London was my hometown for 34 years before I moved to the USA. I get back to the city 2-3 times a year for a quick visit as it still holds a very special place in my heart but it has changed; maybe for the better. I used to know this town like the back of my hand but now I feel like a tourist.
This is a big and impossibly dynamic metropolis. London beckons in a way other cities can’t. It’s in my blood. So even if I’m not an insider here anymore I still have some great foodie finds in this very expensive city.
First off, a little history.
London never had the food culture of Paris or Milan. It was good but only if you ate at the best restaurants. The rest of the eateries could be quite dire. However over the last two decades this all changed. The great news is that London got with the trend and found a love for great food and in the process left Paris and Milan behind. London became the worldwide hub for fusion and modern food which has helped elevate British modern cuisine to a whole new level. Even people that connect through London Heathrow will get a taste of this as in the airport they now have great value Japanese food like ITSU.
Once you arrive in London there is a massive variety of food. The one thing I love about London is the fact we had no real cuisine to speak of and so this inspired the most authentic of ethnic restaurants to flourish. I have had the best Chinese food outside Hong Kong here and the best Indian food in the world. In fact the # 1 Indian dish Chicken Tika actually evolved in the UK and was never seen in India. It’s true, the Brits invented it.
So where to go?
Well if you want fancy and the best British modern, go to the Wolsley in Piccadilly. This resto boasts the most elaborate of decors and exhibits a true British modern flair. Book ahead of time as it can get quite busy. But the cool thing is if they’re full, come back the next morning as they even do a breakfast. This is the place to be seen. I was there with my Director buddy Stephen Daldry and we were seated next to Sir Bob Geldorf (which of course he knew so it gave the venue a clubby feel).
For Chinese absolutely nothing beats Chinatown on Gerard Street. The chefs here mainly came from Hong Kong due to the UK ties and so the restaurants tend to be as authentic as anything you could imagine. Most of the eateries here are great. Just find your favorite and enjoy. But if your tastebuds are leaning towards Thai then there is a fabulous chain called Thai Sq. For me the best location is the one in Trafalgar Sq.
Now If you want Italian then the most authentic Italian restaurant in London (and the one that still holds the elite crowd after decades) is La Famillia off the Kings Road. This is a personal favorite of mine as after you pass through the doors it feels like time stands still. Its trademark is offering is classic dishes surrounded by people that dress for dinner.
If you have never been to London then you also have to also check out the supermarket. M&S (or as locals still call it Marks & Sparks) offers prepared foods of amazing quality to take home to the hotel. But the fact remains, for me at least, Harrods has the best food hall in the world. It may seem ridiculously expensive for most Americans but it feels like Downton Abbey has come to serve you.
Happy travels to London and happy eating!
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.