What To Do With Your Parents When They Come to London PT. 3: Food & Fun!

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Lastly, I wanted to write down all the amazing restaurants I got to try with my parents while they were visiting, because we sure ate a lot! Happily for us, most of the restaurants we ate at turned out to be an experience all on their own, besides the food. Some people say that London doesn’t have the best food, but those people just don’t know where to eat. London is bursting at the seams with diverse and delicious food! But before I cover a few of our personal favourites of the trip, make sure you check these three things off the list…

First of all, no trip to London is complete without what I like to call the ABC’s of British food culture – Afternoon tea, english Breakfast, and a pub lunCh. If your parents made the long flight over to see you, then you better get them the real deal!

For afternoon tea, my favourite tearoom of all time is sketch, located just off Regent Street in central London. If your family is anything like mine, they’ll want to hit up the shoppes in London, and sketch is the perfect splashy spot to lay down your bags and rest after an afternoon of shopping with a delicious spot of tea and some scones. We were lucky to sit in the serene, forest themed room called the Glade, but there are other awesome rooms to have tea in as well, and surprisingly, the bathrooms are the best part! Yep, you heard me right. The loo at sketch has a rainbow roof and giant eggs for stalls, and it’s probably something best seen up close and personal. If you have room left, try one of their pastries as well. They’re pretty, Instagram worthy, and scrumptious to boot!

sketch collage

But before you even get to afternoon tea, you’ve got to have a classic British fry up – eggs, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, the whole lot! I can’t say any one place that has the best English breakfast because so many restaurants do amazing ones, but if you want to go big and bold, book breakfast at the Sky Gardens inside the east London building nicknamed the Walkie Talkie. You’ll have breakfast with one of the best views in London! Even if you don’t eat there, definitely take a trip to the Sky Gardens because the whole experience is magnificent. My dad loved his English breakfast at the Sky Gardens, even the black pudding (fried pig’s blood!), and on my parents’ last day in London, we found ourselves back eating another fry up. Our cholesterol levels were probably just as high as we were!

sky garden collage

Finally, you must have a Sunday pub lunch at some point if your parents are visiting. Sunday roasts are a classic tenet of British society – every Sunday Brits head over to their neighbourhood pub to stuff themselves silly with roast meat, Yorkshire puddings and potatoes. It’s simply the best, and a tradition I hope to take home with me back to California one day. Most any pubs do Sunday roasts, but be sure to make a reservation or go early – most places sell out of roasts by early evening! If you happen by a pub with your family on another day of the week, try a steak and kidney pie, Scotch eggs, or the traditional fish and chips (with mushy peas!) to get a similar sort of British cuisine. All are absolutely delicious, and by the end of it, you’ll have to be rolled out of the pub!

Borough Market: London is also known for its fantastic markets, and I made sure to take my parents to a couple different ones while they were here, but my personal favourite is Borough Market. I love wandering about the produce and food stalls, tasting all the delicious cheeses and oils and whatnot! There’s no shortage of different cuisines to try, and there’s also every kind of pastry and dessert you could ever want. Your parents may want to buy a jar of lavender honey or white truffle oil to take home with them!

borough market collage

Old Spitalfields Market/Brick Lane: Another great market is Old Spitalfields Market in east London. It’s colourful and expansive – a fantastic place for your parents to pick up some cool trinkets to take back home, or to find less touristy souvenirs. When you’re done looking through the market, head over to Brick Lane, a street teeming with delicious curry houses and amazing vintage shops. Sounds like a dream come true, right? If you’re about in Brick Lane, be sure to pick up a salt beef or smoked salmon bagel from the Beigl Bake – they’re delicious, super cheap, and open all night!

Colbert Bistro: For a more European vibe, Colbert Bistro is the perfect spot to have a relaxed outdoor lunch, eat French food and watch the traffic go by. It’s not exactly a café on the Seine, but Sloane Square is a great place for people-watching and looking out for members of the Made in Chelsea cast! If you’re brave, try the escargot there – they’re delicious! Even for more picky eaters, the snails are drenched in so much delicious garlic butter, you could be eating old boots for all you know. Don’t forget dessert either. My mom and I shared what seemed like a gallon of the richest chocolate moussé and didn’t regret it one bit.

Harrods: Though Harrod’s isn’t a place I normally frequent, it’s a super fun stop to check out with your parents. I don’t think we have anything like it in America, and you can literally spend hours upon hours gazing at all the gorgeous, albeit ridiculously priced objects for sale! However, you can also eat there. My parents and I had afternoon tea in a little café at the top, and it was quite the experience! Not only was it yummy and actually decently priced for being located in a place like Harrods, but we had giant pharaoh statues staring down on us while we ate, which always adds some ambiance.

harrods Collage

Dishoom: You must get Indian food on any trip to London – after all, they say curry is the most British food of all! While you can probably find a great curry on every other block in London, I visited the restaurant Dishoom with my family and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I am a woman obsessed, possessed, impressed, you name it! The food was absolutely incredible, and the restaurant, in a Bombay café style, had the most beautiful vintage décor and buzzy environment! If you go, go with a group – they only take reservations for groups of over six people and I’ve seen queues there 40 people deep! At first I thought all the people waiting were crazy, but after eating at Dishoom, I almost jumped in the queue myself.

Duck and Waffle: On the last night of my parents’ trip, we decided the sky was the limit for our last meal – literally! Duck and Waffle is located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower in Bishopsgate, with some of the best views I’ve ever seen over London.  Duck and Waffle had the most diverse, original menu I’d ever seen, with dishes from all around the world, and it was probably the best food I’ve had in a really long time as well! Where else can you get freshly baked cornbread, tuna tartare, and duck and waffles in the same place? Seriously, I’m just drooling thinking about it. The best part is that Duck and Waffle is open 24/7, so you can make a reservation at any time you feel! Please visit soon so I can live vicariously through you.

duck waffle Collage

Although I already miss my parents, I’m still trying to work off all the calories we ate! Thank goodness London is a walking town, or we’d really be in trouble. However, we had such an amazing trip, with the most exquisite food. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Hopefully if your own parents come to London, you’ll be able to try some of these places and make a ton of incredible memories of your own! 

For more recommendations on what to do, see, eat and drink while in London, feel free to drop me a line at ryee@sc.eap.ucop.edu.