During my semester in London, many of my explorations were food-based. I had the opportunity to eat at so many amazing restaurants, but these are some of my favorites in London and Copenhagen.
Macellaio RC in South Kensington
I love a good steak and, honestly (and a bit strangely), I’m obsessed with the Natural History Museum in London. Luckily, I can get a great steak and visit the Natural History Museum all in one place, South Kensington. Exhibition Road is in South Ken, meaning that the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Science, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, among others, are there. At Macellaio RC, steak was the meal of choice for everyone—there was no pasta or pizza. The restaurant was decorated in a minimalist manner: it could be any restaurant. Large cuts of aged meat greet you as you walk into the restaurant, and I was led down the stairs to the basement dining room. The menu was very simple: steak, pizza, steak tartare, and sides. Each type of meat was listed with a price per hundred grams, so my friend and I decided to order only one type of meat and get a cut big enough to feed multiple people. I also ordered spinach, mashed potatoes, cabbage salad, and a bottle of wine.
After we ordered, the waitress brought out the uncooked piece of meat for us to see and agree to before they cooked it. It was the thickest, largest steak I had ever seen and I absolutely could not wait to eat it. Very soon, the steak came back out, cooked and sliced. The meat was beautifully rare and flavorful, made better with the addition of more salt and pepper. The sides were also wonderful, and everything went so well with the red wine.
The restaurant was also especially interesting because it seemed like everyone around us spoke Italian. Furthermore, I was initially worried that because the reservation was so late, there would be no one in the dining room by the time my friend and I were eating. However, many parties arrived after we did, and everyone was having a leisurely meal, almost as if we were in Italy, not London. I left stuffed and content.
Din Tai Fung in Covent Garden
Din Tai Fung is a well-known Taiwanese dumpling restaurant and the branch in Covent Garden is the first one in Europe. The restaurant was my go-to throughout the semester, and the Covent Garden area of London is one of my favorites. Covent Garden has a market in the middle of a large square and has a ton of shopping. A lot of it is very pedestrian centered, so it is very easy to get around. Din Tai Fung is right along the square. This Din Tai Fung is the only one in Europe, so it is extremely popular, and every night there is a line out the door to get a table. Before I went, I tried a few other dim sum restaurants, but they never lived up to my expectations. Din Tai Fung, however, had great reviews, and I was really looking forward to trying it. To start, my friend and I had a bottle of wine and tofu and chicken dishes at the bar. We finally got our table and ordered an assortment of dumplings. Din Tai Fung is known for their soup dumplings, so we ordered those out of obligation. Of course, they did not disappoint. I love shumai, so I got those as well, and then I got a pork bun. My friend is vegetarian, so she ordered other additional items, and we shared vegetables. It was interesting to look around and see the food choices that other people made and how those differed from my and my friend’s. I ate eighteen dumplings and one bun total, along with vegetables, and it was lovely!
Gogi in Maida Vale
I love Korean Barbecue. So when I realized that there is a place in Maida Vale, a ten minute Uber ride from where I lived, I needed to go immediately. The first time I went, my friend and I got a set of meats to share in which we got soya chicken, bulgogi, and ribeye. I love bulgogi, so I mostly ate that, along with white rice and bok choy.
The second time another friend of mine and I went, we chose to only get bulgogi. We ordered an absurd amount of meat. We also ordered mojitos, white rice, bok choy, and kimchi. Each item was delicious. Aside from the flavors, I love Korean barbecue restaurants because you cook the meat yourself at the table, so it becomes more of an activity than just eating.
The meat came out, and our waitress put all of the bulgogi on the grill along with onion and zucchini. The meat cooks very quickly, and my friend and I went at it. In about fifteen minutes, we ate three orders of bulgogi.
The Pescatarian in Copenhagen
During my trip to Copenhagen, my friends and I went to The Pescatarian, a fine dining seafood restaurant. We picked the eight course menu with an additional appetizer set. The appetizers were fried fish skin, three different types of puff chips, and a small crab bite.
The first course was scallops, horseradish, and oxalis. I love scallops, so this dish was one of my favorites. It was presented on a shell, which was laid on top of a bed of rocks. Almost as if I was eating the scallops right out of the ocean! The bottle of wine we drank was especially excellent; honestly one of my favorites that I’ve had… unfortunately, the restaurant bought up most of the vintage and it is almost completely unavailable, so I guess no more for me.
The second course was a poached egg on a bed of grilled kale and pickles. It was a little salty for my taste, but it was otherwise very good. The poached egg looked like it was torched on the top and there was a crunchy garnish which provided good juxtaposition with the egg.
The fourth course was lobster, tomatoes, pickled radish and a lobster sauce. The lobster pieces were cut into rounds to look almost exactly like the radishes, and the radishes and lobster were constructed together into a bigger circle. Two courses later, was squid, seaweed, and mussel sauce. Strangely, the squid looked like spaghetti. Still, it was absolutely delicious.
The main course was witch flounder with leeks and mushrooms. Honestly, by the time the main course came out, I was too stuffed to eat most of it. It had a nice salty flavor and there was shaved truffle all over the top of it.
The dessert was also amazing. It was cherries, ceps, and woodruff. I wasn’t expecting it to be cold, but there was an element to it that was frozen with nitrogen, so it was extremely cold. The fruit tasted amazing, sweet but with a little tartness. There was a cookie on top that was shaped like a tree, which made the dish beautiful.
Selma in Copenhagen
Another restaurant that I went to in Copenhagen was Selma. The restaurant was the first to receive a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide. It definitely deserved that recognition. Selma specializes in Smorrebrød (Danish open faced sandwiches). My friend and I ordered six dishes to share. The first that came out was a halibut dish, the only dish I had that was not a Smorrebrød. It was a filet of the fish with a few different layers of different garnishes that gave it a great diversity of texture. At the same time, a smorrebrød with beets and a light white sauce came out. I love beets, so I really liked this dish. It was sweet because of the beets and savory at the same time because of the bread and the sauce on it.
Next, a salmon sandwich with leafy greens on top and beetroot powder came out. The salmon was smoked, and the flavors were very unexpected. I really liked this one, but it was overshadowed by the cod and poached egg smorrebrød that came out with it. When the cod came out, so did a tiny saucepan. The smell coming from the saucepan reminded me of Maine with its buttery seafood smell. The waiter poured the contents of the pot onto the fish and poached egg. It was shrimp, garlic, capers and oil. Again, the various textures of the dish made it extremely interesting and the buttery flavors along with the soft texture of the fish and egg went well with the firmness of the shrimp and saltiness of the capers.
Our last two were a duck smorrebrod and a chicken salad one. By this point, my friend and I were both so full. The chicken salad was good, but did not wow me, so I focused the small amount of room still available in my stomach on the duck. Because the duck was on a piece of relatively dry bread, the smorrebrød was a little dry, but when I ate the duck alone, it was tender and extremely flavorful. I eventually gave up and only ate the duck.
If you’re ever in London or Copenhagen, give these places a try. I think you’ll love them as much as I do!