4 Days in London: Restaurant Hopping

With only four days to explore one of my favorite cities, the options had to be streamlined, cross-referenced, and highly recommended. We did experience some wonderful meals. One surprise was by happenstance—we landed at The Modern Pantry every day, as it was just behind the hotel, which took care of the early meal of the day. Nighttime took us to Shoreditch and Soho neIghborhoods.

The Zetter Hotel Loved this stylish boutique hotel situated in Clerkenwell, which happened to be at the center of all the spots we needed to be on this trip. Rooms were comfy, but not overdone, with seating and enough storage for a short trip. A luxe gratis coffee machine on every floor was a welcome offering for a frothy latte or cup of tea. It was a short walk to the Thames via Blackfriars Bridge, and another half hour or so of walking to Trafalgar Square. We had lunch in the Club Zetter Wine Room & Kitchen upon arrival, which constituted a comfort-y truffle risotto [Jerusalem Artichoke Risotto, Toasted Hazelnut and Truffles] contrasted by a healthy asparagus—which seemed to be on every menu in town [English Asparagus, Crispy Hens Egg, Cured Ham]. Burgers were cooked to well done, so not in line with my fine-tuned burger sensibilities [Zetter Burger, Cave-Aged Cheddar, Triple Cooked Chips, Onion Rings and Pickle]. Bonus: The restaurant/wine bar on the premises opened for us late at night when everything else was closed.   THE ZETTER

The Modern Pantry Right behind The Zetter was a sanctuary for health, to balance indulgences of the night before. We had brunch here twice on the weekend and lunch on our last day. Bob ordered a meusli mix, with ultra fresh nuts, berries, and oats, which was surprisingly doused in fresh apple juice, making for a super refreshing start to the day [Toasted Buckwheat, Rolled Oat, Puffed Wild Rice, Sour Cherry & Pecan Meusli with Apple Juice & Blackberries]. I instead dabbled in toast, which arrived as a trio of toasts with a trio of lovely jams, including marmalade, which I have never developed a taste for, as much as I have tried [Wholegrain and Sourdough Toasts with a Trio of Jams: Berry + Licorice, Gooseberry + Vanilla, Grapefruit + Pink Peppercorn Marmalade]. Salads here were generous and feautured a wonderful mix of sprouts, unusual lettuces, olives, fresh cheese and flatbreads [in the photo: Mozzarella, Heritage Tomato, Lemon Roast Fennel & Lavosh Salad, Olives, in Shallot + Tarragon Dressing]. Order the smaller portion for one—the large portion is a lot to handle. THE MODERN PANTRY

Brawn Our first dinner came late in the day at Brawn in Shoreditch. This place is reminiscent of something out of Brooklyn or Seattle. Nice bread and olives started our meal, which continued with gourgères tres light and tasty. I got everyone at the table to try and like the smoked eel which was served salad style [Smoked Eel, Apple, Fennel & Creme Fraiche]. We moved onto our next asparagus dish of the trip, in this case wrapped in lardo and sprinkled with cheese [Asparagus, Lardo di Colonnata, Walnuts]. A sensational crudo ended the app part of the dinner [Raw Scallop, Celery, Capers & Colatura di Alici]. For entrees, David and I had a hankering for the pork, which arrived as a generous portion [Pork Chop, Green Beans, Anchovy & New Season Garlic]. Hit the spot. A pasta [Brown Crab & Bottarga Taglionlini] was enjoyed by Judy. Bob, as usual, ordered the fish, because he can never resist a dish that has peas in it [Turbot, White Asparagus, Mousserons & Peas]. The darlin’ Clementine, our server, did her best to make our night fun, and we did close down the place. Perfect dinner to start the trip. BRAWN

Bar Termini After walking all day long, we were ready for replishment. So early Sunday eve we stopped in Soho, first at Barafina, whose counter was full, and had a line wrapped around it of people waiting to dine. A couple tried to convince us to stay, saying it was worth the hour wait, but that did not appeal. [I, for one, don’t believe in waiting an hour, when you could be so many other places not waiting.] Second attempt, right down the street was Ducksoup [closed] so we continued on to the next property on the list: Bar Termini. Soooo happy we made it here. The place was an adorable little spot, packed with revelers chillin’. Because it was Sunday, the only food available was charcuterie, which turned out to be extraordinary, and came with a stack of very thin, greasy, flaky bread as its perfect partner. We had a blast here hanging out at the bar with the very friendly staff, who were shaking up some nice cocktails as well (see details in the London Drink post). Truly fun spot. Home away from home—Italian style. BAR TERMINI

