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Restaurants & Bars 4

London--trip report--LONG

lisarosen | Jun 1, 2013 05:35 AM

Y'all--I plundered the board for advice before my trip, & thought I should give back a little by letting you know where I ate. I don't think I had a single mouthful that I didn't love in 7 days, so thank you!
Note: I was travelling solo, & not drinking (because I needed to be able to find my way back to my room), & I don't eat meat.
Monday: Off the plane, showered, started the day with a cappuccino at Caravan. A touch more bitter around the edges than I'm used to, but tasty, & a very comfortable place. I went back twice more.
Lunch: Quilon--the veggie plate. I am now totally addicted to lime pickles. MUST learn how to make these. Mango curry was fascinating, & their cilantro chutney was the best I had the whole week.
Dinner: It was pointless. I bought a chunk of cheese & some Mr. Kipling's bakewells, snacked, & went to sleep.
Tuesday: Slept through breakfast, so went straight to lunch.
Lunch: Ottolenghi--I have 2 of the books, & have been dying to go. The eggplant really was all that. I could eat it every day. Also a lemony potato salad. And the communal table was lively & fun. I bought a fruit tart to go, ate it later on a bench. Nice, but not a good street food choice.
Dinner: Moro--This was really the point of the trip. Didn't make it last time I was in London (kids!), & I have (& use) all 3 books. LOVED. Sat at the bar, had the vegetarian mezze plate (which was HUGE--much better for multiple people). Standouts: Syrian lentils, eggplant, labneh, a zingy rhubarb salad. And Sam & Sam breezed in, sat next to me, & chatted a bit. I was a total fangirl geek. Followed up with the chocolate-apricot tart, which I've been eyeing in the book. Delicious (but not especially apricot-y).
Wednesday: Breakfast--managed to wake up in time to fit in 3 meals. Went to Caravan, had the coconut bread with poached rhubarb. Outstanding (although the bread wasn't as coconut-y as I expected).
Lunch--Just a cappuccino & a tiny savory pastry at Monmouth coffee. I'm not much of a coffee connoisseur (more of a tea drinker), but I did enjoy this one very much.
Dinner--Dishoom. I was so intrigued by the concept, I had to try it. Also figured it would be a good place to get something small-ish (I was struggling with quantities at this point--I'm not a big eater). Had the black dal & cheese naan. Super yummy, on both counts. The cheese was a tiny bit sweeter than I would've chosen (something with a bit more bite would've stood out more, but I'm a freak for cheese, so YMMV). But because I was solo, I was seated at the communal table in the kitchen (by myself), & had the best time watching the bread cooks & the food coming out. Every single staff person who walked by made a point of being nice to me. It was great.
Thursday: Breakfast--went back to Caravan because the porridge had caught my eye (& because it was close to the apartment). Porridge with bananas & caramel--porridge itself was just the way I like it; bananas were starchy. Tasted more like plaintains. Maybe just a variety I'm not used to?
Lunch--Borough Market. I wanted to get that out of my system on a less crowded day--hopeless. It was packed. But still tasty--I had the grilled cheese at Kappacasein, & it really was all that (& I am VERY discriminating about a grilled cheese sandwich :-). Then went upstairs to Roast for a cuppa & pudding. It was fine; mainly I needed a break & shelter from the rain. (I meant to buy some chocolates, but forgot. I was annoyed, but since I was headed for Belgium next, I coped :-)
Dinner--Bistrot Bruno Loubet. Again, the fact that I was solo & ordered small didn't bother anyone. I was made to feel welcome, & given a lovely seat by a window (note: I booked ahead, which I found was essential pretty much everywhere). Had a lovely fresh pea soup (we missed peas entirely this spring where I live, so I was thrilled to get them) & a half-portion of the beetroot ravioli. There's something about English arugula (rocket) that is different from ours--more succulent, or subtle. I really enjoyed both dishes.
Friday--Breakfast--Nordic Bakery--a cinnamon bun & tea. The bun was really interesting,not like any I've had before. Very sticky with cinnamon glaze, but the bun itself was many thin layers of a not-very-yeasty dough. It was good, though, especially given the cold rain I was hiding from.
Lunch--Newman Arms. This was the only meal that was less than ideal. Couldn't get a table upstairs, so they sent me downstairs to the pub. Loud & crowded. Took almost an hour to get a vegetable pie. It was fine. I know pies are meant to be meat, but I generally enjoy veggie versions, just because I love pastry so much, but in this case, the circumstances dimmed my enjoyment very much. I totally wished I had bought a smaller, more interesting pie at Borough.
Dinner--Got a seat at the window counter at Morito (note: it was early & I was a solo! 10 min later they were turning people away). Again, delicious. The beetroot borani was to die for. Morels were tasty, but a bit gritty (often the case with morels), & the pan con tomate was as expected (but this is, IMHO, the most perfect food ever invented). Again, very friendly service, given how hectic the tiny space is.
Saturday: Breakfast at Maltby Street. A lemon curd doughnut from St John's. It was very good, in an understated way. Caveat--I live three blocks from one of the original Krispy Kremes, & I seek out trendy doughnuts when I travel. This was nothing like, say Doughnut Plant in NYC. It was much more subtle. Doesn't mean I didn't LOVE it :-) I also bought an Eccles cake, which I saved for later. Now, those bad boys? I could LIVE on. Swoony good.
Lunch--Rasa (the one off Bond street, IIRC). They put me upstairs, which was weird because I was the only person up there. Then I tried to order the cabbage thoran & appam, but the server wouldn't let me have that combination. Made me get paratha instead. I was a bit put out by that. Anyway--the cabbage was delicious, as was the chai.
Dinner--Tayyabs. If you want an in-&-out meal, this is your place (luckily, that's what I wanted). Had peshwari naan (mainly so I could go home & tell my husband about it--it's his fave) which was nothing like the version I'm used to, but still sweet & tasty, & chana--my standard Indian meal. Tasty, but honestly, only marginally better than what I get at home. But that's fine--it was exactly what I wanted.
Sunday--Breakfast--Dishoom--Fire toast & chai. I had the chocolate, to try it, then a regular, for comparison, then another chocolate, because I loved it :-)
Lunch--St John Bread & Wine--spare space, much more utilitarian than I had expected. As in, go for the food, not the atmosphere. I had a chickpea salad, which was bigger than I needed, but the textures and intense mustardy flavors kept my fork dipping in again, & the asparagus with hot butter, which is exactly what it sounds like. It was good, & pleasant, & I recognize that being a non-meat-eater limited me a great deal, but for my money, their appeal lies in the baked goods.
Dinner--Roti Chai--getting tired now. It was lively & casual fun, but again, I had naan & chickpeas, & was content. (a--I can get chaat at home, & b--I had no one to share with, which is the fun of chaat, in my mind.)

And the next morning I got up and got on the Eurostar. Thank you, London, for a week of fantastic eats (and enough walking to burn it all off!) I had a grand time, & can't wait to go back.

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