England’s capital city is one of the most culturally diverse holiday destinations in the world, with food and drink experiences in London providing flavours from around the globe. As such food tours in London not only cover traditional British food, but also that of international gastronomy.
When planning a trip to the UK, you’ll probably already know about the famous landmarks and tourist attractions. Such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and the House of Parliament. As well, of course, as numerous museums, art galleries and other places of historical interest, London has a host of amazing bars and restaurants.
Whether you’re in the city uncover England’s past or to watch a West End show you still need to eat! So why not combine your day with some amazing food and drink experiences in London throughout your stay?
More often than not food tourism in London has a pre-conception that English food is all about roast dinners and fish and chips. However, with a food tour in London, you will soon realise this is far from the truth.
Introduction to London Food and Drink
Long gone are the days of London being considered a step behind Europe in the world of gastronomy. After all, these days many of the world’s most renowned chefs and most desirable Michelin Starred restaurants are found in the capital.
Traditional British cuisine was once considered to be simple yet wholesome, served in generous portions. The culinary roots of the United Kingdom having been heavily influenced by the traditions of the British Empire. With flavours including tea originating from Ceylon and mulligatawny soup deriving from India.
British cuisine has always been multi-ethnic with diverse styles dating back to Roman times and the French medieval period. During the Victorian era, even hearty British stews contained exotic spices imported into the country.
However, the English population would still devour the traditional dishes, often sticking to a fixed routine of classics. Such as roast beef for Sunday lunch, served with roast potatoes, a range of vegetables, Yorkshire puddings, horseradish sauce and lashings of gravy. “Fish Friday” would often be reserved for a classic of fish and chips up and down the country. Meanwhile, authentic food and drink experiences in London would also include jellied eels or pie and mash.
Food and Drink Experiences in London
Nowadays, food and drink experiences in London explore an ever-changing culinary landscape. One in which focusses on the likes of fresh ingredients and seasonal produce as importantly as ethical farming. As well as pasta from Italy, rice dishes from China, Japan and India, having become longtime favourites.
Along with a wider range of takeaways, Middle Eastern-inspired restaurants and of course the influx of modern gastronomy. In fact, food and drink experiences in London will often take you much further than the simple dishes once associated with the UK.
Food and Drink in London
London’s food and drink scene is constantly evolving. There’s often an emphasis on healthy eating, along with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options also available. Although don’t worry, even with the influx of trendy bars and independent eateries, you can still find those chefs who rely on large quantities of butter in their kitchen!
With so many diverse cultures available, our food tours in London are perfect for foodies who wish to explore the cities international offerings. As well as those looking for historical places of interest and some good old fashioned British cooking.
However, if you are looking for someone to eat rather than joining a food and drink tour, we’ve hand-picked some personal favourites.
The Shed (Notting Hill)
The Shed is situated in a secluded area of Notting Hill and is a Gladwin Brothers restaurant. Here you will be offered farm-fresh ingredients all put together to create a great seasonal menu. Look out for speciality dishes such as sardines with blood orange, wild garlic pasta, or eclairs packed to punch with mushroom marmite.
Eat of Eden (Brixton)
This is just wonderful – a Caribbean division just at the edge of Brixton market. Found here is a vegan eatery that is in the sun for most of the day. Prices are very reasonable and you can enjoy a ‘mini’ platter for £13 to be shared between two people. They serve amazing curries, stews and side dishes, do try the vegetable patty – it is delicious.
Arabica (King’s Cross)
While the terrace seating may be on a busy street, the food served here really makes up for it. You can enjoy long mezze-snacking dishes along with a particularly good cocktail menu. We’d recommend finishing your meal with a fierce (but superb) Turkish espresso martini.
The Compton Arms (Islington)
This is a great busy pub for some old-fashioned pub food. Although with outstanding craft beers and an amazing menu, it delivers much more. The pub really makes the most of their charming courtyard at the back. Owners Jamie Allan and Ed McIlroy, have certainly put their mark on the menu with dishes such as cod roe on toast. Although we’d also recommend the burrata with black olives, gold oil and asparagus in XO sauce, garnished with thin slices of shallots.