Berners Tavern We ended up in Fitzrovia for dinner after a foray to Untitled, a spot we kept trying to go to, but got there too late 2 nghts in a row (also in our drinks review). The space was opulent with an explosion of photos covering the walls similar to the Clocktower in NYC, who both happen to be situated in an Edition Hotel. We switched to drinking wine, a nice Viongier, and started with a healthy salad. Again, Bob got the fish [Roasted Cornish Cod, Crispy Squid, Basil, Fregola, in a Tomato Consomme poured at the table], which included a couple of baby baby calamari on the top, but I had the winning dish: The VERY BEST Chicken Paillard salad ever. I could not stop raving about it and the chef generously came to our table to share the recipe. This number would make a lovely offering for a summer dinner party: the combination of sauces, super-thin wafer of chicken, and fresh lettuces make it really extra special. According to the chef, this is a crowd fave, so they cannot take it off the menu. [See the recipe below for Chargrilled Chicken Paillard Salad Garlic + Chorizo Butter, Piquillo Pepper, Manchego, Rocket, Red Onion Salad] BERNERS TAVERN

Palomar Our finale dinner was a tough choice to make, especially considering all the interesting recommendations we were getting. Ugh. How to decide? Upon further discussions with our Brit friends we came to a glorious concusion. Palomar. Judy’s sister had a connection, so we were able to snag a table for 5—last minute. It turned out to be an excellent choice, where we shared many little dishes. They just kept a comin’. Everything we ordered was fresh and flavorful, with a leaning towards veggie things. Do get the Pot Baked Bread (we even got a second order of this hot, pull-apart bread perfect for dipping). The  dishes that graced the table: Salmon Tabulenia: bulgar, Turkish za’atar, yoghurt & herbs; Kubaneh: Yemei Pot Baked Bread: with tahini & velvet tomatoes; Yiddish Style Hand Chopped Chicken Liver Pate: horseradish ‘Chrain’, toasted challah & pickles; Fattoush Salad: tomato, cucumber, za’atar, sumac, challah croutons, Brazil nuts & labneh; Gnocchi Hamousta: fennel & leek cream, almonds & ricotta salata; Polenta Jerusalem Style: with asparagus, mushroom ragout, parmesan & truffle oil; Prawn Ceviche del Cristiano: prawns in tiger milk, mango, mezcal & chimichurri; Beetroot Carpaccio: burnt goat’s cheese, hazelnut brittle, lentil tuile & pomegranate molasses vinaigrette; Ironed Chicken Thighs: za’atar & sumac rub, ambah yoghurt, Arak & orange braised fennel; Siske Pork Belly: with Ras el Hanout, dried apricot, glazed carrot & celeriac cream. For Judy’s extended birthday celebration, we did opt for 2 desserts. The fruit-centric Malabi Rose with scented milk pudding, raspberry coulis, coconut meringue pistachio crunch, fresh raspberries & kataifi and the decadent Reverse Chocolate Fondue: milk crumble, banana financier, vanilla marshmallow and peanut tuile. PALOMAR


Chargrilled Chicken Paillard Salad with Garlic-Parsley Mayo + Chorizo Butter

This recipe is truly a labor of love, and probably best ordered at Berners Tavern. But even if you do some of the components, you will have the makings of an absolutely superb salad. All the elements play so wonderfully together, I can still taste it in my mind. These are the verbal instructions I received from Chef Gordon Watton.

Chicken Paillard

Pound chicken breasts thinly, and grill. (They use a Spanish Grill with charcoal.)

Make the Chorizo Butter

Dice chorizo and caramelize. Let cool. Add to butter. Smother on top of chicken after grilling.

Make the Garlic Parsley Mayo

Chop garlic and parsley and combine with mayo. Dollop 3 spoons onto chicken.

Make the Salad

Combine arugula, roasted piquillo peppers, manchego shavings, and thinly sliced red onion rings.

Add the Dressing

oil, mustard, lemon, lime, vinegar

The Garnish: Crispy Shallots

Fry thinly sliced shallots in cold pan of oil, cook slowly until golden brown, then dehydrate.