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Coming to London in August from NYC

Hello there. This is Jason from NYC. I am coming to London and need some guidance:)
What I desire. I am staying in the Kensington area- I am willing to travel of course, but it would be great to know spots that are close by. I have been to many of NY's great restaurants, but I am not a snob. Although i am critical about food, I do not love stuffy places. Maybe one fancy place while I am in there, but that is not a must. I truly enjoy serious chefs, doing seriously fresh, inventive or simple food in an accessible environment. NY is filled with that and I have become accustomed. Please ask questions if you need clarification on my dining hopes.....

Breakfasts-local cuisine , hearty, fun... non-touristy
Lunch-street foods, dives, hidden ethnic gems or must tries
Dinners-sampling of many ethnic cuisines
modern european food
great pub food- traditional and modern
the best indian(creative, "fusioney" indian is ok)
1 trendy place with killer food (any cuisine)
1 good date place

and of course other suggestions that you all think i must try! I look forward to your responses....

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  1. fwiw, i think you'll have better luck if you scroll through the many thousands of posts, select what you like and then come ask back.

    there are SO many posts like yours with the identical question thay you'll be much better served if do a bit of homework first.

    here's a list which i got by putting the words 'london' and 'nyc' in the search engine:


    1 Reply
    1. re: howler

      ok i will do so.. maybe some other folks want to chime in anyway

    2. Jason, I've read and enjoyed some of your posts on the Manhattan board. I haven't been living in London full time for a couple of years but I've kept my eye in so to speak with regular visits back and through food loving friends/relatives in the city. If you give me your Manhattan/Outer Boroughs top 10 from the last year, I will get a good sense of your tastes and can then suggest accordingly.

      6 Replies
      1. re: oonth

        here goes

        jean georges
        a voce
        tasting room(the old tasting room) have not been to the new
        casa mono
        (that's 11) :)

        those come to mind.. diverse list yes.. but memorable food

        1. re: jsmitty

          OK I've eaten at 7 of those places and have a sense of the others so I get the gist. I will consult + contemplate and come back to you with suggestions, like I say I'm out of the loop a little.

          FWIW, Degustation is one of the very few Manhattan places that I have found to be exceptional and displaying WOW factor.

          1. re: oonth

            great whatever you can do... i respect howlers view on cross referencing, but this will also be helpful....

            1. re: jsmitty

              howdy jsmitty,

              mass transit in london is pretty good. next to the holborn tube station is asadal, a wonderfully decent korean establishment. river cafe is pricey and smacks of "yesterday's news" but my guess is you'll enjoy your meal based on your nyc favorites. we did.



              1. re: steve h.

                thanks. how bout more from others :)

              2. re: jsmitty

                OK here are a few thoughts, there may be downhill alerts attaching to some of those places I haven't frequented since 2004-2005 so hopefully others will highlight or your own research will shed light. I will asterisk those places I have eaten at in the last 1 year as the quality control is more current:

                [So Called] Fine Dining - dominated by Ramsay and his proteges and it will cost you plenty. I enjoyed lunches at Maze and The Capital back in 2005 but you can now do the former in NYC (London Hotel) so probably not worth the effort. Club Gascon was another high end place I always enjoyed, food from the Gascony region of SW France and a standalone foie gras menu plus a tasting menu that changes from month to month. They also have two less formal places: Cellar Gascon, a winebar next to the restaurant and Comptoir Gascon*, a deli/cafe with a shortish menu. I would also recommend a place called The Chancery in legal land, you can check out the High Court/Inns of Court nearby and you can also get 50% if you book with top table. Giorgio Locatelli is the Batali equivalent in London, Locanda Locatelli is his flagship, good the one time I went but expensive.

                Gastropubs - you should definitely sample as gastropub development in NYC is embryonic. Others have mentioned various places including Magdalen, Great Queen Street, Anchor & Hope, I'll suggest a couple of places from yesteryear and all away from the centre - The Salusbury (Queens Park), The House (Canonbury), The Hill (Belsize Park), each with a fashionable locals scene going on if that's of any interest. There's a new gastropub in my hood (Hampstead) called The Horseshoe which looks and sounds the part and which could be combined with a visit to a charmimgly located pub like the Holly Bush or the Wells and/or a walk around Hampstead Village/on Hampstead Heath. There's a gastroplace called Bacchus in Hoxton which I want to check out, some resonance with Degustation.

