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    Restaurants in London: 5 places for real Londoners

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    Aina Prat Blasi

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    Five restaurants and pubs to eat in London like a real British. Not just fish & chips but salmon marinated in gin, smoked haddock soup and hare meat, just to name a few.

    Who has never heard of, on the occasion of a trip to London, what is bad food in England? Not long ago I tried to explain to a person that, as in all places, you just need to know where to go, and she replied that "eating at ten in the evening is a difficult undertaking".

    On this point I can agree but, on the other hand, if in a country there is the habit of having dinner early, I do not see why we should not respect this custom. How do you say? When in Rome do as the Romans do. Therefore When in London eat where the Londoners eat.

    Restaurants in London: 5 unmissable

    In the places where Londoners eat I have often happened over the years: I have chosen five, the ones I have been to during my last trips.

    1. The Mayfair Chippy

    I discovered it by accident, after an afternoon of shopping with friends walking up and down Oxford Street. The Mayfair Chippy is located in one of the many streets of the central area Mayfair and, although the neighborhood is very posh, the place is very simple and welcoming. The rigor of the checkered floor and the white tiles on the walls is interrupted by the majolica tables: colorful, each one different from the other. Mayfair Chippy's specialty is fish & chips, also to take away.

    There aren't many seats because the place is small, so it's important to book, especially on weekends. We are assigned a table next to the counter, along the wall decorated with black and white photographs. We order some beer and, as an appetizer, the crab salad with fennel and radishes. As a main course we choose the four variations of their famous fish & chips: cod, haddock, scampi and plaice. With us there is a person who does not eat fish, and who chooses an excellent one shepherd's pie, the lamb pie.

    Finally we share two desserts: apple crumble and lemon cheesecake.

    Subway: Marble Arch (Central Line)

    2. St. John Bread & Wine

    Not far fromOld Spitalfields Market, in London's East End, is the St. John Bread & Wine: it is the “younger brother” of the more famous St. John of Clerkenwell, where chef Fergus Henderson coined the philosophy of nose to tail eating. His innovative vision had the merit of revolutionizing the way people approach cooking, and the book of the same name published in 1999 became the object of desire of cooks and food lovers. Henderson's theory subverted the gastronomy of the time, arguing that nothing should be thrown away. Everything that an animal offers must be eaten, including the ears, the entrails, the tail. Otherwise it would be a lack of respect towards the animal.

    The inside is minimal, with white floors and walls. There is nothing superfluous: the furniture is reduced to what is strictly necessary. There kitchen is open, with the chefs intent on preparing the dishes on the menu divided not according to the type of course, but according to the hours of the day. The common thread is the tradition: the dishes are prepared and served in a simple way, without wasting anything. We order pumpkin salad with yogurt and artichoke soup, then roasted veal and potted hare, ground hare meat, cooked in its blood with the addition of red wine and preserved in bacon. For groups of at least ten people it is possible to order the suckling pig, the roast suckling pig, but you need to book in advance.

    Not being able to choose the suckling pig, we console ourselves with the dessert: from the most classic apple crumble to the steamed date sponge, a sort of sponge cake with dates.

    Subway: Liverpool Street (Circle Line; Metropolitan Line; Hammersmith & City Line)

    3. The Windsor Castle

    That of the Windsor Castle it was another chance discovery, due to rain and construction going on along the subway tracks. After spending hours a Notting Hill, my friend and I are forced to stop our wanderings due to a storm. We go back to the subway, but there are no trains. We decide to walk to Kensington High Street, hoping to be able to go home with another line.

    Halfway, however, we are distracted by a building that seems to have come out of the past: on two floors, with a white plastered facade and a wisteria that rises from the door to the window on the upper floor. Even inside, time has stopped, and the wood floor creaks alarmingly under our feet. The ceiling is low above our heads; the lighting is poor, and the environment is made darker also by the worn wood that covers every surface. The boy behind the counter does not look up from the glasses he is drying, so we take our seats in a room adjacent to the entrance, next to a lit fireplace.

    Nobody comes to ask us if we have chosen what we want to eat, so we do as if we were in a remote village in the Cotswolds: we go to the counter, ask for two pints and order directly from the menu written on a blackboard: salmon marinated in gin and cheese platter as an appetizer; veal cheek with mashed potatoes and vegetables; chicken and ham pie with carrots.

    After a taste of blueberry cheesecake we are ready to leave: not before having taken a look at the beer garden. Too bad for the rain: it wouldn't have been bad to have dinner in the garden.

    Subway: Notting Hill Gate (Central Line; Circle Line; District Line)

    4. Petersham Nurseries

    It is the ideal destination for one trip out of town if you are in London for a few days. You have to move south of the Thames, between the London suburbs of Richmond and Twickenham. The particularity of Petersham Nurseries is the fact that the restaurant is located inside a nursery, bordering Richmond Park. Inaugurated in 1970 as a garden center for the sale of flowers and plants, in 2004 it was completely renovated. Since then, in addition to buying aromatic herbs, handicrafts or garden furniture, customers can also have lunch in the teahouse set up under the vaults of the old glass greenhouse. The commitment and dedication of the kitchen brigade, under the direction of chef Skye Gingell, made it possible to obtain an important result in 2011 with the Michelin star. For a couple of years the command has been taken over by another woman, Lucy Boyd, who takes care of the menu inspired by what is in season and the vegetables grown in the nursery. Excellent the smoked haddock soup and fennel served with toast, or the vegetable and cheese quiche or, again, the chicken and leek pie.

    At the end of the meal you can stop for a while, drinking a hot tea or a fresh lemonade, depending on the season, enjoying thecountry chic atmosphere of the greenhouse with its rickety wooden tables, the rusty chairs one different from the other, the pots with aromatic plants placed on the table, the decorations that seem to come from a flea market. Then you are ready to face the pleasant half-hour walk along the road that runs along the river and leads to the metro stop and, from here, into the frenzy of the City.

    Subway: Richmond (District Line; London Overground)

    5. The White Horse

    The last destination is the White Horse, the last place I usually eat before leaving London. That way I am sure I have great memories of my last dinner in town every time. It is found at Parson's Green, a little out of the more central area, but worth the trip on the subway.

    The pub overlooks a small park, where barbecues are often organized in summer: if the weather is mild, you can eat out, or maybe just stop for a beer. I have known this place for a long time, but despite this I can't help but be enchanted every time I cross the threshold of the corner building. The wooden counter, on the left, is always packed, like the rest of the pub. Difficult to find a place at one of the tables usually used for a drink before dinner, or for a beer before returning home. We make our way between the armchairs and sofas of worn leather, heading for one of the free tables at the back of the room.

    We order our pints at the counter: the list to choose from is really extensive. We order practically the whole menu: a cheese platter with Cheddar, Cornish blue cheese and goat cheese, served with red onion marmalade. Then pea and cress soup, chicken liver pate served on toast, Black Combe ham with grilled asparagus, braised lamb shoulder with mashed garlic and carrots, burgers with Cheddar and roasted trout with potatoes and fennel. There are still sweets: carrot cake, caramel profiteroles e chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream.

    After such a dinner, we are ready to leave London.

    Subway: Parson's Green (District Line).

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