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Feedback on my short-list of London restaurants?

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On our last visit to London (mid-January), we tried a number of fancy French/Mediterranean restaurants (Petrus, The Square, etc.).

It was fun, but this time we'd like to focus on "New" British (and traditional British) food, and also to make an effort to keep the cost down. Good desserts (steamed puddings, anything involving gooseberries, rhubarb, custard, etc.) are a priority. For our five nights of dinners, I'm assembled the following list. The first four are my top picks, with the last two as possibilities for the fifth night (if we don't decide we need a night off from sit-down meals and assemble a picnic instead from the food hall at Selfridges or from Borough Market):

Vinoteca
Boisdale
The Fox Dining Room
Rivington Grill

Medcalf
Konstan and the Prince Albert

Any input to keep us from going disastrously wrong would be very much appreciated! Also, if there is something we're missing that you think is fabulous, please do share. Thanks in advance.

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  1. I guess you know that the average price at Boisdale is about £40. Maybe for you that is keeping the cost down and that's fine. Chef Ollie from Konstan at the Albert has recently had a TV series highlighting the restaurant. I'm not sure where you're from or if you've seen it. It may have boosted bookings and made it a tougher table to get, but who knows?

    3 Replies
    1. re: zuriga

      Yes, I know Boisdale is pushing the "keeping the cost down" thing, but since the other places are (comparatively) so reasonable, I thought we could step out a little for one meal. Also, I've had success convincing myself that the fact that they have live jazz means that the cost can be rationalized as inclusive of the evening's entertainment. Thanks for the heads-up, though.

      1. re: zuriga

        There was a really superb german riesling spatlese trocken there a while ago. One of their club wines, I think it was a 96. Absolutely excellent if you like that sort of thing.

        1. re: Tim

          Actally, I love, love, love Rieslings! Thank you so much for this suggestion.

      2. for medcalf; I went there three times: alone, couple and three companies; The taste was good everytime but the enjoyment directly related to the number of the people in the group. IIndeed, it is a pub with a very good food. Worth to try if you are a group of two but must try if you have more than three in the group.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kwantian

          Is the problem getting more than two seats together or is the problem that it's noisy for a group - or both? Either way - and as there will just be two of us - it's comforting to know that the food is consistently good. Sounds like Medcalf might make a nice back up plan if the line for one of the (other?) places that doesn't take reservations is too long.

        2. s
          Simon Majumdar

          Vinoteca is well worth a visit, but, if you did not know, it is

          a) very small
          b) does not take bookings in the evening so is difficult to get a seat

          that being said, Carol, the chef, is great and, if they she has any of her terrines on the menu, you have to try them.

          It could be worth a little Smithfield Market Crawl. I recently did starters at Comptoir Gascon ( not quite fitting in your focus - but worth a visit ) main courses at Vinoteca ( see link )

          For dessert, we popped across the rd to St John. My last full meal there was a disappointment, but sitting in their bar area for dessert is definitely worthwhile.

          I have heard mixed reports about Medcalf's recently and I think they have had a change of chef. I have not been in a while.

          The Fox is always a good bet.

          The Rivington is infuriating. Sometimes excellent, sometimes quite the opposite. Their roast chicken for two is very good, though.

          You could also consider Canteen at Spitalfield Market if you are keeping to this area.

          Also, the Anchor & Hope in The Cut is popular, but again they have a no booking policy so the wait is interminable.

          Hope this helps

          S

          Link: http://majbros.blogspot.com/2006/06/o...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Simon Majumdar

            Simon, thank you so much for your feedback. Your blog is great.

            Vinoteca sounds so good, we just have to make the effort. I was thinking we'd try hitting it early in the visit so that if the wait is too long, we can always try somewhere else on our list. Might phoning before we go and asking how long the wait is be a good strategy?

            Canteen was initially on my list but after reading some bad reviews I started to think it might be hit or miss. Also, I'm not crazy about the idea of communal seating, which I read they have.

            The Anchor and Hope sounds like a good idea.

            We went to St. John last visit and it was a really, really disappointing experience - compounded, no doubt, by the fact that it was the place I was looking forward to the most. The room was really loud, the communal seating felt intrusive, service was almost entirely absent, the food was okay at best and the price somehow ended up being on par with any of the top-tier restaurants we visited. For our money, I would have rather gone back to Petrus, where we were treated with the utmost graciousness, kindness and indulgence and where the food was surreally delicious. I also felt terrible for subjecting my boyfriend to the expensive ordeal. I'm trying to avoid a repeat this time 'round and no doubt the everyone here's thoughtful suggestions have already gone a long way towards that.

            1. re: peelmeagrape

              If you don't like St John, don't bother with the Anchor and Hope then

          2. as one who has always been in the dissenting minority re st. john, i applaud your post. now i don't feel so alone anymore.

            truth to tell, st. john is more gimmicry than real food.

            it don't mean a thing if it aint got that swing.

            1. I've had some very good, hearty meals at Medcalf, but haven't been for a while. You'll want to make a reservation as it can be busy amid all the Exmouth Market hustle and bustle. And of course there's always Moro next door...

              Rivington Bar & Grille has been uneven the few times I've been there. They tend to do simple food (burgers, fish fingers aka fish sticks) better than the more elaborate dishes, though I have had some good meals from all over the menu.