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London Eats (moved from International)

f
foodie08 Sep 16, 2007 05:26 AM

Hi,
I'm traveling to London in February with my 14 year old son. He's a vegetarian. We'll be on a budget of sorts. Any recommendations? I believe we are staying in the Kensington area but will also be hitting all the tourist sites during the day. Also - dumb question since i have yet to start my homework - are they using the EURO in the U.K.?

Many thanks,

Steve

  1. zuriga1 Sep 16, 2007 09:08 AM

    It's not a dumb question - the UK is part of the EU, but...thank goodness - no Euros in the UK. We use the ££££. I think you'll find lots of restaurant suggestions (vegetarian included) if you use the search box above. It shouldn't be difficult keeping your son happy and you, too. There's a small, good vegetarian place near Covent Garden - it's called Food for Thought. Does your son eat fish?

    1. bombaybeauty Sep 18, 2007 04:48 AM

      London turns out to be much more conscious of vegetarian diets than any American city. Most places will clearly market with "V" dishes suitable for vegetarians and offer at least one, often more, such options in each section. As far as I"m concerned (and I'm a vegetarian) no particular effort need be made to find good vegetarian options per se (with the exception of avoiding French restaurants). You should just concern yourself with what kind of dining you would like to do while in London and the vegetarian bit will sort itself out. These posts or any food guide will point you to reasonable choices at different price ranges and in different locations. BB

      10 Replies
      1. re: bombaybeauty
        howler Sep 18, 2007 05:18 AM

        arre, tu kidhar hai?

        hey bb - have you tried the foul muqqala in ishbilya or beiteddine? broad beans, coriander, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic .... rivals any maharastrian/gujju dish for simplicity and utter depth.

        1. re: howler
          bombaybeauty Sep 19, 2007 12:06 AM

          Must admit I've been lagging -- these have been atop my list of for the last several weeks, but the pile keeps getting taller and taller and the things being heaped on top tend to be of the stay-at-your-station variety. A call to arms that can't be ignored! Today or tomorrow. Will report back Friday at the latest! BB

          1. re: bombaybeauty
            bombaybeauty Sep 21, 2007 01:07 AM

            It wasn't a promising start I have to tell you, as I was walking along Sloane Street, I momentarily thought you were sending me to my doom! First I tried Isbhilia, which I know you've recommended before. There they turned me down ("fully booked" while the house was empty -- didn't want do deal with a solo diner I suppose). But then i dropped in at Beiteddine, where they were much nicer. The muqqala was as advertised amazing. Indeed, just as you say, beans, lemon, oil, garlic. I took a little squeeze of fresh lemon on top -- fantastic. I also tried their Beiruty humos. In some ways this shows the quality of the place -- tried something that has been beaten to death and see how well they make it -- brilliantly! Such simplicity and subtlety of favors -- beguiling and deceptively simple. So thanks for the recommendation -- I've noticed you also recommend Green Valley as a place to shop -- will try that at some point as well. Do you have any Lebanese recommendations closer to Marylebone, which I pass through on my way back from work? Cheers, BB

            1. re: bombaybeauty
              howler Sep 21, 2007 03:49 AM

              at last! a desi who actually tries stuff out! good to have you around.

              and whats so gloom and doom about sloane street? its a pretty street, no?

              its worth it to go back to ishbilia - they do get fully booked in the sense that someone will block off tables for the night and then take their time showing up. you can always sit downstairs - its a bit gloomy, but theres usually always room. yb the way, the foul muqqala is even better at ishbilya. try the muhamarrah next time at either beiteddine or ishbilya - crushed nuts with olive oil, red peppers and chili - amazing!

              i think you'll get a blast out out of green valley for its ice creams and sweets (you've got to try the clotted cream fried sandwiched with fried a sev sorta thing called osmallieh, the large date and large walnut maamouls, mmm). also, the olives, the fresh halloumi cheese pizza or the zatar pizza, the good and cheap olive oil, the artichoke hearts, the rahib (its like our baingan bhartha, but mashed with olive oil, pepers, onion, garlic - are you hungry already).

              there is sadly very little good lebanese around marylebone station. or do you mean marylebone high street? there is actually a tiny place just south of wigmore street (no, not the levant) that is actually very, very good - i'll get back to you once i remember its name.

