When you’re in London for only 2 days, certain things stick with you: seeing the exhibition at the Globe Theater, getting caught in the bells that signal the mass at Saint Paul’s, hearing Big Ben ring in the new hour, and, most remarkably of all, the food you eat while there. Food is something that sticks with us. In many cultures, it is a way to celebrate life and togetherness, so of course it should leave its mark. And the London food scene did exactly that.
Fair warning, there are NO fish and chips places on this list.
Apostrophe: A boulangerie/patisserie café chain a few friends and I visited just after landing. With warm soups/stews, sandwiches, pastries, coffee, and teas—this was definitely my go to around our hotel for a morning pick me up, and it was my first taste of tea in the UK (served complete with a pot and a side of milk). It was also great for take away, like a pain au chocolate I grabbed before our coach tour. All in all, an excellent little location that was definitely worth the stop in.
The Norfolk Arms: Hidden about 2 blocks from the International Hall, this tapas place was the highlight of the trip. The servers were friendly, the place took pounds and euros, and most importantly of all, the food and drink was delicious. Next time I’m in London, THIS is my first dinner stop.
Regent’s Park Soft Ice Cream: When your feet are aching and your stomach is growing, what is the best cure? Ice cream, of course. While wandering through Regent’s Park, I stumbled across this little shop away from the crowded cafés. They offer soft serve vanilla ice cream drizzled with whatever you like (Nutella was my pick). Take it away, and it’s not a long walk before you reach the little pond/lake where people can paddleboat or feed some very angry geese. It’s great for anyone who just wants a breather.
Pret A Manger (UK): Now we do have these in the states, and while the variety of food varies little, it is more the treatment of the staff that makes the place. Each time I visited I was greeted by large smiles and usually some young boy calling me ‘love’. If that doesn’t make your day, honestly you need to sort out your priorities.
Café Nero: Okay, so this was at St. Pancreas train station during the hour wait to get on the Eurostar, but it’s worth a mention. I’m not a scone person, so a opted for a muffin which was fluffy and creamy at the same time (I’m still not sure how) and some delicious Earl Grey tea and milk. The interesting thing is based on where you go, you get a different blend and flavor to your tea. Nero’s was less powerful than P-A-M’s blend, and was the least tasteful of all (but still really delicious for 7 in the morning). Basically, food yay, tea nay.
With English food behind me, I can honestly say that I was pleasantly surprised by how diverse the food options, and this city, really are. It is not what you would ever expect, in the best way.