Finding food can be quite daunting in London:
so many options, so many locations, so many choices. And trying to sift your way through the enormous gastronomic foodie choices in one of the largest cities in the world, unaided and alone, can prove to be rather frustrating, food-wise. So some priorities: excellent Soho street food, some Aussie ex-pat excellence, or a fabulous grilled cheese at the Borough Market, and more. Drooling yet? Here are Seven Foodie Choices in London that we literally ‘stumbled’ upon during our recent visit to the city. Eat up and enjoy!
Some Soho Street Food?
Just up the road from the theatre district and Picadilly on Soho’s Rupert Street sits the Street Food Union, a conglomerate of pop-up stalls that would make any wandering foodie hungry. Serving the trendy marketing, advertising and start-up lads and ladies of Soho, and the occasional lost theatre tourist heading to a matinee performance of Les Miz, the Street Food Union offers a vast variety of scrummy lunchtime takeaways.
Dev Masrani serves me up a mighty mean Chicken Tikka box with sweet pepper curry, hot peppers and a toasty warm chapati from his oh so delicious smelling Lili Chutney (@) stall. ‘It’s all about the coriander chutney’ says Dev. Hence, the scrummy name of Dev’s tasty pop up: ‘a combination of garlic, ginger, mango, and green chilies or “Lili Chutney” and best eaten fresh’. No problem here, Dev!
I hang with Nick, who is ‘in love with the ol’ deep south and southern soul food’ and the other Pulled Pork Lads at Slingin’ Po Boys (@slinginpoboys) (check out their rebrand to Bayou Bar!) and savour a freshly pulled pork sammy, piled high with 12+ hour simmered pork, secret seasoning (I was sworn to keep!) and special sauce. I lingered over their vast cauldron of simmering pork for a good hour!
Two stalls down I catch a waft of fragrant paella on the boil at The Spanish Lab (@), the saffron, garlic, paprika and smoky cayenne steaming up Rupert Street and enticing me down to watch the team paddle-stir their enormous pot of yellow-orange delish. This pop-up team of Spanish chefs is renewing the Spanish food scene directly on the streets of Britain, and there is always a line up at the Rupert Street location.
Everything Italian Since 1944
While in Soho and around the corner on Rupert Street, I popped my head into Lina Stores, the beautiful Italian Deli and food shop that has been providing everything Italian since 1944. The store is ‘pieno di tutto’ from pasta to porcini and truffles, beans, biscuits and cakes to olives and antipasti, tomato products, a huge selection of vinegar and Italian coffees. Grab a prosciutto di parma, tomato, mozzarella and Basil Italian sandwich to go for lunch or perhaps some crespelle ai funghi or a pea, mint, and pecorino frittata for your dinner.
An Australian Import
And speaking of dinner: just try and get into one of Granger and Co’s three locations in either Notting Hill, Clerkenwell or King’s Cross. The Australian import serves a mighty fine breakfast and brunch and having just missed a long, Friday night line-up, (no reservations, sorry) a stellar dinner as well. Bill Granger opened his first restaurant in Sydney’s Darlinghurst neighbourhood (a followsummer favourite) in the early ’90s, quickly becoming renowned for his legendary ‘sunny, easy-going and generous’ breakfasts and soon expanded globally to Seoul, Tokyo, Honolulu and the three locations in London. We shared plates of courgette chips dipped in nigella seeds and served with sides of tahini yogurt before moving onto heaping plates of yellow fish curry, spiced butternut squash, roast peanuts, jasmine rice, and a cucumber relish and beef shin ragu, gremolata, radicchio, cavatelli and parmesan ‘bowl’. Service is quick, fun and always laughing from Ex-Pat Aussies (this appears to be a pre-requisite with their hiring practices) landing in London to make their fortunes and lives. On our visit, we were seated beside another Aussie ex-pat, an especially famous actor Wolverine/Jean Val Jean actor who noshed and drank on a Friday night just like the rest of us. Make the effort to join the line-ups and savour their breakfast or Sunday brunch.
Grilled Cheese Heaven at the Borough Market
We were craving a little lunchtime grilled cheese sammy (or as the Brits call them: ‘Cheese Toasties’) one day and based on Visit London’s reco, wandered over to the Borough Market and paid a visit to Kappacasein Cheese Melting Stall (Canadians will get the geographic reference) and thought we landed in Grill Cheese heaven. The Best grilled cheese in London? We think so.
The Original Gastropub: Food in Farringdon
Reportedly the originator of the gastropub experience in London, The Eagle Farringdon (@) is truly a pub experience with a twist: beer is not the focus here; rather a tiny kitchen that extends into the room and resides front and center of the bar area pushing out interesting and eclectic food. Pubbers are asked to place their orders from the daily-changing chalkboard menu at the bar, grab their drinks from a menu that includes almost everything from beer, rum and wine. We gather at communal, mismatched tables with similarly mismatched plates and cutlery and your food arrives when it is ready to be ‘ate’: no pretense, no fancy airs. We noshed on plates of massive hunks of gorgonzola and ripe pears and heaping dishes of Napoli sausage, lentils and salsa verde all washed down with pints of Hackney Brewery’s pale ale. Our table mates read the Saturday papers, engage in public table talk and nibble, sip and nosh their way through everything a good, late pub lunch should be.
If at all possible, try and connect up with a local who can show you the foodie ropes or take you on their own favourites foodie tour in London: after all, friends only recommend the best to other friends!
#Eatwell in London, my friends!