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Six days in London

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Looking ofr really good food that will not tatally break the bank. We like places such as Chez Panisse Cafe, and Union Square Cafe and Casa Mono in New York.

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  1. London is massive, where are you staying?

    1 Reply
    1. re: smartie

      Park Lane Marriott, east end of Hyde Park.

    2. With the Pound in excess of $2 I limit myself to eating on the cheap most of the time, especially since I travel alone.
      My top recommendation is a place called Maoz, whose specialty is the Middle Eastern dish falafel. They make it into an outstanding pita sandwich or salad. Multiple locations-my favorite on Old Compton Street. You order your food at the counter, garnish it yourself at the lusious condiment bar, then find a seat and enjoy.
      Another goody is Nando's. It is a grilled chicken joint where you order your meat according to the desired spiceyness. Their Peri-Peri sauce is sooo good. Again, multiple locations. At this place you are seated, then you go to the counter and order, then get your own drinks (they have an ICE machine!!), silverware, and select a sauce or two to slather on your order. The food is brought to your table. I usually order my chicken "hot". Tried "extra hot", but that was a pinch too much heat for me.
      Lastly, almost any Indian restaurant. I love curry and these place tend to be pretty reasonably priced. Since there are so many variations of Indian food, many times I go to buffetts so I can sample.

      1. I would say to stay with ethnic as much as you can. The best meals I ate in London last summer were Indian, Moroccan, and Italian. As I was on a business trip, I had a limit of 25 pounds per dinner and easily came in under that number. The WORST meals were fish and chips in a pub and a nicer restaurant--the fish was very obviously frozen prebattered product. Get recommendations for f&c from a local or from the board if you need to have the experience.

        For a really cheap lunch fast food type experience, Pret a Manger is quite decent.

        Last, remember that ice apparently forms at a different temperature in England than in the US :) That which is advertised as "ice cold", i.e. water, pop, will almost inevitably be only somewhat cool.

        1 Reply
        1. re: coney with everything

          lol, as a brit living 20 miles from london that raised a smile, so very true.

        2. Best general advice I can offer is to order yourself (from Amazon) a copy of the "Good Food Guide". Published by the not-for-profit Consumers Association - it's been THE guide for good British restaurants for many years. Based entirely on readers reviews, followed up by professional inspections. It'll give you a good overview of many places in the London area (and the rest of the country), including price guidelines and help you to plan where you might eat.

          If you can't get one from Amazon on your side of the pond, buy one from any decent bookshop once you arrive over here.

          Don't confuse this with another publication the "Good Pub Guide" which is commercially published.

          When you're looking at costs, bear in mind that many restaurants will add a service charge of between 10 - 15% on to the bill. A further tip is NOT required. If no service charge, then a 10% tip is perfectly fine in the UK.

          1. I enjoyed J Sheeky's in covent garden for good fish and chips in cozy surroundings - Approx. 60 dollars with bottle of water and beer.
            Tamarind - in Mayfair for lunch was a very good deal - I think 3 courses for 20 pounds. (okay, so it's expensive but a nice (michelin starred) restaurant with good creative Indian food.
            Heard great things about Anchor and Hope gastropub - but I didn't make it there. It looked cute though, when I passed by.

            Sorry those aren't exactly equivalents of what you listed, but I still think you'd enjoy them.
            I'd stick with the more expensive (Michelin type) options for lunch - prix fixe are always better deals than dinner. I recall them being in the neighborhood of $40-50 generally. I remember noticing that when researching my restaurants. Stick with more ethnic eats or gastropubs for dinner and avoid "Chinatown"!

            3 Replies
            1. re: kayonyc

              you have Hard Rock Cafe pretty close - it's the original and still ok.

              any Indian restaurant you find should be good, they are not usually expensive although London is all round as it feels like double the price for the dollar.

              I agree Pret A manger make great sandwiches for lunch on the fly.

              you have Langan's very close - it's kinda pricey but worth one visit.

              walk into soho (not chinatown) there you will find plenty of Italian coffee shops and restaurants.

              also Lancaster Gate and Queensway area is full of good greek restaurants and Indians. I havent been to Kahns in a few years as I now live in the US but it's a national institution if you like curry.

              1. re: smartie

                This is a really common question... check the Board going back a few weeks and you'll pick up loads of tips.

                Don't buy the Good Food Guide, Hardens is much better and Time Out's Cheap Eats guide is also pretty good... Lunch or early evening prix fixe menus really are the best way to sample the best restaurants at a reasonable price.

