My husband and I returned last weekend from the most spectacular trip to London and Paris. We knew we wanted to go to Europe, but he wanted to go to Spain (I’ve been) and I wanted to go to Italy (he’s been), so we landed on two places neither of us have ever visited: London and Paris.
It was originally going to be a trip just to Paris, but I’m so glad we tacked on London. What an incredible city. I loved everything about it. The people, the history, the darling flats, and the food! Who says British food is no good? We do, which is why we only ate it twice. The rest of the time we spent delighting in London’s culinary melting pot of cultures.
I got the idea to keep a food diary from another blogger. It’s a wonderful way to look back on the meaningful moments of our trip, like the lychee martini with which I toasted my husband on his birthday over divine dim sum, or the traditional British pie after a very British day of sightseeing. Here’s where and what we ate in London. ** indicates the absolute best of the best – our favorite places and dishes.
Dinner: Yauatcha, Soho
Lychee martini, Wagyu beef puff, prawn and bean curd cheung fun**, spicy Szechuan pork wonton, char siu bun, beef shu mai, duck roll
We arrived in Europe on my husband’s birthday. We had a reservation at Yauatcha, the Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant in Soho, that we had both been eagerly awaiting. I could tell instantly it was part of the Hakkasan hospitality group with its dark, moody vibe and sultry decor. I’ve never had the food at Hakkasan in Las Vegas, but if it’s anything like Yauatcha, I’m on the next plane to Sin City. Everything we ordered was exceptional, but the dish I least expected to interest me, the prawn and bean curd cheung fun, blew me away the most.
Breakfast: West Grove Cafe, Notting Hill Gate
Ham and cheese toastie**, soy latte
This was the bistro within spitting distance of our Airbnb flat. On that subject, we LOVED our Airbnb in London. Beautifully appointed, perfect location, and kindest, most gracious host, Amanda – I can’t recommend it highly enough. Take a look at it here.
Back to the bistro. We picked up a quick bite on our way to the Tower of London. Something about a simple, crispy ham and cheese toasted sandwich hit the spot.
Lunch: The Gallery at Sketch, Mayfair
White peony tea, rosebud tea, Comté cheese soldier**, Oscietra Royal caviar, corn-fed coronation chicken sandwich**, Scottish smoked salmon and Jacob’s cream sandwich, desserts (malabar marshmallow, pistachio petit choux, Lincolnshire rhubarb cheesecake, chocolate and caramel gateau, lemon and strawberry Battenberg cake, Victoria sponge cake**, fudge and banana loaf)
If dim sum at Yauatcha was my husband’s must-have, afternoon tea at Sketch was mine. I had Instagram stalked the pink-covered tea room for months prior. With pink plush chairs; a bright white bathroom resembling a futuristic scene from Arrival, complete with individual potty pods that looked ready to transport one into tea space; and all four walls covered in eccentric illustrations by artist David Shrigley, I was in heaven – and that was before the tea and bites arrived! Our host introduced us to the cast of impeccably-dressed characters who would be attending to our needs: the Tea Master, who took us on a journey through dozens of brewed offerings; followed by the Caviar Man decked out in a devastatingly handsome pink suit; not to be outdone by the ravishing Ladies with Dots who delivered our delightful feast of sandwiches, cakes, pastries and scones.
The perfectly prepared egg taster to start was unlike anything I’ve ever enjoyed, and the corn-fed coronation chicken sandwich was so nice, I asked for it twice. This was a definite trip highlight.
Dinner: Waitrose Market, Notting Hill
Meat and cheese assortment
We were still stuffed from tea by the time dinner rolled around, so we walked to our nearest market and picked up a couple of items for a cheese and charcuterie plate.
Breakfast: Avocado toast made in our flat
We burned off the biscuits on Friday morning with a class at Barry’s Bootcamp Central London. I’m a Barry’s Bootcamp San Diego devotee, so it was fun to try a different studio. Avocado toast fueled us up for a grueling burn.
Lunch: The Chandos, Covent Garden (near Trafalgar Square)
Cider, pork and cider reserve pie
After a delightful walking tour of some of London’s main sights, we thought it fitting to try a traditional British meal. It was good, not great, but filling like we craved after a multiple miles-long walk around the city.
Snack: CakeCreate Bakery, Bayswater
I had an afternoon sweet tooth on the way back to our flat after another full day, and the couple of baked goodies we picked up here satisfied.
Dinner: Bao & Noodle, Chinatown
Tiger beer, big bao with pork**, Kung po chicken, hot and sour soup
After taking in Kinky Boots in the West End (fantastic show!), we realized we were close to Chinatown and our stomachs grew at least three sizes larger. We perused several menus before deciding on Bao & Noodle. You don’t ever have to ask me twice if I want a pork bao. It’s like they knew I was coming by making it supersized.
Breakfast: Granier Bakery Cafe
Spanish ham and cheese croissant, soy latte from Second Cup Coffee Co.
We couldn’t find anything that tickled our fancy for breakfast along the bustling Portobello Road Market (had we been browsing during lunchtime, we would have had tons of options), so we popped into this cafe desperately hungry. It was sadly just OK.
Dinner: Ciao Bella, Bloomsbury
Prosciutto and melon, spaghetti carbonara**
I don’t recall how we heard about this Italian restaurant, but it was what we were promised: very good, authentic Italian food. I opted for the creamy spaghetti carbonara after seeing our tablemates next to us order the same. Excellent.
L’inimitable and speculoos gelato with chocolate macaron**
We realized by the time we got to Paris that Amorino is a chain. I’m tempted to liken it to Yogurtland, but that would be terribly insulting. You can choose as many flavors as you want, which the talented scoopers painstakingly pat around the cone so as to create a flower. I chose just two flavors that sounded like a perfect match, topped with a giant, chocolate macaron.
Breakfast: West Grove Cafe, Notting Hill Gate
Soy latte; eggs, toast and salad; full English breakfast
With little time to catch our train to Paris, we popped back into our neighborhood cafe for one last English meal: eggs, toast and salad for me, and a full English breakfast of eggs, beans, sausage, toast, mushrooms and tomatoes for my husband. It was good, and time to say cheerio to our time in London!