(taken at The Riding House Cafe)
England has been plagued for years by their unfortunate culinary reputation. The generally accepted connotation of British cuisine is one of the heavily fried and beer-battered pub food they’ve become famous for championing. Admittedly, London has far more than it’s fair share of this particular cuisine, but the city has been evolving over the past decade to join the ranks of other culinary capitals such as Paris or New York.
Much in the way that British fashion designers are known for their pioneering of new and creative techniques on the runway, there’s a new class of intriguing culinary talent developing their own foodie dialogues for the masses.
The eating out crowd is much less scene-y than their counterparts in other locales (particularly New York), but that hasn’t stopped them from creating dining spaces that are just as stimulating as the food they are serving. Walking around London I am frequently tempted to grab a bite just so I can sit inside and properly take in the décor. Fortunately for my wallet and belly, there’s only so many hours in a day! Here are a few of my favorite places so far:
33 D'Arblay Street, Soho, London W1F 8EU
Based on name alone you get a sense of the kind of the kind of hipster eatery/clientele that TBC attracts. This all-day breakfast spot opened in SoHo in 2005 and has since opened a number of other locations around London.
As it happened, the day we went was national pancake day. To commemorate the occasion, they featured a challenge- if you can eat 12 pancakes in 12 minutes then your meal is free. The catch (well beyond the obvious challenge of eating 12 pancakes in 12 minutes) is that you only got one tiny glass of water and a small pot of syrup. I was not nearly bold enough to attempt such a feat, but two sisters sitting across from us did. They didn't make it, but they came damned close. The spectating was an experience in and of itself.
Also, be warned: even during the coldest days of the winter, the line snaked around the block. I'd recommend going as early as possible on a warm weekday! But it's worth the wait once you're inside.
59 Sloane Avenue, London SW3 3DH
Located on an unassuming street in South Kensington, The Good Life Eatery is always filled to the brim (quite literally spilling onto the street most mornings) with posh, modely-looking types. The fact that we're all willing to endure the hassle of securing a table is a testament to the taste of their incredible healthy 'bowls,' filled with every lovely ingredient you could possibly think of.
While there's no shortage of organic-only cafes and cold pressed juiceries in London, it's nowhere near as health-food-obsessed as New York (at least in my opinion). There are still a number of places I want to try, but The Good Life Eatery is by far the best healthy option I've experienced in London.
10 Berners Street, London W1T 3LF
Berners Tavern, located inside the buzzy Edition Hotel in Fitzrovia (just south of SoHo + Oxford Street), is certainly a place to see and be seen. The friend I was dining with joked that it would be an ideal place to go man-hunting at cocktail hour. And she was quite right, the place was filled with smart-looking businessmen and trendy waifs at lunch meetings. The food itself is reason enough to go, but the decor is really a standout here.
139 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB
It might not be a foodie's paradise, but Cereal Killer Cafe is definitely a must see. Much like with modern art, the concept of the cafe is very 'why-didn't-I-think-of-that!' Why a place like this had never existed before is a mystery. But one thing is for sure: they found the perfect niche on Brick Lane, a section of the city infamous for it's predominantly hipster population. And hipsters love cereal, I guess, because it was packed with 20-somethings wearing sweatshirts with ironic phrases and thick-rimmed glasses I am guessing most of them didn't actually need.