I Moved from Austin, TX to London last week. Still getting acclimated and used to Temp Housing (looking for a flat), but I figured I'd check in here and start dumping information on what I've found.
Not a whole lot of eating just yet as I'm getting my head together, rushing around with work, and more. I'll try to be as exact as possible though and add to the ever growing "places to eat"
It is amusing though, the idea that the first thing you do when you get to a new place is walk to all of the butcher's mentioned on this board, to make sure you know where to get great meats. :)
So far, I've primarily done Grocery Store stuff, with a smattering of shops and restaurants.
Grocery standpoint, Marks and Spencer and Tesco. I have a dislike towards Tesco, but I'm unsure if it's justified. I do feel that their produce, fresh goods, and more are lower quality. Even with the lower prices, it's not quite enough.
Marks and Spencer is interesting. I don't care for the primary focus on pre-prepared food, but I've definitely been using it. Their "Cook!" line of uncooked foods have been superlative. Good ingredients, easy to prep. It's stuff like chicken topped with parmesan and pesto, chicken wrapped in ham with sundried tomatoes, and others.
Good for a quick easy to cook meal. The fact that the ingredients read like full fledged cooking recipes (no emulsified dioxynucleicized whatnot) makes it much more palatable. Pricing isn't bad either.
That said, I'm off to find a large dutch oven so I can start cooking, even in my temp housing. That'll be the adventure today. That and visiting Waitrose to see if I can find a good place to buy staples (chicken/beef broth come to mind)
Oh yeah, and Garlic that isn't WET!.
On the restaurant front, there are a few. I ate at a relatively terrible burrito joint near Oxford Circus. A coworker took me there so I don't remember the name. Overly salty, and not comparable.
Also got to go to the Embassy, near Saville Row. Swanky, priced "reasonably" well for a very upscale place. I had Scallop Ceviche as a starter which was superlative. Tart, Strongly flavored, but matched with some amazing thinly sliced raw scallops.
The Main was interesting. Beef with a truffle sauce and spinach something or other. Decently tender, but bland beef (a problem I've run into everywhere here), and a relatively flat sauce. Still a decent main, but compared to the great flavor levels of the starter, not as good as I'd have hoped. This was a work meal, so it was covered. I do not believe I would go there if I was footing the bill, but that's also because I'm still getting used to the finances.
Ate yesterday at Daquise, a polish restaurant right next to South Kensington Tube. This was what I'd call a "perfect food moment". I had been walking around since the early morning. Essentially trekking back and forth across all of West London. (Notting Hill to West Kensington, 2 trips).
It was cold, windy, and bright. I was absolutely starving and was trying to follow my Guide to Cheap Eats in London. I started by trying to find Lomo. It was closed. I started to go to Bombay Brasserie, but changed my mind mid tube journey. I exited at South Kensington to try to go to the Pigs Ear, but after figuring out the distance, gave up on walking even further.
So I ended up at Daquise. Unimpressive facade, teeny tiny sign. Interior is pretty tacky, but it was warm, full of families and couples talking in Polish. Simple menu, I had the Zozy (sp), a mince of Pork and Veal, wrapped around sauteed mushrooms, covered in mushroom gravy, served with rice.
It could've been the weather, the tone of the day, or other ephemerals, but that meal was just a near perfect addition to that day. Tender, just the right amount of fat. The gravy had a few flavors, but funnily enough, had a slight tang of boxed or canned gravy. Some might laugh at that being a positive, but given the warm, homey feel of the place and the type of food I was having, it was perfect. Comfort food to the highest level.
And it was quite cheap. Huge portion, plus a mineral water for 9.50. I added 2 pounds for service on top of that, but great deal.
Walking out I grabbed 4 cookies from Ben's Cookies, as I'd been seeing them during a few other stops. I ate those later that evening after reheating them slightly.
Not that impressed. Great presentation, great smell, but I don't like cookies that maintain softness by deliberately undercooking them. The interior of the cookies was ostensibly raw. I could've finished cooking them in the oven, but that's not really the point. Even once you get past the underdoneness, they're pretty flat in terms of flavor. Mostly sweet, not a whole lot of character, even amongst the different varieties. Not really recommended unless it's an impulse buy.
That's about it so far. I'm going to try to head down to Beigel Bakery on Brick Lane, along with a few other visits to try and get some cooking staples and supplies. I haven't checked in with any of the markets, mostly because I don't have the space at the moment to do any sort of meaningful food storage or cooking beyond stews.