                Indian - take your pick from Eriki* (Swiss Cottage), Moti Mahal* (Covent Garden, more inventive), Tayyabs* (Whitechapel) or Gaylord (Oxford Circus). If you want some South Indian, hike up to NW London and check out Saravanas*, Vijays or Geetas, all cheap and cheerful.

                Trendy - seems to be dominated by upscale Japanese these days like Roka, Zuma and Umu*. I did lunch at Umu recently and it is very good food in stylish surroundings but it is way expensive especially in the evenings. Hakkasan is another option but I would suggest Yauatcha before this place (the guy behind these places is opening his first NY restaurant in the Gramercy Park Hotel at some point this summer). There's also Crazy Bear which I have heard mixed things about foodwise but it is very hip.

                Middle Eastern - one of London's strengths, I used to enjoy Cafe du Liban for Lebanese and Alounak for Iranian.

                Chinese new wave - you could try one out of Pearl Liang*, Bar Shu, Snazz Sichuan, Dragon Castle.

                Japanese/Sushi - not at NYC's level but some good options nevertheless which I have been exploring these last few weeks. Umu* I have mentioned but I would also give a special mention for Edokko* and Sakana tei* (sushi counter) and Soho Japan* (izakaya in a converted Irish pub, mainly Japanese clientele). There's also Abeno for okonomi-yaki which used to be a favourite.

                Deli/Picnics etc - a good suggestion from loisstella to take advantage of London's parks/greenspaces and maybe do some picnics. I would recommend strolling from Camden Town to Primrose Hill along the canal (Sardo Canale is a good Italian/Sardinian on the canal) and then up Gloucester Avenue (couple of gastros on this street = The Engineer and the Lansdowne), along Regents Park Road and into the park for the views. Hampstead Village I have already mentioned, Highgate is another option. A Gold (Spitalfields) and Melrose & Morgan (Primrose Hill) are good delis with a local produce slant.

                Market Streets - Whitecross Street, Broadway Market and Portobello Road all have good food stalls and worthwhile eateries nearby, you may need to check opening days. Columbia Road and Brick Lane have Sunday markets (morning only in the case of Columbia Road flower market) plenty of eating options around both.

                Smithfield - near my London office so a couple of recs namely Vinoteca* (winebar with excellent Mediterrean food and wines by the glass), Saki* (Japanese sushi+sake bar/izakaya), Kurz & Lang* (German wurst house), Piada* (Italian piadinas), both of the latter places do better than average coffee. Also De Santis, the London outpost of a Milanese panini place and the pan-Asian soup place next door (used to be called Soupacific, has now changed names).

                Let me know if you have follow up questions.

        2. You should definitely eat at one pub place with good, traditional food. Everyone seems to love the Anchor and Hope near Waterloo. We had a good lunch at 32 Great Queen St. the other week and being an ex-NYorker, I seem to still enjoy an interesting ambiance from time to time and like The Cinnamon Club for its atmosphere - and its food although not all agree with me on that. Eat what you can't find in NYC - that's the most fun of all.

          3 Replies
          1. re: zuriga1

            "Eat what you can't find in NYC - that's the most fun of all."


            zuriga - you really have to go try the bombay brasserie for lunch to get a sense of what real indian restaurant food is. or if you want to be in the cinn club area, go try quilon.

            1. re: howler

              Howler, I used to stay a block from the Bombay Brasserie before I finally moved here. A good friend took me to lunch there, but it was about 7 years ago, so I'm definitely due a return visit. This time, I will know what the different dishes are! We'll try to get to Quilon, too. I wish the train into London wasn't as expensive for two as it is. It adds a lot to the cost of an evening out!!

              zuriga (whinging as usual)

              1. re: howler

                I second Bombay Brasserie too and would not miss a dinner at Randa either.

            2. Some grerat British restaurants (continuing on the "Eat what you can't find in NYC - that's the most fun of all."theme, I guess you can find British food in NYC, but I guess it's more authentic here...)
              The Ambassador - Exmouth Market
              Lindsay house - Park Lane
              St John - St John Street (or St John bread & wine at spitalfields)

              If you're here in August, you should also have some lovely weather so I thought I'd give you some outside dining ideas too:
              Inn the park - St James park (not the best restuarant, but fabulous setting)
              Orrery - Marylebone - in this area is also a fantastic cheese shop called the Fromagerie, worth a vist, especially on a Sunday when ther's a lovely little farmers market.
              Daphne's in Camden is a really low key but nice enough Greek restaurant. It has a fabulously hidden little roof garden. I'd recommend going there.

