London’s Best Restaurants

It is no secret that I like food. Ok… I more than like food; food has become a hobby for me in all aspects. I love hunting down new restaurants, trying new flavors, photographing dishes, and cooking healthy meals for myself. Being a foodie truly is a lifestyle!

While I was in London I had a chance to try many different restaurants all over the city, each a different type of cuisine. Many people say London has poor tasting food; well they clearly weren’t eating at the right places. Here are my absolute favorite restaurants in London, each a favorite for a different reason.

Oka in Primrose Hill

Oka describes itself as a traditional and fusion Japanese restaurant. They offer sashimi, sushi and stir-fry meals. My absolute favorite thing on the menu is the chili edamame, as shown below. It is something so simple yet bursting with spicy flavor.

Oka Primrose Hill London

Another one of my favorites, and an absolute must-have if you are a sushi lover, is the salmon jalapeño roll. The flavors are fresh and subtle, which is what makes it so good. The wasabi at Oka is even homemade, adding a special touch to every sushi roll.

Oka sushi London

Be sure to book this spot in advance if looking to dine here in the evening. Don’t forget to hike to the top of Primrose Hill, first, and enjoy the sunset!

Da Mario in South Kensington

A favorite of Princess Diana, this restaurant is a go-to when looking for yummy Italian food in London. All of the pasta is homemade and the sauce is to die for. Not only do they offer pastas but they make their own pizzas as well. I love how friendly and welcoming the staff is to everyone that walks in. My favorite here has to be the potato gnocchi; the gnocchi is so plump and melts in your mouth!

Sketch in Chelsea

If you are Instagram obsessed like I am then you have definitely seen pictures of Sketch’s decor. As soon as you walk in the door you feel like you have fallen down the rabbit hole and ended up in Wonderland. I was lucky enough to visit during the Chelsea Flower Show when the entire restaurant was covered in pink peonies and roses.

Sketch London breakfast

While the afternoon tea is quite expensive and usually booked months in advance, the breakfast option is usually always available and not nearly as expensive. I enjoyed some porridge and fruit with a few cups of the matcha green tea.

Sketch London breakfast fruit

While the food is certainly delicious, what makes Sketch one of my favorites is the one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Each room is decorated differently; whether you are sitting on pink velvet couches or in a forest of flowers, the experience is magical.

City Best Kebab in Shoreditch

I had to add my favorite post-night-out spot to this list; the perfect spot for a cheap and quick meal. London is filled with falafel shops so it can be quite hard to find the best one. Luckily, this one was right around the corner from my flat and has the best falafel I have ever tasted. You never know what kind of crowd you are going to come across either, which is what makes it so entertaining.

Pacata in Covent Garden

I purposely saved the best for last with this restaurant; ironic since this was also the last meal I ate in London before leaving. Pacata specializes in thai comfort food, making the best tom kha soup and pad thai.

best pad thai in london

I know I’m making a big claim here but this may have been one of the best meals I have ever eaten. I am a huge fan of squid ink pasta and order it whenever it is on a restaurant’s menu. Pacata had squid ink pad thai, a combination of two of my favorite things. The flavors were so unique and worked together so well. If you are near Covent Garden you must try this dish!

Stay tuned for more of my favorites in London and other European cities by following me on here, InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

 

 

Hidden Gem of London: Cafe Miami

A positive, pretty café makes for the perfect work environment. I am a firm believer that your surroundings set your mood and how productive you will be that day. This is why it is so important for me to find the best places to study, read and write in while in London.

I recently stumbled on a little place in Hackney called Café Miami. The glass storefront and pastel colors instantly drew me in. The welcoming staff, attention to detail, and delicious food made this place a new favorite spot of mine.

Cafe Miami London

The interior is everything. Cute quotes, pretty pink tables, powder blue chairs. How can you not love looking at this place?

Cafe Miami London coffee

My favorite part of Café Miami was the fun-shaped sugar cubes. This detail may seem so small but it was the most precious thing! I am a sucker for the little things in life and these cloud and heart-shaped sugar cubes are no exception.

Cafe Miami London

Cafe Miami London waffle

Not only were the sugar cubes in the shape of hearts but so were the waffles and the cinnamon on the top of my latte. Who doesn’t love hearts all over their food!? The hearts simply warm my heart. No pun intended.

Cafe Miami London latte

Cafe Miami London

I ordered the Waffle Burger (minus the chorizo) with avocado, fried egg, and hot sauce. The waffles were made with corn which made it savory and delicious. While it wasn’t a breakfast to fill a starving stomach, it was just what I needed that afternoon.

