London Through My Fork.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Not too long ago I did a post about my weekend eating adventures in Brighton, where I made a very clear disclaimer that I am no food blogger - but I think it went over alright. I love reading restaurant reviews (how did anyone ever go out to a new restaurant without the internet?!) and gush over dreamy photos people manage to take. I tend to chicken out at the table and try to take a photo or two before burying my phone away in my handbag, looking around to see if anyone is rolling their eyes at me. Plus by the time my food arrives, my stomach tends to take priority over my camera.

While giving my parents my personal tour of London, there were a handful of restaurants I had to take them to - old favourites mixed in with new places I've read about on blogs and have been dying to try. Considering my big meals out are usually between Nando's or Gourmet Burger Kitchen, I was sufficiently stuffed by the time they were on the plane home. Here's a few things my fork and knife got up to while in the big smoke...

First up, Bob Bob Ricard in Soho - an Instagrammer's holy grail. On my mom's first night in London, we decided to go somewhere special and I had seen photos of this places scattered about on every social media site possible and gave in to its art deco charm. After being seated into one of the plushy booths that comprise the entire restaurant, we set our sights directly on the drinks menu - much deserved after her long day of traveling and having to experience Piccadilly Circus at rush hour *shudders*

She went for the Raspberry Collins (Russian vodka, Chambord, raspberries, lemon, soda) and I opted for the rosé champagne. These were paired with bottles of water that were refilled by the attentive staff so swiftly and often that we couldn't help but giggle towards the end of the night - one poor waiter probably refilled my glass about 15 times. At least we didn't leave thirsty!

I went for the lobster mac and cheese which is deceivingly rich. The pan may look small but each bite is brimming with buttery lobster piled with noodles and dripping cheese, I waved the white flag of surrender 3/4 of the way through. Mom went for the baby chicken, refusing to utter the word "baby", so I naturally cracked up when it arrived as a nearly intact chicken on her board. We shared sides of french fries and mashed potato. Bellies bursting in a comfort food coma, we debated the puddings menu for a solid 10 minutes and accepted defeat, knowing we would be rolling home if we had one more bite.

I didn't want to do it...but OKAY I DID IT. I took the classic/cliché BBR picture and enjoyed every second of it.

While we didn't opt for dessert at our first dinner out, we couldn't finish our venture around Harrods without a trip to Ladurée. We split a box, carefully selecting 4 flavours to call our own. Strawberry candy will always be my go-to and I was surprised at how much the rose macaroon tasted like...rose. It wasn't bad but we agreed that there was no other description other than it really did taste like you were chewing a rose plucked from a garden. Mom's first ever macaroon and favourite flavour went to pistachio.

If you're wondering what the towel in the background is all about, we ate these snuggled up in bed with a bottle of wine after devouring a Franco Manca takeaway pizza. We had spent all day on our feet in the drizzly London weather and I'm still convinced that it was the perfect evening! Little did I know that at that exact moment, my dad was flying over the Atlantic to surprise me the next morning. Sneaky parents...

For a crackin' start to the day, I took her to my tried and true spot a few blocks away from Oxford Street, the Riding House Cafe. I adore this place - from the light/airy art deco interior complete with taxidermy squirrels on the walls, to the friendly staff, to the fact they take online reservations, and of course to the food that I've yet to be disappointed by. I went for the classic fry up and thoroughly freaked out my picky eater companion with the black pudding.

It may not look like much, but she is STILL talking about them to people back home in the states. Brioche french toast with maple syrup and a mound of vanilla clotted cream. Oh man, I could not resist swiping spoonfuls of this stuff.

Another breakfast favourite that I've briefly mentioned before is Tom's Kitchen in Chelsea, although there are 3 other locations in London and another spot in Istanbul. Affordable, takes reservations, bright interior, and consistently delicious.

My mom insisted on this photo of me with the menu. You can practically see the socially awkward panic in my eyes.

The first meal with my dad was afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason's Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. I had booked in advance for 2, but the smiling staff at the reception had no problem adding my dad to the reservation upon arrival - whew! We discovered that 2 hours of sitting combined with pure sugar consumption was maaaaybe not the best way to fight off jet lag, and my tummy was still in butterflies after being thoroughly confused and emotional that morning, so we didn't even make it to the infamous cake cart! As delicious as the treats were from head to toe, I can't help but compare every place I go to the Tea Birds here in Bristol - their hot scones and cream/jam are second to none and an absolute bargain at 4 quid with a bottomless pot of tea.

Afternoon tea in London is a real treat for a special occasion but I honestly enjoy a simple cream tea just as much, especially if you are on a budget or a time crunch.

^^^ My good side.

Last but certainly not least of the documented food comes from Duck and Waffle. I snagged an Easter morning reservation months ago and called immediately to try and amend the booking after the shock of my dad's appearance wore off. Initially the answer was no, and then maybe at a different time, and then yes of course no problem. Third time's a charm? Zipping 40 floors up the Heron Tower, we were greeted with ice water in the bar as we waited for our table, taking in the incredible views. Having seen photo after review after rave about this place, I was worried that maybe the hype was just that, hype.

I had to go for the duck and waffle - when in Rome, right? 

Spoiler alert: This place earned its hype. Great food, great service, great views. *Ticks off imaginary boxes in the air* 

My dad was more interested in eating his food than photographing it, but my mom managed to sneak this shot before he dug in to this first full english. Which didn't have baked beans! Probably horrifying to some Brits, but I personally hate beans so this looked like my ideal full english.

Staying true to form with her sweet tooth, mom chose the toffee apple waffles and dad mimed something about eating ice cream for breakfast.

Thanks for the extra gym sessions I now I have to squeeze in, London.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in London I should give a go next time or one that you're itching to try? 

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