I love London. Thus, the allure of visiting London again, came back this year. The desire was heightened by America’s interest in the recent Royal wedding. And also because our son was in London for his spring semester.
Every vacation entails eating. For us, eating while in London was 3 times a day, and sometimes in between. We enjoyed a week of eclectic choices, from the traditional pub food, to Michelin-starred Italian places, an afternoon tea, undiscovered Asian corners, to the avant garde artistic dinner experience. All told, it was an amazing week in London.
As soon as we landed in Heathrow, we headed to Kensington, where our son whisked us off to” Da Mario” the favorite pizzeria of the late Princess Diana.
Da Mario UK is on 15 Gloucester Rd. It is a family run business with good Italian food, a warm and cozy atmosphere, friendly service and the most amazing Italian dishes. Interiors are inviting and show off a large painting of the Princess with Mario.
On this 2nd trip to the UK, we just had to have the Classic Salt Beef Sandwich from Selfridges’ The Brass Rail, 400 Oxford St. The sign reads “all the cattle used to make our salt beef are hand and grass- reared in Cork, Ireland…”
For dinner, we found an undiscovered gem: A Korean place called Dong San, 47 Poland St., Soho, London. The owners and wait staff were so friendly and welcoming. With pride, they told us they served authentic Korean food and pampered us with the “Galbi”, beef short ribs in a garlic, soy sauce traditional glaze.
We couldn’t miss the famous, tall, creamy Carrot Cake of the Rose Bakery on 17-18 Dover St. in Mayfair. This famous Parisian cafe is on the top floor of the designer label retail haven Dover Street Market. We went for lunch, but the cafe with it’s bench-style, barracks-like seating was packed and the wait staff was frazzled. Try them when it’s less crowded.
Kensington Palace was where I wanted to have “afternoon tea” at The Orangery. We toured the “Enchanted Palace” and were enthralled with stories of the 7 Princesses who lived at the Palace…all the way down to Princesses Margaret and Diana.
Afternoon tea was made more special with a vast selection of sandwiches, starters and an amazing spread of cakes like Raspberry Meringue with berries & thick cream, Coffee and walnut cake, Chocolate Hazelnut cake, the famous Victoria Sandwich, Scones with clotted cream and the best tea ever.
By midweek, we needed to get out of the city and explore. We took a day tour that brought us to Windsor, Bath & Stonehenge. Travel time was 3 hours, one way. Windsor Castle is the official residence of the Queen. Lines were long and we waited patiently to get in. Once in, the palace grounds were huge and stretched endlessly. It was tough to decide which area to ogle at, given the short time we had. But just before leaving Windsor, we found the most delicious PASTY, sold at 4.50 British pounds with a drink, at a tiny corner cafe, a few feet from the castle, called “Maude”s”. Delightful!
The tour brought us further, some 2 hours away to Stonehenge, the ancient stone circle said to have evolved between 3,000 B.C. and 1,600 B.C. Coincidentally, we arrived just before the summer solstice and the historic site was a favorite for this event.
We found time to relax in between shopping at the Marks & Spencer Food Hall Cafe on 113 Kensington High St. I had a remarkable British Ham Salad Sandwich with mustard dressing, and downed it with the M & S Fair Trade Organic Coffee…”made by expert baristas who have mastered the fine balance between time, temperature and texture.”
We could not leave London without visiting Buckingham Palace. The raised flag was an indication Her Royal Highness, the Queen was around that day. And inspite of the cold, raw weather that June summer day, visitors and tourists flocked to the Palace gates to watch the guards and just experience the royal moment.
A few feet away from the Palace, we stumbled upon a pub-like restaurant called “B Bar” on 43 Buckingham Palace Rd. The service was quick and friendly, the interiors were comfortable and inviting. Best of all, the lunch fare was varied with many choices. After “visiting the Queen”, we were famished. It was interesting to see on the menu some items highlighted in red, and indicated that a portion of the bill paid would benefit “Sentebale”, a charity project of Prince Harry. And so I chose to do my part and ordered the “Bobotie Spring Rolls with Mrs. Balli’s chutney” .From my bill, 1.00 GB of my order was going to the charity.
We ended the week and the last evening with a celebration at Sketch UK on 9 Conduit St. It was a tantalizing experience. Dinner was a perfect interplay of food, art, music and ambience.I ordered “Sea Bream”, pan-fired sea bream cooked in pink pepper, amontillado and celeriac cream.
Sketch UK is a Michelin-starred food experience that has been described by The Good Food Guide as “a celebration of comfort and flamboyance, matched by a menu predisposed to exuberance.”
London holds many historic places, treasures and an abundance of diverse, delicious eats. Enter this “kingdom” with curiosity, a sense of adventure and exploration. It will be worth the trip.
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