No matter how near or far you are from home, a recommendation for a good restaurant or bar is always nice to have. EATS is a collection of places that I’ve enjoyed during my travels.
Let me first preface this post by with how I had a laundry list of places to check out during this particular trip to London – from Turkish cuisine to macaron ice cream sandwiches and tons of historic pubs, but little did I know that pregnancy cravings food aversions (and the need to eat at moment’s notice) would have me searching for bland and basic (meat and potatoes) instead. Sigh. At least there’s something to look forward to next time I’m in London. :)
The Prince of Wales
One of the many pubs in Covent Garden, The Prince of Wales was the perfect spot to refuel post-flight on our first night in London. The pub itself dates back to 1850 and today boasts a laid back environment that seemed to cater to a young after work crowd, where friends could meet up for a beer at the end of the day. If you see a table, grab it rather than waiting for someone to seat you, then push your way to the bar to place your order (they will bring the food to your table when it’s ready). Even though we arrived relatively early in the evening, The Prince of Wales filled up quick given its prime location that’s within walking distance of the West End theatre district and other popular sites.
The menu offers a wide selection of traditional pub fare and beverages, and we later learned that it’s actually part of the Taylor Walker group of pubs after noticing the same menu at other places. My husband ordered the fish and chips with a London Pride Ale on draft (when in London), and I opted for the pulled pork sandwich made with their very own 1730 pale ale BBQ sauce (cooked down of course). The food definitely hit the spot, the prices were affordable and the staff were super friendly. Everything you could want in a British pub experience.
The Prince of Wales, 150-151 Drury Lane, +44 20 7836 5183, taylor-walker.co.uk
A French restaurant with multiple locations throughout London, Côte offers a contemporary take on the classic Parisian brasserie. We first stumbled upon the London Bridge location in Hay’s Galleria, but ended up dining at the one in Sloane Square due to its proximity to our hotel and availability for a last minute reservation (see all locations here). We were met with pleasant service (our waiter was especially sweet) and a nice low-key environment (not a bit pretentious as you might expect at a French restaurant), which was perfect after a long day of sightseeing.
Côte’s menu offers a good variety of French classics at reasonable prices, which made it incredibly hard to decide what to order. While I’m usually a sucker for a good French onion soup (and any salad with goats cheese), I opted for the Poulet ‘Breton’ – a half chargrilled chicken from rural Brittany in west France – with a wild mushroom and crème fraiche sauce. My husband chose the traditional steak frites, and we shared a ratatouille starter on special, a side salad and an order of fresh-baked bread with salty butter (simple and delicious, don’t skimp on ordering the latter to round out your meal). We were too full to indulge in Côte’s dessert menu, which includes temping treats ranging from chocolate mousse to an apple tart and praline crêpes, leaving reason for a return visit.
Côte Brasserie, multiple locations, cote-restaurants.co.uk
For an exciting lunchtime experience, head to the Borough Market in Southwark. It’s one of the largest and oldest food markets in London, with evidence of a market in the area as far back as 1014. The Borough Market has inhabited its current location since 1756, and today is the perfect place to piece together a hearty meal for locals and visitors alike.
With more than 100 stalls, ranging from produce, fish, meat, cheese and baked goods specialty food items and ethnic eateries, the bustling market environment is fun to browse before making your selection. During this particular trip we tried some Ethiopian street food from one of the vendors – a chicken combo with sides of split peas and butternut squash served over rice. It’s something we may not have ordered off a menu, but looked and smelled amazing as we walked by the booth. Afterwards we couldn’t resist a toasty mozzarella and tomato mini panino and a cheese and blubbery-filled pastry called a vatrushka for dessert. The Borough Market is definitely my favorite market in London and a place I would eat every day if I could.
Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, +44 20 7407 1002, boroughmarket.org.uk
On our last night in London the rain came, so we were looking for something near our Belgravia hotel for dinner. Drawn in by its inviting yellow flowers and banner advertising live piano every evening, we made a reservation at this Sicilian restaurant.
The interior at Sicily plays to Italian tradition (and perhaps a few stereotypes), with quotes from Italian greats around the walls and red and white checkered tablecloths atop the tables. We were seated at a table in the upstairs loft area, which had a great bird’s-eye view of the bar and piano player below. Sicily’s menu is pretty broad, and we decided to start with an order of caponata with warm flat bread liken to a salty, chewy pizza crust (the perfect accompaniment to our eggplant antipasto), followed by a salad, vegetable pizza and roast chicken with potatoes and peas (again, comfort food). The food was basic and reliable, and while the service was on the slow side (it could have just been that night), Sicily offered a charming haven away from the rain.
Sicily, 2a Elizabeth Street, +44 20 7730 5498, eatatsicily.com