It hits. Maybe it even hit before boarding the plane back home. The reverse culture shock of leaving London and coming back to being an average college student again can really take a toll on your newfound adventurous lifestyle. Especially with the stress of balancing getting rid of the abroad bod (definitely a thing) and actively searching for foods on campus that don’t even begin to compare to the exceptional European cuisine you’ve grown accustomed to.
So here are 19 dishes to help tide you over until your next adventure across the pond:
1. Hot Chocolate from Dark Sugar’s
This puts any Starbucks red cup (decorated or not) to shame. Located in the heart of Brick Lane, this authentic coffee shop specializes in chocolate truffles but you can’t leave without one of their to die for hot chocolates. Made with steamed milk and melted shavings of a chocolate of your choice, you’ll never be able to drink any of that powdered stuff again.
2. Anything from GBK
Perfect for when you need a taste of American cuisine. Craft your ideal meal with a combo of their custom burgers, addictive milkshakes, and unique shoe string fries. Be on the lookout for their monthly specials, they get pretty creative.
#SpoonTip: Get the sweet potato fries with the special dipping sauce.
3. Pancakes from VQ
Open 24/7, this cafe is the perfect place to go after a big night out on the town. Their pancakes and milkshakes help to sober you up after a little too much fun at the club.
4. Sandwiches from Gail’s
A close equivalent to a British panera. These sandwiches, made from an assortment of their fresh baked bread, can be made to order or have a number of pre-made options. A favorite go to: The mozzarella, tomato, pesto sandwich on ciabatta.
5. Chips at Comptoir Gascon
This French bistro brings a piece of southern France to the heart of London. These “chips” (fries, for you Americans) are cut thicker than usual to allow for deeper frying in their special duck fat vats. Their perfect finishing touches of “fleur de sel salt” and “piment d’Espelette pepper” definitely leave you feeling #fatandhappy.
6. Anything from Portobello Market Food Stands
Sadly, the weekends spent wandering London's markets are coming to an end this year, finishing up this morning at the @jamonjamonpaella stand at Portobello Market. This is their Seafood Paella, made with tiger prawns, squid, mussels, tomato, onion, paprika, peas, red pepper and saffron. Beautiful and draws a crowd for good reason!! #biteofbermuda #outofbermuda #london #portobelloroad #portobellomarket #paella #seafood #spanish #marketfood #eeeeeats #f52grams #thefeedfeed #travel
Although this market is open 6 days a week, Saturday morning is the best day for all things food. You can find a variety of food treasures wandering up and down this street. From Spanish churros, Italian bruschetta, and Israeli falafel, you have a worldwide cuisine at your fingertips.
#SpoonTip: Get the churros with the melted chocolate, you won’t regret it.
7. Rock and Roll Fries at O2
The best bowling alley food you’ll ever have. Reminiscent of poutine, these fries are loaded with gravy, cajun spice, provolone, and cheddar. You can’t help but go up and get spoonful after spoonful of these wonders. Calories don’t count abroad, right?
8. Cookies from Ben’s
Insomnia Cookies is a close runner up for cookies in America, but in England, nothing is better than a box of warm, gooey Ben’s Cookies. These cookies, “specializing in chunks not chips”, have the perfect chocolate to cookie ratio and are offered in a variety of different flavors from ginger and dark chocolate to cranberries and white chocolate. Always ask for them heated up.
These aren’t the usual bagels you get at any average cafe. Beigel Bake’s bagels are freshly baked in the traditional Jewish style 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They’re so tiny and fresh, it’s not hard to justify having more than one, but who’s counting?
10. Snacks at Zack’s
The perfect place to go when you needed a little something after a long three-hour class. From their hummus platters to their flatbread sandwiches, you can’t go wrong. The most notable items on the menu however are the wide assortment of cakes they offer on a daily basis. I’d definitely recommend the red velvet cake.
Speaking of cakes, no birthday is ever complete in London without a massive cake from Hummingbird Bakery. Their cupcakes, brownies, and cakes are notorious throughout London for being decadent and super cute. Plus, totally Insta-worthy.
Tastewise this ice cream wasn’t the greatest but half the things you do as a tourist are for the picture, right? You quickly learn that nothing at Harrod’s is reasonably priced nor affordable. These ice cream sundaes can range anywhere from the equivalent price of $16-$21 dollars. However, the the extravagant presentation and fun diner atmosphere (almost) make the price acceptable.
Borough Market is one of the best open-air markets in London. Open 6 days a week, you can pick up anything from fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, meats, and even premade meals. The best stall of all of them though is, of course, the one with all the cookies. These huge, buttery, sugary cookies are unlike any other.
14. All European Candies
Having heard of my love for UK chocolate bars, one of my husband's awesome co-workers returned from a business trip to London with some treats for me. I was surprised and delighted! I hope the links in today's blog post (featuring Kate M., Anne S. and happy songs) bring you similar levels of surprise and delight. Link in profile! #ontheblog #linkroundup #newblogpost #britishchocolate
Something about European chocolate just can’t be replicated by Hershey. It is near impossible to visit your local Tescos and not pick up a Twirl or Cadbury bar. Make sure to take plenty home with you. Or order a box of them from Amazon if you really can’t wait (guilty).
15. Acai Bowls from the Good Life Eatery
One of the few places in the city to get an acai bowl, the Good Life Eatery doesn’t disappoint. Their menu is full of local and fresh ingredient options for any meal and an extensive list of coffee and tea options. It’s the perfect healthy oasis to balance out London’s abundance of delicious, but not necessarily health conscious items.
#SpoonTip: Get it to go and eat it outside because there’s not a ton of seating inside.
16. Hummus Bros
Perfect for a light lunch or dinner with friends. Order a plate of hummus as a base with a side of pita bread and pile on your favorite toppings. From falafel to chicken to guacamole, the options are endless.
17. Toasted Cheese Sandwich from Kappacasein
The greatest grilled cheese you will ever have. These sandwiches are made on a griddle and flattened with a frying pan on top to allow the cheese to melt into the pores of the bread (so much cheese porn). Made with a combination of three different types of cheeses made freshly in London, you’ll never look at your average grilled cheese the same again.
18. Lunch at Le Pain Quotidien
The best Sunday brunch in South Kensington. Make sure to get there before/after rush hour though, for the line can get a bit much. Nothing you can find in the dining hall will even begin to compare to their fresh baked breads and pastries. And their coffee is to die for.
19. High Tea
Did you really study abroad in London if you didn’t go for high tea? High tea served in a fancy dining room with white tablecloth tables, fancy china, and the finest assortment of British finger food is truly a one of a kind experience.
Best of luck adjusting back to cafeteria food. Don’t worry, you’ll be back in London soon enough.