As I mentioned in my recent review of Veg As You Go, the street outside my brother’s flat is now home to the fairly busy Tachbrook Street Market, with coffee vendors, fruit and veg vendors, and quite a few food stands. One of the better ones is Pad Thai, a vendor of, well, Newdlez Pad Thai, and the usually are sporting a 30 minute queue for food. But this time, we happened across them on a particularly rainy day, and were able to take advantage of the shorter lines due to the poor weather. Being a street vendor, Pad Thai doesn’t have a huge menu. The main courses are basically Pad Thai (six varieties, including chicken, shrimp, veggies, and related varieties) and Thai curries (yellow, red, green, and panaeng), as well as a few other noodle dishes. They’ve also got a variety of starters.
When my brother moved to London back in 2008, I thought it was neat that the building he lived in had a pub right downstairs. Problem was, that particular pub, the Pimlico Tram, was actually a lousy pub with a not terribly great clientele. But then something marvelous happened: the Pimlico Tram closed, and instead pub owner Martin Hayes refurbished the place and re-opened it as the Cask Pub and Kitchen. And, practically overnight, the lousy pub downstairs became the hip new pub downstairs, with a particularly good selection of British and imported beers, eight hand-pulled handles, and a reasonably good selection of pub grub. And starting that year, they’ve continued a run of excellence, with several awards including multiple winnings of The Publican Magazine Pub of the Year, Great British Pub Awards’ Best Cask Ale Pub in London, and CAMRA’s West London Pub of the Year. Enough so that I can’t even keep track of it. Meanwhile, they’ve been expanding, including more beers on tap, and, more importantly, sister pubs, with several locations of the Craft Beer Co open throughout Greater London (Craft is basically the same concept as Cask, but without the food). I hadn’t reviewed Cask before, since I generally don’t review pubs unless there’s something particularly notable about them or their food, and, quite frankly, I hadn’t been terribly impressed by Cask’s pub food in the past. However, starting in 2012, Cask significantly re-tooled their menu. On Sunday nights they still do the traditional “Sunday Roast”, but the rest of the week their kitchen transforms into Forty Burgers.
Well, after six days in Belgium, it was time to pack up our bags, head back over to Brussels’ Station Midi, and take the Eurostar back to England. Two hours later, we found ourselves back in Central London at St Pancras station, and a short tube ride down the Victoria line had us back in Pimlico. And, after that voyage, we were starting to get hungry, but several days of eating mussels, steaks, filet americain, and the like had us craving something at least a bit healthier, so we decided it was time for a trip down the street to get some falafel. Luckily, my brother lives off of Tachbrook Street, home of the Tachbrook Street Market. While Tachbrook Street has been a nice little street market for several years (longer than I’ve been coming to London), a few years ago the Westminster City Council did a substantial renovation: the road is now more or less permanently a street market and not a vehicular passage, utility hookups are provided for all the vendors (in neat little boxes that fold up out of the street), and most importantly, it has a lot more vendors and more regular hours. Monday through Saturday, 8 am through 6pm, the places is filled with vendors, most of them food vendors, ranging from grocers, to a coffee stand, to prepared food vendors, all selling from their stalls. And one of the more regular vendors is a Middle Eastern falafel joint, Veg As You Go.
One of the more interesting aspects of London is that there are so many good pubs, it can be difficult to experience them all. When we’re visiting London, we’re generally rather spoiled, as my brother and sister-in-law live almost next to the very excellent Cask Pub and Kitchen (which I haven’t reviewed here, since I’ve only ever had bar snacks for food there). The good part of this is that a quality pub with a very good selection of beer is almost always at hand. The down side of this is that I tend to ignore a lot of other good pubs, even ones that are just down the street. One case in point is The Queen’s Arms, which is just down the street from the flat, but until this trip I had only been in there once, and that for a quick pint. Our trip to London, however, was also coincident with my friends Rick and Sarah’s trip to London/Wales/Ireland, and they in particular enjoy getting together with friends from Metafilter (I’m semi-active there as well) for spontaneous meetups. So it was decided that their visit to London was the perfect excuse for a meetup on December 27th. Alas, much of London is shut down around the festive season, with publicans in particular using it as a good opportunity to take a well-earned break from their normal routine. So many of the pubs around Pimlico, including my well-loved Cask, were closed on the 27th. But Queen’s Arms was open, so the meetup was scheduled there instead. I’m rather glad it was, since this finally represented a good opportunity to check out the Queen’s Arms.
One of the things I really like about London is that the immigrant population over the many years has led it having a really good cross section of ethnic restaurants, many of which are quite good. One place that I’ve been meaning to try for quite a few years is Thai Cafe, since (a) I don’t get a lot of Thai Food back home (I have to drive to Montpelier or Concord to find decent Thai food), and (b) it’s pretty much right across the street from my brother’s flat. It also gets rather good ratings.
I’ve finally blogged my way through my last UK/Spain trip (although, sadly, as I write this, I’m already starting to pack for my next UK trip). After two weeks of more eating and drinking around London, we had to get up fairly early in the morning and catch our flight out of Heathrow. Being 7:30 in the morning, we decided that this would finally be a good opportunity to check out Pimlico Fresh, which is just down the road from my brother’s flat. We’ve walked by a many times on the way to/from the local Sainsbury or Victoria station, but had never been inside before, since the place is usually packed to the rafters. But at 7:30 in the morning? No problem. We walked in right as they opened.
I spent a fair fraction of this holiday season in London visiting with friends and relatives. And, more importantly, getting a good fix of British food. Yeah, I can hear the snickering now, and the jokes about “bangers and mash” and “spotted dick.” But, in all seriousness, London is one of the better towns I’ve been to for good eating, with some seriously good Indian food, some good German food, Cornish pasties, and all sorts of delectably good food. But, before talking about those, I’ll concede that the good old fashioned “fry up” is still a cornerstone of the British culinary experience. And there is no better place to get a good fry-up than one of several “Caffs” around the greater London area. One of the best examples is the Regency Cafe, at the corner of Page Street and Regency Street SW1 in Pimlico in Southwest London. Really, go look, it’s even on the Greasy SpoonWikipedia page, and a quick Google shows that there are several other bloggers that agree with this. And, luckily, it was only a five minute walk from where I was staying.