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London Recommendations for a Brooklynite?

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My dad strong-armed me to spend a few days in London with him. I haven't been to London in 2 years and I love the city but now I'm forced to come up with a list of restaurants for us.

We're both serious food heads here in NYC. Besides the borough market and the rare favorite pub, I am pretty clueless about restaurants in London.

The criteria is mainly that the restaurant has to be friendly to a 60 year old man and his 26 year old son. I can't go to some popular hip place with my dad unless the food is the focus.

For those familiar with NYC, my favorite spots these days are Momofuku, Bouley, 'ino, Spotted Pig, Freemans, Keens Steakhouse, Katz's Deli, Il Buco, Landmarc, Sushi Yasuda...mainly great food with nothing extravagant.

I'd like to specifically go to a great gastro pub. Any recommendations for a good scotch bar?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. You won't find a Katz's Deli here but I doubt that's your focus. :-) My advice would be to read down and see some of the threads that talked about various places that the locals enjoy, especially when it comes to the gastro pub. Choose the type of food you'd like to try and specify that... best Japanese, British cuisine, French bistro etc. It will make the job easier for those who want to help you out. www.london-eating.co.uk will have some ideas, too. If you have the time, I'd try to get out of London for a lunch and see some of what's going on in the countryside or suburbs just a 40 minute train ride from the Big City. The Hind's Head in Bray (a Blumenthal pub) just can't be beat for fantastic food. Have a good trip. Maybe you could bring me some bagels? I really do miss those. IJust kidding)

    1. As usual, for a good gastropub, every time I'd choose the Anchor & Hope on The Cut in Waterloo (very close to Southwark tube station). You can't book, but just turn up, let them know at the bar that you want to eat and they'll fit you in within an hour, usually, if there are just the two of you. The food is excellent and the service is friendly and knowledgeable, if not exactly fast. You could also try The Greyhound on Battersea High Street (closest train Clapham Junction - maybe a ten minute walk), though my money is on the A&H. The food is the thing.

      For whisky...try Albannach at 66 Trafalgar Square (Great Whisky Bar of The World 2006 - Whisky magazine) - it's a specialist place and also has a Scottish restaurant.

      Oooh, my mouth is watering...chowhound is a bad workplace habit.

      1. Hi there -- I second the Anchor & Hope suggestion -- the only problem is waiting in a sometimes packed bar (not sure my dad would want to do that). But the food is excellent (and surprisingly reasonable -- perhaps go off-peak). I love Keene's too, and can recommend a few good steak places -- The Popeseye in Brook Green (a whole in the wall off the beaten path but some of the best steaks in London) or Smith's of Smithfield (Top Floor resturant -- the swankier steak option, but such a cool place by the Smithfield meat market, and offering great city views).

        I've been wanting to try Barrafina in Soho, which is tapas counter-side and is getting great reviews -- http://www.timeout.com/london/restaur...

        Also in Soho is Arbutus -- which must be the most reasonably priced Michelin-starred place in town.

        And for Indian food, I recommend Mela in Covent Garden, which is good, or Clifton, at the bottom of Brick Lane, which is better. And you have to eat Indian food while you're here!

        2 Replies
        1. re: www.ArrivalsLimited.com

          Even better than Clifton, go round the corner and back round the back of East London Mosque and try out New Tayyab's best food from the Subcontinent (actually Pakistani) around there - grill food to die for.

          1. re: Howard V

            just to get picky, pakistan IS in the subcontinent.

            new tayyabs does seekh kebabs very well - eat them with crisp tandoori roti and perhaps some pili dal. the chicken kebabs are dry and boring, and the lamb chops are so-so. the main courses tend be to be over-oily - you'll feel dry and heavy in about half an hour.

        2. Anchor & Hope has to be the winner if it's a gastropub you're after. You will have to wait but it will be worth it. A similar menu but with a few more home comforts (and a booking policy) can be found at the relatively new Magdalen on Tooley St (a short walk from Borough Market). If you'll excuse the blatant plug, there are reviews of both on http://londonfood.typepad.com

          I also agree about the whisky at Albannach. Amazing selection. Very busy though. Your best bet otherwise is just about any reasonably upmarket hotel bar. You'll pay handsomely for it but you should get a great selection. I had a good late-night treat at the Connaught not long ago, for instance.

