With limited time, we chose to experience London through two different dining experiences – one nine stories above the ground with a view of the all-encompassing London skyline and one in a subterranean basement with no view at all. Both meals conveyed the kind of magic that you can only experience in London.
After our last whirlwind trip to London, when we spent 44 hours running around the city like touristic chickens without heads. We were determined to be more mindful during our recent five-day visit to the British capital. Fortunate to stay with a good friend in her Central London flat, we walked and rode the tube everywhere. But where to eat? That was our million dollar question. The long-term nature of our travels has made us careful about our expenses and waistlines, so we didn’t take this dining decision lightly. That’s why we did our research and left the streets to experience London above and below.
Experience London Above – Lunch at the Restaurant at the Tate Modern
Not wanting to be late for lunch, we squeezed into the elevator that goes to the 9th floor restaurant. The Tate Modern is a busy museum, and there were a lot of people trying to get into just a few elevators. Thanks to our American pushiness, we edged in and arrived at lunch right on time. And what a lunch it was.
Opened in June of 2016, The Restaurant at the Tate Modern is not only new to us, but also new to London. Located in the museum’s Switch House extension building, the restaurant’s sun drenched dining room has views in every direction. We would have been distracted by these views had it not been for the food. British food has come a long way in the past few decades, from barely edible pub grub to world-class cuisine, and Tate’s restaurant skews toward the latter with its updated traditional fare made with fresh locally sourced product. But where to start? No worries on that score – Jeroen Schuijt, CEO of Tate Catering and a Philly connection, guided us through the menu and selected a nice rosé from the restaurant’s outstanding wine list to go with our lunch.
Meal highlights included the Cornish Blue Twice-Baked Soufflé served over greens with a Gooseberry Vinaigrette and the Line-Caught Wild Bass over Morels and Green Peas with an English Sparkling Wine Sauce. However, the true standout of the meal was the final course.
If it’s cliché to call a dish “too pretty to eat”, then the Lemon Brûlée Tart with Raspberry Cream and Blueberry Custard gave us reason to stoop to clichés. As much a piece of artwork as the paintings on the lower floors of the building, this dessert tickled our eyes and tantalized our taste buds with the pastry chef’s bold use of vivid yellow and purple color, crunchy, creamy texture and lemony flavor.
The Restaurant at the Tate Modern is located at Switch House Level 9, Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG, United Kingdom.
Experience London Below – Sunday Roast at Blacklock
When non-Brits think of typical British food, items like fish and chips or steak and kidney pie come to mind. In reality, the British food scene is so much more – including one of the country’s greatest food traditions – the Sunday Roast.
The Sunday Roast in England is almost akin to the Sunday Barbecue in the U.S. On early Sunday afternoons, families gather to feast on a wide array of roasted meats. Like a barbecue, the meats are prepared as almost a show of roasting prowess. Large hunks of protein are served along with such favorites as Yorkshire pudding and roasted carrots. We chose Soho’s critically acclaimed Blacklock for our first Sunday Roast experience in London.
We almost couldn’t find Blacklock by glancing down the Soho street where it’s located, but, once we headed down the stairway that leads to the restaurant’s basement, a convivial, welcoming dining room opened before our eyes. Blacklock is not a typically clubby, uptight steakhouse but rather a new ultra-casual room with opaque white brick walls, t-shirted servers and black chalkboard menus that make diners want to hang, eat and drink cocktails (or wine) on a leisurely Sunday afternoon or weekday evening.
After a succulent starter of melty, rich bone marrow with toast, our main Sunday Roast course arrived. Locally sourced roast beef, done to a luscious pink hue, was piled as high as the Cliffs of Dover next to a variety of meats which were then stacked over duck fat potatoes, heritage carrots and green beans. On the same plate, opposite the meat, sat a gargantuan Yorkshire pudding – a classic popover on steroids. We needed the Yorkshire pudding to soak the juicy remains from this gargantuan Sunday feast. Blacklock sweetens the deal with a side of special bone marrow gravy.
Tasting Tip: Invite your friends to join you for the Sunday Roast at Blacklock. While a couple of people can hammer through the mountain of meat, the massive meal is best eaten by a crowd. Bring your friends! Bring your family! Come hungry!
Don’t laugh when we tell you to save room for the pudding / dessert. Although we hadn’t planned on eating the white chocolate cheesecake, we had to try it when it arrived at our table. Next time we’ll save more room, as there will definitely be a next time.
Prices are reasonable at just £20 per person for the All In feast with more beef, lamb and pork than mere mortals should eat at one sitting, though we sure had fun trying not to waste a precious morsel. Add a Cauliflower Cheese side for £4 and a Gin and Juice or two for £6.50 each, and the bank still won’t be broken.
Blacklock is located at 24 Great Windmill Street, London W1D 7LG, United Kingdom.
We thank Jeroen Schuijt and the team at the Restaurant at the Tate Modern for their generous hospitality.