Play bingo! Yes, Bingo….but this is not your grandparents’ bingo. This is nightclubish bingo, and its a place in London called Hijingo Bingo. I booked a “bottomless” brunch in advance which included a welcome cocktail, 2 rounds (6 games total), food, and unlimited beer or prosecco.
Upon arrival you will check in and then wait at a bar area. If you bought a package that includes a cocktail, make sure they give you a voucher for it when you check in.
Overall, this was an incredibly unique and fun experience. I only wish that we had played more games.
If you have seen all the usual spots in London and are looking for something unique and fun to do for a few hours, why not play Monopoly Lifesized? We had an amazing time.
Just like the name suggests, it is a real person sized monopoly board. I won’t ruin it for you, but the gameplay involves solving some fun puzzles and trying to earn as much money as possible. The game play is a bit different from the traditional game, but we had a blast. You will be competing in teams against other teams. One piece of advice I would give you is to make sure you go with enough people so you will all be on the same team and not have strangers in your party.
3 Michelin stars. The highly coveted, and highest rating/honor that can be bestowed on a restaurant. I have been to a few in my lifetime and the experience is almost religious. Walking into such an establishment you get a feeling of reverence, like walking into a temple. This was certainly the case on a recent visit to Sketch in London. I have been here many times, but only for drinks.
For those who have not been, the space is an Instagram dream. There are many unique rooms for drinking and eating. They are also well known for their unique bathroom.
Chutney Mary’s is an Indian restaurant in London and is owned by the same group that also owns Amaya and Veeraswamy. The former is excellent while the later I had one great experience at, and then an average one. We had a flight to catch later this day and I wanted to get one more Indian meal in!
We started with the spiced corn ribs. Anytime I see anything corn on a menu, I have to order it. These did not disappoint. This was followed by a grilled seafood platter, and butter chicken. Both were delicious.
Angler is a one Michelin Star restaurant based in London. We ate here at the end of a month long trip in Europe which included a number of Michelin starred meals, the most recent being the spectacular Speisemeisterei in Stuttgart. The benefit of such back to back meals is I find I am able to have benchmarks with which to compare each dinner (the downside is tasting menu fatigue). This brings us back to Angler which although one star less than Speisemeisterei, would nevertheless have big shoes to fill.
Fortnum and Mason in London has been around for a long time; since 1707. Queen Elizabeth even gave them a royal warrant. You will see people at the airport in London with the Tiffany colored Fortnum shopping bags bringing home with them various food items. They also serve afternoon tea. On this occasion, I booked a time in the Diamond Jubilee tea salon at their Piccadilly location. Upon arrival, I was greeted by this beautiful space with live piano.
The table setting and dining room were also very nice.
Kutir is an Indian restaurant located in London. Whenever, I go to London, I try to eat at as many different Indian restaurants as possible. The variety, quality and venues are next level.
The restaurant itself is charming and we were seated beside this nice window. We were the first party to arrive as they just opened for the day….BUT NOT FOR LONG!
So far so good, then a group of two families arrived. The kids in the party would not sit still and were climbing all over the banquettes. It would not be long before I was to see what was enabling this poor behavior.
As readers of this blog know, I tend to stay away from the Food Network type celebrity chefs; which is why I have never eaten at a Gordon Ramsay establishment…until now…and boy did it deliver. My meal at Savoy Grill in London was one of the best meals I have had in a while, maybe top 10 ever! The dining room had an old school art deco feel.
We decided to go with the tasting menu which started with some sourdough bread and smoked butter. The bread was warm and the butter was delicious.
Beast is a steakhouse in London, or more accurately, as it portrays itself, a surf and turf place. This is evident from the moment you step foot inside – aging meats and fresh seafood tanks. The seating is a communal shared table concept.
Aside from the aging meats and seafood tanks, the fresh board, listing the day’s “catch” also excited me.
We decided on the Galician Blond. I once watched a documentary on Netflix called Steak (R)evolution. It was about a group of people to travelled the world to find the best steak in the world.
