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London Good Cheap Eats-Report

The dollar is at an all-time low against the British pound, but we still found some (relatively) inexpensive restaurants with good food thanks to fellow Chowhounders and a few guide books. Here's the report from our four-day trip:

ROCK AND SOLE PLACE
47 Endell Street, Covent Garden
I knew this place from my last visit. Wonderful fish and chips. We had cod and haddock, and both were excellent. There's picnic table outside seating if the weather is nice. There's nice indoor seating upstairs, and lots more room downstairs, but it's a bit claustrophobiic down there you'll be near the toilets.

HARP PUB
47 Chandos Place, near Charing Cross Tube and Oscar Wilde monument
A wonderful pub with farm-fresh sausages that they put into rolls to make terrific sandwiches. Settle in with a pint of beer or cider and a sausage sandwich, and soak up the atmosphere. The front window opens to the street, so it's always bright and breezy inside.

SEA FRESH
80-81 Wilton, near Victoria Station
Another good fish and chips restaurant. Large and airy, not much atmosphere. Maybe not quite as good as Rock and Sole, but not far behind.

MASALA ZONE
147 Earls Court (near Earls Court tube station)
9 Marshall Street (Oxford Circus tube)
Other locations
A chain of Indian restaurants with very good (and surprisingly spicy) food. They have an early-bird dinner before 6:00 or 6:30, and they also have a huge price fix meal that's a good deal.

BRICK LANE BEIGEL BAKE
159 Brick Lane
If you happen to find yourself in the Whitechapel area (as we did taking a fun Jack the Ripper walking tour), don't miss Brick Lane, which is a funky artist-friendly street that reminded me a lot of the East Village in NYC before it got gentrified. There are tons of interesting looking Indian restaurants, and this place, which is an institution. They serve a freshly baked bagel, fill it with salt beef (sort of like corned beef), slather it with mustard and dressing, and boy is it tasty.

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  1. Thanks for the report. How were the bagel's themselves at Brick Lane? Can you give an NYC equivalent as reference?

    S

    16 Replies
    1. re: CTownFeedR

      The bagels were very good, and it certainly helped that they were fresh out of the oven and piping hot. My NYC favorite is H&H, but these weren't quite that good. They were a bit softer and less chewy, which made them work quite nicely as a sandwich. If you're in the Brick Lane area, you should definitely research some of the Indian restaurants. There were many that looked tempting.

      1. re: CTownFeedR

        I didn't particulary love the Brick Lane Beigels but what do I know.. grew up in Phila. They are more authentic than the supermarkets' so I give them points for that. Carmelli's Bakery at Golder's Green has a good variety and nice baked things, too, in the 'old' style. Sadly, I live too far away to get there very often.

        1. re: zuriga1

          Thanks for the feedback. Is everything closed up in Golder's Green on Saturdays? Maybe I will make a trip out there this weekend.

          1. re: CTownFeedR

            I think some of the places are closed on Saturday, sorry I can't tell you which ones. I guess a phone call ahead might save you some wasted time. I wouldn't be surprised if the bakery is not open. There's a deli on the same block but I save my corned beef sandwiches for the States now. Are you from CT?

            1. re: zuriga1

              Thanks, I'll just go Sunday and make it easy on myself. I'm a Brooklynite, btw.

        2. re: CTownFeedR

          i actually don't think there's an equivalent. i've eaten my share of brick lane beigels, and while i like them i don't think they're much like a new york bagel. tasty, but more like a step up from a roll as opposed to the fluffy-crunchy-chewy-fluffy behemoths you get in nyc.

          1. re: wleatherette

            Thanks. The few doughy abominations I've tried so far have been very disappointing.

            S

            1. re: CTownFeedR

              it's definitely worth a stop if you're in the area, though. the salt beef is tasty, as is the smoked salmon with cream cheese, and you can't beat the prices. the cheesecake and the apple strudel aren't bad, either.
              i'm pretty sure that carmelli's, mentioned upthread, is the place that my former coworker recommended as being the best in golders green.

