For anyone moving to London, cost of living is always a primary concern. I usually make the blanket statement that the worst bit of it is what you’ll pay in rent on a London apartment, but otherwise, if you’re earning British pounds, it’ll all be relative. Eating out will almost always cost more (and be less healthy) than eating in, but I’ve recently tried two London restaurants I’d never been to before that offer a guilt-free chance to get out of said London apartment (especially this winter, when my cabin fever has been at its worst!).

Both venues are located near Smithfield, not a far walk from the St. Paul’s tube station on the Central line. It is only at one of them, however, where you can drink coffee brewed from beans extracted from Vietnamese weasel poop. I think you heard me correctly…

Starting with the one where you can’t order this, Amico Bio is tucked away in a cute little alley just outside of St. Bartholomew’s Church. The authentic Italian cuisine served here is organic and vegetarian. You’ll find that portions are just enough to satisfy without making you overly full or requiring a doggie-bag; consequently, you’ll have plenty of room to sample multiple courses, and menu prices justify it! I’m never hungry enough for the sweet thangs I covet at the end of a meal, but after an appetizer of pan-fried tofu and main of ravioli, I was all too willing and able to indulge in the generous serving of cantucci biscuits for dessert, which were served with a traditional passito wine for dipping.

So getting around to where you can order a beverage that technically owes its great taste to feces, if you cross through the Smithfield Market and continue on up the road aways into Clerkenwell, you will come upon Pho. (Other locations include Soho, Oxford Circus, and Shepherds Bush) The authentic Vietnamese cuisine served here comes in generous portions, and though you have a choice of vegetarian and meat options, all dishes are prepared on site with fresh ingredients and are low in fat while high in vitamins and minerals. My husband and I split a papaya salad with chicken as a starter and each had a giant bowl of their bun noodles as our main before treating ourselves to the not-so inexpensive portion of our evening: the £6 coffee. I know you think I’m kidding about this, but Pho’s weasel coffee is the phenomenal result of Vietnamese weasels eating coffee beans and passing them through their digestive tract. I highly recommend it with the condensed milk, but either way, I’ll attest it is one good cup a’ Joe that’s worth the cost, especially when the rest of the meal is so reasonable.

So that’s my food critique for the week, folks. Either restaurant will surprise your taste buds with an explosion of fresh new fusions of flavor, just two of the many exceptional places to dine once you’ve made your London relocation.

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