Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Quo Vadis

Quo Vadis. A Latin phrase meaning "Where are you going?" A novel in the time of Nero. A famous movie from the 1950's. What is Quo Vadis to us? A quirky Soho restaurant serving up traditional British fare with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. The dining room was furnished with white tablecloths, yet the flowers were seemingly fresh-from-the-field daisies, contributing to a relaxed atmosphere.

Quo Vadis


The menu refreshes daily and the top features the date and the weather. We dined on a cloudy evening. The cartoons remind me of 18th century pamphlets.


The menu features traditional comfort food, or I assume this is comfort food for the Brits. Nothing we ordered was fancy, but the ingredients were high quality and the preparation made everything delicious.

We ordered a bottle of red from the Loire Valley featuring a blend of merlot and cabernet franc. I lovely red that was a good choice for our entrees.

Champs des Cailloux

We shared a plate of crab cakes and mayonnaise. Herby and crispy on the top and bottom. A lovely beginning to our dining experience.

Crabcakes and Mayonnaise

Hubby then had the poached cod with potatoes. As you can see from the photo, this plate seemed very plain, but he thoroughly enjoyed the fish and the potatoes were exceedingly fork tender. Comfort food, indeed.

Poached Cod and Potatoes

Quo Vadis offers a different Pie and Mash every day. On our visit, the pie was chicken with a few leeks thrown in. It was served piping hot and the chunks of chicken fell apart as my fork touched the morsels. The dish was served with a large bowl of silky smooth and tasty mashed potatoes. A hearty meal. In fact, so hearty dessert (or pudding) was skipped.

Chicken Pie

Quo Vadis has been in operation since 1926. They have changed ownership several times over the years, but always seem to have a delicious reputation. This recent incarnation was a winner for us.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Windsor Castle

A short train ride from London stands Windsor Castle and village along the Thames. When we went to the train station to purchase transportation tickets, the guy behind the counter checked to make sure the castle was open for visitors on that day. The castle is closed when the queen is in residence. The queen was coming the next day, so we were good to go.

Windsor Castle

The line to get in can be long since everyone must also go through security. We liked the fact that we were travelling during the off season. The royal abode which dates back to Norman times is quite extensive. The upkeep and maintenance is so good that the walls look like fake ones from a Disney castle.

Royally Pristine

We saw a few of the Queen's guards marching about and the state apartments that were open were fairly extensive (no photos inside, however). We also could visit St. George's Chapel (again, no interior photos).

Forward March

We were perplexed to see that Windsor is in the flight path of Heathrow. Many planes flew low and directly overhead.

Chapel Architecture

But Windsor also is a village with a nice park along the Thames. The main street was dotted with shops and restaurants. We ate lunch at Meimo, a Moroccan restaurant and enjoyed chicken tagine and some Moroccan coffee.


Chicken Tagine

Moroccan Coffee

Since it was a nice day, lots of folks were strolling around the river area. The swans were happy as well.

Along the Thames in Windsor

Blue Boats

Couple in the Park

Swans Swimming

This was a lovely day trip.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Camden Market

Yes, London does have a zoo, but the really wild times are just beyond the zoo at Camden. The trek along the canal is peaceful enough, but as one approaches the locks there is an explosion of people and goods and good things to eat. We were overwhelmed.

We happened upon the food vendors right at lunch time. I had to have the duck confit baguette. So delicious and only 5 pounds. Hubby went for the unusual. A vendor called Game On featured burgers from different sources such as crocodile, kangaroo, and springbok. The last offering was camel and that is what hubby tried (I had a bite, too). The taste was a cross between ground beef and ostrich and cost 6 pounds. Very interesting and not something I have seen around RVA, yet.

We then wandered around the shops full of vintage and non-so-vintage items. A great slice of market life. Lunch is definitely worth wading through the crowds.

