Merde! It was all so easy solo dining and drinking my way around Paris. I was a foreigner and a pretty exotic one at that in a foreign land. I would walk in with my Del Boy accented french and get a seat and well it was fun. Not that I cared what the waiting staff thought but frankly I sounded as if I just stepped off the Eurostar a day ago not 4.5 years ago and so got away with it. Not so, now that I am back in London, my S-o-u-t-h London accent is as strong as ever. It doesn’t seem as fun. I get a little lost but not so much. What do I miss the most about Paris is the question I get asked the most. The bridges and bread. I miss bread being on the table as soon I sat down and being able to tell the quality of the place from the bread. Honestly, the bread will tell you if you’ll be eating a plate of merde or foodie delight!
So here I’m back now and London is a lot bigger than Paris – I caught that French disease of being late but now frankly I find myself setting off 1.5 hours early to get anywhere and I’m still late.
How am I picking places in London? Well I am still walking around and taking photos of things that take my fancy and noting them down. My bullshit radar is pretty sharp so some things I just think – is that place STILL going (hummus brothers – but I am going to try it). However given the power of twitter – I’ve had a few people follow me and I think ooh yeah I’ll come check out your place. Then there are places that seem so hyped up that I think really – that burger and lobster place in Soho that has a queue of people with a minimum wait of 1 hour whenever I walk past it. If you’ve been reading my blog you know I don’t do queues and 1 hour in the cold for burger and lobster nope sorry no can do. Then there are the places I went to when I had an expenses account – do you remember the expenses account. Yes pre-2008 crash when life was good and I ate my way around London with a good friend Chez Bruce, that fancy place at the Sanderson, Rules, The Dining Rooms and I could go on and on. Ah back in the day!
Lastly – I cannot wait to sit back and relax and enjoy Afternoon Tea in the plethora of London hotels. One of the things I missed in Paris was proper tea and anyone who came to visit was under pain of death to bring tea. That rubbish they sold as English tea in Paris supermarkets should just be recycled without even having the benefit of hot water poured on to it.
Here’s a selection of my London restaurant and bar bucket list that I plan to visit without the benefit of an expenses card and solo in 2015…
- The Clove Club
- Dinings (I hope the sushi is as good as I remember!)
- Duck and Waffle (If I can get a reservation)
- Spring Restaurant
- Grain Store
- Andrew Edmunds
- Soupe du Jour
- Scoff and Banter
- Lobster Kitchen
- Bone Daddies
- Pure Taste (Paleo and Coeliac friendly)
- The Begging Bowl
- Hakkasan’s (I ate there with my expenses card happy days – that soft shell tamarind crab wow)
- Village East
- Social Eating House
- Berners Tavern
- Ember Yard
- Chiltern Firehouse (this will be a lunchtime affair me thinks!)
- Cafe Royal
- Brixton Village (everything there – it got hip whilst I was away)
- Moro (I hope it’s still as good as I remember)
- Afternoon Tea – everywhere…I love, love, love afternoon tea!
- Back in 5 minutes (love the name!)
- St John
- La Bodega Negra
- Rum Club
- Bars in Hoxton & Shoreditch (there seem to be so many)
- Berners (already been but am going back)
- Frank’s café (in the summer when it’s open)
- Zetter Townhouse
- The Experimental Cocktail Bar (there’s one in London apparently!)
Mindfulness is the big thing in 2015 and solo dining is the ultimate mindfulness action. You aren’t talking to anyone and all your concentration is firmly on the food and how you are feeling in the now. Yes – want to be hip get solo dining. Anyway I plan to carry on solo dining, it helps me feel connected to my Parisian lifestyle and frankly I love it. I’ve read the mindfulness books and I like to practice mine with a knife, fork and plenty of wine. Here’s to being able to drink a glass of red wine with fish woo hoo liberté!
If you think there is a place I should try then email and fill me in: firstname.lastname@example.org