The last time I was in London, I was a sophomore in college; the food scene was known to be less-than-stellar and my budget was non-existent. This time around, thing were looking up. While I'm no Rockefeller, I had a little change in my pocket and the food in this city has become some of Europe's finest. I dove in head first, and here are four of my favorites:
If you're coming across the pond, it'd be a shame to miss out on the fine Indian cuisine that London has to offer. I'd recommend skipping out on the numerous upscale options that have peppered the city over the last decade and settle into Chor Bizarre in the Mayfair neighborhood. The tchotchke-decorated restaurant originated in New Delhi and cooks up a flavorful tandoori sampler and fantastic dal – it's worth missing a fish or chip for this place, and kind on the wallet too.
Mark Hix's ultra-hip Shoreditch warehouse restaurant pays homage to the cow and chicken by housing the duo in a formaldehyde tank on display at the entrance – a carnivorous greeting for diners and an interesting introduction to easily understand what's for dinner. While there's a small selection of fresh starters to whet the appetite, it's the free-range fowl from Woolley Park Farm and British cattle aged in a Himalayan salt chamber, that earn this place solid acclaim. Each meat is served with crispy fries (or chips), and create the perfect British version of a chicken-steak frites.
Tuck into one of two Yalla Yalla locations (Green's Court in Soho or Oxford Street) for a quick bite while shopping the streets of London. I was starting to scoff at the site of scones when I found this terribly quaint café that serves up Beirut street food in mix and match mezze like baba ghanoush, Lebanese sausages, and gooey, baked Halloumi – each pairing nicely with an affordable glass of crisp, white wine or something savory with your afternoon tea.
The Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge
Put two geniuses together and what do you get? Something even better than before. Tony Conigliaro, the godfather of cocktails, collaborated with The Zetter Townhouse's chef, Bruno Loubet, to create the ultimate dining and drinking experience at the Cocktail Lounge at the Townhouse. Lovely antique furniture, petite vases filled with fresh flowers and kitschy taxidermy, like the kangaroo donning boxing gloves, make up this incredible space. But it's the house cocktails that have been carefully curated by Tony that won my heart. If I had to choose a favorite, it'd be the Rose Petal Gimlet crafted with Beefeater gin and homemade rose petal cordial. There's something decadent about sipping this cocktail while lounging in a Queen Anne's chair, next to a crackling fireplace. It's almost as if I felt like royalty – now, that's quite a cocktail.
What are some of your favorite food and cocktail spots in London?