                Near to you are Galvins for very traditional very well cooked French bistro cooking, and Royal China (some of the best dim sum in London) - both on Baker St. Orrery isn't far from you either, on Marylebone High St, for a more upmarket (and very good food) experience. If you're interested in food generally, drop into La Fromagerie and Ginger Pig (just off the High St). Anchor and Hope is indeed excellent - but it's closed Monday and there's no booking. Burgers should be avoided - especially Hard Rock Cafe - although the Gourmet Burger King chain ain't bad. Otherwise Indian and Chinese are your best bet for value for money. Happy grazing...

                1. re: SpikeyD

                  I only visit London as a tourist and haven't heard of the Harden Guide.

                  But, if folk who are London based say it's better than the GFG, then it will be.


            2. London is massive, correct, but it's easy to get around on the tube, and you are staying in the thick of things.
              I don't know if you have travelled to London before, and how much free time you will have to do touristy things, and whether that is even your ilk.

              during summer the times (newspaper) runs a good food promo http://www.toptable.co.uk/tasteofsummer/
              Until August 31, you and up to five friends can reserve a table at one of 200 top restaurants. You can choose from a special menu and eat lunch or dinner for a fraction of the usual price. Each restaurant will offer one or more of the following: two courses for £15 (€22 in Ireland), three courses for £25 (€37) or three courses for £30 (€44)."

              i am not a fan of chain food, but for a good sandwich and lunch/snack food i like pret-a-manger, it's not cheap (by australian standards, it is by scandanavian standards) but it's tasty, reliable and they are easy to find. likewise pizza express is an easy stop if you are on a budget.

              with regard to curry, the rave is all about brick lane in the east end. most of the operators are actually bangladeshi rather than indian, there's a lot of touting to get you in the door, the food isn't the best indian I have had in the UK, but it's on the list to tick for most visitors.

              on another angle if you are touristing, some of the gallery cafes have good options. i believe (and my intelligence is a little dated here) that the cafe at the tait modern is worth a try.

              there is always lots going off around covent garden (neal's yard) and soho, and I personally like wandering around the area on the southern side of oxfords street east of oxford circus.

              another interesting area is north of that area around marylebone station and baker street - it;s an eclectic mix of migrant culture and good old british tradition.

              finally, a qalk down portabello road (notting hill - think of the julia roberts movie) is essential, there are saturday markets, and a street lined with cuisine of any description.

              also check out
              for some reference material.

              1. Cant go wrong with Wagamama,cheap and good and many locations.Tate modern also had some good food,great fish&chips,not real cheap,also good view of city.

                1. We were recently there and had some great meals thanks to the help we received on Chow. Here are some recs from a tourist.
                  We really wanted to try Anchor and Hope but it was closed when we stopped by.
                  I would recommend visiting the Borough Market. Great food and a fun stop
                  Had great fish and chips at Rock and Sole Plaice http://www.rockandsoleplaice.com/
                  Great lunch at the Cork and Bottle http://www.donhewitson.com/
                  Great dinners at Sally Clarke's, Launceston Place and Maggie Jones.
                  Zaika for Indian http://www.zaika-restaurant.co.uk/int...
                  Royal China Dim Sum
                  Almost forgot the food court at Harrod's
                  Tea at The Orangery (Kensington Palace) is a Must do

                  The Rock & Sole Plaice
                  Endell St, London, Greater London WC2H 9, GB

                  Clarke's Restaurant
                  122 Church Rd, Brent, Greater London NW10 9, GB

                  Launceston Place
                  1 Launceston Pl, Kensington, Greater London W8 5, GB

                  Maggie Jones's
                  6 Old Ct Pl, Kensington, Greater London W8 4, GB

                  Cork & Bottle
                  46 Cranbourn St, London, Greater London WC2H 7, GB

                  Royal China
                  13 Queensway, Paddington, Greater London W2 4, GB

                  1. forgot to mention Borough Market (tube to London Bridge) Saturday mornings is a MUST for all things gourmet and for the fun of it. Neals Yard is there for snacks and you can munch your way round the market, or buy some bread and cheese and fruit or other goodies and make yourselves a picnic by the river.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: smartie

                      I was just about to post about Borough Market. Its amazing, Just take a stroll around soaking in the atmosphere and nibble on a few things. This is a fish restaurant in there as well but the chips (fries) I had were not great although my friend liked them. Its making me hungry just thinking about that place... time for breakfast I guess.

                      1. re: SpennyJ

                        If you don't want to be trampled by hordes of foodie tourists, go to Borough Market on a Friday... If you manage to get there, then you can forget Harrods - I was there last weekend and it's become a total tourist trap, a pale travesty of what it used to be. You'll find infinitely better food at Borough Market. Tea should be at the Wolseley in Piccadilly - beautiful venue, good tea and scones, fair prices, maybe even a celeb or two for your amusement.

