Food Notes little guide to London

I go to London occasionally to see friends and family or for work. When I have time, I love exploring new places and recommendations from fellow bloggers, travellers or Londoners. There is always so much to see and so much to do! I decided to write up a little guide for those of you who might be going soon and need ideas for where to eat and drink. I plan on updating this every so often and will only add the places that I’ve truly loved, so don’t expect to read ‘reviews’ of everything I’ve done. This article is more of a list of fantastic places that I’ve visited at one point or other! For convenience, I’ve included some of the places mentioned in my first London post.

Below you’ll find my food and drink recommendations and when I visited them! P.s. this is not an exclusive list of places to visit. London has amazing food, bar and coffee scene so this really is just scratching the surface of some of the places you can visit in this amazing city.

More food guides: Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi

Last updated: 08/04/2019

Food

Pho

Website: https://www.phocafe.co.uk/
Last Visited: November 2019;
Where: Numerous branches across London;
Food: Vietnamese;
Price range: Pho bowls around a tenner;
Reservation: we didn’t need one but we were there pretty late in the evening. Service is pretty quick though!

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Go for: The Pho! Pho was recommended to me by a friend who lives in London and we just happened to stumble to one of their restaurants near where my sister lives when we were looking for a place to eat at. They specialise, as the name suggests, in delicious bowls of Pho. You can expect to find a good selection to choose from – vegetarian, meaty, spicy, non spicy. There are also other Vietnamese dishes on the menu if Pho isn’t your thing.

Duck & Waffle

Website: https://duckandwaffle.com/
Last Visited: November 2019;
Where: Whitechapel;
Food: Modern European;
Price range: Pricey – Brunch for three with breakfast cocktails was around £90;
Reservation: Definitely needed – popular spot so book well in advance.

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Go for: Spectacular views and the brunch. Spectacular views across London from this restaurant, which is 40 floors up. We went here for breakfast but Duck & Waffle is open 24hrs so you can have lunch, dinner, cocktails etc too. While this wasn’t the best breakfast I’ve had in London, it was certainly tasty enough with the “Duck & Waffle” stealing the show on our table. Good for a more ‘special’ occasion or treat on a visit to London

Beer + Burger

Website: http://www.beerandburgerstore.com/
Last Visited: March 2019;
Branch: King’s Cross;
Food: Burgers & Tap room (and beer store!)
Price range: Burgers between £7.5 and £10, sides around £4;
Reservation: Casual, no reservation required.

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Go for: Tasty no fuss burgers and good beer. Burger + Beer, unsurprisingly, server burgers & beer. The atmosphere is very casual, the service is quick and the beer choice is a-plenty. They also have a store so you can purchase a wide selection of beers too! The ambience inside is modern and trendy – good music, neon pink and white colours. As for the food, the menu is small and very simple with only 5 burgers to choose from, but they also have a monthly special. I went for the double cheeseburger and it was really decent. However, the highlight of the meal was certainly the deep fried jalapenos which were just delicious! This is a great place for a no-fuss meal when you are in the mood for a burger.

Breddos Tacos

Website: http://breddostacos.com/
Visited: December 2018;
Branch: Soho;
Food: Lunch/Dinner, Mexican
Price range: around £50 for 2 with drinks and a tip
Reservation: recommended

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Selection of tacos at Breddos Tacos

Go for: Delicious Tacos and Mexican food. Breddos Tacos serve amazing tacos and other Mexican scran. They have two locations at the moment but also operate pop-ups occasionally. We had their lunch menu which had 8 different taco varieties, 3 x quesadillas, bowls, tostadas and sides. Dishes range from £4.5 (for a taco) to £15 for some of the bigger bowls. The food was really good and definitely worth the money. Staff are friendly and there is a lovely ambience in the place. Definitely recommend for a casual dining option when in London.

