The world in London


If you don’t have time to take a Phileas Fogg-style trip around the world in 80 days, a weekend eating your way around the world in London has to be the next best thing. My starting point is Eritrean restaurant the Zigni House…

Day one

Dinner: Eritrea in Islington

Eritrean cuisine is a delicious mixture of grilled meats, often served with a kind of stew called tsebhi. Most notable, though, is that, as with Ethiopian food, you eat the plate. Almost everything is served on a flat bread called injera.

Day two

Indian snacking in Southall

On Southall Broadway, the heartland of Britain’s Indian community, it’s impossible to avoid the sweet smell of the jalebi stalls. Jalebis are made by frying batter into the shape of a long, curly pretzel and then dipping it in syrup. Served warm from the pan, they’re irresistible.

Lunch: Japan in Mayfair

At superposh Japanese restaurant, Umu, the speciality is the Wagyu beef. It famously comes from cows that are massaged and given beer to drink, but this stuff tastes like the fortunate animal spent its life sipping champagne.

Afternoon tea: Scandinavia and Finland in Piccadilly

Almost as serene as Umu, and cheaper, is a godsend for nostalgic Finns, the Nordic Bakery on Golden Square. They serve all kinds of delicacies, from Swedish gravadlax to Finnish pullas (cinnamon buns).

Dinner: The Caribbean in Brixton

Having sampled the excellent goat curry (£6–£10) and the fried plantains (£1) at Bamboula Caribbean restaurant, it would be tempting to try and recreate it from the raw ingredients at Brixton’s popular market, still a focal point for the Caribbean and African communities.

Day Three

Breakfast: Australia in Fitzrovia

At Australian café the Lantana my fry-up is a little bit British (with “bubble and squeak” – fried mashed potato and vegetables) and a bit Spanish (with chorizo sausage) but the laid back service and “flat white” coffee (coffee with a spot of milk) is pure Australia.

Dinner: Pakistan in Whitechapel

There are people queuing around the walls at Pakistani institution The New Tayyabs. This is because the food is delicious and remarkably cheap – price for a full meal is about £15 per person.

Day Four

Breakfast: The US in the West End

At Ed’s Easy Diner, just off Leicester Square, patrons can travel back to the era of Chevrolets and early Rock ’n’ Roll over some classic American comfort food.

Lunch: Colombia and Poland in Elephant & Castle

At Elephant and Castle you can tuck into Latin meatballs at Colombian café and delicatessen La Bodeguita, before filling up on golabki (cabbage leaves with minced meat) at Polish restaurant Mamushka, which offers “Polish meals for less than a fiver.”

Afternoon Tea at the British Museum

At the British Museum you can see some of the world’s greatest treasures. Or just relax with afternoon tea in the Court Restaurant and think about the fact that, in London, the world the Victorians travelled to see is now all around us, talking in more than 300 languages. It’s a modern miracle that we too often take for granted.

Text by Trevor Baker
Photo by iStockphoto
A version of this article was previously published in Finnair´s Blue Wings magazine (September 2010).


Published August 3, 2011

Category: Local features