Amaya is a Michelin starred Indian restaurant in London. They are from the same group as Veeraswamy. Instead of curries, Amaya focuses on grilled food. The kitchen has open displays of fresh ingredients and tandoor ovens where you can see the food being cooked.
Everything we had was unique and delicious. We asked our server for recommendations and then went with whatever he suggested. I suggest you do the same, and you should have a wonderful experience.
Original British Street Food and Ink – Camden Market
In Camden Town you will find a market that is a great way to spend an afternoon. Its by a canal, and you can wander all the different shops and places to eat. There is a lot to see, and it is crowded. So if people watching is your thing, this place will be good for you to. There is also a lot to eat. Mainly at food truck type stalls.
The first thing we had was a Yorkshire burrito at a place called “Original British Street Food”. It was delicious and is basically a Sunday Roast in a Yorkshire pudding wrap. The only negative is the long wait for your food once you order.
If one eats at enough Michelin star restaurants at each level, one will begin to notice a significant difference between a 1, 2, and 3 star restaurant. It will be evident in the food, presentation, service, ambiance and various other parts of the dining experience.
Core, by Clare Smyth is a 3 Michelin Star restaurant in London. It also ranks 64th on the SP List of World’s Best Restaurants.
Sticks n Sushi is a chain based in Copenhagen with locations in the UK as well. It gets high reviews which made me curious to try it. I knew it would not be traditional Japanese sushi, but fusion can be done well too; I also enjoy all kinds of sushi from “mom and pop utility sushi shops” to high end omakase. Unfortunately, my experience at this place was not great. We went to the Soho location and were seated at the bar. The place was busy and had a good buzz. The interior was modern.
Update (SOHO location – September 9, 2022) – On a recent trip to London, I wanted to try the original BBR location in SOHO to compare to my experience with the City location I wrote about below. We arrived early for our reservation due to a mix up and sat at the bar downstairs. I had some truffle fries which were nice and crispy and grew on me with each fry I ate.
As our table became ready, we were lead upstairs and pushed the famous champagne button. I don’t think it worked that night because the person who eventually came around to take the champagne order, then took an additional 15 minutes to actually bring it.
Sometimes, the food is secondary to the fun. Mnky Hse in London is one such place. Not that there was anything wrong with the food. I THINK it was good, but I don’t remember much of it, or just wasn’t paying that much attention to what I was eating. There was so much going on around me. The restaurant has a party vibe. Loud, DJ, fun, dancing, dark, strobe lighting etc. If you want a fun night out, this is the place for you. I will let the videos and pics speak for themselves.
So far, Asian food in London has been disappointing for the most part. Maybe its because I come from Vancouver which is well known for its Asian food. I decided to try ramen in London and decided on Ippudo on Saint Giles. Ippudo has various locations throughout London and around the world. I had previously tried the one in NYC.
To me it was ok. To my wife it was “terrible”. I can say that the place looked like it needed a renovation and was not well maintained. In any case, I would not return.
I was looking for a good lunch spot near Harrods and came across Osteria Romana. A small osteria hidden down a small lane. Upon entry, the place felt like it could be in Italy. To me, good Italian food is simple and uncomplicated. The ingredients and technique are the stars. This place delivers.
Sometimes, truffle dishes fall flat and the truffle flavors dont come through. This dish had wonderful truffle flavors. The kind where each spoonful made me speechless. I just wanted to reflect on everything going on in my mouth!
Reflecting on my career in business I have realized there are a few key ingredients to any successful business whether we are talking about restaurants or any other industry.
Aside from the above, there are things like having a great story. Once all things are in place, then the probability of success is increased.
While researching places to have sushi in London, Kiku seemed to check a lot of the boxes above based on their website. For example, STORY: it claims to be the oldest family-run Japanese in London, having been established in 1978.
