The Eating Orgy in London, Continued

Having just returned from my third and final trip to London (for now) I wanted to recap my dining experiences, as we packed a lot of meals into a relatively short time.  You can read about our hotel drama here, as this article will focus only on food!

There were quite a few highlights, and a couple of disappointments, including my first meal, which in actuality was more like a casual snack at Wulf & Lamb, a plant based café located in Chelsea whose tag line is “Fiercely Kind Food”.  I opted for the char-grilled cauliflower steak which sadly wasn’t too kind as I found a copper staple in the mushrooms.  The staff couldn’t have been nicer and whisked away the dish, immediately crediting me for it.  img_7001

They also brought me a plate of gluten- free (very tasty) brownies, so all was not lost.

img_7007

The afternoon was spent wandering around the Sloane Street shops, and then finally making our way to Harrods.

img_7091

Dinner that night was planned at 8:30 at Bubala in Shoreditch.  Bubala’s cuisine has been dubbed “exuberantly vegetarian” by the Guardian, and it has received wide acclaim by a number of foodies in the know, so we were anxious to try it.  Because of our hotel drama we didn’t end up arriving until close to 9, but the hostess couldn’t have been friendlier.  The Israeli/Middle Eastern menu was incredibly appealing, perhaps aided by the fact that all I had eaten all day was a part of a brownie.  The three of us ordered every single item on the menu aside from the Halloumi and the Coconut Malabi.

img_7038

Some of our favorites included the Hummus, and the Labneh.

img_7040

The Falafel was light and not greasy at all.

img_7048

The Confit Potato Latkes were definitely more elevated than the norm.

img_7057

The Date and Tahini ice cream was delicious, albeit incredibly sweet.

img_7060

I enjoyed Bubala, but something held me back from really loving it.  The restaurant, and service are very casual and laid back.  Usually I am just fine with down and dirty, but perhaps it was  our table placement  in the corner, or the very relaxed waitress, but it just didn’t hit a high mark for me.

We had another Middle Eastern meal planned for the following day, so we would have a comparison.

Lunch on our second day was at Isabel in Mayfair.  Consistent with our daily agenda of shopping, Isabel is in a prime location.  The restaurant itself is beautiful and inviting.

img_7101

The flowers were a show-stopper, as was the gorgeous bar.

img_7104

The restaurant was filled with a mixture of business people, and shoppers re-fueling.

img_7111

There is a prix fixe menu available, as well as à la carte choices.  The European/ Mediterranean inspired food is artistically composed and lovingly presented, but the flavor falls a bit short.  In all honesty, the atmosphere outweighs the short comings of the cuisine.

img_7114

img_7118

As a side note, the bathrooms (W.C.s) are stunning, each one unique, and one better than the next.  It’s worth your while to check them out.

img_7105

We continued our exploration of London’s best boutiques on and around Bond Street, and then headed to Marlyebone hoping to build up our appetites for dinner which was booked at The Palomar.  During our exploration we happened upon an incredible bookshop on Marlyebone High Street called Daunt.  It was amazing!  We easily could have spent hours in there.  As it was, we bought an armload of books that we then had to drag around for the rest of the afternoon.

img_7129

The Palomar bills itself as serving the food of modern day Jerusalem, with influences from Spain, Northern Africa, and the Levant.  We ate at The Palomar’s sister restaurant The Barbary on our last visit, and really adored it, so we had high hopes.

img_7134

The restaurant is small, and the energy level is high, making for a very festive (but loud) atmosphere.  We squeezed ourselves into our corner table, and got cozy.

img_7139

We took some time to peruse the menu, ordering cocktails off the very appealing drinks menu.  I enjoyed a Mezcal Garito which was quite yummy.

img_7147

img_7138

We did not follow our example at Bubala, ordering the entire menu, but we did get our fair share.  Some highlights included the Baba Ganoush with homemade pita,

img_7144

the Braised Aubergine topped with tahini, cucumber yogurt and cherry tomatoes,

img_7163

the Pork Belly with Turkish coffee, yogurt and pistachios,

img_7159

as well as the Whole Josperized Sea Bass with herb salad, candied lemon and pine nuts.

img_7152

We managed to save room for dessert, and enjoyed them immensely; they may have been the highlights of the meal.  The Spicy Chocolate Ganache with amaretti and passion fruit coulis was a show stopper.

img_7165

The White City consisted of a white chocolate tart, apricot sorbet, halva and hazelnuts.

img_7166

The Palomar was very good, but again, not outstanding.  All the while I was comparing the food to the Barbary which in my opinion was far superior.  The Palomar has the advantage in that there are tables (although cramped), while the Barbary just has counter seating.  Both restaurants are unique, and you can’t really go wrong, but if you have to choose just one, I would go with the Barbary.

