Foodie Places in London

If you’re looking for the best spots for food in London, look no further! I am going to show you the best breakfast and dinner spots.

First up, The Diner. This chain restaurant used to have locations in Gloucester road as well as many others, but unfortunately they seem to be closing some of their locations quite frequently. Fortunately, they still have one in the strand Soho and on Ganton Street very near Convent Garden.

The Diner soho

The are most popular for their breakfasts! They also have vegetarian and vegan options. Their pancakes are very popular as well as their fry options! There is lumberjack breakfast which includes generic english breakfast fry and pancakes. Then, there is my favourite named The Hungryman breakfast which is like a traditional english breakfast fry x100. It is amazing. They also have a breakfast burrito option and eggs in every way imaginable.

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^This is 2 Lumberjack breakfasts.

If you are visiting here, I recommend getting the red slushie to drink! It is alcoholic slushie, and is so so so amazing. The meals here are so big, it is usually breakfast and lunch in one. However, they have dinner options too and many beer, soft drinks, hot drinks options.


 

The second is a Cafe Concerto based in Westfield Stratford. Here, they do a very afforable english breakfast including tea/coffee for around £8.50. The decor of the restaurant itself is gorgeous and it very quiet in the mornings, making it ideal for an early morning breakfast.

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This breakfast included a sausage, 2 rashers, 2 eggs, tomato, hash browns, beans, toast and tea. The way they cook each egg differently to suit everyone is such a great idea too.

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Third, is a great spot for lunch also based in Stratford. It is called 012 Bar & Grill based directly beside University of East London Stratford Square Campus. They also offer 15% student discount. They have variety on the menu, with curries, sandwiches, burgers, wings, and full dinner menus in the evening. I ate the chicken curry here for lunch that came with the nicest naan bread I have ever eaten. So delicious, and I got this and a drink all for less than £10. Very affordable and definitely recommend if you are in this area!

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Now onto places for dinner. One of my absolute faves is a thai restaurant called Thai Square! My go-to one is based in South Kensington because it’s such a nice atmosphere. There is also one in Convent Garden and Trafalgar Square. They also have variety in their menu, with selection of starters which are all amazing! And, many different curries with different spice levels, also stir frys and noodle dishes.

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My go-to for dinner is prawn toast, chicken skewers or thai spare ribs for my starter. For my main, I always go for massaman curry with chicken and boiled rice. This is not a spicy curry as I always go for mild things as I can’t handle the spice.

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Lastly, and possibly the best restaurant in this post or in London full stop! It is Wright Brothers South Kensington. The best seafood in London as far as I’m concerned. They have great seafood platter options where you can customise it to your favourite seafood whether it be crab, lobster, mussels, scallops, prawns etc.

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This place is so popular, you will definitely need to book in advance as walk-ins are unlikely to get a table! They also have a fantastic range of wines, beer, spirits and cocktails!

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I opted for the risotto for my starter which I highly recommend it was amazing! And for my main, I got prawns which came with fries and salad. The portion of prawns they give you is so large and delicious, but this is reflected in the price. The prawns were so large and the staff were so attentive and friendly. This restaurant is a bit of a splurge, which is why you see I went here for my 22nd birthday to celebrate. Their crab is also very popular and I can imagine it is just as delicious and I will definitely be trying that next time I visit here.

36351963_2001766729834509_8483131833523896320_n Thanks for reading, I hope some you visit these fabulous favorite restaurants of mine while you’re in London. Enjoy this finishing photo of me with my prawn shells and glass of rosé wine. 

Living in London as an Irish Student

Firstly, the whole time I lived in London I never opened a UK bank account. This was because they will not let you open a student account if you are only living + studying there for less than 2 years. This means you’ll have to pay quarterly and transaction fees on this bank account (while also paying this on your Irish bank account) and it is difficult to close your bank account with them. For this reason, I kept my Irish bank account, would take out a lump sum of cash and only use this.

