London Calling

My extremely busy fall travel calendar started with one of my all time favorite destinations, London.  I was here for two nights with my son, and we had a list of restaurants we wanted to try.  We flew on Virgin Atlantic, which is a partner of Delta, and had a very nice business class configuration.  The flight attendants are quite friendly and helpful as well.  We had a 10:00 flight from Newark, so we decided to have a light bite in the lounge and then go right to sleep.  The Newark lounge is not as big (by far) as the JFK lounge, but it was clean and pleasant.


A varied selection to be sure.


The dumplings weren’t too bad.


I went the light and healthy route.


After dinner, we were called for boarding.  As soon as we reached a safe altitude, we had our seats made up into beds.

The lay-out of the seats are in a herringbone pattern, which seems a bid odd once you enter the cabin, but the lie flat beds are actually really comfortable.  Your feet aren’t jammed into a small compartment, which is much more conducive (in my opinion), for sleeping.  The mood lighting doesn’t hurt either.


We both skipped meal service and woke up just an hour before landing.  We did hire a greeter to expedite our processing, but it turns out the expedited customs line was not attended to, so we had to wait on line anyway.

We left the airport and headed to the Kimpton Fitzroy in Bloomsbury.  This is not a hotel I would ordinarily have chosen, but it was located in the area I needed to be in for this trip.  It turns out that the Fitzroy us very well situated, and quite impressive looking.


It’s lobby is quite grand! The staff is friendly,  not formal in any way.  Perhaps a bit too casual?  They are helpful, but  do not go the extra mile.  On one occasion I had an exchange with a woman in reception which made it seem as though we were not speaking the same language, at all.  In any case, we were sent up to our room, which was new, and clean.


It didn’t knock my socks off, but it was fine. There were unlimited snacks, water and coffee, which was appreciated.


The Kimpton design is always a little cheeky, and the Fitzroy was no different.


As mentioned, I did enjoy the lobby!


The staff is very young, and seemed adept at making themselves scarce.  Enough complaining, you get the idea.  I love old school London- the Fitzroy is more new school.

We headed right off for a pick me up.  Around the corner from the hotel was an adorable little bake shop called Fortitude  with yummy coffee and gluten free cake.



We didn’t want to eat much because we had a feast planned for dinner.  We set out exploring and made our way from Bloomsbury to Shoreditch to Spitalfields and then back to Shoreditch.  We logged about 8 miles.  It was a gorgeous sunny day.

We were going strong, needed just one more coffee pick me up to keep us awake.


We also couldn’t resist stopping at Vegan Yes in Spitalfields for Mochi and Kimchi Kimbap.


I wish we could have tasted more.  Everything was homemade and unique.  Vegan Italian Korean Fusion is new on me, but a great idea!



A bit more exploring, and we found our way to our dinner, The Clove Club.  It is frequently recognized as one of London’s best restaurants, but it has a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.  You do have to pay ahead when you make the booking, which I don’t mind, as the meal seems like a bargain once you have finished.  Creative accounting perhaps, but it works.  It is Prix Fixe, but they accommodate all kinds of dietary restrictions.


The outside is a bit imposing, but the interior and staff are very welcoming.  There are no shortage of accolades.  I wouldn’t disagree that it is in the top 50 for 2019.


Our reservation was for 6:45, so we entered just at the start of the dinner service.


I wasn’t drinking so I chose an alcohol- free  Sham-pagne Shuffle which was bubbly and raspberry flavored, and absolutely delicious.  We encountered a lot of alcohol free concoctions during this trip, they were all delightful and creative.


Because they knew our dietary restrictions (well, mine- gluten free pescatarian) ahead of time, they just started serving a seemingly endless parade of fabulous dishes.  There was no menu presented.  This crab mousse amuse bouche served in the crab shell was a treat.


The trio of mackerel sushi was delicate and delicious.  Not what I usually expect in mackerel.


Sardine sushi was served alongside a cup of buttery broth.  It was outstanding.


The scallops with truffles were divine, and pretty too.


This fried fish (place- similar to turbot) was ethereal, and I loved the modern art inspired garnish.


My son had a serving of venison for his main course,  It was beautifully presented, and satisfying.


We were not stuffed at the end of this array of dishes, so dessert(s) didn’t seem an overwhelming proposition.  The blackberry granita was refreshing and tart,


There were so many more dishes, but I am just including the highlights.  The chocolate tasting which accompanied the check was appreciated- especially the Clove Club dark chocolate bars.


