Lovely Food in London

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If there is any truth in the existence of an after life, then logically it follows there must also be truth in the existence of former lives. I can’t rule both out. It sounds actually rather plausible to me, specifically since I cannot account in any other way for the wonderful, yet peculiar, sense of homecoming I get as soon as I set foot on British soil. I simply love being in the UK. The entire island that is, no restrictions whatsoever to just England.

The other day I read on someone’s blog that they preferred being sorry for things they’d tried, rather than being sorry for things they did not do in their lives. Boy, could I relate to that. My worst regret is having missed out on a year in a London college in my early twenties. I studied in France at the time and had the opportunity to attend college in London for a year. Due to circumstances I did not go at the very last minute. I try to not think too often about it, because it still makes me feel sick to the stomach to have made such a stupid mistake. And now, some 25 years later, I am visiting London several times because my nearly 21 year old daughter has the intention of studying in London and needs to go for interviews at Uni. (and before you wonder: no, I have never urged her to opt for London, she can choose Paris, Milan, New York, for all I care, but she chooses London. No complaints from me though…).

I come to the UK as often as I possibly can, but only rarely go to London, so these occasions to unite the practical with the enjoyable are very welcome to me. Since we had to come a few times, and since London is not the cheapest of places to stay, I browsed the internet for places which were affordable. I decided what the heck and be a daredevil so browsed the Couchsurfing website and was lucky to be invited to stay at the home of a very lovely lady. She turned out to have a daughter the same age as mine, so we stayed the night at hers. We all got along fine. A lovely experience. For free! Amazing? I suppose it does sound amazing. Truth is that in this world based on money and economy, there is a growing stream of people who are fed up with this system and who are looking for true sharing. Thus our first couchsurfing experience became a success. We only stayed one night because we did were flying home the next day, but still it was a nice way of doing it and definitely something to do more often.

The week after we flew back to London, unfortunately I was not able to find another couch for two at so short notice, and our wonderful host had already other couchsurfers staying, so we booked a hotel. It bore the odd name of ‘Accomodation London Bridge’. Turned out to be good value and considering that one spends but little time at the hotel when in London, an adequate place to stay. There is no restaurant, so no breakfast, nor a bar, but a pub around corner. The room was fine. Albeit quite small, it was simply spotless. The cleanliness of the room, the bathroom with nice bath and shower, tea and coffee making facilities, and not too far a walk from the underground made this a good place to stay. We stayed for 3 nights. The staff was very very friendly and helpful. So if you do not require a huge suite, it may be a place for you, if your budget is tight.

I really don’t mind that there was no breakfast at the hotel, it gave us the occasion to try out nice places for breakfast in London. It’s quite hard to actually say that a place is the best, because it all depends on what you are looking for and on your taste. My daughter and I have a few requirements which satisfies our ‘definite go’ demands. First of all the ambiance must be welcoming, nice, homely, cosy. It’s hard to find the correct term in English since in Dutch there is a word which covers all of the above in one word namely ‘gezellig‘, which does not translate in any other language that I know. Maybe you get the point when looking at the examples of our choice below. What we want is somewhere where you can sit cosily, enjoy not only good food, but healthy food. Where you get a decent cup of tea. Not just black but also green tea. We like the following places. The Wolseley is a grand café-restaurant located right next to the Ritz on Piccadilly.

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Sorry for the quality of that picture to the right below. You can still see the waiter. We were sat in the seats of the bar. Very nice. The reflection of the buildings opposite was non intended. My daughter is an absolute health freak and at the same time has a sweet tooth. Upon her compliments about the granola, the waiter explained the chef at the Wolseley prepares their own. That accounts for the great taste. Wonderful nuts and simply a treat to start your day with. We also ordered toast and porridge. Typically English you might think. However for Vata dosha, porridge is a good start of the day and soothing for the system.

The tea comes in silver teapots and the strainer is simply a cutie! I asked the waiter where I could get one. He gave me a flyer of the Wolseley and informed me there is a website from which one can place orders for teapots and tea and also the strainer. I looked it up. Price of the strainer is 70 pound. Photo below comes from their website.

We had breakfast twice in ten days at the Wolseley. Besides breakfast one can have lunch or dinner. Or indulge in a fabulous afternoon tea. Be sure to book a table in advance. It’s a very popular place. We did not book for breakfast but the waiter told us, booking is needed for afternoon tea.

Le Pain Quotidien

We happened upon this restaurant when we were dying for a cuppa in Covent Garden. So we went in and had tea and cake. See for yourself:

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I asked for a scone and got one…

As we found out later Le Pain Quotidien is a chain of restaurants which is located in many places in London. We actually had breakfast in the one located near Borough Market (15 Winchester Walk, Blows Yard SE19AG), lunch at the one at St Pancras station, and tea at the one in covent Garden. Their food comes from the same bakery, so whichever you try, the food is good in any. Staff was friendly. So a nice place to get a decent breakfast.

Another place we like is Jamie’s Italian in Westfield. We are a fan of Jamie’s because he is a nice guy and we have got 4 of his cookbooks at home. The food we usually order is great. One of us was a little disappointed with his pasta, which contained hardly any fish and was dry-ish. When he told the waiter, this nice man was willing to go get something else to satisfy this customer, but that was not needed. Nice staff. Mostly nice food. The only thing we recommend is Jamie add some brown bread on the menu.