The Departure: London II, Eating

By Greg Moniz

The world has always griped that London has never been known for its food. And, up until about the last 20 years, that characterization was fairly valid. But like a failing student giving it his all to catch up before the semester ends, the city has worked its hardest to create a proper culinary scene in a short amount of time. 

So, in addition to being a center of art, commerce, history, and fashion, London is now a burgeoning culinary powerhouse. And with diversity on a global scale, there is no shortage of incredible ethnic food throughout the city. 

With a limited amount of time, I bounced around to spots recommended to me by people on both sides of the pond. Here are two highlights: 

My first stop was the frenetic neighborhood of Soho and Ducksoup, a narrow, cozy spot that mixes British, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. A glass of natural red wine combined perfectly with the tender medium-rare lamb chops. 

For an abundance of street food options, I headed to Spitalfields Market, a vast open-air Victorian market in between Shoreditch and Whitechapel. But I abstained because of all the good things I had heard about St. JOHN Bread & Wine, an offshoot of the world-famous St. JOHN and owned by Fergus Henderson. Fergus's has gained acclaim for innovating stubbornly boring British cuisine and emphasizing "nose-to-tail" cooking, a.k.a. using as much as the animal as possible. 

The menu changes from lunch to dinner every day, and the ingredients are elemental but interesting. I was able to catch the pre-dinner pre-meal, during which the staff sits down and learns about all the new dishes available for dinner service.