London Calling, Part I.

London. The countries capital and a mecca for any lover of great food. It has everything you could want from some of the most prestigious restaurants this little island has to offer all the way through to the most casual of places. With the most casual of which being its numerous food markets and cheap eat destinations, it wasn’t long before we headed for the city on a mission to seek out the best street food and cheap eats on offer.

The first stop of the day was an easy choice. Having been to the original site in New York back in the summer, for comparison purposes we decided we needed to make a trip to Covent Garden and one of Shake Shack’s London locations. The order, a singular single shack burger came to a very reasonable £5.50. Arriving just after opening and not exactly having a large order, the handset let us know our food was ready before we’d even managed to find a table. At its core, the ‘Shackburger’ is a classic cheeseburger with slices of tomato and fresh lettuce leaves with the addition of the house ‘shack sauce’ all encompassed in a soft potato bun. In comparison to the same burger we had in The Big Apple, this didn’t stack up. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it just didn’t carry the wow factor it had back in Madison Park, even more so after my experience at Bleecker Burgers back in November.

Situated off a side road on Oxford Street, The Melt Room is all about the grilled cheese sandwiches. With cheesy jokes in both senses plastered on the walls you can tell these guys don’t take themselves too seriously, this relaxed vibe being backed up by the use of some absolute bangers coming through the airwaves. Once again, arriving prior to lunchtime we would be the only customers for the duration of our stop. This would also be the only venue of the day where we would order two different items. For me, the ‘classic’ would be the only way to go, my partner ordering the slightly less classic ‘Mac n Cheese’. On arrival at the table the first thing to note was the size. Larger than the average slice of Hovis, coming in at £10 including a drink, even before diving in they became brilliant value for money. My partners ‘Mac n Cheese’ Melt was rammed full with macaroni oozing out the sides. Even with the three different cheeses being used to make up the ‘classic’, we were impressed with the balance of the cheese, not allowing the sandwich to be too cheesy and sickly. The bread that held these delicious fillings all in place was also something worth noting. Well toasted whilst not being burnt provided a great vehicle to transport the wonderful fillings inside.

The Potato project, which is next door to The Melt Room was also on our hit list but a note on the door informed us that due to unforeseen circumstances they were closed for the day. Not to worry, we’ll be back!

Thali from the Gujarti Rasoi stall in Borough Market is a dish I’ve had a few times now and it never disappoints. The just cooked cauliflower, soft curried potatoes, coriander and well cooked fluffy rice is perfect for lunch, a mid afternoon snack or if you just want some decent street food. This simple dish has the perfect amount of warmth both in spice and temperature. Being a lover of all things meaty, this is one vegetarian alternative that rivals some of the best meat based street food I’ve had and a dish I come back to every single time I visit this amazing city.

No trip to the capital city would be complete without the obligatory visit to one of London’s best known landmarks. No, not Buckingham Palace, I am of course talking about Harrods. The first of two sweet treats on our list for this trip was a slice of cheesecake from the food hall. This was a suggestion from a food loving colleague who’d recently been and sampled said cheesecake. This is the very same friend who amassed a whopping 1.6m views on a video of him pouring chocolate milkshake over himself whilst wearing a mankini. Yeah, I know, he’s not perfect but the suggestion has gone at least some way to making up for his shit jokes and those even shitter Snapchats under the Golden Arches of Looooovvveeee. I won’t deny it was one of the better cheesecakes I’ve eaten in recent times, but it wasn’t worth the £6 price tag per slice, especially considering the lack of cutlery.

Dominque Ansel Bakery would be the last stop of the day before heading home. For those of you who may not have heard of Dominique Ansel, he was named the World’s Best Pastry Chef at the 2017 World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards. His London Bakery which opened in 2016 is situated a few minutes from Victoria and is now one of 4 bakery’s owned by the award winning chef. Prior to our visit I’d already decided that the Eton Mess Lunchbox was how I was going to end the day. The £7.50 take-away cost (compared to £9 to eat inside) may at first seem a little steep. But once you’ve seen the neat little Eton Mess Box get boxed, then that box get boxed before finally being placed into the sort of bag that my sister likes to be seen carrying, it’s easy to see where your money is going. On the outside of the little plastic box read a sticker that said “Make a mess! Shake, stir and eat.” You don’t have to ask me twice so after a bit of vigorous wrist movement, the job was done. What came next was simply divine. Broken bits of light mini meringue, a strawberry mousse and jam shaped into strawberries with a black pepper and fromage blanc adding their own flavour notes. I have to say, this was one of the best dishes of the day.

With more places on our list than either of us had stomach for in a single day, we will be returning in the not too distant future to finish what we started…

ShakeShack 8/10

The Melt Room 9/10

Gujarati Rasoi 10/10

Harrods 8/10

Dominique Ansel Bakery 9/10

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