30 April 2009

London Part 2- the reviews and tips

One of the iconic symbols of London is, of course, the double Decker bus, letting you know that you have arrived in the world famous heart beat of England. There are of course many other symbols but this one is one of the most identifiable.

Our stay in London's La Dolce Vita event was mostly defined by our time at the event itself and then of course our evening meals after the close of the event for the day.
We stayed in the Earls Court area of London in a wonderful one bedroom flat not 5 minutes walk from the West Kensington tube station. Castletown and Perham House self catering apartments, where we stayed is ideally situated and well appointed accommodation for exhibitors at Earls's Court or Olympia, as it only took us 10 minutes or so to arrive each morning at Olympia. You'll find the owners genuinely kind and helpful. It's a fantastic value for London as you can eat in or go out easily and feel like you;re living in London for a few days. Even if you aren't involved with the exhibition halls, West Kensington is a pleasant neighborhood to stay in and explore the heart of London from there. All you need to do is get yourself an Oyster card, travel after 9:30 am on the tube for the best value and you'll find yourself ideally situated to access most sights easily enough. Have a look at my and others reviews on Trip Advisor for more in depth information.

We stayed close to the flat a couple of nights and ate over in the Earls Court area as there was quite a few eateries in close proximity. Our first stop was our friends at Bistro Benito. Benito hails from Torino and his son Simone keeps the place humming and every body happy in this cozy, unpretentious, old fashioned bistro. It reminds me of some of my first experiences coming to Europe and finding yourself seated in close proximity and the shuffling around of tables and seats to accommodate the diners. Makes it easy enough to strike up a conversation with the folks next to you especially when what they are having is looking so good. The menu is eclectic covering all the bases, so there is something for everyone, distinctly Italian, French and English. The food is fresh, authentic and divine. We were eating lightly, as it is always a wise decision when you're tired and want to sleep well. I enjoyed the creamiest asparagus soup without any heavy cream and a tri colored salad with mozzarella so delicious I thought I was still in Italy. The carbonara that Enrico had was a wonderful balance between creaminess without heaviness and plenty of crisp pancetta coating al dente linguine. The house red wine was flavorful and best of all the price very reasonable for London. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos. The thing I notice every time we are there, is the neighborhood feel to it. Everyone seems to be a regular on a first name basis with the owners and staff and there always seems to be a birthday or anniversary or some celebratory event going on even if it's just the arrival of the dessert cart. That's cause for celebration in itself. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, make sure you don't miss another opportunity to feel like a local.
Another night we went for Indian at a small chain called Masala Zone. It was clean with friendly servers and a pleasant atmosphere. The food was fresh, colorful, interesting and tasty. We all ordered different variations on the combo platter and all were happy especially as the prices were quite reasonable.

Another night we enjoyed Moroccan food down in the Covent Garden area for another culinary journey. Again, flavorful and satisfying, especially as it was Saturday night and everywhere was full and it was getting late. We were delighted to find somewhere to take us all with out reservations.
Our other most enjoyable evening out was at our friends at San Lorenzo's in Knightsbridge. Fabrizio worked for them at their son's place in Wimbledon, for 4 years and they always treat us as family. The food is outstanding and judging by the full house, we weren't the only ones that thought so. They have had the same chef for 35 years and the food is authentic and impressively cooked to perfection. I had to laugh at the review in the link I put for the restaurant, as the reviewer mentioned that the only downside was that you couldn't pay by credit card, but perhaps that has changed by now. Oh no, they are traditional Italians and cash is the only type of payment they accept. Forty years in Knightsbridge hasn't changed them on that count. Do try their Bagna Cauda, with plenty of vegetables that insures you will inhale every luscious drop and be transported back to Val Chisone. Come and stay with us and we'll show you how it's done, so you can enjoy it not once, but again and again.


Bellini Valli said...

This sounds like an amazing experience..London, excellent foods all combined into one:D

Josh Lane said...

Glad to see you are having so much fun in London. The feast looks delicious!

african vanielje said...

Marla, it's making me homesick, even though I haven't lived in London for 10 years. My first ever job in London was in a shop on Carnaby street. Eons ago.
Hope you are having a fab time. xx Inge

Bella Baita View said...

It was a great experience. Travel with a bit of purpose and just plain ole enjoyment. Nice to see you Josh. Carnaby Street is such an iconic symbol of London for me from the 60's when it was the place to be. All fun.

Pierre said...

Thanks for the interesting article. Am thoroughly enjoying your blog and will be back for more!
Greetings from Cape Town,

Bookmark and Share