Long Weekend in London - First Time
- Tatiana Apr 26, 2006 10:20 AM
NYC chowhound in her mid 20s going to London for the first time next month. I would love some recommendations - London has an unfortunate reputation for it's cuisine, though I've heard this is changing.
I'd like to try some traditional English pub fare for brunch/lunch; also, one or two well-reviewed, trendy/hip places for dinner would be great. Ambiance is just as important as the food.
Any suggestions would be much appreciated - thanks!
I probably sound defensive but anyone who is telling you that London has an "unfortunate" food scene knows very little about which they speak.
Do not be fooled by the rumors of long ago about British food. Don't listen to your parents' generation's sad tales of past visits (and I am one of that age group)... and an ex-New Yorker to boot. I am thrilled to live now in this wonderful country of fine cuisine. There are many mavens (style and otherwise) here who know what good food is all about even if the prices are outrageous in London.. especially if you're looking for ambiance on an equal par to the food.
Warning: For someone in their 20s going to London for the first time, dinner out at "...one or two well-reviewed, trendy/hip places..." can be shockingly expensive, even for somone from NYC. So IMHO, unless money REALLY is no object, it would be a good idea to reply to the posts so far with a dining budget.
Also, consider in your plans that the best way to experience some of London's finest is by going for their Prix Fixe lunch option instead of dinner.
As long as you're prepared for 'hip and trendy' to equal 'expensive,' you should be fine. :)
And with that in mind, I highly recommend Les Trois Garcons in the Shoreditch area. It is a deeply funky place with the most outlandish decor and - we thought - outstanding food (we're San Francisco expats with high standards...). Their sister bar "Loungelover" is just around the corner, and you can book a table there before or after your meal.
A better value for money might be trying some of the gastropubs. Our current favorites are The Princess (the upstairs room) just off of Old Street and Prince Bonaparte (more for the atmosphere than the food) in Notting Hill. We've heard wonderful things about The Eagle in Farringdon (but haven't been yet), but were disappointed at The Coach and Horses.
Finally, we're big fans of The Electric Brasserie on the Portobello road. If you're going to be at the market on Saturday, I would recommend booking a lunch table (you MUST BOOK). Manages to be casual, hip, and have good food all at once.
The Eagle on Farringdon Road is great, and truly a basic pub with good food -- not a restaurant. They just do a limited and different menu each day -- the chalk boards go up at 5 in the evening. Definitely a way to eat well and keep the prices down a little.
My husband is completely hooked on their Bife Ana and gets one whenever we are in London. It's the only dish that is always available -- a spicy Portuguese/Mozambique version of a steak sandwich, that we now make from time to time at home in San Francisco from the Eagle's cookbook. I've also had some exceptional grilled seafood there from time to time, and the few small tapas dishes they do are very good. All the ingredients are top quality.