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Rendezvous With London – Part 1

Shambodeb Lahiri

There are many similarities between London and Kolkata. Both have history, art and culture with British, gothic structures and a number of clubs. One of the reason I love London is because I am a pure Calcuttan! I am sure that our readers will be delighted to know that I am comparing the City of Joy, Kolkata that is coated with rains, emotions and some exotic culinary cuisines with the City of London.

There are two parts to London like Kolkata, the modern London and old gothic London, the museums and much more to add to its list. Another reason I love London is because it’s a city which is a gateway to Gourmet cuisine. From the Middle East to the Far East and an eclectic array of cuisines is available in this part of the world.

Well, when it comes to my choicest cuisines, I feel a bit lost as I am spoilt for choice − from some of the best English pubs to more modern eclectic gourmet cuisines like Patty & Bun, London has it all. While the Hakkasan, Wagamama and Yauatcha of Alan Yau are on one side, the far side of London, like Tooting, which when visited would give you the nostalgic feel of North Kolkata. This is an area where one could experience the taste of Pakistani cuisine − Lahore, Pindi and Karachi Darbar to name a few.

The ones which are close to my heart start from the center of London (Zone 1). My all-time favorite would be Busaba Eathai which offers a modern dining experience which offers fusion-flavorsome Thai cuisine. However, I cannot fail to mention other favorites such as St. Christopher Lane which boasts about its 100 year-old pubs, Lamb and Flag, and Patty & Bun which sells one of the best burgers in town.

Shifting courses to the wide streets of Oxford and Bond Street is Selfridges, one would get delicious, fresh, hot waffles here. Inside Selfridges, there is a huge food-hall which serves some of the best cold meats and cheeses, and not to forget Lola’s Cup Cakes which tastes out of this world. Well, after you have given your sweet tooth a filler, just behind Selfridges there is Roti  Chai, which has two floors, one offering fine while the other casual dining. I have had some of the best prepared haleem (soft minced meat) preparations here.

Next stop of discovery was St. James which houses one of London’s top most South Indian restaurants headed by a Michelin chef, Chef Sriram and my all- time favorite, Quilon. I have never seen a more dedicated and passionate Chef cooking there and serving an eclectic array of offerings. While, I prefer to stay at St. James Court, which is a Taj Group operated hotel, I must recommend all to experience the taste of Irish Coffee at The Hamptons Bar in St. James Court hotel.

Apart from the above mentioned places, there are many more high-end dining spots like Chutney Mary, Veeraswamy and the Michelin-star Amaya, the latter has been led by the Panjabi sisters, Namita and Camellia Panjabi who have done a terrific job in getting Indian cuisine on the global map. Join me next week when I continue my culinary quest for the best food in my favorite cities.