Tavolino (Tower Bridge)
This is a newly opened Italian restaurant with stunning views of the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the Gherkin and the Walkie-Talkie. Tavolino is a magnificent place to enjoy pasta dishes and a chilled bottle of wine. The head chef, Louis Korovilas, controls the kitchen, offering relaxed Italian dishes made up of cautiously sourced British ingredients. Look out for the amazing “silk handkerchiefs” which are super fresh sheets of pasta with walnut butter and egg yolk.
Sam’s Riverside (Hammersmith)
This lovely riverside restaurant come with stunning views from its brand new seafood terrace, allowing diners to eat al fresco for the first time. The menu is very fish-focused with the likes of grilled lobster, shrimp cocktail salad and the oyster-filled “Shuckers Platter”.
Traditional Dishes of London
At the beginning of this blog, we briefly mentioned the traditional dishes in London. Such as a roast dinner or fish and chips, the latter perhaps better eaten out of newspaper for that authentic experience than at a fine-dining restaurant.
However, for even more ideas for traditional food and drink experiences in London, here a few more dishes to try.
The Full English Breakfast
It is often said that your breakfast is the most significant meal of the day, especially if you are doing physical exercise or something mentally demanding. If this is the case, there is no excuse – you need to have a full English breakfast. This will likely include bacon, sausages, egg, baked beans, fried bread, toast, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns and black puddings. It may be heavy on the carbs, but can be absolutely delicious and certainly set you up for the day ahead.
Bangers and Mash
Better known as good old fashioned sausages. This very traditional dish is a pub classic. Comprising of nicely browned sausages and creamy mashed potato, served with peas and onion gravy. This simple yet tasty dish can be found on the menu of most pubs in London.
Toad in the Hole
Another sausage based hearty dish that includes sausages in a crispy Yorkshire pudding batter. It’s one that is usually served with gravy and plenty of vegetables.
Shepherd’s Pie/Cottage Pie
These two mouth-watering dishes are indeed very similar; the only difference is the meat that is used. In shepherd’s pie you will use lamb whilst in the cottage pie it is beef. And just to confuse you even more, neither of these dishes used pastry. Both the pies consist of minced lamb or beef, carrots and onions with mashed potatoes on the top of the meat nicely browned in the oven.
Steak and Kidney Pie
This is a great comforting and warming dish and something to try if the weather is cold. The ingredients include beef, kidney, onions and gravy all covered over with puff pastry and served with homemade chips.
Afternoon High Tea
High tea is such an authentic food and drink experience in London. You can choose from many different types of tea, which will be poured for you into a bone china tea cup. You will be offered a variety of delicate finger sandwiches, freshly made scones with clotted cream and jam. If you have room, there will also be a wonderful array of fruit and chocolate pastries and cakes. Enjoy!
Popular Restaurants in London
As well as our food tours in London, here at tabl. we also like to recommend some of city’s most popular restaurants. Ideal, whether you are after an intimate romantic meal or a mid-week treat. Take a look at some of our top choices below:
Hoppers (In King’s Cross, Marylebone and Soho)
There is absolutely nothing like the Hoppers chain in London. Very few restaurants in London are exclusively Sri Lankan (many are South Indian). The Hoppers in Soho is quite small but with an amazing atmosphere and always full. You may have to queue outside, but it’s definitely worth the wait. The food is full of flavours – do try the bone marrow varuva, it is a dry bone marrow curry for spreading over a buttery roti – delicious!
Bright restaurant has a great atmosphere and a daily changing menu. Check out their home-made goujeres, herby pizzette or the various dishes of pasta. Eating at Bright is a fantastic experience with a bizarre combination of eclectic small plates.
Their signature dish is chicken katsu sarnie, which is basically no crusts white bread with slices of artisanal pasta. Another great choice is their mussels with curry leaves in a smoked mackerel broth.
Padella (Borough Market)
This is a super little Borough Market pasta bar (the same owners as Islington’s trendy Trullo) where the menu changes daily. All the food is cooked to order right in front of you – so you see everything that’s going on. The interior is really modern, all glass, marble and steel, very chic.
Tandoor Chop House (Covent Garden)
This is a gorgeous place that uses Indo-Punjabi spices and swaps the grill for the tandoor. It’s deliciously fiery and smoky. The vibe is like a busy Iran café with dark wood panelling and old photos adorning the walls.
