Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > U.K./Ireland >
Mar 19, 2006 05:01 PM

London - Best traditional British grub, afternoon tea, and fish & chips?

  • c

I'm a Californian heading to London on Wednesday, and was wondering where I would be able to find traditional British food at an affordable price - maybe a pub/gastropub? I'm itching to try classics like steak & kidney pudding.

Also, an affordable place for wonderful afternoon tea would be great. I saw the earlier post recommending Brown's - is there anything even cheaper than that? (It was listed at around 27 pounds).

Finally, a couple of excellent fish & chip places would be much appreciated. Again, I have no bias against, and actually would prefer, eating said excellent fish & chips in a pub (ideally one that's old-fashioned and traditional), if possible. I read in my Time Out - London guide that they've pegged Sea Cow as the best fish & chips in London - comments?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. brown and dorchester both offer great high tea although the latter is probably more pricey. i don't know which part of california you're from but the peninsula beverly hills offer a great high tea experience comparable to that in england. their scones are fact, better than any i've sampled in london.

    1. Afternoon tea at Fortnum's isn't bad (try the Fountain Room), but not sure how much it is these days. If the Sea Cow you're referring to is in Lordship Lane, SE something, I wouldn't bother - it's not worth the trek from central London. Stick with Seafresh in Lisson Grove (any cabbie will know it).

      Pub choices are too many to list - try this well resourced (and opinionated) site... But note that the best food in pubs these days tends not to be in what tourists would think of as traditional boozers - e.g. the Eagle in Farringdon St was the first London "gastropub" and still dishes up great food - but traditional it ain't.


      2 Replies
      1. re: SpikeY
        fai jay (fai jackson)

        I think you may mean The Sea Shell in Lissome Grove. I agree on Brown's for tea. Do what a lot of English do and order one tea with an extra pot of tea. The tea at Fortnums is not good and the surroundings less than pleasant, although it is less expensive that B. The Savoy is an experience--but a very costly one--we did the one tea for two there. Have a good time, TA TA,

        1. re: fai jay (fai jackson)

          would love to hear more about the Sea Shell as I have driven by it a few times and seen the take-away queue. Is the restaurant good too? I love fish and chips and would love to find a good chip shop with excellent fresh food!

      2. s
        Simon Majumdar

        Even though it is expensive, I really do recomment Browns.

        Every other place is, IMHO, a pale shadow.

        £27 is a lot to pay, but bear in mind they keep bringing food until they have to roll you out of there and you will be incapable of eating for the next 24 hrs! So, it is not bad value.

        See the post below from my blog. It has some pictures which might help persuade you:-)



        1 Reply
        1. re: Simon Majumdar

          I want to strongly encourage you to find the money somewhere and go to Brown's! I am also from California, have been to London 6 times, and experencing agruably the Best Tea in London will make your trip so MUCH more enjoyable and memorable. If you think about, it's not that expensive if you can stuff yourself, you can have it instead of dinner maybe even lunch too.

          Trying to save 10 to 12(?) pounds per person for a second/third rate tea experience is a poor travel decision. You need to splurge a little somewhere and 10 (?) pounds extra one time is nothing long term memorywise.

          According to their website, they have 3 options: cheapest is 29.50 pounds.


        2. Geales for fish and chips. Not a pub but great food.

          1. If you would like traditional English food, the place to go is St John. The restaurant is on St John St in Clerkenwell and there is a cafe across the street from Spitafields market that serves snacks and lighter food. It isn't a pub but the food is wonderful and authentic.
            Brown's just reopened after a major reburfishment and change of ownership. Their tea used to be wonderful. Although I haven't tried their new tea service I can tell you that the place doesn't look like an English room any more. You can also order just tea and a scone rather than the full service if you are not hungry enough for the entire feast.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Rafael
              Simon Majumdar

              There is often an argument about St John being traditional English or not. I don't think it is, although the view that is disingenuous to kill an animal and not eat as much of it as possible is common to the peasant cookery of many cultures

              Anyway, I had a disappointing meal there last niight. I had not been in a while and it may be down to the nature of a place with an ever changing menu or it may be that it is over the hill. I hope the former, suspect the latter.

              A shame because, at its best it can be very special

              That being said, if you want to try a restaurant that is entirely different to anything you may have tried before, it is still worth a punt