Wednesday, November 25, 2015

London stopover makes for a great date night of art, dinner, theatre and a good walk about.

I love to stop over in London.  One of my favourite evenings starts at Trafalgar Square.  It  never gets old for me, I love the embassies,  tourists, busy Londoners and the protesters.  There’s a feeling of immediacy that appeals to me.  We headed there as soon as we dumped our luggage.  Overlooking the square, The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery both offer free admission.   I especially like the Photographs Collection at The Portrait Gallery with iconic photos of the most interesting people.  Dinner on top at the Portrait Restaurant is good value for a great table with an amazing view overlooking the city with Big Ben front and centre.  We booked a table for 5:30 but went up early and scored a table at the window and relaxed over a bottle of Tempranillo from Quinta Milu Ribera del Duero.  They have an excellent wine list with a large selection of wines by the glass in 125ml and 250ml pours.  The cured salmon starter was an exceptional part of the Pre Theatre 2 course dinner at £19.5.  We still had lots of time to find our theatre after dinner.  Kenneth Branagh jumping on tables in tights was fun enough to keep me awake after a long, long day.  Check Branagh’s theatre company at The Garrick for some of the best theatre ever.
Grain Store, King's Cross, London

We were lucky enough to have a few days in London and started our next day with The British Library.  I loved the Beatles stuff.  Afterward we walked north past St. Pancras and King’s Cross Station to the newly developed King’s Cross area to find Grain Store, named The UK’s Most Sustainable Restaurant and awarded menu of the year.  The mushroom and cheddar croquettes were beautifully presented and so good we were tempted to order them for dessert but were swayed by the pumpkin and chestnut tart with whiskey sauce. I'm a real sucker for a good whiskey sauce.  The restaurant has a great atmosphere with business people, families and mom’s and tots at tables. 
Cheddar and Mushroom Croquettes with Truffle Salt
Pumpkin and Chestnut Tart with Maple Syrup Whiskey Sauce
What would a trip to London be without a bowl of noodles at Wagamama.  With locations all over London, dinner at Wagamama helps bring your average cost per meal down a bit.  Cheap and cheerful it’s always a good option.  We went to the Covent Garden location before seeing Photograph 51 with starring Nicole Kidman.  Incredible story, great acting.

For our final day we spent our morning at the Soane museum with a guided tour including viewing Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress.  If you've never been, add this little museum on Lincoln’s Inn Fields to your list. A short walk north and we spent some time in the British Museum, also free admission.  I hadn't been since the inner courtyard was transformed into the largest covered public square in Europe.  It's impressive.  We ate lunch at the Great Court Restaurant under the beautiful glass dome.  I had the Fig and Burrata salad, a real winner that I’ll be trying to duplicate at home.  Fine coffee too.  It's very popular, reservations recommended.
Great Court Dome
Finally with a day of travel ahead to Bordeaux, we  had breakfast at The Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden.  We had to try the full English Vegetarian Breakfast.    Haloumi and avocados took the place of the bacon and sausage.  It’s more than I could eat though so next time I’ll order something simple.  It’s a super comfortable restaurant.  Nice spot all in all.