Eating, Drinking and socialising, London
London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Hotels and food are costly but you can find budget options and still avoid the flophouse and street vendor options.
For food, try pubs. Everyone says that. Some pubs are still a bit pricey but still they're cheaper than restaurants. Cafes are often good value, if they're diner style cafe's not trendy "Cafes" or bars. Tea rooms are often good too, for a light lunch or late afternoon soup and sandwich. Often Chinese and Curry restaurants have good value for money, serving up large portions that can be shared between 2 or more people. The Wetherspoons chain of pubs tends to have really reasonable prices, there is a small number of items where two meals selected from them cost about 6 pounds total.
If you are in the area of some of the markets, like Camden or Portobello Road, there are always hot food kiosks where you can get fast food (as in quick and hot, not tepid and bad for you), often a tasty ethnic dish such as curry or chinese, cheap.
Grocery stores and places like Marks and Spencer food halls have take out sandwiches and salads and beverages. They even have small bottles of wine.
Fondest memory: Avoid fast food joints which, while reasonable in price though probably more expensive than you're used to at home, don't tend to have good quality food. Besides, why go to a McDonald's in London! You can do that at home!
If you want to treat yourself to a really nice restaurant, go for lunch when the menu will be cheaper. Some churches (For example St. Mary Le Bow near St. Pauls... see restaurant tip) have tea and lunch rooms and museum cafes are often very reasonably priced.
For specific suggestions, Timeout has a book on Cheap Eats in London and i believe there's a Cheap Sleeps in London as well. Cheap eats can be bought off Amazon.
Covent Garden is one of my favorite places in London. There is so much to see and do. We spent hours exploring this area on both of our trips!!
Fondest memory: As we walked around Covent Garden, it began to rain. For a few minutes, it was a light rain but, quickly turned to a pour. We ducked into the Charles Dickens Coffee Room on Tavistock Road. It is a quaint, cramped little corner serving drinks, sweet snacks and sandwiches. We sipped our tea and hot chocolate until the rain stopped.
I went out for dinner with my good friend VT'er Jennifer while she was over here in London for 12 hours on a stop over before she went to Germany to start her vacation.
We went to Covent Garden to the Piazza Cafe for dinner.
Many restaurants add a ‘discretionary’ service charge to your bill, but in places that don’t you are expected to leave a 10% to 15% tip unless the service was unsatisfactory. Waiting staff are often paid derisory wages on the assumption that the money will be supplemented by tips. It’s legal for restaurants to include a service charge in the bill but this should be clearly advertised.
You don’t need add a further tip. You never tip to have your pint pulled in a pub but staff at bars now often return change in a little metal dish, expecting some of the coins to glue themselves to the bottom. If you take a boat trip on the Thames you’ll find some guides and/or drivers asking for a tip in return for their commentary. Whether you pay is up to you.
Nice place to warm the cockles on a chilly wet spring day. This pub is situated on Bankside (next to the Thames) and is great to pop in for a Guinness or a coffee or a meal while you are doing some sightseeing in the area. It's warm and spacious and popular and has plenty of seating areas as it is on 3 floors. Check the View London website for further details and a bit of history.
Fondest memory: Finding nice warm friendly cosy pubs when you most need them :)
Favorite thing: You really can't go further than a block or two without seeing a pub. More often than not pubs in London are beautiful buildings, full of character, but you'll find the real character and charm will be on the inside. So pick one you like, go in and have lunch or dinner and just relax in the atmosphere!
Even though i have been to the UK several times before i never had eaten this yet. The name alone reminds me of the Harry Potter books... And according to Bernie it is typical english so when we couldnt decide she told us to try this..
It is quite good though very sweet. ANd i was glad i didn't need to eat all of it since Inga and i had decided to share this...
That was one of the nice experiences i had in London. The St. Patrick Parade and then all the fun all day in the south bank.
The parade it self was nice & very colorful,
Afterwards we went to the south bank where all the parties and happening were. Music everywhere, food, People with customs, Shows & dancing Oh ...and beer ! ofcours and what else but an Irish Beer ?! and loads of it !
If you're in London at the time of the parade (March 16th) then dont miss it !
Its always nice to meeting friends new and old at the great VT meets. This time around I was meeting Holger in the hope I could convince him to support Chelsea next season. Well my team in Germany is Bayern Munich, but I'll be keeping an eye on the German bundesliga division 2 for Borussia M'galdbach *winkygrin* Just joking Holger.
We started the evening off to see the illumantions of London and went to the Horniman at hays bar right opposite the famous HMS Belfast.
Favorite thing: I really enjoyed going to pubs and drinking beer which is very popular as you know.In every part of London you can find pubs where they offer drink and even food.The music is different from place to place but I always manged to find something good.Cheers
A mini VT meeting in London. From left to right we have: bzh (Bruno), floss1 (Pieter), Ray (Pieter's wife), lalique (Marianna), and me.
Drinks in the Punch & Judy were followed by dinner in my favourite budget Chinese restaurant, Wong Kei.
One of the highlights of the evening was Pieter's brother, Jan, ordering his meal in Chinese. The waiter looked a bit confused and replied in English. Jan tried again later. Exasperated, the waiter then explained that he spoke Cantonese and couldn't understand Mandarin!
Photo courtesy of Bruno.
Favorite thing: St.Brides Fleet Street has a familiar look to it - it was the inspiration behind the Wedding Cake. A local baker, William Rich, was well known for his decorative desserts, and wanted a special cake for his daughter Susanna's wedding. He was up all night trying to design one when he looked out of his window, and in the early morning sun saw the spire and had a flash of inspiration (he was in-spired, you may say). He copied the Chris Wren's church as a cake, and it has been used ever since. you can see the original wedding dress of Susanna Rich in the crypt of the Church.
I love Starbucks. I adore it. And I don't care who wants to argue how commercialized or consumer-specific it has become. (of course it isn't as good as good old regular NY coffee that comes in Greek cups!)
How to order something "skim" at Starbucks?
Just say "skinny!"
"Hi. Welcome to Starbucks. How can I help you today?"
"Hi. I'd like a skinny cafe latte."
-oh. what does that mean?
-oh. it means a cafe latte SKIM.
The Source is an expensive but pleasant enough cafe in Brewer Street, Soho. We popped in for a coffee and cheesecake break. One slice of strawberry cheesecake with two coffees came to just under £9.
The coffee was average and the cheesecake a little too moussey - but it seemed happy enough :)
Fondest memory: Sitting in a café at St Katherine's Dock near Tower Bridge and have a cuppa coffee watching the world goes by. The area is quite peaceful and relaxing on the comfy sofa. The cafe has full sized windows, so you can just sit there, enjoy your coffee and enjoy your view at the dock. There's not many tourists here.