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.
‘O Ver Borough
After a week of post-hike pub food in Scotland we had one thing on our minds for our first night in London: pizza. And not just any pizza, but fancy Neapolitan pizza in an equally fancy setting. Thanks to the reservations we had made at ‘O Ver Borough that goal wouldn’t be too hard to accomplish. Located in Southwark near the Borough Market (more on that later) where it draws its name from, the restaurant boasts a bright and modern interior with a slightly upscale vibe without feeling stuffy. Think marble tabletops accented by gold flatware and warm wood chairs, like something right out of the pages of Architectural Digest magazine. It was a lot smaller than I imagined and filled up quickly so reservations are a must. There’s also a second location near St. James Park in case you can’t get in.
Fresh, authentic ingredients are at the center of the menu at ‘O Ver Borough, as is the “pure sea water” from the Mediterranean that’s used in its wood fired pizzas and handmade pastas. We ordered a large green salad, two pizzas – a Margherita and the Capricciosa (the latter with grilled artichokes, ham and olives) – and a white Negroni while we waited for our food. We devoured the pizzas, both full of flavor with incredibly thin, chewy crust, along with a bottle of red Sicilian Frappato wine, which was the perfect light complement to our meal and the warm summer evening. ‘O Ver Borough was everything we hoped for and then some, so naturally we couldn’t pass up the desserts on special, a pistachio and dark chocolate semifreddo with espresso and a digestivo.
‘O Ver Borough, 44-46 Southwark Street, +44 20 7378 9933, overuk.com
This place was on my list from a previous trip when I was pregnant and eating little more that dry cereal and biscuits from the hotel coffee bar (luckily things have changed since then). What attracted me to Yalla Yalla in the first place was its well-rounded menu of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s like someone’s grandma spent all day in the kitchen preparing a feast and invited you to stay. How could you say no or possibly decide which dish(es) to choose?
We made reservations at the location on Winsley Street (there’s another nearby on Green’s Court), which was busy and bright inside with eclectic décor of mismatched chairs, lamps and plates adorning the walls. It was a homely and welcoming space where we settled in with a couple of cocktails, namely the Yalla Baby Yalla and the Beiruti, and a plate of marinated olives to start. When presented with the difficult decision of what to order we went with the chicken shawarma platter, which was thinly sliced and served with a green salad and hummus over a large crêpe-like flatbread. We also ordered a few mezze (small plates) to share including the incredibly delicious falafel and a Fattoush salad. When the dessert menu came around we were too stuffed to indulge in the beautiful baklava that was on display but did order a serving of vanilla ice cream topped with red berry and rosewater compote and pistachios. The pistachios seemed to be omitted but the ice cream was just the right amount of sweetness to round out the meal.
Yalla Yalla, 12 Winsley Street, +44 20 7637 4748, yalla-yalla.co.uk
Also on the list of places I didn’t make it to on my last visit to London, Yolkin is the stuff that Instagram dreams are made of. Never will you be so tempted by a kaleidoscope of picture-perfect macaron ice cream sandwiches – yes you read that correctly, macarons and ice cream combined to create a beautiful Big Mac-sized treat. Owner Sammie Le was an avid macaron baker but hated wasting egg yolks in the process, so she began making egg yolk ice cream and hence Yolkin was hatched (its name is made up of the two words “yolk” and “in”). And what began as a pop up operation has since expanded into a simple and bright shop in Chinatown between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square with a rotating selection of flavors each day like matcha Oreo, salted caramel and rose pistachio.
Each macaron sandwich combination has its own metaphorical cherry on top. They become even more scrumptious as you indulge, like discovering the lemon curd in the center of the lemon meringue one and fresh blueberries in the blueberry cheesecake macaron ice cream sandwich that we ordered, the latter also was rolled in graham crackers for an added touch. You’ll also find a handful of other frozen items and beverages, matched by a friendly and cheery welcome from Sammie herself. Word of advice, arrive early for the best selection of flavors and return often.
