January 5, 2012

Welcome back, London Town!

Sizzling fish at the Loong Kee Cafe

The Mister and I spent an impulsive three days in London between Christmas and New Year's Eve, dodging raindrops, visiting (closed) galleries, popping into museums, catching a show and drinking lager and warming up next to cozy fires in festively decorated pubs. With only a day or so to prepare for the trip, I spent the day before we left researching some great places to eat in London on food blogs like Greedy Diva, Gourmet Chick, A Girl Has to Eat and Musings of a W8 Housewife. Unfortunately, we were short on time, a lot of places were closed for the holidays and E was under the weather, so we contented ourselves with a couple of excellent pub meals of fish and chips and hearty soups at the The Antelope in Belgravia (near where we were staying) and at the Coopers Arms off of King's Road in Chelsea. We also had Hanoi-style sizzling fish for lunch at Loong Kee Cafe in the Vietnamese area of Kingsland Road, near Hoxton, which came highly recommended by two different people who we asked on the street, and a very tasty but kind of bizarro Chinese meal at Shanghai Blues in Holborn. This palatial establishment and former library has both the stiff formality of hovering waiters and cloth napkins delicately and silently placed on your lap and the black lacquered tables and blue neon lights of a nightclub. We had a great time, but I would take a noisy and bustling restaurant in Chinatown over this more staid version any day.

The night's menu at The Duke of Cambridge
Our favorite meal, however, was the one that we had been waiting over a year to enjoy. We happened upon The Duke of Cambridge organic pub last year while wandering around the marvelous district of Islington. This charming corner establishment is graced by large windows, rustic wood floors and tables, mismatched chairs and cozy candlelight. There is both an outer pub area and a smaller dining room in back, both of which are presided over by massive chalkboards that change during the course of the evening as the kitchen runs out of certain dishes and adds new ones.

The Duke of Cambridge is an all organic gastropub that opened in 1998, serving seasonal food and drink that is at least 80% sourced from the counties surrounding London. All of their fish is caught on small day boats off the south-east coast of England, all of the meat comes from whole animals purchased from local farms, and all of the beers, wines and alcohol are made by small independent producers. Basically, this place is food lover's dream, served up in an incredibly lovely, cozy, friendly and relaxed environment. Last year we managed to have a couple of beers in the pub, but the restaurant was packed to the gills and it was still a bit early to dine. To say that we were looking forward to coming back this year for a proper meal would be an understatement. To start off, we shared a Chicken liver and port pate with pickled beetroot, chutney and toast, followed by the delicious Slow roasted lamb shoulder (for me) and the Chili marinated coley (fish) with spiced haricot bean and tomato casserole, Savoy cabbage and golden beetroot, for the Mister. Unfortunately, it was too dark for any of the photos to come out, but suffice to say it was a delicious, romantic and lovely experience all around. I love London!

The Duke of Cambridge
30 St Peter's Street, Islington, London N1

+44 (0)20 7359 3066

The Antelope
22 Eaton Terrace, Belgravia, Westminster, London SW1W 8EZ
+44 (0)20 7824 8512

Coopers Arms
87 Flood Street, Chelsea, London, SW3 5TB
+44 (0)20 7376 3120

Loong Kee Cafe
134G Kingsland Rd  City of London E2 8DY
+44 (0)20 7729 8344

Shanghai Blues
193-197 High Holborn  City of London WC1V 7BD
+44 (0)20 7404 1668

1 comment:

a desert rat... said...

An organic pub? My god, England is no longer that food wasteland people talk about. However, who doesn't love an organic greasy spoon!? p.s. Albuquerque has a huge vietnamese community and the Pho is to die for. Just saying! Besos!

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