The best Peking Duck in my memory has to be Imperial Treasure in Singapore (Orchard location). There are various locations in Singapore, and around the world, but this particular one has a Michelin star. That was 2018. Fast forward to 2022, and I find myself in London tempted to try the location there to relive those memories of the best Peking Duck I have ever had. Huge disappointment.
The two restaurants may share the same name and owner, but they are completely different experiences. Lets start with the food. We started with the crispy golden prawn with salted egg yolk. They were pretty good, lots of flavor and this was the first and only decent thing we had during this meal.
Sunday roasts are another traditional meal in England. A few years ago, we had an amazing one at the only Michelin starred pub. That was at dinner. To me its a heavy meal and best suited for dinner, but difficult to find except at lunch. If someone from the UK can comment on this, please do so below (is it typically had for lunch or is it just so popular that it will be sold out by dinner?). Anyway, I decided on lunch at the Hawksmoor on Air Street. They have several locations and are well known for steaks. Make sure you make a reservation for before 5. Our server mentioned that if you come after, it will most likely be sold out.
Every city has one. A place to people watch, usually in a party like atmosphere, and oh, they serve food. Novikov in London is that kind of place.
The upstairs serves Asian food and the downstairs is Italian. We sat downstairs. The place has a nice buzz to it, and there is some good people watching. The food is OK too. We had some caviar and the dover sole.
The downstairs wasn’t wild like a typical club. There were some people dancing and some people just hanging out. Overall, I liked the place. Some venues like this rely on the party vibe and neglect the food. It wasn’t like this here.
Craving Vietnamese food one day I decided to try to find a good bowl of Pho in London. We ordered spring rolls and beef ball pho.
The rolls were ok but the pho was disappointing. There was no depth of flavor, and it was quite bland. I would not recommend this place or return. The one nice thing was that the balls were obviously handmade. However, they too lacked authentic taste.
Benares is a Michelin starred Indian restaurant in London. The day we ate here, I was not feeling well (stomach pain). I had to bring half the courses home which was a shame because it was delicious. Because of my condition, I did not take notes so I will just present the meal, and give my thoughts at the end.
Overall, the service was good and the surroundings were nice and modern. The food was excellent. I would go back, especially to experience it when feeling better.
Having tea time is probably on everyone’s list of “must do’s” in London. This time, I decided to try the Orchid Lounge at the Pan Pacific Hotel. The pastry chef, Cherish Finden, has created an Asian inspired menu which I was curious about, in addition to the more traditional offerings.
One thing I was glad to have learned that day, much to my surprise, was that England produces sparkling wine! I had to try it, and it wasn’t bad at all.
Sollip is a one Michelin starred restaurant London that does a European tasting menu with Korean touches. In theory, it should of been an amazing meal. Korean food is one of my favorites and European technique speaks for itself.
Overall, the service was pretty good, but the kitchen was a bit slow. While I appreciate the presentation, effort and HUGE potential (combining two great types of cooking), the execution was not thrilling. I would not return.
Pie and Mash has been consumed since the 19th century in London. Apparently, the original used Eel as that was what thrived in the polluted Thames at the time; and eel is still on the menu at Goddard’s – the topic of this post. Goddard’s has been serving pie in Greenwich since 1890.
All in all, the service was quick and efficient and no frills. If you decide to visit, its a bit of a way from Central London so I would only go if you have some other business in Greenwich (my next post will tell you some things to do in Greenwich), and then only get the chicken.
Sumi is the sister restaurant to Endo at the Rotunda, the highly acclaimed, tough to get a seat, one Michelin star restaurant in London. Sumi is not traditional, but has a great modern buzz that you will feel upon entry.
We started with chopped yellowtail with shiso, sesame and soy, followed by various nigiri. Everything was good as were the desserts matcha mille and sumi ice cream (I believe it was soy and caramel – VERY GOOD).