              1. re: wleatherette

                I'm sure it was probably Carmelli's. One of my British friends grew up north of Golder's Green and told me about the bakery when I first moved here and stayed in North London for a month. I wasn't disappointed with the place and wish I could get there once in awhile. That said, the deli she sent us to for salt beef was just so-so.

                1. re: wleatherette

                  Well, I did make it over to Shoreditch to try Brick Lanes Beigel. I really wasn't in the mood for the salt beef so I tried a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel. Much better than anything I've had to date. There was a nice crisp-ness to the exterior while still a very chewy inside. Just like a bagel should be. Flavor of the bagel itself was decent. Nothing earth shattering, but fine. There were no flavor options, just plain.

                  In some ways, they remind me more of Montreal bagels than NY ones. Still, definitely worth it if one is jonesing for a bagel in London and don't live/work far away.

                  Golders Green next!

                  1. re: CTownFeedR

                    I'm enjoying your reports. I should try to get up again to Brick Lane one of these days. I've actually made my own bagels a few times with our bread machine. Zabar's would laugh. I grew up where there were only egg bagels... they were so bad!! :-)

            2. re: CTownFeedR

              I like Carmellis...they are the closest I've found to NY thus far. (I'm from Rockaway orginally, and then LI if it helps you judge my judging skills.) Two places I've gotten great feedback on are Daniel's in Golders Green and the Happening Bagel Bakery on Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park. Haven't gotten to either yet, but will try...(just got back from NY today and have a 1/2 dozen everything and salt bagels from H&H with me!)

              1. re: kristainlondon

                happening bagel is pretty good. about the same as brick lane, but the bagels are a little bit bigger. i really liked their challah.

                1. re: kristainlondon

                  Ah the Rockaways. I remember sitting on the beaches off Fort Tilden snacking on a Rollin Roaster. Good times...

                  Thanks for the heads on Happening Bagel. That's not too far from me so I'll give it and Carmelli's as well.

                  1. re: CTownFeedR

                    if you have time when you go to happening bagel, be sure to check out some of the middle eastern pastry shops on blackstock road near finsbury park station and the afro-carib grocers along stroud green road as you go up.

                    1. re: wleatherette

                      Here's a quick and sad update regarding the aforementioned Rock and Sole Plaice. They are no longer allowed to have picnic tables on the pavement outside. I live just around the corner and always loved being able to nosh al fresco on warm summer nights. There are very few other options to eat outdoors in the area... or at least places where you'd want to eat. It has something to do with Camden Council - the last time I ate there they were passing around a petition for people to sign in support of keeping the outdoor tables. Does anyone know anything about this? Can anything be done?
                      Also, I'd like to add a cheap eats suggestion... Viet - a tiny Vietnamese restaurant on Greek Street directly behind the Palace Theatre at Cambridge Circus. Far from the best Vietnamese, it is great value for money. The spring rolls, spicy beef salad and the various Pho are all good. Also try the deep fried squid.

              2. I'm not an angry person but what on earth is this with the NYC and Montreal bagels comparison?? These are not bagels, they are beigels, it's a kosher thing.... not like your flavoured poppy seed American 'rolls' which you have somehow named bagels, and they taste fine but they are not the same thing....
                It also explains why they are shut on Saturdays in Golders Green, it's Shabbat....

                1 Reply
                1. re: loisstella

                  Ahhh...loisstella, them's fightin' words. New York City (my hometown) and Montreal (my husband's college town) have more than their share of kosher street cred, my friend. Now if you want to compare your London place to some mushy poppyseed excuse-for-a-bagel that you might find, say, in a plastic bag at K-mart in North Dakota, then I won't get in your way. But you'll have to crawl over quite a few Jews before you get to dismiss New York and Montreal bagels so offhandedly. Just a word to the wise.

                2. Good call on Rock and Sole. Fish and chips were great.