But getting back to the menu – try the charcoaled little naan with a pistachio-studded seekh kebab, with red onion, green chutney, pomegranate seeds and fresh coriander. Or a ‘beef dripping’ keema naan containing warmly spiced meat finished with a dollop of cooling yoghurt.
Mildred’s was actually a former 60s sex club on Greek Street, but do not worry, there is nothing seedy about this place! The stylish 18th century townhouse now offers fresh, international vegan and vegetarian food full of vibrant flavours.
Organic ingredients are used when possible and the ingredients are all sourced from small businesses. The restaurant offers a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
This amazing restaurant was ranked 14th best in the country by the Hardens gastronomy food guide. The restaurant boasts a Michelin starred chef who serves up fresh seasonal British produce with a top-class gastronomic flair.
The menu offers fresh seafood, locally sourced ingredients and foraged herbs. If you are around on a Sunday in London, then do try the signature Sunday roast chicken dinner for two.
Aqua at the Shard
London has plenty of wonderful restaurants with fabulous views all across the city; from alfresco places next to the river to romantic rooftop restaurants. However, no list of restaurants in London would be complete without mentioning The Shard, London’s tallest building (306m high).
On the 31st floor, you’ll find Aqua, a top-class, stylish spot with floor-to-ceiling windows. Try to get a table near the windows for an amazing breath-taking eating experience – especially at night.
A delicious starter would be the beetroot heritage salad with candied hazelnuts and marinated yellowfin tuna served with avocado cream. As for a main course, try the lamb, it’s really tender and served with a cocoa bean stew, yoghurt and scorched aubergine.
Popular Food and Drink Experiences in London
Here are just some of the great food and drink experiences in London available to book with tabl. Although we have plenty more to choose from here, as well as more being added on a regular basis.
This is a great pub crawl that visits Camden, taking a different route every day of the week to provide a bespoke tour. During the weekdays, the quieter pubs and bars are visited, however on the weekends – it’s party time!
Camden is home to a fantastic variety of bars and clubs, from good old-fashioned boozers to cocktail bars and even converted horse stables. Your guide will meet you outside Camden Town tube station, holding their bright orange umbrella, stating “Pub Crawl” so you can’t miss them.
This is London’s largest daily pub crawl and has been running since 2009. As part of a marathon night out, visit bars and clubs within Soho and the West End. This is undoubtedly one of the best ways to spend a night partying in London.
After all, the pub tour in London will also give you the opportunity to meet likeminded fun people for a buzzing night in the capital.
A much more refined pub walking tour whereby you will discover Soho – London’s most vivacious and lively neighbourhood! The tour will last around three hours in the afternoon. You will get to visit five very historical Soho pubs where you try out traditional beers, ales and of course, the local craft beers.
Discover London’s most colourful and vibrant neighbourhood! On this 3hr afternoon walking tour you’ll visit five historic Soho pubs where you can sample not only traditional beers and ales but also local craft beers. Meander through the alleys and back streets of Soho as your local guide takes you on a journey of discovery.
Here you will get the true sense of the English culture. London boasts the best street markets from the stylish world famous Portobello market to the delicious culinary pleasures at Borough Market. We will also visit the eclectic Camden Market. Most of the markets date right back in time to the middle ages, so you will get a true feel of the culture and history.
Enjoy a scrumptious mix of English wine and cheese with a food tour of the award-winning Chapel Down Vineyard. Afterwards, you will enjoy a picnic lunch set among the vines with of course a glass of their famous wine.
Then it’s off to Silcocks Farm, famous for their many variations of cheese and organic foods that are produced onsite. You will be shown the cheese-making process and how the organic farming works -followed by the wine and cheese pairing.
Another fantastic day out to Sussex to learn all there is to know about the amazing English wines. Here you will get to know all about the wine production. You will visit two famous vineyards and enjoy a wonderful day long wine tasting experience all set within the stunning Sussex Countryside.
You will also enjoy a delicious two course local pub lunch. Afterwards, you will sample a variety of popular wine and cheeses and understand how to pair the food and wine.
Food and Drink Experiences in London with tabl.
Book food and drink Experiences in London and enjoy the very best of not only British cuisine, but food from around the world.
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