I drove to London and parked for free near Brent Cross Station. Mo and I then fell victim to a horrific robbery, when the ticket machine charged us £14.40 each for a six-zone travelcard. I’m sure a few years ago this was under £8. True, we could have travelled by tube as far as Epping in Essex, but we were only going as far as Stratford in East London. There was no option to buy cards for zones 1 to 3.
Tube to Leicester Square, then around to the Wan Chai Corner at 11.30. We ate here when we were in London in January. It’s a basic restaurant on three stories. Reviews are mixed. You expect the “Soho Brusque” model of service in all London Chinatown restaurants. The service was brusque, but fell short of rude. The food was good. I admired the large aquarium containing carp while enjoying a delicious three-meat plate of char sui, crispy pork, duck and rice. Mo just had two-meat and rice. With a pot of tea and a 10% tip we paid a reasonable £30.
Later: a tube to London Bridge for a rare evening south of the river.
I remember from my cab driving days that London tends to empty out at Easter. There was plenty of life on Borough High Street though. We settled on the George for a pre-dinner drink. We hadn’t been to this celebrated hostelry for about ten years, but as a 17th century pub it unsurprisingly hasn’t changed.
The George is London’s sole remaining galleried inn. The inn was rebuilt in 1677 after fire destroyed most of the area of Southwark. The building is now owned by the National Trust, and the pub is run by Greene King. The beer range is excellent. There are multiple rooms, including the atmospheric dark-wooden Parliament Bar. This used to be the waiting room for coach passengers. There’s no bar in this room, but it’s worth sitting in silence and imagining those who have come before: Shakespeare, possibly: Dickens, almost certainly. Dickens mentions the George by name in Little Dorrit.
There’s a cobbled courtyard with lots of seating, though we found it more interesting inside.
Our restaurant was located over the road in the nest of little streets that make up Borough Market. This is one of those former market areas, turned over to food and drink and trendified. It’s a very popular tourist destination. It’s not spoilt though, and there seems to be some of the old market still active. The pubs and wine bars were lively. We couldn’t get a seat on the outdoor terrace at the Anchor overlooking the Thames.
An early dinner for us, as that’s all I could get booked for. At 6.30 Roast was half full. The light and airy first floor restaurant looks down on the market, and across London. We could see St Paul’s Cathedral from our table.
It’s a name restaurant, so not cheap. I didn’t help things by ordering the ribeye steak at £42. Mo had chicken. The meals were great and the service cautiously friendly: about as warm as you’re going to get in London. The dessert menu was pretty run of the mill, so we decided to opt out and start the journey home, before the bill reached our psychological red flag limit of £100.