          1. thanks everyone for your recommendations. from scouring the board, i assembled a list so far:

            dinners: launceston place, anchor and hope, arbutus, sally clarkes
            lunch: anglesea arms, magdalen, golden hind
            pubs: dove, albannach
            shops: neal's yard, lidgates

            i have a few questions...

            -im on the fence about st john. id like to go and ill eat anything but i dont want to eat valves just for the sake of saying it. is the food actually delicious or just different? would it be less expensive and just as good to go to the bread and wine outpost?

            -does albannach have good food? is it worth having dinner there as well as drinks?

            -i need a great indian place. my dad is a meat and potatoes type. he'll eat indian only if its not ultra spicy. whats the best indian to recommend?

            -is arbutus a hot restaurant that i might feel uncomfortable in with my dad?

            please let me know what you think of this list...any substitutions, places i must go to, etc...i can also use more amazing pubs. my dad and i are gonna have to be ultra drunk to deal with each other for 5 nights.

            any dessert places? i remember enjoying madame betreaux's (sp?) on greek street (i think)...

            thanks for all of your help...

            4 Replies
            1. re: sam1

              i more or less like your list - but i'd go to sally clarkes for lunch, not dinner. i'd take my dad to mohsen (the iranian on warwick rd) for outstanding kebabs and daily specials instead.

              also, go to moti mahal on great queen street for north indian and get your dad butter chicken.

              1. re: howler

                i figured you would...i took most of your recommendations :)

                seriously, i appreciate your input...what are some other pubs worth going to?

                1. re: sam1

                  You should be aware that Albannach is very far from being a pub in the British sense. It's an upscale bar with a great selection of whiskies. They do Scottish themed food.

                  If you want a traditional pub, I particularly like the Wheatsheaf, which would be an ideal stop-off if you're planning to visit Borough Market. Also in Borough, The George, with its Dickensian courtyard, is great in the sunshine. There are so many pubs. Might be easier to start with an area of London...

                  As far as St John is concerned: you should go. There will be unusual things on the menu, for sure, but they don't dominate. What you will get is simple, delicious food with a strong link to British traditional fare. You will also get exceptional service from knowledgeable and friendly staff.

              2. re: sam1

                Oh by the way aloo gosht which features on the Eriki menu is meat and potatoes Indian style!

              3. Hey Sam! Another Brooklynite here heading to London with my mom this coming weekend!

                At any rate: we've got rezzies at Hot Stuff (recently featured in the NYTimes) for good, cheap Indian and Arbutus.

                I was also looking at breakfast at Inn the Park and lunch at Sweetings (we're staying in The City, so it's convenient)

                Any other suggestions? My mom and I both like casual, neighborhood places and don't mind a bit of Tube travel to get to cafes and restaurants that will expose us to day-to-day London life.

                13 Replies
                1. re: kapuku

                  I've sampled a large cross section of Indian food in both restaurants and homes in London (and the rest of the UK for that matter) and my recommendation for a worthy Indian restaurant is Eriki in Swiss Cottage. You will find a good selection of regional dishes there for regular prices in pleasant but not overly trendy surroundings, perfect for parents and in fact I take my 60something [Indian] parents there and everyone is happy. Mostly mildly spiced dishes as well. Not in the centre of town but slightly north west in zone 2 on the tube (Jubilee line, get off at Swiss Cottage)


                  1. re: oonth

                    Thanks, oonth! Would you recommend Eriki over Hot Stuff? We've only got 3 nights in London, so I'm not sure we're going to do Indian more than once.

                    1. re: kapuku

                      Kapuku, I see that you've posted separately re Hot Stuff and I'm going to have to defer to the view of others as I've never been I'm afraid. It sounds interesting enough although it also sounds like a more basic eatery, canteen style - what Indians might call a "dhaba". Eriki is a proper restaurant with stylish decor, cutlery + crockery and smartly attired waitstaff. That may have a bearing on your thinking as may the fact that Vauxhall and Swiss Cottage are two very different neighbourhoods!!

