High Street Kensington Pubs, Bars & Restaurants, London

Whilst completing my contract at Game Account Network, i spent an extended period working in the High Street Kensington area of London.

One of my favourite benefits of working as a contractor is the opportunity to put lunch and breakfast costs on expenses. As such, it is then possible to try out lots of local pubs, bars and restaurants without fear of digging too far into your wages.

When GAN moved their offices from Bond Street to High Street Kensington, it was an opportunity to learn more about an area of London that i am not overly familiar with. My expectations were of grand buildings with expensive food and drink for the very posh, with little available for the office works, but fortunately i was quite wrong.

The majority of spots to eat and drink around the high street are good quality, but also relatively affordable. The locals seem to drink in standard pubs, though there is a fine selection in this area.

The pubs that we have tried here tend to offer excellent food as well as craft beers and the like, but aside from that are pretty much what you would expect from all but the poorest parts of the city.

None of the locations felt snobby, in fact there does seem a real community feel in this part of London, particularly when you visit spots off of the main high street.

This post links out to all of the places that i have visited during my time here with GAN. We tried to cover as many as possible, concentrating on our favourite gastro pubs, querky locations and also casual restaurants.

Our lunchtime trips would always be on a budget of a maximum of £25 per person, including drinks. This was also more than enough with most mains in High Street Kensington costing £8 – £15 and a drink pushing it to around £20.

High Street Kensington Pubs

Elephant & Castle
Brittania
Prince of Wales
The Goat
Churchill Arms

High Street Kensington Restaurants

Sticky Fingers
Wasabi
Byron
Wagamamas
Whole Foods

Vietnam Oriental Restaurant, Greenwich, London

We’ve never actually eaten any Vietnamese food in this restaurant, in all the times we’ve visited. In fact, i’m not sure if i’ve even seen any such dishes on the menu – we go straight for the Chinese choices which dominate.

Vietnam Oriental Restaurant, Greenwich, London

This has become our favourite restaurant in Greenwich and is really the only Chinese restaurant in central Greenwich that we would consider going to. The others around here are generally aimed at students and offering large portions of budget food as a result.

A typical evening out for us in Greenwich would be a few pints in The Yacht before heading here if the finances are good enough at the time.

This restaurant is where we headed to celebrate initially putting down a mini-deposit on what was to later become our flat. It was about £250 and simply kept our names with the Housing Association as particularly interested in three separate flats in the same block. It allowed us to enter the process of getting a mortgage together, which we managed to complete a couple of months later.

We have also visited here to celebrate several other milestones, such as new contracts, birthdays and the like.

The food here has never disappointed, and we rarely now even bother going through the menu. We have our favourite dishes and tend to pick from those in our heads.

Favourite Chinese Dishes from this Restaurant

Ruby’s current favourite must be the spicy fish which comes served in a large pot full of chillies. I think it is a Szechuan recipe, but not absolutely sure. Personally, i tend to go for one of the delicious hotpots. The Eel one is best, but a little more expensive, whilst the seafood, beef and pork ones are also really tasty.

The fried rice here is great, never too greasy like many other places in the UK will serve. There is also an excellent array of Dim Sum, though we only tend to choose that when in for lunch.

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vietnam-oriental-restaurant-Dim-Sum.jpg

For those looking for the standard UK Chinese food experience, but with a little more quality than your average takeaway, then there are also plenty of Cantonese options on the menu too. Sweet ‘n’ Sour Pork, Aromatic Crispy Duck and all the other usual suspects are all there to keep you feeling comfortable when entering for the first time.

Alternative dishes for those looking for something different include the fried intestine and also Xinjang-style Lamb kebabs. Ruby loves this place because of the amount of mainland-Chinese dishes that are offered here, but there is something for everyone.

Weekend in Norfolk

It has been a fairly tiring week but my mood is up again as the weekend draws close. I will pop to see Mum and Dad in Norfolk for the weekend and this break seems to be perfect timing. With only a few days left of my current contract, next week will be interesting and i am looking forward to some fresh, new work coming in.

