MAPPETITE’S 16 Dishes for London’s Olympics 2012
Start the food relay on Portobello Road with an English classic at George’s Portobello Fish Bar, where haddock, cod, and plaice make for a crispy, flaky player in the fish, chips, and mushy peas game.
Make your next stop Pizza East Portobello, where Neapolitan pies have an up-to-date rustic edge — by all means go for one of the standards, but bring your doubles partner as these pies can be a challenge for even a singles player. No Portobello event is complete without a sprint down to Lisboa Patisserie for a cappuccino and the house specialty, pasteis de nata, a record-setting Portuguese custard tart.
Lisboa Patisserie serves traditional Macanese egg tarts. Photo credit: Ken Shepps
The next venue is Marylebone, where La Fromagerie gets you a get-up-and-go breakfast start with the seasonal and simple organic smoked salmon with fromage frais, Sicilian lemon, and toasted Poilane bread. If breakfast is not your game, then you’re covered with lunch in this specialty cheese shop where just a handful of seats keep a line of spectators at bay.
In Fitzrovia, the Australians are on the center podium with Lantana. This breakfast and lunch arena gives up gold with corn fritters, streaky bacon, and chile jam. Follow it up with a lemon polenta cake — ah, the sweet victory of it all.
It get’s competitive among Soho’s no-reservation venues, where multinational sporting is extreme culinary game. The Spaniards at Barrafina set the benchmark for all of London’s tapas bars. Line up for croquettes, razor clams ala plancha, and a stuffed courgette flower — best to skip the tennis match for this squash.
A few doors down at Koya, the Japanese are in the stadium spotlight with Buta Miso — an udon bowl-of-champions, where broth and house noodles make for a simple yet richly rewarding pork-centric meal. Sated spectators fill the seats at Ducksoup, where a pan-European menu features caciotta (pan-fired cheese) paired with honeycomb and thyme. This play is followed by a cherry almond tart that is a super-duper dessert finish line.
For premium seating, book ahead at Nopi where the smooth and streamlined players from the Ottolenghi team deliver medal-winning Cornish lemon sole and, if you’re lucky, among beautiful platters there’ll be a winning samphire, the coastal plant that has a broccolini-meets-seaweed palate flare.
It’s a rainy night (you’re in London, what a surprise) so warm up in the historic charms of J. Sheekey, where a plate of oysters plays front man for a Cornish fish stew that is tops in the British Isles.
Keep the endurance going in the direction of Piccadilly and at the stellar venue that is The Wolseley your Olympiad meal will include a salad Niçoise and wienerschnitzel pairing. Best to make your game plan and include the exceptional patisserie you'll find from morning to midnight in this former auto showroom that has one of London's superior interior designs.
You’re good to stay on course to Green Park and St. James’s via Le Caprice, with dressed Dorset crab and a burger at the bar. Go with gold here — active sport in these posh environs make a medal plate hard-earned.
Heading back to the East End, the stop in Borough Market will be filled with Olympic "eathetes": spend an hour or two to get your league-of-nations food fill. But those cheering crowds can wear an eater thin, so a stroll to Bermondsey will most certainly be due. At The Garrison Public House, fried sardines perform like an "eathletic" star. Ditto for the Ibérico pork fillet with mashed potatoes at Pizarro — no doubt about it, all that acorn-fed training pays off big pig time.
Pieminister in Shoredtich serves a variety of pies. Photo credit: Ken Shepps
Up to Shoredtich and it’s time for St. John Bread & Wine, where it’s hard to keep your food goal line straight with the hourly and daily changing menu of seasonal plates. Even still, you’ll stay on course with classic English fare and take the lead with potted pork followed by an Eccles cake. Since there's still a sprint to the Olympic Park, best to fuel up at Pieminister, where a few quid gets you an outdoor seat and an award-winning chicken of Aragon pie.
Luckily, you’ll need the extra carbs during these energy-demanding Olympic times.