Tag Archives: London

Beyond Fish and Chips – part II

29 Sep

England – September 11 to 17

Our food adventure in England continues…

London – Wimbledon – Café Renshaw – September 11

For those of you who’ve seen the Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany romantic-comedy, this might look familiar…

If you thought of “Wimbledon,” then you thought correctly. Tee-hee. It was rather exciting seeing and being in Wimbledon. Much of the park was closed off but the shop and café along with their surrounding areas (within distance from the courts) remained open.

My pre-dinner (not exactly afternoon tea) consisted of Pea soup with bread.

Ryan’s BLT

London – Wandsworth – The Brewers Inn – September 11

After our excursion to Wimbledon Park and doing our laundry, we were exhausted and famished. We walked around the town to examine our options. The first pub we entered only served drinks but the helpful bartender pointed us to the direction of the Young’s brewery restaurant. So off we went and came upon The Brewers Inn. We figured this restaurant must be it.

It wouldn’t be until much later of our trip that we’ll figure out that we got the wrong restaurant. While driving around town, we discovered the official Young’s brewery restaurant (meaning not just a pub/restaurant that serves the local brew), which was what the bartender recommended. If only we walked a couple of blocks more…

Ryan’s first drink of the night. Mine was sparkling water (I asked for tap water but apparently they don’t serve it).

The appetizer: garlic bread. Praise our intuition that we decided to order an appetizer.

It looks good doesn’t it? But in reality, it wasn’t. My eyes were fooled! My tastebuds overruled what my eyes communicated. The presentation really belied the fresh-from-the-freezer chips, fresh-from-the-freezer peas, and the disappointing fish. Why “disappointing”? The fish was tasteless and the batter was pasty. And to add insult, they were out of malt vinegar.

And Ryan’s burger order looks… looks…

Looks dry. Well, because it is dry. And there goes those bloody fresh-from-the-freezer chips again. What’s unacceptable is that we’ve had great meals in pubs at Central London that cost us the same amount. The meal at The Brewers Inn was sub-par compared to meals we’ve had in other pubs across the country.

You might question what this bowl of chips is doing. More chips? But why? Well, my friend, we were deceived. The menu wasn’t explicit with the descriptions for the dishes so Ryan assumed that the burger didn’t come with chips so he asked for a side-order of it. A £2.50, or roughly $5 side-order of a small bowl of fresh from the freezer chips… which we hardly touched.

My unsatisfactory meal was washed down with a satisfactory drink.

Another satisfactory drink. For us, the only good thing about The Brewers Inn were the drinks.

Reading – Thames Valley Park – Microsoft Campus – September 12

After last night’s meal, the cooks/chefs of Microsoft Reading’s cafeterias are the real heroes.

The Microsoft Reading campus is comprised of 5 attached buildings with each building housing a café and/or cafeteria. We were in building 4’s cafeteria (or so my memory leads me to believe).
Speaking of Microsoft food, a guy named Christian Buckley had a simple dream of visiting (and I presume eating in) all of Microsoft Redmond’s cafeteria, and that dream has taken him abroad as well, visiting and eating in various Microsoft cafeterias. And to borrow a page (and run with it) from Christian B., perhaps, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, and the whole Brangelina crew will one day explore Microsoft’s many campus cafeterias also. Perhaps even Madonna, Paris Hilton (never thought I’d ever mention her in relation to food, I wonder if what she eats), Kiera Knightley, David Beckham, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Cruise, Tina Fey, Barack Obama, Al Gore, Prince Charles, the Clintons, the bright minds behind Rock Band and Rock Band 2, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Gates… oh all right, I’m done.
Ahem, ahem. As you can plainly see in the photo Ryan’s order consisted of hotdog and chips. The pie that you see on his tray is our shared dessert.

Mmmm, my lunch consisted of a very tender roasted curried chicken, roasted vegetables, and onion rings. A small but very satisfying meal.

Oooh, and here’s our dessert, a lovely piece of blackcurrant cream pie. I’m salivating just remembering how scrumptious it was.

Reading – Green Park – CostCo – September 12

A CostCo in the UK?! Why, yes indeed! Something I inadvertently stumbled upon while reading up on Reading in wikipedia.

Same look, different menu.

Why look who tried and demolished a CostCo UK fruit sundae! (Ryan’s pizza slice not pictured) We were informed that the ingredients used were all British-based food products.

