Guys, I’m not gonna lie…I’m super excited to be writing this post!
London has been on my “must visit” list for quite a few years, so I’m happy to report that thanks to the folks over at Great British Food, I finally made it!
I was invited on this trip to be part of the “Food is GREAT” campaign, delivered by DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) and in partnership with the Departmentfor International Trade and Visit Britain. The purpose of this trip was to increase global demand of UK food and drink, and encourage UK food and drink businesses to export more. Obviously the US is a big market for them, and they want to educate consumers about the amazing range of food and drink available in the UK! And I’m here (along with a bunch of other awesome bloggers) to help create awareness.
I’ve been curious about London from a food perspective for many years, so this campaign felt perfect for me. I’ve heard so many mixed things about it, and when you get that many conflicting opinions, I think the best thing to do is go yourself and see. Overall, I enjoyed mostly everything we had, but like anything else, you have to know where to go. That’s where we come in.
There’s a few things I should point out first, in regards to my experience:
1 – I missed the Scotland leg of the trip due to an unfortunate stomach flu that held me captive in my hotel room for 2 nights. So that sucked big time because I love whisky and I hear Edinburgh is awesome. Hopefully I can get there one day…
2 – London is a BIG gin town. I do not love gin, but if you do, you’ll fit right in.
Now let’s get down to brass tacks. Below are my top recommendations on the places we visited. If I had more time in London, I would probably have way more recommendations for you, but it went by in a flash and we made some trips outside London as well. And stay tuned for that post!
London: Food & Drink
- Camden Market – popularly referred to as Camden Lock, this string of adjoining markets was primarily built for selling crafts, art, books, clothing and jewelry. Over the last few years it has gained popularity amongst the foodie crowd and now houses multiple food vendors and brick and mortar restaurants. There was pizza, falafel, waffles and nutella, and many more. Speaking of…
- The Cheese Bar – located within Camden Market is this cheesy piece of heaven, and undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trip (at least for me). Inside there is a large bar with throngs of folks sipping wine and going to town on all sorts of cheese-centric fare. This is where I had the most perfect grilled cheese: a simple, bold cheddar with grilled onions and chili jam on the side. The other items were no slouch either. If you’re lactose intolerant, just take some Lactaid pills and push through. It’s worth it.
- Dishoom – I dare you to talk about London and not mention Dishoom. Rather, I will make a bet with you: talk to a group of people about food in London and if no one mentions Dishoom, I will give you $100. No joke, this was by far the most recommended place and with good reason. Really approachable and delicious Indian food in a BIG space. There are actually multiple locations, but we went to the one in Kings Cross and I thought that space was massive (I actually almost got lost going to the bathroom). Honestly everything we had was great, but DO NOT skip the Black Daal; this creamy lentil dish was incredible. Dishoom is perfect for those who love to share food.
- Sketch – I’m not really sure how to describe Sketch…but I know that it was really, really unique. And beautiful. There are different rooms, each with a very different decor and vibe, and no matter where you go, there are photo opps. Even in the bathrooms (or loos, if you will), where the egg-shaped, futuristic space pods are actually toilets. They even get different makeovers depending on the season. And then there’s the food! Each room at Sketch has it’s own menu as well, so we dined in “The Gallery” for high tea in the afternoon. Imagine blush pink couches, colorful pop art on the walls, and tea fixins like curry chicken salad sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, and buttery foie gras tarts. Not your standard boring cucumber sandwiches here.
- Borough Market – I have to throw another food market in here, if ONLY for the jam doughnuts from Bread Ahead Bakery. My. God. I’m still not over it. I think I’ve mentioned it to everyone. London certainly knows what they’re doing by way of food markets. In comparison to Camden Market, this one is definitely more food-focused, with an emphasis on fresh produce, cheeses from all over the world, and various other traders. Aside from the doughnuts, we had raclette cheese and potatoes, pasta from La Tua, and fresh squeezed carrot, orange and pineapple juice from a nearby juice vendor. Because it’s all about balance. Also, if you’re a pasta fan, I hear you should go to Padella, which is right next to Borough Market. No reservations, and the line started at 4:30 pm and opens at 5 pm. So you get the idea.
- The East India Company – I know this seems a little odd to call out, but I seriously learned SO much about tea from this tour and tasting. I actually feel like a tea snob now. I can taste the difference between good tea and bad, and how bitter it can taste when you let it steep too long and in too-hot water. So crazy how delicate the process is! But this is some of the best tea I’ve tried, and I regret not bringing any back with me to the states!
- Beefeater Gin Distillery – Again, you know my personal feelings on gin, but I still like learning things. This wasn’t so much a tour of the distillery itself, but more like a gin tasting and learning experience. You walk through a museum-like space first, self-guided, then one of the staff members discusses the gin-making process followed by a gin and tonic tasting. If you’re looking for an actual distillery tour, this wouldn’t be for you, but I preferred this because I like visual aids and having time to roam on my own, which the museum really lent itself to. Bonus: while you wait for your tour to start, you can browse lots of fun gifts for people.
- The Ned – I saved one of the best for last! I loved this spot. I definitely have an affinity towards places that evoke vintage city vibes, and The Ned perfectly captures that. They even had a live band (an old-school band) singing the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Ella Fitzgerald. We ate dinner at Millie’s Lounge, which was classic British cuisine, and the food and cocktails were amazing. I loved the sausage rolls, the bacon cheeseburger, and the Scotch eggs. If you haven’t had a Scotch Egg, it’s a soft-boiled egg wrapped in ground sausauge, then battered and deep fried. I know it sounds weird, but just trust me, it’s great. I recommend The Ned for drinks, a dinner date, or a Girls/Guys night out. It has a little something for everyone.
This post was written in partnership with Great British Food #FoodisGREAT. All opinions (and bad jokes) are my own.