This guest post is written by Jude Harrison, a writer from London, England. With the 2012 Summer Olympics about to kick off, we thought it would be fun to share some of London’s interesting and strange dining options!
From pizza buses to cowbell cabarets, London’s packed with culinary surprises
Hungry? Hungry for weird?
London’s home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than you can shake a stick at, but, if you can’t afford three-courses-of-weird courtesy of Heston Blumenthal, London still serves up plenty of affordably out-there eateries.
The Big Red Pizza Bus, SE8
Our gastronomic tour begins onboard an iconic London double-decker. The closest you’ll usually get to a meal on London’s public transport is the wafting stench of the KFC Boneless Banquet for One the guy next to you’s tucking into.
Well, it’s time for you to get over your public transport food nightmares and hop aboard The Big Red Pizza Bus.
Just north of Deptford Bridge DLR, this No.30 bus has been transformed into a pizzeria with a difference. Serving up huge fresh slices, salads and ice cream, their 2am license gives you plenty time to make the most of their delicious mojitos and beers.
Lounge about on the sofas in the beer garden, and check out the newly parked-up, graffiti-tagged trailer next door for film screenings and live music too.
Tiroler Hut, W2
Escape the rom-com surroundings of Notting Hill for a trip into the Austrian Alps at the Tiroler Hut, off Queensway. Nestled underground, it’s the kind of place that’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, but once you’re downstairs you’ll feel right at home in their little alpine lodge.
Established in 1967, this Austrian restaurant’s become something of a local institution. Liederhosen-clad waiters serve up goulash and semmelknoedel, sauerkraut and bratwurst, washed down with tankards of beer.
The real pièce de résistance is owner Joseph. From his little purpose-built music booth he’ll have you yodelling along in no time as he serenades you from behind the keys, with his accordion, with his saxophone, and if that musical assault weren’t enough, with his slightly mind-boggling ‘Tirolean Cowbell Show’.
A visit to the ladies informs me, courtesy of an extensive photo display, that this place appears to have been a secret haunt of London’s A-listers for years, with a boozy Kate Moss making more than a few appearances in the toilet photo gallery.
Garlic & Shots, W1D
Over in seedy Soho, there are plenty of places you wouldn’t want to bring a date, and this is one of them. Garlic & Shots on Frith Street serves up a particularly pungent, and surprisingly varied, menu consisting of garlic-flavoured everything. And I mean everything.
There’s garlic beer, garlic soup, garlic meatballs, garlic burgers – there’s even garlic ice cream.
If you’re not a garlic fan, at least you know there’s one safe haven in town come the zombie vampire apocalypse.
Home Cooking – All around the City
Forget chi-chi restaurants and telly chefs, if you’re looking for true, home made deliciousness, there’s only one place to get it – at home. Home-based restaurants are a growing trend in London right now, with Time Out giving you a handy rundown of the names currently making waves.
The deal is this. As crazy as it sounds, people who love to cook are increasingly inviting complete strangers into their homes to sample their culinary delights.
While essentially this is a dinner party where you know absolutely no one, it’s a great way to meet people with a similar love of food, and to try out cuisines from around the world ‘just like mama used to make’, because mama is actually making it for you.
Wong Kei, W1D
Dinner with strangers not sounding uncomfortable enough? How about an evening of being shouted at by waiters?
China Town’s Wong Kei restaurant has seen customers queuing out the door for decades now, but it’s not just for the cheap food – the Wong Kei’s waiters are the real stars. Sweaty, harried and run off their feet, they’re famous for their incredibly bad manners. So bad, there are two Facebook groups devoted to collecting diner’s horror stories.
Don’t expect swish décor and smiles, do expect cries of “YOU SIT THERE!” and “YOU DON’T LIKE SOUP, GET OUT!”
Author Bio: Jude Harrison is a writer from London, England and a serial visitor of its restaurants and museums. He writes for Holiday Inn Bloomsbury, a hotel in central London that offers great value for its guests.
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