Why English Food Doesn’t Suck, part 1: What I Had For Lunch In London

23 04 2009

Blue skies in London!

I spent last weekend in London (and by weekend, I mean Sunday to Tuesday), and it defied stereotype right and left.  The weather was gorgeous and the food was delicious!  Seriously.  Upon arrival, we were directed to a restaurant near our hotel for the best fish and chips in the neighborhood (and arguably, all of London, so they claimed at the hotel).


... and chips

The green stuff on the plate with the fish is called “mushy peas.”  Terrible name, but the stuff was rather tasty.  There was a bit of mint in there with the peas, giving it a fresh, springy flavor that worked really well with the crisp fried fish.

The next day, we lunched at a fantastic little spot called The Modern Pantry.


Sautéed cheese, salad greens, lavosh, and more!

As you can see, it was sunny that day, too.  The restaurant had a selection of “small plates” as well as more substantial main dishes.  I opted for a plate of fritters made of dried fruit and halloumi cheese, served with a tamarind yogurt sauce, followed by a salad with olives, green beans, spiced pecans, roasted grapes, a slab of toasted cheese, and a lavosh cracker.  Nick chose the pork belly dish, and says that the picture below “looks almost as good as it tasted.”

Crispy, meaty, succulent pork belly.  With some vegetables, or something.

For dessert we had a beautiful bowl of rice pudding ice cream in a pool of poached rhubarb and caramelized banana.

Colorful and delectable

One interesting thing we noted: all those quintessentially English pint (and half-pint) glasses…

I'm a half-pint!

Made in France.  Who knew?

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




8 responses

23 04 2009
Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer

I obviously ate at the wrong places when I was there as the meals were well marginal at best – Thanks for the tip!

24 04 2009

I have a friend who was in London the past two weeks and reviewed nearly every place she ate. It was interesting and there were many more hits than misses. I think I would eat fish and chips damn near every day for lunch though. Crispy fish is one of my favorite foods, hands down. Glad to see you returned safely!

24 04 2009

Wow–is it bad that we all harbor these “English food sucks” preconceptions? Apparently, while they might have some grounding in reality in a deep and murky past, we are now Wrong about them, and I think that’s a very good thing! Sounds like a great time–great weather plus great food sounds like a perfect combination!

25 04 2009

Ah… mushy peas. I must add those to my list of foods I must have when I finally go home for a visit!

I didn’t know there was a general “English food sucks” concept. Not that I realised there really *was* much “English” food other than fish and chips! Coming from N.Ireland, I grew up on a diet that was partially British, partially Irish. And it mostly consisted of Italian, Chinese, American and Indian food!

25 04 2009

Cathy – You’re welcome! In my (admittedly limited) experience, it is a great food town!

Melissa – Thanks! It was tempting to go back for fish and chips every day, I must admit. 🙂

pastrychef – I agree! I think in some ways, countries like the US and England, without a Serious History of Grand Cuisine, are at an advantage. We are less likely to take true excellence for granted, or rest on our laurels, as some countries are prone (pun intended) to doing.

Hails – The mushy peas were great! Sorry, but England’s food, in general, has a terrible reputation, especially in France and the USA. It’s the combination of goofy names (cock-a-leekie, bangers and mash, etc.) with the penchant for offal and a few things that just don’t appeal to non-UK palates (Marmite, Bovril, Salad Cream (whose name just grosses me out, by the way)). That said, I am a defender of British cuisine, as roundly as I may be mocked for even suggesting such a thing exists.

27 04 2009

Mushy peas with mint? That’s a bit fancy! it must have been a very up-market fish and chip shop.

I’m glad you found something good to eat in England even if we do have a bad reputation.

28 04 2009

Mushy peas…ick. Guess all the ones I’ve ever had where made at home, out of a can…and once in a pub near Trafalgar Square – they looked NUCLEAR they were so bright green.
I think there ARE some great places in England to eat and I’m glad you found some!!!
Um, yeah…the pork belly looks REEEEE-DIC-UUUUUUUUUU-LOUS

29 04 2009

Sam – It was more of a restaurant than a pub. A little fancier than we were expecting, but no complaints here!

jodycakes – I think that’s a pretty accurate way to describe the pork belly. 🙂

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