Mum has had her garden done up recently and i am looking forward to seeing that in all it’s glory. This is an important place for her so i am pleased that her feedback on the work has been really positive. The garden should also now be much safer for her and Dad to bumble about in, where as before there were some precarious spots around the top fish pond.

Dad has recently become quite a keen cook and will be knocking up a roast dinner this weekend, which has always previously been Mum’s territory. He has been using several recipe books of TV chefs, and it seems that he enjoys planning his next feast.

Jamie Oliver's Chorizo Soup

I have not done much cooking myself recently, except for a Chorizo Soup to use up some of the leftover vegetables from our Abel and Cole delivery.

Ruby will remain in London to work this weekend having taken time off for our recent trip to Tenerife. Hopefully we might be able to do another trip soon, so long as i can find a good cheap deal somewhere warm. I tend to search on HolidayPirates.com for deals, they always seem to have something interesting available.

Abel & Cole Food Delivery

Abel and Cole

I recently signed up to Abel & Cole after bumping into one of their door-to-door salesmen in Greenwich, and have had three deliveries so far, in as many weeks.

Initial experiences have been good, with fruit, vegetables and meat arriving each Monday, carefully packed and on time. There are foods available that we cannot source easily, such as Pheasant, Venison and various game. Most supermarkets near to us are small, with limited choice, making Abel & Cole very suitable for us.

This week’s delivery included some Rabbit which we are having tonight, though i’ve no idea which Chinese dish Ruby is planning to create this time.

UPDATE (March 2015): One month later and we are still using Abel and Cole for most of our vegetables. We have switched to a large veg-only box in an attempt to force us to have a larger proportion of vegetable in our diet. The plan seems to be working so far.

Liang Ban Tu Dou Si & Qie Zi Bao

This is the first of a regular feature in the blog, covering the wonderful dishes created by my lovely wife, Ruby. I will try to make the descriptions helpful for those looking to learn more about Chinese cooking and maybe try the dishes yourself.

Liang Ban Tu Dou Si

Potato
Black pepper
Red pepper
salt
soy sauce
Vinegar
seasame oil
Garlic

Qie Zi Bao

Pork
Aubergine
Ginger
Spring Onion
Carrot
Fresh mushroom
Red pepper
Salt
Soy sauce
Coriander

Liang Ban Tu Dou Si & Qie Zi Bao

McDonalds delivery in Shanghai

McDonalds – not, in my opinion, anything that the West should be proud of. They represent alot of bad things, and their food is certainly not to my taste. Its been many years since i ruled them out as a takeaway option, with Burger King & KFC just about passable.

As of this week though, McDonalds is back! And i will make no apologies. Organising dinner after a long day work can be a pain, particularly when you dont speak the local lingo. I have many days here when the simpler option defeats the better quality food option. Most food deliveries though sting me 3 pounds for delivery, which over the course of the week begins to add up. McDonalds, with all their plastic burgers and floppy vegetables though, only 70p and can bring it all around quickly so everything is still warm – great!

For the time being i am putting health & fitness issues aside and just getting on with stuff. If i was entirely worried about my health, i wouldn’t be living in Shanghai, i guess. I’ll have plenty of time to reverse this behaviour in the future, so for now will stuff my face with junk food and enjoy it for what it is. I think being health conscious all the time, is a little dull.

[ For the record, try Sherpas for a bit variety, if you haven’t already. Hell, maybe even try cooking something yourself ;-) ]

For any Wai Guo Ren searching for how to order McDonalds in Shanghai, find information below:

Step 1
Call 4008 517 517 from your home phone or mobile

Step 2
Press ‘2′ for English (or press ‘1′ for Chinese)

Step 3
If this is your first time calling, you need to register your address with them. So just tell them your address (they are speaking English after all). If it’s not your first time, they will tell you your phone number and address before proceeding to Step 4…

Step 4
Order your fat food, and then enjoy / feel sick…

Vedas Indian Restaurant, Shanghai

Tonight am off to Vedas Cuisine for a good posh curry. Some of the Indian restaurants here are really good, and at about the same price levels as in London. One such place is Vedas, which i have has deliver to me on occasion. I thought its about time i stop being so lazy and actually visited the restaurant itself.