Cafe Miami London egg

What are you waiting for? Hop on the 55 bus and head to Hackney for the prettiest afternoon you’ve had all spring. You surely won’t be disappointed!

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Hidden Gem of Amsterdam: Toastable

After strolling through the Bloemenmarkt early in the morning, I needed some coffee to get me through the rest of the day. I was instantly attracted to Toastable because of their cute, cheery sign greeting me at the door.

Amsterdam's cutest cafe

I ordered a cappuccino to-go, although my cousin and I ended up spending quite some time in this quaint cafe. Wood tables, pink peonies in glass bottles, white walls, and a decadent gold-framed mirror. If I lived in Amsterdam I could easily spend hours in this light, airy atmosphere.

best coffee in  Amsterdam

While I only came in here for a cup of coffee, I later found out that they sell all varieties of grilled cheese. I mean who doesn’t love grilled cheese? If you stop here, try the Gorgonzola toastie for me; I couldn’t help but eye up all the delicious options on their menu! I highly recommend stopping in here for a quick bite to eat and a cup of coffee before being on your way to explore the city.

Amsterdam's best coffee

Being a blogger, I can’t leave a place this aesthetically pleasing without having a little photoshoot!

Check out my Amsterdam Guide for more recommendations when visiting this city.

Hidden Gem of London: Palm Vaults

I am a sucker for a place with a cute aesthetic and healthy, good-tasting food. Needless to say, Palm Vaults offers both of these, all in the heart of Hackney.

palm vault london

The café truly is an Instagrammer’s heaven with the green plants hanging from the ceiling, marble tables, velvet couches, and pink accents. Not to mention the takeaway cups which are chic enough to include in your next #ootd post.

Palm Vault Dragonfruit Smoothie

My friend ordered the “Unleash the Dragon” smoothie which is undeniably the prettiest smoothie I have ever seen. It still amazes me how a fruit can produce a color as bright and vibrant as this one.

Palm Vault London

Palm Vaults is known for their endless selection of artisan lattes. Tumeric, violet, red velvet, blue moon tea, and charcoal are just a few options included in their menu. I ordered the red velvet latte and was surprised to taste a beet flavor. It turns out the pretty red color is acheived using the natural coloring of beets. While it is definitely an acquired taste, it makes me feel better knowing that I am not consuming artificial chemicals. The beet and mocha flavors surprisingly complement one another very well!

Palm Vault acai bowl

I ordered the “Pataya Bowl”, decorated with raspberries, coconut, blueberries, and goji berries. After seeing pictures of my favorite bloggers eating these bowls on tropical islands such as Hawaii and Australia, I had to have one. This bowl brought a little slice of the warm tropics to London, right before walking outside into the rain of course.

palm vault london

While I loved being in such a pretty atmosphere, with yummy food, places like this attract certain kinds of people. Of course I am not hating on us bloggers, being I am also that girl that has to rearrange the table to get the perfect picture of what I am about to consume, but it is also important to enjoy the moment you are living in.

Often at times we tend to only do things for the image that it portrays on social media. We all get caught up in capturing that perfect picture with the perfect lighting. While this is ok to do to a certain point, there comes a time when it’s necessary to put the camera or phone down and focus on what’s in front of you. Enjoy your delicious food. Enjoy the atmosphere you’re in. Most importantly, enjoy the time with the company that surrounds you.

The next time you go out to brunch or coffee with friends, spend the first 5 minutes rearranging your food and posting it all over social media. After, put the camera away. Put the phone away. Take the time to really talk to your friends and really taste your food. It is amazing how much more enjoyable life becomes when you shut out the digital world and embrace the present.

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City Girl… or Farm Girl?

If you are an avid Instagram-scroller and health foodie then you have probably heard of a little place called Farm Girl Cafe in the neighborhood of Knotting Hill in London. After drooling at pictures on my feed for the past few months, I finally had the opportunity to taste the luxe lattes and fresh avocado toast.

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If you visit this restaurant expect a wait… a very long wait. One thing I have noticed in London is that waiters are not rushing around, worrying about each customer’s happiness the way the waiters do in America. Here they make you stand outside in the cold for nearly an hour before finally acknowledging your hangriness and dire need for food.

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The menu is full of options, from vegan and vegetarian to a loaded chicken sandwich, it is a safe place to drag your meat-loving friends. However, don’t expect to escape the endless health and vegan jokes. “That coconut bacon does not deserve to call itself bacon.”

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“This charcoal latte is crunchy. I can feel it in-between my teeth”. I will admit, these jokes are hilarious because quite often I am blinded by how ridiculous these things really are. I love trendy health food but I also appreciate a good laugh at them.

