London, the city that feels like my second home! For me it’s all about the beautiful character of the city – from the stunning old buildings with such elegance and class, to the newer more hipster establishments run by bright faced youth with fabulous accents. London is a hive of activity and at times, wonderfully controlled chaos.
After four short trips to the UK I am hardly a seasoned traveler. However, these are my foodie recommendations so far!
26Grains – for the porridge of a lifetime
An incredible porridge cafe in Neal’s Yard, serving far from ordinary oats! I had the blackberry bay bowl which was a spectacular mixture of almond milk oats, almond butter, blackberry coulis, cacao, coconut oil, apple and bee pollen. The rest of their menu is just as drool worthy with the likes of the salted caramel and pear bowl, hazelnut butter bowl and even savoury concoctions involving carrot, all in huge bowls and for only £6. A cute and cosy nook with both inside and outside seating, with super friendly staff and a great hipster vibe. They’d fit in perfectly if they ever came to Melbourne!
Good Life Eatery – for healthy vibrant breakfast
I’ve been twice now to GLE and have been equally impressed with the creativity of the food both times. The lean and clean bowl with kale, poached eggs, quinoa and spinach cashew cream is delightful and like nothing I’ve had back home, while their skinny eggs benny with pesto tomatoes, smashed avo and yogurt saffron sauce on chia bread is something I would gladly eat for breakfast every day if I had the chance! They also serve a wide selection of juices and smoothies, small plates, coffee, chai, matcha, and baked goods to suit all sorts of eating preferences.
The Ivy – for the culture!
An institution and part of Chelsea’s heritage, you can’t miss out on breakfast at The Ivy.
It feels incredibly posh but luckily comes without the price tag. You’ll need a booking on the weekend to take advantage of the beautiful outdoor seating if the weather permits; otherwise take a comfy seat inside and enjoy some great coffee alongside your typical breakfast fare with a fresh twist. I recommend the divine egg white omelette with goat cheese and kale!
Tanya’s Chelsea – for the raw treats
Tanya is an author, raw foodie and curator of this gorgeous space. The raw breakfast and lunch menu featuring the likes of chia pudding, granola bowls, smoothies, juices and salads can be enjoyed seated amongst the tranquil foliage in this garden-like cafe.
My pick is definitely her raw desserts though – the blueberry cheesecake is a definite winner!
Roots and Bulbs – for easy healthy on-the-go
Available at three different locations in London, Roots and Bulbs is a mixture between a coffee house, a raw treat store, a breakfast bar and a scoop and run salad stand. They made the best coffee I’ve had in the uk and their matcha coconut yogurt with your choice of breakfast toppings is such a deliciously easy breakfast on the run. Vegans will also be delighted to know they are well catered for here (including the availability of almond milk!).
La Fromagerie is a beautiful French deli and cafe nestled away in Marylebone serving the most outstanding house made granola amongst a haven of French produce.
You could spend hours just browsing the products alone, particularly the fresh fruit and the dairy section. Eat in or take away some of their goods to cook at home, and note they also serve dinner on some Monday evenings.
Pret a Manger – easy eating!
Literally translating to “ready to eat”, these guys are the professionals at healthy salads, yogurt bowls, granola, sandwiches, soup and decent coffee at all hours of the day!
It seems like there is a Pret store on most street corners, near most metros, the airports and in every major shopping centre. They’re fresh, healthy, affordable, tasty and very convenient!
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
As expected with a Heston venue, my meal at Dinner was absolute perfection. The service was flawless and the inventive and palate-pleasing menu speaks for itself really.
I started with a matcha gin cocktail. Small and rather expensive but it lasted me my entire meal as it was stronger than appearances would suggest!
I chose three starters instead of an entree and main and told the chef to order them in whatever way would suit best.
