Thursday, March 22, 2012

Europe Part 1: London, baby.

As promised, we've documented our food adventures from our Eurotrip. In 10 days we were able to travel to three countries, and five cities in Western Europe. We traveled by train, allowing us to spend more time exploring and less time going through security (not to mention, the train stations over there are gorgeous). We ate mostly good food, with a few snacks leaving something to be desired (covered in Part 2: Waffles, Chocolates, and Frites, OH MY!). Many of our decisions were based on recommendations from friends and family, and we hope that you too can benefit from this post. First stop: Great Britain.

After an 8 hour plane ride across the Atlantic we were exhausted and well, hungry. We dropped our bags off at the hotel (located near the Holborn tube stop) and began our search for a cafe. Luckily, the Patisserie Valerie was just around the corner and it had everything we were looking for in a quick lunch.  The restaurant (part of a chain) offers a mix of French/Belgian sandwiches, salads, and soups as well as a large selection of beautiful baked goods. I ordered a croissant sandwich with cheese and tomato and Chuck selected the club sandwich, both around £7.

After a wonderful tour around the Tower of London we met up with our friend, Sandra, for our first dinner in the big city . Chuck and I requested Indian cuisine because as you know, tikka masala is considered the national dish of Great Britain (besides fish and chips).  Sandra brought us to Aladin, one of the most reputable BYOB Indian joints in the Shoreditch/Brick Lane neighborhood near the Spitalfields Market. It's located along a street with many other Indian restaurants, all of which try to lure you in as you walk past. Aladdin's atmosphere is fun and young, and the food did not disappoint.  We ordered several dishes to share, including Chicken Tikka Masala (of course) and Lamb Vindaloo. This is the perfect pregame dinner spot - similar to our experience at Milon in NYC. Oh, and the food is dirt cheap. Highly recommended!

As you can imagine, we were desperately in need of rest and slept until noon the next day. The much anticipated Chelsea-Bolton game was the main event that afternoon, so we rode the tube to Stamford Bridge, stopping for a pint at a restaurant just outside of the stadium. Chuck purchased his first piece of Chelsea gear, a classic scarf, and we were ready for the game. Lucky for us, the weather was incredible.  I suppose there is no real food adventure here, but it was one of the highlights of London and we highly recommend it if you'd like to experience some real culture.

After a big win by Chelsea, we traveled back downtown and walked around building up our appetites. Based on a recommendation, we decided to have dinner at Busaba Eathai, a small chain of Thai restaurants in London. Seating is communal and not to knock chains, but you would never know it was part of one. I really liked my Guava Bellini (£5.50), but I warn you it is a teeny tiny drink. The food was excellent and reasonably priced (£6-12 per plate). 

On the way back to our hotel we stopped at Freud, a hip cocktail bar in the Covent Garden neighborhood. First of all, if you want to find the bar - look down. There is a shop at eye level, but if you follow the narrow staircase it will lead you to a bar crowded with 20-somethings sipping on some of the fanciest cocktails around. The menu is extensive, but we were able to settle on the Perfect Pimms (loaded with your daily dose of fruit!). This would be a great spot to get a table at earlier on in the evening with a group of friends.

For our last day in London, we decided to cram in the rest of our recommendations, and of course, a quick (2-hour) trip to TopShop. I needed a new engagement wardrobe (at least that is what I keep telling myself). Anyways...

It was recommended that we participate in afternoon tea at the Orangery, located in the gardens of Kensington Palace in the Nottinghill neighborhood. The Orangery is a long, narrow, white room, with high ceilings and long windows that let in enormous amounts of natural sunlight, and orange trees. Lots of orange trees.

Chuck and I ordered the afternoon tea, which came with finger sandwiches, a scone, pastries, and a pot of tea for each of us (approximately £15). For an additional £5 I scored a glass of champagne, because why not drink champagne at afternoon tea? Even Chuck agreed it was the most adorable lunch on our trip.

Since we were already in the neighborhood, we headed over to Churchill Arms, my uncle's favorite pub in London. We entered the dimly-lit pub only to find it crowded with locals, both young and old, enjoying some pints and watching rugby.

We scooped a seat at the bar and joined in on the fun with Fuller's beers, a standard in London pubs. Not long into our first beer, Chuck and I realized this was no ordinary English pub. This one smelled good. Taking a closer look at what was really going on around us, we discovered that it was a pub in the front, and a Thai restaurant in the back. Never could I ever think of a more perfect way to eat and drink in the city. Unfortunately, we were still both full from tea time and stuck to our beers, enviously eyeing our neighbors' dishes (which looked awesome). It was a cozy place to watch the game with fans and soak in all that is British.

Our last meal in London had to be fish and chips. We called up Sandra, and she joined us at Poppies, another hip restaurant near Spitalfields Market. Poppies has a bit of a retro theme, and specializes in fried fish and chips. We all ordered a classic fried haddock. The fish was perfectly cooked tasted fresh. If you are looking for fish and chips beyond the pub, this is the place for you.


  1. These look like good recommendations when your mom and I are able to travel again. Of course there is still 2 years of college and a wedding still ahead so it may be a while.

  2. Glad you enjoyed my home, guys. I really miss my curry and fish & chips here in DC :-)

  3. yayyy LONDON town - I LOVE YOUUU. SO glad you got to take tea Orangery - that was always on my to-do list but we never had time. Kensington Palace is beyond words gorgeous - can't wait to see more photos from the trip and catch up. OH and I want to go to Aladin!!!

  4. it seems that you really enjoyed your trip in that you mentioned the snaps like you visited to the 5 Star hotel and having dinner and also visit to watch football stadium to have fun by watching the match, i like your post as it is fun, but this time all i want is last minute assignment help to complete my assignment before the given time.