Day three in London began at my favorite shopping spot in London, Liberty.

img_7203

We spent hours at Liberty, and then walked to an impromptu lunch at Emilia, located in Mayfair, in the Bonhams’ Auction House flagship London Salesroom.  It is a bit hard to find, but as we were craving pasta, it fit the bill.  Emilia is inspired by the food of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. 

img_7217

As we sat down we were served what was my favorite part of a very tasty meal, savory macarons with goat cheese crema in the middle.

img_7221

As we studied the concise yet tempting menu, my sister deemed the bread and butter delicious.

img_7219

I settled on the Artichoke Salad with Pecorino and Truffles to start,

img_7224

and enjoyed Gluten-free Tagliatelle with Cockles, Leeks, and Smoked Butter for my main.

img_7227

We were too full for dessert, but I bet it would have been good.  I really liked Emilia, there is no scene, or energy to speak of (at least not in the late afternoon when we were there), but the food was very refined, and the service was accommodating.

The dinner we had planned for our third evening ran into an unexpected change of plans, so we had to brainstorm for a new spot with little notice.  It was a Friday evening, so many of the places we tried to get in to were full.  After much discussion with the Lanesborough Concierge, as well as an innocent bystander we pulled into the debate (he was passing by in the lobby and joined our deliberations) we were able to secure a table at 8 pm at Cinnamon Club , a Modern Indian restaurant set in the former Westminster Library.  I loved the look of this restaurant! After we arrived, almost all the tables filled up, which added to a lively atmosphere.

img_7288

The blue leather booth was so inviting.

img_7248

The menu was extensive, but there were no additions to it, which made decision making a bit easier.

img_7258

img_7259

The Watermelon cooler looked particularly tempting.

img_7257

It turned out to be delicious.

img_7263

The Stir-Fried Baby Corn with Mint and Molasses was a winner.

img_7266

I particularly loved the Mushroom Tasting.

img_7273

The Tandoori Octopus was a real treat.

img_7268

The Dessert menu was chock-full with tempting choices.

img_7255

The Dark Chocolate with Tellicherry Mousse was rich and decadent.

img_7281

We also went outside our predictable choices and ordered the Garam Masala Pudding (in the foreground) and the Lemon and Ginger Brulée (background).  While they were well-executed, my vote was with the chocolate mousse.

img_7283

We really enjoyed the Cinnamon Club, and I would definitely  recommend it.

We had Theatre tickets on day four of our trip (The Comedy about a Bank Robbery at the Criterion Theatre).  The play is by the same folks as The Play That Goes Wrong which we saw in NY and loved.  Unfortunately The Comedy about a Bank Robbery was not quite as hilarious.  We scheduled our lunch in proximity to the Theatre so that we would be able to transition without too much stress.

We made a reservation at Frenchie in Covent Garden, as we had been to the Frenchie in Paris a few years ago and really loved it.  The London location did not disappoint.

img_7302

They did offer a Set Menu to cater to Theatre goers which my son took advantage of, but I decided to order off the regular Lunch Menu.

img_7303

img_7305

The Parmesan Gougères and Sourdough Bread helped stave off hunger while we studied the menu.

img_7314

I was presented with a Gluten Free menu which included many choices.  I was very happy to have a salad both for my starter and my main as I was feeling a bit over-indulged.  They were both terrific.  Off the regular menu was the Bitter Leaves with Blood Orange, Candied Walnut and Forme D’Ambert, really satisfying.

img_7323

The Gluten-free menu featured a Radicchio and Beet Salad with Goat’s Cheese and Herbs.  That was excellent as well.

img_7320

The Mushrooms on Toast off the Set Menu was buttery and rich, not a dietetic choice.

img_7322

The Steamed Cornish Cod off the set menu tasted as good as it looked.

img_7326

We dined downstairs and were able to enjoy full views of the open kitchen.  We arrived to the restaurant late, and didn’t have time for  dessert, but I am betting it would have been as delectable as the rest of the meal.

img_7310

Frenchie was a winner, a perfect spot for a pre-Theatre meal.

