Having been to London few times, I didn’t feel the need to hit the touristy things again. I like Buckingham Palace as much as the next person but trying to get a reaction out of a guard gets old after a while. I only had four days and I wanted to make the most of it, to see friends and to get to know the London of Londoners.
1. T H E C H I C K E N S H O P
I stayed in Tooting Broadway with my old school friend, Tegs. A short walk from her house is The Chicken Shop, a small restaurant which serves chicken. And only chicken. Rotisserie chicken, which are turning on spits behind the counter as you walk in.
“You can have the table for one hour and fifteen minutes,” the hostess tells us. Yip, there’s a time limit on your dining experience because they’re just that popular. We ordered a half chicken to share, a serving of fries and a serving of mielies (You can take the Saffa out of South Africa).
By the time I had laid my knife and fork down, the chicken sweats had already started. But the meal wasn’t over yet!
Keep some space for their deep dish apple pie, served with vanilla ice cream and dished up at your table from a huge pan. Family style.
2. D I N N E R W I T H I N D I E B E R R I E S
The loveliest, bubbliest girl in the local social media circle. I started following Che on Twitter forever ago and back-read her blog all the way through her life in South Korea, the most romantic proposal ever, her big move to London and her wedding. And finally, on a drizzly Friday evening in Earlsfield, we bonded over a glass of wine and an enormous bowl of pasta. It was great.
3. B O R O U G H M A R K E T
Early-ish on Saturday morning, we caught the tube to Borough Market for a spot of breakfast and an uncivilized quantity of tasters. South Africans living in London like to equate this to the Old Biscuit Mill. I wouldn’t go that far. It’s a lovely market with an abundance of bakers, fresh produce and foreign foodstalls. The clientele seemed to be a lot of young families and older couples, and we fought for space amongst the prams and walking sticks. It doesn’t have the same vibe as the OBM and the goods on offer weren’t as varied or interesting, particualry not the ready-to-eat meals.
I did take down a bacon roll with unnecessary vigour, but trying to find a cup of coffee proved futile and eventually we found a Costa across the road. It is a lovely Saturday morning outing, which we followed up with an intensive tour of the Oxford Street shops.
4. N O R T H C O T E R O A D
This reminded me, if anything, of Kloof Street. Cutting through the trendy and upper-class area around Clapham Common, Northcote Road is lined with pubs and cute cafes and a selection of shops which sell everything from gifts to clothing to toys and antiques. We took a wander down this street on a lazy Sunday in search of pancakes and tea, which we found and devoured. It was marvelous.
5. T H E R O O K E R Y
The Last Supper had to be a roast, for what would a trip to Britain be without at least one traditional pub meal. We wandered over to The Rookery on Clapham Common, still drowsy from an afternoon watching Gogglebox. At this point, I had literally no voice left. I wasn’t able to make sounds emit from my throat. So I ate in relative silence, focusing my attention on roast beef and Yorkshire pudding swimming in gravy. It took a fair amount of effort and unbuttoning my jeans but I eventually managed to wipe my plate clean with the last piece of Yorkshire pudding. Despite all my objections (there were none), we ordered a berry cheesecake for dessert which quite literally melted in our mouths. It was outstanding.
The Rookery is not cheap, especially not with the rand, and my poor bank balance took a beating that night. It was worth it.
6. T E G A N
The absolute, number one highlight of my trip was spending time with this chick. Nineteen years of friendship. This, this is everything.