London town

I have some friends staying with me who are visiting from New York and given the high standard of food over there I have been feeling the pressure of trying to showcase the best of London eating in my recommendations.

It is always difficult to suggest places as opinions differ but the truth is that cream always rises to the top and some things are just great whatever your personal preference. My friends arrived on Thursday whilst I was working away from home so fended for themselves in the most impressive way. I am not sure if it is their youth or their enthusiasm but jet lagged or not, they hit London full on from the moment they arrived.

Afternoon tea at Sketch

In terms of food, they wanted to embrace the best of British and really couldn’t have come at a better time with all the Jubilee and Olympic activities going on. So far, they have eaten fish & chips, authentic Indian, afternoon tea, Modern British, Borough market and casual street food at Pitt Cue with Heston’s Dinner coming tomorrow night before they get on the train to Paris. How good is that?

Today, I finally had a day to show them some of my happy places and as it was a Sunday, it was clear where to go. We started with the bacon sandwich at St John Bread & Wine which is a great value hefty breakfast made to fill you up all day. Gloucester Old Spot bacon chargrilled to perfection and sandwiched between two hunky slices of griddled and oiled sourdough bread. To be honest, this is a sandwich for sharing as it really is too much for one and it’s only £5.95. Brilliant. It demonstrates wholeheartedly why we can edit choice. Why offer anything else when there is something this perfect on the menu?

The best bacon sarnie … ever

Then we perused Spitalfields market before embarking on the long trek up Brick Lane. Once home to the Jewish population with Beigel shops lining the streets, it is now dominated by the Bangladeshi community and some of the best examples of Indian food. The colours and smells are fantastic. Not to mention the markets, vintage clothes and just great photo opportunities.

At the top we wended our way through Hackney homes to the bottom of Columbia Road and the flower market. This is a must on a Sunday morning for many reasons. It is vibrant, full of flowers, music, people and lined with unique retail shops. I love the stall holders yelling “two for a fiver…get your tulips ‘ere”…. could this be the nearest we now see to East End life?  It is definitely a battle to progress down the centre of the stalls but worth it for the armful of flowers you can walk away with.

Two for a fiver

After that we made our way back to Shoreditch and Leila’s, Pizza East, Albion, The Boundary (sadly the roof garden doesn’t open til August) and then onto Foxcroft and Ginger at Boxpark. We all agreed that the shopping there was more trendy male than anything else but the Nike ID is one to look out for. Such an incredible retail experience.

Then it was a bus trip through the city past the Gherkin (or Pickle as my US friends named it!) and the impressive St Paul’s then onto Regent Street and beyond. I took them through the calm of St Christophers Place and up into Marylebone High Street which so often gets overlooked by tourists – thankfully. That meant it was a calm escape from the bustle of Oxford Street and we could peruse La Fromagerie, Ginger Pig, The Natural Kitchen and Rococo chocolates without any issues at all. This has to be my favourite street in London.

By now, I was pooped so I left them to finish off in Selfridges before their Indian meal tonight.

They just got back and crashed to their beds. Knightsbridge/Kensington tomorrow before St Pancras and that magical train journey through the tunnel. London really is a great city.