La Brioche — After landing and enjoying a refreshing shower on Friday morning, I was on the hunt for a good breakfast spot. I wanted to go to the Natural History Museum so I started my search in Kensington Gardens. My TripAdvisor app suggested La Brioche… a narrow place filled with locals and tradesmen, many folks getting the 5£ full English breakfast. I opted for the egg and bacon on an English muffin and a large latte. There is a surcharge for eating-in, about 30p per item, so half the patrons got take-away. My muffin was nicely toasted and smeared with butter, very good. My latte was solid, not the best I’ve had but serviceable.
Blackbird – After a day of sightseeing and shopping, I wanted a light snack so Blackbird was a good option as it is just steps from my hotel. Had a quick pint of Guinness and some chips.
Orjowan Lebanese Cuisine (take away) – When it became clear that Eric’s flight was late, I decided to look for some take out. The take away section is right next to the fancier sit-down part and above a karaoke bar, so while waiting I was subjected to some interesting auditory abuse. However, the falafel balls were absolutely delicious, light and fluffy and came with a salad and yogurt dipping sauce.
Pierre Victoire – On Saturday evening, we met my Aunt Kim and Uncle Jules for dinner in Soho at a French bistro before Spamalot! Our companions were running a half hour late so we had to rush through our dinner a bit and service was a bit slow at times. My beef tartare appetizer and mussels main course were pretty good but the broth was a bit weak. Eric’s croquettes were good but the potato gratin was more onion than potato and didn’t compare favorably to all the good examples of his meals in France. The carafe of Argentine rose we got went fine with our choices and was a nice value.
Caffe Fratelli – On Sunday morning, I took the tube to Covent Gardens to meet Kim and we grabbed a quick bite at a cafe near Somerset House. I had a delicious flatbread sandwich with goat cheese brie and roasted peppers.
After I spent the day with my aunt at Fashion Week, I met Eric at Rossopomodoro in Camden and we split a ham and cheese calzone with a glass of wine each. Tasty and just enough food.
Next to the Borough Market, The Rake made a great beer stop and an excuse to get out of the rain. We managed to snag a table with two stools in the corner which gave us a great vantage point as people came in for a pint — some staying for a spell and others on their way. The walls are covered with brewmaster signatures and quotes and we enjoyed spotting some of our favorites from around the world.
I started with the Morning Glory breakfast stout and Eric had the pulled draft Out There Brewing Laika cloudy Belgian wheat ale which had a nice mix of spices, a little smoke and fruity too. We chatted briefly with a man at the next table and discovered they had an English lambic on draft so Eric got half a pint and I tried a bottle of the Redchurch Brewing Hoxton stout which was a bit hoppy for my tastes. Overall, a great little beer spot.
After the show we went to nearby Albanach for a whiskey. I got a special edition Auchentoshan and Eric had the Caol Isla distillers edition (notes: smoke dissipates over time, strong floral and caramel, alcohol isn’t too burning). The restaurant was a posh but relaxed atmosphere on the street-level, and downstairs seemed to be a night club with proper bouncers, short skirts, etc.
While I was at London Fashion Week, Eric stopped exploring for a bit to enjoy an Asparal Suffolk cider at The Harp. Helpfully, the bar allowed a tasting first. Downstairs was quite crowded and pubby, while the the small upstairs was warm and cozy with comfy couches and stools.
Once we reunited on Sunday, we had some time before heading to the next hotel so we stopped at one of our favorite places in London, Cask, for a half pint (or two). I got the a mocha stout and the coffee stout. Both were good. Eric tried the cherry ale which he thought would be a bit sour but wasn’t. The place was nearly empty on a Sunday evening – a big difference from the last time I was there when we had to fight for a table!
On Monday, Eric visited the Wheelwrights Arms in Reading with work colleagues and enjoyed a Titanic Black Ice mild from a cask, then a great Indian dinner of raja makhani chooza at Miahs.