And so we walked… and walked…. and walked. I guess that’s what you do on holidays when you actually want to see some of the city. In London it’s pretty easy to get into a rat like mentality. Using the tube system it’s pretty easy to stay underground all day and only pop up in a few places. Super convenient once you get used to where to change lines and how not to get your arm caught in the doors, but not the best way to see the sites.
So we strolled through town, down Regent Street, and Oxford St, though we did not pass go, and did not collect $200 (and there is no such thing as free parking). Then down past the horse guards and over the bridge to the London Eye. Being one of the touristy things I figured I should do, we bit the bullet and got in line. 30 minutes and a couple of cavity searches later we were at the top. Surveying the shabby historic beauty that is London.
With a fierce hunger now brewing but no idea where good food was to be found in Southbank we did a little divining and ended up at Le Pain Quotidien, which looked like a chain, but an up market one. Turns out they are a chain, and in fact have stores in most of the known world… including Australia.
The basic premise at Le Pain Quotidien is quality bread, made on the premises from organic flour, and shareable plates of organic charcuterie and other tastiness. Founder Alain Coumont was apparently a Belgian chef dissatisfied with his choice of bread to serve in his restaurant, so he ended up developing his own loaf and then opening a bakery. From humble beginnings it’s now spread to 10 countries and many stores.
So I went for a simple charcuterie plate loaded with hams, prosciutto, sausage, bread, sun dried tomatoes, pickled veges, and olive. Just what I was after, and a lovely way to relax after a long walk, with a delicious glass of Château Couronneau Bordeaux to wash it all down.
Probably highly presumptuous, but this may have been my most enjoyable experience in a franchised establishment to date… which normally exude a cold sterile vibe that makes me want to wash myself with steel wool.
Le Pain Quotidien
Royal Festival Hall
Festival Terrace, Southbank Centre
London SE1 8XX
Tel.: 0207 486 6154
Our next destinations were more snapshots of the city. We went to Camden and checked out the infinite row of piercing places and enjoyed the parade of Camden Leisure Pirates swaggering about. A peak through Camden Markets unveiled rows and rows of crap, and then even more crap hidden behind that crap. I did particularly like the “Chinese Food All Mixed Together” sign hanging above a particularly fine example of salmonella fodder, but yes was strong enough to resist the lure of cheap greasy nasty looking food.
We then hopped back on the tube and jumped off at Covent Garden. I forget why, but Amanda said there were some nice places there. Though the only one we actually ended up going into was the Australian Shop, so Amanda could buy twisties… which apparently are no readily available in the UK (the horror).
More walking and now it’s getting late and we pick up another Perth ex-pat, my friend Sam, who proceeds to lead us on another merry dance through the streets once more. Giving the seedy Soho by night tour that every tourist really wants but doesn’t know how to ask for.
A chance to see the London Eye by night as we cross back over the bridge, and then meander our way towards The Cut near Southwark to try our luck with some of Davy’s recommendations. Sadly we couldn’t get in to most of the places on the street as they were completely packed on a Thursday night and not taking bookings meant we were out of luck.
So then, we made our way via Black Cab to Farringdon Road to check out The Eagle, the original gastropub… which is where the story will continue shortly…
7 thoughts on “Le Pain Quotidien – and more of London”
ok, the mention of “Davy’s recommendations” makes me nervous.
Did I hear elsewhere a suggestion that you were disappointed with The Eagle? It’s been around for a while now so I guess the quality/standard is bound to be variable.
Anyhoo…hurry up and publish! ;-)
P.S. Excellent pics as usual, the night time London Eye shot’s a cracker. (Cue shameless brag) I went on it before it opened to the public (corporate shenanigans).
They were pretty solid recommendations :) Though we got to the cut and found The Anchor & Hope completely packed with a 2 hour wait, and Mason Don Felipe was about the same, although both looked great.
We also tried to snag a cheeky spot at St John that night too, but were also told we had an 1 1/2 hour wait… which thinking back probably wasn’t so bad, but we figured we’d just try our luck at the next places on the list… Which you shall soon see :)
Great stuff Matt – I think when we go to London we’ll need at least a month to see all I want to see.
Great blog post. I lived in London for 7 years and I get very nostalgic for it!
Great photos Matthew, I particularly like the street shots, as you’ve nicely captured the eccentricities of London’s inhabitants.
Wotcha guvna! Bloody brilliant pics. ‘ope you’re on for a knees up on Sundee.
What camera do you have? – great shots.