10 Great Places To Eat Around London (v2.0)

Dining out in London is always a treat. And when you’re no longer confined to a student budget, food adventures can get pretty exciting. I still stand by all of my previous recs–you can’t really go wrong with Busaba Eathai or Belgo. Or even a cheeky Nando’s (don’t judge, just enjoy).

Here are some new favourites which I hope you’ll enjoy!

1. Shoryu Ramen (Liverpool Street)

The ramen craze took a while to hit London but it has since brought some very slurpilicous noodles to the city. Gone are most of the ramen shops from my Uni days, and such as well, as the new generation of ramen shops are often on par with those in Japan (and can satisfy the ramen snob in me). We’ll definitely be returning to Shoryu Ramen (perfect post-cricket meal). The tonkotsu broth is rich and creamy and you can really taste the freshness in their house-made gyoza.

2. Poppies Fish & Chips (Spitalfields)

Poppies is something of an institution in London and is a great spot for traditional no-frills fish and chips and delicious jellied eels. Some places have too much batter for my liking but I thought the batter to fish ratio here was perfect. I can’t really describe jellied eels in an appetising way–cool, fishy, slightly salty and gelatinous goodness? You either love them or you hate them and I think most people are turned off by them so they’re actually quite hard to find in London.

3. Pollen Street Social (Mayfair)

Dining at Pollen Street Social is a special affair. They offer a lovely (yet light) course menu, which is accompanied by an adorable arrangement of canapés and a three-course dessert. The food here is not only pretty to look at, but also a delight to eat. I must admit it’s not terribly filling but the portions aren’t so ickle that you’ll leave hangry.

 

4. Masala Zone (Earls Court)

Veeraswamy on a budget–what’s not to like? There are several Masala Zones around London offering fresh and amazing flavours but for a fraction of the price. You can’t go wrong with thalis. Great value=happy hubs.

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I can’t believe I forgot to mention Veeraswamy before, but their food is superb (especially their fish curries) so you must eat there, too!

5. Fancy a Snog? (Covent Garden)

In addition to having a cheeky name, the frozen yoghurt here is on point and I love all the fresh fruit toppings.

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6. Orjowan (Earls Court)

I cannot recommend this Lebanese restaurant highly enough. Everything is fresh and flavourful, the service is friendly, the price is right, and I thought I just about died and went to heaven when I tasted their chicken wings dipped (by the second bite, smothered would be more accurate) in light and fluffy garlic sauce. It’s insanely delicious–a total party for your tastebuds!

7. Hotel Chocolat (all over London)

Quality British chocolates at a reasonable price.

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8. Belgo Centraal (Covent Garden)

Sometimes all you need is a simple meal of moules-frites and a chilled glass of Früli.

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9. Polo Bar (Liverpool Street)

I’m only adding this place because I know it will make the G happy. They’re open 24 hours, offer a respectable menu of British comfort food, which I’d gladly eat when it’s not 35ºC inside the cafe.img_2045

10. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (Chelsea)

Where do I begin? It was a dream come true to dine here, but we were sadly unimpressed with the Menu Prestige (which put hubs in a sour mood). All of the food was beautifully plated, but I think they forgot that it also has to taste nice (rather, being a 3-Michelin starred restaurant the food should actually knock your socks off). While there were some tasty dishes, most of the courses were either under-seasoned or the flavour combinations were just weird. Having said all that, it’s still a special experience, especially if you’re new to fine dining. But if you’ve dined at other Michelin starred restaurants before I would proceed with caution.

Wimbledon Schmimbledon

When we weren’t out playing tourist, we were glued to the telly watching Federer and Murray go head to head with some of the world’s best tennis players (as well as each other). Such exciting times those were!

We decided to visit Wimbledon on a rest day to avoid the crowds (and transportation hell). You could still feel the excitement in the air and the grounds really are spectacular. It was amazing to see how long the queue would have been had we attended a match. There’s actually a queue for the queue! And if you know me and hubs, we don’t do queues. Especially not after we’d barely survived the hottest day of the year with temperatures hitting 36.7C (98F).

Wimbledon is arguably still the most snobbish sporting institution in the world. Have you seen the folks at the All England Club? We’d be mistaken for hobos if we ever tried setting foot in the mere vicinity of the club on a ‘normal day’. I associate Wimbledon with impeccably manicured lawns, tradition, blazers, officials, rules, more rules, and exorbitantly priced strawberries (oh and there’s tennis, too). That said, we were surprised by how welcoming the Wimbledon staff were and they even invited us in to visit the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum and take a few photos around the area.