One of the many things we found in CostCo UK that we probably we’ll never see in Costco US.

Duck! They’ve got duck in their meat section!!! I was quite green with envy when we saw this.

Sure, Costco US might have this but seeing that UK is just a hop, skip, and jump away from the Mediterranean… well, think about it.

My favorite Cadbury chocolate!

Why yes, it’s a giant bag of tea bags!

Here’s another. It’s the UK after all.

As their slogan goes, “You either love it or hate it,” so here’s a large tub of Marmite for those who love it.

I aim to try anything once, provided that I’m not convinced or have a deep-sated belief that it could harm me (I find that a necessary clause). I’ve never had a pickled egg but I’m interested in trying it. My first introduction to pickled egg was thanks to Homer Simpson. I don’t recall which episode it was when a depressed Homer gorged on pickled eggs while sharing his sorrow with Moe.

A selection of European cheeses (sigh)

Reading – Caversham – The Griffin – September 12


Our appetizing appetizer

A smashing Sausage and mash for Ryan

They were out of bacon-wrapped, Camembert-stuffed chicken breast so I had to settle for a roasted chicken and pasta dish. What I learned: when in a pub, be a traditionalist and order pub food. Though my dinner wasn’t bad, it wasn’t anything to sing home about.

Surprisingly, we had no room for dessert, but Ryan ordered coffee to stave off a creeping sleepiness.

London – The Riverside – Strada – September 13

This busker is one of the many living statues who performed at the River Thames Festival.

View of outside the restaurant

Ryan had pizza rustica (first half) and I had pizza cotto (Charlotte’s, Dennis’, and their kids’ lunch, not pictured)

London – Islington – The Crown – September 13

Nice light trails

Ahhhh, a nice cold bottle of cider

Ryan can’t get enough of sausage and mash so he ordered it again.

I didn’t want anything too heavy so I ordered a duck liver pate with chutney. (Charlotte’s and Dennis’ dinner not pictured)

London – Wandsworth – M & S Simply Food – September 14

We missed breakfast so we went to a nearby Marks & Spencer for food. We didn’t want anything heavy since we had dinner plans with Shajeda, my friend from grad school and a fantastic cook.

London – Redbridge – chez Shajeda and family – September 14

Dates for our appetizer

A dinner of traditional Bangladeshi dishes prepared by Shajeda with help from her lovely daughters and cousin.

Mmm, rice. No Asian meal is complete without rice or noodles.

A cool cucumber, carrot, and tomato salad

I’m in love with Shajeda’s lentil soup.

Ooh, these fritters are incredibly tasty. Wrapped within the squash leaves is ground fish with spices, the parcel is then battered and fried. Oh it was sooo good!

According to Shajeda, she let the chicken simmer for about 5 hours. The result is a succulent and spicy chicken dish.

London – Wandsworth – Holiday Inn Express – September 15

Complimentary continental breakfast at our hotel

Cambridge -Cambridgeshire – Café Rouge – September 15

This joint is just lovely. It has a warm atmosphere and if I didn’t know I was in Cambridge, I’d have thought I was in Paris.

Oh I cleaned up this Moules Provencale. The mussels were succulent and the sauce was delectable. We got a side-order of bread just to get every last bit of the tomato and herb sauce.

Ryan’s tasty Terrine de poulet (chicken liver pate)

My plate of Filet de Colin au Ratatoulie

Ryan’s plate of Omelette aux champignons

Cambridge – Cambridgeshire – The Mitre – September 15

Food was decent (at least for us at the night we were there; it appears that there are bad reviews for The Mitre) but the service was slow which there wasn’t any excuse for since the place wasn’t packed.

Cider again for me (Ryan opted not to drink to be extra alert since he’s driving)

Ryan’s Steak ale pie

My Duck confit and vegetables

London – Wandsworth – Holiday Inn Express – September 16

Ryan has been eating the Coco Pops because of the surprisingly uncomplicated list of ingredients (examine next photo).

Buttered toasts, croissant, fruits, and cheeses to start my day.

London – Chingford – CostCo – September 16

We found out at CostCo-Reading that the system won’t allow them to retrieve US member information so without a card or member information, we weren’t allowed to make any purchases save for food. Ryan left his card at home but I had mine with me (though I left it in the hotel the first time) so we decided to check out a CostCo-London.