J Sheekey was recommended to me on numerous occasions and by people whose opinion about food I trust. However, it was difficult for me to tell exactly what kind of place this was from looking at the website, pictures and menu. I knew they were seafood, but the menu had things like yellowtail with ponzu and I did not want a fusion place. I also could not tell from the photos if it was a modern venue or more old school vibe. Pics online showed bright red signs and chairs which led me to believe it was modern, but I also knew it was 125 years old!
I finally decided to satisfy my curiosity and try it late one night after a movie. Its nice as we arrived at 10PM on a Tuesday, there were people still arriving and eating.
A great feature of Indian food in London is that because there are so many restaurants, and the cuisine is so popular, restaurants are able to specialize by region. Kanishka focuses on North East India. The chef, according to the website, was the first chef to be awarded a Michelin star for Indian cuisine (at other restaurants).
I started with the potato and peas tikki and sweet corn chaat. The patty was spicy and the flavor was just ok. The corn was not sweet by any means and could possibly of been frozen!
Aside from fish and chips and curry, another classic British dish is the meat pie. This time we went to Battersea Pie in Covent Garden for the steak and stout pie.
While the chunks of meat were tender and crust was flakey, I would of preferred a more buttery taste. Also, while the gravy looked incredible, both it, and the filling were not savory enough. Mildly savory but not over the top. I would not get this again.
Ramen is one of my favorite dishes especially for lunch. As many know, its a Japanese dish. I was born in the Philippines so I have a natural affinity towards Filipino food.
Especially when I pass by it randomly on the street as it is not as common as other Asian cuisines. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued when I passed by Ramo Ramen Soho. Ramo advertised FILIPINO RAMEN! I had to try it.
The portion of pulled oxtail was very generous and tender. The broth was very creamy. The taste was good but I would of liked it if it tasted more like the dish it was trying to emulate.
Cheap is not a common word to describe food in London. Its an expensive city. However, there are options for cheap, fast and delicious food. One is The Kati Roll Company. The company actually started in NYC and they have a location in London (I only learned this now while doing research for this post).
I first had it a few years ago, and the fact that I still craved it on a recent trip to London, tells you just how good it is.
A Kati roll is some type of skewered meat wrapped in roti and complimented by sauces and various other toppings. The one I always get is the chicken tikka roll.
Some say Vancouver, the city I am based out of, has dim sum which rivals Hong Kong. I would tend to agree. So what’s the situation in London? From my experience, Chinese food in London, and other Asian cuisines in general, are not so great. Many are of mall food court (ie Panda Express) type quality.
So when I felt like having dim sum for lunch in London, I searched and settled on this place – Yauatcha Soho.
The space is nice and modern. There are two levels and we sat at the lower level next to the kitchen. There were some Chinese people eating there which was a good sign.
London has a lot of private, members only clubs. They range in interests from military clubs to general networking and everything in between. Depending on the club, the facilities will differ. Most clubs will offer a bar, restaurant, and areas for members to relax and network amongst other members.
If you belong to a club in your city, many times that club will have reciprocity agreements with clubs in other cities, so that you can visit while you are in town; and that’s how I ended up at the Century Club on a recent trip to London.
Quaglino’s has been around in some form or another, on and off again, in London, since 1929. I came across it because I wanted to dine at a glamorous place with a party atmosphere. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth II dined here in 1956, and was the first time a reigning British monarch ate in public.
The food was ok, but nothing memorable. Overall, I would recommend this place if you wanted to have a fun night out with some entertainment and dancing, in an elegant setting. Try to request a table closer to the stage though, if you want to be in the middle of everything. We were sat far back from the stage.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is a 2 Michelin Star restaurant located in London. It is also 65th on the World’s 50 Best list as of the time of this writing. The restaurant is known for researching old British dishes and producing modern interpretation of them. When they say old, they mean old. The menu has dates beside each dish and a reference to the source! Check it out, the oldest recipe on tonight’s menu was from 1390 from a cookbook for King Richard II!
One of the restaurants most iconic dishes is the meat fruit. Its basically chicken liver, foie gras and mandarin orange jelly. The dish is both delicious and visually beautiful. They should give more grilled bread though.