              Breakfast: I'd recommend at Jamie Oliver's 15 restaurant. I wouldn't bother with another meal there but brekkie is not expensive and very good. My husband loves the fry up, I adore the muesli with fresh fruit.
              Lunch - ethnic - try Song que - Vietnamese on Kingsland road

              Great pub food - try
              The Pig's ear (also on your side of town)
              The Gun in the Docklands is becoming more and more popular, but for good reason I think.

              I am not an expert on trendy - but allthough Hakkasan has been aorund for a while, it's still looking pretty trendy to me, plus the food is great. Cocktails also very good and impressive champagne list.

              5 Replies
                1. re: jsmitty

                  We are in London from Toronto for 3 nights in August. We are very interested in this post - are staying in the Keningston Olympia area and are very interested in recommendations from all who have responded. Are particularly interested in any Turkish or Indian venues in the area. However, we are interested in any type of cuisine as we just like to eat well!! More suggestions??

                  1. re: jmlh

                    perhaps we can all get a drink:)

                    1. re: jsmitty

                      I'm on for the drinks!
                      I'm not great on the Indian front but know some people on this board that are...
                      Have a look at recent UK posts on the board, I started one on Southern Indian cooking and got some very good tips.
                      Good Turkish places are mostly found in the North and East parts of town (because it makes up a good part of the population there), but West-ish I think worth mentioning are:
                      Ishtar in the Marylebone area
                      Best Mangal on the North End Road (near Earls court)

                    2. re: jmlh

                      If your staying in Kensington Olympia; make sure you eat at The Havelock Tavern in Brook Green. It is one of the top gastropubs in London. Accept only cash, no credit cards. Wonderful menu whch changes daily

                2. not to pat myself on the back but my recent post may help you figure out whats good from a nyer's perspective...with real prices to boot.


                  1 Reply
                  1. Wine bar just off Leicester Square: The Cork and Bottle. Good wine by the glass (or bottle), very tasty food you see under a deli-style glass display from which it is served. Local business people go there for lunch and after work for drinks. I found it by chance in 1986, and my husband who travels there regularly goes to C&B when in central London. Very convenient -- esp. in busy area popular with tourists. Again, NOT touristy because it is a little off the beaten path -- a side street named Cranbourn. I just googled it, and you can too to read reviews and get further information.

                    In August many places will be closed, I think. Check into the places that you intend to visit to see if they will be open.

                    1. Jason, here are a couple suggestions. Hope they help. I can hear people complaining already about its being a touristy place or that it's infested with Americans, but still, I think you owe it to yourself to have a meal at Rules on Maiden Lane in Covent Garden. I live very nearby and eat there often. Here you will find some real old-fashioned(in the best sense), traditional British dishes. Although many Americans do find their way there (I am a transplanted American) I am always struck and pleased that the bulk of the diners are Brits; okay, so they're old and generally well-heeled Brits, but frankly I love that about the place. Besides, there is probably no more "English" looking place. The service is fine, nothing to rave about, and friendly - never fussy or cold. If Whitebait is on the menu grab it. If you're here late enough in August you might just hit the 'game season' with choices such as pheasant, grouse, partridge, and snipe on the menu. Pork from old breeds like Gloucester Old Spot... wonderful. I've always good oysters there as well. The Yorkshire Pudding is huge and even if not the best I've ever had it is now so rarely served or served this well.
                      Another place for quite traditional British food, this time seafood, is J. Sheeky, right in the heart of the theatre district at 28-32 St. Martin's Court. Clubby, masculine, dark, smokey (but no longer so by the time you're here... at last, a smoke-free London!) and generally good. Another real "English" place. I enjoy the atmosphere almost more than the food.
                      For modern European you might want to look in Lindsay House in Soho on Romilly Street. To be honest I've only eaten here once and I had a dreadful meal - almost inedible, still, Richard Corrigan has a great reputation and my experience there differs from almost everyone else I've ever spoken to about it. Try it for lunch. Also... and this was GREAT, Pied-a-Terre on Charlotte St. Had lunch there and was blown away. Had the tasting menu with the various accompanying wines and it was all brilliant, not a single false step. Masterful almost. Lunches at both places a better value than for dinner as is typical I think, and both places would be perfect for a date.
                      I recently had a remarkable meal at Zuma. We were a party of 6 and had the tasting menu. The food was gloriously prepared and presented and all pretty dazzling. Take advantage of the Sake Sommelier. We sampled about 6 different varieties of Sake, including some cold ones, one that is sipped from a cedar box, and even a dessert Sake. I have recently spent a month eating in NYC and discovered, thanks to Chowhounders, Ushi Wakamaru, and although I prefer that, Zuma, I'm quite sure, will not disappoint. Also, at night the place has a real buzz.
                      For something quite different and memorable I think, get out to Richmond (a bit of a trek but combine it with a bit of a walking tour through Richmond Park) and go to the Petersham Nursery Café. The Australian chef, Skye Gyngell, is shakin' it up out there. I ate there a year ago (book now if you're interested) and loved it. Teetering on the razor thin edge of complete rusticity and elegance the café is in the back of a greenhouse with a dirt floor and starched white table linens. It's not cheap (but then nothing in London is) but nearly everything about the place feels real and right. I've been cooking things from her cookbook and my friends are all very happy.
                      Edgeware Road for great, cheap Lebanese food. Still none of it ever compares to my grandmother's Lebanese, but when I'm missing her the most I make my way there and delight them with how much I can pack away.
                      I have breakfast nearly every morning at the wildly funky and fun Maison Bertaux on Greek St. in Soho. Ok, so not the best croissant in the world, nothing to compare to Claude's in the Village, in fact there is little else during the morning hours other than croissants - plain, cheese, or ham and cheese, and some very strong coffee. But it's the sort of place where you can just hang out, people watch (actors, fashionistas, artists, etc.) and munch on various sweets and savories. Later in the day it can become very crowded and hectic, though still fun.
                      I'll let you know if I can think of anything else... have to go get dinner started.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: WC2HLondon

