Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dining & Design: London's Restaurants

In the past London had a reputation for bad cuisine. Well, that couldn't be further from the truth nowadays. Seeing as it is a very cosmopolitan city, you can find any type of cuisine your heart desires. During our stay, we enjoyed several good meals, but what most stood out to me were the fabulous interiors of so many London restaurants.

The interior of the Prince Regent on Gloucester Road in Kensington where we enjoyed drinks one evening. I love the light fixtures and mirrors.

Pret A Manger was our favorite lunch spot. Let's face it. London is a very expensive city and the dollar does not fare well in the exchange rate. Pret, as we called it was a perfect lunch option because they are everywhere (like Starbucks) and offer fresh, made from scratch sandwiches, soups, and salads using high quality ingredients. Seeing as how London is extremely fast paced, this concept abounds in the city. You have fresh, ready-made, inexpensive meals that are ready for busy Londoners to take away. We would often get a take away lunch and would enjoy it in the park while people watching. I wish we had Pret A Manger in Houston. I could eat there everyday!
I loved the leather chairs in Pret A Manger.

Byron was just down the road from our hotel. It immediately caught my eye because it looked so cute and chic. One evening, Fabian was in the mood for a burger so we decided to give it a try. They honestly have the most incredible burgers. Everything is super fresh and high quality. Fabian said it was the best burger of his life and I would have to agree.
The cute interior at a different Byron location

I would love to design a kitchen around the design theme at Byron. I loved the chic black, white, and grey palette at the Gloucester Road location.

So, we ended up eating at Byron twice! One of the nights we sat next to a couple who looked like they were on a date. He was British, she was Italian. It's a small restaurant, so our tables were literally eight inches from each other. In the middle of dinner, the girl leaned in to say something to her date and her hair landed in the candle on the table and her hair caught on fire! It was crazy, but she had a good sense of humor about it. Anyway, I wanted to take pictures of the inside so badly, but felt like it would be obnoxious of me to snap pictures in such a tiny place that was filled with people. The morning before our departure, I stopped by in hopes that I could take some pictures while the place was empty before the lunch rush, but it was closed. This was the best I could manage through the window. I will have to muster up the courage to take more pictures there next time. If you're in London, it's definitely worth a try!

The afternoon that we went to Spitalfields, we decided to pop into Leon for an early dinner. The food was okay, but the décor was bananas!

I love the rustic tables and industrial chairs and lighting pendants.
Vintage Posters, Subway Tile, and Fabulous Lighting

How amazing is this table?

If Anthropologie were a restaurant, it would be Leon.

Cute Table

So Many Great Details
If you click on this to view the large version of the image, you'll see the fabulous baker's racks lined with beverages behind the subway tiled area in the background.

Love It
This is how much I love my readers. I took my camera where it had never been before, just for you! I paid a second visit to the bathroom so that I could snap pictures of the various antique mirrors and plumbing fixtures. Isn't it fabulous?

A Very Cool Antique Trunk in the Unisex Bathroom
Seriously, who loves you more than I do? I was praying no one would walk in!

And now, the piece de resistance...dinner at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's.

Images from Gordon Ramsay's Website

This dinner was truly an experience. The service, attention to detail, and food were all outstanding. It was truly, truly incredible. For our first course, Fabian had the lobster and salmon ravioli in a lemongrass and coconut bisque. I had the tomato and saffron risotto with langoustines.For the second course, we both had the lamb rack and loin with French beans with almonds and shallots and dauphinois potatoes. For dessert we had the apple tarte tatin for two with pecan praline ice cream. Before the first course, the chef sent over an amuse bouche that was some sort of basil-infused foam and they had a delicious assortment of fresh-baked breads and before dessert they brought over a really refreshing amuse bouche with banana custard and strawberries.We washed it all down with a nice bottle of wine. Oh, it was so good! Now I am craving the risotto again!
Gorgeous Dining Room
Again, not wanting to be obnoxious with the flash.

