London is a lot of things: the home of Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, a hive of cultural and historical importance since the Middle Ages, and one of the best cities for food in the world. British cuisine itself doesn’t always have a terribly positive reputation, but the London food scene can no longer be held to cliches of bland boiled vegetables, Sunday roasts and baked beans on toast. From jaunts to humble hole-in-the-wall eateries and bucket list expeditions to Michelin-starred dining institutions, to weekend visits to farmers’ markets and artisan bakeries, delis and speciality stores; London is a veritable smorgasbord of incredible food experiences. Here are just 10 to whet your appetite.
Sip Tea and Nibble Sandwiches at Claridge’s
There might be nothing quite as British as an afternoon tea, and those wanting to indulge in this quintessentially refined tradition have no shortage of options in London. The Ritz, Langham and Sketch all receive honourable mentions for their offerings, but it is hard to go past the Foyer at Claridge’s. This Art Deco space has a legacy of afternoon tea that spans more than 150 years, and everyone – from A-listers, to musicians and the crème de la crème of London society – have taken a turn in this room. Take delicate bites of fingers sandwiches filled with smoked Scottish salmon, Norfolk chicken breast, or Clarence Court duck egg, before cherry-picking from the sweets tray – raisin or plain scones, macarons, and buttery hand-made pastries. Classical music accompanies service, and you also have the option to enjoy a glass or two of Laurent-Perrier Rosé. And no, there is no need to stick your pinky out.
Pick Up Tricks From a Carb Connoisseur at Bread Ahead
Love carbohydrates in all of their glorious baked forms? If you’re a devotee of all things doughy and delicious, then make a beeline for the baking school at Bread Ahead. This beloved bready outpost is the brainchild of Justin Gellatly and Matt Jones and is attached to the eponymous shop and bakery. The school is located at Borough Market, one of London’s best markets and top things to do, and offers courses that teach the art of making doughnuts, sourdough, croissants, pretzels and bagels. Would-be bakers can also sign up to workshops specialising in Christmas, New York, French and Italian-inspired treats. Attendees don’t need to know their challah from their cronuts to take part – all are welcome! The courses are super popular, so booking in advance is recommended. And if you can’t get in, still be sure to swing past for one of Bread Ahead’s cult, custard-filled doughnuts – we dare you to stop at just one.
Become a Would-Be Fishmonger at Billingsgate Seafood Market
A fish market may not necessarily be at the top of your ‘things to see in London’ list, but for foodie travellers wanting to brush up on their seafood skills, then that could be about to change. Head to Billingsgate Market, the largest inland fish market in the UK, to reel in a session at Billingsgate Seafood School’s Catch of the Day course. These weekend-run classes are specifically designed for budding fishmongers. Some of the things you’ll learn include what to look for when buying fresh seafood, and how to master the basics of fish preparation. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the market, and get hands on with filleting and scaling your own fish. You’ll also take away some new recipes to try out when you get back home. This certainly counts as one of the more niche food experiences in London – and one that makes the early wake up call (courses start just after 6am!) more than worth it.
BYO For One-of-a-Kind Cocktails at Moonshine Saloon
Have a favourite bottle of alcohol you’d like to turn into something special? Take it to Moonshine Saloon. Here, you turn up with a beloved bottle, and then settle in to wholeheartedly embrace the raucousness of the Wild Wild West. For those seeking unique drinking experiences in London, this is it. This thirst-quenching outing will see you kitted up in full cowboy gear, smuggled into an East London saloon and invited to take part in the revelry (which could include card games or interacting with one of the colourful characters). As for the liquor you lugged with you? It is given the magic touch by the saloon’s bar staff and transformed into multiple one-of-a-kind libations that you can sip at and nurse all night long. File this one under part secret London adventure, part unusual bars and restaurants. Cheers!
Take a Perch at a Michelin-Starred Chef’s Table
See one of London’s leading female chefs in action when you take a seat for the magnificent chef’s table experience at Michelin-starred restaurant, Murano. This modern Italian diner is helmed by Angela Hartnett and her team, who dish up an exquisite tasting menu that takes its palate-pleasing cues from Hartnett’s Italian upbringing. You are served in the 12-seat private dining room, which features a retractable curtain that reveals a huge window looking directly into the kitchen. Watch the chefs at work as you savour courses from the seasonally-changing set menu – seared scallops with whipped cod’s roe, nettle and pecorino risotto, buttermilk pannacotta with hazelnut brittle. Matched wines are also available. As far as indulgent fine dining experiences in London go, this is hard to top.
