July 27th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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"London. You know: fish, chips, cup 'o tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary (expletive) Poppins. ...London!"

That line, delivered by Dennis Farina's fast-talking, diamond-dealing character Avi in Guy Richie's 2000 hit film "Snatch," sums up the long-held convention that English food is rather bleak. However, such stereotypes are fortunately antiquated.

London, with its cultural vibrancy and burgeoning international food scene, has become a destination for gastronomes seeking modern, exotic dishes with a touch of old-world charm. In today’s London, you can grab a good old-fashioned pint and shepherd’s pie at the pub for lunch and feast on top-notch curry for dinner.

Here are a few suggestions for a flavor-filled weekend in the Olympics host city:

Friday Afternoon
First brought to Britain in the 1640s by sailors as gifts from the Far East, tea remains a treasured tradition in London. Stop by the Rubens Hotel just down the road from Buckingham Palace and order a pot of the Darjeeling, a light orange tea with a flowery aroma. And no afternoon tea would be complete without a healthy helping of sweets: Ask for a plate of scones and cakes, a tantalizing array of éclairs, meringues and cheesecakes, among other confections.

Friday Night
Housed in the historic Old Westminster Library and converted into a restaurant in 2001, the Cinnamon Club is BBC celebrity chef Vivek Singh’s take on Indian fusion. Start with the char-grilled Welsh lamb fillet with nutmeg, sweetbread bhaji and caper kachumber and then move onto the Murgmethi - a tandoori black leg chicken breast served with rice and fenugreek. Sop it all up with freshly baked naan, the customary Indian flatbread.

Saturday Afternoon
Make your way to Borough Market, a bustling outdoor bazaar dating back to the 13th century that specializes in local and international artisanal goods and produce. For a South American fix, stroll to Porteña and nosh on empanadas, the quintessential Argentinean pastry filled with your choice of spinach and ricotta, ham and cheese, mozzarella and tomato or beef. Next, stop by the Borough Cheese Company where they deal solely in Comté, an unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese produced in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. Room for dessert? Bread Ahead sells the gooiest, chewiest chocolate brownies in town.

Saturday Night
Head to the Wright Brothers Oyster and Porter House, a relaxed, intimate oyster bar situated adjacent to Borough Market. The restaurant is one of three London offshoots of Wright Brothers, a wholesale oyster distributor that, according to its website, cultivates and harvests more than 5 million oysters per year at the Oyster Duchy of Cornwall Oyster Farm on the Helford River in South West Cornwall. Order a dozen of the Dorset Rocks Oysters and wash them down with a crisp, refreshing Aspall Cyder. Also recommended is the Hederman’s organic smoked salmon and Cornish dressed crab.

Sunday Afternoon
Take the tube to Piccadilly Circus and mosey on over to the Stockpot, a local institution. With some of the best prices in town, it’s a required stop for that classic British fare you’ve been craving. If you overindulged on a few too many pints last night, then go for the “Choice 1,” a typical English breakfast of a fried egg, two slices of bacon, baked beans, sausage, grilled or plum tomatoes and toast – all served with a complimentary cup of coffee or tea. If lunch is more your style, the fish and chips with a side of mushy peas will surely satisfy.

Sunday Night
Bibendum features classic French cuisine in a landmark building that once served as the British headquarters for the French tire company Michelin. The restaurant's Michelin roots are evident throughout, from the stained glass windows to the butter bowls to the original advertisements adorning the wall. For an appetizer, spring for the crisp pork belly and fried oyster salad dressed with ginger and soy. Order the Bibendum’s classic roast chicken with tarragon for two as an entrée and finish it off with the crème brûlée for dessert.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in London? Share it in the comments below.

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Filed under: Events • Olympics • Sports

soundoff (56 Responses)
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    July 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  8. me

    I remember seeing an episode of No Reservations in London, they usually dont show the menus but they missed them in that episode, almost all the places he went to were like 13-15lbs on for the cheap items. Thats like $20usd per meal. That alone disqualified London as ever being a vacation spot, not unless the USD becomes way more valuable.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
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    July 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  10. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    I would like to join on Saturday night for some Oysters and other Seafood please! :)

    July 29, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
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  14. Sam

    Good luck getting in to any of those places during the Olympics.

    July 28, 2012 at 4:47 am |
  15. Elizabeth

    Doggett's Coat and Badge... Amazing fish and chips

    July 28, 2012 at 3:32 am |
  16. Dave

    Eat at Maggie Jones for British fare like cheesy leaks, boar sausage, saddle of rabbit, apple crumble........YUM

    July 27, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  17. GMak

    Subtract "Fish and Chips" and the multiple desserts shown (sugar is nice anywhere) and you are left with: French and Indian food as the only "Medal Worthy Fare in London." Raw oysters are not "fare" – just oysters. You left out Chinese and Italian. Anyone could have told you London fare = French, Chinese, Italian and Indian -you didn't need a special article to highlight it.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Animal Eater

      yes real English food is blah. Baked beans and toast? The good food in England is from somewhere else. Gordon Ramsay can suck my skillet!

