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YOUR Favorite food experience

I am curious to know YOUR most memorable food experiences in London. What did you eat and where did you eat it?

For example: Was it a quick pret a manger sandwich gnawed under an umbrella while waiting for the rain to pass so you could carry on with your Rick Steves guidebook walking tour? Or was it the 9 course tasting menu at The Clove Club, the restaurant ranked 35th best in the world? What were/are YOUR favorite restaurants/food market stalls and why? Which pastry at what bakery was the most memorable? Which was the loveliest pot of tea and where? Which scone was the best scone that YOU have eaten in London? Of all the cheddars to be had, which brand proved to be most savory? Which part of the full English is the best part? What delicious snack did you discover at Waitrose?

I'm not really looking for recommendations for myself, because that depends on too much. I'm more so trying to get a sense of what others' stand out food experiences have been in London, whether at a restaurant, at a grocery, or a food stall.

Thank you!

Posted by
1040 posts

Ordering fish and chips and getting a glob of extraordinarily iridescent green in the box. Whoever invented mushy peas should be shot. And then also getting them in a small container with our Indian takeaway. Weird, very weird.

Posted by
8637 posts

It was 5 years ago now, and I still have cravings for McVities Digestive Biscuits and Jaffa cakes. I liked mushy peas too - no more having them roll off my knife. Clotted cream is a wonder, especially with real scones, not the overly fussy hockey pucks we see here. I don't remember any specific restaurant meal or (positive) surprise food discovery. Sometimes its the atmosphere that makes the meal.

Posted by
2744 posts

Sorry I don’t have a specific meal or restaurant, but I love getting takeaway fish and chips. I always thought nothing was more unappealing than mushy peas. I like peas, but I can’t stand them over-cooked. Plus mushy peas just look gross. Then one time I looked at them on my plate and thought, maybe I should taste them. And guess what? I thought they were good. I was shocked. I felt like the guy in Green Eggs and Ham. : )

Posted by
7012 posts

It would be a toss up between high tea at Harrods or the comforting meals I had at the Café in the Crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. High tea at Harrods was incredible and I fell in love with British scones and clotted cream. I loved that the servers wore formal attire but had black sneakers on their feet.

However, there was something very comforting about eating at the cafeteria style cafe in the crypt of a historic church. I went back twice after the first time and each time was a lovely experience. The food was good but the atmosphere even better.

Posted by
19 posts

Ha ha no not writing a book.

Curious if all my restaurant/foodie research really matters when the memorable takeaway ends up being something as simple and humble as mushy peas anyways.

But also - is that why they are mushed?!? To keep them stuck on the fork?! So genius and practical!

Posted by
8871 posts

OK then not writing a book:

1972: first bangers and mash in a hole in a wall cafe that no longer exits.

First pint of Guinness.

And since those firsts:
Fish and chips at Rock N Sole
Sunday Roast at the Victoria Paddington
Potato and Leek soup at a pub I can’t remember. Maybe The Dove in Hammersmith. Or maybe it was the White Cross in Richmond
Grilled Cheese sandwich from the truck in Maltby Market
Walnut Shrimp at Joy King Lau in Chinatown
Traditional English breakfast at the River Cafe by Putney Bridge station
Edgar’s perfect thin crust Pizza at the Mitre on St Mary’s grove but really I go to see Rudi

Trust me since my first stay in 1972 till now the complete change from horrible english meals ( the thought of marmite or porridge and yes mushy peas still creeps me out) to what can be eaten there now is astonishing.

EDIT: favorite snack Walkers Short Bread cookies.
EDIT2: The most memorable food was a bowl of French Onion soup in a small Amsterdam cafe. Best I’ve had anywhere, any time. Was also memorable because it was my first trip to Europe.

Posted by
5687 posts

What were/are YOUR favorite restaurants/food market stalls and why?

