That one English thing
I've been over here for a few months and have been amazed at the creativity that chefs here employ when it comes completely destroying a dish--never terrible the same way twice. It's high comedy that is slowly turning to tragedy. But I can't believe that everything here is inedible. Though I'm learning that everything is absurdly expensive (and I'm coming from New York). Anyway, enough griping. San Francisco has burritos, New York had Shopsins, LA has Mexican food and Korean BBQ and Langer’s pastrami and well, a lot of things. But I’m hoping you all can help me figure out what London has. What is that one exceptional thing you can get here that just isn’t the same anywhere else, and where does one find it?
I'm from the NY area, too, and have lived over here 3 years. I think it takes awhile, but there are many enjoyable food possibilities and some that rival what one finds in Manhattan. It takes some experimenting and trying to find places that suit your palate. I don't think I'll ever get used to the high prices, but we don't have any ice storms at present.
A modern invention, but the ploughman's lunch you can find in any pub...hard to screw up a hunk of cheese with Branston pickle.
Cornish Pasties (although maybe one should really go to Cornwall for those)
Maybe it's only for tourists, but I've always loved the "Full English breakfast." I don't know who decided to have baked beans with breakfast, but it was a great idea.
Fantastic cheeses from the north country (e.g. Wenslydale, Stilton), pickled onions (spicy style from Saintsbury is also delicious with cheese and charcuterie, delightfully light scones; clotted cream (fresh and oh so lovely on warm scones); really good PIMS cups at Ascot; strawberries and cream at Wimbledon, sticky toffee pudding, summer pudding, conserves.
For the budget conscious, Indian cuisine is typically the "affordable" dining out choice, pub cuisine can be affordable; Chinese restaurants are typically expensive.