      July 30, 2012 at 8:31 am |
      • VladT

        Gordon Ramsay is Scottish

        August 1, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  18. NODAT1

    I only spent 4 years in England -London Richmond area all I can say is that the food has an acquired taste, its sort of bland and would be something that you find in a hospital special diet menu (except for Indian street food that has a a bit of spice) if looking for something that has taste venture out to the smaller village eater's or pubs. Though the food is bland and tasteless the pubs and the people are great. I had fun and would not hesitate to go back!!!!!! but would bring a supply of seasonings for my food !!!!!!!!

    July 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  19. mickey

    I don't know if it's still there, but my mum & I had a WONDERFUL meal at the Mumtaz Indian restaurant years ago. It was near Baker Street & the Hotel Americana. We both still think of that evening fondly! There was a really good Chinese Restaurant nearby as well, but I don't remember the name.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  20. Paul Levy

    Echhhh. Just another reason not to watch the Olympics and watch it instead on TV and my Pizza Hut. You have to be kidding me.

    July 27, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Richard

      Pizza Hut food is garbage. It's like it's deep-fried.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  21. rs1201

    as much as I really like our cousins in the UK...none of that food looks good to me except for the little scones and cakes served with tea. And in reality, those sweets could be just plain awful also. I hope I'm not offending anyone but whatever food I eat has to be worth the calories...and none of this food would pass for me...

    July 27, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  22. John

    The Cinnamon Club is AMAZING!!!!!!

    July 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  23. Byron

    Go to the Churchill Arms pub for the best cask ale and Thai food, go to the Cock Tavern at Smithfield meat market for the best English breakfast, and go to the Rock, Sole, and Fish Plaice for well you know!

    July 27, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  24. curt

    Nothing says "Medal-worthy" like mushy peas french fries and fried fish.

    July 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • curt

      I forgot to insert sarcasm here.

      July 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
      • rs1201

        that sounds like a real killer..OMG...

        July 27, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  25. RichieC

    Dont forget the food courts at Harrods and Selfridges! If they dont have what you want, you dont want it. Oysters and champagne are my favorite, but the vodka with scorpions is the best I have ever had.

    July 27, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  26. RichieC

    Dont forget the food courts at Harrods and Selfridges!! If they dont have what you want, then you dont want it.

    July 27, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  27. Tom

    Jesus, the English taught India how to speak English and you don't even mention the Indian food in London! What a shame :-(

    July 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Tom

      Might help if I actually read the article. Sorry, my bad.

      July 27, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
      • Izoto


        July 27, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  28. Alicia

    Food in the U.K. is wonderful, from London to the villages.

    July 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  29. James

    $7 for a pint of beer, $4 bottle water... they can have it.

    July 27, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • rs1201

      I paid $8 for a can of coke outside the Coliseum in Rome...talk about gouging!

      July 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  30. Jerry

    I would love to try authentic Fish and Chips in England.

    July 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • gager

      The best Jerry, the best.

      July 27, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  31. Reasonably

    And the Irony Gold Medal goes to McDonalds once again for being a "proud" sponsor of the games yet serving utter tripe to people and calling it "food."

    July 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Hartwig

      And the real gold medal is for McDonalds preventing vendors from serving Chips, so that they will not have competition for their products. The only exception is if they come with fish.

      July 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • gager

      What part of McD;s is bad? Why can't people answer that question. Maybe you've bitten into media crap.

      July 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
      • marjee123

        Well they might have different food in other places, but what the mentioned I wouldn't have if it was free. I guess I'd take a quarter pounder with cheese from Mickey D's please.

        July 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Walter Williams

      Jesus. I love McDonalds. Some people do, some people don't. It is all a matter of taste, sort of like some people like to eat mushy peas and to be gay.

      July 27, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  32. Truth™

    I loved London, but I would rather be physically beaten than have to consume mushy peas.

    July 27, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      The curries, man. THE CURRIES.

      July 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Ah, yes. Uncle P's Arch-nemesis.

      July 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • rs1201

      I totally agree...I don't think I could swallow that stuff!

      July 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
      • NCC 1701, -A, B, C, D, E, and G

        You will be assimilated; resistance is futile.

        July 28, 2012 at 6:45 am |
    • angrybabykitty

      @ Truth- I have to agree.

      July 28, 2012 at 5:39 am |
  33. Mark L

    Food when i lived in London for 2 years was great. You go to French resturants owned by Frenchmen, Italian owned by Italians and so forth. Even the pub food was good. Just dont buy cheap food, just like here in the states, it always sucks

    July 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Karen Smith McDonald

      I agree with you Mark. Each ethnic restaurant you go to in London is owned by it's own Ethnicity. Perhaps tourist need to educate themselves to the local cuisine before ordering but that goes for anywhere in the world. If you order cheap food....then you get what you paid for.

      July 27, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  34. katrinas husband

    I love scones...i wish i had money to enjoy food like that !!!

    July 27, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • mjg

      scones are pretty simple to bake yourself and not that expensive either.

      July 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  35. Naresh

    i like them food

    July 27, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
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