookerow.com


Happiness Forgets

  • Location: 8-9 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU


Fox & Anchor

  • Location: 115 Charterhouse Street, London EC1M 6AA


Prince Alfred (Pub)

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Picture perfect pub in Maida Vale with beautiful Victorian style plate glass and wood. They layout of the pub is really interesting: There are wood panels dividing the space around the bar into little seating areas (aka 'snugs') with short doors to pass through each section. I was told this was done to separate the different working class groups back in the day. This one happens to be my local watering hole. Or, if it's too busy then I'll head down the street to The Warrington. They have a small pub snack menu and there is also a nice restaurant attached called 'The Formosa' open for dinner.

  • Location: 5A Formosa Street, London W9 1EE (Area: Maida Vale, Little Venice)
  • Telephone: 020 7286 3287
  • Website: www.theprincealfred.com


The Crown, Soho (Pub)

The crown

Centrally located just a couple minutes wak from Piccadilly Circus, this is a convenient spot to meet up with friends for a drink after work or to start off the night. Service is really friendly and they have a good range of beer and wine. There is a small dining area upstairs with pub grub offerings- The fish and chips are pretty good.

  • Location: 64 Brewer Street, London, W1F 9TP (Area: Soho)


Cigar Terrace at No. 10 Manchester Street Hotel (Cigar Lounge)

  • Location: 10 Manchester Street, London W1U 4DG (Area: Marleybone)
  • Telephone: 020 7317 5900
  • Website: tenmanchesterstreethotel.com


Gordon's WIne Bar (Wine Bar)

[Placeholder: Add Review - oldest wine bar in London, Established 1890]

DO

Markets

Borough Market

Bricklane Market / Sunday Up Market

Portabello Market

Brixton Market

Royal Parks

London has some amazing public parks, which are popular with both tourists and locals. When the weather warms up, locals flock these parks. In the middle of the day, you'll see tons of people on their lunch break sitting on the grass. The parks are one of my absolute favorite things about London! Below are two in Central London that are really special to go see.

Kensington Gardens

The most popular is Kensington Gardens as it’s located next to the famous Kensington Palace. The park is huge and very beautiful. If you go here, you should plan to take a tour of Kensington Palace, which re-opened after a £12 million remodel in March 2012. It should be really nice after all the work they put into it. There is also a nice spot in the park called the Orangery, which serves up a decent afternoon tea if you want to take a little break after walking around.


Regents Park

Swan
The other smaller, but just as beautiful park I’d recommend is Regents Park. This has a little less tourist traffic and is where a lot of locals go to run, bike and play soccer/rugby in the huge open field. I go walking around here 2-3 times a week depending on the weather. It’s really gorgeous. There are paddle boats for rent at the park where you can scoot around the lake.

Also, there is a little river than runs through the park and you can get on a little boat near the zoo which is on the north side of the park which will take you to/from the area I live called Little Venice because of the waterway where there are little cafes where you can have lunch or stop for a coffee break. There is a little boat right were you are dropped off that sells sandwiches and coffee or if you walk a couple blocks there are a few other good places to stop: Raoul’s Cafe, The Waterway or the Warrington Pub.

  • Website: http://www.royalparks.gov.uk/The-Regents-Park.aspx
  • Local Tip: If you take a short walk up the Primrose Hill section of Regents Park (you can find it on the park maps), you’ll have the best view of all of London - for free. If you're were thinking of going on 'The London Eye', forget it: the lines there are ridiculously long and it's expensive. Primrose Hill is a much better bet.


Theater/Entertainment

Theatre Royal Haymarket

Bravo! This is one of the most beautiful, intimate venues I've been to. If you are in town and like theatre, this is the perfect venue. I went to see Ralph Fiennes in The Tempest and it was amazing how the hours flew by, I must have been under a charm and happily I would have stayed under Prospero's magic. Hrm...writing this reminds me, I should check out what is playing there now.

  • Location: 18 Suffolk Street, London SW1Y 4HT (Area: St James's)
  • Telephone: 020 7930 8890


KoKo

  • Location: 1A Camden High Street, London NW1 7JE (Area: Euston)
  • Telephone: 0870 432 5527
  • Website: http://www.koko.uk.com


O2 Center Brixton

Shopping

Books for Cooks

Carnaby Street

James Smith & Sons umbrella shop

Kingly Court

Covent Garden

Harvey Nichols

Food Shopping

The Ginger PIg

Lo's Noodle Factory

I had a serious craving for some noodles and not any kind, but fresh, glossy ho fun (wide rice noodles). Hunger and determination not to settle for a crap take away option gave me the courage to wander down this seemingly dirty and sketchy back alley to get my ho fun fix.

Down a back alley in Chinatown, there is a little door with a white sign 'Lo's Noodle Factory' - When you walk in, you're literally stepping into the factory floor. Peep into the first door on the right and you'll see the noodles coming straight out of the machines and a man putting them into little bags. I have to admit, I had a little glimmer in my eye as I looked around at this noodle heaven *bliss*

The guy manning the packaging took a quick minute out of his work to hand me 2 bags of noodles (£1 per bag) and I walked out a very happy gal already thinking about how good these were going to taste for dinner. Made a very simple beef chow fun dish and tucked in to the best noodles I've had in a very long time. Ho fun craving fed (for now) - we'll see what other alleys my next craving leads me...


Japan Centre

Great little Japanese market with a little quick food section in the front where you can grab a bite to eat (all sorts of fresh sushi, dumplings, bento boxes, etc).

I go here to stock up on all my cupboard goods like brown sushi rice, panko, curry, furikake, green tea, sauces. Vegi and meat section are a bit small, but they have all the basics. Nice selection of tasty japanese breads and baked goods including my favorite pancake & red bean :D

And you know the place is legit cause the staff all speak Japanese -- although, I'm one of those 'banana' 3rd gen Japanese so I don't understand anything they say *eep, such a disgrace huh?* Oh well, I just acted like a shy asian girl and nodded my head and smiled a lot when the staff talked to me at the check out pretending to understand.


Loon Fung Supermarket Ltd

  • Location: 42-44 Gerrard Street, London W1D 5QG (Area: Chinatown)
  • Telephone: 020 7437 7332
  • Website: loonfung.com


Melt (Chocolate)

Chocolate Zen. There are no fancy frills to these chocolates - they have an organic look, in contrast to the more couture appearance of other luxury chocolates. You can clearly see the Japanese influences from head chocolatier Chikako Watanabe in these creations. My faves: Sea Salted Caramel Bon Bon & Green Tea Truffle.

A box of 10 assorted is £15. which is up there as the most expensive chocolates I've purchased, but worth it. It's kinda like a chocolate version of 'fine dining'; it's not for everyday but I'll happily pay the price for the quality and taste of these unique creations and they make fabulous gifts.

They also have a little spot in Selfridges on Oxford Circus among the other chocolate kiosks in the food area, which I've found convenient to pop over to buy a gift, but miss out on seeing and smelling the chocolate making.

Roast Hog (Street Food)

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This is one street food that I wish were available in more places: A whole roasted pig with crackling skin. Chop that bad boy up and slap it into a roll for easy eating. Oh yes, it's hog heaven!

The company also does catering for parties and sells Portuguese specialty products at other markets including Boroughs and Partridges. But, it's at Broadway Market in Hackney on Saturdays where you'll score one of their hog roast rolls and roast chickens which are marinated in piri piri, wine, lemon and spices.