8 days/London report (long)
London hounds, you came through! We did not get to even a quarter of all the fab places we wanted to try, but here is a sampling of what we did indulge in, the good, the bad and the ugly!
Moti Mahal on Great Queen St.- for weekday lunch. The atmosphere was reserved and quiet with street contruction going on outside, the view from the window seats was marred by equipment. Food was simply amazing with no rival in San Francisco: flavorful palak w/wild mushrooms and bitingly fresh ginger, smoky benghan bhartha with whole tomato garni, a tandoori bream that melted in your mouth with a charred crust that had a perfect crunch, a roasted tandoori stack of vegies with each one reserving it's own individual flavor, but the dish blended and worked beautifully, 2 incredible naan selections, saffron, pistachio with sesame seeds and a cumin, coriander. Pricey at L45 with no alcohol but we didn't want anything on the set lunch which was a good deal.
Borough Market- on Saturday, noon-3p.m. I have to say that place makes our Ferry Plaza look puny. Ate lunch at FISH! and felt at home, much like a restaurant we have near San Francisco called FISH. The grilled sardines were so well prepared, they could not have been better, came with slightly dressed greens. Fish and Chips hardly counted as typical, a huge hunk of cod with a slight batter that shattered instantly with no grease, even the mushy peas were good! Shopped the market for several hours, buying various cheeses (samples of fried chevre and CB stilton were hits) pears, and baked goods (we were leaving the next day so could not buy produce, meat etc), the patisserie guy with the huge hunks of chocolate had some wonderful snowflake cookies. Then on to Fusebox to score a couple lentil cakes w/tomato chutney. These morsels were incrediblely flavored with saffron and were nothing like anything I had ever had before, truly unusual food.
Gaby's on Charing Cross Rd.-early weekday dinner. Loved this place for the easy atmosphere. Shared salad plate combos piled high with felafel, aubergine, beetroot, spinach and corn, hummos. Not the best renditions I have ever had, but certainly well done and good value.
Neal's Yard Dairy on Shorts Garden-got totally addicted to their stiltons and fresh north country oakcakes. Went every other day to replenish our supply. Loved their goat yogurt, too.
Monmouth Coffee on Monmouth-by the time we got there, we had been in the UK for 10 days with no coffee, and while we loved all the tea we sampled, this was such a treat, pure coffee heaven. Had another cup at Borough Market outlet on Saturday, as well.
Maxwell's in Covent Garden-horrible atmosphere, overpriced tourist place. The salads were forgetable, but the housemade soups, cream of wild mushroom and a tomato basil were very good.
Tas Pide on New Globe Walk and Tas on Bloomsbury-both provided lovely Anatolia meals with excellent service in comfortable rooms. Of special note, sardine and grapevine pide was exceptional. At the Bloomsbury place, a 2 course set price dinner (around L8) brought very good tabuleh and lamb shish.
Maison Touaregue on Greek St- Saturday night, surprisingly delicious multi meze dinner (we ordered about 10 different things), excellent house wine, superb rosemary bread. The belly dancer was a deterent to the atmosphere but the staff was kind and cordial.
Bhangra Beat on Drury Lane- weekday lunch buffet. Don't bother! We went because if was so close to our flat, we just had to try it, big mistake. All grease, no flavor.
Southall trip-Spent time browsing Quality Foods and wanting to bring back suitcases full. Ended up with only a masala spice mix I had run out of and couldn't find here. Then on to cruise Broadway for a couple hours. Had a fabulous meal at Rita's Samosa House. We feasted on masala dosa paneer, chapati w/aloo and another with radish, a perfect plain naan, aloo pakora, chilli chicken curry, lamb kebabs, and saag paneer. Fantastic!
Thanks for the great post. I know exactly how you felt by the time you found Monmouth - it's like an oasis in the desert.
I'm really looking forward to trying the Indian restaurants you reviewed -- I've been here 2 and a half months and while I've had consistently tasty Indian food, I have yet to enjoy the spectacular indian food feast that I know is here. So thanks for helping me focus my search!