Travel – London Restaurants

How long did you think I could stretch out content from our London trip?  Did you answer 3 months?  Ding ding ding!  But today’s post is potentially one of the most useful from that trip, so best for last, eh?  Obviously I love good food, and the Boy does too, so we were eager to try some nice places on our trip.  The Boy loves Indian, and also requested a Sunday Roast (more on that later), and his girls are picky in the way that most grade-school girls are, but not so picky that we’d let them eat junk the entire time, and we are strong believers that you can find something for everyone wherever you go.  So those were our parameters.  We also would be sticking close to “home” for the evening meal, so that meant keeping things to “our neighborhood”, which was South Kensington.

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Literally the first place we went after dropping our bags at the flat was a French Boulangerie (bakery) called Oree.  This was the perfect place to recover after being on the plane for hours.  We had tea, pastries, and the Boy and I ate salads because airplane vegetables are not the most enjoyable.  I also spent time using their free wifi to converse with my bank that yes – I was the one who used my debit card in a foreign country.  If you’re in the area and need an authentically French pick-me-up – this is where to go.

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Our first dinner was sort of decided for us as we looked at options along the Old Brompton Road and it began to rain.  We rushed over to Franco Manca thinking it would be a long wait with our party of 6, but they seated us right away.  They serve Sicilian-style sourdough pizza, and it was terrific.  The menu is short, so there’s not a lot to have to decide over, but it’s all super tasty.  Also, very reasonably priced, and there are locations all over the city, even though it doesn’t feel like a chain.

The next day the Boy and I managed to find ourselves on our own for a few hours without the girls on our anniversary.  So we stopped for ice cream at a place called Four Winters which does liquid-nitrogen-frozen ice cream, and focuses on seasonal flavors.  A perfect mid-day stop.

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Dinner that night was our first Indian restaurant of the trip.  It’s called Star of India and it was a little on the fancy side, and we pretty much only got a table because we promised to eat quickly before the next party arrived later in the evening.  It was really good.  I wish I had taken a picture of the Boy’s face while he ate.  It was a very happy face, and the food was terrific.

A quick word on chains: you’re going to find them everywhere.  Sometimes you will visit them, and it will be ok.  We definitely had meals at both Pret and Nando’s Peri Peri – a sandwich chain and a Peruvian chicken chain respectively – that have both made their way over to the US.  There will be times on vacation when you’re not physically or mentally able to go out and choose from a proper restaurant menu.  Or you want something cheaper, but still tasty.  This is where a well known, more interesting chain works well.  And it’s nice to have options.

Our first proper pub meal came at the Hereford Arms.  We had walked a long way and were tired.  It was on our way back to the flat from the tube station, and we were hungry.  So we popped in, had a very short wait for a table, and sat to eat.  They had a kids menu (most corporate-owned pubs – which is most of them – do these days), but we wanted the girls to try something more interesting, and they did.  The food was nice, the beer was nice, but the sticky toffee pudding for dessert was potentially the best part.

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Another funny thing about eating out in different countries is seeing what is “normal” for ethnic restaurants to put on their menu.  We had dinner at a Thai restaurant called Suksan Thai which was DELICIOUS.  But seeing how different the menu was from most American Thai places was fascinating.  No Pad See-Ew for me that day, but that’s ok.  There was lots of delicious food on the menu, and we once again had a terrific dessert to share among ourselves.

Perhaps you’re asking us if we ate lunch in any of the museum or castle cafes?  Well, the answer is mostly no.  That stuff tends to be overpriced and not particularly interesting.  But we did find ourselves hungry for a proper tea with scones just as we arrived at Kensington Palace.  It was delicious (we ate in the Palace Cafe, not the Orangery).  I had a Victoria sponge (cake), and the rest of the group had clotted cream and jam on their scones.  So good!  And surprisingly easy on the budget for museum cafe fare.

Dinner after the palace was more India for the boy.  Amazingly, the two Indian restaurants we visited were literally around the corner from each other, and were both terrific.  Noor Jahan had a more northern-style, and was excellent.  In addition, we split another dessert, and tried our best not to roll back to our flat.

On our final day – a Sunday – we went in search of a Sunday Roast.  A roast involves (obviously) roasted meats of some kind (usually chicken, lamb or pork), roast potatoes and other vegetables, and usually a yorkshire pudding.  We found the most amazing roast when we were in Greenwich in an independent pub called The Greenwich Union, which was perfect on all counts.  We happened to have sun that day, so were able to sit out in the garden area.  The food was terrific.  They had an amazing selection of craft beer.  We had to tear ourselves away from the meal in order to go do properly touristy things.

Our final full meal of the trip was dinner at the Anglesea Arms.  I think we did not set ourselves up for success with this one.  The girls were cranky and tired.  It was raining again.  The pub was full of people watching the Euro Cup, and was thus very very loud, and we knew every time that France scored.  The food was very delayed as a result of a problem in the kitchen.  I’m sure it’s a lovely place the rest of the time, but we were just there on a off night.

Overall, we had some delicious food.  I received big kisses for fulfilling both of my Boy’s requests.  The girls didn’t complain too much, and by the end were getting to be pros at finding food on the menu that interested them.  I have a giant list of places that were recommended to us in and around our neighborhood, but have a few other recommendations in more central places if anyone has specific questions.  And that’s where we’ll leave it.  What’s the best place you’ve eaten at in London, or on any vacation recently?

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