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These drinks have been haunting me from my Instagram feed since the moment I saw them. Rose and charcoal lattes? Definitely not something you find at your typical Starbucks! Unfortunately they do sound and look a lot cooler than they taste. Do it for the picture, though, right?

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I can’t go to brunch without eating some form of avocado, usually avocado toast. There is just nothing that beats it. This avocado toast was decorated with lemon juice, pomegranate seeds, and a poached egg. I ordered coconut bacon and sweet potato fries on the side. Both were delicious but definitely not worth the money. I would stick with the sandwiches which seemed a lot more filling than my £12 slices of bread.

Overall, this place makes for very cute pictures and a lovely place to chat with friends. However, if you are looking for a full on feast and to save some money, you may want to try somewhere else.

Follow me on Instagram for more yummy food pictures.

 

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe

With Thanksgiving coming up, I have one thing on my mind. PUMPKIN. Ok, maybe mashed potatoes and stuffing as well…

During the fall time I crave every kind of food in a pumpkin flavor. Pumpkin coffee, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin soup, you name it. There’s just something about fall that makes me want to eat it all of the time. Pumpkin puts us in the holiday spirit and makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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I recently discovered Bliss Nut-Butters through Instagram and have been eating their nut-butters nonstop since. I will admit, I practically ate the whole jar of their Cinnamon Chia Seed Peanut Butter before I could even share this recipe. It really is THAT delicious. What’s their secret to making the butters so addictive? I would have to say the sea salt combined with the sweetness of the cinnamon!

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After eating half the jar I had the idea to include it in a smoothie with pumpkin. I figured the cinnamon would act as pumpkin pie spice and the peanuts would add some extra flavor and nutrition. For this recipe you will need:

1/2 can of pumpkin

1 spoonful of Bliss Nut Butters Cinnamon

1 frozen banana

soy milk

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Simply blend up all your ingredients and add soy milk as needed.

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Enjoy! The cinnamon peanut butter adds the perfect hint of sweetness to the pumpkin without overdoing it. It’s like a pumpkin pie without the excess sugar. Next time you feel like cheating with a slice of pie, blend this smoothie together instead!

Juice Press Rainforest Smoothie Recipe

If you are a juice and smoothie lover you are probably obsessed with all the boutique juice shops in the city. Juice Press is just one of these stores that offers delicious, fresh but overpriced smoothies. While it is nice to treat myself to one of these every once in awhile, this college student has a budget to follow.

I am always messing around with my Vitamix (aka the most life-changing gadget you can have in your kitchen), looking for the perfect green smoothie recipe. While the other recipe I shared on my blog is one of my staples, this new recipe just might be replacing it for the next few weeks.

If you have ever had Juice Press’s Rainforest smoothie, this is exactly what that tastes like. Filled with kale, mint, lemon, and coconut water, you really can’t go wrong. I even added my own little twist by making it with frozen banana and pineapple. This helps to balance out the taste of the greens.

In order to make this you are going to need:

Kale on kale on kale

Mint leaves

1/2 of a lemon

1 frozen banana

Coconut water

Frozen pineapple

Start with your greens. Feel free to add as much mint as you like. I pile in the mint because I love that refreshing ting early in the morning after a long yoga session. It is also great for indigestion!

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Next, add your kale. Once again, load this in; the more greens the better! I was lucky enough to be given kale straight from someone’s garden. I lack any sort of green thumb but tasting this fresh kale has inspired me to possibly start growing my own greens.

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The kale was so fresh that I kept finding inch worms in it! I returned these little worms back into their natural habitat and made sure to clean the kale over and over again.

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After you add all of your greens be sure to juice half of a lemon into the blender. If you want a tangier taste feel free to squeeze an entire lemon into the juice.

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Next, I added my frozen banana. I buy a bunch of bananas and freeze them in ziplock bags to make them much more accessible whenever I want to make a smoothie. This way you don’t need to worry about the time it takes to freeze a banana once your smoothie craving comes on.

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Coconut water is going to allow the Vitamix to blend everything together smoothly. You want to start by adding a good amount and then continue to add more as the smoothie is blending. The coconut water is going to make the blender’s job a lot easier, and prevent it from breaking.

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Lastly, add your frozen pineapple. Once again, there is not a specific amount that you need to add. It is all up to you and which flavors you want to be most prominent!

Now blend together and it’s ready to drink.

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Let me know what you think of this recipe when you try it. Be sure to share it on Instagram and tag @maemaddie. Happy blending!