Well, the Olympic madness is halfway over.
To be honest, as I work in the western side of Central London, I have seen little of the crazy the Olympics brought in to town. Hyde Park has been much less crowded than anticipated, though I’ve still avoided it like the plague, and Oxford Street is surprisingly easy to walk due to thinner crowds.
Of course, there is some outrage among shop and resto owners in the west; claims that sales are down between 10% and 30% (as compared to last year at this time) do not surprise me, as it has been rather quiet. They have extended our service hours at work, notably the dinner service starts at 4pm and continues on until 11pm, which means I don’t get out until midnight at the earliest, and that’s with a real push to get everything together before the last tables come in.
So since I’ve spent a good deal of time working, or rather being in the kitchen waiting for people to order (thankfully beach-body season seems to have passed and dessert sales are up, I no longer feel totally useless), there has been little time to sightsee. Since I try to photograph food as much as possible, here’s what I’ve found so far…
The IceCreamists – SoHo
This ice cream is good. I found them through the Commis, who brought in their titillating book that remains an excellent distraction while I wait to use the single working oven (the other one suffered a bit of an electrical fire last week, much to my chagrin). Sure these guys pump stabilizers of all sorts into this ice cream to give it a delicious chewy texture, but the flavours are wonderful.
The Canadian delivered Apple Vodka and Peanut to me on a particularly trying day. Oh, and they also make Breast Milk Ice Cream, which sells for ₤19 for three scoops. No taste-testing of that one, so I don’t know if it is worth it.
Yauatcha – SoHo
This place confused me. The resto is enclosed by brilliant blue glass save for one long clear opening to showcase their beautiful French pastries, despite their claiming they are an upscale Dim Sum and Tea House. After pressing my nose on the glass and trying to not lick it, it is London after all, I finally decided to venture inwards.
They gave us a lovely amuse bouche of pickled cuccumber and spicy sauces.
Euphorium Bakery – Islington
Interweb reviews touted this as one of the top café/bakeries in town, so I was a little skeptical. Our first visit we tried the jam-packed with marzipan Almond Croissant, Apple Strudel, Eccles Cake (which was delicious, even though I don’t care for glacé or candied fruits), and their Tiramisu, the best I’ve had thusfar. This is the Strudel with raisins and walnuts, as well as a cross section of their traditional croissant. Only downside was the mocha, which was really horrible. The Flat Whites were great.
The Happening Bagle – Finsbury Park
I’ve read this is the best Bagel in London, though it is quite unlike any other bagel. A) it is double seeded, and B) the people of Finsbury Park dislike properly cooked bagels so they are taken from the oven a couple of minutes early.
Mysterious Donut Stand – Camden
In all honestly, I didn’t try these. But they came in 15 flavours and were the size of my face. I’ve yet to see them again, though I am in Camden during the week and the donut cart was spotted on a Saturday, so maybe it’s a weekend delight. Though not a donut person, these were pretty epic.
Chin Chin Laboratories – Camden
There is nothing like going to Camden, getting something to eat from one of the hundreds of food stalls and sitting along the canal.
I’ve already gone on about these ice cream makers, but I visit almost every week for their special so it’s only fair. They always offer Vanilla and Chocolate, neither of which I’ve tried, then offer a brand-spanking new sorbet and ice cream flavour.
…and The Hummingbird Bakery – Portobello Road
Portobello is well known for its antique shops and quirky vintage business. I saw a couple of antique shops, and after 26 years of antiquing I can say with a bit of authority that they were a bit on the lean side, and mostly tourist crap shops. It broke my heart. There is also a well-known cupcake shop here, the Hummingbird Bakery. If you spend any time looking at baked goods online (at tastespotting, for instance) or peruse baking books in shops, you know the Hummingbird. It is famous. It’s red velvet cupcake is very famous. I bought one.
I was not especially impressed. Though the cake was just moist enough to not qualify as dry, the flavour was difficult to spot. The frosting was American sweet. The latte was bland. I’m sorry, I just can’t agree with the general public on this one.