It’s no secret that London is known for its fantastic food scene, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the city with a little bit of downtime to explore the culinary scene, we have a few tips for you – from delicious dishes in the City of London to an incredible Old Fashioned in Kensington.
Must Eat Restaurants in London
Ember is a designer’s dream. Everything from the architecture to the menus are designed to compliment one another – and the food and drinks here are no exception. From the coffee to the cuisine, Ember offers a delicious pan Asian menu which will impress your senses.
Our favorite pick? The Char Siu Pork Doughnut still has us dreaming about taking another trip across the pond just for one more bite. It’s one of the most flavorful and sweet yet savory dishes we’ve ever had – and the presentation makes this meal an Instagrammer’s dream.
There’s an extensive signature cocktail menu that won’t disappoint you either. With world class mixologists behind an amazing Cellar bar, we opted to go with our favorite drink – an Old Fashioned.
We dined at Ember on a Wednesday evening, which happened to be live music night. We enjoyed the indie country folk sound of Hattie Whitehead on our last night in London, and couldn’t have had a more relaxing and divine evening.
Firedog was another impressively designed restaurant that we visited that wow’ed us with their brunch menu. They offer Aegean inspired all-day dining with a side of hip-hop and graffiti (If you dine upstairs – make sure to check out the downstairs before you leave – we loved the artwork!).
Firedog actually had our favorite burger, the Kofta Burger which had yoghurt and a delicious chilli pepper paste. It’s not your typical burger, and its savory taste will definitely stand out as one of the most memorable burgers you’ve ever eaten.
This is also a great place to get a little cappuccino to get you going in the mornings. We visited on a Wednesday morning around 11am, and we were two of just a handful of customers. It was a relaxing atmosphere, perfect for a fueling up for a day of sight-seeing activities!
Going to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child while in London? If so, stop by POLPO at Ape & Bird (which is right across the street) for a super affordable and delectable dinner. The menu offers a palatable selection of tapas. Our favorite? The lamb and mint meatballs – you can’t go wrong. We recommend pairing it with the Devereaux which is made with Four Roses, elderflower, lemon juice, mint & POLPO Prosecco. It’s refreshing and compliments the mint in the meatballs quite nicely.
One of our favorite desserts in the city was also discovered here, the Affogato al caffè. Affogato is Italian for “drowned” and is a coffee-based dessert. It usually takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped or “drowned” with a shot of hot espresso. The perfect amount of sweetness blended with a kick of energy.
It’s also worth noting that POLPO has received the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand for the last six consecutive years, and after our meal – it wasn’t hard to see why.
We stumbled upon Da Mario after returning to Kensington from a day trip to Bath. It was the exterior architecture that first caught our attention – the merge of two styles: Venetian and Gothic. The building was expressively commissioned by Queen Victoria wishing to see something new from the classical style design. 120 years later, it houses Da Mario which offers authentic Italian food with a delightful atmosphere. In fact, this was the favorite pizzeria of the late Princess Diana, and it wasn’t hard to see why.
We opted to go with the Campagnola (Tomato Sauce, Italian Salsiccia, Roasted Sweet Peppers, Parmesan Shavings, Mozzarella, Fresh Basil) and Capricciosa (Tomato Sauce, Ham, Peperoni Sausage, Mushrooms, Mozzarella, Olives, Artichoke).
The Bird In Hand is the second of three restaurants for restaurateur Jasper Gorst. Following on from the success of The Oak in Notting Hill, Jasper set out to find another stunning site to inspire his creative talent and love of great food and wine. The restaurant operates a no-reservations policy in the evenings & at weekends, but they can take bookings for weekday lunches 12-3pm.
We discovered one of our top 3 favorite Old Fashioned’s at Bird in Hand. We’ve had this whiskey-based drink all over the world, so this title doesn’t come lightly for us. While we weren’t thrilled with the service here, the drink more than made up for it. We highly recommend checking this one out if you’re a Old Fashioned lover like us.
Balans Soho Society in Kensington brings a bohemian spirit to your dinning experience , creating a café, restaurant, bar and member’s establishment where normal rules don’t apply. They offer a delightful breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a few morale boosting cocktails too.
We tried the seared scallops (spiced cauliflower, toasted almonds, buttermilk) along with the manchego and serrano ham croquettes (with a Spanish paprika aioli) for our appetizer and immediately found ourselves wanting to order another round for our main course. Hands down the best appetizer we had while visiting London.
For our main course we went with the Infamous Balans Burger (cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, dill pickle, red onion, brioche bun, double-dipped chips), which was absolutely delicious and paired perfectly with our Old Fashioned’s. I rather loved the Old Fashioned here as well, though it was a bit on the sweeter side – that’s actually how I prefer the drink.
Keep checking back for more London Travel Tips articles coming from us next week as we detail out the ideal itinerary for sighting-seeing and must-visit tourist attractions while in the city!