The earl grey tea smoked salmon was a light way to start the meal, with the little bursts of citrus. Next, the savoury porridge with frogs legs. A stroke of culinary genius and easily the best frogs legs I’ve ever had, beating the Parisians at their own game here! Lastly, the meat fruit. If you only order one dish, this has to be it. It looks, smells and feels like a mandarin – until you cut through the citrus gel to find the chicken liver parfait inside. A masterpiece in itself. For dessert I had the chocolate bar – a biscuit base with passionfruit jam, chocolate ganache and ginger ice cream. And just when you think it’s all over, you’re presented with an orange blossom chocolate ganache in a shot glass with a caraway seed biscuit to dip in it. A great way to end the meal!
Petrus by Gordon Ramsey
Easily one of the best meals I’ve ever had, with a dessert that will reaffirm your reason for existing. I tried the three course menu rather than the tasting but was still treated to 7 courses in total including house cooked rye bread with French cultured butter, house made salt and vinegar crisps with dip, beef consume, an avocado and crab salad entree, baked sole for the main, a lemon meringue palate cleanser and the outstanding peanut butter and banana mousse with brown bread ice cream dessert. I also opted for the additional cheese course to round out the evening and was presented with a terrific arrange of choices with interesting explanations of their origins. The meal and the additional cheese course was £90 in total but worth every single penny given the quality of the service and ingredients!
If you’re a fan of inventive small plates, then you’ve come to the right place! I chose three items from the small plates menu and a dessert rather than a main meal and left rather full.
I had a savoury cheesecake with beetroot and almonds on top, followed by octopus with Jerusalem artichoke, greens and lemon, with a side of truffle parmesan polenta chips with aioli. For dessert, the real hero of the night, a beautiful apple and gingerbread trifle with celery icecream. A great meal HOWEVER be very careful if you have food allergies as they tend to hide spices in everything and check your bill as they automatically charge an extra 12.5% as a tip (fine if you’re a single diner, slightly horrific if you’re a table of 10 I imagine….)
Harrods Food Hall
Harrods is a part of English history in itself, but the food hall is effectively foodie heaven. You could spend literally hours (as I did!) wandering through the fresh produce, the epicerie, the bakery section, the salad and ready-made food counters, and the unforgettable chocolate department. Even if you don’t buy anything, this majestic wonderland has to be seen to be believed!
Selfridges Food Hall
Similar to Harrods but much smaller and far less daunting for people who can’t handle the crowds. You still have access to beautiful fresh produce but with the added benefit of a sushi bar, salad station, juice bar and an abundance of baked goods to choose from!
Natural Kitchen – like a health food and homeware store, butcher, bakery and bistro rolled into one. You can sit at any of the tables throughout the cozy store, with ready-to-eat food available at the counter. Starting at the far end is your proteins – cooked fillets of fish, chicken breasts, meatballs, tofu and the like; followed by a choice of different salads, then baked goods and drinks. You can choose a small, medium or large plate to have in store or a box to take away. I had the ‘small’ plate with three of the salads and it was huge!
These guys make healthy eating oh so fabulous!
Another outlet with plenty of locations, their original superfoods salad with avocado, quinoa, broccoli etc is another great eat on the run option, as well as being delightfully tasty and genuinely good for you!
Delancy and Co
I stumbled across these legends on Instagram and quickly discovered that they are the experts in girthy sandwiches and #foodporn. Just choose a type of bagel, choose the filling and let the magic happen in front of your very eyes (including the option to add extra filling for £1). I tracked them down for the sole purpose of trying a smoked salmon, capers and cream cheese bagel and was not disappointed for my efforts! I was initially going to “go all out” and add extra filling but when I saw the size of the regular version I couldn’t justify it – they’re impressively huge!
A toasted sandwich can be so comforting in such cold weather, and these guys take your average cheese toasty and supercharge it.
I had the rather tasty tricolour with avocado, mozzarella and tomato – but if you want true OTT decadence, try the Nutella or the macaroni cheese!
Burger and Lobster
There are only three menu items here – a beef burger, a lobster roll or a whole lobster, each served with fries and a salad. I chose the lobster roll and was utterly blown away. Definitely not healthy nor for the faint of heart, there’s nothing quite like a perfect brioche bun filled with freshly cooked lobster and garlic butter sauce. All the meals are £20 and completely worth the experience!
