Last Week’s Food Adventures

There’s nothing like sitting down to a delicious meal you didn’t have to cook yourself after working all day (or a perfect cup of tea after an long afternoon shopping, for that matter!). Note: I wasn’t completely lazy this week. I cooked a beef stew on Sunday afternoon and even baked some chocolate chip banana bread that someone (with plenty of help from me of course), devoured pretty quickly.

But I also made it to:


Carolina’s birthday called for a girl’s night at tapas and cocktail bar Pinchito in Shoreditch where our charming Spanish waiter brought us a few rounds of free shots to top off our tasty Hemingway daiquiris or, in Leslie’s case, her usual double shots of straight tequila that she sips from a glass.


I was a bit too distracted with giggling and talk of travel adventures to take any food pictures but it was tapas galore, from fried chunks of salty brie to roasted duck with berry sauce to croquetas de cocido madrileño and other Spanish delights. Here’s a round of shots instead:


After all those tapas, the six of us managed to plough through a red velvet cake from Hummingbird Bakery. We spared a slice for the man with the free shots and left behind a trail of chocolate crumbs. Here’s the birthday girl:


It was a tiny little place with dim lights and random photos of colourful Barcelona images and other things Spanish on the walls. Drinks were good. Food was good. Staff were friendly and let us stick around for about four hours. If it wasn’t in the far away land that is East London, I’d go back more often!


Who knows why, but the next morning I woke up earlier than usual, so I decided to take my book and have a relaxing tea on one of the comfy seats at Cafe Nero (which is a chain and everywhere you look) on Gloucester Road since it’s on my walk to work. I like the atmosphere in the morning, even though the tea isn’t great. In fact, the whole experience isn’t really even worth mentioning apart from the fact that I wanted to share this little instagram photo:

It was like the devil/angel situation that morning. I wanted to be the the guy on the couch, but it was time to look alive and be the guys at the table.


When I lived in Earl’s Court, I discovered this little gem on Earl’s Court Road. It’s easy to pass by and now that I work just around the corner, we get take away for lunch occasionally. Dimple and I went there for dinner the day I was at Cafe Nero. I am obsessed with the pad see ew and we usually split veggie spring rolls.


Again, I didn’t take food pictures (I know, I know… I’ll do it properly next time!) Addie’s is a great little place. They serve Bankok-style “street food” which is delicious and super cheap with pretty big portions as well.


Reserve a table or get there early. We got there the minute they opened at 6pm so it was still relatively empty. By the time we left, it was jam packed with people waiting for tables.


It was a week for Thai food, I guess, which is always a good week. Thai Taste is on Cromwell Road, worth a wander in if you’re in the area. They’re a bit slow with the service, but the food is good. A bit more expensive and a bit smaller portions than Addie’s though. Came here for lunch with some colleagues and no pictures but thought I’d mention it anyway! I’m always open ears to Thai food recommendations in London so leave them in the comments if you have any.


Another chain, which I don’t usually write about as you know, but it’s a place I often find myself after an afternoon of shopping because it’s convenient, the sandwiches are good and the juice is even better. It was freezing on Saturday afternoon so I nipped in here to write a few snail mail letters and enjoy a freshly squeezed apple, ginger and strawberry juice. Plus, it has comfy seats and they let you hang out as long as you like, which are always a plus.

Joe and the Juice


The Bluebird, built in an old car garage on King’s Road, has a great reputation in Chelsea and I’d been there before and enjoyed it. So, I was surprised that this was the disappointment of the week. Jorge and I popped in for an afternoon tea. The staff were awkward and distracted and there was a crazy kid running everywhere whose parents were pretty useless at keeping him under control. The atmosphere was all a bit chaotic. So much for a relaxing tea…


We spent Saturday afternoon in Notting Hill, stopping at the fabulous Brit-country-chic Stumper & Fielding shop before wandering around Westbourne Grove. The plan was lunch at Granger & Co, but the inevitable queue was too daunting, so we settled on 202 where there was still a queue, but at least it was inside and snaked through shelves of coffee table Taschen books full of fashion, interior design and architecture to keep us entertained. It was well worth the wait. We had eggs benedict with parma ham, roasted potato fries and some of the best garlic spinach I’ve ever eaten. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. The fruit crumble with ice cream on top looked delicious but we behaved and stayed away. Definitely a place I’d go back to, and great for people watching as it fills up with Notting Hill’s well-heeled crowd. (Again, no pictures. Didn’t plan on writing about any of these-sorry!)


Yup, I know, another chain. And again, nothing to write home about. This one is simply convenient and it’s great for days when it is warm outside because it sits at the corner of Duke of York Square. Good for a quick lunch stop or a lazy afternoon tea and magazine.



This tiny little place is tucked away in the Chelsea Farmer’s Market on Sydney Street.


Thumbs down to the tv playing football, but the gaucho decor is fun. We had, of course, big juicy steaks that were delicious, some fries that were not so delicious and some spinach that was definitely tasty (though not as amazingly memorable at the spinach at 202)!


The freshly squeezed orange juice was pretty memorable though and we had a nice night out. I actually have food pictures this time. iPhone food pictures, but at least they are pictures, right?


The dessert was tasty too – particularly the dulce de leche bit which reminded me of Colombia.


Where’s the best steak you’ve ever eaten in London? I think mine, that I can remember so far, was possibly the Electric Cinema restaurant on Portobello Road or maybe Maggie Jones on Kensington Church Street…Like the Thai recommendations, I’m always open to good steak!


And what have I learned from all of this? Probably that this week I should cook more… Maybe it’s time for another Hello Fresh order?