Cricket At Lord’s

There is no better place to experience your first cricket match than at Lord’s. The grounds are simply exquisite. If you’re lucky, the weather will be brilliant and you’ll have great seats in the Grand Stand at a T20 match. T20s are short and sweet and give you a taste of cricket without running the risk of cricket overload and being turned off forever.

What I like best about [the idea of] cricket are the grounds that the matches are played on, the overall atmosphere and the tasty food. Everyone is excited to see their team and people are usually quite tipsy and friendly. Our match was Middlesex v. Sussex. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on but Monks had a blast and even got his photo displayed on the scoreboard! Middlesex (the team we were supporting) were doing awful, but apparently I thought they had done well.

G bought me a pink wig before the match started and although I didn’t get to try any of Jamie Oliver’s special items, hubs had a meat pie the size of a UFO. I really tried hard to understand the game. Although I don’t think I increased my knowledge of cricket I certainly enjoyed the experience (although G may not believe I did) and would love to go back for another T20 match if G is willing to take us again.

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Monkey Visits His Alma Mater

As time goes by, it feels ever more bittersweet when visiting places from years past. Mind you, Monkey is not that old but he’s no longer as young and spritely as he used to be.

It was nice being back at SOAS with G alongside. However, we were hot and tired from the day out and sat quietly reminiscing (for all of ten minutes) before we got bored and set off home.

Monkey Does London

Having called three countries and seven cities home, London has always had a special place in Monkey’s heart. It’s been a while since Monks played tourist in London–from Tower Bridge to Westminster (he managed to avoid the Charlie Chaplin scammers), Trafalgar Square to seeing old pals at Number 10, riding Britain’s only cable car to the O2, having a look around Selfridges, Hamleys, the London Eye, etc.–he was able to pack it all in, with great weather to boot!

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Glimpse Of Blackpool

Blackpool is often rated as Britian’s No. 1 holiday destination so it seems fitting that some friends would plan a nice weekend getaway there to experience the sights and sounds of the quaint seaside town (although I must admit, Blackpool doesn’t really compare to Brighton, which I much prefer). I suppose you could say it’s the closest thing the UK has to Disneyland. Here are some of the snaps they sent me!

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You can’t go to Blackpool without visiting Blackpool Tower.

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Sadly, there were no Moomins to be seen in Blackpool, but apparently there are tons of golleys to be won as prizes at Blackpool Pleasure Beach (where Valhalla was the ride of choice) and in shops.
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And plenty of other interesting sightings, like the troll-like figures outside Donna’s Dream House.
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From the look of things, Blackpool seems to embrace the concept of ‘American’ portions with their massive chocolate eclairs and generous cake sizes!

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I love the economically friendly food prices.

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Finally, you can’t leave Blackpool without checking out the the magical Blackpool Tower Ballroom, which I must admit if I were to visit Blackpool it would mainly be to give ballroom dancing a go and witness the grand entrance of the flashy organ.
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Have you ever been to Blackpool? What’s your favourite spot in town? I’ve got mixed reviews of the place and unfortunately, according to recent holiday reports, it was neither quaint nor nice — in fact it was dark and nasty with lots of drunken fights. There also seems to be a rehousing project under way for paedophiles but not sure that should stop anyone from having a good time! Does that sound odd? I’m trying to be fair here and my friends did seem to enjoy themselves!

10 Great Places To Eat Around London

There are so many wonderful places to eat around London. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or a high end dining experience, there’s something for everyone. Here are just some of my many favourites around the city that are mostly student budget friendly.  What are some of your favourites?

*Note* I’m sad to say I’m yet to find a Chinese restaurant that I approve of in London so I have nothing to share on that front. I’m also a bit of a ramen snob so in the end I decided not to include any shops on this list, though there are a few decent places.

1. Viet Garden (Islington)

My absolute favourite place for Vietnamese soup noodles. Their chicken pho (flat rice noodle in a light fragrant soup) is full of flavour and I also love their bun hue (rice vermicelli in hot and spicy broth) with beef.  The restaurant is full of old world charm, and I love how unassuming the place is. The prices are even student friendly (£15 pp), and it would appear they now have another location in Shoreditch (Huong).