Check out some snaps:

Regent's Canal
Barges along the canal
Cold Steel
The not-so-vintage lane
Camden Locks
Camden Locks
Camden Lock Village Market
Folks in costume encourage tourists to visit particular market areas
Vintage Cameras
Vintage cameras
Toasted Cheese
The makings of a toasted cheese sandwich
Duck Confit Baguette
Yummy duck confit!
Camel Burger
Camel burger with sauteed onions and a toasted bun
Big Cookies
Cookies to drool over

Sunday, June 09, 2013

La Porte des Indes

We experienced a most excellent dinner at La Porte des Indes. From the outside the restaurant looks to be a small place, but looks can be deceiving. La Porte des Indes actually occupies a former Edwardian-era ballroom. Two floors of elegantly dressed tables and chairs with skylights to effect a tropical feel in the middle of London.

La Porte des Indes

Beautiful Place Settings

The restaurant prepares dishes traditional to the Pondichery area which was influenced years ago by the French. The executive chef, Mehernosh Mody, boasts numerous awards.

Both food and service was fantastic. And, per usual for any London restaurant, the wine list had many tempting selections. We decided to imbibe a Pinot Auxerrois from Alsace. To eat we began with Chicken Tandoori and Sunhere Samosas containing chicken and vegetables and served with a mango chutney. Both were tasty starters. For entrees, we both ordered meals that we have not seen on our neck of the woods: Achari Salmon (from the tandoori grill) and Magret de Canard Pulivaar (duck breast in tamarind sauce). Wow! Both were packed with spicy (but not hot) flavor.

Josmeyer Pinot Auxerrois

Chicken Tandoori

Sunhere Samosas

Achari Salmon

Magret de Canard Pulivaar

I know there are other phenomenal Indian places in London, but the decor, service, and offerings at La Porte des Indes is a great place for folks fairly new to Indian cuisine (and from across the pond) to experience.

Lunch and Art at Tate Modern

Tate Modern is the most popular and famous of the Tate galleries. The converted power plant is massive, imposing, and iconic. While not all of the art is to my liking, the images always create conversation. The great thing about Tate Modern is that the permanent collection is free and photos are allowed.

Tate Modern Tower

The other cool thing about Tate Modern is the Restaurant. Located on the 6th floor with tons of windows and light streaming in. We arrived for an early lunch. While the window seats overlooking the Thames were already booked, we could still choose the south facing tables. The 6th floor also has cafe service where one can order and sit at a bar facing St. Paul's Cathedral.

Tate Modern Dining

Window Seats

The menu features a nice wine list and a varied list of entrees from fish to duck to venison. We ordered a nice La Source Rose and selected Salmon and Roast Breast of Guinea Fowl to eat. We were also provided bread and butter.

La Source Rose

Butter and Bread


Roast Breast of Guinea Fowl

We had a lovely lunch with quite a view. Since we arrived early, the restaurant was quiet. Upon finishing our meal we wandered through the various floors in search of the strange, unusual, and occasionally, the familiar.

Tate Modern

Marisa Merz - Living Sculpture

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian - Something Old Something New

Picasso - Nude Woman in a Red Armchair

Donald Judd

Dia al Azzawi - Sabra and Shatila Massacre

Jannis Kounellis

Edward Wadsworth - The Beached Margin

Saturday, June 08, 2013


Polpo is a Venetian bacaro (think Italian tapas) featuring small plates and little bites. There are three scattered about London. We went to the one in Soho. The place was tiny and bustling. The wait staff all dressed like seafaring folk and the tall ones knelt at your table to explain the menu and take your order. We snagged one of the last free tables and ordered negronis and a jug of red wine to start. All of the wines were presented by the glass, half carafe, or full carafe.

Polpo Sign


Since the menus were printed on the place mats, we could order throughout the meal.

Cauliflower and Prosciutto
We started with a special cicheti - prosciutto and cauliflower
We then proceeded to the bruschetta with cured meat, goat cheese, and a pickled pepper and  olive mix
Beef and pork meatballs were shared and enjoyed
Chilli and Garlic Prawns
Chilli and garlic prawns (yes, heads were still attached) were delightful. The shrimp were plump . I loved the kick of heat along with the garlic.
We finished our impromptu trip to Venice with Affogato al Caffe (vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over it). Just the right balance of bitter and sweet.

This place was noisy and very popular. We enjoyed the food and drink, but were glad to be free of other people's conversations.