E. had joined along for the trip as I had gotten him the flights as a birthday present and he could spend the week catching up with friends who live in London. We managed to fit in some lovely dinners and lunches, and even spent a whole day together visiting different parts of the city we wanted to see.
That day together we visited the Imperial War Museum and I got to see the fantastic Fashion on the Ration exhibit that my friend Ruth had mentioned in a previous blog post. If you are in London before the end of August, I highly recommend a trip there!
Now for the food parts, let me give you a list of the places I tried.
- L'Entrepot: our friends live in Hackney and this was right by their place and the Hackney Downs station, really ideal for a dinner and catch up (we had not seen them for nearly a year). The style felt really convivial and we had such a nice evening, eating tasty dishes we shared between us and drinking some really good red wine. The menu is really simple, inspired by French cuisine and changes regularly following what is in season and ingredients that are freshly available.
- Comptoir Libanais: I had a work lunch meeting at their location in Chelsea and the suggestion by my client was really perfect. If you love Middle East cuisine, I recommend it! I had some cheese sambousek (pastry parcel filled with Lebanese cheese, parsley and cinnamon) and a divine fattet moussaka (fried flatbread pieces covered with aubergine moussaka and warm tahini yoghurt - I am seriously craving this right now!). For dessert, we shared a few Lebanese pastries such as date mamuul (a sweet semolina pastry filled with a date paste). It was reasonably priced too and I would love to go back and try a few more things on the menu.
- BRGR.CO: I ate there that same evening with my client and her husband. I do love a good burger and my expectations were really satisfied. I chose a 4 OZ (about 110g) burger and asked for it to be cooked medium rare. It was served in a wonderful brioche bun toasted in butter. The burger was so good, I could have easily eaten a second one but I had my eyes on dessert! I am definitely putting it in my list of 'burger places to go back to'.
- Fortnum and Mason: let's talk about food shop heaven for a bit. After a day and a half of photographing a delicious food product, I made my way back to Hackney to bring all my camera equipment back at my friends' place. E. and our friend were near Picadilly Circus and I was to meet them back there. By the time I was done and travelled from Battersea to Hackney then back to Picadilly, it was nearly 5pm and we had to make our way to dinner and then a play. Luckily, Fortnum and Mason was right beside where I found the boys! It was my first visit there and after a few days of work, I may have stared at everything with a huge grin on my face. Many many food wonders to be had! So many I found it hard to choose but eventually got a few lovely spices and later on in the week, I bought a tin of delicious spiced biscuits (they were devoured at the speed of light).
- Wahaca: Before going to see a play that evening, our friends and us decided to go for a bit of Mexican food beforehand. I had heard of Wahaca before and was really amazed by how fresh and flavoursome everything was. I started with a passion fruit and hibiscus cooler (a mocktail - any alcohol at this stage of day would have made me fall asleep instantly, and yet I nearly did during the play). I had black bean tostadas, sweet potato and feta taquitos and fried sweet potatoes. And I stole a lot of E.'s food too because the menu clearly says 'share lots with friends'. It made sense I took a share of his food, right? I also really had to have churros with a rich dark chocolate sauce. No one thought we would have time before the play started but we did have plenty and it turns out I wasn't the only one licking the pot of chocolate sauce clean. I hope to go back on a next trip and try many more dishes on the amazing menu. The quality of the ingredients is amazing and the sustainability side of things in Wahaca's approach is very appealing.
- Brasserie Zédel: E. had been in this lovely brasserie to meet a friend during the week and was really excited to take me there for lunch on our day together. My French self swooned all over how beautiful this French restaurant is. It has a great art deco style and old advertisement posters cover the walls of the corridor leading to the Parisian style brasserie. I had a starter of céléri rémoulade (grated raw celeriac with a mustardy mayonnaise) and crunchy bread by the basket. This dish often reminds me of canteen meals when I was in school but I really enjoy its flavours and the nuttiness of the celeriac. I like to test French restaurants abroad by the quality of the boeuf bourguignon they serve and the one there was perfect, I could not have asked for more. E. had a starter of ham terrine followed by steak haché with pepper sauce and thin and crispy French fries. His choices were equally good and the pepper sauce was very smooth and tasty. With the quality of the service, it was an overall very enjoyable experience and I had a great little French food time.
- La pâtisserie des rêves: if you translate this literally, it means ' the pastry shop of dreams'. Do I dream of their pastries often now, yes YES! On my last trip to London, I missed every opportunity to pay it a visit on Marylebone High Street and was really annoyed. After our visit at the Imperial War Museum, we took the tube towards Marylebone and my dreams of stepping in this pastry shop finally became real. Choosing was quite fast for me because I already knew what I wanted: their wonderful Paris-Brest. I love anything praline and this dessert is one of my favourites. I have bad experiences in the past with some that had a very buttery cream in the centre and it felt too sickening. The Patisserie des Rêves Paris-Brest however is the most divine one I have ever tasted. I took a first bite and everything went silent around me, all I could hear was my little food brain going 'oh my, oh my, oh my, this is fabulous, move here and eat Paris-Brest everyday for the rest of your life!'. For now, all I can do is dream of the next time I will eat it in their pastry shop.
- Broadway Market: The last time I was in London, I visited the lovely little Maltby Market (it was Saturday morning and the famous Borough market was wayyyyy too busy). This time, with our friends living in Hackney, I checked what was around in terms of food markets and found out the popular Broadway Market was on on Saturdays. We made our way there after finishing a portrait photography session. I had heard that the Meringue Girls had a stand there and here it was as soon as we arrived! Let me tell you I was very excited as I really wanted to try their lovely meringue kisses. I got a rainbow selection of 9 meringue kisses including the obligatory unicorn poo one. They were so colourful, delicious with subtle wonderful flavours and gorgeous texture. The rest of the market was really great. My senses were going a bit mad with the array of great products to be had. I wanted to get a lot of things but my suitcase was already packed full with my photography equipment and the few things bought during the week. There were also lovely craft stands and the copper lover in me was really enamoured by the beautiful plants arrangements with copper structures (see photo below). On a next trip, I hope to spend a bit more time on the market and enjoy more of the food without having to catch a flight that same afternoon.
All in all, it was a great week filled with work, lunches and dinners (and a whole lot of laughter) with friends, visits and maybe the occasional ray of sunshine.
I would love to hear your London recommendations for places to eat so I can make a list for my next trip! You can leave it in the comments below, merci.