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On our recent trip to Dublin and London, one of the main things on our to-do list was to enjoy some good meals. Dinnertime at home with a three-year-old is far from relaxing or luxurious, so we wanted to enjoy some dining experiences on our adults-only trip that we can’t replicate at home. I think we were successful in meeting our goals, and I’m excited to share a few of the places where we chowed down in case you have a similar trip in your future. This is by no means a foodie blog, so I’m not going to be able to tell you that the such and such spice brought out the such and such flavor, but I will tell you if I thought it was good or not. One of the ways I love to experience different locations is by the food, and atmosphere matters just as much as food quality. I want to actually feel like I am in a different location, and most of these restaurants did a good job with that.
If you want to play catch-up, here are the other installments in this (almost finished) European trip report.
Eating Our Way Through London and Dublin (this post)
Since our first night on this trip was spent eating at a restaurant outside of Windsor, I will start my highlighting with some of our better meals in the greater London area before moving on to Dublin.
The Winning Post:
The Winning Post is located in an 18th century building in Winkfield, which is just outside of Windsor. It is about 20 minutes from Heathrow Airport by car. It has a bar, restaurant, and ten rooms where you can choose to stay. We just went there for dinner, but it was a meal and location full of character. It was a fun way to spend our overnight near Heathrow without feeling like we wasted a night of our vacation.
Their menu seems to change regularly, but one of our favorites was an appetizer platter shown below. It was huge and after eating it we could have likely just split an entree, but as usual our stomachs were bigger than our eyes and we ordered a ton of food.
Most entrees seem to run in the £15 – £20 range, so not McDonald’s prices but not insanely expensive either. My only regret about our meal here is that it was already dark when we went to the restaurant as otherwise I think we would have been in for a very nice and scenic drive. They do accept reservations on their website.
A friend insisted that I have afternoon tea at the Brown’s Hotel while I was in London. The hotel touts itself as London’s first ever hotel that opened in 1837 and continues to be a top five star hotel in the Mayfair part of London.
Traditional afternoon tea is £39.50 per guest and gives you your choice of 17 teas and a variety of finger sandwiches, pastries, fruit and plain scones with cream and strawberry preserves, as well as a choice of freshly baked cakes. They replenish it as often as you like, so there is no reason you will do anything other than roll out of there. In other words, come hungry.
Oh and of course there was tea that was pretty enjoyable as well. All in all it was a very relaxing way to spend a couple of hours just chatting and enjoying being in London having an experience that we could have never had at home. While our daughter was not there on this trip, it would be a blast to take her for tea when she is a bit older as she could enjoy reading books about it in advance and getting all dressed up for the experience.
I do recommend making reservations ahead of time if you want to do tea at Brown’s Hotel as they seemed to be quite busy.
Bentley’s Oyster Bar has been open in London since 1916 and still uses the same marble topped bar. You can eat at the oyster bar, outside, or at an actual table. We had reservations for a table, but opted for the bar as we like the interaction and weren’t really hungry enough after tea to warrant a table.
They have a full menu, but we opted to just try different oysters. Where we normally eat, there is usually just one or maybe two types of oysters, so having over a dozen was quite different for us. We let them help us select different oysters so we could taste a variety of flavors (and yes they do all taste different). We made reservations ahead of time on TopTable (the UK version of OpenTable).
The atmosphere here was great, as were the oysters and service. I would like to come here again when I am not stuffed with scones, but I’d have to plan on spending a lot more as even just a few oysters added up relatively quickly.
The Winding Stair hasn’t been around as long as some of the places we visited in London, but it makes up for it with a good view and good locally sourced food. It is located on the river Liffey in Dublin and you must go up a winding stair to get there….shocker, huh?
We opted for their pre-theatre menu where you must be done (and gone) by 8:15PM. The three course menu is €29.95 per person. For the first course I had the potato cake with smoked salmon and cream. It was amazing – I’ve craved it since eating there. Pretty much everyone around me was ordering this same first course.
This restaurant advertizes “no frills seasonal Irish food” and that was enough to sell me. It is located very close to Trinity College and the Westin Dublin. We went right when they opened for lunch and took advantage of the two course lunch €17.95 though we did add the bread for €2.95.
For the first course I had some pork which was presented in a little glass jar. It was great as it was actually really functional for making sure I was able to spoon out every last juicy drop!The second course was a hashed duck pie that was equally beautiful and delicious.
On this trip our strategy was often to get one free meal from the breakfast included in the hotel, and then have one “big” meal out per day – most of which are shown here. That makes the price tag that can come with some nicer meals much more palatable…though we did a pretty reasonable job of using lunch and pre-theatre menus when possible to keep costs down.
Do you like to experience destinations via local food and restaurants when you travel? If so, I’d love to hear your favorites!