The Beautiful Lobby at Claridge's

Stunning Art Deco Details

P.S. La Dolce Vita has been nominated for a Divine Caroline Award! Yea! Please be sure to register and vote for LDV and the rest of your favorite blogs. You can do so by clicking on the highlighted text here or by clicking on the badge in the upper left corner of the blog. Remember, I took pictures in a public unisex bathroom for you! :) Thank you for your continued support. You're the best readers a girl could ask for.


Anonymous said...

They have Pret A Manger in New York City too. There aren't many but they are there...

DecRenew Interiors said...

So much fun to see your pictures. Looks like you had a great time. I took my husband to London and he loved it. I'm British so seeing these pictures brought back lots of memories for me. I've lived here in Texas for about 25 years now.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

Wondered if you could add me to your blog roll. I've got you on mine.

Ruth Staalsen

SpryOnTheWall said...

Fun, Gordon Ramsay's looks and sounds divine! I used to frequent Pret all the time when I worked in NYC - I was lucky enough to have 2 close by. They do have great reasonably priced food! Your trip looks like it was awesome!!!

alison giese Interiors said...

I'm certainly not above taking pictures of great bathrooms - and that one, with the vintage plumbing, fixtures, and mirrors was definitely worth your second trip to the loo!

Caitlin said...

I am loving that bathroom too! The mirrors are such a great detail.

I love all the tolix chairs at the restaurants.

SO glad you had a fabulous getaway!

Averill said...

You couldn't be more right -- London restaurants have really come a long way! I'll be sure to mark Gordon Ramsey's down for our next trip (hopefully soonish!).

LindsB said...

I was never really a fan of English food, but you may have just changed my mind now :) I'll have to take a trip back soon so I can test for myself.

Valerie Wills Interiors said...

Great post. As previously mentioned, I moved from the midland of England to London in 1984 and get most upset when people say that our cuisine is rubbish. For me, London has been one of the best places in the world to experience fine dining.... long gone are the days of fish and chips!!!

Thought you might like my London faves:

Quaglinos, Mayfair
Kensington Place, Chelsea
Julie's, Holland Park
The Collection, Fulham Road
Bibendum, Fulham Road
Belgo Central, Covent Garden
Wagamamas, Kensington
Atlantic Bar & Grill, Piccadilly
La Caprice, Green Park
First Floor, Notting Hill
Sugar Club, Oxford Circus
dell'Ugo, Soho

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

You are so correct about the unfair reputation of the current state of London fare. I have found wonderful restaurants there over the past several years!

Your London photos are such a treat!

Brooke Michie said...

These photos are lovely. When I was younger, my family and I stayed at Claridge's in London (circa 1998, I believe). It was just beautiful, and it's so nice to see these pictures!

Jen said...

Oh, I am so glad you had a good time in London! Your pictures are amazing -- really makes me want to jump on a plane right now to see for myself!

I am even happier that you were able to try one of Chef Ramsey's restaurants -- truly an experience! I was lucky enough to be able to try his restaurant in NYC, and it was incredible! I would love to visit all of his restaurants world-wide (I might be slightly obsessed after Hell's Kitchen).

Welcome back!

~ Jen

Jessica Ferron said...

Ah, delicious food!
I looooved Pret a Manger!
The perfect deli.
Don't you love how duck is a common casual food choice in England??
So classy.

Anonymous said...

Its so funny you should mention the cuisine. I've always heard the same thing, about it not being great. Good to know that isn't always the case.
Your photos are great!!

Sarah Ring said...

I voted for you! Love your London photos!!

Katherine said...

Paloma, you deserve MORE than a Divine Caroline Award! Your devotion to your readers and your ever-inspiring posts are just amazing. Thank you for sharing such wonderful details of your trip! Everything is divine.

Katherine said...

I voted for you too! It was so easy.

Unknown said...

how wonderful - i love how you even went back to the bathroom for pictures (good thing no one was in there!). ;-)