Last month we finally went on an intentional vacation to Amsterdam and London. We say ‘intentional’ because sometimes our vacation days in Columbus turn into work days (reading/writing about nutrition)…and that’s sometimes okay because we obviously have a passion for what we do, but for the brain and body to fully recharge, it’s wonderful to put the phone on ‘airplane mode’, hop on a plane, and explore another part of the world. Should you get the chance to travel to London, here are some must-eats and must-sees:
Address: 194 Earls Court Road, SW5 9QF
The receptionist at our Kensington hotel suggested this place, and we were initially skeptical for two reasons: it was a chain and it was Italian food. It was hard to believe that we would find gluten-free options, but their online menu sold us. Vegan, non-dairy, and gluten-free options?! Amazing. They had delicious, thin-crust gluten-free pizzas that Italy itself would be proud of! With so many toppings and combinations offered, the thought crossed our minds to order two (one for breakfast). There was wine, the vegan ‘Zucca’ pizza, and, of course, three scoops of chocolate and salted caramel gelato!!
Address: 11 Harrington Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 3ES
Vegan and gluten-free eaters of the world, rejoice! Squirrel offers a treehouse-like interior and a variety of delicious plant-based options (menu here). You can order coffee, smoothies, juice, baked goods, and more. They are very careful about 14 different food allergies, including celery, mustard, lupin and sulfites. This plant-forward establishment offers a diversity of meal options ranging from chilis and soups, salads, bowls, and fancy avocado toasts. We chose chili served on a sweet potato and chose a fresh juice called “Bushy Tailed.” The squirrel-forest motif carried through the whole restaurant, including the bathrooms, and added to the pure delight of the tasty meal.
In the name of research, we came back here for breakfast and were very pleasantly surprised to find gluten-free pancakes with nuts and other toppings as options. Grab a quick meal and fresh juice…and rejoice!
Note: Remember that ‘rocket’ is arugula in British English.
Address: 4 Derry St, Kensington, London W8 5SE
Because of the many positive reviews about this restaurant, we made a reservation before ever boarding the plane to Europe. Trust us, you’ll want to reserve a table and skip the line when it comes to this outstanding restaurant. In a beautifully decorated Art Deco-style restaurant, you will dine on the most delectable dishes. There are vegan and gluten-free options that don’t feel like an after-thought. The dishes are meant to be shared and everything works well together. We started with a Peacock Cider while others at the table enjoyed pale ale beer and tea. The appetizers and entrees rolled in soon after. Omnivores will love the Chicken Ruby or Tikka and everyone will likely enjoy the Fried Green Chillies and Bowl of Greens. We also ordered biryani and, surprisingly, jackfruit is an option! Of course, the gluten-tolerant may want to indulge in the garlicky, chewy naan. To finish the meal, we had a creme brulee rice pudding and a Chocolate Chai that made our eyes pop with the joy of surprise – it tasted like Christmas in a cup! Since then we’ve been aiming to re-create it almost every morning.
Of course we had to try so many different entrees, drinks, and desserts in order to do our proper research for you, that we had picked up four extra pounds of ‘luggage’ around our abdomen. The sacrifices we make *sigh* :D.
See the Sights
Definitely check out Hyde Park, it’s London’s equivalent to New York’s Central Park and, inside, you’ll find Kensington Palace, the Sunken Garden, and the Serpentine, a memorial to Princess Diana. Also, there’s the Albert Memorial. A short walk can bring you to Buckingham Palace!
Big Ben was under construction at the time of our visit so we moved on to London Tower (London Bridge was not as exciting), after playing in the fountains with other kids.
Because Mr. Chef and I had so enjoyed watching the Mr. Selfridge series on Netflix, we had to go to the aforementioned department store once in London. There we found lots of designer clothing and items and another floor held a food court with an grocery area full of culinary delights – candies, jams, biscuits, teas, macarons- and another meal or so there. Bring your wallet, it’s not a discount store.
Of course, just walking and exploring is exciting – you’ll see the red London double-decker buses, the Shakespeare-related Globe Theater, the London Eye, cool small cars (two can fit in one parking spot!). To help off-set our eating, we walked 20 miles on the Sunday before our flight back to Amsterdam. Bring comfortable walking shoes and make sure to visit this charming city sometime soon.