As requested – our food stops in London ! Some are baby-friendly, others are not, but all were great options and some were must-tries! While we spent a lot of time moving around in Paris, we were quite tired in London so we spent most of our time -gulp- eating 🙂 The weather wasn’t as pleasant in London, either, so we stayed indoors a lot.
But of course, I had to introduce my sweet-toothed baby girl to Mama’s favourite cupcakes in the world.
It was really quite surreal to be back in Portobello Market’s Hummingbird Bakery for my red velvet fix, but this time with husband and Sophie-doll in tow. She must have been wondering what had gotten her mother into such an overexcited kerfuffle!
Just looking at the displays and being inside the candy-colored bakery brought me right back to my one London summer, when these cupcakes and cake slices were my twice-weekly indulgences when the weather was good – a Sophie Kinsella novel, a hot to-go cup of milky Earl Grey, and these cupcakes balanced precariously on my tiny desk in LSE’s Rosebery Hall while I enjoyed the little me-time I had in between classes and, well, living with a very strange room mate.
We bought two flavors!
The classic red velvet (YES) and a new flavour, which could have been seasonal – Pumpkin Chai.
Oddly enough, the red velvet was quite disappointing this time – it was dry. I was devastated. We later went to another branch of Hummingbird and thank god, it was the moist, dense, rich and malty flavour I was expecting.
The Pumpkin Chai, however, was quite divine! My sister and I were practically swooning over its warm slightly spicy but fluffy crumb, and that luscious, smooth pumpkin chai frosting was to-die-for. Buttery, cinnamony. Mmmm perfect for the chilly spring weather.
Sophie also had her first bite of Red Velvet. She didn’t seem to care that it was dry -_-
Look at that excited little face! Anyway, Mamas, while Hummingbird doesn’t have much of a sit down area, you can easily take away the cupcakes in handy boxes – they lasted a whole day for us – until you find a park or a bench where you can enjoy them with your kids!
They can even make a mess – and no one will care >.< Definitely a must-go, and I’ll be heading back there with my sister again in July because we are addicted to their black-bottoms, which are cheescake brownie cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Mmmmmmm… Trust me, your kids are going to love them! Best part is, for children who are gluten intolerant, they have gluten free yummies, too! Ingredients are all natural and there’s a great home-made taste.
According to my sister, D, they also donate a lot of their cupcakes to charitable causes. She’s spoken to the owner’s Mom (what a coincidence) and loves the ethos behind the business.
Check out Hummingbird Bakery on their Instagram to find out what seasonal flavours they have in store!
Multiple locations here:
Dolly’s in Selfridges
Sophie tried her first cream tea at Dolly’s in Selfridges! It’s a little patisserie/cafe at the basement of Selfridges along Oxford Street. The clientele are mostly chi-chi girlfriends stopping for a spot of tea and French pastry but guess what, Sophie-doll got superstar treatment there from the very motherly waitresses bustling around in their black and white uniforms!
The scones – well I found them passable. Good, but not fantastic. I like my scones super fresh, crumbly and hot from the oven. I am a scone-Nazi. But my husband and Sophie enjoyed them – they like firmer, cake-like scones. In Sophie’s case, these worked better for her because they were easy to hold and neat to eat, unlike the super fall-apart tender kind of scones I like.
What I liked about Dolly’s is that their food is pretty decently priced, they let you sit there as long as you want, the tea is refillable and all these things are so hard to find along the very overpriced, overcrowded Oxford Street! If you’re completely knackered from shopping like K and I were, and needed a hassle free break, it was perfect. And child friendly. Which is more than what I could ask for, really.
Dolly’s in Selfridges
Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB, England
Okay, my sister is going to KILL me for sharing this gem with you guys, but I’m going to go ahead and do that anyway because you CAN’T GO TO LONDON WITHOUT GOING TO SMACK DELI.
Skip the crazy queues at Burger and Lobster and save your pounds (the money, not your waistline) and make a stop at Smack Deli instead. They are run by the same people at the Burger and Lobster restaurants but the food here is a fraction of the price and god-damn delicious. Excuse my French.
Above, you see two loaded fresh lobster rolls – one Mexican style and another Japanese style with Tobiko Mayo. The meat was succulent, buttery, so very fresh and perfect with the soft, gorgeously fluffy brioche rolls which were lightly toasted.
If you’re hankering after more lobster, why not just get it NAKED ! IN A CUP! DE-SHELLED! DROWNING IN BUTTER!
And then there was the lobster bisque. I’ve never seen so much lobster meat in a cup of soup. But the soup – briny in the best way, robust with heady seafood stock, and with a heartiness that sticks to your ribs. Loved it.
The biggest surprise were the courgette fries. Courgette fries, zucchini fries – these are my absolute Achilles heel and they do them at Smack to perfection. Deep fried in a light, crispy batter they are meltingly soft in the inside and just the right amount of crunchy on the outside. They are fried so well that the courgette acquires an almost creamy, smooth texture. Amazing.
Also, drinks are free flow. Have you not put this into your itinerary yet? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Granted, this place is not baby friendly at all. But with our Tula, all things were possible. The seating is all bar seating and basically your kids have to either be carried or be stable enough to sit on a bar stool. But I tell you, its worth the inconvenience. If not, simply buy everything to go and head down to Hyde Park for a picnic. Done!
26, 28 Binney Street, London W1K, United Kingdom
The Honest Burger
Best burgers in London, really!
