Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hopping Across the Pond

Time to go to London to play with my friends! The last time I was in London was in 2005, when I was studying abroad. My student visa happened to be the first stamp I received in my grown up passport. And now that my passport is due for renewal, this stamp at Heathrow would be my last one in this passport. #memories #nostalgia.

I am not sure what made me so starry eyed in love with London. Maybe it was because my friends took me to the yummiest restaurants. Or, maybe it was because the British men I encountered were such gents - by giving me their seat on the tube and even holding doors open for me! Ok...actually, it was because there were foot massagers on every street corner. Oh, and I LOVE when Brits use the word "literally". It sounds so posh.

Below is a photo of the said foot massagers. I suspect that HRH put these foot massagers in so that Pippa & Co wouldn't have sore feet when teetering around South Kensington in LK Bennetts or pumps from Zara.

{Foot Massagers!}

Not one to be deterred by jet lag, I hit the ground running basically as soon as I landed. My first stop was Borough Market. Borough market provides everything from prepared duck confit sandwiches to pastries. 

Brits love a good Sunday roast!

After touring the market several times, I finally decided to order a savory crepe and a hot chocolate. I ordered one with goat cheese & chocolate! Sounds weird, but it was a tasty combo. 

I was meeting Leena for lunch at the Golden Hind. I wanted to have some fish n' chips, since that is obviously very British.

Considering fish n' chips are kind of bland in general, these were actually quite tasty. Flakey, and the fish was very fresh. I dumped some malt vinegar (?) and salt on mine. I wouldn't go out of my way to have fish n' chips again whilst (ha) in London, but glad I got to try it this time.

Note: Tommi's (burgers) is very close to Golden Hind. Next time I am here, I will definitely be stopping in for a burger. I just felt having burgers for 3 nights in a row was a bit excessive. Variety is the spice of life!

And of course, I found my way to the Harrod's food hall. 

In the US, hampers are what we put our dirty clothes in. Apparently, in the UK, hampers are like fancy picnic baskets.

Mmmmm...Champagne truffles!

I made my way to Harvey Nichols shortly after, I wanted to have a drink at the 5th floor bar before meeting up with my friends for dinner. Somehow, I found this.

And welcomed myself into London with one (ok. two.) of these.

Becca picked a great spot for our dinner that evening - Burger & Lobster in SoHo. This place was yet another reason why I fell in love with London. The lobster rolls are incredible. In the East Village, we have Luke's Lobsters. Maybe I just went on an off day, but Luke's lobster rolls were nowhere nearly as delectable as the lobster rolls at Burger & Lobster. Every bite was teeming with juicy lobster meat! Oh, and the fries. The fries! I am actually still salivating just thinking of said lobster roll. Well done, Burger & Lobster.

The next day, I met Tina for lunch at Patty&Bun. I had read that there is usually a queue, so I arrived around 11:45am to make sure we got a table. Eager beaver American, I was the first to arrive and queue up! I met some Londoners who came just a bit after me and we swapped the names of our favorite burger places in our respective cities while we waited for Patty&Bun to open up. 

Tina and I both ordered the Ari Gold. Oh my yum. I love perfect medium rare burgers. Thank you, Patty&Bun! Another great thing about Patty&Bun is that eating a burger & fries by yourself won't make you disgustingly full. We giggled over girl talk while nodding our heads in agreement at how amazing this burger was.

If you needed a reason to visit London, this burger, and the lobster roll above are pretty solid excuses.

After lunch, I wanted to walk to Chelsea to visit the Saatchi Gallery. Tina suggested I should also check out The Botanist bar, which I did. It has a great selection of fancy cocktails that are perfect for post work happy hour or post strolling around London all afternoon drink.

Dinner that night was at Shoreditch House. The club has very strict rules about photography, but I managed to take one photo of dessert, or should I say "pudding". Apparently, pudding = dessert in the UK, even if it is not really (the American version of) pudding.

The Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch is super fun - Becca and I stayed here one night. The hotel has bags in which you can pick what you want for breakfast, and leave it on your door. When you wake up in the morning, voila, there it is! Perfect for a Saturday morning in Shoreditch.

I headed into SoHo to meet Tina for brunch on Saturday. Aw, it was just like good ol' days at Balthazar on Spring Street. Prosecco + Tina + Brunch = Perfection.

Ok, so this burger actually wasn't my favorite burger ever. But, I was curious about the welsh rarebit (turns out that is cheese). It was nice and melty on top of my burger, with a some kind of kick to it.

Later that evening was Becca's Birthday Bash at Bodo's Schloss. Bodo's Schloss is quite possibly one of the most fun restaurant/clubs I've been to in a while. And, surprisingly, the Austrian fare was quite tasty. Schnitzel, beef goulash, and charcuterie...I felt like I was in an Austrian ski lodge! Which got my wheels turning for my next ski trip. 

It is almost as though a blizzard hit Bodo's Schloss! Look at the fun drink below! There are straws in the mountain, and you can sip on a fruity yum drink. I may celebrate my birthday here too. What FUN! 

And, now it was time for my last meal in London. Becca took me to Bone Daddies in SoHo for some incredible ramen. To be fair, I still think Ippudo wins, but I can never say no to Tonkotsu Ramen. 

In addition to the usual seasonings, Bone Daddie's offers hair ties to guests, so all guests can fully enjoy their meal.

Ribs - spicy and sweet - and so perfect! 

After our meal, Becca and I parted ways and I headed to Heathrow. 

At Heathrow T4, there is no Star Alliance lounge! Instead, Star Alliance passengers can use the Sky Team lounge. Since I hardly ever fly Sky Team, I excitedly poked around and compared. 

Yum - good coffee machine. Ok, check. 

Ick. Blech. This was NOT very tasty. 

Ahhhh, now that is MUCH better. Now, if the United lounge in EWR could swap out snacks and the rest of the bar and just give out champagne, I think I'd much rather prefer that...

I spent most of the 8-ish hours back staring at the map on my screen, pictured below. My most cherished memories! 

And below, a super chocolate brownie, as the highlight of my meal on the way home. 

Ok, I'm in love London, and I'm coming back for you. Pinky promise. 

As luck would have it, the second I touched down in EWR, I saw an email confirmation from Becca for our reservation at Hakkasan in June. Sooo...I guess I'm going back sooner than I thought. 

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