Weekends in summer are made for trips. Summer inspires travel and short weekend getaways are just too much of a temptation to resist. This weekend was a special occasion however, the inaugural DWF Dine International trip. Those of you regular readers will understand my love of food and so having set up a work based dining club we were embarking across the invisible border to London for a weekend of debauchery. Soon to be my new home London is a true foodie mecca with every cuisine represented in a variety of price point options. What better place to take the dine club on its first international foray? (It also helped that one of the founding members was seconded down there and agreed to have us all descend on her peace and quiet for free!!).
The weekend began in the same place as all good flights – Flutes and Tails the Edinburgh Airport champagne bar that regularly eats most of my pay packet. We ordered a couple of bottles to get the weekend started and even managed to fit in a quick coffee shop stop for some plane wine and a cheese toastie (eating is most definitely not cheating people after 2 bottles of fizz). Unfortunately we were flying with Ryanair before they cancelled all of their flights and it was delay central. We were an hour late in taking off and given we were flying to London Stansted, an hour outside of the city on the Stansted Express we didn’t arrive into Liverpool Street until after 10. Not ideal to miss dinner on a dine weekend Alicia used her local skills to sniff out a street food option at Dinerama. It was kind of like a covered street food market with a variety of different stalls all offering up tasty treats and some cool bars. Given our late arrival only Smokestak was left still serving food and so we settled on some very tasty ribs with sweet potato fries which turned into a fabulous late night snack. We washed this down with quite a few beverages and then slowly made our way back to Alicia’s flat crossing over the iconic Tower Bridge en-route.
As you can imagine it wasn’t an early start the next day. By the time we were all up and ready we were all pretty ravenous. We decided to check out Borough Market for brunch/lunch and headed there. It was quite a walk and after arriving all pretty hungover and massively hangry we ended up making a split second choice of Rabot 1745 (The Hotel Chocolat restaurant). In hindsight after wandering around all the cheap and tasty looking food stalls afterwards this was a mistake as it was really expensive, the service was pretty rubbish and the food average at best. However, it did fill a gap we were in desperate need of filling. After a very long wait for drinks (we were the only ones there) we eventually managed to have some prosecco to help our sore heads and ordered a slap up chocolate infused lunch. The idea is that chocolate is added to each dish in an innovative way. For example I had a white chocolate mash (nice enough mash but wasn’t sure what the white chocolate added or even if it was there at all). We ordered a mix of dishes between us, my fish was fine, nothing standout and not particularly chocolatey but most importantly not worth the £18 price tag. Tony’s curry was cold and had to be sent back. They offered a heated up version but it was still bland and lacking in flavour.
After spending a bomb in one of London’s most mediocre establishments we wandered around the market to see the joyful offerings if only our hanger could have been kept it check. Definitely a lesson to be learned here. In our dismay we stumbled upon Bedales, a fabulous little wine bar with a large basement space. We spent the afternoon drinking some fabulous wines and cheering ourselves out of our food sorrow. Given our late start it was almost dinner time (woops!) so we headed to the prosecco stall for a walking beverage and then headed over the bridge to the theatre district. Alicia had booked us into Prix Fixe for a pre-theatre deal before the show which was conveniently located in the heart of the theatre district. Given the £14.90 price tag for 2 courses we settled in and order a tonne of wine to enjoy with our meal. NOTE to self, not a good idea before a show after day drinking. I decided to play it safe for the meal with salted cod balls to start and some white wine followed by a hearty beef bourguignon for main. It was fantastic value and good quality food for it with some great service to top it off. More than half the price of our lunch and significantly better. Just goes to show, price doesn’t always equate to quality.
Of course we spent too long in the restaurant drinking wine and so had to literally hotfoot it to the Prince of Wales theatre for Book of Mormon. It had been quite a struggle deciding whether to purchase the really pricey £75 tickets but we bit the bullet and despite our inebriated states I am rather glad we did. By tag-teaming for toilets and the bar we managed to settle into our pretty fantastic seats just as the show was starting beverage in hand. The show was funny, catchy and not too shocking given its reputation but a fab option for those not sure on musicals as the regular jokes and un-political correctness made it a truly enjoyable watch. (I have to confess I did nod off numerous times however, this was a direct result of my alcohol consumption rather than a direct reflection on the show itself). We headed off out afterwards in Soho for a wild night of dancing on chairs and consuming copious amounts of beverages. It was a lot of fun and culminated in topping the night off by stealing some wedding balloons in the taxi on the way home.
As you can imagine – Sunday was not a fun morning. Tony and I headed to Tesco for some breakfast goodies to prevent any potentially terrible food decision affecting hanger, while we all lazed around and got ready. I had booked OXBO for an unlimited cava brunch treat and after getting ready we headed over there. The restaurant was huge and pretty empty when we arrived – never a good sign. There was an array of foreign animals littering the walls which was cool and as soon as the cava started to flow (for all of us bar Fraser) we shook off our hang and began to enjoy the lunch. The starter and dessert consisted of a buffet which is only a good word when you are not feeling the best. I tucked into salmon, sushi, mackerel, a variety of salads, quiche, meats and cheeses with breads, fruit and pastries. I have never seen such a varied buffet with such high quality produce and this was only the starters. We all went for the roast dinner main which came with an enormous yorkie, roast potatoes, beautifully pink beef, vegetables and a really yummy gravy. We were struggling but managed to find some room for some tarts and cake for dessert. The miniature crème brulee was a particular highlight.
Feeling fit to burst we stumbled out and into an uber for a magical mystery tour across London to the Royal Albert Hall. Tony – forever on the lookout for a deal, had managed to snag us some tickets to the Proms. However, after our boozy long lunch we arrived pretty late and were told we couldn’t enter until there was a break. So – what else to do other than hit up the bar? Pints of cider in hand we headed in and enjoyed the music for all of 20 minutes before having to head back to the station to get the express back to the airport. It was a shame we couldn’t sit there for longer as it was really enjoyable and the Royal Albert Hall itself was a stunning building. All in all, a pretty fantastic weekend of good food and even better company. Stay tuned for our next international adventure coming soon in 2018.