                        by the way it's Edgware Road - just in case he is trying to look it up on an A-Z (do buy one in any book store or newsagent makes trying to get round London very easy - all Londoners have one).

                        Do not miss Borough Market OP under any circumstances. It is best on Saturday morning you can nosh there to your heart's content and eat lunch at somewhere like Neal's Yard and plenty of other places, or purchase goodies and go and sit by the Thames.

                        Also go look at Harrod's Food Hall.

                        The Wolsey in Piccadilly is good.

                        Soho is worth walking around for many different restaurants and is a moment from Chinatown in Gerrard Street.

                        The Ivy is a don't miss restaurant but you will need to make a reservation.
                        have fun.

                        1. re: WC2HLondon

                          Hi, please can you be more specific about what dishes you enjoyed so much at Zuma? I have been to Roka the sister restaurant but that was a while back and I don't remember being wowed but friends still talk both here and Zuma up. I was likely one of the people recommending Ushi Wakamaru, it is always superb but obviously very different in style and setting to Zuma.

                          Btw you shouldn't be surprised to be served cold sakes, most worthwhile sake is served cold and, with one or two exceptions, only low grade sake is ever served warm as the heating process kills flavour. And the cedar box (or "masu") is a traditional vessel for serving sake, its original use was as a means of measuring rice quantities. There is a great debate in the sake world about what the most appropriate vessel is for drinking the stuff, the wooden vessel is very traditional but is said to impart certain flavours into the liquid which can distort. Apologies I am turning into a bit of a sake anorak but am pleased to see some signs of a growing sake culture and interest in London!

                          1. re: oonth

                            Oonth, I'm sorry, I can't be more specific about what I ate at Zuma mostly because we just ate, gratefully, whatever the chef was inspired to send our way. All I remember is that is imaginative, creative, with deep and sober integrity as well as a sense of humour. I wasn't surprised about cold sake, only delighted. Yes, very different from Ushi W. Thank you though for posting about it, I was staying just around the corner on MacDougal Street and ate there several times during my month back in NYC.

                            Thanks to smartie for correcting my spelling of Edgware Road. I agree about Borough Market - my favorite place to be on a Saturday morning - but I would suggest getting there early, say around 8:45. By 10:00 or so it gets very crowded and I find it difficult to move around with ease. What would we foodies do without Borough Market?

                          2. re: WC2HLondon

                            I hear one has to book the Petersham Nursery a month in advance now. That's what comes from spreading the word. :-)

                            1. re: zuriga1

                              Right from the beginning booking was essential for Petersham. Last year I had to book over a month in advance for lunch. But have you been, Zuriga1? My only gripe about the place (and this is coming from a horticulturist and garden designer) is that it doesn't really seem to function well as a nursery/garden centre. When I was there last year, third week of June, my friends and I had a long - and delicious - lunch and during that time we didn't see a single nursery customer, only café patrons. Still...

                              1. re: WC2HLondon

                                so i should get on the ball and make some rezzies...

                                1. re: WC2HLondon

                                  No, we've never gotten there... yet. We're not all that far from Richmond, but I always forget about that place. The garden centres near me are always bursting at the seams... new to my life... have my first British (mini) garden full of exotic plantings I can't even name.

