Thursday, August 9, 2012

London Town Part 1 - Eating

Not only did we have an Olympic tour of London, but we seemed to eat our way through the city as well.  For all those out there that think London doesn't have good food, think again.  Getting its bad rap in the 70s (and I'm not arguing as the stories aren't pretty) London has really become a gastronomic city and we completely indulged. Whether it was for breakfast, brunch or dinner, we spent out week meeting friends, catching up and filling our stomachs with all different types of food in and around the city.  Here are some of the highlights and recommendations for all those of you living there or planning a visit.  Hope you enjoy, and I would love to hear any thoughts or recommendations you have too. Anyone eaten at one of the restaurants below?

Meat liquor
Think Brooklyn comes to London. MeatLiquor is a new restaurant has opened to great hype in central London and it will not disappoint.  Pretty non-descript from the outside, when you walk in you're transported to a world of street art, barbecue and booze. Serving Meat and Liquor (hence the name, although I thought it a very interesting play on words), one really does feel like the Williamsburg hipsters have arrived. Drinks are served in mason jars with a cocktail list as creative as the art on the walls, and food on cafeteria trays (yup, asked for a plate and were told that they don't have any - trays only!), I can officially say that American bar food has arrived in London.  For all of you living in North America, you don't necessarily understand how exciting it is to have found good wings in London, but for all of you in London craving those yummy wings; this is the place for you.  I would have to say maybe give the hype a little time to die down before visiting as the cue was massive and they will only seat you once your entire party is there (yup, one of those places).

Gaucho Picadilly
An old favorite Gaucho is a chain of Argentinian steak house in wonderful location in and around London.  The interior is alway dark with walls ceilings and floors coated in black, and in an effort for you to not forget what you are eating they have covered many surfaces in interesting cowhides.  We always have a great meal when we go, and even though the menu is heavy on the meat, their ceviche, South American sides and wine list means that we can try new things all while enjoying the comfort of good food.  I think that the location at Tower Bridge is the best (think glass wall overlooking tower bridge and the themes river), however we were in the Piccadilly area and felt like a great comfort food meal.

This was our first time at Bistrotheque, and apparently we were missing something not having been before.  Tucked down a side street with an unmarked front in East London, this converted warehouse was full of atmosphere and amazing smells.  A take on the bistro (shocking seeing as the name) we met friends for brunch and had a delicious meal.  The interior is predominantly white with the ceiling, exposed trusses and ducts being painted out, and there are very simple industrial pendants scattered through bringing the space down in scale and adding a little sparkle.  The food was delicious (highly recommend the salted caramel tart for desert), and now that we know there is there, it will be added to the list of do-not-miss spots!

Opened recently on the ground floor of the Sofitel on Pal Mall, Balcon had a lot of hype going into it, and I am sad to say it was a little bit of a let down.  We went for breakfast with friends and were expecting food and service like the Wolseley (note to self if you want the Wolseley, go to the Wolseley), and instead were given the reduced Olympic menu in a somewhat mediocre interior.  There were interesting moments - the lighting was great and the mixture of materials and textures made for an interesting palette - however we all couldn't help but feel that Russell Sage Studios had fallen a little short.  It was great for people watching however and we sat beside members of the Russian Olympic team and just down the banquette from F1 driver Mark Webber.

This is probably one of my favorite restaurants in the city.  I used to walk by it and admire all the little cakes in the window, and it wasn't until a group of us went in my last year in London that I was really hooked.  We have been a couple of times and the food is always perfection.  The restaurant serves teas, dim sum, classic French macaroons and other Asian-fusion dishes.  Designed by Christian Liaigre, Yauatcha is not only yummy to eat but the interior and atmosphere is pretty wonderful too!

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