                    2. I'd say the trick to London is a willingness to eat lunch rather than dinner. Set lunch prices are usually very competitive. I'd recomend The Criterion, L'escargot, Mirabelle (try Sunday lunch), Alistair Little and Arbutus in the $40 range and Petrus or 'Gordon Ramsay at Claridges' for ~$60.

                      1. Being a resident of Oakland who eats at the Chez Panisse Cafe quite a bit, I think I know what you're looking for--high quality food using excellent, fresh ingredients, without the flash and/or formality of much of the top end of the London dining scene. I would recommend:

                        Chez Bruce in Wandsworth. A bit of a trip, but well worth it. Very reasonable prix fixe w/ lots of choice. 37.50 GBP for three courses is more than fair, even w/ the crappy exchange rate. Outstanding food, always one of the top rated in the London area. A very nice restaurant, but much more relaxed/casual than its culinary peers in London proper. http://www.chezbruce.co.uk/

                        Canteen in Spitalfields. Traditional British (pies, roasts, etc.) with good quality ingredients. Excellent prices and good sized servings. I enjoy walking up to the restaurant because there's something about the design and lighting that reminds me of a Hopper painting. http://www.canteen.co.uk/index.php?pa...

                        St. John Bread & Wine in Spitalfields. Like Chez Panisse, it's all about the ingredients. Unlike Chez Panisse, they make a fetish of offal and quirky traditional British food. St. John proper is pricier, but St. John Bread & Wine is very good as well, and easier to get a booking for. Fair wine prices too. http://www.stjohnrestaurant.co.uk/

                        And do take the advice of others re: Indian, Turkish, Greek, and other ethnic options. Even the pedestrian options in London seem better than most of the best in the Bay Area.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: lexdevil

                          Some favorites of mine, all within a 5 minute walk from the Bayswater underground station:
                          - Alounak (top Persian food)
                          - Four Seasons (Chinese, focus on the roasted duck... best I've ever had)
                          - Hole in the wall Falafel/Kebab place named Boshporous

                          The three places are very affordable. (UK prices are insane, at least for those of us used to US prices).

                          1. re: D Hound

                            Is it "Boshporous" or "Bosphorus?" I've been to the one on Old Brompton Road many times, but is there also one over by Bayswater?

                            1. re: D Hound

                              I'm a huge fan of Bosphorus (59 Old Bromptom Raod, London, SW7 3JS )--is yours an offshoot of the same place? The South Kensington location has been around for over thirty years. Especially love the chicken shish w/ lots of chilli sauce. Practically lived on them when we used to stay in South Kensington twenty years ago. Be clear, however, that this is really a take-away with very limited seating. Great food and cheap, but not really comparable to the restaurants mentioned by the OP. Here's their website: http://goodmood.moonfruit.com/

                          2. Maroush in Beauchamp (pronounced Beecham) Place off Knightsbridge. It is Lebanese. Lunch is more salads and rolled sandwiches in a flat pitta thing (don't know the correct name) downstairs but upstairs is fab for dinner and not over priced. There is also one on Edgware Road but the Knightsbridge one is better.

                            1. I was in London earlier this year, and had a wonderful dinner at Roussillion. It has a wonderful upscale atmosphere with very friendly service. We were almost an hour late (we got totally lost on the tube) and they were still gracious and accomodating.

                              Also, if you go to a nice restaurant be careful ordering cocktails. I ordered a martini at the restaurant in the MalMaison Hotel, and it was £14! They said it was 3 shots (and they measure each one in London but I think their shot is more like an American Tablespoon) and charged me accordingly. When I complained about the price and the size, they stated that they didn't charge me for the Vermouth. As if I should be SO grateful that those vapors didn't cost another £3. LOL!

                              I'm going back to London in August, so I would be very interested in hearing where you end up going and what you think.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Just One Bite

                                Any recommendations for haute-cuisine restaurants that offer set lunch menus? (Other than Gordon Ramsay restaurants?)

                                1. re: Just One Bite

                                  i agree that roussillon is wonderful. i travel to london regularly and it is a favorite. similar story re cocktails - i ordered a scotch at royal china and was brought a half jigger for 7 pounds. so, i ordered another one. when the bill came, they mistakenly charged me 9 pounds each for 3, when i only had 2 (the equivalent of one in the states) and also charged me for a dish that they had incorrectly brought to me and overcharged me for another dish. but the point really was, 14 pounds for a macallan 12 year?