The Breakfast Club

Website: https://thebreakfastclubcafes.com/
Visited: December 2018;
Where: Numerous branches across London;
Food: Breakfast/Brunch;
Price range: Around £35 for 2 with coffees and a tip;
Reservation: recommended during the week though no reservations accepted between Friday and Sunday

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Breakfast burrito at The Breakfast Club

Go for: Tasty breakfast and brunch dishes. The Breakfast Club has a number of locations around London and they specialise in breakfast and brunch, though the restaurants are open all the way till the evening. I’m not sure what the evening menu looks like, but the breakfast menu was spot on. A decent variety of breakfasts from the more traditional to the more special. I had a breakfast burrito which was massive and I’m pretty sure would cure a hangover if I had one (I didn’t, despite the cocktail ‘tasting’ we had in The Alchemist the day before). M had the Mexican eggs benedict which were a smaller portion but still excellent. We also had a jug of Orange fresh orange juice (that’s a fantastic addition to the menu, BTW) and a coffee. The coffee was ok but it was the food that was the highlight of our visit. If you are looking for a more quirky breakfast spot, look out for The Breakfast Club.

Shoryu Ramen

Website: https://www.shoryuramen.com/
Last Visited: November 2018;
Where: Numerous branches across London;
Food: Lunch/Dinner, Japanese/Ramen;
Price range: Around £13 for a ramen bowl
Reservation: Recommended

Go for: Ramen and Japanese food. I’ve tried a few ramen places in London and Shoryu Ramen is simply the best. I haven’t had anything to top their ramen yet and I can’t recommend them high enough on the sublime taste of their Japanese food. Proper tonkatsu ramen made with slow-cooked pork bones with a variety of toppings to satisfy every taste. They also have vegetarian/vegan options available and a good number of sides to go with the ramen. Shoryu Ramen is always a solid choice when I visit London.

Franco Manca

Website: https://www.francomanca.co.uk/
Last Visited: November 2018;
Where: Numerous branches across London;
Food: Lunch/Dinner, Pizza;
Price range: £5-£10 for pizza;
Reservation: No reservations.

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Salami special at Franco Manca

Go for: Fast service, tasty pizza and low prices. This is a straightforward entry – puffy and soft sourdough pizzas done really well. With over 30 branches all over London, it’s quite a popular pizza spot with Londoners. The pizza is inexpensive and the ingredients are good. It’s perfect for a no-fuss meal out in London and the price is unbeatable in the expensive food scene in the capital.

The Rum Kitchen

Website: https://www.therumkitchen.com/
Last Visited: June 2019;
Branch: Brixton;
Food: Jamaican;
Price range: Around £20pp food + a drink;
Reservation: recommended for peak times.

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Go for: Pre-gig Jamaican food. I stumbled upon The Rum Kitchen while looking for ideas on where to eat around Brixton. Me and two friends headed up there for a meal before a gig at the O2 Brixton and we were very pleasantly surprised. The service was a bit slow to begin with, but this was quickly forgiven because of the delicious food we were served. We had the Jerk BBQ wings, the Proper Jerk and Jerk Bowl (from the Jerk BBQ), and the curry mutton patties. The dishes came with Jamaican Rice & Beans, and the house slaw. May I just say… The Rum Kitchen’s House Slaw was the best coleslaw I’ve eaten and it complemented the spicy food so well! We also helped ourselves to quite a lot of the house BBQ jerk hot sauce, which was delicious too. For the cocktail lovers, they also have a happy hour in the evenings. Nice spot for food around Brixton.

 

Drinks

The Alchemist

Website: https://thealchemist.uk.com
Visited: December 2018;
Branch: Bevis Marks, London;
Style: Cocktail bar;
Price range: Cocktails from around £8;
Reservations: recommended for peak times.

Go for: Pretty stunning and tasty cocktails. It’s not hard to get cocktail happy at The Alchemist. They have a really good cocktail menu with many delicious sounding cocktails. To add to that, their cocktails are inventive and definitely involve some appropriate amount of Alchemy. You will be delighted in watching them being made and drinking them afterwards. We spent a few very entertaining hours drinking cocktails and watching them being made. A fantastic night time spot (it’s open during the day) and you will rest assured that you will not disappointed in this trendy cocktail bar.

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Key Lime Pie at The Alchemist

Tonight Josephine

Website: http://www.tonightjosephine.co.uk/
Last visited: November 2018;
Location: Waterloo;
Style: Cocktail Bar;
Price range: Cocktails start from £10, happy hour between 5-7pm;
Reservations: recommended.