I’ve eaten at Honey & Co on multiple trips. The Gundi Sabzi was so good that I bought the cookbook so I could make it when I got home. And their feta cheesecake on a kadaif base is just amazing. Other restaurants tht I have visited multiple times include the various Ottolenghi restaurants and Dishoom.

Which pastry at what bakery was the most memorable?

No particular favorite, but Honey & Spice always has interesting baked goods. I also like Konditor on Cornwall Rd (near Waterloo Station) for traditional cakes (e.g., Victoria Sponge)

Of all the cheddars to be had, which brand proved to be most savory?

For cheese, it is hard to go wrong with something from Neal’s Yard. La Fromagerie in Marylebone also has a wonderful selection of cheese and I am sure they could guide you to a really great cheddar.

Which part of the full English is the best part?

My favorite is not a full English; it is a little too much for me. The bacon, egg, and naan roll from Dishoom or the Bircher Muesli at Pret are more my thing.

What delicious snack did you discover at Waitrose?

I have a soft spot for HobKnob biscuits with plain (dark) chocolate.

Posted by
9436 posts

We love mushy peas!

Best food experience in London:
Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason.
Every bite of everything was delectable.
I dream of going again.

Best restaurant in England:
The Ivy in Chichester.
Recommended by a long time poster here, it was exceptional. Best scallops and NY Steak i’ve ever had.

I also loved Afternoon Tea at Goodwood.

I also love coffee shops all over England, their food has always been excellent. A latté and a scone with strawberry jam is heaven to me.

Posted by
130 posts

Clotted cream….anywhere and anytime is a good time for clotted cream and scones.

Posted by
4335 posts

Sorry - not London!

Which was the loveliest pot of tea and where?
At the tiny Central Cafe in Moretonhampstead in the Dartmoor National Park. Loveliest scone and best clotted cream I have ever had.

Which part of the full English is the best part?
The streaky bacon, of course! I would inhale a bacon bap right now…..

Most memorable food experience?
Oh, the sticky toffee pudding at The Horse and Groom in Windsor. I could/should/might go back for that alone….

Posted by
470 posts

Thought streaky bacon was an American thing
Its got to be unsmoked back bacon

Posted by
7012 posts

Oh, I forgot about sticky toffee pudding! And the heavenly experience that is a Bakewell pudding tart! I did not have either of these in London but they were worth driving out of town for!

And thank you all - I am sitting here drooling as I read...

Posted by
8871 posts

Oh forgot to include the creamy bleu cheese I bought at Teddington Cheese on Hill Rise in Richmond. Divine.

Best Fish and Chips in all my trips: Charlies on the wharf at Lyme Regis. Not there anymore.

Best tea and scones the Browns hotel. Splurged and everything about that “ meal “ was perfect.

Posted by
7626 posts

Afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason - definitely.

Cheddar (and Stilton, too!) from Neal’s Yard - tasting and buying at the shop at Borough Market.

After finding out that the Dishoom by Covent Garden was closed for remodeling, discovering the fantastic Neapolitan pizza at Pizza Pilgrims, and scoring the last available table.

Finding Naroon Persian cuisine on the last trip … at there twice!

Lots of other “ethnic” places that weren’t traditional English food from the past several centuries.

Then there was the meal in March 2020, a couple days before the Covid Pandemic was declared, and we were one of two tables of diners at Pollan Street Social. After finding it in the dark, one of the courses, a palate cleanser, was oyster ice cream. The waiter said half the patrons loved it, and half hated it. Put me i the first group - it was unusual, but unique and delicious!

Posted by
631 posts

Hi Cristen,
You had a great idea here for a fun thread. What follows is lengthy. We were in London this past summer and self-catered in a rental just off Brick Lane. As such, we were blessed to be nearby the invaluable Taj store. I'll def be posting a TR/Foto Essay at some point. In the meantime below are some delicious memories, some of which are hardly secrets (sorry no scones nor cheddar).

