I do eat when I travel for work, but I don’t take many photos. In London, I went for two lovely dinners – one with my Children’s Hospital host, and the other on my own, just before boarding the Via Rail train to Toronto. (I haven’t been on a train for 15 years, since taking the train from Winnipeg to Edmonton in the dead of winter, which took eons because the train kept having to stop to clear the tracks of snow. No such troubles in Ontario).
London is a lovely little city. I’d describe it as ‘flat, but with trees.’ There are many old houses made of stone and brick. I stayed at Hotel Metro, which is a boutique hotel – modern but warm with dark wood and a bathtub in the bedroom. I wandered about downtown, quickly scoping out the Starbucks down the street for the next morning, visiting the eerie South Hospital display (iron lungs, anyone?) at the Museum London, and poking around in Covent Market, a central food market.
My host, Lisa, took me for a welcome dinner to Trichilo’s, which featured southern Italian food done right. We shared sardines on eggplant with fat salty green olives, and I dug into rigatoni with the waitress-recommended tomato sauce. This was perfect comfort food after a long travel day.
The next morning, I met up with hospital staff at the Black Walnut Cafe, which is in the Wortley Village. I ate a savoury scone and sipped a cappuccino, but how I’d love this kind of neighbourhood bistro in Edmonton. (The closest I have in Edmonton is the coffee at the Petro-Canada down the road).
Fast forward to me grabbing a meal before catching that train the next day, and I was pleased at my choice. Braise is attached to Hotel Metro, and oddly empty on that Wednesday evening, save for the parade of people coming in, looking for a pharmaceutical meeting.
The staff impressed me the most, first patiently redirecting all that misdirected foot traffic, and then treating me like a queen, despite the fact I was dining solo. (Last time I travelled and dined alone, it was in Australia, where I was often seated near the toilets).
I was seated at a primo both near the bar. The food was seasonal and spot-on. I ate spicy pumpkin soup with duck confit and a crispy sage leaf on top, and warm bread with salted butter. I ordered the poached egg appetizer too because I will eat any food that has a poached egg perched on top of it. After I captured that egg that was sliding all over my toast, I was exceedingly satisfied to break that yolk all over the accompanying pork belly. This was accompanied by a very cute little bowl of baked beans and a mandatory glass of shiraz.
It was weird the restaurant was empty. The staff were attentive, and the setting was gorgeous – soft jazz on the speakers, exposed brick walls, red tree wallpaper, 60’s mod lighting and reclaimed wood floors and bar.
Will I be back to London? I hope so. Will I return to Braise? Definitely.