You’ve gotta EAT! In addition to sightseeing and shopping, you’ve got to immerse yourself in the food in London. Having only been in London for a total of 4.25 days, we didn’t get the full experience I would have liked and of course I was travelling with a 9 year old with a very particular palate. We took a slightly different approach to eating in London that many might have gone a different route… but it worked for us! Since my daughter’s favorite foods are things like chicken nuggets, fries and mac and cheese, I knew there was going to be a breaking in period when introducing new foods.
Something most akin to her liking was London’s classic Fish & Chips offering. She took to it like bread on butter and couldn’t get enough. Most places have a similar light batter codfish filet fry and she just loved it. Forget kids meals with the little fish fingers, she was having no part of that. She wanted the real deal and whether it was just a neighborhood pub that we just stumbled upon or a late night snack at our quaint little boutique hotel we were staying at, Fish & Chips was on the order.
The one thing we definitely noticed is the brits love their peas. We’re going to have to look into why this vegetable winds up as being the vegetable side of choice in many venues from whole to pureed. So if you love peas, this is your town!
The UK leaves so much to love and desire for the food chains in the US. It’s a well-known fact that things like food dyes and many chemicals that are banned from consumption in the UK are NOT in the US. I believe overall their safety standards “exceed” ours for the most part, unlike our US classic “meets safety standards” – ever notice that? One thing that Ava noticed was the yolk of the eggs in London were more rich. It’s hard to describe, but somehow just looked healthier, unlike our pale yolks. It’s been pointed out that its more likely that the chickens of the UK have a different diet than ours, but also that their care of them is different than ours too. Farm to table and healthy eating is a huge thing in London.
High Tea is a must! If you want authentic, a trip to the Claridges or The Ritz is recommended, but I did have one picky eater in tow and I knew the fare must be more basic and more about the experience. We absolutely loved our B Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour, which was high tea on a decked out double decker with drinks and a lovely selection of tea fare. It wasn’t so much about a live guided tour, but our lovely host did chime in every now and then for us to check out a notable sighting. Aside from managing our liquid intake during our 2 hour bus tour without a bathroom on board, it was a lovely lovely way to have high tea. Highly recommended to secure seating on the upper deck but reservations fill up quickly, and a seat below isn’t a bad seat either. We were pleasantly surprised to get a last minute upgrade to the upper deck on site! I also just discovered that they have a boat tour seasonally as well on the Thames!
One to try on our next trip is the Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel which I hear is simply magical!
Fortnum & Mason is a must stop. Maybe not so much for eating, although you could also do high tea here but rather shop all their amazing confectioneries. I am all about food gifts when I travel. No one wants a mug or keychain, but the food… the food they will remember. Fortnum & Mason has it all – from teas to cookies, honey and chocolate all in beautiful packaging that will last way beyond the last crumb.
What I was most surprised about was their amazing bagels, spelled beigel in the UK. Why? I do not know. Believe me when I say, I am a purist when it comes to bagels and New York City is where you go when you want the best bagels. I happened to stumble upon a note that stuffed beigels were a thing and the original was the absolute best at Beigel Bake. Breakfast was more of an after thought in my itinerary planning so I was very proud of myself for committing to this one. A short trek over to Brick Lane and Beigel Bake yielded a truly amazing experience. Ava got herself a bacon and butter stuffed beigel, myself a classic smoked salmon and cheese, although I didn’t get the memo that the salted beef was where its at. Adding that to my list for our next trip!
A restaurant that came highly recommended from a friend was Duck & Waffle. Unfortunately we didn’t have the good sense to make reservations ahead of time and was unable to secure a table unless we wanted to eat at 1130 at night.
What about snacking? When in London, you must try the chocolate. You don’t have to be fancy and have La Maison Du Chocolat or Angelina, rather think, Cadbury. Yes, of the Cadbury Egg fame. This is the ORIGINAL. You can start plain with a bar, and just savor the smoothness and purity of their chocolate or go fancier with crunchies or Dairy Milk. We also found Kinder to be very price friendly in London. Happening upon a Tesco was the best thing ever for Ava, where 3 Kinder Buenos was only £1.20, and an entire case of 30 for less than £14. We found 8 for £18 in Duty-Free.
Another thing that was pointed out to me was to check out the differences of establishments that are in both the US and the UK, like McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. I was a bit of a snob during our trip, refusing to go to any dining establishment that already existed in the US, not for the lacking of requests made by Ava either. I guess I missed out. From Whole Foods to Shack Shack to Sushi Samba and Nobu, it would have been interesting to make a comparison. That may mean another trip across the pond![message type=”info”]TIPPING & TIPS
This may seem obvious, but it’s important review your bill before paying. I found almost 95% of our checks included a 12% service/gratuity charge. Of course if you’re feeling particularly generous or received phenomenal service, feel free to add more!
If you’re primarily using your charge card, and really it should be your primary method of payment, don’t forget to research ahead of time, and utilize a NO-FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE card. [/message]