Secondly, the charges you pay on your Irish card can be huge! They are different depending on what bank you are with, and of course me being me, I was with the worst one for charges – Permanent TSB. Sometimes, I would take out money and they would charge me an extra €11 on top of that!

Permanent TSB can be anything from €0.46 – €11.43

AIB can be anything from €0.45 – €11

BOI can be up to €11.43

Ulster Bank can be anything from €0.25 – €6

KBC can be anything from €0.46 – €11.43

This is something I never would have given any thought until I noticed all the charges from my account. So it is good to look into especially the percentage your bank takes from your transaction because that determines how high the amount will be. PTSB charge is 1.75%



Next, I will speak about budgeting. This is very important as a student. Obviously, whatever supermarket is closest to you is going to be the one you use most. Nearest where I lived there was a big Tesco in a shopping park that also had a poundland, but beside my uni – there was Morrison’s, Lidl and Sainsbury’s! The campus where I had classes was beside Westfield Stratford and Stratford centre so this made it useful if I needed to pick up a few bits. If you’re on a tight budget for your weekly shop, Tesco has the best prices for its own brand stuff. Also, while you’re checking out it automatically checks if what you’re buying would be cheaper in a different supermarket and it doesn’t charge you the difference! So I really found Tesco the best for price and selection! Tesco value chicken nuggets were a staple lol.

Personally, night outs weren’t important or even really that desired by me because the stress of everything else was too much and I knew I’d be putting more stress on myself by spending money on Ubers and drinks and club entry. Most universities have a uni bar/club on campus as part of the student union. They usually do free entry until a certain time and super cheap drink! Ours was very small, but it was great just to go and dance crazy, have some needed beverages and let go. I went on some night outs there. The student union would also do deals for different clubs around London if this is a priority to you. A very popular nightclub in central is Piccadilly Circus. My university did a deal with a club named Fiction in Essex, and they provided a party bus to and from it. There are ways to do it without spending much:

  • UberPool is cheapest but never get one alone (I feel like they’re so weird and dodge but they’re so common in London especially outside central.)
  • You can check your university social media and SU pages to see what events they have, sometimes they provide a wristband which entitles you a return ride on the party bus, entry and a free drink. Which is pretty good especially the transport. Majority of universities have things like this, I’ve never seen one that hasn’t.
  • Instead of taxis/Ubers, there is the night tube and some 24 hour buses so if this goes to your campus it is much more affordable. Again, I wouldn’t advise going on this alone! Just stay safe, always stay with friends!

– Nothing has ever happened to me or my friends personally in a Uber or on a NightTube, I’m just an extra cautious person! London did feel very safe and staff always present in stations. I don’t mean to scaremonger anyone.-


When not in classes, it is good to find hobbies to do. Universities do always have plenty of societies to join! And the uni bar was open in the daytime for drinks and food. My uni had an amazing gym that some of my friends joined, they did have good rates for students but depending on your membership – you were limited to what times a day you could go.

A hobby for me was carspotting (ig: thelondoncarspotter_), a secret love I adopted from my boyfriend. I will talk more about this in a separate article as I have so many good spots and pictures to include. However, I found it important to mention as it is so important to just get out and do something you enjoy for your mentality. Since I wasn’t a fan of clubbing, I would go do this on a lot of the weekends and I really enjoyed it. I met some great people who would also be car-spotting or car photographers. London is an amazing city for this if there is any supercar lovers. I also liked sight seeing and going on walks around the amazing places in London.

If you are on a tight budget while studying abroad, and you feel like you can’t spend any money so you have to stay in – I completely feel you! Take some Netflix days! But you have to prioritize your mentality. Even over your food shop maybe (but don’t starve!). But there is plenty to do around London where you don’t have to spend money apart from your travel to it. Some free sights and activities would be Hyde Park, all the art galleries, a walk along the Thames, Buckingham palace, Roam around Harrods, Natural History Museum & Science Museum (both just ask for donation to enter – I once gave 50p lol).

