Friday, November 12, 2010

Eat, Drink, Merry...

We totally lucked out when it came to dinning and drinking in London. Almost everything was fantastic. When making our plans, we decided that we wanted to stay within walking distance of the hotel most nights. After a day of exploring, the last thing we wanted to do was hop into a cab and drive 20 to 30 minutes for dinner. Plus, it gave us the opportunity to get to know and feel at home in our neighborhood.  Fortunately, in our South Kensington/Knightsbridge location, we had lots to choose from just a 10 minute or so walk away -- and, the money we saved on cab rides we could spend on wine and the calories we burned walking we could eat! Good strategy.

 First-night sips at Tom's Kitchen

The perfect casual first night dinner at Tom's Kitchen (fried squid, tagliatelle with pumpkin and blue cheese). A great neighborhood pub, The Anglesea Arms (beer, wine, sausage roll, chips). A yummy French-ish dinner at Aubaine (pear salad, moules frites), we were covered in all directions. And when we did go farther afield J. Sheekey lived up to the hype and was perfect pre-theatre fare (oysters, fillet of pollack with lentils and salsa verdé).

 The neighborhood pub (photo beerintheevening.com)

But by far, my favorite food night in London had to be our final evening (save the best for last).

For days, the amazing Michelin Tyre building had caught our eye as we wandered the streets in Chelsea. No longer home to tires, today it houses a lovely grouping of Bibendum restaurants, named for the Michelin Man--an oyster bar and outdoor cafe, a crustacean stall and upstairs formal dining.

 The Art Nouveau exterior caught our eye on the first night. 
 
So on our way to our last London dinner, we popped into the Oyster Bar for champagne and oysters. Lovely. 

The menu was so cute I had to steal it!

Built in 1909 as the first permanent headquarters for Michelin in Britain, the Art Nouveau building has been described as 'the most completely French of any Edwardian building in London'. When new owners bought it in 1985, they kept the character and history of the favorite landmark.

 Oyster Bar interior (image from Bibedum)  

 Mosaic detail (image from Bibendum) 

 The entry hall (image from Bibendum)

The design of the Oyster Bar and the Restaurant refer directly to the history of the building and the Michelin Man himself, and both maintain their French overtones -- seriously, we could have been in Paris, right down the the charming French waiter who corrected my pronunciation.
 
 The perfect ending...
Yum.

 For the perfect trip...

We could have stayed all night, but had reservations at another Chelsea favorite, Rasoi Vineet Bhatia, for Indian food.

Just ring the bell.

When we approached the townhouse location, we weren't sure we had the right entrance, as the door was locked. We looked around, and rang the bell. We were ushered in through a lovely series of intimate rooms to a cozy window seat table.

Street Food Chaats

I wasn't sure Rasoi could possibly live up to expectations --reviews had described the food as "lyrical" and "poetic." That seemed like a stretch.

Oven Baked Spiced Cod

It wasn't. Lyrical, poetic and not just the best Indian food I've ever had--one of the best meals I've ever had. 

 Chicken Tikkas

The perfect ending for the perfect trip!

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