Blackbird bakery (Herne Hill market) was our fave pastry: 'Joel's famous Lamington.' Do donuts count? If so, see Bread Ahead's various cream-filled donuts. Another worthy dessert: Hackney brand mince pie gelato. See also Box Park's 'Acai Berry' stall. Its acai ice is what many Brazilians eat for breakfast.
Spanish Caravan was the name of one of our fave Brick Lane food market stalls. Its lady operator made delicious pisto-style tapas and lots more. Every dish that we bought from her was as good as or better, than any of the exact same dishes that we've ever eaten in Spain.
Sud Italia includes a rare 'zucca' or pumpkin offering on their menu.

Some killer drinks come to mind. Here are four: a) City Juice sugar cane drinks esp. with ginger and strawb; b) Aunty Audreys Sorrel creates the freshest red sorrel drinks (both @ Truman weekend market) c) Spitalfields City Farm makes a powerful elderflower cordial; upon hearing the POP of us opening our fizzy bottles, a child at a school recess right next door screamed, "WHATTHEHELLWAZTHAT?!" Through the fence and unseen, I had to reassure him that it had not been gunshot. d) The 'Chai Guys' at Spitalfields market made a Kaduk chai so good that we bought some to take home.

Cristen, you asked about tea. Hands-down our fave place for that was the Zetter Townhouse. The food and drink were A+ excellent but that quirky decor and superb service also play an important role. Dishooms and La Cage Imaginaire in Hampstead plus also Cafe Laville (Little Venice) all belong in that same restaurant category of 'fantastic food, service and setting'.
We loved Ye Olde Mitre pub's inexpensive 'Cardinal's Choice' sarnies. Cor Blimey, the full English breakfast at Maria's Cafe in Burra was perfect. Its best part? Dunno, maybe the bacon (see also Dishoom's breakfast bacon naan roll).

We also shopped at Tescos, Waitrose and M&S.

I am done. The end.

Posted by
631 posts

Cyn, we were surprised to learn that the Neal's Yard Cheese shop is an entirely different business from its apothecary counterpart with the same name. Who knew?
I am done. the cheese

Posted by
5423 posts

Of all the cheddars to be had, which brand proved to be most savory?

Too many cheddars to pick one from but in general a level 6 or 7 on the vintage scale are the best in my opinion. These are strong cheddars that have a salty crunch throughout. Waitrose and M&S sell nice examples, Cornish Quartz and Cornish Cruncher respectively, which makes it easier to find a decent cheddar if you can't get to a good cheesemonger.

Posted by
585 posts

The best cheddar is that which comes from the area of Cheddar gorge in Somerset. A good farmhouse cheddar is hard to beat…I can still taste the wonderful farmhouse cheddar that we bought at the small supermarket in the Gloucestershire village where my Mum lived. It was bought direct from the farm and had a strong nutty flavour and was delicious as part of a ploughman’s lunch with ham and Branston pickle. Also good as a thin slice on top of apple pie!

My all time favourite go-to snack or lunch were the individual sized pork pies from M & S. With a couple of fresh tomatoes and again, Branston Pickle, they were a quick and easy lunch, or handy for a picnic lunch.

Posted by
2063 posts

My father ALWAYS had a piece of cheese with apple pie or fruit cake.

Posted by
4927 posts

OK, so my "most memorable" rather than "best" - because I did it so often - is still...

In the summer, walking down the block from my office to the shop across from Covent Garden Station (was it Waitrose? Marks? Can't remember and can't find either on today's Google Maps...) to get a takeaway Rose Marie Prawn sandwich and salt and vinegar chips, then walk around the corner to sit on the little steps and eat it while I watched the crowds and buskers. Then have a wander around Covent Garden before walking back to the office.

Sometimes I had a different sandwich, but the prawns one was the best. Years later, when I went back, I had that same lunch in the same spot in Covent Garden, for old times sake.

