The foodie bloggers of London are a cool bunch and so following on from catching up with the London Review of Breakfasts, we wanted to check in with another favourite - Krista of Londonelicious. Also known as 'Krista in London', Krista's documenting of London's eateries is not to be missed, so here's what she's about.
If you had to describe your blog in less than fifteen words how would you do it?
London restaurant reviews from an American girl who likes food. And London. But not cooking.
Why did you start blogging?
I was a sad ’johnny-no-mates’ when my company first transferred me from Chicago to London in March of 2004. I spent a lot of time surfing the net and reading The New York Times - five years later and my internet addiction has only gotten worse, unfortunately! Anyway, NYTimes.com had just written an article about blogging and I remember thinking, "Hey, I could do that." My original blog was about my random observations as an expat - your traffic signs are weird - but then I started doing a lot of business meetings over lunch and dinner and Londonelicious was born.
What about London inspires your blog?
You know, I'm always jonseing for some eats, and you're never really short on options in London. Some people can go to the same restaurants all the time. I hate that. I need variety and London's got that in spades. And I don't mind travelling for food which helps. Dude, that's what the tube is for, right?
If you had one last meal to have in London, what would it be?
Oh God, please don't do this to me. Can I break it up into courses? An apertif at Vinoteca on St. John Street in Smithfield, and then across the street for some Welsh rarebit to start at St. John. A chorizo and manchego sandwich from Fernandez & Wells in Soho with some Douro. And then macaroons from Laduree in Harrods. But if you ask me again tomorrow, the answer could be totally different.
What’s great about, and missing from the London restaurant scene?
London's been getting more into street food and informal dining. Take-away. I totally dig the Sunday Up Market off of Brick Lane on Sundays. Tons of little stands both in the market and around the back selling everything, particularly Japanese food. There's one stand on Brick Lane proper, right across from the Up Market, that does a great chicken katsu curry in a cup for cheap. In Camden Lock Market, there's an awesome Venezuelan stand that does arepas, which are cornmeal patties stuffed with beef and beans. Other informal options I like are Princi in Wardour Street, Hummus Brothers, Fernandez & Wells, and both Chilango and Ottolenghi on Upper Street in Islington. Oh, and the Whitecross Street market on Thursdays and Fridays!
The level of service at some restaurants still leaves a lot to be desired. Providing friendly and happy service and being knowledgeable about the menu is NOT HARD. Comparisons with the U.S. are always difficult because there are some fantastic exceptions everywhere, but in general, I just don't think a lot of London restaurants are vigilantly watching their tables and anticipating who is going to need what next. It's hard to make eye contact with servers here. If I have to flag you down or ask for something multiple times, why would I pay you 12.5% service?
Oh, and charging for tap water and/or telling me I can't have any is totally bogus. And when I ask "What do you recommend?", about the most alarming response I can get is "Everything is good here." That makes me want to run away. Fast.
Have you ever had any funny reactions in restaurants?
I got yelled at in Laduree in Harrods for taking a photo on one visit. You know, because their macaroons are so top secret. I'm sure they don't want to be totally gauche and have a ton of tourists taking photos of their stuff, but their macarons and pastries are so beautiful! How can you not?
Would you feel more or less connected to London, would you have missed out on things without your blog?
I don't know about you, but most people I know like to eat. So my blog presents an easy to connect with random strangers. Just the other day, Jeff from Stonch's Beer Blog invited me to his birthday party—we've become friendly through our blogs—and I really didn't know anyone there. But once Jeff told a few people about my blog, we all happily chatted away about dining out for ages. My blog isn't a cheap hobby though, and it doesn't do wonders for the waistline, so I'm constantly making other sacrifices. Let's just say I buy a lot of Tesco-brand products and I normally shun the tube or bus in favour of my trainers.
How has your blog connected you to another community of bloggers in London? The world?
So I'm a blogging dork. Last year, I went to a blogging conference in San Francisco called BlogHer—it's geared towards women who blog—and I liked it so much I've already signed up for this year's conference in Chicago in July. After BlogHer last year, I figured I was already in California, so I might as well fly to Japan. I met up with a Tokyo sake and food blogger there, who got me a lot drunk while I was a little jet-lagged. And I was just in Amsterdam for work last week and Dutch Grub gave me some tips. Ah, and in early February, I was in Milan (again for work) and went on a great tour of Milan with Sara and Sara, two of Milan's local foodie experts.
And I haven't even started on the London blogging scene. I was just at a wine tasting at Vinoteca the other night and I ran into Eat Like a Girl, Intoxicating Prose, and Thirst for Rioja. It's a nice little community of very hungry and thirsty people.
Tell us about another up-and coming London blogger you like
I love Wee Birdy, a fashion and design blog. I love the look and feel of her blog, and she has great content and style. Also, I have always secretly wanted to be a flight attendant, so I'm obsessed with Another Passport Stamp which is about an American flight attendant living in London.
Where do you live and why do you love it?
I live in Clerkenwell and love it because I can walk to Spitalfields and Brick Lane and even Borough Market if I'm feeling ambitious and/or have some calories to walk off. I also dig it because my commute to work is about a 20 minute walk! I just wish there was a Fernandez & Wells around the corner from me. But Chilango - formerly known as Mucho Mas - and Ottolenghi aren't too far, so I'm happy. That being said, I really think I've exhausted the restaurant options around the area so I'm considering a move either north or west.
What's your favourite place in London?
Uggh...picking favourites is hard! I have favourites for different days of the week. On Saturdays, I like Borough Market early in the morning and Hampstead for the high street and the heath late in the afternoon. Somewhere in between, I totally dig the trendoids in Broadway Market. On Sundays, I like Columbia Road for breakfast and Spitalfields for lunch. During the week, I really like my couch.
Have you ever been sick on the tube?
No, but I did toss my cookies in front of the Business Design Centre on Upper Street just the other day! I had food poisoning for the first time ever - it was a good restaurant with bad shrimp - and every time I would think it had passed, it would happen again. Four whole days! It was awful. I hope people thought I was pregnant or something and not drunk.
Anything else we should know?
Yes! I'm starting to offer customised foodie tours of London! Tell your friends!