Italian style tapas in a quirky bar environment – yes please! Fun, flavoursome and full of flair, these guys know how to use small plates impress. I definitely recommend the octopus carpaccio and the spinach, ricotta and chickpea meatballs, although you may have trouble fitting in a small Nutella pizza for dessert. Watch out for the cocktails though – my grapefruit martini was stunning but oh so strong!
Bar 108 Marylebone
This was a hidden gem near my airBnB. The bar menu is such a great idea for dinner when you’re after something light at the end of a long day, and their seared tuna and polenta chips were just perfect for this. Their cocktail menu is also a real treat, with my favourite being a refreshing mix of cucumber, gin and elderflower.
Waitrose / Wholefoods / Marks and Spencer’s
Yes these are supermarkets but their ready to eat salads and sandwiches are amazing and such an easy way to eat on a budget or with minimal effort while travelling!
Maitre Choux – for the best eclairs you’ll find
Yes they may be £5 each but these eclairs are one of the most mind blowing pastries you’ll ever eat!
I chose the pistachio one and it was sheer perfection with cloud like pastry and a pistachio creme filling that would satisfy even the harshest of dessert critics.
Paul Patisserie – hello pastries!
Technically French I know, but whether you try them in Paris or one of their infinite stores in London, it has to be done at some stage! I’ve lost count of the number of huge delicious macarons I’ve tried here but I know the pistachio is my absolute favourite. As expected the pastries are also magnificent, with the raspberry cream filled croissant guaranteed to make your mouth water!
Crumbs and Doilies
Everyone loves cupcakes, especially when they’re made by the famous Cupcake Jenna. What I love about this place, apart from their incredible baked goods, is that everything is available in a miniature size = lots of taste testing without making yourself sick!
Try one of the classics like red velvet, caramel pretzels, Oreo, cinnamon toast or Malteaser. And then there’s the specials like lavender cheesecake, maple bacon, spiced pumpkin and Mexican hot chocolate!
Laduree – come for the class, stay for the macarons
Again, another French outlet that can be visited in Harrods in London. They are most famous for their macarons, and they certainly proved their worth with the beautiful fig and date creation I tried in my latest trip.
Stay for breakfast or high tea, or grab a bag of little luxuries and enjoy them in a local park if the sun is out!
They’re more of a market stall rather than a store of their own.
Their peanut butter, mango cheesecake and good old chocolate brownies are sure to impress but if you want the truly indulgent Bad Brownie experience you MUST try the salted caramel – because the only thing better than one brownie is two brownie slices sandwiched together with the sweet and salty nectar of the dessert gods.
Le Patisserie des Reves
If you’re Australian, the cake presentation style of LPDR is similar to what you’d see in Zumbo or Birch and Purchese, but on steroids! Another French outlet with London venues, they also serve ice cream and plenty of sweet tidbits to stock the PMS pantry with.
Muriel is famous for some fantastic healthy salads and yogurt bowls, but their baked goods are fantastic, particularly if you’re a fan of salted caramel brownies and red velvet cupcakes!
My ever expanding ‘to do list’ for my next visit, based mainly on suggestions by fellow foodies, Time Out London, Zomato UK and Top London Restaurants;
– Vintage Salt for seafood on the roof of Selfridges
– Honey and Co for a haven of middle eastern cuisine and creative baking
– Dalton Yard, Druid St and Dinerama markets for street food
– The Savoy, another famous London institution!
– Aubaine, another one of Ramsay’s restaurants with a great lunch menu
– Gail’s bakery for beautiful baked treats, takeaway salads and granola
– Milo and Hectors ice cream sandwiches
– Duck and Waffle for rather indulgent waffles!
– Wild Store, Ethos and Pure Taste cafes for a fresh and healthy lunch
– Social Eating House for more tapas
– Moba for London style Banh Mi