olympic dining: london 2012

theromanticThe hubs always says that his favorite part of traveling to countries where he doesn’t speak the language is trying to order off of the menu without sounding like an idiot. This is why, every once in awhile, we like to sprinkle our travels with English-speaking countries–you know, to make the hubs feel better. After hitting Belgium and The Netherlands last year, our stop in England was especially key (the hubs was not so great at Dutch). If you or your travel companion feel similarly and want to brush up on your English-speaking skills, Kaplan has a few schools that teach English in England.

I don’t think anyone can deny the overwhelming presence of British culture in the media these days. Between last year’s royal wedding, this year’s celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and the upcoming London Summer Olympics, I–along with the rest of the world–have serious London fever. Yet, of all the things that are considered to be delightfully British (why yes, I AM typing this post in an English accent, ol’ chap), foodies regularly scoff in the face of the Queen’s cuisine.

…I mean, maybe mini crustless sandwiches are to blame? They do look cuter than they taste.

But never fear: for those of you lucky enough to be on your way to London to support your favorite Olympians, you needn’t starve. I have a few spots I wholeheartedly recommend.

The Wolseley – You really should start your trip off with an old stand-by, and The Wolseley is about as classically British as they come. If blood pudding isn’t for you, I hear you. There are plenty of options outside of your standard English fare, but the hubs swore by the traditional English breakfast by the end of our brunch date.

Muriel’s Kitchen – If you want something a little crunchier, Muriel’s Kitchen is basically the cutest place alive and caters to the local clientele more than the Wolseley (which seemed to draw in a crowd equal parts tourist-driven and business-focused). You feel like you’re sitting in someone’s kitchen, the food is simple and unpretentious, and  I have found all of my design inspiration for my someday kitchen in one place. Wins all around.

Pieminister – I don’t have a good photo from our pie from the Pieminister because we ate it too fast, and the photos I did take will not do it justice. Trust. Instead, click on their website, read their menu, and try not to drool. In case you’re wondering, the hubs and I split the Heidi pie and yes, it is everything you’d imagine and more.

Roast – Farm to table is definitely a huge movement in the states, so we weren’t too surprised to stumble upon a London equivalent. All of their ingredients are locally sourced–many coming straight from Borough Market, which is directly below the restaurant (and on the DUH end of the “should I visit?” scale). We loved that all of the dishes were clearly British-inspired, and though the ambiance was a little overly formal, the view from the all glass facade and the post-dinner walk to the Thames loosened us up a bit.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m convinced that London is trying a little harder in the restaurant department these days. The first time I was in the UK, my family and I had a tough time finding many meals that we really enjoyed. Then, when the hubs and I returned with the wino ten years later, I found the food wasn’t as bad as I remembered.  Finally, we made yet another trip across the pond this past October and fell in love with a few restaurants, and it was decided: London is most definitely stepping up its nom nom game (official phrase). However, it’s also still managing to keep its traditional culinary roots in tact.

NOW, if you need a tourguide in London, the wino and I are at your service. But only if you like pub crawls and Kylie Minogue.


the romantic



  1. Kieu
    July 17, 2012 / 07:42

    I’ll admit. I’m one of those who didn’t enjoy the food when we were in London. Except the buffet we had at Harrods. 🙂

    • July 17, 2012 / 08:29

      ahh need to try the buffet at harrods! we didn’t make it there on this last trip. i think it’s not the best city for popping into restaurants and hoping for the best. you def need to do a little research (which we don’t usually like doing…) 🙂

  2. July 19, 2012 / 12:48

    I had the same experience in the 90s in the UK but I ‘ve heard it is very different now. You validate that!

    • July 19, 2012 / 13:37

      it’s definitely on the up and up, and there are soo many more options that there were even a few years ago. definitely worth the re-visit!

  3. July 19, 2012 / 13:04

    Oh how I wish I was heading to London for the Olympics…these would be great spots to hit!

  4. July 19, 2012 / 14:34

    Look, I’m not into cannibalism, so the Heidi pie might not be for me. No judgment though. Beans for breakfast drives me nuts, but I’m a HUGE fan of fish and chips. I’ll be in London in December, so I thank you for these suggestions (minus the Heidi pie).

    • July 19, 2012 / 14:51

      no heidis were hurt in the making of that pie, i swear it! and i’m not much into traditional english breakfast, either, but the woleseley is perfection. i can most certainly see you and miss lola dining there.

  5. July 20, 2012 / 01:12

    You are killing me with all of the food pictures! I’ve never been to England and it’s torturing me. I’ve heard a good Sunday roast can cure any ailment. 🙂

    • July 20, 2012 / 07:57

      i’m so surprised you’ve never been to england!!

  6. July 20, 2012 / 18:43

    I love a good meat pie and blood sausage – this post made me so hungry! I have been to London twice, but I don’t really remember much about the food, except both times I ate Indian on Brick Lane. It’s always the best Indian food too, I would fly back in a second for it!

    • July 21, 2012 / 08:45

      i’ve never been that into indian food, but i bet it’s a completely different experience in london. will have to try it next time!

  7. July 22, 2012 / 10:42

    pub crawls, YES. Kylie Minogue, NO. will you still consider being my London tour guide? 🙂

    • July 22, 2012 / 16:40

      unfortunately kylie minogue is a must. we had a pretty special moment with her the last time we were in london. i suppooose you could win us over with a few pints though…

  8. Food has massively improved in the last 15 years or so and now it is as good as anywhere else. Or even more special. Look forward to taking you to some great places. Love the Wolseley 🙂

    • July 26, 2012 / 00:19

      i dream about the wolseley to this day, for real for real. can’t wait until we have our very own hostess!

  9. July 24, 2012 / 00:17

    When I was in London for a brief period of time, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to eat. But I had fantastic experience doing afternoon tea. I’d go back just for that! As your posts suggests, there’s of course a lot more to discover!

    • July 24, 2012 / 09:50

      every time we go back, we fall in love with london a little more!

  10. Francesca
    July 24, 2012 / 13:35

    I like pub crawls! I also like London, though I haven’t been there yet. It’s nice to know that good food exists!

    • July 26, 2012 / 00:18

      yes, and you don’t even have to look as hard as everyone else would lead you to believe 😉

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