You’re planning a trip to London and you’re wondering about British food? Well, take it from me, London is not what it used to be back in the dark ol’ days of 1980s when if you elected to go native (instead of McDonald’s) you’d be hard-pressed to find a good meal, whether breakfast or dinner. London has changed! You might even say that it’s leapt to the top of the great gastronomic capitals on the planet (but then again, you might not). Nevertheless, Brit food has never been cooler, and it’s not just the modern and the ethnic – British classics are being done to a T, both in trendy hotspots and venues that have been going for 100 years or more. A quintessentially British feast awaits you.
Let’s not forget about the Fishy Chips… or rather, the Fission Chips. The first “chippy” – as Brits affectionately call them – is thought to have been established in the Jewish quarter in the East End of London in the mid 19th century and some stalwarts still serve the best. The Golden Hind in Marylebone has passed its 100th birthday and still tops the list for serving fish and chips as they should be – fresh, crisp, and don’t forget the side of yummy mushy peas (yes, really yummy)! With the gleaming chrome 1950s’ frying station and rock-bottom prices this place is sheer nostalgia. For a contemporary take on the classic, chase up Hix’s FishDog, a 1970s’ food truck serving “The Rolls Royce of fish finger sandwiches” (a lovely slab of battered fish in a hot dog bun), and you’ll also get a taste of London’s vibrant street food scene.
Of course, you can’t do London justice and not try a meat pie. Ask any Brit what their favourite comfort food is and they’ll probably say a good pie. Classic British pie and mash shops can still be found in the city, proud to be serving in the traditional environment of checkered tiles and wooden booths. Feeling extra brave? Try jellied eel or parsley liquor – but you probably have to grow up with these delicacies to appreciate them! Pie and mash shop, M. Manze (link is external) in Islington offers “the same recipes today as were used in 1902”, and using even better ingredients to meet today’s high standards. For a truly gourmet pie selection, look no further than The Ginger Pig, with various locations around London, using fresh, naturally reared meat from their own farm in Yorkshire, topped with handmade butter pastry.
However, if olde World charm is what you’re after, you can’t go past Rules, London’s oldest restaurant, established in 1798 – a time when eating in restaurants was strictly for the elite. You’ll see how little has changed (bookings are essential), and the menu is traditional with a capital T, straight out of Downton Abbey. There’s a leaning towards wild game dishes and the restaurant walls are heaving with mounted horns. Save room for their golden syrup sponge pudding with custard – a truly scrumptious traditional British dessert.
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