Food & drink
If you want to branch out from food in your halls of residence, or indeed your own cooking, no matter where you come from, you will usually find an eating establishment that suits your tastes and budget.
In the UK, you can get virtually any type of food. In most major towns and cities you will find restaurants selling a variety of cuisines, including Italian, Indian and Chinese.
In most supermarkets you will also be able to buy all types of cuisines, with noodles and pasta being very popular.
Internationally renowned chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver have done much to popularise modern British cooking and you should make sure you try some while you are in the UK. A favourite is the English Roast, which involves a roast joint of meat such as beef, chicken or lamb, roast potatoes and a selection of other vegetables. Delicious!
Different regions of the UK often specialise in particular food. If these meals are new to you, make sure you find out what they are made from before you place your order as they may contain ingredients you may not enjoy. Most restaurants cater for vegetarians.
The best way to find out about restaurants in your area is to ask friends or colleagues where they usually eat out. You could also look in a national restaurant guide (these are usually available at bookstores, newsagents, libraries or the local tourist office), or you can also look in the Yellow Pages business directory under the "Restaurants" section.
The cost of eating out varies from restaurant to restaurant. If price is a concern it is a good idea to view the menu before you place your order.
Takeaway food is food that you buy and take somewhere else to eat. You can buy takeaway food from a number of takeaway shops. Many restaurants also sell takeaway food. The most popular types of takeaway foods are American, Turkish, Indian/Balti, Italian, Chinese and traditional fish and chips.
You will often find that takeaway restaurants and shops have a delivery service. This means that you can telephone them and ask for them to be delivered to your home.
Often there is no extra charge for this service; however, you should always ask if the delivery is free. Many people tip the delivery person, however, this is optional.
When people in the UK go out to a restaurant or cafe they will usually leave the waiter/waitress a tip when they pay the bill. A tip is extra money for the waiter/waitress indicating that you were happy with the service. It is usually 10,15% of the total cost of the bill.
Tipping is optional. If you were not happy with the service you should not leave a tip. Some restaurants automatically include a tip in your bill. This will usually be listed as a "service charge" or "gratuity". If you did not think the service was very good you do not have to pay the service charge.
There are a growing number of cafes and coffee bars in the UK. Many of these mirror the continental feel of cafes found in the Mediterranean. Cafes usually sell light meals and drinks. Sometimes coffee bars specialise in different types of coffees and usually serve light meals.
Most pubs and bars are open from 11 am to 11 pm.
Many close at 10.30 pm on Sundays, although new legislation was passed at the end of 2005 which allow pubs across the UK to keep their doors open for as long as they choose.
The main aim of this new 24-hour drinking law is to curb over-drinking around the traditional pub closing times.
A large number of pubs and bars in the UK also sell food. Pubs and bars are an important part of British life and it is most likely that wherever you live you will find a pub nearby.
Draught beer/bitter in the UK is measured in pints. A pint is about 550ml. You can also order half a pint, which is about 275ml.
Many pubs have live music and some pubs also have quiz nights. Quiz nights usually test your general knowledge and have prizes for the winner. They are a good way to meet people. However, try to include a British friend in your quiz team, as sometimes there are questions particular to Britain, such as British sport and music, which you may not know.
As you make friends, you may be invited to a pub or to go for a drink. Going to the pub is a fairly common social activity in the UK and the legal drinking age is 18 years. Pubs in Britain and Ireland are an age-old institution and they vary considerably from small, traditional hostelries to large bars with dance floors.
Generally people meet at the pub, drink and chat and sometimes play games such as darts, pool or snooker. There is no compulsion to drink alcohol, although many do. Pubs and bars serve most alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Going dancing or going ’clubbing’ is also popular and often people choose to go on to a dance club after spending sometime in the pub.
There are many guides you can pick up around London and in other major UK cities to find out where the hottest pubs and clubs are, and other entertainment news and events. One of the best is TimeOut London.