Address: 207 Liverpool Road, London N1 1LX
Tel: 020 7700 6040
Nearest Tube station: Angel

2. Tamarind (Mayfair)

Prepare to be blown away by an exquisite dining experience. A bit on the pricier side but completely worth it, as it certainly did change my perception of Indian cuisine.  I like the Dawat Menu, which offers a wide variety of different dishes that are far from the usual curry from the corner shop.

Address: 20 Queen Street, London W1J 5PP
Tel: 020 7629 3561
Nearest Tube station: Green Park

3. Busaba Eathai (Store Street)

Time Out London described Busaba as “a dependable, attractive place for excellent modern Thai food on the cheap”, and I’d have to agree! My favourites include standard dishes, such as Pad Thai and green chicken curry, and I love their guava collins. This is another great place for the student budget. Visit their website to find the location nearest you.

Address: 22 Store Street, London WC1E 7DF
Tel: 020 7299 7900
Nearest Tube station: Goodge Street

4. Gallipoli Café Bistro (Islington)

The ambiance here is great and the crowd is always lively.  This is by far my favourite Turkish restaurant in the city.  Their food is superb and I always go with the set meals because you get a taste of everything.  Not to mention, the prices are hard to beat (set meals range from £15-18 pp).

Address: 102 Upper Street, London N1 1QN
Tel: 020 7359 0630
Nearest Tube station: Angel

5. Belgo Centraal (Covent Garden)

Who wouldn’t love Belgo Bill? This is my absolute favourite place to eat in Covent Garden, minus the draconian monks that work there as waiters (half the time I go there they look like they’re about to flog me). That said, it’s got a great feel to it and the food has never disappointed!  Some favourites are the traditional moules et frites, croquettes, confit duck salad (with black pudding–the only time I’ll eat it), and of course belgian waffles for dessert. Not to mention, they have a fantastic selection of fruit beers!

Address: 50 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LJ
Tel: 020 7813 2233
Nearest Tube station: Covent Garden

6. Paul (Covent Garden)

This is a lovely french family bakery and patisserie with branches across London.  They have a wide selection of petit fours to sate every possible sugar-craving. And I do love a cup of their decadent hot chocolate on a cold rainy day (which means I have it quite often). They also do soups and sandwiches so it’s great for a quick bite on the go.

Address: 29 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9ED
Tel: 020 7836 3304
Nearest Tube station: Covent Garden

7. Centrepoint Sushi (Soho)

The sushi cafe is discreetly tucked above a Korean-Japanese grocery and is almost always packed when I’m there.  My favourite is the Hana Bento set dinner.  The sashimi is always fresh. I also love the booths there. It’s nothing flash (as with the prices) and I know there are more famous Japanese restaurants in town, but as far as informal dining goes, this place never disappoints and I love being able to do my Asian food shopping downstairs after a meal.

Address: 20-21 St Giles High Street, London WC2H 8LN
Tel: 020 7240 6147
Nearest Tube station: Tottenham Court Road

8. Koba (Fitzrovia)

There are so many great Korean restaurants in London it’s hard to choose just one, but I decided to go with Koba (even though they haven’t got a website…tsk tsk) because I have fond memories there. They offer good food, good value and special hot plates for a completely different dining experience. All in all, it’s a fun and friendly place that serves tasty classic Korean fare.

Address:11 Rathbone Street, London W1T 1NA
Tel: 020 7580 8825
Nearest Tube station: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road

9. Pret A Manger (South Kensington)

I know you may think it’s just a sandwich chain but it’s more than just that! This is my favourite ‘fast-food’ place to eat and there are convenient locations all around London (and the UK).  Great soups and sandwiches for on the go!

Address:15 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3HZ
Tel: 020 7932 5368
Nearest Tube station: South Kensington

10. Claridge’s (Mayfair)

I debated whether or not to include afternoon tea in this list but how could I leave out one of my favourite pastimes? Claridge’s would have to be my favourite and although perhaps not fit for a student budget, I’d say go on and go for it!  You must treat yourself to afternoon tea here at least once. I love everything from their great selection of teas and sweet pastries to their friendly service (the place is not as stuffy as it might appear).

Address: 49 Brook St, London W1K 4HR
Tel: 020 7629 8860
Nearest Tube station: Bond Street