Restaurants & Bars 3

London report-back

kate | Jul 18, 2005 08:27 PM

God, I had forgotten how expensive London can be. Oh, well...

Gerrard Place, Leicester Squ. tube stop.
I come here every time I am in London for dim sum, which they serve from the traditional carts during lunchtime. Lots of fun, including some of the best deep fried seaweed. Not to be missed: anything with prawns, the wonton soup trolley, the little chicken and mushroom baked thingies, the BBQ pork bao, etc.

La Taqueria
139 Westbourne Grove, Nottinghill tube stop
I read a review for this relatively new taco-specializing restaurant in this week's Time Out. As an aside, Time Out magazine is absolutely essential for any visitor, as it lists everything that's happening in London, from art to music to food, for the week. And the two-for-the-price-of-one coupons at the back are brilliant. I saved about twenty pounds this week on exhibition fees and even a trip to Wagamama (see below).

As the review (see link) says, La Taqueria is a relaxed, friendly place with simple decor and lovely food. This ain't Taco Bell - whilst simple, the dishes are made with high quality ingredients, coupled in fresh and often interesting ways. The menu is printed every day, although many popular dishes are repeated. Highlights of our meal included: grilled prawn and guacamole tostadas, grilled sea bass, pickled onion, lettuce and chile tortillas, grilled spring onions, and a highly memorable hot chocolate (they roast and grind their own cocoa nibs). Other interesting menu items that caught my eye were orange margaritas with salt and chile-dipped rims (there is a sizeable drink and beer menu), chocolate tamales, etc. They also sell drid and fresh produce for you to cook your own Mexican food at home. For the three of us, a light but filling meal came to £38, excluding tip and drinks. I will go back.

This needs no introduction, but just wanted to say I had a good, quick pre-theatre dinner here. Branches all over London. Look out for coupons in Time Out.

18 Draycott Ave,South Kensington tube stop (one of several branches).
A couple blocks from Conran Store, Bibendum building, and Natural History Museum
I tried this as a substitute for Yo!Sushi, reccomended by a friend who knew I'm a sucker for a conveyor belt (It's sushi! It moves!). This is a bit more upmarket than its competitor, with crystal duck rolls, seared chili crusted salmon salad, double shitake miso soup, etc. Tasty, enjoyed the creme brulee very much. £25 for lunch for two, excl. tip and drinks.

15 Broadwick Street,cnr of Berwick Street, Oxford Circus tube stop.
Us poor students must rely on generous aunts for outings to Michelin-starred dim sum restos! This is very swank, with waiters that glide, artfully placed exotic fish tanks and candle-lit alcoves. The dim sum was delicious, and since I didn't see the bill, I mercifully have no idea how much it cost. Fond memories of scallops, and some kind of gold-leafed dumpling... You can choose your dessert from the Pierre-Herme-esque (marble minimalism, and unreal looking individual portion desserts)patisserie bar. For all its michelin glow, I must admit that a greasy, kitsch dim sum tearoom gets my heart thumping and mouth salivating more. It just doesn't feel like dim sum without all the MSG... Would like to know what others make of this place.

9 Conduit Street, oxford circus tube stop
This is both a brasserie, gallery and tea parlour. I was interested in the patisseries, and didn't have time to eat them in the parlour, so took them to go. It's all delightfully twee - the waitresses wear floaty, Jigsaw-y dusky pink silk outfits, and the menus rest between the pages of old, cloth-bound books on each table. I tried chocolate, raspberry and blackberry flavours of their macarons (50p ea.), as well as one of their fancy little desserts (£3 ea.) called Florence, which was a mousse (rosemary, grapefruit, rubarb) in a pastry crust. The latter, whilst impressive in how each flavour developped one at a time, didn't really graduate beyond 'strange' for me. The macarons were the best I've tasted outside France. The manager told me that, come September, the patisserie/tea section will become a bar. There is a possibility of a separate patisserie shop starting, but nothing is certain at this stage, so go now rather than later if you're planning to go.

Borough tube stop, Fridays and Saturdays from 12ish to 5ish.
This was my first visit to the market, and I adored it. Lots of people who are crazy about good food, willing to chat with fellow enthusiasts, surrounded by wonderful cheeses, breads, butcheries, veggies... I ate: scallops with crunchy veg and bacon (£4 for 4), a chorizo, smoky pepper, olive oil and rocket roll (£3-something), 2 small oysters (they were in no way small! 80p ea.) a lamb kebab tzatziki pita (£4), caramel-sea salt fudge (£1.50 for 4 blocks), a berry smoothie (£3.50) and blueberry lemonade (£1.50 for one bottle) amngst other nibbles, all fresh and delicious. Will go back in a heartbeat.

Wembley Central tube stop
Saturday is a good day to go out to Alperton, and walk along Ealing Road, as all the market shops are out in full force. I reccomend this trip to London visitors, because London is more than Notting Hill and museums. This is a multi-ethnic neighbourhood with a large Eastern population, and it's fun to browse Bollywood movie stores, sari shops, etc. And as always, get a good Indian meal! I usually get off Webley Central, turn left and then left again at the first traffic lights, onto Ealing Road. A block or two down, I stop at Jashan Vegetarian Feast. I like the diversity of the menu, and the hara bara kebabs especially. £23 provides an ample, overly-generous lunch for two (tandoori roti, mixed appetizers plate, tomato onion appam/rice pancake, mango lassi, paneer). Then I walk three or four blocks further, where all the stores are. Along the way, I stop at a video store, Indian sweet shop or supermarket for kulfi (a frozen cream dessert) on a stick. Mmmm...good times.

Well, that's all for now. Will post more as additional memories come to me.
katepixie(at)brown(dot)edu (my spam increases every time I type out my address. Bloody irritating!)


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