I just can’t get enough of London. Two months after that unforgettable lunch at Core by Clare Smyth, I couldn’t resist another London getaway. What can I say? The city has my heart. In many ways, it’s not the same city I resided in 17 years ago, but in many other ways, it is. There are, of course, new icons like the Shard and Dover Street Market, but on my most recent visits, the food resonated most with me. London is one of the world’s most thrilling cities for eating, so here are some restaurants and whatnot that I dropped into during my last visit. I can’t wait until next time as there’s seemingly no end in sight to my ever-growing London restaurant list!
This Michelin-starred Shoreditch joint lived up to the hype and more. My cousin had to work so I had the day to myself and decided to go all out on this solo lunch, starting with the Al di Là cocktail: Cocchi Barolo Chinotto, Americano Rosa, and lemon gin, a sweet and bitter concoction that channeled the flavors I’ve become accustomed to imbibing in my adopted city. The mackerel with horseradish was epically simple…I took the server’s recommendation and got bread with it. Topped with kale, the sweet pumpkin with rich meaty chestnuts was a perfect tabletop exemplification of the season. I also sipped a Fiano blend, “Venerdi” 2016 from Vigneti Tardis, a collaboration between several London restaurateurs, Leroy’s owners included. Having undergone skin maceration, the wine had complex stonefruit flavors and refreshing acidity. Loved the shelf of empty wine bottles as I noticed a distinct blue Radikon label. Website
London is currently ablaze with open-flame cooking and chef Tomos Parry is firing up some of the best. This Shoreditch hot spot opened in the spring and garnered a Michelin star a few months later. Again, epic simplicity. A velvet crab was tender and succulent (though labor-intensive!) while seaweed-roasted oysters were briny and smoky. However, the real star: Turbot, the restaurant’s namesake fish (Brat means turbot in a Catalan dialect). Yet, as satiating as all this was, the buttery smoked potatoes stole the show. Next time, I’m planning to save room for the cheesecake. Note: reservations are hard to come by, but they seat walk-ins at the bar. The closer to the opening hour you arrive, the better. Website
3. Prufrock Coffee
I, of course, couldn’t resist popping into a coffee shop named for the Eliot poem that bewildered me as an English lit major. Prufrock specializes in both espresso-based and filtered joe, and I went for the latter. Three options were on offer and I chose the Santa Rosa 1900, a white honey blend from Costa Rica by Square Mile. Black cherry and pear flavors were offset by a trace of bitter almond. Yum. The other two filtered brews hailed from Ethiopia and Columbia. I snaked on a dense chewy chocolate cake interspersed with a subtle smooth flavor of rosewater. Word on the street is that Richie Hayes, a former Leroy chef, is the talent behind the food. Website.
4. Addie’s Thai
Earl’s Court was part of my old stomping ground and I just cannot believe how the neighborhood has evolved and gentrified since my study abroad days. However, I’m glad to say that Addie’s Thai on Earl’s Court Road is still going strong and serving the Pad Thai covered with mesh egg pancake of sorts. Website.
5. By Chloe
I know, I know. I can go to by Chloe when I’m in New York. But I can’t go there when I’m in Milan! I needed a quick bite on the run and couldn’t resist stopping by the Convent Garden outpost of this vegan joint for that gratifying guac burger and that creamy vegan mac & cheese with smoky salty crunchy shitake “bacon”. Website
6. The Brownie Box
Again: I know, I know. I can make brownies any time I want in Milan. However, with the exception of holiday panettone pop-ups and Serge Cafe, you really don’t see a lot of (or, rather, any of, really!) single-themed sweet shops in Milan. So when I noticed The Brownie Box (I heart brownies!), I just couldn’t resist dropping in. They sell any and every type of brownie as well as “Bronuts”, a brownie/doughnut hybrid, which I breakfasted on one morning.
7. The Hummingbird Bakery
Yes, another single-themed bakery, and I couldn’t resist getting dessert from here to bring to my cousin’s where we were ordering Indian via good-ole Deliveroo. The flavors: Christmas Spice, Salted Caramel, Cookies & Cream, and Red Velvet. They all made me so happy. Website.