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My London Trip-4/20/07

I have a great job which required me to travel to London from Boston for one little meeting. I added a weekend on and had a fabulous time in your city. Arrived on a Saturday early in the morning. Had a quick nap at my hotel and then hit Harvey Nick's and Harrods for some shopping. Grabbed a quick bite in the Harrod's food hall which I thought was great. I ended up at a little bar that had a variety of cured meats which I can never pass up. I ordered a glass of rose' champagne and a plate of Serrano ham. Appetite now sated, I could move on with my day. Met some friends Saturday night for dinner at a new (I think) restaurant called Zetter on Clerkenwell Road. It was a great spot with a back patio, a pretty big bar area and plenty of tables. We had a drink at the bar before going to our table. I had a decent Ketel Citron cosmopolitan though it was a bit sweeter than I prefer. Once we sat, I ordered a lovely pea soup served over duck confit and celery salad which was smooth, creamy and delicious. For my main course, I ordered the roasted cod served with some kind of shrimp risotto (though I think it was fregola not risotto but my memory is fading). The cod was a wee bit bland but when mixed with the buttery risotto, it was quite good. I think my meal that night including cosmo + several glasses of wine came to about 50 pounds.

Sunday grabbed a quick breakfast at Pret a Manger before hitting the V&A. I have to say, I'm a fan of Pret. I got a ham, cheese, mustard and salad on brown bread which hit the spot. It may not be the biggest sandwich, but it was fresh and just the right amount for me. I ate a late lunch at Al Dar Lebanese restaurant on King's Road. I ordered the Lebanese salad which was a basic salad with tomatoes, cucumber and a lovely lemon and olive oil dressing. Then I had a chicken shawarma sandwich that was chock full of pickles which I loved and some kind of garlic sauce or something. I had a decent martini at my hotel bar before dinner on Sunday night (I stayed at the Sheraton Park Tower) then made my way to Zuma for some sushi. I sat at the robato grill bar which was a little hot but I persevered! I had an appetizer of sea bass sashimi with yuzu and truffle oil which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then I ordered the otoro sushi which was somewhat of a disappointment as it was kind of stringy. I also had the yellowtail with rock chive maki which was very good and the shrimp tempura maki at the recommendation of my waiter. All in all, decent sushi but by my standards overpriced (I think around 65-70 pounds though I did have at least a couple glasses of wine) for what it was though I think London in general is just more expensive than I am used to especially with the USD/GPB exchange rates.

Monday was the highlight meal of my trip. I had lunch at Gordon Ramsay at Claridges. There were three different menu options. The regular menu which is three couses for 65 pounds, the special chef's menu which is six smaller courses for 75 pounds or the lunch prix fixe which is three courses for 30 pounds (though you have fewer options from which to choose). I ended up doing the lunch menu since it was lunch and I certainly didn't need a HUGE meal in the middle of the day and I have to say it was still plenty of food for me. First they brought an amuse bouche of celeriac veloute with granny smith apples and horseradish cream. It was sublime and a great start to my meal. My first course was the poached sea trout with creme fraiche, greens, herb puree and dill bread. Then I had the pan fried lemon sole with capers, almonds and parsley pappardelle with lemon butter sauce. I can't say enough about this. The pasta was fresh and had these perfect, full parsley leaves within. I can't forget to mention the bread. Three types; a sourdough, a granary and a brown. I tried all three and all were delicious and served with both salted and unsalted butter. The finale of my meal was the cheese course for dessert (which cost a bit more though I don't remember how much extra). My darling waiter wheeled over what must have been at least 40 different cheeses to choose from. Since I've never met a cheese I didn't like, I told him to give me a variety. He gave me five generous pieces of English and French cheeses. I remember especially enjoying some kind of cheese with truffles and at this point in the meal after two glasses of wine and one very generous glass of port, my memory fades. This whole meal put me back in the neighborhood of 65 pounds and was worth every penny.

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  1. Good report, Lissy, and great for tourists. Thanks!

    1. Wow - sounds like you really made the most of your short stay in London! Thanks for the report.

      1. Sounds like you had a fabulous time. It was nice to see you went to the Zetter, my husband and I stayed in the hotel for two nights after our wedding, and had the most beautiful meal there on our first full day as newly weds. Very fond memories. Gordon Ramsey's sounds divine, and has gone on my must try list.

        1. Excellent and thorough report! I will be in London in August and was particularly interested in hearing about the Serrano ham at Harrod's. (I'm actually curious if they have Iberico as well, even though I'll pay dearly for it.) While I don't relish the idea of slugging my way thru the food court there, it may be one of the few places where I can find such meats.

          Anyone know of other locations (delis, etc.) that offer Serrano or Iberico ham? Thx.

          8 Replies
          1. re: cagey

            cagey, check out brindisa (I like the borough market stall more than the exmouth market shop). They have a web page that is something like www.brindisa.co.uk

            1. re: ali patts

              Ah thanks. That looks wonderful. I'll have a look.

              1. re: cagey

                iberico ham is a very regular component on menus in London. Harder is finding places that know how to cut the stuff. Brindisa is expensive but Jorge(?) who cuts at BM on a Saturday is an apprentice of Felix Martinez, El Cortador De Jamon from Zaragoza, the recognised world champ in the art of cutting iberico

                http://majbros.blogspot.com/2007/04/f...

                Moro next to the Brindisa store in Exmouth Market does a decent job of cutting ( although they pre cut sometimes, so it begins to dry out

                )

                The best I have tried in London is at El Faro which is out in Canary Wharf ( Crossharbour stop on the DLR)

                http://majbros.blogspot.com/2007/03/b...

                1. re: Simon Majumdar

                  Thanks Simon. As always, I enjoy it when you weigh in. Sadly, we here in the States must content ourselves w/Jamon Serrano until we can get back to Spain (or London?).

                  1. re: cagey

                    Long way to go, but I also had it in Auckland, NZ, at Peter Gordon's newish tapas place at Sky City. Lovely stuff.

                    1. re: cagey

                      Iberico is available at De La Fuente on Portobello Road (northern end) which is a charming family run Spanish deli. The "son" who mans the cold cuts/cheese counter will tell you that it's not worth the money and that you should stick to the much better value high grade serrano but sometimes you just gotta go with the luxury item and ultimately you get what you pay for. They also have excellent lomo.

                      Just down the road is the larger and better known Spanish deli, R Garcia and Sons. There are plenty of good culinary (and other) reasons to check out this stretch of Portobello Road.

                      1. re: oonth

                        fyi - iberico is itself either bellota or recebo - acorn fed or (i think) grain fed.

                        acorn fed iberico is the best cured meat i have ever eaten and its lomo is supreme.

                        de la fuente is closing up shop as the family heads back to spain. r garcia is pretty awful for anything other than the basics.

                        and i must say that i have not found anything of any culinary interest in that stretch of portobello road.

                        1. re: howler

                          I appreciate all the knowledgeable input.

                          What I'm combing for here is more of the low-key spanish deli / tapas bar approach to jamon (much like you'd find in Spain). Since I'll be solo, my goal is to pop in for an appetizer and pop out again. A sit-down experience is secondary.