Here in the land of the free and home of the brave, eating in a pub usually entails greasy potato skins, goopy chicken wings, baskets of tater tots, or the odd pretzel dog (Rusty Knot, I’m looking at you). But across the Atlantic, over in England, I love that eating in a pub can be so much more civilized.
What I eat at bars in the States would make my mother burst into tears (especially if she knew how much I’d drank to arrive at the point of eating in a bar) but what I’ve eaten at pubs in London would make her beam with pride at my ability to recognize a balanced meal and vegetables that haven’t been deep fried.
Lunch at The Tea Clipper would make my mother proud
Take the lunch I had at The Tea Clipper in Knightsbridge, for example. Pretty standard pub, with sticky tables, semi-surly bartender and lots of beer to be had, yet lunch was a perfectly respectable, and quite tasty, savory pie of the day with a generous serving of steamed carrots and greenbeans and a not-too buttery mound of mashed potatoes. Underneath the flaky, golden pastry crust of the pie, was a hearty beef stew of sorts, filled with chunks of juicy, soft meat and mushrooms, all perfect for wolfing down with forkfuls of mashed potatoes.
I am not, even for a second, hating on the greasy, fatty, guilt-inducing pub grub of American bars. I’m just saying that it’s nice to be able to have the option to have a more responsible, sensible, yet still delicious meal in a bar… even if it’s just serving as a foundation for lots of drinking and debauchery later on.
At the very top of my list of things I wanted to do in London was check out Borough Market, which everyone told me I would love and from everything I read and all the pictures I saw, I knew would be a wonderland for me. With a save-the-best-for-last mentality I left it for the morning before my evening flight back to New York, thinking that I would board my plane with a belly full of delicious market eats and I’d have that wonderful deep sleep you have after big satisfying meals.
But no. That didn’t quite work out the way I wanted it to. The market, it turns out, isn’t open on Monday. (Insert super sad face and wobbly chin here.) I strolled around the mostly empty market, kicking myself for not having realized it sooner when I came across a small corner of open vendor tables. Naturally, the one piled high with sweets and baked treats from Comptoir Gourmand, was the one I darted to.
And that’s where I laid eyes on the most unassuming, yet hands down best, best, best bread pudding I’ve ever had. I’m not sure where my love of bread pudding came from, since I was never crazy about it growing up (thanks again, Mom), but today, especially now after this particular one, it’s steadfast and true. The top was like a lot of other bread puddings I’ve had, with doughy hunks of bread jutting out, glazed and shining with caramelized sugar and studded with raisins, but it was once I dug into the core that I really got to the good stuff. Inside, this little bread pudding was like a thick custard, all creamy and rich, sweet but with a hint of cinnamony spice. And it wasn’t even warm! Had it been warm, I really think I would’ve lost my composure and melted into a puddle of goo.
Don’t let its humble good looks fool you, this bread pudding will blow your socks off
My only regret after totally flubbing the market’s hours was not buying up every single bread pudding Comptoir Gourmand had to sell. I could’ve eaten myself into a very happy bread pudding induced food coma with those bad boys and been totally fine with having missed the rest of the market.
C’mon, you know it wouldn’t be a trip to England without a plate of fish and chips. And while it is the quintessential pub grub, probably best enjoyed on an old bar stool with a frosty pint of beer, I decided to have mine in bed.
This is the good life.
I work at a hotel so I’m always on the other side of the fun luxuries of staying at one, but now that I was a guest at a posh Mayfair hotel, I wanted to kick back and enjoy one of the best parts of hotel living: room service. And since I’m all about that when-in-Rome thinking when traveling, fish and chips was the only way to go.
After a long day of sightseeing and walking around the entire city, nothing sounded more appealing than a big plate of soft white fish with golden, fried breading on the outside, fat crunchy fries— ahem, sorry, chips— with a little twist of lemon and a dunk in creamy tartar sauce, all while sinking back into a deliciously plush, clean bed to watch TV. Yup, that definitely beats the pub.
Be still my heart!
Boom. Cadburry creme egg McFlurry. I mean, really. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared in awe at this poster in the window of a Mc Donald’s near Piccadilly Circus. I was all Pepe Le Pew over this.
And yes, I absolutely went in and got one. And it was glorious.
Mc Donald’s in America, can we please get with it and bring this stateside? You’d definitely have one more regular customer right here.
But really, how cute are these?
Guys, I love London. I really, really do. I had such an amazing few days there last week. Went to awesome museums, ate great food, caught up with old friends, made fun new friends, and had an all around smashing time. London, thank you, you’re awesome.
There’s lots to gush about— in the way of food naturally, for the purpose of this blog— and I’ll get to that as the week goes on, but for now this picture of funny little gingerbread men sums up my whole stay in London: tasty, fun and hot ginger men. These are from The Free From Bakehouse stand at the Southbank Centre Square food market. Cookies, pies, cakes and all sorts of baked goods, many carrying either gluten free, wheat free, dairy free or sugar free labels, all while still being delicious?? YES, please.
Lots more to come soon, but for now, enjoy some hot ginger boys. God knows I do.
London town, it’s been a while! Can’t wait to catch up!
I’m off to London, folks!
And can I just say I’m absurdly, ridiculously excited? Cause I am! I really, really am. London is possibly my favorite city ever and if I had it my way I’d move there right away. Alas, a short jaunt will have to do for now. (sigh)
I plan on squeezing in as much sightseeing, face stuffing and all around London awesomeness into my few days there as I can, and hopefully will have lots of fun/tasty stories to share next week.
In the meantime, everyone keep their fingers crossed that I have an Eddie Redmayne run-in, cause that. Would. Be. SUPER.