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Rendezvous With London – Part 2

Shambodeb Lahiri

Now talking about the clubs, I really do not know where I should start from as London houses some of the top private clubs. While, it was not possible to visit all the clubs, but I do remember going a 100 year-old club while I met Lord Bhattacharya and also at a private club with my friend Bhaskar, which reminded me of the age-old Bengal Club of Kolkata.

Now being in the center of London, the first name that comes to my mind is Piccadilly Circus, another similarity to the hustle and bustle of Park Street in Kolkata. This is a location which houses numerous bars, restaurants and pubs like the Bella Italia chain of bistros, where one would be spoilt for choices. Among the many, the Golden Union Fish Bar in Soho was one of my favorites which offers a chunky, flaky and perfectly cooked fish cake in a light, crispy, complementary casing that led me to the memories of Fish Orly served  in Kolkata.

The Kati Roll Company located in Soho serves the best Kati rolls that would lead one to the alleys of Shiraj, Nizams or Bedouin of Kolkata. Also to add to the list are a few more dining experiences like the Japanese restaurant by Morimoto – Nobu and Atul Kochar’s Benaras. Next to that are two more new restaurants that have recently opened − Sexy Fish, and Alan Yau in his second avatar after Hakasan, is Park Chinois. You would be wondering why I am comparing Kolkata with London.

While, Kolkata has its own legacy of Tangra, London has its Gerrard Street which is the den of classical, authentic Chinese restaurants probably numbering to seventy to eighty in a row led by Chinese expats. Among the plethora, my favorite is New Mayflower in Shaftesbury Avenue and the Golden Dragon in Gerrard Street. Just for the soccer fans, there is a huge football shop close to Gerrard Street, right on Carnaby Street that sells everything from jerseys to all soccer accessories, while for the art lovers, The Arts Club in Mayfair is the oldest club of London that houses some fantastic works by legendary artists.

Duck and Rice which houses the best duck dishes and Babaji were two other fantastic places to dine in with their offering of duck accompanied with Turkish wines, both led by the multi- talented Michelin chef, Alan Yau. In his newer avatar after establishing Park Chinios, is an Asian fusion restaurant named, Cha Cha Moon on Carnaby, close to Regent Street which offers Chinese and Asian delicacies.

You cannot miss Harrods, when you are in London. While, one may assume that it may be expensive but to my surprise it is not.  One is bound to get lost in their food hall, which offers world class olives, cheeses, the best of cold cuts, meats, vegetables and freshly sourced delicious cherries. You may not need to buy a kilo, which costs around 78 pounds, but you definitely take 50gms. Now for those, who might be having a lazy Sunday there is a new service called “Deliverance”, where one can order any type of food, from different parts of the world. While London sleeps very early, but for the night owls, London has its own offerings of Lebanese restaurants, like Maroosh, Beirut, Helen’s Shawarma (which is one of the best), along with sheeshas and mint tea to enjoy the wintry nights.

In the very end, one cannot miss the hustle bustle of Wembley and Southall, where the spirit of India lies. Starting from Karachi Darbar, to the Pind Da Dhaba to the Chennai Dosa Corner, this feels like a home away from home. While, most of my readers might have already started packing and fastening their seatbelts to visit London, I suggest that you book yourself into some budget-friendly accommodations in or around Wimbledon and travel into the heart of the capital, saving on your hotel and instead investing in the numerous dining experiences in the wonderful city called London.