Sometimes, too much of anything is not good. Even when its the best of something. To me, there is such thing as Michelin fatigue. Many straight days of hours long, and heavy meals can get tiring. That’s why I now limit the number of tasting menu type dinners on a trip. Recently, I found myself in London and wanting to try the Clove Club. It has 2 Michelin stars and is also on San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best list, coming in at number 27. I respect both lists. I’m glad I came. This was one of the best and most memorable tasting menus I’d had in a while.
Upon entry, there is a curing room. Always a good sign when a chef goes to this level of detail and passion.
Fresh off highs provided by dinner the previous night, I wanted more Indian food the next day for lunch. I found Bombay Bustle close by. The food is inspired by the streets of Mumbai. The inside reminded me of an American diner/railcar.
Snacks were brought out and they were delicious. This included 3 types of poppadams which are one of my favorite Indian snacks. Taking the time to make 3 different kinds shows a high level of attention to detail.
September 12, 2022 Update – on a recent trip to London I went back to Veeraswamy, but this time the food was not as good. It lacked flavor. Its almost as if the tastes were “dumbed down”. Less spice, less seasoning. Maybe they were just having an off day. Who knows, but given the number of choices for Indian in the city, I probably won’t be back to find out. Note that I have tried the other Indian restaurants in the same group (Amaya and Chutney Mary [review coming] and they are excellent). On this ocassion we started with assorted papadum.
The first two things I notice when I get off a plane are the temperature and smells. I always “know” when I’m in Paris. It has a certain smell. Maybe from diesel cars. I love it. The next thing I always do upon arrival is eat something local. In London, its usually fish & chips (F&C). On this occasion, I went to Hobson’s (Soho location). It was highly rated and was walking distance from the hotel.
TIP: A nice thing about this place is you can make reservations online
Gymkhana is a one Michelin Star Indian restaurant in London. I have always wanted to come here. Last time I was in London, a fire kept it closed, the previous time it was impossible to get a reservation, then the pandemic hit and travel stopped. I did try their sister restaurant Trishna on another occasion and it was fantastic.
We ordered a lot for two people. We should of just did the tasting menu, but we had a lot of leftovers for the following night, and the food was even better at the hotel. We ordered:
Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream is a Filipino Dessert restaurant located in London, England. Dirty ice cream is the name given to ice cream sold on the streets of Manila. The day we went, the place was packed!
TIP: There are two ways to order. You can wait in line like we did and order at the counter then wait for your order OR you can order from the two ipads located to the right when you enter and then wait for your order. From what I observed, you will get your food faster if you use the ipads.
The menu is an interesting mix of Filipino treats.
During an appointment in London I asked the lady I was meeting with to recommend a place for curry. It is after all, the national dish of the UK. That’s right, not fish and chips, not meat pies, not beef wellington, but curry. Perhaps it stems from colonial days, but in any event, London is cosmopolitan, and I have almost always (99% of the time) had amazing Indian food in London. She recommended a Sri Lankan place. I was excited. I never had Sri Lankan food before.
The place was called Kolamba which is a variation of the capital of the country – Colombo.
The Pem is a new restaurant located inside the Conrad hotel in London. The chef came from the Harwood Arms, the only Michelin rated pub. I had a chance to try the Sunday roast from Harwood which was delicious, and so, I was excited to see what the chef had in store at the Pem. First off, the decor is beautiful. Lots of nice pinks with a luxurious feel to the room.
Overall, the service was excellent. The dining room is gorgeous and the food is good. Given the strength of the main course, I would be excited to come back and try other things on the menu.
Two of the best Indian meals I have ever had were in London; although I have never been to India, and would like to one day, in order to have a solid reference point for Indian food. The first mind blowing meal was at Indian Accent a couple years ago, and the second, was at Trishna on a recent trip. I have also tried Dishoom, another highly rated place, a couple years ago, and was very disappointed.
