I’m not usually a spontaneous person. In fact, planning is one of my favorite activities. I find that vacations are always too short (no matter how long they are), but I think you can extend the fun of trips by spending months before planning. Last week I took a very last minute trip to London. Last minute as in I decided I was going and bought my ticket four hours before going to the airport. Clearly there was no time to extend the trip with planning. It all happened and ended so quickly that it kinda feels like I dreamed it. But it was real and I loved it. A much needed escape to another city by the water!
I didn’t take any photos (except for the chorizo sandwich in my previous post), but here are my notes in case you are heading to London town soon:
Kiku Sushi: Really good sushi place in Mayfair. My dining companion and I had been to Japan together two years ago. This restaurant made us feel like we were right back there: the servers didn’t speak much english, the food took forever to come, the design was very simple and minimalist, and the maguro melted in your mouth. I definitely recommend the sashimi over the rolls.
Inn the Park: Day two in London I somehow forgot to eat. Seriously, it was 3pm, I’d been up since 9am, and I had only eaten a brownie. Luckily I remembered this cafe in St. James park. Although it was kind of misty, I still sat on the deck to enjoy my bean salad, pastry, and tea while admiring the daffodils. The food is pretty simple here but it’s good if you need a quick snack.
Busaba Thai: Casual Thai restaurant next to the Westfield shopping center conceived by Alan Yau (of Hakkasan fame). Compared to the restaurants we have in malls here, I was pretty impressed. It was a nice ambiance with lots of communal tables and attentive servers. I was also happy to eat something with some spice.
The Table: This place reminded me of home - fresh, local, organic food simply prepared. What a nice way to start a semi-sunny morning! I had an egg sandwich served on baguette with sausage. I probably shouldn’t have finished the whole thing, but it was too good to stop. I wish I’d had time to go back for lunch.
Dover Street Market: This is one of my favorite places in London. It’s a really high end store (e.g. Chanel, Lanvin, YSL) but the building looks like a warehouse. There are also some really weird displays and random things around such as life size chess pieces. On the top floor there is a cute cafe that serves light lunch items. I had a goat cheese quiche with green salad which was delicious and a great pot of ginger tea. I would totally recommend this place to anyone for a casual afternoon tea.
Borough Market: I went to the Borough market on a trip to London a few years back, and now I never go to London without stopping here. I enjoy going to market days, even though it is totally insane and packed with people, but there are advantages to going on non-market days. This trip I really wanted to have one of the famous chorizo sandwiches, so I went on a non-market day to avoid the line. I also made a stop at Neals Farm Yard for some cheese (my second favorite cheese store in the world after the Cheeseboard in berkeley) and Monmouth for a coffee.
Terrior: Great French wine bar. If I lived in London, I think I would go here a lot. Well at least I would want to go here a lot and would spend time trying to find people to go with me. We completely over ordered, but I was glad to get to try so many dishes. The fois gras is HUGE so make sure you really love fois gras before you order it. I think the quail was my favorite dish of the night. The place had a really good vibe - it would be perfect for a date, catching up with friends, or to bring a parent - it would work for almost every occasion!
Baker & Spice: Another one of my standbyes. I feel really comfortable and at home in the Pimlico neighborhood. It’s one of my favorite places to wander around - plus with Baker & Spice, Poilane, and Daylesford Organic, there are plenty of yummy spots to grab a meal or a snack. I ordered a nicely spiced eggplant salad and some simple green beans. I was in desperate need of veggies! It’s also a great place for breakfast. Then I wandered down the block and picked up a few butter cookies from Poilane.
Polpetto: This spot was the highlight of my trip. For some reason I was really stressed about picking the perfect restaurant for my last night in London. Picking restaurants is something I love to do, but it can take me a lot of time. Before settling on a place for dinner I spent hours online and made four different reservations. Ultimately, I decided to go with this 12 table, no-reservation restaurant above a bar in SoHo. It was perfect. Exactly what I was looking for. Cool vibe, great wines, and terrific food. The menu is Italian small plates and we had a selection of brushetta, swordfish crudo, squid, meatballs, and ox cheek. The brushetta was the best I’ve ever had, the ox cheek melted in my mouth, and the swordfish was fresh and bright. The squid was the only thing that wasn’t absolutely amazing (it was too soft). Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with my selection.