The Top Thing to Eat: London

Written: The Top Thing Staff | August 3, 2023

1. Steak and kidney pie

A classic British dish, the steak and kidney pie is a savory delight that has been a staple of London‘s culinary scene for centuries. This hearty pie features tender chunks of beef and kidney, slow-cooked in a rich gravy until they reach mouthwatering tenderness.

Often topped with flaky pastry, this traditional dish offers a delightful contrast between the buttery, crispy crust and the succulent meat filling. The combination of flavors and textures makes it an irresistible choice for locals and tourists alike at restaurants.

Traditional London pubs serve steak and kidney pie, a classic British comfort food. Its presence on restaurant menus across the city underscores its status as a beloved culinary icon deeply ingrained in London’s food culture.

The popularity of steak and kidney pies extends beyond local restaurants to international recognition. Visitors from around the world seek out this quintessential English dish from restaurants during their travels to experience firsthand its deliciousness.

With its robust flavors and cultural significance, indulging in a steak and kidney pie is not merely about satisfying hunger; it’s also about immersing oneself in London’s gastronomic heritage.

2. Traditional English breakfast

A traditional English breakfast consists of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, and toast. This hearty meal is a staple in British cuisine and is renowned for its filling nature. It’s commonly found in cafes and restaurants across London, making it easily accessible to locals and tourists alike.

The combination of protein-rich eggs and meats with carbohydrates from the toast makes this breakfast a substantial way to start the day. The inclusion of baked beans, foods, adds a unique touch that sets the English breakfast apart from other morning meals.

This iconic dish reflects the tradition of hearty morning meals in England, dating back to the 13th century when people would consume large amounts of food before embarking on a day filled with physical labor.

In modern times, variations of foods have emerged to cater to different dietary preferences. Some restaurants offer vegetarian or vegan versions while others may include black pudding or grilled tomatoes as additional components.

Despite these adaptations, the core elements of dishes and menu remain consistent – providing a taste of tradition with every bite.

3. Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding

A traditional Sunday meal in London, the Sunday roast is a quintessential part of British cuisine. Typically consisting of roasted meat such as beef, lamb, or suckling pig, accompanied by potatoes, vegetables, and gravy, this hearty dish is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

The star of the show is undoubtedly the iconic Yorkshire pudding. This fluffy and crispy baked batter complements the savory flavors of the roast perfectly. Its origins date back to the 18th century and have since become an integral part of British culinary culture.

In many London eateries, you’ll find variations of this classic dish served with different types of meats. Whether it’s a cozy pub or a high-end restaurant, experiencing a Sunday roast in London offers a glimpse into the city’s rich gastronomic heritage.

Restaurants like Simpson’s in The Strand offer traditional carving service where succulent meats are carved tableside for guests to enjoy. This immersive dining experience at the best restaurant adds an extra layer of charm.

Whether you’re looking for comfort food on a lazy Sunday afternoon or aiming to delve into British culinary customs during your visit to London, indulging in a sumptuous Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding at the best restaurant is an absolute must-do.

4. Fish and chips

Fish and chips is an iconic British dish consisting of battered fish and chunky fries, often served with mushy peas and tartar sauce. In London, this classic meal is widely available in traditional fish and chip shops across the city.

Why Fish and Chips?

  • Iconic Dish: Fish and chips are a staple of British cuisine, representing a beloved comfort food that has stood the test of time.
  • Accessible Eats: For visitors on a budget or those seeking authentic local flavors, fish and chips from a restaurant offer a delicious yet affordable option.

Where to Find Them

London’s vibrant food scene ensures that there are numerous restaurants, pubs, markets, and small eateries where tourists can savor this famous dish. Notable restaurants such as Poppie’s Fish & Chips in Soho or The Golden Hind near Marylebone serve up delectable renditions of this traditional fare.

5. Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea is a quintessential British tradition that offers a delightful mid-afternoon dining experience. It typically includes a selection of teas, delicate sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream and jam, and an assortment of pastries.

This elegant ritual is not limited to upscale hotels or the best restaurant; it’s also offered in charming tea rooms across London. Visitors can choose from traditional or themed afternoon teas at the restaurant, such as floral-inspired menus or seasonal variations.

The famous restaurant Sketch in Mayfair offers an avant-garde twist on the classic afternoon tea experience with its pink-hued Gallery serving room. The Sanderson Hotel restaurant presents a Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

The popularity of afternoon tea has transcended beyond just being a meal; it has become an immersive cultural activity for everyone to enjoy. Whether it’s indulging in dainty treats while catching up with friends or treating oneself to an exquisite solo session, this tradition caters to all preferences.

6. Bangers and mash

Bangers and mash is a classic British dish that consists of sausages served with mashed potatoes and onion gravy. This hearty meal is a staple in London’s pubs, where it is often enjoyed for its comforting flavors and simple yet satisfying composition.

The combination of savory sausages, creamy mashed potatoes, and rich onion gravy showcases the essence of traditional British home-cooked meals. It represents the heartiness and warmth that characterizes English cuisine, making it a must-try for anyone looking to experience authentic local flavors.

