(Me and Big Ben)You will be glad to know that I fall into the second category and the idea of London fills me with excitement almost in the same way most girls romanticise Paris. The hussle and bussle thrills me and when I’m in Glasgow I often find myself thinking “Go! Go! Go! This wouldn’t happen in London -being stuck behind an incredibly slow walker whilst trying to catch a train”.
Even if you are not a fan of London you might find yourself having to visit at some point. So I here is list of some quirky places to eat to make London more enjoyable for those who do not love it but also for those who do. Quirkly in the sense of Helana Bonham Carter not quirkly in a hispter sense of the quirk.
The International Flavours of London Shepherds Markets
St James Church - Courtyard
London is associated with being expensive to eat and drink out in and on my adventure I managed to find a balance of both. After not long arriving in London I stumbled upon a ‘shepherds market’ in St James’ Church Yard (near Piccadilly Circus). There was a selection of stalls selling cuisine from mainly South American countries but there were also more familiar foods like homemade cookies. I had an argentine steak sandwich – which was beautifully seasoned and accompanied by rocket. The sweetness of the rocket really complimented the mild spiciness of the steak. I usually enjoy my steak burnt to a crisp but on this occasion I actually ate medium cooked steak because it was so tasty and cost under £5. Sitting in a sunny courtyard eating a steak sandwich and a homemade white chocolate and cranberry cookie was the perfect means to kick start my London adventure after a four and a half hours train journey.
Preem and Prithi
East End of London
For dinner my travel companion and I decided to try a cuisine very well known to us Brit’s - Indian, by visiting the famous Brick Lane. Brick Lane is synonymous with curry houses and there are plenty to choose from. We visited Preem and Prithi which was very nice and reasonably priced – two starters, drinks and two mains for under £30. Both starters and mains were authentic Indian and I would like to return some other time to try out the spicier dishes, since on this visit I opted for a korma.
(Brick Lane: http://www.singaporeaninlondon.com/2011/02/brick-lane-graffiti-murals-installation.html
The Whistling Shop
Near Liverpool Street Station
After two reasonably priced meals I decided I wanted to see the other side of the scale – the ridiculously London priced side of things. I had researched some bars before my visit and came across The Whistling Shop – which is possibly the closest you ever come to an authentic Victorian bar. It is a history buffs dream and for anyone who enjoys proper alcohol as compared to badly mixed fruity ‘alcoholic drinks’. The drinks are expensive but you pay for what you get – which is an extremely potent drink in my case – The Radiation Aged Cocktail which contains rum, absinthe and grenadine amongst other things. The two cocktails cost almost the same as the Indian meal we had beforehand. The drink mixing techniques applied is very alcohol meets Jekyll and Hyde’s laboratory as special instruments/techniques are used to make some of the drinks. Intriguing indeed. The menu comes with a glossary to explain some of the ingredients – an example would be: the W2 High Pressure Hydrosol - ‘Inverting the principle of out Vacuum Still. A water based distillate pulling the richer notes from a proprietary botanical blend of roots, seeds and botanicals. Created in our exclusive Kaboom Still’.
(Radiation Aged Cocktail: The Whistling Shop)
From the website and the above ingredient you might think that the bar is going to be full of pretentious snobs and that you will get kicked out if you do not fit the regular clientele but in fact it is a lovely laid back place – cosy actually – with the oil lamps and rustic leather chairs. The sophisticated atmosphere makes you feel like you have jumped in a time machine and have landed in an actual gin shop.
The Stables Market
On my last day in London I visited Camden because I knew there would be something super quirky there and after passing lots of food stalls I found The Cuban. Which as the name suggests is Cuban food. It is not the cheapest of places to eat but the portions were very big and the food oozes the homemade taste. I have never visited Cuba but I reckon the food there is just as good and they stock over 100 different rums – that itself is reason enough to visit. The Cuban Ahoy.
(The menu artwork)
(The drinks menu art work)
(Inside The Cuban)
(Inside The Cuban)