Last updated: 04:30 PM ET, Mon May 25 2015

Opinion Home | The Main Course

  • Gabe Zaldivar | May 25, 2015 4:30 PM ET

    Enjoying Salt Yard and Splendor of London's Goodge Street

    Enjoying Salt Yard and Splendor of London's Goodge Street

    Images via Gabe Zaldivar

    Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo à la Turk” will always be renowned for its pulsating driving force in the form a hypnotic piano melody. I’m more of an alto saxophone man, myself.

    It’s nearly impossible not to listen to the entire song and not feel uplifted, swinging to the beat and swaying to the subsequent saxophone solos. Brubeck’s genius at the piano is unquestioned, but there has always been something so downright soothing and enchanting about the saxophone that pokes its head out every now and again during the song.

    Kind of like a small slice of intoxicating heaven I found in London. Like any good jazz number, London has an amazing ability to drown out the rest of the world. Sometimes, however, you have to listen for the subtle key changes or the invariable solo that steals the show from the headliner.

    Taking one foot off the train at the Goodge Street exit, I had no idea that I would fall in love with this little part of Camden that borders Westminster in London.

    The vitality of the nightlife was never in question, nor was the bounty of food options.

    Thanks to a previous Google search or some other data mining, the wife and I headed towards Salt Yard, where we walked with the assuredness of two people who couldn’t give a damn about things such as reservations.

    What felt like kicking in the door and demanding food to be shoveled into our maw was probably more akin to complete begging that this fine establishment would dust off some space on the floor so that we might stay and try the menu.

    We sat at the bar and were grateful. 

    And at the confined space of the bar we made a night of it, people watching and mass-quantity eating.

    Salt Yard fancies itself a charcuterie bar, also offering tapas and other fare. My tour started with slow cooked octopus and ended with the pork belly.

    In between there was time to maintain the wonderful cheese spill that occurs when you slice into the burrata.

    We also enjoyed some smoky chorizo that danced upon the tongue and chewed on ridiculously delicate beef cheek.

    That we ordered one dish too many and finished said dish is a testament to the establishment. Like a fantastic movie that you never want to end, we basically lingered through the credits far longer than we should.

    The only cure for such enjoyable travesties is a pint in the cold, brisk English air. Thankfully there are a number of bars in the area. We chose the quaint Draft House, which offered the comfort of a pub with the nightlife of a bar. It was perfect to keep the body from going into full shutdown mode, which happens after big meals of meat, meat, and more meat.

    Now such a good time was had that we were back again a couple of nights later, this time to dive into another underappreciated gem of London: Italian food.

    Yes, this magical place is renowned for Indian food, fish and chips, and pies. But the Italian food we had around the city was damn good as well.

    Take In Parma for example, a tucked-away restaurant off a small street. It’s the kind of place you browse past but rarely go in. Well flipping the script, we decided to dine.

    The sauce we had was amazing, but I will always remember the bite of the firm but forgiving pasta. It was, sadly, not like the kind you get at home.

    This was fun to chew and immensely satisfying to finish, making us nostalgic for the place before we even paid the bill.

    In this town of palaces and castles and circuses and squares, a good time can be had just outside a tube station exit you never previously considered.

    London will never be renowned for this part of town where I left a part of my heart as well as a sizable portion of my bank account.

    It will be known for a giant wheel, streets with bright lights, amazing people and the unrelenting rhythms of a vibrant culture.

    But I managed to stop for a second and appreciate a saxophone solo of sorts, the kind of melody that when taken on its own merits might sweep you of your happy little toes and into that ethereal part of travel, where familiar meets foreign to create something you will never forget and always crave.

    It’s just too bad you can’t put places like this on repeat like you can an album. 

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Gabe Zaldivar The Main Course

Gabe Zaldivar Born on the rough streets of suburban West Covina, I learned a great many things, some of which has proved useful: knowing the tell-tale sounds of an ice cream truck and crafting a world-class burrito come to mind. You have seen my work on Bleacher Report and possibly my mug on CNN. Perhaps, if you are into archaic modes of entertainment, you have also heard me on the radio. Pop culture is my beat. If it has to do with the intersection of travel, entertainment and pop culture, I'm your guy.
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