London -- Walking distance from Bloomsbury
Staying in Bloomsbury in late June (the Montague), when the sun sets late.
I've seen lots of very helpful recommendations on these boards for pubs (Anchor, Lamb, Cow), Indian (Amaya) and others (Chez Bruce) -- but everything seems to require a ride.
Any recommendations for something non-pretentious within walking distance of Bloomsbury?
The Lamb is very close, on Lamb's Conduit Street. There is also a food pub just up the block from there -- I haven't been there and don't recall the name, but it's in the building where the Sun of distant memory (serious real ale fans will remember it)used to be.
Actually lots of things aren't really that far... we often walk from Bloombsbury over to the Clerkenwell area where there are lots of choices, ranging from pubs like The Eagle to top restaurants like St. John. We can usually get over there in about 30 minutes or so. In Covent Garden, just around the corner from the Lamb and Flag, is a very affordable Persian place we really like, Simurgh. Also just a short walk.
You are also quite close to a number of very good restaurants in Soho -- not far, really to quite a range of things. We quite like Ragam, Navarre, Rasa Samudra and others.
Unless you are seriously physically limited, you shouldn't have problems finding something very good and relatively close.
re: Joan Kureczka
The suggestion of walking east is an excellent one
You could head to Exmouth Market ( at the top of Farringdon Rd - about 20 mins from Bloomsbury ) and there are quite a few places there. My favourite remains Moro ( but to sit at the bar and have some sherry and iberico rather than for a full meal )
A lot of people have given rave reviews to The Ambassador ( opposite Moro ) I thought it was a bit grim.
If you do head down to Smithfield, try Vinoteca ( opposite St John ) a great new( ish ) place. Very casual and with an excellent wine list
Around the corner is Comptoir gascon which I have mentioned before. I think it is doing some of the best bistro cooking in town.
My recent meal at St John was very disappointing, but I had a quick bite in the bar recently which was very good. there are a lot of restaurants on st John st , not all of them are much cop. I like the bar area of Portal for snacks but would not bother with a full meal.
If you head West, Goodge St and Charlotte St are decent bets.
The Salt Yard ( more or less at the corner of the two streets ) is offering some very interesting tapas at the moment and is worth a visit ( be warned though it does get insanely noisy )
Someone mentioned Navarre on Charlotte St ( just North of goodge st ) and it remains one of my favourite " old school" tapas bars although I have not been for about six months
You are also a short walk from Covent Garden and, while the decent places in that tourist area are hard to find, it is worth the short stroll.
One place I have been going back to a lot near Leicester Square is The Cork & Bottle. One of the true little treasures of London. Basically a wine bar situated between a sex shop and a storefront selling crappy fish & chips, it is run by Don Hewitson(sp? ) and has one of the best wine lists in town and a huge range by the glass. It is on one of the entrance roads to the Square just of The charing Cross rd. They do pretty OK food there too.
Hope any of the above helps
If you're looking to splash out, Pied a Terre on Charlotte Street has re-opened and is at best a five minute walk away.
Passione, also on Charlotte Street, is a long-standing favorite. Order the rabbit.
Hanway Street (a little alley that cuts off the South-West Corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street) is home to Hakkasan, which you can read about elsewhere on this board. There's also a pretty good korean bbq place there, the name of which escapes me.
For lunch, or a cheap and quick supper, I do think Busaba-ethai (sp?) on Store Street has a lot to recommend it. It's several cuts above most of the crap that passes for thai in this city.
Sardo, on Grafton Way used to be good for simple italian with a Sardinian bent, although it was already over-priced several years ago.
People praise Rasa Samudra (also on Charlotte Street), but I think it is to be avoided at all costs. Many dishes taste remarkably similar to each other, generally, the quality of the cooking isn't so great, the prices are unreasonably high, especially when you stop to note how stingy the portions are and how unremarkable many of the dishes are.
There's also the Salt House on Goodge Street and Fino on Rathbone, both just off of Charlotte Street. I've been to neither, but they come recommended.
All the options mentioned before are worth checking out. Bloomsbury is such a central location, you will have great choices.
Two places in the heart of Bloomsbury that I always go back to are Cigala, a contemporary spanish restaurant. The place is very relaxed and the food is always fresh. The other place is the gastropub Perseverance just up the street. The food is always good pub fare in a nice pub. Enjoy!