“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
I’m not going to lie, we had a hard time finding good food while in London. There are thousands of restaurants to choose from but one can only try a handful of them over a 4 day period. I’m going to share with you the ones we loved and the ones worth avoiding. I have to apologize now, we didn’t take pictures of all the restaurants and food as I was not planning on writing this blog while we were there. I promise, the more reviews I do I will make sure to take photos for you! I’ll take a moment to add a TIP here: use the open table app to make reservations at restaurants…you can reserve the time, place and number of guests in your party all while you’re checking the city out and not worry about waiting for a table later on. I’ll start with the places we wish had locations in the States:
1) The Spaghetti House Cucina Italiana E Pizzeria (I know it’s a mouthful!)
This is a chain restaurant so I will be reviewing the location we went to which was at 74-76 Duke Street London W1K 6JZ.
It’s a small and cute little place. The staff was beyond friendly and very knowledgeable. They even give the kids a mini coloring book instead of just a place mat to color on which is fantastic and keeps them busy for a while. The menu offers up all things Italian from bruschetta to spaghetti and even burgers! We ordered the bruschetta, margherita pizza, the quattro formaggi pizza (mozzarella cheese, gorgonzola, parmesan and smoked mozzarella cheese) and the kid’s spaghetti….none of it was disappointing! The flavors were heavenly and the portions were plentiful. You know it’s good when your little one doesn’t say a word through out all of lunch and has no food left on their plate. We paid about 40 Euro for everything and it was money well spent. I’d have to give The Spaghetti House a 5 out of 5.
2) The Bbar
43 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 0PP
I think this was my favorite place in London! It was next door to our hotel, The Rubens at the Palace. The concierge recommended it to us as a local favorite and I always say “Go where the locals do and you’ll never be disappointed” and that saying proved true again! This charming South African restaurant is full of delightful surprises! It has a fun and wild ambiance and the service was better than any service I’ve ever experienced in Vegas…everyone was professional and yet relaxed and fun but they did their job well. We never asked for anything twice and someone was always available if we needed help and when our son grew a little fussy they even entertained him for us and made him laugh – all while not over staying their welcome at the table. Now onto the food…my husband had the Classic burger and I shared the Parmesan Crumbed Chicken Schnitzel (served with creamed mashed potatoes, spinach and a lemon butter) with my son. The high quality of the food and expertise of the chef were present in the flavors and textures of what we ordered. It was hard to not want to eat here everyday we were in London. I think it is well worth it to go out of your way to try this awesome little bar. In all we paid around 45 Euro for dinner.
3) The Upper Crust @ Victoria Station
Located inside Victoria Station in London this is the perfect spot for a quick bite to eat (this also is a chain so you will be able to find them throughout London) Their sandwiches are served on fresh baked baguettes and are filled with amazing ingredients such as brie, bacon, spinach & cranberry or honey roast ham & valley cheddar for lunch and bacon with scrambled eggs or Cumberland sausage baguettes for breakfast. Perfect for a budget and on the go – we paid 16 Euro for 2 sandwiches and they were fantastic.
4) Zizzi Ristorante
This is a chain restaurant so I will be reviewing the location we went to which was at 110 Wigmore Street Marylebone, London W1U 3RS.
Unquestionably my second favorite place in all of London. The atmosphere was mellow and yet energizing. I particularly loved the open kitchen where I could watch the chefs prepare our food and watch it come step by step to full glory. We made a reservation on open table so we were seated promptly and had wonderful service from our waitress immediately. We ordered the Italian Bread Bucket with pesto for starters and for our main courses we had spaghetti pomodoro (mozzarella, tomatoes and basil) and penne della casa (penne noodles, roasted chicken, pancetta, baby spinach and cheese in a creamy mushroom sauce) and for dessert a chocolate and toffee nut sundae (Chocolate & crema gelato, banana, whipped mascarpone cream, toffee sauce & caramelised peanuts). The dessert was so good that I still haven’t quite figured out how I had lived so long without it. Everything exceeded our expectations from beginning to end and the next time we are in London it will be a must go for us.
5) Cafre Negro @ Trafalgar Square
This is a chain restaurant so I will be reviewing the location we went to which was at 60-61 Trafalgar Square St. James’s, London WC2N 5DS
This little cafe is a great alternative to Starbucks. The staff was welcoming and the view of Trafalgar Square is perfect for people watching and relaxing. Their menu consists of pastries, sandwiches and salads. They specialize in fine Italian coffee but have plenty of drinks for the non-coffee drinkers. It’s a great place to catch a break and unwind.
6) Pret a Manger
These fabulous little places are all over London Town and every time you pass by one you may find yourself craving it. It’s the equivalent to a Starbucks addiction in that just the colors of the logo stimulate your cravings. They sell sandwiches, salads, soups, wraps and more! They offer up an endless variety of hot & cold beverages in flavor combos that you’d never dream of. I love this little place and for the quality you get I personally think they should be charging more than they do! I even snuck a baguette sandwich on our flight back to the US as the airplane food will make you want to starve yourself. This is a must go!
7) The Wellington @ Trafalgar Square
I’m very surprised to see the ratings and reviews of The Wellington are so high on some sites, we may have gone on an off day and it might well be worth your while to give it a try but the contents of this review is solely based on our experience and you can decide if it is worth the risk. The Wellington is located near Trafalgar Square and has a ton of shopping surrounding it. The views are good and the decor is classic English which I totally love. There is outside seating available and a bar on the first floor which tends to be noisy and crowded. Located on the second floor is the kid-friendly dining area as well as a full bar for a much quieter atmosphere. The service was insanely slow to the point of being a nuisance. Our food took almost 35 minutes, the order was inaccurate and our food was cold. The server seemed annoyed when we asked for the hot food we actually ordered. Our food finally came out correctly but it was dry, flavorless and poorly presented. The prices aren’t bad at all…we all ate for about 30 Euro but I’m sure there are plenty more options close by where that price can buy you proper food. TIP If you do choose to have a meal here sign up on their e-mail list ahead of time as they frequently send out promotions and coupons.
8) Cafe Panini
I would say avoid this place at all costs. The service was awful, the workers were rude and although we ate first thing in the morning the food tasted stale and old. The food wasn’t cooked properly and I was afraid to get sick if we did eat it. They didn’t try to correct our food, just stared at us like a deer in the headlights. We just paid the outrageous bill and left as to avoid confrontation. It cost about 25 Euro and there were plenty of places around to get a good bite to eat for that amount.
Hope these were helpful! Just on a side note, if you are around Victoria Station there are a lot of budget options inside including a Burger King. If you have any questions leave a comment and I’ll reply as soon as possible! I will be posting reviews for Paris within the next week so be looking forward for that! Until next time, happy travels fellow gypsies!