When I first went to London one of the first places I went to visit was Chinatown. I went for multiple reasons but one of the biggest ones was to find a little piece of home in my new temporary home. I was craving a red bean pastry and Chinese food I didn’t have the spices for. And when I moved to NYC–a city that I technically am familiar with–I searched for a bit of, well, London. I have found 5 places in NYC that remind me of London to satisfy any cravings/desires I may find myself having.
1) Chip Shop
Yes, this is a fish and chips place. I realize that there are plenty of other places around the city and in other restaurants that serve the classic fish and chips or some sort of variation of said classic. But all I wanted was the classic dish with a beer or cider on the side. Not just in flavor but in size as well and, let’s be honest, a true serving of fish and chips won’t fit on a plate in a fancy NYC restaurant.
This place served fish and chips of the proper size and had brown sauce. Something that I don’t even know how to identify beyond its color. The entire shop is covered in paraphernalia from the UK which can detract a bit from the experience. But when your food comes out on mismatched plates that you could easily imagine in a country house, all of it fades into the background.
Alright, so this is not actually a piece of London in NYC but it did bring back happy memories from London. Museums in London are free, which is definitely not true of the Met, and two of the major ones I fell in love with are the National Gallery and the British Museum. My new flatmates took me to see the National Gallery soon after I arrived on a whirlwind, spur-of-the-moment tour of the major sites in London. There were plenty of laughs and conversations throughout the day. And the British Museum was a trip with a friend from Wellesley where the two of us spent more time catching up and sharing stories than truly looking at the awesome artifacts. Both trips were inspiring and reminded you of how tiny a place you occupy in the larger picture of humanity.
I went to the Met on my own, after work and was once again inspired. It was a melding of the British Museum (historic artifacts) and National Gallery (beautiful paintings) into one. I spent two hours, completely forgetting about dinner, exploring the second floor of the Met. I didn’t even get to fully explore the sculptures or ancient galleries. All three welcome visitors with sky-high columns and fancy exteriors. There are always people milling about the museums and the hum of conversation and excitement fill the air. It’s remarkable just how similar major museums are.
This is one of my favorite bakeries in London. One day I was feeling antsy and simply needed to escape Queen Mary’s campus, so I went off to St. Paul’s cathedral and wandered into their location in that area. All I got was English breakfast tea and a scone and I was lost. American scones are denser than their English counterparts. Le Pain’s scone was easily the size of two scones together, fluffier than what I was used to and served warm. England also eats their scones with clotted cream, not salted butter, which is definitely a better compliment to their scone style. That one scone has since converted me to the English scone with clotted cream & jam.
Once I moved to NYC, I looked for a local Le Pain Quotidien. Now, unfortunately, this bakery isn’t actually from the UK and so they change their menus depending on where they are located. New York isn’t as familiar with scones and therefore, they don’t offer them here in the States. But it is still a quality bakery with fantastic breads, jams and tartines. I highly recommend their breads if you’re looking for quality stuff instead of the processed, supermarket loaf.
Since Le Pain Quotidien could not satisfy my scone craving, I have been searching rather desperately for a tea shop. The US is definitely a coffee country but there are still some die-hard tea fans, which leads to the creation of tea shops all over the place. And NYC, being what it is, twists and plays with their shops to create adorable styles. Tea & Sympathy is a completely UK styled shop. You can even get a box of PG tips. They serve their scones with clotted cream and have a large selection of teas, don’t you worry.
5) The Sackett
One of my friends came to visit and I took her and our friends out to this little bar/pub. It’s dark and full of conversation and music so it can be a bit difficult to see and talk with your friends. It was perfect; to me anyway. I didn’t start going out to bars or pubs until I was in London (I turned 21 while in London actually…) and some of the first places we went to were in Camden, which is simply full of places just as I described. The drinks were strong, the people happy and the tiny tables wobbled. The bathroom was labeled “WC.” And if you wanted to nibble on something while talking and drinking, they sold Walkers (basically Lays but…not) for $1. I was all set to go! It may not have been a Wetherspoons–which, honestly, would shock me far too badly if I found something similar here in the States–but it was definitely a happy discovery.
So while I may no longer be in London and am finding it difficult to confidently say I’ll make it back, I can at least comfort myself when things get rough and I need happier memories with little pieces here in NYC. And I’m sure that if I do end up on London or another city, I’ll be searching real quick for little pieces of New York.