Posts Tagged ‘London’
Visiting Globe like a bystander is perhaps just a little sad. Completely omitting the trip would have been even sadder. I chalked this one up to one of the downsides of visiting London in the winter. It helps a little if you pretend it to be a reconnaissance mission. So, what is it that you can actually see if you are not attending one of the theater’s productions?
If there is something fantastic about a winter trip to London, I will say it is the view from the top of St. Paul Cathedral’s dome. The timing works out rather well in winter when the last admission coincides with sun down. Here are some of the photos we took from up there.
Aside from Dishoom that serves reliable roomali roti and chicken tikka, there are several nice eating and drinking spots near Seven Dials. We could only sample a very small subset. Monmouth coffee was one. According to a reliable local source, while tea shops are on the decline, coffee shops are on the rise in London. Monmouth may have been the one that started (~1978) the micro roasting trend. Being perhaps the grandaddy of the business, they didn’t seem quite the coffee police as Blue Bottle or Four Barrel, very few coffee shops are. But they have a large selection of single varietals and brew a good espresso to make a coffee lover happy. The one at Seven Dials attracts a hipster crowd, there is always a long line, tables are shared, and you can get a croissant to go with your coffee. I do think they need some chocolate-y stuff to go with their coffee, say crepes or biscotti.
Neal’s yard dairy has excellent British cheeses and they import Poilâne bread. Like Cheese Board, they let you taste before buying and the staff is super friendly. We bought a variety of cheddars and even some Stilton. You really can live on Poilâne, Stilton and Monmouth coffee if you so wish.
British food, for the rest of us outside Britain, brings to mind fish and chips or bangers and mash. But if like me, you have grown up with Tuppy Glossop’s midnight adventures with steak and kidney pie, you wish a cook as good as Anatole who can make you just such a pie. Now with the revival of British cuisine and gastro pubs, someone just may serve you one.
A few blocks from Seven Dials, is an Indian restaurant named Dishoom. The sound of a punch landing on your opponent in Bollywood movies has the sound “Dishoom“. Kids when mimicking fights do it with the sound effect “dishoom”, “dishoom”, … So there is indeed something endearing and playful in the name. The restaurant exudes hipness, although like any other Indian restaurant the service is a bit languid. Walls are decorated with an old world charm of mirrors and pictures of Bollywood movies and stars. You can watch the tandoor in action while waiting for food. We ate here a couple times and really enjoyed the “roomali” roti with the shish kababs. Roomal is Hindi word for handkerchief. Yes, sir, these breads are indeed as thin as the handkerchief. The dough is similar to naan/pizza and they are hand rolled like pizza, swirled in air to get the thinness and briefly cooked in the tandoor. I haven’t seen roomali rotis served in Indian restaurants in US. I found the food to be competent but the menu is limited to typical North Indian dishes that westerners associate with Indian food.
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When: 1 pm on a weekday
Where: Paddington, London
Why: An 8 hour layover in Heathrow
How: Heathrow-Paddington Express
The best thing about a short layover in Heathrow may be the Paddington express which takes you to the heart of the city in a mere 15 minutes. We had planned to explore the area around Paddington – Hyde park, and Oxford street neighborhoods – by foot. Our general strategy as we stepped out of the station was to find our way to Hyde Park, walk along the Serpentine to work up an appetite for fish and chips, for which we had narrowed down a couple of gastropubs. The sky looked partly cloudy and the ground looked fairly wet. On account of Mr. Weatherman’s promise of a cheery and bright 72 degree day, we were ill equipped for any potential rain. Hand in hand, my better half and I stepped out on the streets towards Hyde.