The Alfred Tennyson, Star Tavern, tomtom coffee [London]

Just returned from the Canary Islands last week and transited through London on our way home to Boston. We decided to stay in London-proper (in Belgravia because we wanted to be close to Victoria Station), rather than staying out near Gatwick as we did on our outgoing leg.

Our first meal was a VERY late dinner (10 pm-ish) at the Alfred Tennyson. After a series of delays both on Gran Canaria and on the Gatwick Express, we headed out around 8:30 pm rather research-less. While we could’ve settled on fast food, B and I certainly craved adult drinks and a civilized meal. We had walked past Boisdale on our way from Victoria Station but it was packed to the gills. Using @kake’s Randomness Guide to London (which is a fun read), we settled on Star Tavern, hoping it would still be kid-friendly at that hour on a Tuesday evening). After a pleasant walk looking at all the surrounding embassies, we arrived to a very full pub. The affable crowd was quite amused by spring onion, authoritatively looking for a table. No such luck. So we wandered and came across The Alfred Tennyson, which looked cozy and had a free table (a booth no less). Very nice server who I could tell was a mom and perhaps worried about a spring onion being out on the town so late. Unfortunately, the food was a big disappointment. Granted, they were hosting a large private party in the upstairs function room so that could’ve affected our food. Spring onion didn’t like his sausage and mashed (although B tasted and said it was delicious) but worked his way through about half. My beetroot and parsnip tart was kind of sad. The cubed up veggies were tossed into a pastry shell with not much flavor/sauce to speak of. And B’s fish and chips were just adequate. And spring onion’s food took forever to come out of the kitchen, with the manager even apologizing. Oh well. It was a pleasant room and the wine and beer were fine.

The following morning, we had breakfast next door to our hotel at tomtom coffee house. We had to sit outside because it was full inside. We put our order of a cheese and tomato toastie on Poilane sourdough, avocado toast with poached egg, and pancakes. Flat white and cappuccino. Coffees came first and were divine. Then we waited. And waited. My toastie came first and it was like the best grilled cheese sandwich ever. Waited some more. Lots of apologies from the (again) very nice server. Finally, B’s and spring onion’s meals were delivered. Every component on B’s dish was superb - a perfectly poached egg and a sweet chili jam that complemented the avocado toast quite well. Spring onion’s pancakes were picture-perfect, if a bit dry (but I’m not much of a pancake lover). While waiting, we got a kick out of watching all the young women taking selfies in front of Peggy Porschen (whom we’d never heard of before that). The self-absorption of these women was astounding to observe.

Finally, we made it to Star Tavern for a late lunch (2:30 pm and the kitchen closes at 3 pm). My fish and chips made B jealous, while his cottage pie hit the spot. Spring onion, who never eats fish and chips, happily shared mine. Or maybe he was just out-of-his-mind starving by that time.

Dinner was sadly leftover Canarian cheese and newly-bought bread and wine from the nearest M&S, eaten in our hotel room. Earlier, spring onion enjoyed a good hot dog while watching the carousel outside the Natural History Museum. And then off we went the next morning after free breakfast at our hotel. We had a more than decent lunch at Wagamama Gatwick.

I’ll try to get around posting about the Canary Islands portion shortly.


Unfortunately, it is still very possible to eat poor food in pubs. Particularly when you just have to settle for somewhere. Nowhere near as bad a situation as 30 years ago but still possible.

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Well I wouldn’t characterize the Alfred Tennyson as a pub. Maybe more Gastropub or just a cute little restaurant? Anyway, I think we landed there on a bad day. Everyone else seem to be enjoying their time there.

I was on the edge of my seat with the Star saga… “Ooh, they went to the Star! Oooh, on the RGL recommendation! Oh no, they didn’t actually get to go to the Star! Oh, yay, they made it to the Star after all!”

It really is a very good pub, and it’s stayed good over many years.


Oh my…we are just getting word of the stabbing on London Bridge. Such an eerie feeling since we were just there a week ago and enjoying the walk over the bridge. We will stay tuned for more information.

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Very little known as I write.

Police report that one man has been shot. Presumably the offender and shot by the police, rather than anything more sinister. There are reports of 5 people being stabbed. Police say they are responding as though this is a terrorist incident but, of course, have no evidence as to whether it is.


Seems there may be two offenders. One has been shot dead (reports that he was wearing a hoax suicide vest) the other has fled (photographed holding a knife).

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Seems the guy photographed holding the knife may have been involved in disarming the terrorist. So may have helped prevent more murders than the two that happened.

Latest news is that the attacker is reported to be a convicted terrorist, released from prison on licence and wearing a tag.


I’m probably going to get in trouble for starting the political talk here but I have to wonder if this is related to the incident at the Hague today. Or just a terrible coincidence. Nevertheless I’m thinking about my European friends today. I can’t stand that the American-style violence that we’ve sadly gotten used to is crossing the pond.


Time will tell about motivations, associations, etc and I’m not going to get into the potential politics talk either. It was, hoever, being speculated last night on news programmes that another attack on the same bridge as last time has also taken place during a general election. Inevitably, and rightly, today’s news focus is on the attack and not the election.