Thoughts about how to best deal with New Year's Eve in London?
In my town (San Francisco) New Year's eve is a good night to stay home with a good bottle of bubbly in front of the fireplace: restaurants tend to have expensive and limited set menus and the food is often not up to par. So when I am home, I usually stay home.
This year, however, hubby and I will be in London for New Year's eve, staying in the Bloomsbury area. This will be our first trip to London, and we will have a total of only four nights in town, on a stopover on a trip to North Africa. Will be in a hotel, so staying home in front of the fire isn't that practical.
So, how would hounds recommend we spend the evening? Do restaurants in England tend to make the big production of NYE that many do here, with set menus and all of that? I am open to the possibility of spending a lot of money on a very good dinner, at least one night of our trip, but is NYE the night to do it? If not, what are some tasty low-end alternatives, particularly in Bloomsbury? Or should we just get a bottle of bubbly, some good cheese and crackers, and stay 'home' in our hotel room? (Alas, but we won't be able to afford a room with a fireplace)
Thanks for your suggestions!
I have spent New Year's Eve in London, four or five years ago. Now, I have no idea where the neighborhood you're staying is at....but here's what we did: We were with a group of eight that went to Chinatown for dinner. We had an excellent meal, at about $30 or $40 each. A chinese member of our group ordered the food, but it wasn't anything horribly exotic. Although a reservation was helpful for that large a group, we only made it earlier in the day....so certainly the two of you could arrange something like that at the last minute. Of course, good chinese is something you can get at home...I'm sorry I don't remember the name of the restaurant; the point is that there wasn't a special menu and the food was good.
On the way back to the hotel from the tube station we passed a pub that looked lively but not overly crowded. We ended up toasting the actual New Year's itself with a round of Guinness with some new found English friends who were in the bar. It was a lot of fun. Singing "Aud Lang Syne" (or however you spell it) was de riguer.
I spent a great NYE in Covent Garden many years ago. Some friends and I went to nice and lively french bistro-can't remember the name-and then at midnight we walked over to the old market where there were plenty of people celebrating. They even had a fireworks display. We also brought our own bubbly which kept the mood going.
Having lived here most of my life, I have enjoyed every shade of New Year celebration from beer-fueled statue-climbing in Trafalgar Square to Black Tie affairs in the hotels of Park Lane.
Firstly, I think you need to decide where you want to be on the raucous - civilised continuum. Do you want to be rowdy and disturb the Queen's Peace or do you want to be sedate, proprietous and dignified?
For raucous, I would suggest an evening surfing the clubs/bars/restaurants of Shoreditch. You could start at the excellent Green and Red on Bethnal Green Road, carrying out a deep exploration of their fine tequilas.
For civilised, you'll have to ask someone else.
Find a fellow chowhound and invite yourself to dinner? Am a Londoner and have never ventured out on New Year's (in London) as I would rather stay in and have a great meal than go out, be surrounded by drunks and be disappointed. Or is that too sedate? If staying in with bread and cheese is a genuine option then check out when borough market is on (closer to the time) and see if you can pick up some tasties. Sorry, Christmas and New Year have always been family affairs.