London. The capital. Loathed by some. Loved by many.
As a native southerner, London and I have had a tumultuous relationship. I loved visiting as a youngster, taking in all the tourist attractions and iconic buildings. As a teenager I gravitated towards trendier postcodes like Camden and Shoreditch. As a 20-something I worked in the city for a law firm as a temp and lost some of my affection for the big smoke. Now, however, visiting London is always a pleasure, and discovering beautiful places to eat, shop and see with my cousin who is now living in the heart of it all, is a wonderful experience.
Here’s a whistle stop tour of my favourite places from my most recent trip.
Best for Breakfast: Duck & Waffle, Heron Tower
Duck & Waffle is the 24 hour restaurant that’s been making a noise in the food scene in London and further afield. With stunning views of London, a rising star in the kitchen and quirky, delicious dishes on the menu, it’s a must visit on any trip to Central London. I was there for breakfast and boy was this the kind of breakfast I like.
I had to go for the signature – Duck and Waffle – and despite its unusual sound, this plate of food was the most delicious breakfast I’ve ever eaten. A crispy, tender confit duck leg sat atop a light, fluffy Belgian waffle, with a fried duck egg balanced on top and a mustard infused maple syrup dribbled on top, alongside freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice and a cup of Earl Grey.
Each of the elements of this dish were cooked to perfection, and together they were Heavenly. The rich, golden runny yolk of the duck egg, the sweet and hot maple syrup, the crisp, savoury duck and the sweet, soft waffle all combined made both an interesting and delicious mouthful. Plus this was so indulgent I was set up for a day hitting the pavement, exploring London. The view wasn’t bad either…
Best for Lunch: Daylesford, Pimlico
After a walk down the Kings Road, shopping at Anthropologie and admiring lovely Chelsea, Daylesford Organic was the perfect stop off for lunch. As well as a deli and farm shop, Daylesford also has sit in cafe with a menu full of light, healthy dishes.
With seasonal and daily specials, think soups, sandwiches, quiches , salads and small plates made with organic produce from the Daylesford farm in Gloucestershire, and you’ve got an idea of what you’ll get. I went for the quiche of the day with two seasonal salads.
The quiche was served warm and was packed full of seasonal veg including chard, my favourite. I went for the Asian slaw with toasted cashews and the raw kale salad to accompany. The slaw was fabulous, with a sweet and salty soy and honey dressing, crunchy veg and cashews. The kale salad was also fabulous with a wholegrain mustard and cider vinegar dressing which really cut through the rich quiche. I also had a Daylesford organic Ale which was lovely and refreshing.
At £12.50 for the quiche and salads, it wasn’t cheap, but it was tasty. It also felt very healthy which can only be a good thing.
Best for Street Food: Borough Market, Southwark
No trip to London would be complete for me without a trip to a market.
I spent many of my weekends as a teenager in Camden shopping my way through the stalls, eating and drinking tea. This time I graduated to foodie haven Borough Market.
Nestled beneath the arches of London Bridge, Borough Market is a market of two personalities. On the one side, the indoor part of the market is full to the rafters of food producers, suppliers and importers. From butchers to cheesemakers, craft beer sellers to a guy claiming to make the best doughnuts in London, whatever your passion, you’ll find something that takes your fancy.
For me, its charcuterie and cheese.
I picked up a lovely hunk of Bresaola and a wild boar salami, before moving on to one of the many cheese stalls to grab a slice of my favourite cheese, French Comte.
Outside on the other side of the market, it is bustling with street food traders serving dishes from all over the world. British classics sit alongside African staples. Chinese noodle bars rub along with grilled cheese sandwich sellers. Its a cacophony of sounds, smells and temptation. On the recommendation of my cousin, who lives just around the corner from Borough Market, we went for a Scotch Egg from Scotchtails.
This was a little beauty, with a thin, crispy coating, juicy pork and a soft cooked egg, served on a bed of rocket, generously seasoned with salt and cracked black pepper. The egg was enough for me, but they also come with a side of sweet potato fries for the dedicated.
Best for Dinner: Butlers Wharf Chop House, Southwark
If you want dinner with a view, then Butlers Wharf Chop House is a venue to visit. The terrace on the river offers stunning views of Tower Bridge both by day and by night.
Plus if you’re a meat lover, then the menu will have you as enamored as the setting.
Dinner for me was Rib Eye steak with bone marrow gravy, plus sides of mac & cheese and mashed potato. The steak was served blue, as I wanted it, so the meat was buttery soft and so tasty. The bone marrow gravy was lip smacking with its thick consistency and meaty flavour, the mashed potato was light and fluffy, while the mac & cheese was as creamy and indulgent as you can get, flavoured with a hint of nutmeg.
Amazing as it may be, I actually had room for pudding after this. I ordered a portion of the sticky toffee pudding, which came with a moat of sticky sauce and a quennell of vanilla ice cream melting on top.
The whole meal was comforting and homely, but with restaurant quality cooking and flavouring. Service was fantastic with knowledgeable, friendly staff, and watching the sun set and Tower Bridge light up made for a magical evening.
Best for Drinks: Aqua Shard, The Shard
I couldn’t visit London without a trip up The Shard to enjoy its phenomenal views. I wasn’t brave enough to go up to Gong on the 52nd floor, so we stopped on level 31 and headed to Aqua Shard for drinks.
Despite its swanky appearance, both the staff and the clientele at Aqua Shard were friendly and approachable. There is an unwritten rule that people vacating tables will give the heads up to people waiting for a seat before they leave, and indeed we were shown the same kindness by a group leaving just after we arrived, meaning we managed to bag a table right next to this stunning view over the Thames.
We started with a Champagne cocktail called Frosted Vines, with Vodka and elderflower, a delicate and very pretty cocktail.
After that, I decided to have a Rhubarb Aviation. I love gin cocktails, this one caught my eye especially as it replaces the Creme de Violette with Rhubarb, making this drink zingy and refreshing, as well as pretty in pink.
I managed to eat and drink my way around some of the best places in Central London in just 2 days, so if you’re planning a trip to London, head to London Bridge and get exploring. You won’t be disappointed!