Just returned from 3 nights in London for our nearly annual trip these days. We had a great time this go around despite the weather. Here’s where we ate:
Friday lunch was at Rochelle Canteen. My 3rd or 4th time there and always excellent. We had some ramps with romesco sauce that were tasty. Very early for ramps no? They were from Italy. Mains were a delicious turbot with green sauce that was delicious. I had the pork chop with greens and anchovy sauce. It was fine. Very Rochelle Canteen style dish. For dessert, a ginger cake with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch…absolutely delicious. Service was great and we loved it. This is a must when in London…for us at least.
Friday dinner at Barrafina on Drury Lane. We tried to get into the Barbary at 8pm but were quoted 90 minutes so we decided on Barrafina. Our wait ended up being 70 minutes or so. It moved quickly and we grazed on some croquetas and I had an estrella galicia. After we sat, we ordered 5-6 dishes…ended up over-ordering by a dish or two. I recall that the fried baby squid were tasty to snack on, the pork belly with garlic was great. The crab bun was okay but probably worth skipping. A special of fried tuna with greens was nice. The portobello croquetas were good but I would’ve preferred ones with cheese. The chorizo tortilla was alright. Service was good but pretty standard…not entirely as friendly as I’ve had in Spain. Overall, Barrafina is good…not great. Not worth an hour wait and I’ve had much better tapas elsewhere…even in London.
Saturday breakfast at 26 Grains in Covent Garden. Not my type of food but it was a cute little place to get a coffee and eat some hippie food. Staff were super sweet. I had a rhubarb grain bowl that was super tart as well as an egg and avocado grain dish that had too much sriracha. Coffee was meh. Much better at Monmouth around the block.
Borough market was as mobbed as ever. So mobbed, we ended up leaving earlier than we expected. It was always packed but add in the people taking photos of their food and just being absolutely oblivious to their surroundings and its starting to feel like its worth avoiding unless on friday.
We ended at Ottolengthi in Spitalfields for a late lunch. No wait for 2 and we sat at the bar. We had an absolutely delicious meal of beef with the eggplant and butternut squash…and some other salads that we just loved. This is a place we would visit in NYC all the time if they had one. Without drinks, it was like 42 gbp…super cheap and a very comfortable experience with friendly staff.
Saturday dinner was at Anglo. I had high hopes for this meal considering the reviews but I was disappointed. The restaurant is located in a dead part of Farringdon on the weekends. The restaurant’s motivations seemed pretty clear: Find an inexpensive spot, clean it up and make it look high end, serve a tasting menu that touches on modern cooking and everyone will fall over themselves. I just saw through it. The space had cracks and unfinished paint here and there, the servers were competent but cold and not very polished. The food was merely okay. Some dishes were excellent. A perfectly cooked piece of cod with miso seaweed and some mussels…a shortrib and beef dish. But the other courses and canapes were mediocre and trying too hard. For 45 GBP, you got tons of food for the money…a great value. But I left mostly indifferent and couldn’t recommend it. It certainly isn’t michelin star quality in my opinion.
Sunday morning breakfast at The Wolseley. We had such a great breakfast last year at Berner’s Tavern, we decided to try The Wolseley for a high end breakfast. I wanted to like it but I didn’t. FOH was excellent but we had the least interested waiter in the world…a french guy (and I’m french). The space is nice but not Berner’s Tavern nice. The chairs and tables look a bit shoddy and can use a paint job in places. Avocado toast had too much hot sauce on it. My kedgeree was tasty but a bit too much curry for me that early in the morning. Pastries were meh. A shame the bill included a service charge…our waiter was awful. We’ll be at Berner’s Tavern next time.
Sunday dinner at The Barbary. A rainy night, we walked in at 7pm and had no wait at all. There were a couple of more spaces as well. I believe by 730pm, it was full and a queue was formed. Staff couldn’t be nicer, more competent, friendly or professional. We ordered 5-6 dishes…the pumpkin dip, the baba ganoush, 2 orders of naan, the meat filled pockets (forget the name), the octopus with chickpeas and the pork neck. Everything was delicious and the place had a nice energy. We finished with the hash cake which was basically the crack pie with pistachio if you ever go to momofuku milk bar in nyc. We really enjoyed the Palomar last year but loved the Barbary. It’s not rocket science…it’s street food. But it’s done well and the place is awesome.
Monday breakfast at Honey and Co was a nice end to our trip. Huge breakfast was probably too much to eat that early. But the ashouri cereal was delicious and the sabich was great. I had dinner here a few years back and will return again. Nice staff as well.
A few other notes:
We enjoyed a pint of beer at Lamb and Flag in Covent Garden. A great respite in the center of the madness of the neighborhood.
Dean Street Tavern was a great place for a late night drink. This is our second time and we really liked the staff and it was a nice place to hang out in.