Eating London: A Food Inspired Journey

Once upon a time, not so very long ago visitors to London could expect many things. The majesty of Her Majesty as represented by the gates of Buckingham Palace, the excitement of Piccadilly and the glamour offered by Harrods are just a few of the treasures to be found across the pond. One thing that could not necessarily be counted on, however, was a vast selection of fabulous food. While of course the British have long been known for their own signature brand of culinary specialties, bangers and mash and the like; a plethora of stunning dining options has never been among London's greatest attributes. Until now, that is.

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With the advent of celebrity chefdom, food focused television and culinary inspired media; the search for meals that are singularly spectacular has been elevated from what was once merely a preference into a full-blown passion. No doubt recognizing that the trend towards such enhanced culinary appreciation is here to stay, London has upped its gourmet game. From hotel dining rooms to hole in the wall gems to the food trucks that are becoming as common a sight as the curvaceous black taxis that dot the British streets; options for eating in London have never tasted better.

A Taste for the Exotic

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Heavily influenced by East Indian and Middle Eastern culture, London has always had more than its fair share of exotic flavor. Walk through nearly any neighborhood from Belgravia to Bloomsbury and the heady scent of simmering spice is never far away. Tamarind of Mayfair is, arguably, the most elegant of all London curry houses and is the first Indian restaurant in the world to have earned a coveted Michelin star. While the ala carte menu can become a bit pricey at times, the restaurant also offers various tasting menus where guests can indulge in the pleasures of rich, spicy food without breaking their travel budget.

Another Mayfair standout for Indian cuisine is the raucously festive Chor Bizarre on Albemarie Street. With its dizzyingly patterned floor, jewel and mirror adorned furnishings and lavishly draped fabrics, Chor Bizarre is more souk than not and seems perpetually ready to throw a wild party. The restaurant has a large following of local fans -- ask any doorman or concierge in Mayfair where to go for a late night supper and chances are this is where they'll point you. An expansive menu features traditional Indian fare, notable house favorites and a frequently changing list of fragrant specials that will have you dreaming of tandoori long after vacation ends.

Have Food, Will Travel

Food trucks in London have gone from being the occasional purveyors of slightly sketchy hot dogs to completely respectable dining options.

Healthy Yummies offers responsibly sourced, British influenced specialties served from a repurposed ice cream truck. Grilled sea bream, hay-baked salt march mutton and goose rillettes are just a few of the impressive options that have appeared on the Healthy Yummies menu. If you're planning a party while abroad, you might want to look into hiring Healthy Yummies to feed your guests. Owner Nichola Smith, co-founder of Fabrics nightclub, will hire out the mobile kitchen for private events and functions.

If you're intrigued by the idea of pleasing your inner carnivore with a juicy burger, you wont want to pass up a meal from The Meatwagon. At this American-influenced London favorite, you can queue up for a beer and burgers, fried chicken or the best philly cheese steak outside of the city of brotherly love.

Off the Beaten Trail

For a purely indulgent gastropub experience, head towards the residential community of Fulham and the Harwood Arms. While still maintaining the feeling of a traditional -- albeit well heeled -- British pub, the Harwood Arms has taken the experience and brought it to an all new level. With a Michelin star under its belt and Chef Anthony Hill in the kitchen, the unassuming Hardwood Arms serves a brilliant collection of traditional game dishes. Venison is often on the menu with the gastropub obtaining its meat the old fashioned way -- stalking the game through a wholly humane, highly UK regulated method. Another "do not miss" item on the Harwood Arms menu, their incomparable Scotch Egg.

Tea is Served

London without tea is like, well, London without tea. From the delicately formed sweets to the wickedly delicious savories, no one does tea in London quite like the Dorchester.

The elegantly posh hotel serves tea six times daily at 1pm, 2pm, 3:15pm, 4:30pm, 5:30pm and 6:45pm. Despite the number of seatings, tea at the Dorchester is a hot commodity. To ensure a place at the linen draped tables, make your reservations early and be sure to leave time for a look around the opulent hotel before sitting down to crumpets. During the summer months, the Dorchester puts a spin on traditional tea by adding ice cream to the mix. For a limited time in October, the hotel will host a Mad Hatters Tea with entertainment provided by children from the English National Ballet and for the holiday season, the Christmas Carols Afternoon Tea featuring a children's choir and pianist is not to be missed.

Cheers, Blokes

You can't visit London and pass on the chance to sample an artisan-brew in the country where beer isn't just a drink; it's a way of life. The Meantime Brewing Company, with its copious selection of beers, ales and lagers is a malt lovers dream come true. Sample their offerings at a brewery tour or, better yet, head over to the Blue Boar and have your pint alongside a rack of restaurants ridiculously delicious ribs. Located in the InterContinental Westminster, the Blue Boar is a heavenly barbeque haven where everything from lamb ribs to pulled pork is served in a decidedly British atmosphere. While you're there, ask to see the Division Bell and don't forget to check out the hotel's sensational collection of satirical art.

Bon Appetite!

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Gina Samarotto is the founder and principal designer of the award winning Samarotto Design Group as well as a journalist who writes primarily on the topics of style, design and luxury travel. Learn more about Gina at Gina Samarotto and Samarotto Design Group at Samarotto Designs

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author

Published: October 15th, 2014

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