5 nights in London
- Alison Jones
Hi! I am going on holiday with my boyfriend in September this year. I am a complete food nut, any good food and I love it! Does anyone have any suggestions as to where we could eat quality food at reasonable prices? We are on a budget holiday to London! We like a challenge! If anyone can help, please let me know!
You will find London a challenge on a budget. Much as I love this battered old tart of a town, cheap it isn't. That isn't to say you can't eat well.
On the very cheap end, it is better to stay ethnic and I would recommend
Indian - Both the India Club in the Aldwych and The Indian YMCA ( which a fellow poster put me in the direction of to my eternal gratitude ) in Fitzroy Square. Nearest Tube, Warren St.
Chinese - In Chinatown ( just off Leicester Square ) there are the usual mish mash, but on or two real diamonds. My current faves are The Golden Dragon, Harbour City and Fung Shing. All are good and I would suggest that you go for Dim Sum ( between 12-3 ) where you can buy small plates at very reasonable prices and it will all be freshly prepared.
For Pizza type stuff, there is an excellent new chain called Strada which serves well made Pizza type stuff at very good prices. I think they will do well.
If you want to venture outside the West End ( which you really should ) then go to Kingsland High Road which is where all the Vietnamese shops and Cafes are. A good meal at the Viet Ho cafe will cost about £12 per head
If you are going for a special night out but do not want to break the bank, head for one of the many gastropubs. NB these are quite different from the ordinary pubs serving unidentifiable things in baskets. Try The Eagle ( Farringdon ) The Fox ( Old St ) or The Well ( Clerkenwell ) these are in hip buzzy parts of town and have good bars in as well.
Finally, I was pleasantly surprised by NANDO's a Portugese chicken chain which I had avoided until I saw some positive posts here. It is ( and if it is recommended on Chowhound, how could I have doubted it ) very good and very well priced
On a budget, you may be tempted to eat at chains like Wagamamma's.Pizza Express, etc. My only advice is just rip up some money and induce yourself to vomit. The end result will be the same andyou wont waste so much time.
Anyway, I hope this helps.
re: Simon Majumdar
i used to work just down the street from a nando's, and ate there too often. still, i wasn't a fan -- the take on piri-piri sauce was just, well: chain is as chain does.
i third (fourth?) the dim sum royal garden suggestions.
a favo(u)rite thai place is the Market Thai on portobello road, just above the Market Bar. very good dishes, very cheap for london.
the cafe lazeez restaurants (soho and south kensington) aren't too cheap, but do an interesting, non-oily take on indian food.
and i just went to an ace burmese place called Mandalay, on edgware road. just a few tables and it fills up fast; doesn't look like much but it was the best (and mind you, only) burmese i've ever had.
I agree, London on a budget isn't easy but one thing to do is have a picnic in one of London's many parks. St James', Regent's Park and Holland Park are my favourites. There are some great places to buy food from, my favourite being Borough Market (tube:London Bridge) held on Fridays and Saturdays and is the most wonderful farmers market. I personally recommend the prize winning pork pies, bacon and sausages from the Ginger Pig and the widest selection of British fruit and veg I've ever seen from Turnips. Neals Yard is just around the courner in Park Street and sells delicious British and Irish cheeses - try Spenwood, Cashel Blue and Wigmore, ideal for a picnic. Konditor and Cook is next door and sells delicious home made cakes and tarts.
A few restuarants I can think of for a budget include Spiga (Wardour Street) which is an Italian selling very reasonably priced wood fired pizza.
Bar Gansa (Camden Town) slightly out of the way but gives you an excuse to visit Camden Market, It's a little Spanish place with a great atmosphere, rather hetic service but very reasonable food.
Souk (Litchfield St) an absolute little treasure more for the atmosphere than the food. Descent down a flight of stairs to a room filled with the heady smell of josh sticks, arabic music, low tables and candles. Try to get on of the little alcoves which are very romantic and snug.
Hope this gives you a few suggestions.
If you want Fish and Chips in Central London, I would suggest Fryers Delight in Theobald Road in Holborn. I would also suggest a lunchtime - preferably Friday, and make sure you sit in rather than takeaway.
