England's Signature Food and Drink

  • Eastern Curries
  • Market Madness
  • Coffee Counters
  • Greasy Spoon
  • Crumbs of Comfort
  • Eels, Pies and Mash
  • Fish and Chips
  • Vege Bites
  • Wine is Nudging Beer for Attention
  • British Cheese from the British Isles

    Historic Cheese

    Gone are the days, when British cheese amounted to a plasticky packet of tasteless Cheddar sweating gently in a lunchbox.  Now the country makes more than 700 varieties, many of which are stocked at favourite London Cheese shop, Neal's Yard Dairy. A pungent smell hits you as you enter the dairy, and a beautiful array of white, yellow, and blue veined cheeses are lined up behind a glass counter.  The company has been working with British cheesemakers for over 30 years, and their expertise certainly shows. Try Cornish Yarg wrapped in nettles or wild garlic.  Happy tasting! 

    Photo courtesy of Bixentro

  • Eastern Spice in London

    Eastern Curries

    Curry comes from the Tamil word for 'Sauce'.  Curries may have originated in Asia, but Britain has always been crazy about curry. . . so much so, that the UK considers it an iconic national dish.  Brits first came across it when trading with Sri Lanka in the 17th century. Today, it's reported that over 12,000 UK restaurants serve curry. London is no exception.  Green Street in Newham is lined with a plethora of curry houses, south asian bakeries, and fifties style ice cream parlours.  Choose which takes your fancy, but the fresh-made naans are great at Margala Grill.

    Photo courtesy of Clive Power

  • Trading Places, London

    Market Madness

    It's not just the city of London that can claim to trade the biggest currency markets in the world.  London's boroughs are also famed for their food markets.  Like its population, London's markets are mixed, allowing you to eat your way around the world.  Walthamstow, with its mix of traditional cockney traders, is Europe's longest daily market.  Just west of Walthamstow, in Hackney, you'll find Ridley Road jam-packed with hallal chickens, chopped goat, half pig carcasses, ox hearts, and fruit and veg.  For a more gourmet organic experience, check out Broadway market or Borough markets at the weekend.  

    Photo courtesy of Bex Walton

  • Has Coffee replaced tea as the national drink?

    Coffee Counters

    London boasts so many different coffee shops, it's practically adopting coffee as its national hot drink.  For old-fashioned coffee counters, and great tasting coffee, check out Climpson and Sons, and Monmouth Coffee Houses in the East.  In the Centre, try the Delaunay for a bit of old fashioned Central European charm.  (They also do great patisserie).  For all-day chilling out, weekend brunches, great food and coffee, you can't beat 'The Blue Legume' on Stoke Newington Church Street.    

    Photo courtesy of Bex Walton

  • Modern British Comfort Food

    Greasy Spoon

    The great British fry-up is perhaps one of the UK's most iconic foods. So-called 'greasy spoons' - cafes which serve tea, toast, fry-ups, sympathy, and everything in between for breakfast and beyond - have always been a part of London life. Marie's in Waterloo is one that's been going strong for 40 years.   Longtime favourite  The New Picadilly Cafe on Denman Street sadly closed in 2007, but new versions on a theme abound. The Counter Cafe in Hackney Wick is a rather slick cafe, serving up modern British comfort food for all those artists and creative types working in the warehouses around the Olympic site.    

    Photo courtesy of oosp

  • Crumbs of Comfort in a cold world

    Crumbs of Comfort

    It's assumed that at 4pm, all Brits sit down to tea, cake and cucumber sandwiches.  Whilst that might not be quite so true anymore, cakes in all shapes and sizes are a British staple. Now that Sex and the City made cupcakes so trendy, new chichi cake shops have been springing up all over the capital.  Bea's of Bloomsbury, in Holborn is a locals fav, as is The Primrose Bakery, with various branches all over London.  The great named Choccywoccydoodah started in Brighton and has just opened in London.  The Cakehole in Vintage Heaven in Columbia Road Market is another fav.   All offer some welcome crumbs of comfort and love on a gray London day.    

    Photo courtesy of mseasons

  • Green Liquor, Creamy Mash and Salty eels - Sink your teeth into some real London food.

    Eels, Pies and Mash

    In the 60s and 70s, the eel and pie shop was still on most East London high streets.  They displayed steel basins of eels still writhing and waiting to be cooked, chopped and suspended in green jelly the colour of tourmaline.   It was a cheap working class food in a city where the river provided plentiful eels.  Through the 80s and 90s, these traditional old shops started to disappear, but with anglomania and the recession in full swing, there's been a resurgence of interest in the pie and mash shop.  Local favourites include F Cooke's in Broadway market;  G Kelly's in Bow; and in Leytonstone, 'The Eel and Pie house.'

    Photo courtesy of celesteh

  • Iconic Fish and Chips

    Fish and Chips

    You might think that the salty crunch of fish and chips is far better enjoyed by the sea, and you'd probably be right, but it doesn't get more iconic than Fish and Chips, when you're thinking of British foods.  London has some great fish and chip shops dotted around the place.  Here are some to try for starters:  The Rock and Sole Plaice   in Endell Street Covent Garden is spot on.  Master's Super Fish in Waterloo serves huge portions fresh from Billingsgate Fish market.  And fare from Faulkners on the Kingsland Road in Hackney is fresh, tasty and will fill you up for the rest of the day.

    Photo courtesy of

  • Nutrient Dense Food Stops

    Vege Bites

    Like any big city, London caters well for vegetarians, and there's a thriving scene of vegetarians, vegans and raw food fanatics to be tapped in to if you so desire.  Food for Thought on Neal St, Covent Garden is a locals favourite: its busy, cramped quarters are worth suffering for the great fresh and wholesome food.  Laura Coexter is a raw food guru who makes delicious raw sweet treats and sells them in markets around London.  Vitao is also a great place to hide away from the stresses of the west end, and feed your body some nutrients.   

    Photo courtesy of Ewan-M

  • The British Beverages that make Cool Britannia fizz.

    Wine is Nudging Beer for Attention

    The Brits are known round the world for their beer drinking.  But today, after years of travel, Brits boast a more refined palate and are producing some great alcoholic drinks.   In a nostalgic wave, they have been busy opening micro breweries, making new varieties of cider from heritage apples and, as the climate warms up, growing great British wine grapes.   On a warm summer's day, there's nothing better than toasting the Queen's jubilee (or an Olympic win) than with a British drink.  Consider wines from Camel Valley Vineyards (in Cornwall) or Seddlescombe Vineyards.  Doom Bar beer from the Sharp Brewery in Cornwall is exported to the world and available at many pubs in London, including the Film Cafe on London's south Bank. 

    Photo courtesy of arj03


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