Anyway, back to Trishna. Trishna specializes in South Indian food which focuses on seafood.
Harwood Arms (Sunday Roast and London’s only Michelin Star pub)
The Hardwood Arms lays claim as London’s only Michelin Star pub. I wanted Sunday roast, and this place kept coming up.
We started with the Scotch egg which was good but nothing spectacular. I think it could of used more seasoning. I started with the salmon which were good and fresh. My wife had the mussel bisque which was delicious.
Although I would like to try the other Sunday roasts around London, I would come back here for this one too.
Pollen Street Social is a Michelin Starred restaurant in London. The evening started well. The dining room is actually nicer than it appears on the website. It has a nice modern vibe. It is a bit loud though.
We had a nice table by the window. The bar staff where we waited for our table was extremely attentive. The dining room staff not so much. More on that later.
The star of the amuse set was definitely the mushroom tea. The chef extracted a lot of mushroom flavor that was very delicate. It was a good start.
The Mayfair Chippy is a great lunch spot for fish and chips. They take reservations through Open Table so make sure you do that in advance. I’m glad we did because we went at 2PM and there were a few groups waiting.
I had one piece cod and chips with curry gravy. It came with tartar sauce and mushy peas too.
Fish – moist and very crispy, but not overly thick batter. Fantastic color.
Chips – fantastic potato flavor
Brighton is a seaside resort city located about 2 hours south of London by car. Since we were in London for a month, I wanted to do as many day trips as possible. The criteria was that it had to be an easy day trip from London by car or train. Eventually I decided on Brighton.
The best thing to see here is the Royal Pavilion. It was the summer home of King George the IV. What is interesting about this is that its architecture and interior design are a mix of Asian and Indian influences. It is also the only palace, I believe, which is not owned by the Monarchy. It is owned by the city. Although I have never been, to the Taj Mahal, the outside reminds me of the structure.
One easy day trip you can make from London is to Cambridge. The train from Kings Cross station to Cambridge takes about 1 hour.
From the station in Cambridge to the town center you will then walk about 20 minutes. One of our first stops was this bakery, about 5 minutes from the station, where we grabbed some pastries for a quick breakfast.
One thing I noticed was the abundance of various types of Asian restaurants throughout the town. This was a nice surprised as we had not had this type of cuisine for weeks. More on that later.
Day 3 in the Cotswolds was brief. We basically woke up, had the amazing hotel breakfast again, and headed back to London; but not before one last stop at another Cotswolds village. This time, it was Bibury. I didn’t know it at the time, but Bibury is famous for this group of houses called Arlington Row.
It is even featured on the inside cover of all UK passports. We took some photos and then headed back to London. 2 days was definitely too short to fully experience the area. As mentioned in a previous post, I would probably add 2-3 days to see more villages at a leisurely pace, and one day to just enjoy the hotel.
Day 2 in the Cotswolds was our only full day in the area. My recommendation would be to allow for 2-3 full days to be able to see the area at a slower pace and enjoy the hotel.
The day started off with an amazing breakfast that was included with the room. The menu is quite extensive and generous. You can order as many items as you like. The food arrived at the desired time and was a great way to start the day.
The Cotswolds is an area about 2 hours drive from London. Its known for small villages and towns with homes and buildings made from a golden color stone that makes you feel like you are in a fairytale land. Its beautiful.
We started by renting a car in London and driving to Oxford, home of the famous university. If I were to do this trip again, I would spend more time exploring Oxford. Its beautiful and there is so much history.
Tell people you are going to do a day trip to Stonehenge from London and you will get a wide range of reactions. Everything from praise to “its just a bunch of rocks”.
I have been to London many times, and have always wanted to see Stonehenge, but for one reason or another, never made it out. On a recent trip to London, I decided to book a private tour which included Bath. Bath is a beautiful city that I had never heard of prior to booking this tour. More on that later.
From London to Stonehenge its about a 2 hour drive. We left at 8:30AM. You have to book tickets online and pick an entrance time.