On our first visit to London, it broke my heart (and pocket) as we barely got our money’s worth for the quality of food we’re indulging. This experience prompted me to google about the city’s dining scene – to verify if we’re an isolated case and to check if dishes are generally bland. Few people verified my experience and there are lots, too, who said that “maybe you’re dining at the wrong places”
It’s not our style to research about food prior to a trip, but on our second time in the city, I did. And I was in for a surprise! I got to experience the awesome side of London’s eating scene. Without breaking the bank, if I may add.
So in the spirit of sharing, here’s a short list of places and food items that made me go “ooh lala” at first bite. Most of these are located in Soho since that’s where we stayed. Besides, there are lots of restaurants, big or small, in there that are truly irresistible.
1. 26 Grains
Neal’s Yard, Seven Dials, Covent Garden
Channeled my inner grandma and broke my fast with a generous bowl of gourmet porridge. I had Banana Cacao porridge, which is a beautiful mix of almond milk oats, coconut yogurt, cacao nibs, banana, date syrup and topped with edible flower. It’s Hazelnut & Butter for the hubby which is made of almond milk oats, butter, hazelnuts, cinnamon, coconut palm sugar and apple shavings.The ingredients seemed so lovely together, the porridge itself looks pretty but wait for the taste – amazing!
2. Monmouth Coffee Company
Monmouth St., Covent Garden
I was sad after finding out that they don’t serve hot chocolate or even tea. But it’s an opportunity to break my walls with coffee so I asked for flat white. It’s surprising that I liked it and didn’t get any palpitations after. Best paired with their moist brownie!
3. Keu Vietnamese
Poland St., Soho
Since moving to Dubai, I have stopped eating pork, save for the few times I go home to Manila. But London has rekindled my old flame for pork dishes, especially Keu. The yummy Hu Tieu My Tho is a rice noodle soup with prawns, 24-hour pork bone broth and pork cooked 3 ways! Hubby’s Co’m Ca Ri Bo (beef dumpling bowl) was nothing short of amazing as well.
Gabriel’s Wharf, South Bank
We discovered Pieminister during our first visit. Fresh, savoury and hot pies – mmhmm. We tried the Fungi Chicken and Moodog and we’re impressed! The cheddar cheese gratings on my pie made it more delish. They have awesome mash, too, smothered with generous gravy sauce. Perfect for lunch especially when it’s cold and windy outside!
Old Compton St., Soho
Dimmed lights and tatami seats. Can it be any more authentic than this? One of the best date night places we’ve been. In fact, we were seated next to an awkward couple who seems to be having their first date, lol. The Spicy Beef Ramen was super spicy tasty and my Oyako Don was fantastic. Reasonable price for its serving size – winner!
6. Gelupo at Vico
Cambridge Circus, Soho
While most pubs are full on a Friday night, the gelateria Gelupo inside the Italian restaurant, Vico was brimming as well – BUT with gelato and hot choco fanatics! Our curiosity led us to discovering their uber thick, rich and pure dark hot chocolate, which they call black chocolate, served in a tiny paper cup. Soooo heavenly! It’s Venezuelan cru chocolate and dairy free! Ha! Perfect for cold, summer nights.
Earlham St., Soho
We came here for breakfast and one of our friends swore that their cinnamon buns are THIS close to authentic Swedish ones. I haven’t tried Swedish cinnamon rolls but I vouch for these sweet and sticky pastries as one of the best indulgences to start your day. The vanilla bun is also great. Works well with their hot chocolate, too! Shoutout to the perky guy who served us that morning – made my day.
8. Pizza Pilgrims
Dean St., Soho
Late night dinner (like half an hour before the kitchen closes) and the server looked so surprised that we ordered three items (their serving size is huge!) from the menu. But who can resist the Calzone Ripieno (Napoli salami, ricotta and mushroom, tomato, fior de latte and parmesan!), Marinara pizza (cheese-less, tomato, oregano, garlic, basil and olive oil) and Nutella and Salted Ricotta Pizza Ring (what a wonderful combination!) Go ahead, you are free to judge us for finishing all of these!
Borough Market, Southwark
Yes, this gotta be here! I hate to sound like a broken record (mentioned about this here and a few tweets) but it was love at first bite! This soft-boiled eggs coated with chorizo and red bell pepper is, BOOM, the best thing that has ever happened to my taste buds in the entire trip. I’m out of words. Should I be blessed to be back in London for the third time, this will be the first place I’d go to.
Two places worth checking out as well for their awesome atmosphere and total coolness.
P.S. Great food, too!
Café in the Crypt
St. Martin in the Fields Church, Trafalgar Square
While a vaulted crypt with gravestones on the floor might not be your ideal place to have your lunch, wait until you get to see Café in the Crypt. Beautifully lit, atmospheric and not creepy at all. In fact, it’s date-worthy. They also hold jazz concerts here which makes it all the more romantic. They serve mean apple crumble, too! Mmm.
Morris, Gamble and Poynter Rooms
Victoria and Albert Museum, Knightsbridge
Never leave the V&A without (at least) checking out the awesome Victorian era café. Never. The opulent interiors is enough to make you feel full. Breathtaking is an understatement.
How about you, where’s your favorite place to dine in London? Have you been to any of these? Let me know your thoughts! :)