Where I Ate in London
“London is a world by itself. We daily discover in it more new countries, and surprising singularities, than in all the universe besides.” - Nathaniel Wanley.
London is always a good idea. I’m biased of course - the name 211 to Waterloo comes from the Number 211 London bus route I used to take when I lived in the city and was studying design. Nevertheless, a trip to the City of Spires is not only fascinating for its iconic architecture, shopping and history, but also for its food scene.
Yes, of course, there’s no shortage of pubs of every sort – first-time visitors should try a few; locals and regular travelers to the city have their personal favorites. Yet London is a food lover’s dream destination. Diverse cultures and innovative chefs have made their mark on the city, making eating around London one of the most exciting places to dine and explore.
Whether we’re sourcing luxury gift box items from our travels to London, or stateside, we have three rules when considering new food-related items to our 211 to Waterloo lineup. New items must pass what we affectionately call the Lisa 3 T’s test:
- Food that is Tried by our staff
- Food that is Tested for consistency and quality
- Food that is Truly Delicious
So in the spirit of my Three T’s test, I thought I’d share a few of my personal London lunch and dinner restaurant favorites from a recent trip. Each of these establishments passes the test - and then some! Cheers!
Let’s start with Hoppers (https://www.hopperslondon.com). This award-winning restaurant is inspired by Sri Lanka’s village “toddy” shops and South India food. Our three-course tasting menu included Mutton Rolls, Hoppers and Dosas -- all of which I had never tasted before! We ate at the Soho location, but you could also try their Marylebone or King’s Cross locations. It’s also a great option for vegans and Kosher diners, as they serve halal lamb and chicken dishes at all of their restaurants. Founded by chef Karan Gokani, his wife Sunaina Sethi, and her brothers Jyotin and Karam, a meal at Hoppers will explode your culinary senses and not disappoint!
On a typical overcast London Wednesday, I met up with my friend, Georgina (Simple Matters Media) from Wales for lunch at Duck Soup (https://www.ducksoupsoho.co.uk). Duck Soup is this cozy, tiny wine bar and cafe in the heart of Soho that features a seasonal menu that changes weekly. On our visit, summer fruits were at their peak, so the watermelon and feta salad seemed to melt the cloudy away. I’ve since tried to recreate it at home ;). The vibe at Duck Soup is perfect for a tête-à-tête; they even have their own old school record player and vinyl collection that diners can pick from and play. A cool twist to anold-fashioned jukebox!
Speaking of lunch, I’d be remiss if I didn't mention KOL (https://www.kolrestaurant.com). Rated one the best restaurants in the world, it’s definitely a plan ahead meal, well worth the splurge. Chef Patron Santiago Lastra describes his approach as modern Mexican soul celebrating the finest expressions of British ingredients. The summer lunch menu featured carnitas served with fresh tortillas to share for the table – confit pork cheek, black beans, apples; Langoustine, smoked chili, sea buckthorn tacos; and purple carrot mole, to name a few. Incredible! Walk-ins are welcome at the bar but I highly recommend making a reservation well ahead of time to dine at a table for the full experience.
For dinner, you can’t beat the laid-back ambience and farm to table menu of Cocette (https://www.mycocotte.uk/notting-hill). A Nottinghill staple, Cocette’s free-range chickens are sourced from Evron, Pays de la Loire, France, marinated 24 hours in a secret blend of herbs and spices, then slowly cooked and finished on the spit. Best rotisserie chicken ever!
Scully Restaurant in St. James will take your palate to places never before imagined. Malaysian-born and Sydney-raised Chef Ramael Scully draws on his Chinese/Indian/Irish/Balinese family heritage and culinary traditions to create an unforgettable experience (https://www.scullyrestaurant.com). One of my favorites was the Arepa, Eggplant Sambal, Bergamot Labneh – A ground maize dough, fermented for eight days. It was served with Chef Scully’s Mum’s eggplant sambal.
If food and wine pairings are your thing then you must try Twist Cannubio (https://www.twistconnubio.com). They pride themselves on creating a sustainable, in-season inspired menu and love suggesting pairings from their extensive wine list. The sourdough bread alone is worth the trip, but the seafood and innovative combinations will leave you satisfied and wanting to return again and again.
Finally, a trip to London wouldn’t be complete without a meal at Bocca di Lupo (https://www.boccadilupo.com). Chefs Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo opened Bocca in 2008 and have been pleasing crowds with their simple, classic Italian dishes ever since. I come from a big American/Italian family that is noisy, chaotic and loving, filled with family, good food and passionate conversation. Bocca gives that vibe. I always try to visit when I'm in London. Their menu changes frequently based on what’s seasonally available but I enjoyed Ricotta ravioli with
butter & sage and Orecchiette with 'nduja, red onion & tomato, plus lots of fresh bread with olive oil, and red wine. Delizioso!
Whether you’re in London for a couple of days or have time to spare, on business or traveling for pleasure, I hope you’ll give some of my favorite London restaurants and cafes a try. They embody the essence of hospitality – something we strive to bring to life everyday here at 211 to Waterloo. Enjoy!