It’s been a little while since my last very foodie visit to London.
To celebrate my last birthday, my other half booked us a weekend away in London. On the train down on Friday morning, she told me that dinner Friday, dinner Saturday and brunch Sunday were all booked, but I had free rein over the rest of the weekend’s meals.
“Great! Let’s find a really good Turkish place for lunch when we arrive!”
“Ermmm… no, not Turkish”, came the sheepish reply, “we might be having that for dinner”. Ah; she knows me and my cravings for a decent chicken shish all too well (FYI, Zeugma on London Road in Sheffers does a great one).
Rather than try to plan everything there and then, I decided to wait til we got to our AirBnB (and, importantly, WiFi) and have a look at what was nearby.
We were staying in a gorgeous ground floor flat, part of a Victorian conversion in Chalk Farm. It turned out to be just a 5 minute walk from there to Camden Market which I’d never been to, despite working in London for four years when I was in my twenties.
Our route to the market would take us past Belgo Noord. Belgo is a small chain of seven Belgian restaurants; six are in London and the other, I was pleased to discover, is in Nottingham! Chalk Farm was its first location and it’s been there since 1992:
Belgo Noord is a masterclass in 1990s design. It’s also a bit of a rabbit warren, taking you far back off the street and down a staircase, past the open kitchen, into a dining area far more expansive than I would ever have guessed from the restaurant’s frontage.
We settled at the bar, eyeing up the many bottles and taps of beer as we perused the menu.
For me, the choice was simple: it had to be the moules. These are some of my favourite things to eat in the whole world. And, as you’d expect from a Belgian restaurant, they were fantastic:
Mussels always make me smile. It’s because of the classic, decades-old family story about the time, when I was 5 years old, that my Dad took me out for dinner and ordered himself mussels as a starter, while I had something from the kids’ menu. He let me try one of his mussels; I’d never tasted them before. Next thing you know, I was scoffing the lot and he had to order another portion for himself.
My other half had the rotisserie chicken with BBQ beer sauce. I got to try some (don’t worry, I didn’t eat it all!) and it was delicious. The chicken was really juicy and the sauce was lip-smackingly tasty:
Despite being quite full, a post-lunch stop at the fantastic-looking Marine Ices was completely necessary (plus, it was pretty sunny and warm out):
We followed it up with a very thorough peruse of Camden Market, where we loved people watching and all the sights, sounds and smells. The place was buzzing and vibrant, and there were so many places I wanted to eat and drink! We treated ourselves to some Crosstown doughnuts to takeaway and enjoy at a later point in the weekend:
After several hours of mooching round the market, having a nice walk and chilling in our apartment, I started to feel like I could eat again. Luckily, it was time to head out for dinner. We had a table booked at Liman, a Turkish restaurant in Islington. I was very excited after an advance browse of their menu told me they do my favourite chicken kebab served on toasted bread, yogurt and tomato sauce, which I duly ordered. It was AMAZING:
The evening became even more exciting when two of my oldest and best friends joined us as a surprise; I hadn’t seen them for over a year so felt quite emotional but, like all lasting friendships, we just picked right up where we’d left off.
The food and service were fantastic and it was clear to see why Liman had received such good reviews on TripAdvisor. Though I take the overall rankings on such sites with a pinch of salt, reading diner reviews and seeing photos is sometimes helpful, whether it’s on a blog (well, I would say that!), TripAdvisor, Google or elsewhere.
The night was capped beautifully by my three fellow diners- and the rest of the restaurant- singing “Happy Birthday” to me as the waitress brought out a complimentary little birthday cake:
We said our goodbyes to our friends and hopped in a cab back to our apartment.
The next morning, if you recall, I got to choose where we ate breakfast. This was an easy decision as I’d spotted somewhere the previous day that I’d been keen to try out for a few years now: The Cereal Killer Café. This was located just a few minutes’ walk away, in Camden Market. We’d been advised to get there early as it is known to have a pretty solid queue in place by mid-morning. So we got up and were there waiting when it opened.
As someone who sometimes craves cornflakes with ice cold milk, the Cereal Killer Café was absolutely amazing. Not just for the sheer range of options- they stock more than 120 cereals from all over the world- but the childlike invitation to let your imagination run wild. When I was growing up, we weren’t allowed to open a new box of cereal until whichever one was on the go was finished, so being invited and encouraged to create a mix of cereals was quite the novelty, even at 30-something (wild, I know).
So, anyways, obviously I embraced this opportunity and fulfilled all my childhood dreams with a three-cereal megamix. Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter, Nestlé Crunch cereal and Kellogg’s chocolate-filled Trésor all mingling in a big bowl, topped with Reese’s pieces and sliced strawberries; the latter to make me feel even 1% virtuous. But let’s be honest: by this point, I was committed, so I chose chocolate milk to pour over it:
My wife was slightly more restrained by only mixing two cereals, but she did top it with peanut butter chocolate chips, so… Anyways, this was a winning breakfast to get our first full day in London off to a good start; I loved it! The amount of choice available was incredible – not just of cereals, but all the toppings and different milks, too. I loved the 80s/90s childhood vibes in Cereal Killer Café – proper childhood throwback stuff, with trolls, Care Bears and even Spice Girls wallpaper! I may never have a cereal megamix as good as this again.
So, with full bellies and big plans for the day (together with a not-insignificant sugar high), off we went into the sunshine!
Part 2 of our weekend eating London is coming up soon.