Alternative eating in London

Wahaca – Southbank

Bored of your traditional restaurant, all made out of bricks and mortar? Well you are in luck! Head down to Southbank and you can enjoy delicious Mexican food in a restaurant made out of shipping crates. Yes that’s right, some wag, decided to put together eight shipping crates on two overhanging levels and call it a restaurant. And, it works!

This pop-up branch of established Mexican food chain Wahaca is in place for a limited time only (presumably some ships somewhere will want their crates back), so make the most of it while you can. As well as looking suitably trendy, against the concrete monstrosity that is the Southbank Centre, the food has zing and the boisterous staff and open kitchen layout all add to the lively food market feel.

The chorizo and potato quasedilla was my particular favourite dish and the burritos went down well too. For the adventurous types, or vegetarians, cacti based dishes abound (apparently it tastes just like courgette).

Tequila lovers will be pleased to hear the upstairs bar is pretty much dedicated to the spirit and offers some interesting cocktails.

My only gripe was that the downstairs level had a bit of a school canteen vibe, only added to by the failure to properly cater for big parties. There were eight of us in my group crowded around a narrow table and I had to sit on the end on a hard chair, in the way of the serving staff and customers passing through.

Oh and you can’t book. Expect waiting times up to two hours on particularly busy nights.

Otherwise, put on that sombrero, embrace the tequila and witness the beauty of London’s riverbank from the comfort of a shipping crate.

 

Boyds Brasserie

Located inside the grand location of 8 Northumberland Avenue, just off Trafalgar Square, Boyds Brasserie wows you before you even step into the high-ceilinged, marble entrance hall.

The small restaurant area and bar is merely a small part of the grand building, located just beyond the pillars in the entrance hall. Chandeliers hang in the restaurant but a couple of columns in the bar shun the marble decor of the rest of the building for black and white photo prints, vibrant modern art adorn the walls and the chairs are transparent. This gives Boyds Brasserie the impression of being a cross between a very chic cafe and a sophisticated restaurant. A tableau of bustling real life within a grand, lonely building.

What makes Boyds Brasserie really stand out as an alternative place to eat, rather than just your generic restaurant, is the menu. It serves British food (and very nicely cooked too) but adds a European twist – for starters you can pick British tapas dishes. My favourite was the gnocchi and wild mushroom dish. Forget Spanish tapas, British tapas is where it is at!

While the food is lovely though, I would complain that the main dishes don’t really come with much on the side, meaning you do have to spend more precious pennies to secure your veggie portion.

The charming staff do almost make up for it, but not quite.

So if you are looking for grandeur without stiff formality, and not your average British food – do take a stroll down leafy Northumberland Avenue, push open the grand doors of No.8 and experience Boyds Brasserie.

PS – the cosy seating in the entrance hall also make this a great bar option.

Busaba Eathai

I love this chain of Thai restaurants and can’t rave about Busaba Eathai enough. It’s essentially an upmarket version of Wagamammas. Instead of harsh lighting and cheap looking furniture, it’s all dark wood, incense, low amber lighting and candles floating on water features alongside flowers. The communal sitting is a bit more contained as it around square tables.

The food is top notch and a real value for money. Each dish comes with good portions, beautiful blends of spices and chirpy service. My absolutely favourite dish is the green curried fried rice which comes with chargrilled chicken. The mango lassi is not your standard fare either – additional ingredients give it a delicious bitter twist.

Any downsides? They only do main dishes and sides. Sadly, no desserts here.

2 thoughts on “Alternative eating in London

    1. Ploy Radford

      Boyds Brasserie isn’t a chain, to my knowledge, the Wahaca is a chain, but the one on Southbank is a pop-up because it’s made of shipping crates, which I thought made it quite unique and Busaba Eathai is a pretty small London chain :p. I’ve hardly suggested McDonalds and Pizza Express! :p

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