Friday, April 25, 2014

When You Visit London.....Part 2 (Good Eats)

I'm glad that you've decided to travel to London based on my first set of tips.  Here's the second installment I've learned whilst living in London.  This is what we've experienced, and you may have other suggestions or experiences.  Please feel free to comment to add to the tips!     

Eating in London
If you are looking for a certain ethnic food, London has it.  Gone are the days of gravy on everything with a side of beans.  If you really want an English Breakfast, you can find it, but the culinary landscape is filled  with dishes from India, Ethiopia, South Africa, Vietnam, and even America.  As I have said many, many times before, the Brits are planners.  To avoid any hangry travel mates, you should book a table at the restaurant of your liking if it's the busy summer season or a gorgeous day.

Quick eats in London
This is an easy one.  Doner/Shawarma/Gyro and Fish & Chip shops are all over the place.  Our drive-through equivalent is the quick service options from Pret A Manger (yum!), Eat, and Greggs.  The local grocery stores (M&S, Waitrose, Tesco, and Sainsbury) also have grab and go meals with a sandwich/salads, chips, and drink for around £5.  For a little variety, Wasabi (yum!) and Itsu are good grab and go when you are hankering for Asian food.  If you are in a situation where you need to cook for yourself, the grocery stores also have great cook at home meal deals.  We prefer the meals from M&S and Waitrose as the choices are a bit more creative than I might make at home.  We usually partake in the Dinner for Two (which feeds our family of four) that includes a main dish, side dish, dessert, and a bottle of wine for £10 ($16).

The Pub
A truly English experience.  Every pub has it's own vibe.  Here's what you need to know for just about every pub you'll visit in the city.
  • Seat yourself, remember your table number, then order at the bar
  • You can pay for your vittles right then or open a tab
  • Settle in at your spot and your curry/pot roast/fish & chips will be delivered shortly
  • Don't feel rushed once your meal is finished, you can relax and chat with your dining companions about how my helpful touring tips have made your visit extraordinary.  
  • One caveat, don't go to the pub and order one pint then proceed to sit for three hours, that's rude.
  • Some pubs have gardens, and if it's a nice sunny day you may have to book a table.  This is especially true on Sundays when the pubs put on a roast dinner; you must make an effort to do Sunday roast.
  • The pubs are family friendly!  You have to vacate the pub with your children around 7PM. 

It's not hard to find a coffee shop in London.  The city has a nice mix of national/worldwide chains (Starbucks, Caffe Nero, Costa, and Pret A Manger) along with independent shops.  Expect to pay around £2.50ish for a regular latte.  We like Nero for national chains and Monmouth for local, but that's just us.  
No skinny lattes here, only delicious whole milk
Look at eating in London as part of the experience.  We are yet to sit down to a proper tea service but that should happen soon.  

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