Welcome back Wildcats! I hope you all had an enjoyable winter break! I traveled back to the States for the holidays, just in time for the polar vortex (or as any UNH student would tell you, a normal trip to Wildkitty at three in the morning). But now I am back in Londontown! I feel so lucky to be here for another semester, and I must say, I missed the city when I was back home (sorry Mom and Dad!). Just to recap, I am studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science for the academic year. It has been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Hopefully you have enjoyed reading about my adventures. (If you haven’t read my previous blogs, well, that is what New Year’s resolutions are for!)
Have you ever seen that show Mythbusters? Today, I am going to debunk the greatest myth of UK study abroad: the food is actually really good! One of the most frequent comments I got from people when I told them that I was studying abroad was how terrible the food is in the UK. Being a vegetarian, I am used to not having a ton of great options (except at UNH Dining halls!). The wide range of options in London has been a pleasant surprise. In fact, most of my weekends surround my friends and I deciding where we should eat. In the spirit of sharing, here are the top five restaurants I have dined at in London so far:
Number 5: Bea’s of Bloomsbury
There is nothing I love more than a good cupcake. When I found this little place near my flat, I knew it was love at first bite sight. I went during the holiday season, and the window featured a cupcake Christmas tree that was every sweet lover’s dream come true. With flavors like chocolate espresso, cookies and cream, lemon meringue, and sticky toffee pudding, it is incredibly hard to choose. Not to be overshadowed, the lunchtime specials are equally as good, with changing soups, salads, and sandwiches daily. I have yet to try their award-winning brownies or duffins (donut/muffin hybrid), but rest assured I will be sure to sample them (for research purposes, of course). I’m not sure who Bea is, but she has made a lifelong friend in me.
Number Four: Meat Liquor
Okay, so this may seem ironic to for me to include considering I just told you I was a vegetarian. I will admit, I too was skeptical the first time I went. This spot is so popular that the line (or, as we say in London, the queue) is always wrapped around the building. A “bouncer” puts a stamp on your hand like you’re at a club to ensure no ones tries to sneak in. If you end up waiting long enough, you might just get to try some fried pickles (yum!). Inside, the dimly lit space is full of industrial looking furniture, and graffiti adorns the walls. The menu consists of burgers, fried sides, and dressed up cocktails. That’s it. In a place like this, you might think the vegetarian option can’t nearly compare to the other options. However, my grilled halloumi (cheese) and three mushroom burger was delicious! It was absolutely more than worth the wait. Bonus points for the bottles of American ketchup.
Number Three: Bone Daddies
In most dorm rooms in America, you can usually find your fair share of ramen noodles. A staple of college life, all it requires is some hot water and a bowl. However, you have not had true ramen until you have gone to Bone Daddies. In a similar style as Meat Liquor, they only serve ramen and a couple of pre-dinner snacks. You seriously will not need anything else. The bowls are huge, the portions generous, and the taste is so much better than the stuff in the package. Ask for the “secret menu” dish of mushroom ramen, and you will not be disappointed. One of my good friends is a die-hard carnivore, and even she got the mushroom ramen on our last visit. You leave feeling warm and full, and ready to go back the next day.
Number Two: Dishoom
When in Rome, do what the Romans do. Well, when in London, you must eat Indian food. London has some of the best in the world (after all, the national dish is Tiki Masala). While I have yet to travel to famous Brick Lane, this next spot in Covent Garden is critically acclaimed Indian “street” food. Whenever my friends in London have guests, this is the spot we take them to. The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful (especially to Indian food novices, such as myself). The menu is extensive and wide-ranging, from small plates to grills to more traditional dishes like biryani and ruby murray. Of course you must have the freshly baked naan, served with different dipping sauces. Really I could just go eat a plate of naan and call it a day. With very reasonable prices in a comfortable, contemporary atmosphere, this is a winning addition to any culinary tour.
Number One: Food for Thought
Last but certainly not least is my favorite discovery in London thus far. I might be a little biased, considering this spot serves only vegetarian and vegan cuisine, but amongst my friends it is the clear winner. The menu changes daily, always offering a soup, two hot dishes, a quiche, and mixed side salads. Plus there are plenty of freshly baked breads, brownies, and scones to accompany your meal (or take home for later). Don’t leave without saving room for dessert: the Strawberry & Banana Scrunch is actually life changing. It’s basically a whole-in-the wall restaurant that you could easily walk by, but you would be remiss to dismiss it. It has a cult following of travelers and Londoners alike. Just ask any of the people you might end up sharing a table with in their downstairs eating area. Featured in every travel book and consistently receiving glowing reviews, Food for Thought remains unpretentious and delectable.
Living in London for the year gives me a unique opportunity to really get invested in the neighborhood and city that I’m living in. While I’m still a girl on a budget, it has been great to try new things and broaden my horizons. My only complaint is that I have yet to find a place that makes as good chocolate peanut butter pancakes as HoCo.