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Go for: Delicious cocktails and especially their Happy Hour (5-7pm). My sister took me to Tonight Josephine back in February and we’ve made a point of visiting the cocktail bar a couple of times since. It’s just a fantastic place, from the interior to the girl power vibes. All in neon pink and white it has a really good atmosphere. The cocktails are amazing too, needless to say. Very decent variety of traditional cocktails and more inventive cocktails, each tasting just delicious. Doesn’t have the cocktail theatre of The Alchemist, but it’s definitely worth your buck in deliciousness. I’m also never not amazed by just how good the bar staff are. Of course, you’d expect them to be great at making cocktails, but I’ve never seen anything like that. Not only do they remember and make several orders at one time but also remember every cocktail on the menu and make them impeccable every single time. I can’t even remember my breakfast most days, so I honestly am amazed by the precision of these human beings!

The Bletchley

Website: https://www.thebletchley.co.uk/
Last visited: February 2018;
Location: Chelsea;
Style: Immersive Cocktail Experience Bar;
Price range: ~£30 pp;
Booking: required.

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Go for: A more unusual and immersive cocktail experience. The Bletchley is a bar based on Bletchley Park (where Alan Turing led a team of codebreakers to break the Enigma code during the 2nd world war – if this doesn’t mean anything to you then I recommend you watch The Imitation Game). I can probably write a whole post on The Bletchley on its own but I don’t want to spoil the charm of going there without much prior knowledge. All I will say for now is that it is a fantastic experience, you will have to do some work (i.e. some codebreaking) and you will be rewarded with personalised cocktails throughout the evening. It’s probably one of my favourite cocktail experiences so far!


Last updated 28 December 2018. Do post up your recommendations for where you’ve eaten and visited in London! I’d love to read them and get some more ideas for future trips.

~Em

My Month In Food – July (Part 2)

Hello and welcome to my second post for July. Last month was all about trying new places popping up in Glasgow and revisiting some of my old favourites that I haven’t yet written about. This post is a bit of a mixed bag of good and not so good… I always love writing about the places that have made an impression on me and I have loved (part of the reason I opened this blog), but I have to remind myself that another reason why I blog is to also share news, impressions and thoughts on all the food I eat – good or bad. So while I don’t enjoy when I have to write a poor ‘review’ it’s part of the reason why I created this whole thing. And, unfortunately, we have a couple of those today…

In Part 2 there is a whole lot more beer featured to my usual food rantings, and you can read about notable beer places Grunting Growler and Six°North. I also popped in to brand new Glasgow restaurant Absurd Bird. And finally, we have two West End spots that have been with us for a while: Kelbourne Saint and Cafe Zique. I’ll start with the good.

Grunting Growler – Finnieston – Craft Beer Shop/Bar

No food to be found in this section, however, very much worth a mention for beer lovers. I’m not particularly crazy about beer and don’t know a thing about craft beers, but I do enjoy drinking them occasionally! I’ve been meaning to stop in this very hipster looking little place for a while and finally did so last month. They offer a really large selection of beers on tap and their fridges are well stocked with a variety of craft beers from around the world. I very much enjoyed giving a few beers a try and also ended up bringing a fair few cans back home. It’s the Grunting Growler where I discovered that I do have a favourite type of beer and that’s a sour. To add to this, the staff are so nice, very helpful and good at offering advice about beer. I’d definitely recommending stopping by this little shop/bar!

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Delicious Cloudwater sour over at Grunting Growler.
  • Good for: Craft beer;
  • ££: Prices of various beers will range, it’s moderately expensive.

Six°North – Partick – Beer & Modern pub food

Six°North is situated in the cusp of Partick and it was very much recommended by friends of mine. We headed there for an impromptu dinner one night and I was very pleasantly surprised by this bar. Offering a modern atmosphere, pleasant ambiance, plenty of beer choice and an extensive food menu – it’s actually a really good spot. While my friends had the fish and chips and cheese croquettes, I opted for the baked Camembert and a side portion of chorizo. The chorizo is really made for sharing and was a bit much for me just on it’s own – quite heavy and salty (as it should be, just not in such quantities for one!). However… the baked Camembert was divine. It was  topped with garlic and parsley and served with crusty bread. I would have preferred a different style bread with the dish, but I can’t fault the baked Camembert itself! I’ll definitely be back to try more of their menu, but so far, I can say it’s definitely worth a visit!

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Baked Camembert at Six°North
  • Good for: Beer & pub food, bigger crowds, casual dining.
  • ££: Starters range from £5-7, Mains – £6-£13.