Posted by
233 posts

"Ordering fish and chips and getting a glob of extraordinarily iridescent green in the box"

If one gets glow in the dark mushy peas, they are not mushy peas. Proper mushy peas (from marrow fat peas) are a very pale green.

I once chanced upon Guy Fieri making mushy peas from garden peas which was so so wrong as wrong as one can get!

Posted by
529 posts

Mayfair Chippy for fish and chips
Dishoom
Gordon’s wine bar- cheese and wine

Posted by
631 posts

Renee, do you remember the elaborate signs on Gordon's outdoors patio? They warn diners/drinkers not to leave their bags too close to the wrought iron fence. Apparently thefts are so common that the new (Portuguese) owner saw fit to spend money on the warnings. One supposes that thieves approach the boundary of Gordon's from the adjoining public garden space.

I am done. the tief

Posted by
124 posts

All this talk about mushy peas reminds me of our experience in Luzern. I was there with my wife and two teenage daughters in 2019. We were on a tight budget and I had told the girls we would be picnicking in Switzerland since restaurant prices were out of our budget. We did say we would get a snack at a cafe instead. Of all places, they chose an English-style pub. So we ordered drinks for all, a plate of fish and chips to share, and nachos to share. I was enjoying my couple bites of fish and my wife says "this is the worst guacamole I have ever had in my life". I said "really let me try", so I take a chip and dip in the bowl of green stuff. "oh my it's mushy peas!" I said. Also, this was the most expensive meal we had on our grand tour of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, and England.

Posted by
2063 posts

As well as mushy peas, there is also pease pudding made from cooking yellow split peas and traditionally eaten with pork in the north east of England.

It even has its own nursery rhyme...

"Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,

Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;

Some like it hot, some like it cold,

Some like it in the pot, nine days old".

Posted by
9436 posts

wasleys, i grew up hearing that nursery rhyme… i always thought it was “please”
not “pease”… good to know!

Posted by
11368 posts

Fish and Chips at The Laughing Halibut. Yes, with mushy peas on the side.
A special birthday dinner at Elyston Street.

Posted by
2063 posts

Susan - pease pudding was a cheap and filling staple and vast quantities were made to last several days. (Actually it doesn't taste of much...)

Have a read here.

Posted by
295 posts

Probably taking my teenage son for high tea (correction, *afternoon tea, as wasleys pointed out.) (Lanesborough) right after visiting Buckingham Palace and catching the Guards practicing their music and marching for the funeral procession.

It was so weird we happened to be in London at that time and there at that moment, and seeing my son comment on finger sandwiches and sip tea (not a video game in sight!) is a great memory. We don’t eat anything that expensive while traveling (or home, as we don’t dine out here at all these days) but it was very worth it.

My other food memory is what I didn’t get! Still regret fussing over the calories and not trying Humble Crumble at Spitalfields Market, touristy or not!

*My son was right back to gaming for hours when we got home, but he confessed he didn’t miss it for a moment in the three weeks we gallivanted around Europe. Now to think of what, in Pennsylvania is as interesting as taking the train to the Harry Potter Studio Tour!

Posted by
2063 posts

Can I be really pedantic Sleight - you would had afternoon tea rather than high tea. Many people use the term interchangeably, but there is a difference between afternoon tea and high tea. Afternoon tea is served as the name suggests in the afternoon, with dainty finger sandwiches, scones and a wide range of small cakes. It was very much an upper class, social occasion.

High tea is served later in the day and was traditionally served when the man of the family came in. There was a hot dish - often ham and eggs or fish and chips served with bread and butter and a big earthenware pot of tea.

Have a read here...

Posted by
295 posts

@wasleys
You’re 100% right of course. I do, in fact, remember reading all about it before traveling and something about it as a child as well, but clearly the terminology hasn’t entered my lexicon as I rarely have occasion to use it.

You’re certainly not alone in pedantism around here! 😂 If people respond to genuine questions with only pedantism and leave the OP hanging, it bums me out, but I’m chronically curious, so I love a good informative post!