For the last 5 days I’ve been on vacation in London. I’ve wanted to go to London for years now and it was everything I hoped it would be; the sights were incredible. The food, however, was very hit or miss. To be fair, I wasn’t going to London for the food, and most of the meals my group ate were in between famous landmarks. Food just wasn’t our priority.
Some of the meals were impressively bad; those ones I didn’t bother taking a picture of. English food doesn’t have the best reputation and when you’re limited to gluten-free, vegetarian(ish) options it’s even harder to find something edible and delicious. Salt was missing from practically every meal; and if I never see a plate of french fries again in my life I’ll be OK with that. So instead I’ll just point out the highlight meals.
My favorite restaurant experience was at Manna on Primrose Hill. This was actually the only restaurant that I knew I wanted to eat at before going to it. It’s a small vegan restaurant with lots of gluten-free options. I immediately went for the enchiladas, made with corn tortillas, beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin seed puree and baked in a tomato sauce. It wasn’t outstanding, but I liked it and would definitely order it again.
I just had to order their onion rings as a side, because how often do you see vegan, gluten-free onion rings? I’m guessing the batter is rice flour and soy milk. It was impressively crispy and not oily at all. The only problem I had was that it lacked season; a little more salt would have gone a long way.
Another night we had Indian food near Swiss Cottage. Indian food is all over London; it’s practically the cuisine London is known for. Since so much of English food is only lightly seasoned, it’s easy to understand why the spicy punch of Indian food is so popular.
I ordered the house’s chana masala and a dish called veggie veggie 5 with 5 different vegetables sautéed in spices. The masala was good but again not outstanding. The vegetable dish had a great heat to it and was refreshing. I could have eaten Indian every day in London since this is the sort of food I’m naturally drawn to.
I have to give honorable mention to the food court at London Tower, which surprisingly had a great menu. Their sesame carrot salad had just the right amount of dressing and was one of the few times a restaurant made a meal out of vegetables. The bean salad was also very delicious. The restaurant even had a gluten-free brownie which looked dense and gooey but I was so excited to have a plate full of vegetables that dessert wasn’t even on my mind at that meal—weird, I know.
I would recommend London for the culture, the friendly people, the historical sites and terrific museums. I would not recommend it for a foodie vacation. Tomorrow I’ll post about London’s redeeming quality: Their desserts.