Cafe Zique – Partick – Brunch & Coffee

I’ve been a fan of Cafe Zique ever since my partner’s sister suggested it for brunch a few years back. I’ve come back plenty of times with family and friends, mostly for brunch, and occasionally for dinner. It’s a popular west end spot and the restaurant is always buzzing when I visit. The food is good and plentiful and the coffee – delicious. They also change and experiment with their menu regularly enough and therefore keep things interesting for regulars. You can find a very decent full breakfast, plenty of choice for poached eggs and various toppings and french toast. I’m usually a big fan of this buzzing restaurant, but my last visit was a bit disappointing. I met a friend for brunch there and while he devoured a delicious looking full breakfast, I had the french toast with berries. Plenty of french toast, with the smallest handful of berries I’ve been served… Maple syrup had to be ordered as an extra too (at the ‘modest’ price of £2!) which also left me with a bitter (ah the irony) taste at the end. Saying that, Cafe Zique have an impressive track record of cooking and serving delicious food, so at the moment I’m considering this to be a fluke!  And, as a side note, their bakery is amazing – you can get fresh bread, pastries and cakes and they are truly delicious!

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Plenty of french toast, sadly not much from any of the toppings at Cafe Zique
  • Good for: Brunch, lunch, dinner, coffee, cocktails and a fantastic in store bakery.
  • ££: Moderately priced.

Kelbourne Saint – West End – Gourmet Pub

This is my local pub and I’ve seen it change a few times since I moved in the area. It’s famous for being the pub which appears in a certain pint smashing scene in Trainspotting and I’ve also spotted in British sitcom Lovesick. Though it’s changed much since it’s appearance on Trainspotting, it still reserves a certain charm when you visit. It’s now a posh pub, serving gourmet food and rotisserie chicken. Ever since it re-opened under the new management and new name, new look, new everything, I really wanted to like it. And I do like it – I like the atmosphere, I like the outdoor garden, I like the people who work there and I like the drinks. But.. when it comes to the food, it’s an entirely different story.

You’d hope that if a place specialises in something, in this case rotisserie chicken, they would do it well so you might forgive other things on the menu. However, their chicken is really quite average and not all that tasty. The sides, even worse – over roasted dry potatoes, overcooked greens and other veg… overall quite unsatisfying. Over the last year or so, we’ve tried different items on the menu and nothing has ever been quite right. On our last visit in particular, our friends had the burgers which they didn’t enjoy either, and every option my partner and I had initially selected from the menu was actually unavailable – so we had to give the chicken another go, knowing it’s not that great. However, I still visit the Kelbourne Saint, and I will continue to do so, because though the food is no good, the bar is lovely and it’s a nice spot to hang out in!

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Roast chicken with all the trimmings at Kelbourne Saint
  • Good for: drinks and ambiance, but I don’t recommend the food.
  • ££: On the expensive side for a pub.

Absurd Bird – City Centre – All things chicken

Absurd Bird is a chain restaurant which specialises in everything chicken – wings, fried chicken, burgers etc. They have a cool vibe, moonshine cocktails and love to make dirty jokes about chickens. They LOOK really good. So a couple of weeks we headed over for some finger lickin’ good chicken. The menu is really extensive and there is lot’s of choice. I enjoyed the cocktails too, but that’s about as far as I enjoyed this visit. The wings were very mediocre, and the hottest ones on the menu were not hot at all. We also ordered the chicken fondue, which looked impressive but tasted pretty bad. The cheese sauce was not good, however the various additions to the fondue were interesting – notable was the chicken slider and the deep fried baby bell. However, a lot of the dish didn’t make much sense to me – the cheese crumbs didn’t really add anything and the fondue was actually quite difficult to eat, having been served in a rather deep jar. Everything about Absurd Bird, including the chicken fondue, says “style over substance” and it feels that everything is created to be ‘instragramable’ rather than tasty. I’ll take my food in a non-pretty serving but delicious in taste, thank you very much. Overall, not great first impression and not sure it will warrant a second visit.

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Absurd Bird’s very insta-friendly Chicken Fondue, which sadly doesn’t deliver on flavour.
  • Good for: They specialise in chicken and moonshine cocktails, but I wouldn’t say the food is good.
  • ££: Moderately priced.

This is it for July! If you missed part 1, you can go back and read it here. Look out for the August edition in a few weeks time.