Finally, I finally went to London again! It’s been way too long, considering the insanely low prices for flights and the only 1,5 hrs it takes to get there, and the fact that I love it so much. I was rewarded with glorious sunshine, loads of friendly and interesting people, and oh so delicious food. London has for a long time served as a place of longing for Berlin food people, “this is what could Berlin could be” – at one point in the future, maybe? – they whisper to each other while walking the food markets of East London. Does London have the best food in Europe? I wouldn’t disagree.
Well, whether Berlin will ever reach the food highs of London or just stick to its roots will have to be explored another time. At least I go to London to grant my taste-buds the joy of good food only. The fierce financial demands of the city create a competitive market, where no-one can afford to slack away with a mediocre concept. Which is certainly not without problems, but it results in a food scene that is aiming high in terms quality, creativity, and diversity. Here’s a list of places with delicious food you’ll enjoy eating. Take notes, Berliners. (Here are some more from my last visit.)
Honey & Co.
This tiny place serves the bestest food I had while in London and this is due to the extra quality produce the kitchen uses. Before we had this pistachio and apricot cake for dessert, we chose three starters: vibrant green Yemeni style falafel with coriander and cardamom, served with tahini sauce, as well as cucumber and sumac salad; broad bean hummus with marinated asparagus and a soft boiled egg; plus a peach and goat cheese salad with slow roasted almonds and orange blossom dressing. This salad was so good, I still dream about it – the sweet juice of the peaches fused with the white cheese and crunchy almonds in the most delicious ways. (Back in Berlin, I got some peaches from a local market, only to be left completely disappointed by their utter tastelessness. What is it with peaches and Berlin?) We went for lunch, but there’s also breakfast and dinner, and I would’ve come back for both if we weren’t leaving that day.
Of course I had to go to Bao, right? The hype around this tiny nook with 32 seats is completely justified. And we only waited about 15mins outside before being seated inside the efficiently designed interior that’s perfectly fitted with natural wood furniture. I had the king oyster mushrooms with chopped century eggs, a bao with fried and pickled daikon, an extra serving of pickles, as well as the fried sweet bao with horlicks (malted milk) ice cream. Everything’s full of flavors, super fresh, and just downright delicious. Portions are small, though, keep that in mind if you’re coming with loads of hunger.
Since there’re so very few quality Indian places in Berlin, eating Indian food was very high on my list in London. After collecting loads of recommendations, the choice fell on Rasa (also because many places were closed on Sundays, the day we craved Indian food), a casual restaurant with a bright pink facade. And an all vegetarian place! As usual, it took me quite some time to get through the menu and all its options (not because it was that long, just because there are usually only a couple of dishes for vegetarians, which makes choice easy): Ginger, green chili and cumin dosas, curries with sweet mangos and green bananas, pappadoms dipped in cumin and sesame seed batter, or dumplings in urad bean and chilli crunch. We went for the Bhel mix with crispy chickpeas, bhel and onions in a tamarind sauce, and mysore bonda – fried potato balls with black mustard seeds, ginger and curry leaves, and this picture just doesn’t do the deliciousness of it justice. And then bagar baingan, aubergines cooked in a paste of roasted onions, coriander seeds, chillies and tamarind, mixed with yoghurt and cashew nut sauce. Which was the best Indian curry dish I ever enjoyed.
Pavilion was a surprise find thanks to a spontaneous brunch invite from Kavita Meelu. Not only is this one so picture-perfectly located by the lake in Victoria Park, they also feature an all-day brunch menu with British staples like baked beans, poached eggs, and pancakes, plus a couple of Sri Lankan breakfast dishes like string hoppers with egg curry and coconut sambal. Pictured above is a hopper, a crispy on the outside, spongy and soft in the middle kind of pancake, topped with a soft egg. It was excellent.
Pavilion is very popular, so lines can be long, but the kitchen and service team’s work is on point with surprisingly short waiting times considering the masses of people coming through. Which is very satisfying to watch, by the way.
E9 7DE London Hackney
I’m usual more a fan of Italian pizza, but if American style pizza is as well done as at Voodoo Ray’s, I’m down. Definitely a late-night hang out with a variety of pizzas to enjoy with a beer or three. And high on the list of favs for many London people.
Yet another spontaneous find while taking our first walk on Saturday, and a really good one: namely one of the centres of sourdough worship in London. The line inside of the narrow place was looooong, but behind the counter filled with loafs and tasty pastry treats one could watch the bakers and makers work the many doughs, and time flew. The focus of the picture above should actually not be on the very good and dense slices with nuts and the scoop of goats’ cheese, but the glazed brioche in the back, which was filled with banana custard! Also recommendable is the chocolate cake with raspberries. And the eclair, obviously. Just try it all.
Berber & Q
Berber & Q is definitely one of the very hip places in town – electronic music is blasting from the speakers onto the many young and chic eaters circling around big plates of grilled meats served Middle Eastern style. Aside the fact that Berber & Co serves meat that are free range and naturally reared, this place is also a good destination for veggies, because they devote well deserved attention to produce with their many mezze dishes. I’ve really liked their hummus with roasted pine nuts and glugs of fragrant olive oil, as well as their smoked aubergine with tahini, tomato, walnut, and burned lemon. All washed down with a half pint (or two) of their own golden ale with za’atar, sumac and orange, made in cooperation with Crate Brewery.
338 Acton Mews
E8 4EA London Hackney
& Sat–Sun 11:00–15:00