Tuesday, 6 December 2016

A Guide to British Chain Restaurants

This is a guide for tourists on some common British chain restaurants. If you’re in London, you can probably find more unique places to eat at then these. And there are the British staples I recommend everyone try, like roast dinner (preferable home-cooked, or failing that from a pub) and fish and chips from a chippy. But if you’re in a smaller British city, and you don’t know what any of these places are, this is some advice on which ones you should try. This is not a complete list, just a run-down of some of the most ubiquitous. Under a cut because I've included some pictures for some of the places on this list.

A red velvet cake, behind Caffé Nero's
amazing hot chocolate
Chiquito's street style burrito
Caffé Nero: These are fairly common café’s with good coffee, but what you really want here is the hot chocolate Milano. It is the second best hot chocolate I’ve ever tried, and it tastes like pure melted chocolate.

Chiquito’s: Mexican/South American, the best thing I’ve found here is the street style burrito, churros for dessert, and a mojito to drink. It’s here because I like it and no other reason.

A sandwich from Costa
Costa: basically the UK’s Starbucks with how common it is, although we get those too. It’s a café, and you’ll find one now in most small towns, and several in a short walk in many cities. Nice for a quick sit down, the coffee is at least drinkable and the range of sandwiches and cakes are decent. I like the iced caramel latte (which is not not NOT a Frappuccino) and a cake.

The pizza dog
Frankie and Benny’s: good for a no-fuss meal, with an Italian-American flair. They have an extensive lunch menu that won’t break the bank. Last time I was there, I had a pizza dog (hot dog sausage wrapped in pizza dough, with tomato sauce and cheese) which was good. Their burgers and pizzas are a safe bet, too.

Giraffe: Pride themselves on finding foods from all around the world. Because of the variety on offer, there should be something to suit everyone. I’ve found them expensive in the past, but the quality is always good.

The Bahian coconut chicken I had
last time I was at Las Iguanas
Las Iguanas: I’m mentioning this one
because of their extensive vegetarian range, and last time I was there, they adapted a meal into a vegan version for a friend of mine. Sometimes, finding vegan options can be tricky outside of London. I personally like their fajita’s the best.

La Tasca: Serves Spanish style tapas plates, you can order a selection of dishes for a table. Good when you have a large group with a variety of different dietary requirements. Also do an awesome paella.

Nando’s: Grilled chicken, cooked in spices, and served with sauces. When I go with Mum, we like to share the wing platter between us, with a selection of sides, too. The one side I have to mention here are chips, which go well with the range of spicy sauces they have here. Don’t neglect the desserts here, either, they do a very nice Portuguese custard tart called a nata. Also, once you’ve tried it, you’ll know what a cheeky Nando’s is, too.

Patisserie Valerie cake selection
Patisserie Valerie: Adorable little cakes, and just being inside one can make you feel like you’re in a little shop in Paris. Highly recommend any of their chocolate cakes.

Pizza Express pizza, and yes, you slice it yourself
Pizza Express: It’s good pizza, in fact the second-best pizza I’ve ever had. But what you really want here are the dough balls. Still-warm hot spheres of dough and a bit of garlic butter to dip them in. They’re the best.

One of Wagamama's ramen soup bowls
Wagamama: A chain serving mostly Japanese inspired dishes. They are most well-known for their ramen noodles. I know many Americans interpret ramen as the cheap meal students eat, but real ramen is completely different. They do huge bowls of ramen noodles in soup, which are good if it’s cold and you want to warm up. In summer, their rice dishes, like donburi or my favourite, chicken katsu curry, make for a nice meal. Also, they have a list of side dishes you can have with your main, and everything on that list is delicious. They’ve also always been happy to swap an ingredient out for me, so a good one for picky eaters!

The conveyor belt at Yo!Sushi
Yo!Sushi: A restaurant serving – guess what – sushi, they also have a good range of other dishes, for that person who doesn’t like sushi because they think it’s just raw fish. It comes round on a conveyor belt, and each dish is priced based on the colour of the plates. I like how I can try a few different dishes here. I find it a good restaurant for when I’m on my own, as you don’t need to wait for dishes to be made – just grab them and go. And you can watch the chefs making up the food. The one thing you have to try at the end is the chocolate mochi – they’re amazing

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