The notion that British cuisine is bland, heavy, and all around inedible is a farce and in the past few years, the restaurant scene has become increasingly interesting. With London being one of the meccas of art, culture and food, you would expect food from all corners of the earth available, and it is. But, what is more exciting is the focus on bringing the unique British palette back to the forefront of London’s restaurant scene. The farm to table phenomena that has swept the United States in the past few years is a notion that has been around in the UK for decades. Bumpkin epitomizes this trend in its sweet, cozy establishment in London’s South Kensington area.
South Kensington is known as a swanky part of London, with expensive properties and therefore expensive places to eat, shop and so on. But around the corner from the tube stop on Old Brompton Road lives Bumpkin. Bumpkin is a lovely place to eat, casual and inexpensive, especially if you are looking to eat somewhere that is wholly British. After a busy day in the city visiting monuments and museums, it is nice to come to place where you can relax as if in the slower moving countryside of the UK without worrying about the extra travel. The cuisine is rustic, using seasonal produce that is locally procured and ethically sourced. When they are put together, you are offered a truly British menu, fit with local game, fresh northern hemisphere grown vegetables and herbs, and puff pastry often covering the lot of it, baked to a brown crust. Although the food choices may be limited, the wine and beer lists are extensive including the restaurant’s very own brew, Bumpkin Ale. There are also the options of traditional and expertly mixed cocktails such as the Tom Collins.
The menu is seasonal, so although this author had an excellent, succulent rabbit breast and leg along with roasted carrots and parsnips, the menu will most likely be different if you visit in several months and certainly will be in a year. In keeping with their dedication to locally sourced products, this creates an irregular yet exciting menu that is changing often. Don’t fret, if you’re looking for light, crispy fish and chips, Bumpkin offers that as a regular menu item. Of course, to end your meal you have to partake in a traditional British pudding, the favorite being sticky toffee pudding served with salted caramel ice cream.
Make sure to call ahead to reserve a table as the seating is limited and give yourself plenty of time to be there. As in true countryside fashion, the service can be a bit slow, but give yourself the time to enjoy your surroundings and to have a few of those wonderful cocktails. You can see your meal being made and the people watching is fascinating from the streets of London.
If you are staying on the east side of London, you are in luck, there is a Bumpkin in Stratford. Although I have never been there, if it is anything like South Kensington, it will surely be worth the visit. Visiting Bumpkin is a must when visiting the metropolitan London, especially when you need a few hours of escape from the hubbub of the city. If you have the occasion, go twice, once for a meal and another for a leisurely stay at the bar, sipping from the wonderful wines or a delectable cocktail while chatting with your cohorts. There is nothing quite like Bumpkin and is an eatery you should certainly make part of your itinerary if you are visiting London or a must try if you live in the area.
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