                                1. re: jsmitty

                                  Yes, where can we get together for a drink?? We are in London from August 6-9/07? It would be quite fun to meet those that we dialogue with on Chowhound!!

                                  1. re: jmlh

                                    Great idea for some Chowhounders to have a drink together. I'd love to hear some other recommendations, but I'd say maybe the bar at the Covent Garden Hotel or perhaps, let the groans begin, the American Bar at the Savoy. Sorry, but they do make decent cocktails. There are countless pubs and it seems slightly more appropriate to have beer rather than Martinis or Manhattans. Does someone have a suggestion about a great pub? I go to The Angel on St. Giles High Street or my other local The Two Brewers on Monmouth St. but I'm not a good judge of pubs. Anyone???

                                2. re: WC2HLondon

                                  I recently spent a few days there, and at the end of it, wished I could extend to catch more restaurants in the city. I second the suggestion for J Sheeky's - I really enjoyed their fish and chips although, at nearly 50 dollars or so, it was not cheap (even for NYC standards).

                                  I also enjoyed my prix fixe lunch at Tamarind, and found the service to be pleasant.

                                  The food stalls in the East End at Spitalfields were amazing. Such fantastic array of food - cheeses, meat, olives, sweets. I imagine Borough Market is nicer and larger, but alas, I did not have time to do both.

                                  1. re: kayonyc

                                    Re cocktails: you could always try the Library Bar at the Lanesborough hotel (traditional, with piano player) or the very groovy Blue Bar at the Berkeley Hotel, which must be the most photographed bar in London (its used a lot in fashion shoots). Both these hotels are west of Park Lane, and handy for Kensington. That area (Belgravia, SW1) also has some wonderful, characterful pubs including the Star (Belgravia Mews West) and the Nag's Head in Kinnerton Street. The Nag's is my favourite, not least because mobile phones are banned. The Grenadier in Wilton Row is also popular, and has a Bloody Mary bar at weekends. Zafferano, a highly rated and popular Italian restaurant, is nearby.

                                3. hi again it's jason from nyc. my trip is approaching and i had a few more recommendations can u all speak to some of these places
                                  (if i have duplicated some from a prior list sorry :( )
                                  enoteca turi
                                  river cafe
                                  nottin hill brasserie
                                  la fromagerie
                                  the cow
                                  the ivy
                                  the welsely
                                  the inn at the park(breakfast)
                                  st john
                                  st alban

                                  thanks all

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: jsmitty

                                    I like St John. I've been there several times (including once in the private room with a group who ordered the whole suckling pig). Service can be a bit brusque when it's busy, but the food's good. Best Puy lentils I've ever eaten in a restaurant, and the only snail dish I've ever liked. Only thing I've ever been disappointed by was a dish of very tough and rather undercooked greens.

                                    1. re: jsmitty

                                      Just arrived in London from NY myself so have found this thread very interesting. I think London is a great place for money-is-no-object dining. On a budget things get harder than NY. A few suggestions for the budget conscious moments.
                                      (1) Busaba Eathai: a local chain - for some reason in London many, restaurants seem to be chains - that has 5 locations or so. Good, reasonably priced Thai food.
                                      (2) Ping pong: a bit lower on the quality to price ratio, but still not bad if you want a drink and a small bite.
                                      (3) Indian: Imli on Wardour Street. Though I was suspicious of the idea of "tapas style" Indian, the food is quite good in my opinion, a bit like Bombay Talkie in NY but better.



                                      1. re: bombaybeauty

                                        Thanks Bombay Beauty, my Sri Lankan-born husband just called me from the (busy-sounding) restaurant "Imli" to say it is "really good!" (We love Indian, Sri Lankan, Thai, French, Italian, Chinese, etc -- he knows good food!) Tapas-style Indian, with fresh flavor combinations, and good quality ingredients, around 3.5 to 4 pounds more or less per plate. Very happy with it! He says you "just don't find these kind of places" by walking around. Plus, convenient to his offices there. Thanks again. Looking forward to further recs.

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          Your husband might want to try Masala Zone (9 Marshall Street). It's in the same area. I wouldn't recommend it as warmly as Imli. It is basically canteen-style serving thalis. But accepting the premise - "meals ready", quick lunchtime thalis - I think the place does a fine job.

                                    2. Just scanned this post - I guess mine was redundant! We're leaving saturday - will jot down suggestions later. This is great! Jason, your request is similar to mine, only I have LI dining experiences in addition to NYC.