A jacket potato with tuna salad

A pizza slice (as if the photo doesn’t make that clear enough)

London – Wandsworth – Sainsbury’s – September 16

We weren’t totally hungry, just peckish, and we didn’t feel like doing a sit-down so we picked up snacks in Sainsbury’s, located at a shopping centre not far from our hotel.

Our last dinner of tikka chicken bites, satay chicken, sunflower crispbread, and canned sardines must seem anticlimactic, but in truth we were a bit tired of eating out, felt too lazy at the time to hunt for a place to eat in, weren’t all that hungry except for a homecooked meal. The dinner at Charlotte’s and Dennis’, and at Shajeda’s were delightful and welcomed breaks.
We left on September 17 with our last meal being our hotel’s complimentary breakfast, we had the camera but sans memory card. Ooops. Overall, it was a memorable trip and we definitely plan on crossing the pond again for more good British eats.

Beyond Fish and Chips

24 Sep

England – September 4 to 10

On 3rd September, Ryan and I crossed the pond for a 2-week visit in the Motherland (America’s Mum, that is; not the true Motherland where Homo sapiens originated). It was, I must say, a gastronomic experience.

“But oh ho, Michelle!” Says those who know me. “But you have a prob with British cuisine.”

Ah yes, that is was true.

During my academic stay in Central London a couple of years ago, my mass emails to family and friends were packed with criticisms of English food. But I should clarify that I stayed at a catered hall—dorm food, as many of us can attest to, is infamous for destroying appetites. Mine wasn’t spared. Poor imitations of international cuisine were served left and right! I mean, who uses spaghetti noodles for chow mein?! I was hungry for good food! Therefore, my complaints were inevitable and unavoidable. And well justified.

My hall food experience aside, England arguably offers a spectacular array of international food. London especially. Being a multicultural hub, when it comes to cuisine, the city has a plethora of restaurants featuring cuisines from around the globe. Want to go around the world in 3 meals? London is your answer.

London – Paddington – Pride of Paddington – September 4

Pub on the same block of my parents’ lodging and two blocks from Kat’s hall (Lillian Penson).

Kat’s and my drinks (the light ales flanking the water). They were nice and refreshing!

Window by our table

Mmmm, Bangers and Mash, which according to Kat is the pride of Pride of Paddington. (Not pictured: Kat’s, Mom’s, Dad’s, and Ryan’s dishes)

London – University College London – September 5

Oooh, glasses and glasses of Pimm’s Cup served during my college’s graduation luncheon along with champagne (not pictured). Also available were soft drinks (not pictured) for those who preferred a non-alcoholic drink. There were hors d’oeuvres galore but we got too engrossed with munching away so taking photos took a back seat.

London – Queensway – Little Persia – September 5

Ryan’s drink

What was left of my Chicken Kebab and Rice

London – Edgeware Road – Al Arez – September 6

One of Kat’s fave joints. She learned about the restaurant when she attended a friend’s birthday party that was held there.

My drink: a concoction of date, rose water, and other lovely ingredients that I can’t recall.

Mom’s Melon Shake. Mom makes a similar drink using cantaloupe.

Vegetable soup for Michelle’s soul. Soup is my comfort food.

The toppings (reminds me of pita chips) for Dad’s Chicken soup and my Vegetable soup.

Pickled goods! Olives and pepperoncini.

This sausage and tomato dish that I forgot what is called in Lebanese (but Kat knows for sure) is soooo tasty!

Ah, but this green beans dish was the dish I favored.

The spread

The spread again but with the grilled meats platter (far right) included.

It gets better… a complimentary dessert, Baklawa.

London – Russell Square – chez Carlotte, Dennis, and kids – September 6

Ryan’s drink. Mine, not pictured.

South African jerky. This is nothing like the jerky we know in the States. It wasn’t hard and dry. In fact, it was moist and succulent.

Charlotte’s baked mushroom. Cheesy and yummy!

Due to uncooperative weather, we had an indoor picnic. Check out these South African links. Being a former lacto-ovotarian (I couldn’t give up dairy and egg products), I must admit that when I’m vis-a-vis meaty eats like the ones in the photo, it makes me glad that I decided to convert back to an omnivorous existence.

