London micro-moments to electrify your trip. Plug in anywhere.
Where should we go eat?
These electric micro-moments I offer to plug into the sockets of the in-betweens of travel in London. I mean just because it doesn’t take very long to stick your finger into a socket doesn’t mean it should shock you any less. These are my favorite quick moments to plug in anywhere.
Angler. A modern Michelin dream of shiny ceilings mirrored to reflect not just our merriment but the blood and sweat and tears of the kitchen in which chef Gary Folks and his crew braised them. It is the pursuit of perfection, sure, but more than that it is a push of locally sourced ingredients from British waters to the top gun of modernity in British cuisine. The elite. Best of the best. I mean there’s London and then there’s Michelin star London. Would be a once in a lifetime special occasion and this is just the type that you can get only in London and who knows when you’ll be back?
What’s that? You’re looking for something a little more on the cheap? The hell you are. It doesn’t get any cheaper than Michelin starred restaurants because that little Michelin star means Angler is held to a degree of cleanliness higher than any standard you’ve ever held yourself to about anything, and that the produce you’re eating is not just highly seasonal but cooked to the absolute perfection of humankind’s knowhow. Shucks, since we’re baking layers of promises into our Michelin starred evening, why not add that the sommelier, selected by one of the top chefs in the world, knows how to suggest a pairing of wine that isn’t as random as your eyes-closed point into a leather-bound wine list but pairs wine with food like morning pairs dew with a long, cool night. Then of course, there’s the service, of which I’ve found is of the friendliest in the world, and will share the evening with you if you let them. They know it’s a special occasion, and they don’t work the hours they work and to the degree of perfection that they work them to just to see the people they do it for forget it all. Engage them. Of course, when you’re done with your victory of dining better than almost anyone in the world tonight, return to the angler’s den of low lights and blankets and drinks better than anywhere else in the world tonight. I dare you to find as many promises packed into the dollars you spend at Michelin restaurants anywhere else. Why wander lost in London’s streets and evenings forgotten when you can be guaranteed victory? How much would a general pay for something like that? It’s the best value around.
But I see your point. So how about fish and chips in Chelsea at a place called Bailey’s where the promise is not to entrance you for the entire evening so that you might not be lost but a promise to start your evening with locals and the owner greeting you and offering you a spot at this single bar. Here you will find not a shelter from being lost on London’s streets for the evening but a promise to send you out the door wonderfully so.
You know what. You’re right. So far I’ve offered one Michelin star restaurant and one local chippy. That is polar opposites. Though both represent the best that London has to offer, perhaps there is a way to split the difference. How about an establishment by Marco Pierre White? Sure, he’s the three Michelin starred chef who gave away his stars after being the youngest and first British chef ever to win three count ’em three Michelin f*&kin stars, but that doesn’t mean that he still doesn’t adore London. He still wants to offer people a comfortable place with luxurious surroundings and so bought Wheelers Oyster Bar and Grill and if I do say so myself the poshest f*&kin bathrooms in London. In his dining room, that’s grand and larger than life like the man himself, order the fish and chips. The wait staff here will treat you the same whether you order fish and chips or lobster and steak, sure, but do so because there’s no bigger f*&k you to the ruiners of the world who come back from London and say I loved London but I just got tired of fish and chips in dingy pubs.
After Wheelers, you won’t have to wander the London streets all night but just wander five minutes up Bishopsgate and then 35 stories up to Duck and Waffle for dazzling bacon wrapped dates and dazzling cocktails and a dazzling dimness and trees glowing orange.
Hark! Speaking of dining at Marco Pierre White’s Wheelers, what of Maze? It’s a Gordon Ramsay restaurant that is small and inviting and charming and buzzing and with equally so waiters like Stefano who spent all evening with the Johnny Book team talking about and recommending London and with chefs who are given free reign to create and serve their own dishes. Gordon Ramsay trained under some of the best chefs in the world and that includes Marco Pierre White and Gordon holds his own restaurants to those standards and has some of the best-run restaurants in London.
You know what? We went from grand and luxurious and larger than life and poshest bathrooms with Marco Pierre White to Gordon Ramsay’s small and buzzing and with friendly conversation. All that’s left is to strike a more old school romantic tone at Wild Honey. Chef Anthony Demetre trained under Marco Pierre White and Pierre Koffman and their galaxy of Michelin stars, and the wood panels and red booths do not so much entice a romantic and intimate conversation as much as they welcome it home with a casual where you been all day?
Of course, all of those chefs are emphatically British and speaking of emphatically British—what about Berners Tavern, which flips the term wall art into art wall and which is a fifteen minute walk from the emphatically British, British Museum? It’s funky and a bit rushed but it’s a nice quick little sit down before the museum.
Or, speaking of conversation, what if we sat at the window of Mele e Pere and savored our modern Italian which shuts our mouth with savoring in preparation for Les Miserables the show at the Queen’s Theatre which is only like three minutes away on foot and where Les Mis first opened to the world and where it still has the rotating stage and where Eponine and Marius and Jean Valjean remind us in no uncertain terms that conversation amongst friends is no causal thing but is a spark in woods that have not seen enough rain for playing with such things. And that you never really know where an evening might end, if done right. After all, before we heard the people sing, they were sitting around the table, talking, intimate, warm against the drafts. So choose carefully. Sparks happen.