Global Dining in London

I was back in London last week. Been going quite a bit lately – 3rd time in the last 5 months. I love going back, and these short trips just give me enough to satisfy my cravings. After all, it is my favorite city!

Whenever I am there, I plan my week so that I can get a mix of the foods & restaurants I remember but also try new things. Even the locals usually just have me pick a restaurant. Got to love restaurant review sites and blogs. There really is no excuse to end up at a crappy restaurant. This time I was travelling with Jonathan and I was determined to show him what a great and diverse culinary center London is. It really has to rank in any list of the culinary capitals of the world for the quality and variety of cuisine it offers from around the world.

Last time I was in London, I went a little overboard on fish & chips – so good, really how do they fry it so well when restaurants here in the states just can’t seem to figure it out? – so I decided to skip it this time. Instead we went Italian, Indian, Tapas and French. I skipped lunch a couple of days because the english breakfast each morning just kept me going, that and the lack of exercise all week. The staff in my hotel didn’t even know which floor the miniscule hotel gym was on

I arrived in London on Sunday night so the first proper meal was lunch on Monday. Went to Strada at St. Katherine’s Dock. My London office is there so we just went somewhere convenient. The food itself is decent, not great but fine for a quick, decent lunch. We both ended up eating pizza which was pretty good -nice and thin, fresh tomato sauce with light cheese.The restaurant even gave us complementary water – now that’s a first! For some reason they store a bunch of wine bottles in direct sunlight just as you enter – I hope they are for display only. I wouldn’t want to get one of those bottles.

Dinner on Monday night was traditional Indian. We decided to go to a casual (dive) place frequented mainly by Indians. A quick aside – last time I was in London, I went to the Indian restaurant (Mala?) in St. Katherine’s Dock and was turned away for being a lone dinner eventhough they had open tables. Unbelievable! That has never happened to me before. Of course, being the forgiving and quiet person that I am, I have proceeded to tell everyone I know in London about this. Let’s hope they lose some business! Ok, back to this time. One of my favortie dive indian restaurants in London is Lahore Kebab House (ok, technically it’s Pakistani, but who’s keeping score) and that’s where I was planning to go, however after some research online, New Tayyab outscored Lahore so off we went there. It’s located in Whitechapel which is teeming with people from the south east asian community. The community is centered around the large east london mosque. The restaurant itself is on a back street behind the mosque. The place was packed and tables are so closely set, you have to be comfortable eating with strangers. We ordered an assortment of appetizers – seekh kebab, chicken tikka and lamb kebab. All so good – strong vibrant spices but really well blended together. I wish I had orderd the lamb chops too which looked so tempting on the table next to me. For mains we ordered karahi lamb and tarka daal along with rice and naan. This has to be the best daal I have ever eaten in my life! The lamb was ok, but daal was superlative. A really good meal overall, and a ridiculous tab of around $40 for both of us. It’s great to see how mainstream indian food has become in London, and the knowledge people have about the food – the place was packed with not only indians but brits too.

Tuesday night was tapas night. We ended up at Fino near Tottenham Court Road. The owners own a few tapas places in London. The place is really well furnished, quite a beautiful restaurant. They have an excellent wine list – they had priorat, what more can I ask for. I ordered the Mas D’en Compte 2006. Really good, smooth, just brilliant. We ordered a bunch of tapas including, octopus, cod croquettes, pork belly (my favorite) and tuna. All the food was very good, really wasn’t disappointed in anything I had. After dinner we ended up walking to covent garden and experiencing a few british pubs.

Wednesday night was French night and we went to La Petite Maison in Mayfair. Decided to pick something nice for my friends from HR who joined us (M2 are you the new M1?). Interestingly for a French restaurant the food is meant to be shared family style which we didn’t know. We all ordered apps and mains. Probably a little more food than we needed for sharing. Our apps included onion tart, salt cod croquettes, lobster and crab salad, tuna carpaccio, and mains included sea bass, veal chop, grilled prawns and turbot with chorizo. All the food was really good. I really couldn’t complain about anything and it went so well with a white burgundy and mersault. Of course I had to do the creme brulee for dessert.

Overall, a really good week in London. Work was extremely productive and the food was fantastic. Next trip back will be in September. Can’t wait. Did I say I love London?

One Response to “Global Dining in London”

  1. Meursault, it doesn’t get much better than that.

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