London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

Mind The Adventure - Our First Trip to London - Where to Eat

17/11/2005, By Mike Turvey

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 22693 votes

Blackfriars Pub

Pubs, Gastropubs (ones that serve lunches), and restaurants we found that were well worth the bill, included Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (a gastropub that's the oldest pub in London); Blackfriars Pub, with its carvings and stained glass; Bankside SE1 restaurant, excellent food and even better prices; North Sea Fish Restaurant, best of the three highly recommended fish and chips venues in town; The Baltic restaurant, Hungarian Goulash was superb; Belgo Centraal, the Belgian restaurant neat Seven Dials with the astounding menu; Rules restaurant, the oldest restaurant in London; Maids of Honour in Kew, and Neal's Yard Dairy where we chose 7 small sections of cheeses from a huge selection of UK farmer produced cheeses to use as snacks and teatime fare back at our hotel.

Now, before we mislead anyone who noticed that Porters English Restaurant was not the above list, let me explain. We called for dinner reservations at each place we ate during the first week. Each place had empty tables upon our arrival making our reservations unnecessary, so we decided that making reservations was a waste of time. We had always planned to finish our trip with the crowning gastric experience of dining at Porters English Restaurant on our last day. You can't imagine our shock and disappointment when the hostess told us upon arrival that without reservations there would be a two and a half hour wait.

Lamb and Flag

I had looked forward to eating at Porters for 3 years. I knew exactly what I wanted to order without having to see a menu, and I had a coupon for a free ale to accompany our order of two dinners. It was 6:30p.m., on our last night in London, which made waiting for two and a half hours to eat dinner not an option. That's how Rules, an elegant restaurant located just around the corner from Porters, came to appear on our list. Rules provided excellent food and service, but if I had it to do over, I'd make reservations at Porters regardless of how unnecessary it appeared to be at other restaurants.

Finally, let me say that we loved London and the British people more than we imagined we would, and my last recommendation is about those people. I strongly urge anyone planning to stay for more than just a weekend to find a festival, a local celebration of any sort, and make plans to attend it in full. They are scheduled all over the place during the summer. Whether it's the Black Cherry Fair in Chertsey just south of London, or the Kent Beer Festival, which we attended in Canterbury, donít just drop by, immerse yourself for the full day.

Orangery - Holland Park

Here's where you get to sit down with everyday British folk and just talk, one on one. Hereís where you can see them at their ease, talking about everything from world events to recipes, terrorism to sports, and hereís how you get to know each other. It was the most touching and memorable four hours we spent. Two of our four videos were taken during the Festival, one of my wife dancing with a Brit old enough to be her father, and one of the two man Celtic fiddle and guitar music band. Both are priceless.

We loved London, but more to the point, we found an unexpectedly deep connection to the people of England and will always have a feeling of kinship that can only come from spending good times with good people. With the modest incomes of a teacher and a nurse, we may not get to come back to London, but it was the right time, the right place, and an unforgettable adventure.

Mike Turvey

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