Wednesday, August 10, 2016

4 Days in London

I just got back from 5 days in London and, as per usual, am in full withdrawal and plotting my move over there ASAP.  The family and I travelled for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but managed to squeeze in plenty of sight seeing as well. This wasn't our first trip, so we skipped a lot of the classic tourist stuff, but did get to dive a bit deeper into favorite neighborhoods. We stayed in a lovely AirBnB in Chelsea, about a 10 minute walk from the Earl's Court Tube stop.

Day 1

What We Did // Our flight was a little bit delayed, so we ended up needing to shift our plan and ended up having a quiet afternoon in our local area.

What We Ate // 

The White Horse - this pub is actually around the corner from the house I lived in while nannying, and a place we had been to as a family on previous trips.  It's a bit higher class than you might expect from a pub (the sweet potato gnocchi I had was phenomenal, and I made quite the production of basting french fries in the truffle butter), but the beer list is great and the patio is perfect for people watching and enjoying whatever sun is available.

Blackbird - This was a yelp win for me.  Cosmetically, this looks like a fairly standard British pub - lots of dark woodworking and mirrored panels. The menu is also pretty classic, but with slightly more updated options and modern flavors.  I was thrilled to see a vegetarian pie, which isn't typical.  I, and everyone else, was thrilled with the food.  Also worth noting, that the portions were reasonable, as were the prices.  I came away satisfied, but not disgustingly full.

Day 2

What We Did // 

Portobello Road Market - I am a little obsessed with markets of almost all varieties, but Portobello Road is my favorite.  This street market spans 20+ blocks and includes antiques, clothing and food (both ingredients and prepared).  We spent a few hours wandering through everything, but I could have easily spent all day there.  It's open Thursday - Sunday, and we went on Friday, when pretty much everything was open but the crowd was more manageable than Saturdays.

British Library - My mom works in a library, so we stop into whichever is closest pretty much everywhere we travel. The British Library is primarily a research library, so we stuck to the single room that holds the Library's most prized possessions, including an original copy of Beowulf, Bibles from 300 AD and the original lyrics for several Beatles' songs, one of which was written on the back of a birthday card.

Matilda - Friday night, we decided to do boys night/girls night, and we were lucky enough to score tickets to Matilda. I was so, so delighted by the show and enjoyed every minute.  The set is absolutely incredible, and I've been listening to the sound track on repeat since show.

What We Ate // 

Granger and Co - Another yelp find for us.  It's just off Portobello Road, which was appealing after the Market, but I'll admit I was a little disappointed. The cocktails and the space itself were lovely, but I was underwhelmed with the food.  We split the scrambled eggs, which were heralded as the best in London, and loved them, but our entrees were not as amazing as reviewers led me to believe.  Definitely good, and a lovely spot for vegetarians and carnivores, but underwhelming.

Escapologist - And now for something completely different.  This spot is just across the road from Matilda, so we stopped in for dinner before the show.  The venue is amazing - very speakeasy/old subway station, with some deeply awesome wall paper (a bit of a London theme, as it turned out).  We had phenomenal drinks that were 2 for 1, though we maybe would have preferred that they be brought one after the other, not both at once.  The three of us then split two pizzas, both of which were delicious. We also went back after Cursed Child, and the cocktails only improved.

Day 3

What We Did //

Tate Modern - I am not a lover of modern art, but the rest of my family were interested in visiting, and ended up enjoying themselves. The new wing has just opened, so we ended up splitting up to take in the enormous amount of art and space available.  I loved the viewing deck on the top of the new section, which has incredible views of London in almost every direction.

Boat Ride - Instead of taking the Tube from the Tate back home, we took the river taxi from the museum to Westminster. It was a great way to take in the city from a different angle, and the ride was very smooth and quick.

What We Ate //

Borough Market - Again, my love of markets continue.  Borough is a giant food market, selling both prepared foods and ingredients.  We were there during lunch on Saturday, so it was absolutely packed, and several of the more popular stands had very long lines.  Again, we split up to find our own options, and I ended up with an incredible and diverse picnic.  My brother got fish and chips, Mom got a roasted lamb salad, Dad got some meat thing, I don't quite remember, the point being, there are tons of options, and all of the food is reasonably priced and really delicious.

Barbecoa - My dad has recently gotten more into grilling, and requested we go to this restaurant, as one of the founders is a favorite barbecue chef.  The restaurant is located in the shadow of Saint Paul's, so the location couldn't be more beautiful, but the food fully eclipsed even that view.  For everyone at the table, the meal fell into at least the top 5 best of their lives. For me, it was top 3.  And just to clarify, this is a meat restaurant, with exactly one vegetarian option, and it was one of the best meals of my life. Also, order every side and every dessert.  I all but licked the plate of every dish and will absolutely go back at first convenience.

Day 4

What We Did //

Cursed Child - This probably deserves its own post, but I'll just say that, if you've read the book and weren't impressed, withhold judgement until you can see the show. I'll admit that I was pretty underwhelmed by the story, but did love the additions to the canon that were made.  The stage craft, however, was astonishing and well worth it's rave reviews.

What We Ate //

Brasserie Max - We went for brunch ahead of the show, and I felt impossibly fancy.  The restaurant is located in a hotel right in the heart of Covent Garden, and is very posh.  I got the avocado toast, which was delicious, though the portion was tiny. My brother got the eggs Benedict with chipotle hollandaise, and I wish that I had done that - it was delicious. Both the coffee and tea drinkers appreciated the selection, and the weekend brunch option was perfect for us all.

Dishoom - Cursed Child is in 2 parts, so we had a very early dinner in between.  Dishoom is classic Indian, which a very diverse menu and delicious drinks.  The rest of my family ordered a few dishes to split, and enjoyed all of them.  I got a smashed/pan fried potato dish, which was delicious, but I maybe would order something else if I were to go again. The naan was delicious - I inhaled a few pieces.

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