Studying Abroad: The Applications

Thanks for clicking into my blog! I have decided to write this because I am just finished my BA (Hons) degree in London and I am back home in lovely Dublin. I found there was quite a lack of information online before pursuing this so I decided to tell all my findings as it may be useful for someone in the future! I had so much trouble with the SUSI grant system in Ireland so I know endless information, used the student loans system in the UK to pay my fees and applied through UCAS. If there is anything I haven’t mention in this, please feel free to ask questions!

 

Firstly, upon completing my leaving certificate I wanted to pursue dance. I completed three years in the dance course in Bray Institute of Further Education. This was a full time course covering ballet, tap, contemporary, jazz, musical theatre and physical theatre (as well as all the theory studies). I finished this course in 2017 with a BTEC HND (Higher National Diploma) which is a qualification recognized highly in the UK. This is why it is encouraged for us to complete a top-up year of study in the UK to obtain our degree.

*Note: there was no BA (Hons) in dance in any university in the Republic of Ireland up to this point. Thankfully, University of Limerick started one in 2017 but unfortunately it was not an option for me as I was going into the last year of a degree course.*

APPLYING THROUGH UCAS

I applied through UCAS to 5 different universities (this is the maximum) which were University of East London, Middlesex University, Bath Spa University, Chichester University and Urdang. I went to all auditions except Urdang as they never offered me one since I applied for the final year – and they do not accept top-up year students. If anyone would like to know more about the audition process and the different universities let me know! When applying through UCAS, you can research all the universities and course and pick favourites. Then provide all your results from school which for us Irish people is our leaving cert results! This is all if your applying for a course for it’s full duration and going straight from school (similar to the CAO system). If you are applying to a top-up year from another course, then you put all your results from this course also. You have to make a cover letter which is sent to all universities so it cannot be specific to one course, this is all part of completing your profile. Then you make your applications, and you can put the courses in order of preference but this does not work the same as the CAO. You are able to recieve an offer from all your choices and then decide, your offers do not disappear if you get your top choice. This takes a lot of pressure off when deciding. Then your application is in progress, universities may ask you to auditions like myself, or they make ask for a portfolio if you are studying art/design. Then you start recieving offers and making your choice, it is a very well structured website and easy to use. It’s very easy to select your final choice.

I chose University of East London, it had many factors that made me decide this. Their course is a BA (Hons) Dance: Urban Practice. After training in classical dance all my life, I really wanted to challenge myself and have more of a variety – plus I did love urban styles of dancing. They also guarantee student accommodation if it is your first year of study with them, at a reasonable cost for London. The location also played a major factor as I love central London and this is incredibly close. Last of all, I really enjoyed the audition and it felt like the right course for me.


STUDENT LOANS APPLICATION

Before moving to London, I applied for the student loans system which would cover my fees for the year. Majority of courses in London/UK cost £9,250 per year. If you are not a UK resident, you are not eligible for any maintenance help on top of this as it is presumed that your country has a system to provide maintenance for you. I applied for the student loan by printing out the form and posting it, which I’m you have to do if you are applying from outside the UK. It is shocking how easy these forms are to fill out compared to Ireland’s system, it is a large number of pages but easy to understand and fill out correctly. There is some pages on income, parent’s income, but not very difficult stuff that you have to root through the house to find different forms etc. It is very straightforward. Once I posted, I received a letter stating they would provide the student loans to my fees, and that was the last contact I had to have with them. The university and student loans system are in contact and everything is paid directly, no contact with me was necessary for this.