Listen to a Londoner: Natalie Lester

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email

Natalie Lester

Natalie has a BA in English, BSc in geography and MA in publishing; She loves English literature and her outlet is writing. Her favourite gelato is found in London at Gelato Mia in Notting Hill (dark chocolate and Biscotto). She loves the theatre and when she was younger, wanted to be Christine in Phantom.

LLO: How long have you been in London, where did you come from originally and what brought you here?
NL: I’ve been in London for a little more than a year – I just finished my MA in publishing at UCL…turned in my dissertation in September so here’s hoping for the best! I grew up in Idaho (in the US) and during my undergrad I did a study abroad in London. Ever since I have been planning to come back. In my opinion everyone should live in London for at least a little bit!

LLO: What’s your favourite way to pass a Saturday afternoon in London?
NL: Nothing beats the markets in London on a Saturday. I live right next to Regent’s Canal (Little Venice) and you can easily walk along the canal to Camden Market. If you go early enough then usually you are the only one along the canal and you get to breathe in the crisp air all by yourself. On my way to Camden I sometimes take a detour into Regent’s Park with my book… but I always make sure I get to Camden for my favourite treat in London – Chocolate covered strawberries and pineapple on a banana leaf!

LLO: Where is your favourite place to pick up an American treat if you’re craving something from home?
NL: One time I was in desperate need of some Root Beer and happened to be in the Leicester Square area so I had to pop into Ed’s Diner and pay a ridiculous price for a can of some A&W…it was worth it!

LLO: Which part of London are you most familiar with and what’s the best part about it?
NL: Well, I live on Edgware Road, which is pretty central London, so probably that area and then the Regent’s Canal area I was talking about earlier. London is great for its diversity and there is no better place to see this than Edgware Road with its plethora of Middle Eastern restaurants. And while the rest of London seems to close ridiculously early, you can venture onto Edgware at midnight and it still has the liveliness of midday.

LLO: If I told you I would be in London for one night only and wanted to get off the tourist trail, where would you send me to eat and drink?
NL: Ok, maybe this is still a bit touristy, but you can’t beat their chicken and leek pie at Doggetts Pub. It is right on the southbank by Blackfriar’s Bridge and if you want a nice meal you can go up top to the restaurant and sit by the window and watch London light up at night.

LLO: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an expat in London?
NL: Maybe this is a lame challenge to have, but I miss my clothes dryer every day! Jeans just don’t fit the same here with nothing to dry them back into shape. Like I said, lame, but other than that…oh, and trying to find a frozen turkey at Thanksgiving (an adventure that ended with my flatmate and I carrying a frozen turkey in our arms for 45 minutes on our walk back from Camden). Other than those two things I have very few complaints about London.

LLO: Tell us about a favourite London memory that could only have happened in London.
NL: Keeping on the Thanksgiving theme, last year my flatmate and I were hosting a Thanksgiving party for a lot of people and we had purchased two turkeys. Somehow we forgot that this wasn’t America and not only did we not have room for them in our fridge, but we didn’t have two ovens. On Thanksgiving day we rang up some friends that lived about 15 minutes away to ask if we could borrow their oven. We ended up carrying the pre-cooked (but stuffed and seasoned) bird down the road and stuffed it into their oven which was even smaller than ours. Four hours later I picked up the bird—who was now full of juices and twice as heavy—and proceeded to walk down the very busy Edgware Road with a 20lb bird and turkey juice sloshing all over me everytime I placed a foot down! Surprisingly, after all that poor turkey had been through, and my arms shaking for about 20 minutes afterwards, Thanksgiving dinner never tasted so good!

LLO: Favourite London discovery?
NL: My favourite place in all of London is one I discovered with my fiancé. He is a Londoner and loves to walk on the southbank by the London Eye at night when the trees have their blue lights. While we were sitting, gazing up at the Eye through a sea of blue, we noticed that there was a break in the hedge and on the opposite side of the trees was a park…with swings. Now, it isn’t like this playground is exactly hidden, but it is further back from the main southbank walkway and I had never noticed it before. We quickly climbed over the rest of the hedge and snuck into the playground to swing (my all-time favourite past-time). In front is a large tree, and when you swing at night you catch glimpses of the London Eye lights through the trees and it looks like the London sky is full of stars that you can almost touch. I think it is one of the most magical places in London.

LLO: What would you suggest if I asked you to plan a creative, off-the-wall or otherwise unique date in London?
NL: Saturday morning head down to Borough Market, bring your appetite! Spend the first little bit just wandering around the stalls and take advantage of the free samples. Then, just about midday choose something that either a) you can’t possibly resist or b) something that is really strange and you have never tried before. Don’t eat it yet, but walk to Shakespeare’s Globe and wait in line for the groundlings so that you are the first ones in. While you are waiting break open lunch and enjoy! When they open the gates make sure that you get front and centre and you can lean up against the stage! Enjoy!

LLO: If you move back to America in the future, what five things will you miss most about London?
NL: Where do I start, once you have lived in London it becomes a part of you and I think there will always be something that I miss. But, if I had to choose 5, I would have to say 1) waking up on a crisp Autumn morning, getting a Chocolate Milano at Café Nero and crunching through the leaves in Hyde Park; 2) Big Ben at night…it just looks so magical and everytime I see it at night I think that Peter Pan will come land on the hands of the clock at any moment; 3) Amazing fish and chips the the hole-in-the-wall chippies (they are always the best); 4) Christmas time in London, from the Harrod’s Christmas Parade to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park; 5) Low-tide on the Thames on the southbank skipping rocks.

Thanks Natalie!

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