You may have seen from my tweets recently that I headed off to London for a nice weekend. I used to spend a lot of time over and back to the city and absolutely love it there but it had been about 3 years since my last trip so I was super excited!
As is the norm for the organised freak that I am, I had researched places to eat and have drinks etc so we had a fair few places on our list. We got to some of them but one or two we never made it to so will save them for our next trip
We stayed at the Premier inn on Leicester Square. Not one of London’s fanciest hotels but as London prices are pretty dear, we were never going to end up in the Dorchester! The Premier Inn was clean, comfy and has a great central location.
Our first day was spent getting our bearings. We toddled off to Oxford Street and went up a little street towards St. Christopher’s Place where I used to stay on previous visits to London. I love this place on a summer’s day, little Italian restaurants along the street, super flash cars driving around and a busy and bustling square with bar sand restaurants. On a cold January day it’s not quite as enjoyable but we did sit out and have some pizza and pasta before heading off for a look around Selfridges and stopping off for a drink at the Mark Hix restaurant & bar within the store.
This was the first of many occasions when we realised there was a 12.5 or 13% “discretionary” charge added on to most bills. Whatever about that for food, I resented paying it for 2 drinks while sitting at a bar on a stool – no one even had to walk over to our table with the drinks or anything. In saying that, I never said anything about it so I can’t give out too much. Plus we ate and drank in some lovely spots that we knew would be pricey… they were VERY pricey though!
After this we hopped on the open top bus. Luckily we got a 2 day ticket so when it bucketed down and we started feeling tired, we hopped off close to Covent Garden and ran back to the hotel for a quick nap. Covent Garden was my favourite area that I’ve seen in London, especially the Marketplace. It’s a large covered building with many stalls and street performers along with some lovely restaurants and designer shops.
Heading out that evening I had come across a few places on another blog that I wanted to try which were in Covent Garden so we had a quick drink in Dirty Martini cocktail bar first. This is a majorly busy spot which seemed to be full of people going for a few drinks after work. The atmosphere and music was great but it was hard work getting a drink at the bar!
Then off we went around the corner to Opera Tavern for some tapas. I’m a big tapas fan but tend to stick to my favourite of The Port House and more recently Las Tapas de Lola. Up until now I didn’t imagine I’d have nicer tapas short of what I’d get in Spain – I was wrong. Our meal was absolutely unbelievable. I was a bit worried that E would struggle as he isn’t too adventurous with food but he loved it all too. Here’s a quick run down of what we had. Mini Ibérico Pork Burger @ £7.00, Chorizo with Piquillo and Marjoram @ £5.50, Smoked Haddock and Leek Croquettes with Saffron Aioli @ £5.95, Braised Iberico Pig Cheeks with Celeriac Mash and Crispy Kale @ £7.50, some Venison @ £7.75 and lastly the special that day which stole the show, Ox tail and bone marrow mash. I can honestly barely describe all the food to you. The haddock croquettes were so soft and smokey with a fabulous crispy outer layer and the Ox tail was topped with thick creamy mash over a beautifully soft centre of meat. We both adored all the food bar the venison which was slightly chewy. Having said that, there wasn’t one single other thing we could complain about. We finished our meal and went off downstairs for a few cocktails.
This really was a lovely restaurant serving fantastic food and I’d recommend it to anyone visiting London.
The following day it was back onto the tour bus to see the rest of the areas we missed. I always try to do the bus tour , they’re a great way to see all the major attractions from a height and take in the views.
We hopped off at Marble Arch and walked up to Notting Hill. If we were hoping to see the famous street where the movie was filmed we were disappointed! It was the one place I hadn’t researched and we were pretty much on the main road through the area without a clue where we should be going to see the nice parts. Instead we had some lunch in Jamie Oliver’s Recipease restaurant which was lovely but an absolute rip off for lunch!
We then started to make our way back, stopping off at another place I’ve heard great reports on, The Social Eating House – also known as The Blind Pig – in Soho. We just stopped by for one of their famous cocktails but next time I visit I’d love to try the food in the restaurant downstairs. We made do with the Skittles cocktails though and paid our bill which arrived in a cute little piggy bank with his eyes blindfolded!
This was to be our big fancy night out with dinner booked in Hakkasan where I’d wanted to try for years. We booked a table in the Mayfair branch months ago and I was super excited. So we got dolled up and headed off.
I was pretty let down by this place if I’m honest. It has such a hype around it that I expected amazing things. While the restaurant interior was lovely, the food was crazy prices along with the wine. We’d usually polish off 2 bottles of wine at dinner but we sipped over the one this night as I just couldn’t justify what they charged. It was £8 just for a bowl of fried rice to go with our rip off mains!
While the food was nice, it wasn’t anywhere near what it’s made out to be for me anyway. But I did really enjoy my birthday dessert. It was a big slab of praline mouse cake, with hazelnuts in the biscuit base. This is something that you have to fill a form in and pre order and pre pay for a few days before your meal, I mean for God’s sake it’s just a piece of cake! I know they probably order them in but I thought that was a bit nuts. Last time I checked they didn’t have prices on their website but main courses were on average £37 without any rice.
In saying that I am glad I’ve tried it!
Our last day gave us a few hours to wander around Covent Garden and chill out before heading off to our last food destination. We had booked a late flight and had to get the Stansted Express from Liverpool Street so having looked up a few options, we decided on Brunch in Duck and Waffle, a fab restaurant and bar on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower. The lift flew up leaving me a bit light headed, but the views were well worth it.
One side looked over the famous Gherkin building and the other side over the rest of London.
We had an amazing lunch here, again rather pricey but it was our last few hours so we didn’t mind making it count. E got the full brekkie and I got the smoked salmon and we shared the Spicy Ox Cheek Doughnut.
I loved the salmon and the portion size was HUGE, there was a small mountain of salmon under that flatbread!
I didn’t enjoy the Ox Cheek Doughnut at all though, while the meat was nice, the coating on the doughnut was a mix of savoury and sweet and just didn’t work for me at all.
Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to get their famous dish, duck and waffle which comes topped with fried egg and a serving of maple syrup – I just couldn’t bring myself to try it that day! We did share an amazing waffle for dessert though, with caramelised banana, peanut crunch and nutella along with ice cream- bloody gorgeous!
After lunch we had a few drinks in the bar and enjoyed our last bit of time while the sun went down over London. I loved this bar and if you have a bit of cash at the end of your trip I’d recommend it completely!
And that was it – off to the airport and home to Dublin! I LOVED London before this trip but seeing so much more of it than I had before has made me love it even more. I can’t wait for my next trip back…. I may even do some shopping instead of just eating next time! 🙂
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