When visiting London, indulging in bangers and mash at a traditional restaurant provides an opportunity to savor the culinary heritage of the city while enjoying a filling and delicious meal. Many restaurants in London take pride in serving their own unique variations of this beloved dish, adding further diversity to its appeal.

Whether you’re exploring historic pubs or trendy restaurants, bangers and mash remains a popular choice on menus across the city. Its widespread availability at restaurants reflects its enduring popularity among locals and tourists alike.

7. Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington is a luxurious dish that showcases beef fillet enveloped in flaky puff pastry, creating a delectable contrast of textures. The beef is often complemented by duxelles, a finely chopped mushroom mixture, which adds an earthy richness to the dish. It’s typically served with a rich sauce like onion gravy or a red wine reduction.

This iconic dish is primarily found in upscale restaurants specializing in fine dining experiences. It has become synonymous with elegance and gourmet indulgence, making it an ideal choice for food lovers seeking an exquisite culinary adventure.

One renowned example of where to savor this classic British fare is at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant in London. Here, diners can enjoy the perfect rendition of Beef Wellington along with impeccable service and an extensive wine list to elevate the dining experience even further.

For those exploring London’s dining scene on a budget, there are also more affordable options available at select locations across the city. In neighborhoods like Soho and West End, visitors can find variations of this celebrated dish at different price points without compromising on taste or quality.

8. Ploughman’s lunch

A ploughman’s lunch is a classic British meal, typically consisting of cheese, bread, pickles, and salad. This hearty dish is a staple in English pubs and offers a simple yet satisfying dining experience for both locals and tourists.

The combination of savory cheese, crusty bread, tangy pickles, and fresh salad creates a delightful medley of flavors and textures. It’s an ideal option for those seeking a light yet filling meal while exploring the bustling streets of London.

Representing traditional English pub fare at its finest, the ploughman’s lunch provides visitors with an authentic taste of British cuisine. Its simplicity reflects the essence of rustic dining that has been cherished for generations.

When visiting London, indulging in a ploughman’s lunch presents an opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culinary culture. Many eateries across the city offer this iconic dish on their menus as part of their commitment to preserving heritage recipes.

Whether you’re traveling solo or enjoying group dining with friends or family, opting for a ploughman’s lunch can be an enriching experience. The laid-back atmosphere often found in pubs serves as the perfect backdrop for savoring this timeless meal.

9. Sticky toffee pudding

A decadent dessert made of moist sponge cake soaked in toffee sauce, sticky toffee pudding is a beloved treat in London. The rich flavors and the warm, gooey texture make it an indulgent delight for those with a sweet tooth.

Served with either vanilla ice cream or custard, this dessert offers a perfect balance of sweetness and creaminess. The contrast between the warm pudding and the cold ice cream creates a delightful sensation on the palate.

Featured on the menus of many London restaurants and cafes, sticky toffee pudding has become a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Its popularity has even led to variations such as adding dates or figs to enhance its flavor profile.

The simplicity of its ingredients—butter, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla extract—combined with its sumptuous taste makes it an essential part of any must-try dessert list when visiting London.

10. Chicken Tikka Masala

Although not traditionally British, the Chicken Tikka Masala has become a beloved dish in London’s culinary scene. This flavorful and aromatic dish features tender chicken pieces marinated in spices and yogurt, then cooked in a creamy tomato-based sauce. It perfectly embodies the fusion of Indian and British culinary influences, reflecting the diverse food culture present in the city.

The delicious blend of spices and creamy texture makes it a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The dish is an example of how London’s food scene has evolved to embrace international flavors while also putting its own unique twist on them.

Renowned chefs across London have put their own spin on this classic dish, incorporating different ingredients or cooking techniques to create signature versions that cater to various palates. From upscale restaurants to casual eateries, Chicken Tikka Masala can be found on menus throughout the city.

This iconic dish serves as a testament to how food can transcend cultural boundaries and bring people together through shared culinary experiences. Its popularity highlights London’s status as a melting pot of global cuisines where traditional recipes are reimagined by innovative chefs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Ploughman’s lunch?

A Ploughman’s lunch is a traditional British cold meal consisting of cheese, pickles, bread, and sometimes cold meat. It’s like a symphony of flavors coming together on one plate – the tangy pickles, the rich cheese, and the hearty bread.

Where can I find the best Fish and Chips in London?

For an authentic taste of this classic dish, head to Poppies Fish & Chips in Spitalfields or The Golden Hind near Marylebone. These places serve up crispy battered fish with perfectly cooked chips that will leave you wanting more.

Is Chicken Tikka Masala a traditional English dish?

While it has its roots in Indian cuisine, Chicken Tikka Masala is considered an iconic British dish. Its creamy tomato-based sauce combined with tender pieces of chicken makes it a beloved comfort food for many Brits and visitors alike.

What makes Sticky Toffee Pudding so special?

Sticky Toffee Pudding is renowned for its moist sponge cake drenched in warm toffee sauce. The combination creates a heavenly indulgence that satisfies every sweet tooth craving. It’s like being wrapped in a warm hug on a chilly London evening.

How should I enjoy Afternoon Tea in London?

To fully savor the experience of Afternoon Tea, visit one of London’s elegant tea rooms such as The Ritz or Claridge’s. Indulge in delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, and an assortment of fine teas amidst luxurious surroundings.