Dining in London: A Tourist’s Review

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook is happy to be back from her journey abroad, and she has of course done some field research. Thank you to all who made restaurant recommendations and suggestions, they were most helpful and I regret not being able to eat more. So the good news, London now offers way more than the fish and chips and Indian takeaway that I remember.

Poached eggs over polenta with mushrooms, rocket, and feta (Dinner at Heston, Knightsbridge, London)

Poached eggs over polenta with mushrooms, rocket, and feta (Dinner at Heston, Knightsbridge, London)

First, I did not get to eat anywhere near the amount of scones I would have liked to consume. This was in large part because I had to work and that work was in a location so remote as to barely be considered London. The food out there by and large was not delicious. For starters, I feel strongly that fish should not be served en masse indoors if it can be avoided at all. “Fishy smell” is never a positive attribute, not even to other fish.

Tasty but average fish and chips from Mermaid's Tale, Leicester Square, London.

Tasty but average fish and chips from Mermaid's Tale, Leicester Square, London.

As for my hotel breakfast, though the make your own cereal buffet was beyond delicious, there was no oatmeal available. Seriously? It’s cold outside, give me some porridge please. As for the traditional English breakfast, how many traditional English people eat that anymore? Show of hands for people downing baked beans every AM.

Bacon and Egg Sammie with magical marmalade (Dinner at Heston, Knightsbridge, London)

Bacon and Egg Sammie with magical marmalade (Dinner at Heston, Knightsbridge, London)

That said, I had some Italian food that rocked my world, and a breakfast that was to die for. Eggs on polenta with rocket and mushrooms, yes. A simple bacon and egg sammie, delightful. Even though the bacon is more Canadian than crispy, it was truly delicious.

Scones in London. Lighter than expected, but delicious with wifi.

Scones in London. Lighter than expected, but delicious with wifi.

The scones I had were very light, more leavening than the typical biscuit numbers I’m used to, but they were tasty. And the Indian food, well, this ranks in the top saag paneer I’ve ever had. The paneer was fresh and scrumptious, and the company and the view weren’t half bad either. Bonus, if you know me, you know I utterly lack a sense of direction. The natives led us close to the restaurant, but I found it, by sense of smell. Yes, dining with me is the equivalent of hiring a culinary bloodhound.

The view just outside of Mala Indian Restaurant in London.

The view just outside of Mala Indian Restaurant in London.

For fish and chips, we ended up at what we called the TGIFish of London inadvertently. It was decent, but lacked atmo. The single worst thing I consumed: some boiled or steamed carrots from the catering service at the event I was working. These carrots are what give British food a bad name.

The table settings were more refined, more lovely in London.

The table settings were more refined, more lovely in London.

Lastly, we learned that the potluck is unheard of across the pond, with my favorite quote, “What, do you ask some people to bring the wheat and make bread from it?” Apparently having people over to dinner is common, but asking them to cook or participate in any way but showing up is not. Thankfully, one does not have to clean the house with a toothbrush, as guests don’t rummage through cupboards. A cultural difference, indeed.

Deconstructed Parfait with brittle, ice cream, and maraschino cherries (SkyLounge Mint/Hilton, London)

Deconstructed Parfait with brittle, ice cream, and maraschino cherries (SkyLounge Mint/Hilton, London)

High atop the city, while learning about how to remove a whale’s liver (do not ask, I beg you), I ate this deconstructed parfait. Each element is still sharp in my mind, and I might’ve eaten two had I been given the chance. It was brilliant in taste and texture.

High above London, at night.

High above London, at night.

Thank you to all of my colleagues and friends for making the trip to London so fantastic. I look forward to returning, there is always more field research to be done. And to the security guard who asked me if I had just graduated a year and a half ago, I salute you.

Have you been to London lately? What did you think of the food?

Questions, challenges, and compliments may be emailed to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, French Toast, Perfected or “Wow, Mama, You Weren’t Kidding.”

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2 Comments

Filed under Restaurant Reviews

2 responses to “Dining in London: A Tourist’s Review

  1. Ah! I’ve eaten at Mala! I say well done, to your fellow diners on that one.
    Also, I never understood the baked beans thing. When I lived in Scotland people used to eat baked beans on pizza, and I was just so very confused by the whole thing. Maybe it’s because their pizza is kind of terrible?

    • The Practical Cook

      OMG, laughing so hard re: baked bean pizza. I only had plane pizza while abroad. It was like an undercooked personal pan pizza with faux veggies on top. I couldn’t eat it, and for me to turn down pizza, that is saying something.

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