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help with london picks

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we will be in london over thanksgiving from SF- just 4 full days to see some friends and hang out. I was in London 10 years ago and my husband has never been. I'm sure our friends will have some places picked out, but we will have most of the days and 1 night on our own. I believe they live near the Tower of London, but we are happy to travel wherever for great food.

Here's where we're at so far:
Tayyabs (Bombay Brasserie & Amaya has also been recommended, as well as checking out Brick Lane- we definatly want great Indian)
St. John's
Momouth Coffee (for breakfast)
Bourough Market (Canteen)
Le Gavroche
Locandra Locatelli

Any other suggestions would be great! Thanks!

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  1. Just for information, Canteen is at Spitalfield Market rather than Borough.


    1. Tayyabs is great for seekh kababs, but that's about it. I still have to try Bombay Brasserie (lunch buffet only), but I have heard GREAT things about it. 18.95 for the lunch buffet is supposed to be a good deal. Also, I would not eat anywhere on Brick Lane. It's all pretty bad, but definitely worth walking the area to check out - one of my favs to walk around and very close to Spitafields market (where Canteen is located). Oh yea, there is also a less expesive St. John (with a different menu - check their website) right across the street from the market.

      I think Borough is a must! Open Friday and Saturdays, but you must go on Saturday. It is VERY crowded, but totally worth it. Find the guys that sell raclet (sp?) and the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever eaten!!! Also, find Brindisa - spanish goods, but they sell an excellent chorizo sandwich. Just look for the que.

      Lastly, if you don't mind travelling why not check out Lisboa Patesserie by Ladbroke Grove. It is a good morning to head there and then walk the Portobello Rd. market. They have amazing Portuguese bakery items (ham&cheese croissant, custard tarts, etc.) and great milk coffee. There will be a huge line, but it is worth it.

      Have fun

      1 Reply
      1. re: houston

        I agree, the food in and around Brick Lane is horrible.


      2. London restaurants can be, are, shockingly expensive, especially to any U.S.A. visitors; therefore, for the more expensive places you want to try, go for their price-fixed lunches. I strongly suggest you do that for Le Gavroche, Mon to Fri, and insist, politely but firmly, to sit far away from the kitchen. My first time there I was a lone diner and they lead me to a booth very near the kitchen door and the noises from the kitchen degraded the overall dining experince and at NO time were they more than 33% occupied. I believe you can see that booth in picture #3 with the doorway to the right, but when I was there there was a screen that hid that doorway and the closest booth from the rest of the restaurant.


        1. All pretty safe bets... Arbutus is the current flavour of the month. If you're near Tower of London, you could do far worse than walking across Tower Bridge to Butlers Wharf and tucking in at the Blueprint Cafe (try and get a window table). You'll get a very good meal indeed, with wonderful views of the Bridge and river.

          The suggestion for fixed price lunches is worth following up - places like Lindsey House, Gavroche all have them and they are the best way to eat really really well without breaking the bank (just watch the wine, though!). Zagat or Hardens will give you the places that have a set price menu.

          There was a long thread on here a short while back, covering some very good Indian recommendations. Brick Lane should be avoided if possible...

          1. Personally, I like Tayyabs. For very fancy, try Zaika in South Ken.

            You've picked a pretty excellent list of places. If you're looking for informal lunches/dinners, my two recs would be...
            Vinoteca on St. John St (south of St. John's) in Farringdon. Can be combined with a trip to St Paul's or the Museum of London
            The Providores on Marylebone High Street, which can be combined with shopping on Oxford Street and Marylebone High Street.

            1. Been to both Bombay Brasserie and Amaya. My Indian colleague assured me that Bombay Brasserie is as authentic as it gets. The food is traditional at Bombay Brasserie - I've been there twice for dinner, but I can't remember the specifics. The memory of the last visit wiped out any memories of the food because folks at the neighboring table (wealthy, visiting Indians) thought that they were getting bad service so drama ensued about the tip and such. Really spoiled the meal. The food was good, though - I don't think that you'll be disappointed. The decor is really interesting - very much like New Orleans square at Disneyland.

              Amaya is more nouveau Indian - went there for lunch with colleagues. Personally, I think that it tries too hard and is quite pricey for what it was. It was like 'creative' Indian rabbit food. Sometimes, I really don't understand how Michelin grants its stars. But it does give restaurants the ability to charge more for meals.

              I was taken to Chutney Mary's a couple of years ago - the food was pretty good there, but it was a business dinner so I didn't really focus as much on the food as I normally do.

              BTW, my Indian colleague also mentioned to pass on the Brick Lane restaurants - he says that they are all Bangladeshi, not Indian. To be honest, I wouldn't know the difference so I can't comment.

              I would totally pass on Canteen - I went there on the recommendation of a friend who's British and said that they served great modern British food. There was a huge line outside the restaurant so I thought, for sure, it would be great. We had the duck confit (roast of the day) - dry and ugh would be my description. The service was pretty appalling because it was Sunday (day that the Borough Market is open) but it was around 3pm in the afternoon. It took almost 1 hour to get our meal served.

              I have had great things about Locanda Locatelli - I've been meaning to go there.

              Here are some of my favorites in London:
              -Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Rd (a must if you can splurge) - also been to the one at Claridges, Petrus, Maze, Banquette and Boxwood Cafe. I would maybe go back to Petrus.
              -Thai Origin: good local Thai place
              -Nobu on Park Lane
              -Hunan - novelty of not having to order; you will get served!
              -Gaucho Grill at Picadilly - great steaks at fairly reasonable prices
              -C&R Malaysian - there's a hole-in-the-wall one in Chinatown or a nicer one in Westbourne Grove
              -Wolseley - had breakfast there; a bit pricey but good food and amazing ambience

              1. cqt - your indian colleague knows what hes talking about. here are two tips for him: quilon, for keralan, is also run by the taj group - worth checking out. and tell him that the gaylords in mortimer street is pukka ('puck-ah') too - same people from bombay and delhi.

                he'll thank you.