So, I'm off to a wedding this weekend (yay for getting dressed up, watching my friend walk down the aisle and crying all the good, happy tears when she does!) in Norfolk, but if you're around in London, you might want to grab a bite to eat at one of these five fabulous places ...
Brisket fries at The Old Crown Public House, Holborn
Slow braised beef on fries, topped with melted cheddar cheese, served with The O.C.'s (that's how they refer to themselves - I'm from the West Coast, where that phrase conjures up a whole other kind of meaning. You CA kids know what I mean.) special sauces. I tried these with a bunch of friends after work on my way to another event and I was pretty sad to have to leave these fries behind. Share or have all to yourself: they're worth it.
Brioche French toast for lunch at The Black Penny, Covent Garden
The Black Penny's breakfast menu is served well past traditional "lunch time", so I came here with Julianna Barnaby of Barnaby & Co. (check out their amazing homeware!) and did not regret ordering the brioche French toast with stewed rhubarb, vanilla ricotta, salted pistachios and honey. Not one bit. It looked so tasty, the well-to-do ladies at the table next to us leaned over and said, "Excuse us - we don't mean to be rude, but that looks absolutely marvellous. What is it?" Fact.
Burger, crinkle-cut fries and a shake (and a concrete) at Shake Shack
John and I went on this insane shopping spree at Westfield Stratford a few weekends ago. As if that wasn't gluttonous enough, we stopped at Shake Shack on our way out and had the dreamiest burger and fries, washed down with a Black & White milkshake for me (vanilla frozen custard hand-spun with chocolate fudge sauce) and a concrete (dense frozen custard ice cream with goodies like peanut butter, chocolate, etc. mixed in) for him. I don't know what took me so long to try Shake Shack, but it lived up to the hype. Completely. "What the hell were we doing before Shake Shack?" John exclaimed as we left. I don't know, husband, I don't know.
Cotton candy-encased matcha and hojicha soft serve ice cream at Milk Train Cafe, Covent Garden
I posted this photo in a local foodie Facebook group I'm part of and the observations were: "Looks like someone sh*t on a cloud" and "A good way to ruin candy floss. Smells of hipsterism to me". Oh the poor, sad souls who feel threatened by new food inventions. Too bad their tastebuds will never be tickled by something that isn't a sirloin steak or bag of salty vinegar chips. I cry for them, because this ice cream was one of the tastiest soft serves I've ever tried, and the cotton candy was fun (albeit a bit messy) to unravel from the cone it was attached to. Worth a visit.
For those who are frightened by anything more exotic than vanilla ice cream, however, there's always spaghetti bolognese at Spaghetti House, which, despite being a chain, ranks high on my list of London haunts for one reason: tradition. Every month, I have lunch there with a friend from work and we always order the same thing: spag bol for me, a simple spaghetti with pecorino and olive oil for her, a side salad, garlic bread to share and - if we're feeling celebratory - a glass of red wine each. It's our "comfort" lunch, really, where we catch up on life outside work and talk about everything we can't at our desks. The food isn't Michelin-starred or trendy and not much more can be said about the service or the atmosphere, but it does what it says on the tin.
Where have you been eating (or cooking) lately? I'd love to know!
(p.s. a really weird thing just happened: I typed in the title of the post and suddenly realized, I live in London? That's so crazy/totally cool!)