Get up close and personal with the South African links (I forgot what they’re called).

The picnic spread prepared by our Hostess. Charlotte made the potato salad and caprese salad. Excellent side dishes!

The condiments that Ryan and I couldn’t get enough of.

Cornish ice cream and brownies- an unbeatable combination

London – Queensway – Bella Italia – September 7

Piatto rustico and Gamberi alio

Piatto rustico: prosciutto, salame, mozarella, olives, artichokes, toasted bread

Close up of piatto rustico

Close up of the prosciutto

Our dolce: mixed gelati

Ryan’s sambucca with coffee beans

London – Notting Hill – Leisure Inn – September 8

Complimentary breakfast in our hotel

It’s definitely a British egg. The UK stamp says it all.

Hello yummy sunshine!

London – Queensway – Waffle House – September 8

Free wi-fi here! With purchase of drinks and/or food. Don’t you just like conditionals.

London – Hyde Park (sandwiches from Waffle House)

Ryan’s sandwich: ciabatta, bacon, lettuce, tomato

Still Ryan’s sandwich

My sandwich: a BLT minus the L, so I suppose it’s just a BT sandwich then.

London – Paddington – The Monkey Puzzle – September 8

There was a bit of confusion in the bar and kitchen on the night we dined at The Monkey Puzzle due to a new bartender and a relief cook. Service moved slow but the food was worth the wait. The Proprietor was rather apologetic for the slow service so all our drinks were on the house. Needless to say, we were nonplussed. Or puzzled at The Monkey Puzzle as it were. It’s such a rare experience to receive such gesture that we were thrown by the generosity. What the hey, drinks on the house is nothing to complain about.

Ryan’s drink

My drink. My first and hopefully my last pibwasser.

Fish and Chips with mushy peas for Ryan and Cheese sandwich and chips with homemade chutney for me.

Dessert was Belgian chocolate waffles topped with Cornish ice cream

London – Queensway – Hung Tao Noodle Restaurant – September 9

Notice that “air conditioned” sign on the awning. That’s because most establishments in London aren’t air conditioned.

Oh blessed soup. That was too salty for my taste so Ryan surreptitiously added tea to it. My Hero made it better.

London – Russell Square – Jacques Wine Bar – September 9

My friends from Ifor Evans Hall (Camden), Candy (from Hong Kong), Elena (from Greece), and Sree (who’s working in our alma mater, University College London but soon will be moving to Cambridge for his PhD, how exciting!) hung out at Jacques for coffee, etc, and to reminisce good times. Ryan joined our small company. Candy, Elena, and I returned to the city for our respective graduation ceremonies; each of the colleges had different dates. Unfortunately, not all our mates could make it for the graduation.

While my friends had coffee, I had an afternoon snack of tuna pate with baguette and salad.

Ryan had a pecan pie with a block of ice cream.

London – Queensway – Kiasu – September 9

Our dessert was chendol which is iced coconut milk with red beans, creamed corn, and grass jelly, and topped with palm sugar.

“Kiasu” means “afraid to lose” in Chinese Hokkien dialect.

Our first drink of the night. (Tsingtao Beer, not pictured)

Beef rendang for Ryan. It’s beef chunks in a spicy (made dark by the beef) coconut gravy. See the cilantro? I removed it from Ryan’s dish and placed it in mine because he isn’t fond of the herb.

Nonya laksa for me. It’s white rice noodles in spicy (and light) coconut gravy.

London – Paddington – Bonne Bouch – September 10

After Ryan’s visit (long story) at the E.R. of St. Mary’s Hospital (according to Kat is the hospital where Prince William was delivered), a treat was called for. Thankfully, on the same block where the hospital is located is a charming pattisserie.

Ryan’s Chocolate espresso cake

My Tutti-frutti cake

London – Paddington – The Monkey Puzzle – September 10

We couldn’t leave Central London (the next day, we left for Wandsworth which is at South End) without a second visit of our favorite London pub. I had to say goodbye to the little guy (see photo) who never tires of monkeying about.

First round

Ryan’s Burger with chips

My Gammon and egg with chips

Second round

We just couldn’t leave without trying their Sausage and mash. And we’re glad we still had room for it.

After all the meat dishes, I needed some roughage.

Stay tuned for part II of “Beyond Fish and Chips”…