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Weekend in London - a very mini trip report (mostly about food!)

Weekend in London - a very mini trip report (mostly about food!)

Jul 1st, 2005, 07:39 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Weekend in London - a very mini trip report (mostly about food!)

Last weekend, I treated my mother to a surprise break in London as a belated birthday present, and to thank her for all her help in planning my recent wedding.

Stayed at Kingsway Hall Hotel on Great Queen Street, near Covent Garden. Location was great, room was nice (perhaps a tad poky but hey, it's London) and not bad value all things considered - the rate was around £110 per night for a twin, excluding breakfast (booked direct with the hotel). The service at the hotel wasn't wonderful, particularly the concierge who I actually found to be downright rude. Also, room service stopped serving their full menu earlier than they were meant to. Not sure if I'd stay there again.

Late lunch on Friday at Neals Yard Salad Bar - which my mother said she remembered from her days as a student in London in the 60s! Had an OK veggie burger, washed down with a glass of pretty awful red wine that was so warm it could almost have passed for mulled wine! Bill came to around £20 which struck me as quite a lot.

Friday evening - expecting to have a late supper from the hotel's room service menu but they would only serve us sandwiches, which were well presented but not very nice (thickly spread with margarine, yuck!)

Saturday lunch - had a pleasant enough bar lunch at a Belgian bar called Lowlander, on Drury lane. Ironic since I live in Brussels!! Still, we were starving, it was near the hotel, and we didn't actually realise it was Belgian till we'd sat down and ordered drinks. Had a decent grilled chicken sandwich, mother had an enormous cheese-smothered croque full of spinach and tomatoes, and we shared some frites (not up to Belgian standard but pretty good nonetheless). Came to around £25. Also had the opportunity to practice a bit of Romanian (which I've just started learning) on the unsuspecting Romanian waiter.

Saturday evening - my big surprise treat for mum was to take her to Nobu for dinner. It was absolutely fabulous - some of the best food I think I've ever had anywhere. We went for the classic Omakase taster menu - eight courses of heaven! (£70 per head)
Started with salmon tartare and caviar, then warm white fish and prawns with sesame oil, spring onion and asparagus, then melt-in-the-mouth seared tuna with salad rolls and red onion and Japanese mustard dressing, then delicious black cod with sweet miso sauce and pickled ginger, then teriyaki beef with mushrooms, then a selection of sushi, then white fish broth with dumplings, and finally, the "chocolate bento box" - a chocolate fondant pudding and scoop of green tea ice cream.

I love my food and always try and choose nice restaurants, but it's still a big treat for me to eat at the top-end places. Nobu was definitely worth it and my mother was thrilled.

Sunday lunch - at Butler's Wharf Chop House (had lunch with a family member who lives in the vicinity) - a Conran restaurant. Nice English asparagus followed by excellent grilled sea bass with fennel, and a good cheese plate that was enough to share between three. Washed down with a very nice Brouilly 2003 served at just the right temperature. No idea of the prices as I wasn't paying!

Theatre - On the Friday night I'd got us tickets to go and see Mary Poppins. Not my usual cup of tea (or my mother's) but we'd read good reviews and fancied seeing a musical. Bought tickets online via the Timeout website (around £50 each). We weren't disappointed - both of us thought it was fantastic. I loved the fact that it wasn't a sickly sweet rehash of the Disney film, but much more sophisticated and, at times, just a little frightening (freaky toys coming to life to teach the naughty children a lesson).
The actress playing Mary Poppins was absolutely perfect and the children were excellent, with great comic timing. The guy playing Bert successfully reclaimed the role from Dick Van Dyke (thank god) and put on a brilliant performance. All in all, I was spellbound by the music, the sets and the special effects.
As many people on this board have pointed out, however, the theatre did get quite warm (it was 30 C in London that day). I found it bearable and it certainly didn't ruin my enjoyment of the show, but one or two people around me seemed a bit uncomfortable.

Pedicure at the Aveda centre on High Holborn - Had a lovely relaxing morning being pampered with a foot soak, foot massage and pedicure (£35 for a one hour treatment). Great place with nice organic café (you can order from the menu while you have your toes massaged!), shop, hair salon, etc.

London Eye - Sunday morning (mother had prebooked tickets). I was underwhelmed with this, unfortunately. The views were great but somehow I couldn't get excited about the whole experience. Perhaps I was just tired. Oh, and the whole "flight" thing just struck me as idiotic. I think I'd have enjoyed it more if the wheel had gone round ten times faster!
hanl is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 03:59 AM
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Thanks! I love reading about food.
amelie is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 04:16 AM
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Hi hanl,

Thanks for the Nobu experience.

ira is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 06:48 AM
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"Mary Poppins, not your usual cup of tea".....did you put a spoonful of sugar in it

What a great birthday surprise!! I want to be your mom too!
Thank you for the report
Scarlett is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 08:28 AM
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LOL Scarlett
hanl is offline  
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