The food on offer is near identical to that served back home, except Naan tends to be much thinner and lighter and poppadoms don’t seem to have such an integral role in the meal as they do in UK. They’re about £1.50 each, which might explain that.

Crabs in Shanghai :-P

I am absolutely crackered today after traipsing around the Bund all yesterday afternoon with Ruby and her friend, who was visiting for the day. How stupid was i for believing that they would just be going for a “quick walk and a little shopping”! I guess it was mainly the humidity and number of tourists that made the walk so tiring. But they did enjoy themselves which is the main thing, and i now just have to keep my eyes open at work today before crawling back home for a good kip.

As a special dinner for her visiting friend, Ruby cooked some nice crab dishes this weekend. See the video below to get an idea of quite what was going on. At one point i had live crabs pushing the microwave door open with their claws to try to prevent their imminent death. I made sure i was a safe distance away and so found it all quite funny. One crab seemed to possess special powers and continued to struggle about even after a good roasting in the microwave. As with almost all chinese food, it seems, they were served up with a little garlic, ginger and vinegar and the end result was rather tasty.

King Kebab, Shanghai – Straight to my door!!

I am slowly but surely bringing back everything i do in the UK into my daily life here. Yesterday Soaps made a reappearance, and as of tonight my weekly Kebab dosage can begin again. I was delighted to find somewhere which not only does good quality kebabs, but also delivers them for a small fee. They’ll be about 4 pounds a pop, but i can’t put a price on a good kebab! King Kebab, i salute you! I will let you know my experiences later. Sadly, no Naan or Chips are on offer, but its a start atleast.

Other than that, not too much to report really. I shall spend my birthday evening playing computer games at work with free Pizza and stuff, which should be ok. On Friday i am out in Ningbo with Ruby and her girly friends in some western bars, playing Foosball and such like. This should be lots of fun, and i can try out my plethora of quality Chinese phrases. Then on saturday morning we will travel onto the island nearby and explore there. I don’t really have too much planned for the rest of August and am trying to save a little towards a travelling budget to use at the end of my time in Shanghai. With each day i am here, the more i feel that i should stay for a little longer than planned.

All you can eat Sushi/Wasabi/Sachi/Beer for £10

An offer too good to refuse was presented to me by a work colleague last week. Several Japanese restaurants in and around Dongping Lu offer all-you-can-eat-and-drink menus for around 160 yuan, just over £10. Some pretentious twats turn their noses up at this sort of thing, but the food was good. Add to that an endless supply of Sachi and beer and everyone’s happy! We managed to get through 20 plates in the end (predominantly seafood) but it was actually the effect of the Sachi that holted my crusade. I was under the impression that it was just hot Japanese wine, but after two jugs of it i was suddenly about to fall asleep on the table. I certainly lost that battle, and it was time to go home.

Needless to say we got our money’s worth, and to get through so much tasty seafood it was a certain bargain. Below are some photos from this visit plus also a random video of when one table’s chef started to burn all his food which left me struggling to breathe, let alone eat anymore. I plan to go back to similar such places maybe once every 6 weeks or so, as it was great fun. As you would expect with such an offer, the place was rammed with greedy drunk westerns (like me!) towards the end of the night.

I shall have a look out for similar places in Shanghai that perhaps do the same offer for maybe Mexican or European food. The morning after this trip was not so good, my back was ruined for some reason but it was worth it for the night before.

… Its now Tuesday and im back to my best(ish) now. I think i shall stick to an Irish pub this weekend for some well deserved Guinness and Irish Coffee. I shall also make a video of my journey to work on my fancy new bike, that shoul be quite entertaining. I haven’t been run over yet, but i’m certainly going to get medical insurance which the company offer for free.