Yolkin, 24 Rupert Street, no phone number, facebook.com/yolkinmacice
For a memorable night out take a trip back in time to London circa 1940s at Cahoots, a themed cocktail bar located in an abandoned Underground station. Here the spirits run high and the drinks never run dry and the fun begins before you even step inside (make sure your name is on the list, dress smart – no shorts – and don’t forget the secret password!). As you descend downstairs you’ll be treated to an immersive experience where no detail is overlooked, right down to the very menu from which you order that resembles a newspaper from the period. Tables and chairs are fit between white subway-tiled columns, while others are made to look like you’re sitting in an Underground car.
Kick back in post-war revelry as you listen to live entertainment and enjoy inventive cocktails with names like Rita Hayworth, Winston Churchill, Punchadilly Circus and Take it on the Gin, along with a selection of “rations”. The presentation of the drinks is just as playful as the names, although a bit on the pricy side. Cahoots is owned by the same hospitality group as other kitschy watering holes around London like Mr. Fogg’s (read more here), and was recently expanded to include new Ticket Hall and Control Room sections for even more swinging good times.
Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, +44 20 7352 6200, cahoots-london.com
After leaving Cahoots we decided to wander through Kingly Court in the heart of the Carnaby neighborhood, a lively pedestrianized area with a collection of restaurants and merriment spilling out onto its central courtyard. This was clearly the place to be so we couldn’t help but return the next night to try Pizza Pilgrims, a causal spot with ridiculously cheap prices (something that’s rare in London) and ridiculously delicious-looking pizzas. It’s actually one of several locations that you’ll find throughout the city.
After a short 15 minute wait we had a front row seat to the pizza-making action, watching the guys behind the counter stretch out the dough and add sauce and toppings before sliding the Neapolitan-style pizzas into the fiery oven. The assembly line worked fast like a well-oiled machine and I can only imagine how many pizzas they make in any given night (hundreds maybe?). The pizza here is the result of a 6-week pilgrimage across Italy to learn the secrets to what makes a great pizza. The service was a bit on the slow side, likely because the restaurant was so busy, but when our pizzas did arrive – a Margherita and the aubergine parmigiana along with the rocket salad to share – we were not disappointed. The cocktail menus is simple with options like the classic Negroni and a Sunshine Spritz (made with the restaurant’s own limoncello) that are the perfect complement to whatever pizza you decide to order.
Pizza Pilgrims, 11 Kingly Street, +44 20 7287 2200, pizzapilgrims.co.uk
I’ve literally been staring at this cute-as-a-button bakery out my hotel window in Belgravia for years now and finally decided to venture across the street to see what all of the buzz is about. Peggy Porschen has since become a bit of a social media hot spot if the pink rope and line out the door are any indication, along with the small crowd of people patiently waiting to take a picture in front of its pastel doorway adorned with flowers. Inside the parlour you’ll find some of the most beautiful cakes, cupcakes and other confectionary delights you’ve ever seen. Think sugar and spice and everything nice, and if you want proof just check out their Instagram page. We ordered a slice of the summer special Berry Burst and Elderfleur cake to take away, which was topped with fresh berries and edible flowers. After dinner we returned to our hotel to enjoy the cake for dessert, which was dense and moist and definitely worth the wait. Besides the Belgravia location, there’s now another Peggy Porschen parlour in Chelsea that also serves up breakfast, brunch, lunch and of course, its signature sweets.
Peggy Porschen, 116 Ebury Street, +44 20 7730 1316, peggyporschen.com
I absolutely love markets and the Borough Market in Southwark is always one of my favorite places to go for lunch. It’s one of the largest and oldest food markets in London dating as far back as 1014 and inhabiting its current location since 1756.
I typically spend time browsing the stalls of international street food, baked goods, meats, cheeses, fresh produce and more before making my selection, grazing on samples along the way. One of my favorite vendors is Tibs Exotic Food Canteen, which allows you to build your own combination of delicious Ethiopian street food that’s cooked before your eyes in giant drums. We typically get the beef and chicken combo with rice and two vegetable sides. (Note: Tibs is no longer at the Borough Market as of August 2019 but is in the process of finding a new location.) There’s plenty of options for dessert too, like the delicious pistachio, raspberry and rose water cake that we tried on our last visit. Every trip to the Borough Market is always a new adventure, making it a place that’s easy to return to time and time again.
Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, +44 20 7407 1002, boroughmarket.org.uk