Tap Into Other Senses With Dining in the Dark
Think you have a pretty well honed palate? Put it to the test – as well as one or two of your other senses – when you book into London’s dining in the dark outpost. Dans Le Noir definitely ranks as one of the most immersive dining experiences in London, and could well be in the running to take out the title for one of the most unique restaurants in London. The premise, which has become somewhat of a worldwide phenomenon, is simple: you arrive at the restaurant and are asked to select a mystery menu – the only hints provided are meat, fish or vegetarian. You are then guided into the pitch black dining room. All wait staff at Dans Le Noir are blind, and this is one of the keystones of the restaurant as the idea initially came about as a way to provide more opportunities in the hospitality industry for the vision impaired. Dans Le Noir is open for lunch and dinner services, and there are options for set, degustation or tasting menus. No matter which you choose, this is a feast for the senses.
Go Out For Dinner and a Movie
This isn’t your standard dinner and a movie outing. KinoVino is the ultimate pairing for cinephiles and gourmands. A (formerly) secret supper club in London, KinoVino holds movie viewing nights that are served up alongside a dinner menu inspired by the film being shown. A recent event hosted a screening of Head-On, a German-Turkish film, that included an incredible sharing feast whipped up by Kurdish chef Melek Erdal. And, an upcoming get-together looks to celebrate Galentine’s Day in February with a showing of Sex and the City. Naturally, some of the TV series’ most famed cocktails – Cosmopolitans, Manhattans, Martinis – will be making an appearance. KinoVino is a monthly gathering and every session is different, interesting and entertaining – making it one of the best supper clubs in London.
Embrace Country Life For a Day
So while Hackney City Farm may not quite rural enough to be truly deemed the ‘country’, it definitely offers a pleasantly tranquil contrast to the pace of central London. Located on the site of an old brewery, this urban farm is home to a menagerie of farmyard animals – donkeys, goats, chickens, pigs – and an incredible garden and orchard, with fruit trees, vegetable patches and herb plantings. Keen green thumbs can even volunteer to get their hands dirty in the garden (available on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons). There are also beekeeping and apple-pressing workshops, plus you can stock up on honey, eggs and other take-home goodies from the Urban Farm Shop. Don’t forget to stop by Frizzante, the on-site Italian agriturismo cafe, where menus highlight both produce grown on the farm and in the local area. A trip to the farm makes for a great (almost) secret food experience in London, especially for those with young kids.
Be Shown the Best Bites of Soho
Sink your teeth into the food scene of Soho, the area of London’s West End that counts Oxford and Regent Streets among its borders and that is near-to-bursting with cafes, restaurants and theatres. So bountiful is Soho, that being able to differentiate between the true gems and the tourist traps isn’t always crystal clear. With that in mind, those looking to delve deeper into Soho’s foodie offerings can join the Twilight Soho Food Tour. Make sure you bring your appetite for this guided excursion, as you tuck into tacos at a local Mexican joint, continue to Chinatown for dumplings, nibble on bite-sized Spanish tapas, and refresh your palate with sips of a quintessential British gin and tonic. The tour goes for about four hours and is one of the best London food tours in the evening – a great option for things to do in London at night!
Fall For Fromage on a Cheesy Crawl
Fans of fromage, rejoice! This is the ultimate ode to your favourite form of dairy. Embark on an epic two-hour of London’s cheese scene, in search of the finest servings of fromage you can find. Sample world-class blue cheese at Fortnum & Mason (a cheese counter that counts the royal family as regular customers), try Prosecco cheese, take a bite out of a classic cheese toastie, dig a spoon into a baked Camembert, and top the experience off with a delectable cheese board at Covent Garden’s Champagne + Fromage. This mouth-watering cheese crawl has definitely got our vote as one of the best London food tours going around.
Eager to try one of these incredible London food experiences for yourself? Find cheap flights to London with Webjet. You can also book your London hotel, or combine your airfare with your accommodation into one holiday package – and save a few extra pounds that you can then put towards even more delicious experiences in the UK capital.