SUSI GRANT APPLICATION

Then, I applied to the SUSI grant system in Ireland for maintenance. Previous to this, I was entitled to 100% adjacent grant while studying in Bray for each year. This year, I applied before my course began and had consistent letters asking for more forms and more forms, and ridiculously – the same forms again and again despite being filled out correctly. It was a very stressful time for my whole first term on university living in a new country and having literally no money. I worked while studying in Dublin but obviously had to stop when moving to London, and it was extremely difficult. I heard from SUSI just before returning home for Christmas. They had awarded me 25% non-adjacent grant. This was €80 euro. My rent each month was £727.46 which was €826.27 plus the charges on my debit card. As one can imagine, this was not a pleasant time and I felt I would have to leave my course as I could not live on this amount. I may have been surviving but I was literally just surviving on Tesco value food and bread. They offered no advice on alternative options.

So, after all the talks of dropping out, myself and my mother decided we were going to fight it because they are wrong. They can’t offer 100% for 3 years and drastically less when I need it even more. It’s important to acknowledge that family circumstances had not changed. I applied for a in-house reassessment before applying for an appeal because this might change things. Also, despite my not being able to work while away they would not disregard my income. When I discussed this with them, they told me I had to prove that I was not working there… So, I got my last employer to write a letter stating I am not working there and signed/company stamped all that jazz… But, still to no avail. Along with my re-assessment, which can be done online with any files you want attached, I attached proof of my father’s overtime work and my holiday pay which could both be disregarded from the household income – I had previously sent this with the application but it was clear nobody was reading these.

Once again, SUSI contacted me with bad news. The re-assessment decided no change. This was around February, so well into my college year – closer to the end than the start. I apply for an appeal. You have to print out and post an appeal and hand-write why you’re appealing. It was surprisingly emotional writing this big letter to susi describing my situation, I felt like I had enough at this stage and they were making me jump through hoops and still not changing anything. Anyways, I sent it off again, this time with another form that we did not know existed about a government payment of income, there is a form to get signed by your employer which they may disregard that income altogether. There was still a question mark if we would get this disregarded because it didn’t state CE Schemes valid but we were trying everything we found.

Then the sun came out ♥ My appeal had been granted! In April…. But was still an unbelievable happy day to get what I was entitled to. They had changed my grant from 25% to 75% which was a huge difference to me and what I was getting. However, my mother did notice on the letter (since I was in London and letters would go to my home in Dublin), that they had not disregarded my holiday income from the household income. DESPITE ME SENDING THIS FORM A MILLION AND 1 TIMES… I rang them to ask about this and I swear the woman I spoke to just wandered in off the street and didn’t know what SUSI was. She literally said to me “I don’t know, is there anything else I can help you with”. I just hung up. I would’ve liked to get her name to complain and speak to someone else but I literally burst into tears after hanging up the phone. I was so sick of them. The emotional distress I suffered the whole year of uni was all because of them, and I wanted to be finished with them more than anything. I turned to twitter and sent them a DM about this, and thank god they had someone with answers and sense. Her name was Aisling. She told me that they didn’t deduct the holiday income because the form wasn’t filled out correctly. This was surprising as I filled out this form more times than I can count. But, once again, I head to the uni library to print out a new one, get it filled out, and scan it back in to send back home to my family in Dublin to print it and post it back with the SUSI envelope they supply.

While waiting to hear back from this, I received my 75% grant with arrears which was a huge help in this month. I think I treated myself to something Tesco’s own instead of Tesco Value lol. I did hear back after sending my holiday income form and the sun came out again. I couldn’t believe it but they actually had put my grant up to 100%. What I should have gotten in the first place. Literally, nobody can say I don’t appreciate my grant after this! I went through the whole year of college that I needed the grant for, trying to get it. So this was the middle of April, they changed my grant and I had about a week of college left. I got one grant payment of the new amount with no arrears, I am still awaiting a cheque of my arrears owed. Also, I am still awaiting my last grant payment. This is quite hilarious as I have completely finished my course, I am back home in Dublin and I still haven’t got what I am owed yet. However, I will take relief in the fact that I will get it.

If anyone needs advice on susi forms or they think they were assessed wrongly – hit me up cause I now know every single form they have.