For some reason in this country all the best Fish and Chip shops I have eaten in are all old Italian family run, the Fryers Delight being an excellent example. The ones in seaside places used to be the only place to get proper ice cream as well 20-30 odd years ago in these islands.
Anyway, another place you might decide to try is Shish, though it is out of the way, beside Willesden Green tube station. While its not stunning, its Wagamama-ish take on kebabs is interesting and I would say that it is good value for money.
I second the recommendation for Viet Hoa on the Kingsland Road, it is my favourite budget eat in London.
What a great suggestion. I can heartily second that. On a Friday, it tends to get full up with cabbies having their lunch and arguing about life, the universe etc. All of London life is there
Then other great chippy to try is The Golden Chippy on Farringdon Rd. Opposite the Eagle, next to The Quality Chop House and at the end of Exmouth Market ( where there is a Strada, Moro's and a few others )
re: Adam Lawrence
I Love Moro
Wonderfully prepared food and great service. However, I have to say it is being overshadowed by its new sibling Cigala in Lamb's Conduit St. Similar but better.
Their belly pork dish is the best in town and the list of manzanilla's is spectacular. Give it a go, but book.
re: Simon Majumdar
If you are around the Exmouth Market, check out O'Hanlons pub on Tysoe Street, this is one of the few microbrewery pubs in London and they have won a lot of awards. It is a nice pub as well, I have enjoyed all their beers apart from Myrica - flavoured with Bog Myrtle ugh! - though you never know it may be to your taste. I have a suspicion that the pub was sold and the brewery moved from London to Devon, though I think it still serves O'Hanlons beers.
Its the best reason for visiting that bit of London :)
If you are staying for a Saturday go to Borough Market
just off Borough High Street - nearest tube is London Bridge. It is a food lovers market all day Saturday and you can spend your time just grazing at the stalls. Make sure you have a cup of Coffee at the Monmouth Coffee company - which sells the best coffee in London - when you ask for a cup of coffee they ask you which bean you want and grind it on the spot for you.
The Borough Market is also open on Friday from noon...While there, don't miss the Neal's Yard Cheese shop outside the market... hints: the roof of the market it being replaced, so the market has been spread outside its usual borders. Also, if taking the tube, get off at London Bridge and walk out the borough high street exit....This is a great place, and great for tasting and lunch.
I agree with all suggestions made so far (particularly Cigala where the cigalas - langoustines - are lip-smackingly good) but would also add any of the Royal Chinas (Queensway, Baker Street - both looking a bit like Triad-run nightclubs from the '70s or St John's Wood) for lunchtime dim sum.
Despite certain comments on this site to the contrary I regularly eat dim sum for Sunday lunch here (a hangover cure better even than a fry-up!)and it never fails to please. Don't bother with the main menu, stick to the dim sum one and order a mountain of small steamed and fried things particularly the scallop dumpling, the sesame paper prawn rolls, fried mixed meat dumplings and (for smthing just a little weirder) the glutinous rice in lotus leaf. Go on a Sunday esp. to Queensway to see the whole Chinese community out in force (but please prepare to queue)
Should you ever find yourself way out in North-West London - highly unlikely i'm sure - pay a visit to the B&K Salt Beef Bar in Edgware - it's the only salt beef (corned beef to any of you out there Stateside) worth its salt (sorry!) anywhere in London - even better than my grandmother's (i don't say this lightly) and the only place i know coming close to the quality served in New York.
re: Marc Hersheson
I would have to disagree about Cigala on Lamb's Conduit Street. Although my first two meals there were reasonably good, my last meal there was a disaster. The shrimp starter was an over-cooked over salted bowl of shrimp in an unappetizing and overspiced thin broth. Mussels were also overcooked to the point of rubberyness in an equally unappetizing broth. The main course of halibut with spinach was overcooked and oversalted and the spinach had not been washed. When we complained about the unwashed spinach, we were offered a free desert. This, a peach and cinnamon cake, was burnt and nothing special even if it hadn't been. I am not sure what the problem is, but nothing we ate that night was any good.