Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gastronomical London

Typical English food sometimes gets a bad rap for not being very inventive, with meat and potatoes considered the mainstay - in this sense it's really not too different from what is considered American food. However, there are some very great restaurants in London, and with the many cultural influences that merge in this city, food should be on the itinerary of anyone traveling to London.

Our hotel booking included an English breakfast, which consisted of a fried egg, some potatoes, bacon (not strips like American bacon, but a thin slice of ham), a large sausage, cooked tomato, mushrooms and toast. It was very good, as was the coffee.

My daughter and I had dinner at a local pub one night - I had traditional fish and chips, complete with "mushy peas," while she had a cheese sandwich.
The Paddington area is quite diverse, and being a fan of Indian food I found a couple of nice Indian restaurants - they say that the best Indian food is in fact in London. My daughter, being more conservative gastronomically, found a great panini place. Both places were located down this street:

We were treated to some fine restaurants by friends, such as Rocket (http://www.rocketrestaurants.co.uk/) and the OXO Tower Restaurant (http://www.harveynichols.com/output/Page128.asp). Excellent food, service and views.

Of course, fast food is quite popular, and there was a McDonald's right next to the hotel, a Burger King across the street, and a Subway and KFC down the street. I will admit to going to both McDonald's and BK while we were there. And there are many Starbucks coffee shops throughout London - being from Seattle, motherland of the coffee behemoth, we just had to try it:


Unknown said...

well . . . what is the verdict with Starbucks ? better, worse, the same. and when you are inside does it feel like home, or somewhere in a different land ?.

Keep the food pictures coming. I'm getting hungry already. Looks like you are settling in and enjoying yourselves

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Lance said...

Thanks Bob - I could have been in a Starbucks in Seattle; it looked the same, tasted the same, the employees were dressed the same. McDonald's was pretty much the same, although their M&M McFlurries were actually imitation M&M (Smartie) McFlurries, and their chocolate shakes were not as chocolately IMO.

Canajun said...

Lance, I agree. The best restaurants in London (those I could afford that is)were the Indian restaurants and curry houses. Their food was generally outstanding. Some pubs were pretty good - bangers and mash being my fave - but it didn't take us long to settle on the ethnic places for the really good food, flavourful and properly cooked (i.e., not cooked to a mush).
I just finished supper and my mouth is watering already just thinking about some of our meals there :)

John McClane said...

Food porn! I'm drooling here. Fish'n'chips! Though they weren't very generous with their mushy peas, were they?

When I eat out in the UK it's usually Indian, or Chinese. I can cook better food at home than you get in some English restaurants, and a damn sight cheaper as well.

Lance said...

Canajun, thanks - In addition to curry, bangers and mash are a favorite of mine too.

John, thanks as well - The fish and chips at this pub were excellent. The mushy peas were a first for me, and were very good - I should have asked for seconds!

Danny said...

Are you back from your trip yet?

When we were in Italy a few years ago we also found ourselves in a McDonald's more than once. We did however like the local restaurants better, especially the ones in smaller non tourist towns.

cpa3485 said...

When my wife and I are out of town, we make it a point NOT to eat someplace similar to what we have at home. She'd shoot me if we went to a McDonalds in London. But Starbucks? Yeah, I think I could talk her into that.

Lance said...

Thanks Danny - we are back home now. I think it's pretty interesting to go in to a McDonald's, just to see if there are any local differences. There were none that I could tell in London, but I have heard that the McD's in France serve wine.

Jim, thanks - I prefer to taste the local foods as well, but my traveling partner was quite content to have McDonald's or Burger King several times.

irondad said...

I turn away for a bit and here you are crossing the oceans! Fish and chips is high on my list of good stuff. How cool to eat at a real English Chip Shop.

It seems comforting to have a Starbucks no matter where you go. Kind of like taking a bit of home with you when you travel.

Lance said...

Thanks Irondad! What a great invention, fish and chips! I'm a big fan of malt vinegar on my fish - I poured it on, and it was so good.

Baron's Life said...

Lance...are you back yet?
English fish & chips should be eaten from a place where they wrap it in newspaper for you...Then & only then...you'd have tasted English Fish & Chips..I must admit when I end up in exotic places I often eat at MacDonalds...

Unknown said...


Now I am craving Fish & Chips. There is an excellent place on a barge in Steveston Harbour called Pajo's. They wrap your order in newspaper, seems to give it a better taste. Also Cockney Kings has AYCE on Mon, Tue & Wed nights, something like $8.95 includes bottomless POP (soda).

Hey Lance, I plan on going to Bellingham on Sat July 25th for the Hamster Phenia rally

details here:

if you have nothing planned . . .

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Joe said...

Ohhhhhhh, Lance! Starbucks? Ewww! No Panera Bread across the pond?

- Joe at Scootin' da Valley

Orin said...

Starbucks got to the U.K. by buying a chain called The Seattle Coffee Company, which was started by a couple of Seattle expats who were tired of Nescafe. The difference I like most about U.K. Starbucks is, if you're going to drink your mocha at the store, they serve it to you in a porcelain cup.

Rick Steves is always saying, be a temporary local. Well, in London the pubs are mostly populated by tourists--the locals eat at PIzza Hut, Mickey D's and Pret a Manger (French for "ready to eat"), the latter numerous, relatively cheap, and quite tasty.

Scootin' Old Skool

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