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Culinary Delights in London

Culinary Delights in London

For years, the United Kingdom has been synonymous with unappetizing and unimaginative food, vastly overshadowed by the gastronomies of Italy, France, Spain, and other European nations. However, despite its bad reputation, the Brits have developed several delicacies—from Sunday Roast to Victorian sponge and porridge with organic oats. In what follows, we break down the top dishes that travelers cannot miss while visiting London.

Fish and chips
One of the signature British dishes that travelers cannot miss during their stay in the English capital is Fish and Chips. While both Lancashire and London claim to be the inventors of this world-famous meal, experts have traced its origins to 15th-century Portugal. Yet, fish and chips have been embraced in Great Britain, where, according to a 2021 report by the National Federation of Fish Friers, 382 million meals are consumed annually.

For those interested in tasting this famous dish opportunities abound throughout London, from pubs to street vendors and high-end restaurants. The GoodFood Award 2023/2024 dedicated an entire session to the best “chippies” in London, featuring venues from all corners of the city. Among the lucky ones were The Mayfair Chippy in Mayfair, North Sea Fish Restaurant in Euston, Brockley’s Rock in Brockley, and Ickenham Fish Bar in Ickenham.

Full English breakfast
Another emblematic dish in the British culinary scene, the traditional full English breakfast includes fried eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, and toast and it’s often accompanied by mushrooms and hash browns. Similar to fish and chips, this dish boasts a rich and fascinating history, originating in the 14th or 15th century with the Landed Gentry’s grand hunt breakfasts, evolving into a significant tradition embraced by the Victorian middle and upper classes.

Nowadays, travelers can indulge in a full English breakfast at hotels, bed and breakfasts, cafes, and pubs. With numerous options available, pinpointing the ultimate experience is challenging, if not impossible. Nevertheless, Terry’s Cafe, Maggies, and Balthazar stand out as excellent choices for the adventurous traveler.

Sunday Roast
Also known as a roast dinner, the Sunday Roast is a traditional English and Irish meal featuring a substantial joint of meat (chicken, pork, or lamb) accompanied by roast potatoes, vegetables (peas, carrots, or parsnips), Yorkshire pudding, and a generous serving of gravy. Its origins can be traced back to the 15th century in the British Isles, where it was traditionally served after Sunday church services.

In contemporary Britain, the tradition endures, and many households continue to savor this timeless dish even on weekdays. Visitors have the opportunity to relish the classic Sunday Roast at various locations across London, catering to a range of budgets. Establishments such as Story Cellar in Covent Garden, Roast in Borough, and Rotunda in King’s Cross train station offer newcomers an exceptional Roast Dinner experience.

Chicken Tikka Masala
While Chicken Tikka Masala is considered quintessentially Indian, it has arguably become England’s national dish. Created in the United Kingdom by Bangladeshi or Pakistani immigrants, the curried dish is made with boneless chicken, onions, tomatoes, yogurt, herbs, and plenty of spices. By the late 2000s, the British public was consuming around 25 million portions of the famous dish per year, a testament to the nation’s multicultural character.

In 2023, Bengal Village was crowned as the best Curry House in London by the MasterChef Awards. Yet, there are several other highly recommended restaurants where travelers can get a taste of authentic Chicken Tikka Masala, including Masala Zone in Soho, Shah Tandoori in Euston, and Punjab in Greater London.