As with any travel, dining is an important part of our planning process. We can make eat the same thing every day, or we can make an adventure of our dining experiences. I chose the later, attempting to embrace the London experience in a rather traditional manner. Yes I could look for the newest and hottest, but for me, it was a look to the past and those traditional places which still exist throughout London.
While I don't plan to cover each of the places I stopped for a drink or a bite to eat individually, I will mention them all here with some more detailed accounts to come in later posts.
Once on the ground in London, I had a rather tight schedule to keep if I had any hope of visiting each of the many varied locations I wished to see, as well as spending time with family.
I would be in London for four full days, so even jet lagged, I had to keep moving. One of my friends in London recommended my first dining venue, the Cittie of Yorke, located at 22 High Holborn.
This pub is owned and operated by Samuel Smith's Old Brewery, and while this current structure is a 1920's rebuilding of earlier structures, pubs have been on this site since 1430, and the current building features the Henekey's long bar located in the grand hall like back room, a late Georgian or Regency era triangular metal stove, and Victorian style cubicles.
I popped in just as they were opening for lunch which made service fast and easy, as it was not very crowded at that hour.
One of the biggest reasons for my visit was to sample their Old Brewery Bitter which is served from oak casks, the only real ale in London served this way.
And the food was delicious. I tried a pork sandwich, and were I a regular in London, this pub would be a regular destination for me. As it was I had many other places to try, but fond memories of that sandwich and ale remain with me to this day.
Before I returned to my hotel, I popped by a rather hidden gem, The Grenadier located at 18 Wilton Row, .
Originally built in 1720 as the Officers Mess for the First Royal Regiment of Foot Guards, the pub opened in 1818 as The Guardsman Public House.
Rumored to be one of the most haunted pubs in England, past visitors have attempted to pay off the debt of the ghost of a savagely beaten young Grenadier, who was caught cheating at cards, by attaching money to the ceiling, which after over half a century, has been totally covered by "transatlantic money."
The pub has a wonderful selection of hand pumped ales including Courage Best, Morland Old Speckled Hen and Marston's Pedigree. On the search for some esoteric British real ales, I sat down with a pint of Sharp's Brewery Doom Bar from Cornwall.
You won't find The Grenadier without a map and a mission as it is tucked down a small lane near Belgrave Square. But that makes finding this little treasure all the more worth while. For more information check out their website at https://www.greeneking-pubs.co.uk/pub/grenadier-belgrave-square/c0800/
Finally after a busy day, and quite jet lagged, I decided to visit Trader Vic's that night for a light dinner and a few drinks to help me get some sleep that night, so off to the London Hilton on Park Lane I went. Why a tiki bar in London?
The original Trader Vic's opened in 1934 in London and franchise locations were opened beginning with Seattle in 1940. The London location opened in 1963 and is today the oldest Trader Vic's location in the world.
In full tiki style, this bar/restaurant hit all the points I needed for a traditional watering hole, even if some might consider this a bit unconventional for my London trip.
From the time I entered the door the barman and manager made me feel very welcome and I stayed there a bit longer than I intended for all the good reasons, because I enjoyed it and I wanted to stay.
I started out my "tour of the islands" with the Menehune Juice. It would not have seems right if I'd made this visit and had not a chance to see the fabled Menehune.
Their menu is full of all the tiki classics, which I do hope see a resurgence somewhere this side of the Atlantic.
I ordered the BBQ spare ribs from their 1972 recipe and they smelled so good I finished the first rib before I remembered to take a photo. My mouth waters just thinking about these as I type this post.
Next up was the Original Mai Tai, based on the 1944 version of this drink. They offer another version, but why anyone would attempt to improve on this classic I have no honest answer. Perfection!
When the London location opened, they crafted a special drink for the occasion, a London Sour, made with Scotch Whisky rather than traditional American or Canadian whiskies. The result was a sublimely smoky finish on this tradition sour.
In each case these drinks were well made. The staff was friendly and have great passion for their drink making. I highly recommend this destination if you are looking for a different traditional London location. For more information check them out here http://tradervics.com/locations/london/
More to come in the next installment of this post...