Sunday, 28 October 2012

Eating Out in London

Menu in Snackbar Dagenham Heathway

During the day in London I was visiting dad. He had his own food, delivered weekly in frozen portions from a place called Wiltshire Farms. He could have transferred to Meals on Wheels, the local government organisation for delivered meals to the golden oldies that were no longer able to cook. Dad found that Wiltshire Farms delivered good food had a good choice and he could still manage to warm it in the oven. Ok, a micro wave would have been better , but in dad's own words "I don't want a Microwave", so he would put on the oven once a day and warm it through. In a way it was good for him, keeping a certain amount of independence, and making him move to get his food. I also found that my dad could cope quite well on his own and did not mix in too much in his daily routine.

So as always when I stay, I took the bus into the nearest town at lunch time to go hunting for food. Actually I didn't mind. Made a change and I discovered the culnary choices of the english food world. For my first lunch I went to one of the biggest stores in Romford, Debenham. It was clean (my main interest in a restaurant) and they had a good choice at a reasonable price. It was all self service, which saved time when ordering. They had a gentleman giving you a tray and showing you the way. He looked like Jimmy Rushing's twin brother, a real Mr. five by five, as tall as he was wide. Anyhow they had Rösti on offer, a Swiss potato creation, but no. It did not look very Swiss, sort of packed in a pot and it seemed to be a children's portion. What do you do - when in Rome, act like a Roman, so I went for fish and chips. Fish and Chips is a British national dish and what could possibly go wrong. They also had the usual jacket potatoes with twenty different ingredients on offer, but that was too complicated. I never did find what was so special with cooking a potato in its skin and mixing it with all sorts of creams, sauces and veg. So that was the first day dealt with and I survived. For my evening meal I usually got something for a sandwich. Dad lived on sandwiches in the evening. I found that Marks and Spencers also had a good choice for sandwiches, packed in brown bread which was more my taste.

One day I decided to see what the locals had to offer in Dagenham. I had some business at the local bank so decided to stay in the area. The lady at the bank recommended a cafe just down the road. So what could possibly happen. It even had tables and chairs outside fully occupied with the local native women, all of them with a cigarette in their hand (smoking prohibited inside) and were all engrossed in their conversations.

Snack Bar Dagenham Heathway

I entered the café, find it to be very clean, well looked after and with enough empty tables. I was not going for a full sized meal, as I was eating at my friend's place in the evening. You can see the menu at the top of the page, and I went for the set breakfast No. 1. It was very reasonable and you got all the english breakfast trimmings. Sausage, fried egg, bacon, two slices of freshly made toast and of course baked beans in tomato sauce. It was very tasty, very good service and very nice people who ran the place. A young man and his wife, yes I could recommend this gourmet cafe to anyone spending their hoidays in Dagenham. 

Another day I decided to go for it and walked into a restaurant in Romford which was a cut above the others in price. Ok, not so bad. Twelve english pounds for a buffet and eat all you want to.

Goji World Restaurant, Romford

I was somewhat confused when entering. There was a poster on a stand saying "wait here for your table", but a young asian looking male soon appeared and asked me how many people I were. I told him I, me and myself, and he gave me a lovely table at the window, so I could watch the cosmopolitan world of Romford going bye. It was Sunday, but who cares. The shops were open, just like a normal working day. He said take a plate and just eat what you want. I decided to go asian on my first plate, prawns, noodles, chicken, a bit of everything. I deposited my empty plate, took a second and decided on traditional english Sunday lunch for my second, although the young Indian man serving tried to entice me into his Madras curry world (which I like very much actually). I told him not today, so it was roast beef, yorkshire pudding and carrots (which seem to be the standard vegetable). I did however get into an interesting conversation about the details of the Indian cuisine and its advantages. I just was not in an Indian mood on that day.

Eventually after eating through two plates it was time for a desert. Now I know I am diabetic, but there are times in a diabetic's life when you decide who cares and after looking at the desert buffet I decided to go for it. I remained quite composed however and went for some small chocolate eclaires, and a piece of apple pie encased in flaky pastry. I am not the custard type and then I spotted a large bowl of whipped cream. Now I am really a fan of whipped cream so decided to help myself to a few spoonfulls. Actually the apple pie disappeared under a rather thick helping of whipped cream, which even had crushed meringue mixed into it. A desert to be remembered.

What could get better? My next visit to Romford was combined with a visit to the Brewery. It used to be a Brewery, but had become a shopping center. I discovered the Toby Carvery.

Toby Carvery, Brewery, Romford

Another gourmet temple in the heart of Romford. Not quite, but it suited my taste and purse. There was a buffet with the basic meat. Roast beef, a turkey, roasted pork and roasted ham. I went for the roast pork. Afterwards there were the supplements -  take what you want. At last I discovered something other than peas or carrots,  yes they had leek. I love leek so took a large portion, selected some baked potatoes, stuffing, and various different sauces. I nearly burnt my mouth on the mustard, but it was good. Another discovery for eating out in the local area. 

So not wanting to leave you all in the dark here is my first plate with the roasted pork

Roast pork and the trimming in Toby Cavery, Brewery, Romford

And of course I followed it up with a desert, Lemon Curd Tart with whipped cream.

Lemon Meringue Pie and cream in the Toby Carvery, Romford

Not all meals were spent alone. There is a sort of custom that when I am in England I have a meal with my friend, who I was staying with, and another school friend from the olden days. We used to be young at school, now we are all members of the golden oldies club, but it was fun catching up. This time no photos, we were too busy having a chat. 

Almost forgot to mention the drinks. I do not drink alcohol, am more or less tee total, but discovered that cranberry juice is nearly always on offer in England. I love cranberry juice, so that problem was solved. 


  1. A rather good menu at the high street snack bar. It's a little like a place in Pembroke, which is the nearest town to me. The place is called Rowlie's and it does a very similar menu. Their fish and chips are the best in the area, and their breakfasts are good. Even a simple thing like cheese on toast they seem to do better than most.
    I've never seen a stand-alone Toby Carvery like that before, they are usually found as part of large pubs. They must have branched out in more recent times.

  2. The 'Goji' restaurant looks rather good, styled somewhat on the American food court principal. I would be torn on what to have as I love many different ethnic foods.

  3. I love a good restaurant and your guide here is excellent and very informative too Pat.
    Fish and chips I love to have from Barnacle Bills Cafes. They are the best.
    I love the look of your roast pork and the wonderful dessert too. Both would serve me well.
    We have places you can go to and eat all you want to but I do not go to these very often.
    I was interested to read about your dad. We have Meals on wheels here too and my mother partakes of them a few times a week. She says some are worthy meals others are not. It is a problem for the aged to have good nutrition. For many reasons not only the obvious. A regular delivery of food can also be a connection to the outside world for some. So much to understand about these golden oldie years. Your dad is fortunate to have a good variety of foods to choose from and also I love it that he does not rely on a microwave. Better flavour from an oven is my theory.
    Loved your post here and thanks for sharing.