Tuesday, September 04, 2007

London in July

Sat and Sun, 14 and 15 July 2007

Back in July I started writing about a food filled weekend in London and only covered a couple of venues. In the interests of completeness, I'm finishing the task almost two months late! Thank goodness for notebooks!

This is going to be a concise recap and I'll start with a venue Eating Leeds has already visited and has established itself on the maps of London pubs. That's right - it's the Charles Lamb. This time, it was a sunny Saturday afternoon and the people of Islington were all outside the pub, celebrating Bastille Day and playing pétanque. It looked busy - would we find a seat in this tiny pub? The answer was (thank goodness!) yes, and we settled ourselves into a corner. Beers and wine in hand we inspected the Bastille Day menu and chose (to share, of course) goose rillettes, a trio of smoked fish, a slice of spinach, olive and pine nut tart (technically a bar snack) and the Brie de Meaux with rhubarb chutney. It was ludicrously good value - the goose rillettes was HUGE and cost just £6. The piece of brie was massive and came in at just £5. It was lucky the food was cheap because there was so much of it we just had to stay put and make sure we accompanied it with plenty of red wine.

The next day we booked ourselves a table at the very pretty Ladbroke Arms in Notting Hill. We must have enjoyed even more alcoholic beverages as our memories of this meal are not quite as crystal clear! Mum, dad and I were joined by two London based friends and we munched our way through a variety of interesting food - including an emmenthal and rocket tart which, although delicious, was incredibly hot and took a long time to cool to scoffing temperature, plaice and roast chicken, raspberry sorbets, poached pears, apricot tart and cheese. We were tucked away behind the bar in a table that started off quiet and isolated. We were able to watch people leave the pub as they discovered there was no roast beef on (really!) and we dawdled over our sorbets as the fire alarm went off ... in the heat, they weren't going to keep. I can also report that the pub didn't burn down.

We rounded off the afternoon by rolling out of the pub and wandering to the Tea Palace. It's purple! It was also lovely to sit at a massive round table, read through the tea menu and choose a different drink each. Each tea arrived with a small amount of the tea leaves in a tiny saucer so we could see and smell the (almost) raw product. It was a shame we were so full, and could only fit in a few biscuits (especially when other tables were having almost full cake trays returned to the kitchen!), but next time I'm in Notting Hill I'll be very tempted to return.

I haven't done any of these three venues justice, but I would recommend all of them. As with so many occasions, it's the company that makes an afternoon special, but good food, good wine and good tea don't do any harm!

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1. The Charles Lamb, 16 Elia Street, Islington, London N1 8DE , phone: 020 7837 5040
2. The Ladbroke Arms, 54 Ladbroke Road London W11 3NW, phone: 020 7727 6648
3. Tea Palace,
175 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2SB, phone: 020 7727 2600
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