The Clove Club is a one starred Michelin restaurant, but I would say the food is on a much higher level  than that.  The real allure is the comfortable and relaxed atmosphere.  The meal was outstanding.  I would absolutely recommend you pay them a visit.  Considering the quality, the set price of 145 £ was very reasonable.

It was a long but amazing first day in London.  We went back to the hotel, and quickly fell asleep.


The next day brought with it more exploring.  The weather couldn’t have been better.  We had lunch reserved at Darjeeling Express .  On the way we stopped in Carnaby and did some shopping.


We made a lengthy detour into Liberty, my favorite department store in the area.


We had worked up an appetite for Darjeeling Express, and as we were to find out, we would not be disappointed.  Asma Khan is the genius behind this team of all women chefs. These women have honed their skill-set from being housewives rather than professionally trained chefs.  Dishes are featured that showcase the chef’s backgrounds and dishes they grew up with.  Asma Khan was profiled on Netflix’s The Chef’s Table in Season 6.  I would recommend you watch it, if you haven’t already.

The first thing we saw when we entered the restaurant (on the third floor of a restaurant based mall) was Asma herself! She helps bring out the dishes, and stops and chats with all the patrons.  She is a delight.




About five minutes after this shot of the interior was taken, the restaurant was completely full.  It has a following, thats for sure.


We were given a chance to peruse the menu.



Continuing our teetotaling, we ordered a Mango Lassi and a Tamarind Spritz.  The Mango Lassi was incredibly rich and filling, the Spritz was refreshing as can be.



The Tangra Chili Garlic Prawns were a balance of tasty and spicy, the Channa Chaat was piquant and sweet, and the Mutton (according to my son) was rich and flavorful as well.  These are not dishes on the average Indian restaurant menu, and we were lucky to enjoy them here.


The Paratha Bread were puffy and delicate orbs.  They were the perfect complement to the sauces that surrounded our main dishes.


I had a special aubergine dish that was awash in a gravy of coconut milk and spices.  It was fabulous.  My son had the goat curry.  He loved it, but it was not light.  The Mango Lassi didn’t leave him much room, but he persevered.


The food was so good that I was inspired to buy the cookbook, and was happy to have a chat with the author while she inscribed it to me.



Some may have been full following that lunch, but miraculously I needed to add a stop at Ottolenghi’s Belgravia shop to satisfy a Meringue craving.  I have found that they are just the very best.  While the Raspberry Meringues are super pretty, it has to be a chocolate  for me.  It did not disappoint.


We worked our way back to the hotel slowly,  logging 10 mile plus in total,  so we didn’t feel too guilty.  We had a reservation for dinner, but decided we hadn’t had enough of an Ottolenghi fix, so we cancelled what we had originally booked, and made a call to Rovi.  They had two seats at the bar at 9:30- we snatched them right up.  Rovi is the newest offering from the Ottolenghi group, and it is right up my alley- Middle- Eastern inspired and vegetable based.  We were lucky to secure a spot.  We walked there as well, in order to burn a few extra calories!


Our seats were just waiting for our arrival.


Rovi is located in FitzROVIa- clever, right?


I felt like a mocktail expert at this point, and the strawberry basil drinking vinegar was a revelation.  It was so satisfying and delicious.  I could get use to this.


The menu choices were all tempting.  We literally wanted to try everything, but we held ourselves in check. The service at the bar was quite business like, with a tiny bit of humor thrown in.


The plate of pickles and ferments with Valdeon cheese was a perfect way to whet our appetite.


The hot tomatoes and cold yogurt seemed like something we had to order.  Almost everyone around us had a plate of these gorgeous tomatoes in front of them. The contrast of temperatures and flavors was irresistible.


The charred peppers with corn polenta and a soy cured yolk was unbelievably rich and smoky.  A small dish that was very satisfying.


We stuck to pretty healthy choices for dinner.  The Piattoni beans with goat’s cheese, a peach and smoked almonds kind of made up for my son’s mutton and goat dishes at lunch- didn’t they?


And for dessert… one more meringue based dish.  How could I resist?  The soft meringue with lemon curd, fennel, and lime sorbet almost seemed dietetic compared to the meringue from earlier in the day.


Rovi lived up to the hype.  It was delicious, and I would not hesitate to recommend it.  After a VERY full day we were ready to turn in,  in anticipation of our next adventure, Vienna!

One comment

Leave a Reply