Beyond Baked Beans on Toast: 9 British Foods Worth Traveling For

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There is far more to British cuisine than a full English breakfast

Beyond Baked Beans on Toast: 9 British Foods Worth Traveling For

When we think of British food, what comes to mind is hearty fare, some of which have odd names. This hearty fare has most heart in the motherland. Here are 9 British foods you need to travel to the United Kingdom for.

Afternoon Tea

While afternoon tea is not exactly a food, it's a food experience nobody should miss in England. Order a strong black tea (don't forget to add milk and sugar) and eat small, two- or three-bite sandwiches (we like watercress) with scones and clotted cream. For a truly regal experience, order a Victoria Cake — a layered sponge cake with a jam filling — for dessert. Go big or go home with your afternoon tea at London's Fortnum & Mason, which sells all sorts of high tea kitsch to take home, or enjoy this meal in a beautiful, sunlit location in Kensington Gardens at The Orangery.

Beef Wellington

Shutterstock / Paul Cowan

Beef Wellington is a puff-pastry-wrapped steak that’s been coated in pâté and duxelles (buttery mushroom paste). You can order one individually, or get a whole tenderloin that you can share family-style. Decadent? You bet. Go big or go home. Eat this dish at the Sign of the Don, a bistro in an ancient brick wine vault in London.

Cornish Pasties

Photo Modified: Flickr / Jennifer C. / CC BY 4.0

Cornish pasties are the U.K.'s version of Colombia's empanada, Jamaica's patty, Italy's panzerotti, or India's samosa ; in other words, it is deep-fried goodness with British ingredients like beef skirt, “mature” Cheddar cheese, and Stilton blue cheese. Cornish pasties enjoy EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, meaning only the pasties made in Cornwall dare call themselves Cornish pasties. Try them at Sarah's Pasty Shop in Looe, which the Guardian names one of the top five in the country. 

Cottage Pie

Cottage pie is a beef or lamb pie with a crust of mashed potatoes. While the term is used interchangeably with shepherd’s pie, some only use the term shepherd’s pie when the meat is lamb. For an interesting take on this classic, order the short rib and applewood Cheddar pie with runner bean salad at the Grazing Goat in London.

Fish and Chips

This is a dish that needs no description. Though enjoyed the world over, fish and chips oozes British-ness, just by the fact we still call it “fish and chips” and not “fish and fries.” There’s even a National Fish and Chips Awards, one of the toughest competitions in the United Kingdom. Who won in 2015? Frankie’s Fish & Chips in Brae, Scotland. 

Kedgeree

Photo Modified: Flickr / Jules / CC BY 4.0

Kedgeree is an Anglo-Indian dish that is an almost-perfect blend of very Indian (rice and curry powder) and very British (haddock) elements. Parsley, hard-boiled eggs, cream, and sultanas are usually added. Without a doubt, you’ll find the best at one of London’s finest venues for afternoon tea (among other things), The Wolseley

Phall

Photo Modified: Flickr / Joey / CC BY 4.0

Phall, an Indian-style curry that was invented in Indian-food-loving England, is not for the faint-hearted. Seriously, if you think vindaloo is too spicy, phall is not for you. Try it where it was invented, in the city of Birmingham, or at the Dilshad Restaurant in nearby Cannock, where the curry is so hot that the staff has to wear gas masks as protection against the fumes. 

Sticky Toffee Pudding

A British classic, sticky toffee pudding is a moist sponge cake made with chopped dates, smothered in toffee sauce, and served with vanilla custard or ice cream. All that stickiness comes from the sugar. Travel to Cartmel, a village in England’s beautiful Lake District, home of the sticky toffee pudding, where you can purchase a few different variations at the Cartmel Village Shop.

Sunday Roast

Shutterstock / ChameleonsEye

Like afternoon tea, Sunday roast is not a food, but a traditional meal that you must partake of when you’re in England. This late afternoon repast consists of roasted meat and potatoes with accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding (a puff-pastry popover), stuffing, vegetables, and gravy. Most British pubs offer this meal on weekends, but we recommend going to Blackfriars in Newcastle, where the setting resembles a medieval monastery; The Independent named it one of the top 50 Sunday Roasts in the United Kingdom.