Gails scones

British food gems to explore in the South West

17 August 2022

The Italians are known for their pasta, the French are renowned for their escargots and the Spanish are praised for their paella. And while British cuisine is often overlooked, there are so many traditional local foods worth trying!

With our British Isle boasting everything from Sunday roasts to scones with jam and cream, there are plenty of classic dishes to sample, especially in the south west. Whether you have a craving for pies or puddings, explore these British food gems with the convenience and comfort of our South Western Railway network.

So foodies, buckle up and let’s explore the best of what British cuisine has to offer!

Traditional English Breakfast

Heralded as the most important meal of the day, Brits are known not to scrimp on breakfast. The traditional English breakfast includes eggs, bacon, fried bread, black pudding, baked beans and a concoction of leftover potatoes and vegetables that we inexplicably call "bubble and squeak”.

No matter your thoughts on this tradition, these are the best places to try it out for yourself!

Terry’s Café, London

If we’re talking about traditions, Terry’s Café is the right place to start. The restaurant itself has been passed down through the same family for generations, and if anyone knows a traditional English breakfast, it’s these guys.

Dig into a hearty breakfast, which simply must be accompanied by a cup of tea, and lap up the atmosphere of this London gem. Only a ten-minute walk from London Waterloo, there’s no better place to start a day out in London.

The Spinnaker Café, Portsmouth

Spinnaker Cafe English Breakfast

If you’re in search of a hearty English breakfast, this local café in Portsmouth is sure to do the trick. With big portions, and even bigger heart, this is the perfect place to kick off your day in Portsmouth – the traditional British way!

It’s an 18-minute walk from Portsmouth Harbour station - just long enough to work up an appetite!

Scones

These traditional baked goods have been enjoyed by the Brits for centuries, and whether you prefer loading them with cream and then jam or jam and then cream, there’s no better place to indulge than in their birthplace: the south west.

Gail’s, London

Gails Scones

Gail’s has taken the simple scone and brought it to new heights. With a selection of modern and unique flavour combinations, you wouldn’t dare brand the once humble scone as boring! For more traditional tastes, try their sweet scones to enjoy their delicious crunchy and sugary coating.

There are Gail’s bakeries throughout the country so you can get your hands on these delights no matter where you’re visiting but for one of our favourites, take a train to Clapham Junction and walk less than 10 minutes to the Northcote Road branch. Trust us, with scones like these, you’ll be going back for seconds.

The Hidden Treasure Tea Room, Exeter

If you’re looking for a quaint spot to enjoy your afternoon tea, then this hidden gem in Exeter is the place for you. Enjoy your scones, and a selection of jams, in this cute café with China crockery and a warm, friendly atmosphere.

Only a 10-minute walk from Exeter Central station, this is the perfect spot to snack on some homemade scones whilst enjoying the buzz of this cosy café.

English Sunday Roast

The traditional roast dinner is an essential part of a Sunday in the UK, whether you tuck into one at home, at a pub or at a fancy restaurant. Choose from a selection of roast meats and veggie options, and look out for traditional accompaniments like roast potatoes, red cabbage, cauliflower cheese and Yorkshire puddings – just a handful of our favourites.

Blacklock, London

Blacklock Sunday Roast
(Image credit: © Rebecca Hope)

If you find yourself reminiscing about your childhood Sundays, Blacklock might just be the place to satisfy your cravings. With “Roasts almost as good as your mum’s”, this contemporary chophouse serves up a wonderous roast with a twist.

Whilst they have an experimental edge, with starters like pig’s head on toast, they also have all the traditional trimmings with Yorkshire puddings, duck-fat roast potatoes, a selection of seasonal vegetables and Blacklock gravy.

If you’re tummy is rumbling at the thought, simply take a train to London Waterloo and with a 10-minute connecting tube, you’ll be licking that plate clean in no time!

Duke of Wellington, Southampton

If a contemporary twist doesn’t align with your traditional roast ethos, then the historic backdrop in Southampton could be more up your street. This pub has been the silent witness to many of the city’s most famous events, and definitely succeeds in serving up a stellar Sunday roast.

To indulge in this pub’s historic grub, simply take a train to Southampton Central and your roast is only a 5 minute-ride away on the U1C bus!

Pie

As the weather gets colder, it’s time to seek out some comfort food to cast that chill away. Everyone loves a British pie – whether it’s a steak & kidney pie, a pork pie or even a veggie option -pies are the perfect choice to keep the cold at bay! Here are some of the best places for pies in the south west.

Battersea Pie Station, London

Although the name may be misleading, this pie shop is based in the heart of Convent Garden and provides a truly authentic experiences for all pie lovers to enjoy. Made with old fashioned pastry, free range meat and fresh veg – this is truly a treat (and a bargain!)

To get your paws on these pies, take a train to London Waterloo, and take the number 26 bus towards Hackney Wick for 10 minutes.

Sweeney & Todd, Reading

This award-winning pie shop is a Reading institution, and rightly so. With perfectly crusty pastry, and delectable fillings for all preferences, add this pie shop to your list with immediate effect.

Only a 9-minute walk from Reading station, you simply have no excuse not to try these pies!

Shepherd’s Pie

The ultimate comfort classic, you can never go wrong with a hearty shepherd’s pie. Although there are many takes on this recipe, it traditionally features minced lamb topped with a creamy, cheesy mashed potato topping. If your mouth is watering at the thought, you need to try out some of our favourite spots for this classic dish.

Prince of Wales, London

Nestled in the heart of Elephant & Castle is this old-school local, and whilst it may seem a rogue choice, this place is heralded for its delightful shepherd’s pie. So if you’re in search of some comfort food on a rainy London day, find yourself a cosy nook in this friendly pub and dig in!

Only a 15-minute walk from London Waterloo, or a 10-minute ride on the 168 bus, we have a feeling you’ll be frequent visitor to this local gem.

Smile Café, Portsmouth

If you’re in search of some shepherd’s pie whilst in Portsmouth, then this is the spot for you. Known to be one of the best, dig into a steaming portion of this classic dish in this lovely local café.

To see what all the hype is about, hop on a train to Fratton, and your shepherd’s pie is only a 20-minute walk away!

Fish & Chips

Britain is known for many things, and much to our delight, fish and chips is certainly one of them! You can’t roam around the UK seaside without encountering a plethora of fish & chips shops, but and here are some of the best places to eat fish and chips in the south west.

Poppie’s Fish & Chips, London

Poppies fish and chips

There may be an absence of a sea breeze in London, but with fish & chips this good, the comforting smell of the seaside doesn’t feel so far away. With thick, crunchy batter encasing fat fillets of fresh flaky fish, and classic crunchy (but fluffy) chips – this a chip shop that really gets it right.

Get ready to lick your lips in delight. Catch a train to London Waterloo, and fish & chips are only a 20-minute bus ride away. (And trust us, it’s worth the journey!)

Fish n’ Fritz, Weymouth

Fish and chips served by Fish 'n' Fritz seen on Weymouth seafront

If you are lucky enough to be by the seaside, then this fish & chip spot in Weymouth is for you. With an award-winning offering, this is regarded as one of the best places in the south west to get your fill of fish and chips!

To get there, simply take a train to Weymouth, and your perfect portion is only a 10-minute walk away!

Ready to dig in? Book your train tickets with South Western Railway to kickstart your foodie adventure. Explore our flexible range of ticket types to find the best one for your journey, and save even more with a Railcard.