                      1. re: oonth

                        Can you elaborate on the difference btw Vauxhall and Swiss Cottage? I have no knowledge of either place... are they the kind of neighborhoods where you'd take your mother. :)

                        1. re: kapuku

                          Swiss Cottage definitely no problem very residential albeit that Eriki itself is on a dual carriageway (the Finchley Road). Vauxhall - depends upon the mum I guess but is less residential, more "urban" and is punctuated by the convergence of busy roads, used and disused garages, overhead rail lines, business centres, warehouses, wholesale markets etc.

                          1. re: oonth

                            Thanks, oonth. We went to Hot Stuff this past weekend. That review is posted here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/380187

                            We also tried Arbutus. The place is very nice, clean and modern. Our appetizers consisted of a soup of potato and wild garlic. It was quite delicious, but over salted for my taste. My main was a disaster. It was listed as potato gnocchi with market vegetables and shaved parmesan. When it arrived, it was gnocchi with a mound of mushrooms. I'm sure they were delicious, but I avoid mushrooms like the plague. I should have sent the plate back, because I do not equate "market vegetables" with mushrooms, but I had had a few pints before coming to dinner and was feeling quite mellow and non-confrontational. So instead I had some of my mom's dish, which was a filet of sea bass with tomato risotto and parsley sauce (really more of a parsley reduction). It was good, but again was dramatically oversalted.

                            For dessert we chose the "floating island": a thick disk of soft meringue floating in a shallow bowl of vanilla custard. It was delicious.

                            All told, we shelled out £57. It was an enjoyable meal, but I wouldn't pay a second visit.

                            1. re: kapuku

                              i just made reservations at arbutus based on adam platt's recent review. im thinking of having more of the pig's head and sweatbreads so we'll see if that is their strength.

                              1. re: sam1

                                Let me know... that goes beyond my culinary boundaries as a former long-term vegetarian, but I'd be interested to hear if you like the place. Overall, I'd have to agree with Platt's general assessment of the difference between NYC and London dining... there doesn't appear to be a lot in the middle range price-wise. And, egads, London is crazy expensive, even for a New Yorker.

                                1. re: kapuku

                                  so, further consolidating my list, here is my itinerary:

                                  arrive in london at hotel...go to borough market to avoid crowds...eat some food. have early dinner at anchor and hope to avoid crowds

                                  looking for a good english breakfast place near earl's court (where my hotel is), then dinner reservations at arbutus.

                                  maybe golden hind or tayyebs for lunch. dinner at st john followed by drinks at jerusalem pub.

                                  bombay brasserie for lunch buffet...dinner at launceston place.

                                  lunch is open but i was thinking of visiting the dove for dinner and drinks.

                                  anyone have any further recommendations? any comments to this list? some pubs id like to go to include wenlock arms, the garrison, some others.

                                  1. re: sam1

                                    you shouldn't miss mohsen on warwick road!

                                    1. re: sam1

                                      I wouldn't go to borough market on Thursday -- it doesn't open up fully until Friday/Saturday. Go for lunch on Friday -- it's not too crowded.

                                      As for gastropubs, the ones on the list are good but some others you should consider trying: the Marquess in Islington (their specialty is Roast Beef that you order by the weight, and is absolutely without question the best I've ever had); and the Eagle on Farringdon Road, which is consistently good as well as being recognized as the first gastropub in London.

                                      If you're in the mood for good steaks, the best I've had in London is a place called the Hawksmoor on Commercial St. Since you're coming from NYC you might want to give this one a pass but it really is fantastic.

                                      I second the Tayyab's posts -- if you're looking for a fantastic and totally authentic kebab place, you'll find it here. For a more upscale Indian, try the Red Fort on Dean St. in Soho. A little pricey but I've always had amazing food there.

                                      1. re: sam1

                                        Re the Jerusalem Tavern, in common with many pubs in and around the City, it doesn't open at the weekend.


                                        1. re: Gav

                                          thanks for the input. ive decided to take howler's advice and go to mohsens...and possibly include lunch at moti mahal. im also planning on sunday night dinner at galvin brothers.