We managed to make it to both Shake Shack and Honest Burger this time around (K is a real burger fiend) and I’d say that Honest Burger wins hands-down in terms of the quality of the food and variety. Shake Shack was really good too but also quite expensive and the queues were honestly quite a turn-off.
Honest Burger came with a stamp of approval from my two London foodies A and D so when we were looking for lunch at Notting Hill after a lovely morning at the Portobello Market (Sakura was blooming that day!) we decided to drop by for lunch and ordered the special:
BEEF/SMOKED BACON/SWISS CHEESE/HONEST GUACAMOLE/HARISSA MAYO
The combination was to die for.
Look at that. Our pillowy burger nestled next to a very generous heap of rosemary garlic house-cut chips (which were divinely potatoey) and the best beer battered onion rings ever. The batter was lightly flavoured and almost just fell away after the initial crunch and onions were so soft they were almost buttery. Drowned them in mayo and inhaled the lot. Onion ring foodporn below.
Grilled but still pink patty smothered in swiss cheese, topped with hearty chunky guacamole and drizzled with harissa mayo. Doesn’t get better than this.
Extremely satisfying, and one burger was enough to fill up K and I, but it may be because we’d shared a giant curry wurst in the market earlier.
The icing on the cake was how friendly and approachable the staff were. They immediately bent down to Sophie’s level to say hi to her when we came in and showered her with attention. Then proceeded to give the bub an entire pack of crayons and a coloring sheet. Sophie-doll was completely enamoured of the very hipster looking server and every time he turned to look at her she bestowed upon him a blinding smile and started to dance -_-
Shake Shack UK
While making our token outing to the Covent Garden Market, K and I saw a new addition – the Shake Shack! I was really bummed about not getting to try any burgers when I was last in the US about a year ago with my family and determined to finally find out what the hype about Shake Shack was about.
For Sophie-doll, it was all about the fries.
Here she is, looking piteously at me, all bundled up in 8 degree weather and hoping for a cheese covered crinkle cut fry.
The burger was pretty good – in fact, we made another trip back for a second time with my sister so she could have her fix, too! But I felt that the bun could have been fluffier and that the battered onions inside could have been crisper and they might have been more generous with it than a few measly bits. The fries were also nothing to shout about. But a good hearty lunch when you need it – be prepared, however, to queue up to 20 minutes and wait another 15 minutes for your food during peak hours.
Seating is fun ! There’s a huge alfresco area. The highlight for us was the Peanut Butter Shake – a meal in itself. K loves peanut butter, I love ice cream, Sophie loves peanut butter and ice cream so we were all fighting over who got to suck the delicious, creamy stuff out of the too-small straw. It was a pretty fun Soh-Teo Family moment 🙂
Shake Shack UK
24, Market Building, The Piazza, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RD, United Kingdom
Another gem of a place my sister introduced me to, and is going to kill me for sharing because the queues of locals are already sooo epically long. The three-hour wait Flat Iron.
This place is fantastic value for money and the food is all executed very well.
You get your standard flat iron steak, which looks small but really fills you up, actually! The cut was delicious – I’m not a bloody red meat person at all so I ordered mine medium rare and it came pink on the inside, pre-sliced (saves me the trouble of cutting it up while balancing a baby on my lap) and just melted in my mouth in an eyes-closed moment of boviney bliss. Now I am the kind of person who only eats meat on holidays, because I honestly struggle with the idea of killing cows, so this was a huge treat for me. It helped to know that all their meat and ingredients are ethically sourced but still extremely reasonably priced.
The sides were standouts on their own.
The creamed spinach was like eating cheat veggies – too scrummy to be nutritious, almost. Spinach chopped and cooked in savoury cream – it gives Morton’s version a good run for its money!
I thoroughly enjoyed the eggplant cheese bake, as well, baked until it was unctuous and slightly wobbly with a crust of crisp cheese – like lasagna, but with no carbs.
Do order the freshly grated horseradish cream to go with your steak – it lifts it up with its slightly sinus-clearing bite and is so refreshing on its own! Cider on the side is optional but I would definitely recommend it.
Our only issue with Flat Iron was that the tables and seating are tiny. Your pram must be left at the door and Sophie refused to be squashed in the tiny space between my lap and the table. No kiddy chairs, too. But the staff were lovely and entertained her practically throughout the entire meal, dancing with her and carrying her around while handling the crazy queue outside. They didn’t want her to leave 🙂 it was so sweet considering how harried and stressed they must been by the long lines.
Be prepared to wait for 3 hours for a table during lunch and dinner. I’d recommend getting yourself registered for a table at the door (no reservations taken online or on the phone) around 5 pm and then leaving to walk around the SoHo area – lots to see an shop – before coming back between 7-8 pm – just the right time for dinner. Highly recommended and definitely worth a trip!
Hope this list helps! Other quick food options which discount taste (when you just need sustenance):
- Costa Coffee
- Pret A Manger for a hot sandwich and a cup of tea – they will also helpfully refill your hot water flasks for you here FOC and there’s WiFi
- Marks and Spencer Food Halls for fairly tasty and cheap grub when everywhere else is full
- Cafe Rouge – multiple locations – child friendly, high chairs provided at some, and well executed simple French classics. If you don’t want to eat at any of the overpriced restaurants in Harrods, there’s a Cafe Rouge just across the street at its side entrance. Just ask the doorman!
Hope this list helps! 🙂