For the final dinner (or so I thought) of the trip we had reserved a table at Jamavar in Mayfair.  I was really anticipating this meal, as I had heard lots of good buzz about it.  We had a friend of my sons joining us, so we would be able to taste even more dishes.

img_7347

img_7251

img_7355

img_7356

img_7357

By night four I had had my fill of alcohol, so I ordered a Mocktail, the Thandai, which consisted of fresh raspberry, toasted cumin, mango, and ginger beer.  It was perfect!

img_7351

My son tried the Rangpur signature cocktail featuring Bloom Gin, strawberry, orange and  manadarin bitter.  It received the thumbs up.

img_7353

The vibe in the restaurant is rather formal, though the service is very friendly.  It is also  dark and atmospheric, which is a pleasure to dine in, but is not conducive to photos. I am including a couple here, but you will have to take my word for it,  the food was outstanding.

Below is the Achaari Baingan, purple aubergines, potatoes and pickling spices.

 

img_7365

The Laal Maas is a dish they are known for, a Hampshire Lamb Shank cooked for 8 hours with Rajasthani Chili.

img_7364

The Dum Tarkari  Biryani we ordered (vegetarian) was presented with fanfare that was warranted.  It was fabulous.

img_7366

We also ordered a host of different breads, including the Garlic Naan below, as well as Tomato Basil Kulcha and Pudina Paratha.

img_7363

Some of the other dishes that didn’t photograph as well included Bharwan Mirchi, Dal Chawal Aur Achaar, Chandni Chowk Aloo Tikki and Malai Stone Bass Tikka, not a weak dish in the bunch.   The sides of Jeera Aloo and Gobhi Mutter were also devoured enthusiastically.

We really enjoyed Jamavar.  Aside from Gymkhnana (which has been closed for renovation following a fire), it is the best Indian we have had in London.  It edged out Cinnamon Club, but you can’t go wrong with either choice.

We had been scheduled to leave the next morning, but due to Storm Ciara, my flight was cancelled.  While inconvenient, this was not the worst news, as I got a bonus day in London with my son.  Because it was incredibly rainy and windy we opted to pay a visit to the V & A, where along with their permanent exhibits they had a terrific one on Cars.

img_7381

img_7395

As lunch time approached we both agreed we wanted to keep it light.  After four days of non-stop eating we needed to be a little healthy.  I can never resist a good Smoothie Bowl so we headed for Raw Press in Belgravia which was just perfect.

img_7398

The Cacao for Now Bowl with cacao, almond butter, blueberries and bananas certainly appeared healthy but tasted incredibly indulgent.  The hefty portion of Grawnola mixed in may have been one of the best things I tried on this trip.

img_7405

It’s a good thing they don’t have this in the States, as I would absolutely become addicted- oats, dates, cacao, coconut flakes, almonds, salt, vanilla and maple syrup- amazing!!

img_7406

My son and I separated for a bit, and I paid a lengthy visit to Harvey Nichols, the one Department Store we had missed.  It is fun, and young, and well-curated.

Dinner was also “light” at Koya in Soho.  My son had visited this small renowned Udon Shop before, and really liked it, so we paid it a visit.  It was crowded when we arrived at 7, and we had to wait for about 15 minutes before two seats opened up.

img_7416

img_7418

My son went with the Smoked Mackerel and Green Leaves Saba, along with the Kinoko Nametake (marinated mushrooms).

img_7424

I ordered from the Gluten Free menu, choosing the Kinoko-Tamago don (mushroom and egg rice bowl) and the Atsu-Age, fried and grilled tofu.

img_7420

The Donburi I ordered sure looked tempting, but it was fairly tasteless, even with the addition of hot pepper.

img_7427

The fried Tofu wasn’t bad.

img_7429

My meal at Koya was quick and satisfying, but not noteworthy in anyway.  When you go to a spot known for the Udon, I suppose it’s best to order accordingly!

img_7431

The next morning I set off for home, happy and content, and maybe a pound or two heavier.

For a full report on my other two trips to London, click here and here.

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s