jANUARY 13-18, 2016
We were lucky to both have seats in Delta One on the way over, which makes it so much easier to hit the ground running when we land.So, without further ado...
Where We Stayed
What We Ate
I can't even begin to describe how amazing EVERYTHING we had here was. We accidentally ended up in Covent Gardens after walking through China Town and were in the mood for curry, so we gave it a go. When we got in line around 5:30, we were told there would be about a 40 min. wait. We were outside for a while and then shuffled downstairs to the posh (crowded!) bar to wait it out. I started checking out Yelp reviews to see what to order and learned that this particular location was the #1 rated Yelp restaurant in all of Great Britain in 2015. Now I understand why.
The menu isn't huge but it has a really wide range of options. We had: Chicken Ruby, Sheekh Kabab, basmati rice, Kachumbur, Garlic Naan and Roomali Roti. Everything is served with little chutneys and I swear I could drink the green one with a straw. On a cold London night, all the spices and flavors were absolutely perfect. Plus, the 2 of us got out for about £35, which seemed really reasonable for all the food we got. Mark my words, I will be back!
Well worth the stroll up Brick Lane. We bypassed all the famous curry houses with high hopes for this sandwich, and it did not disappoint. In fact, we split one and then split another. The beef is super tender and fatty in the most delicious, brisket-like way. The pickles are crunchy, the mustard (really) spicy, and the bagels fresh.
For £4.20, this is a steal. And, Beigel Bake is open 24/7 for all your midnight carb cravings. The store also sells various other donuts, pastries, beigel fillings, loaves of bread, and cakes. Prices are SUPER reasonable, especially for London.
This is such a FUN store! There are multiple locations but the one we visited was also on Brick Lane. The store has lots of amazing chocolate in the forms of a ton of different truffles. The 2 people working when we stopped in were a blast and encouraged us to try a lot of the random little truffle balls blindly. The biggest shocker was the one full of pop rocks!
After eating dinner, we weren't hungry enough to buy any real amount of chocolate but we shared an espresso and the most decadent hot chocolate ever. The "barista" took his time making the it chocolate but when he served it up, we understood why. It is a thick, rich, chocolately concoction of milk and water and cocoa and tons of milk, white and dark chocolate shavings. Ah-maze-ing. And the espresso was pretty good too - especially after dunking a dark truffle into it ;)
There's something amazing in this cup of hot chocolate. After a drool-worthy stroll through Harrod's and a chilly walk outside, we hopped into Cafe Nero for some wifi, hot cocoa and a little warming up. The hot chocolate is chocolately and rich, and the dine-in cup features an enormous amount of seriously good whipped cream. We went to the Trafalgar Square location on Saturday night for another hit, and they were out of whipped cream, so we moved on. It's that important. Thankfully there are locations all across the city. Actually we tried quite a few of them and the hot chocolate was equally impressive at all of them. :)
We had to try Scotch Eggs while we were in London. So we did. The verdict is that they are a little weird, even for me and David. It could definitely be an acquired taste though, and I'm really glad that we tried it at such a cool spot.
Another English staple but done sooooo well. Super lightly bartered fish and thick steak fries, served with malt vinegar, salt and ketch or tartar or curry sauces. The line is long and seating is limited but it's easy to see why everyone from construction workers to fancy businessmen were eating here.
On a side note, we sat by a side window and could watch everything being made. I was amazed by how CLEAN the whole operation was!
I don't usually spend £4.50 on a cup of soup, but it was a cold, cold day and we were at a market, so it hit the spot. Rita herself served me this giant bowl and it was spectacular.
This big juicy steak sandwich was easily big enough for us to split (especially with a day of eating ahead of us), but we really loved talking to Gaston, the owner. Since we were seriously looking at heading to Argentina instead of London, it seemed only logical that we would have Argentine food. Gaston has traveled and lived all over the world, and we had fun swapping stories with him while he cooked the meat and then loaded up a huge ciabatta roll with chimichurri sauce, arugula and roasted red peppers. His location is a pop-up so it changes, but he is worth finding.
Our quaint little apartment turned out to be in an exceptional location, surrounded by food and shops. I'd heard really solid reviews of Masala Zone (a London chain), so when we stumbled upon it just down the street from us, we knew we had to check it out. The actual restaurant was quite a bit fancier than the name would suggest - or maybe I'm just correlating it with AutoZone :)
We had a Grand Thali (platter) with Prawn Malai curry, Dbaaba Roghan Josh goat curry, a few vegetable side dishes (Chef's choice), pompadom and chutney, basmanti rice, garlic naan, and a potato fritter. The price was really good (even after adding a 2nd curry and extra naan), and the food was delicious. I'm pretty sure we literally mopped up every drop. I'd highly recommend both of the curries we had.
What We Did
We love a good hop on hop off tour, so this was a no-brainer. Our one-day tickets came with another free day, which was nice but we didn't really use the 2nd day since it was so cold. I liked the narration on the tour and learned a lot as we rolled along seeing all the famous sights of London.
We wanted to sit upstairs to snag some good pictures, but after a few windy minutes we moved back downstairs when we couldn't feel our fingers anymore. Since the Underground system is so extensive and easy to navigate, I don't think a HOHO here is a must, but it was really convenient and interesting.
Actually we sort of stumbled upon this accidentally after leaving dinner at Dishoom and looking for a hot chocolate nightcap. All of a sudden, BOOM here's a street filled with people and giant light-up sharks flying in the sky and a huge screen with an elephant's butt swinging around. The Caffe Nero we stopped at was super packed, so we went to Trafalgar Square and found some more Lumiere goodies. And another Caffe Nero that was *gasp* out of whipped cream.
Admittedly, we aren't "art people" but we are get-out-of-the-cold people so we stopped in to stroll around. And I kind of liked it! The gallery is grouped by the topic of the portraits, not by the artists, so there's a huge variety of styles in every room, and lots of interesting people portrayed. There was also a group there sketching, and their topic was to pair 2 random portraits as people who may be "friends." Fun. Warm. Free. = 2 thumbs up!
Harrod's is one of those London things you have to do, just because. It's a giant department store and we couldn't help stopping in between the airport and getting to our apartment. Navigating with our bags was a little tricky, and it was super crowded...and overwhelming. Where do people get cash to blow like that?