              1. re: howler
                bombaybeauty Sep 21, 2007 08:38 AM

                Sloane is pretty, but I was anxious for my wallet - not being mugged but paying the price for being seduced by all the beautiful shops. Shop windows of this kind are so much more beautiful in London than NY. Glad to hear that Ishbilya can in fact get booked up. I'm not the paranoid type, but one does wonder sometimes. In any case, I'll make a return trip and pursue the muhamarrah.

                I've actually become addicted to halloumi since coming to London - the idea of fresh halloumi is very appealing. On the road now for a few weeks, but will follow up when I'm back.

                And indeed, something south of Wigmore would be optimal -- I pass that way twice daily.

                Cheers,

                BB

                1. re: bombaybeauty
                  howler Sep 21, 2007 09:49 AM

                  "Shop windows of this kind are so much more beautiful in London than NY"

                  indeed they are. as napoleon said, its a nation of shop keepers.

                  "And indeed, something south of Wigmore would be optimal -- I pass that way twice daily."

                  its called massis, and its on

                  28 James Street, London, W1U 1EW

                  small, but still excellent.

                  1. re: howler
                    bombaybeauty Sep 22, 2007 11:36 AM

                    Excellent -- thanks -- will report back in a couple of weeks when I'm back in town -- Cheers, BB

                    1. re: howler
                      s
                      SpikeyD Sep 23, 2007 02:32 PM

                      Massis is certainly a good place as an alternative to the rubbish places around it in Oxford St, but I've found it can be variable quality - the last couple of times, I've had chips tasting of less than fresh oil...

                      1. re: SpikeyD
                        howler Sep 23, 2007 03:51 PM

                        never had the chips there - but their taouk and toom is excellent. good motabel and hummus too.

                        in general, i've never found the chips in restaurants that great. they're easy to cook at home, and once you've made twice cooked fries at home you aint going back. top those with fried eggs and bacon ..... arrrrgh.

                        1. re: howler
                          s
                          SpikeyD Sep 24, 2007 02:53 AM

                          I agree completely, but when you have a calorie conscious partner breathing down your neck, chip making becomes much more difficult. But my disappointment at Massis chips was the greater, because when they first opened, a few years ago now, they were some of the best I'd eaten, at least in London...

        2. TexasToast Sep 19, 2007 11:42 AM

          There's a Hummus "bar" in Soho that's pretty good, but the name of it escapes me. Hummus Bros maybe?

          TT

          1 Reply
          1. re: TexasToast
            alexthepink Sep 19, 2007 07:16 PM

            Yes, Hummus Bros is the place - tasty and very cheap too (David Schwimmer's favourite London restaurant apparently!).
            http://www.hbros.co.uk/

          2. s
            sloepoke Sep 20, 2007 02:05 AM

            If you're in Soho try Mildred's in Lexington Street, which is an entirely veggie cafe, reasonably priced and very good ( http://www.mildreds.co.uk/ ). It's tiny and crowded and fun, and both you and your son should have a great meal there.

            1. f
              foodie08 Sep 20, 2007 05:14 PM

              Thanks SO much to all who replied - I'm really looking forward to my trip now! And yes, my son eats fish...

              2 Replies
              1. re: foodie08
                Kake Sep 20, 2007 05:38 PM

                If your son eats fish, then a better description for his diet (in the UK at least) is "pescetarian". The UK vegetarian society explicitly excludes fish from its definition of vegetarian, and our Trading Standards body also excludes it (informally at the moment, but it may become more formalised in the future).

                I'm not pointing this out in order to snark (my mum is a "vegetarian" who eats fish), but because if you ask for vegetarian food over here and then say fish is OK, it might cause confusion and possible unpleasantness. Note that not every place will understand "pescetarian", so it might just be better to say "no meat".

                1. re: foodie08
                  zuriga1 Sep 21, 2007 08:21 AM

                  My husband and I tried Mildred's today as we were in the neighborhood. It's probably reasonably priced for London, but a bowl of soup (large one) and a small carmelised onion tart with two drinks cost us £14. I would have keeled over paying that much for same in the States. The food was tasty and the place *was* crowded and noisy as advertised but not offensively so. I did notice an eat all you can Thai place next door. The cost was £5.

                2. Kake Sep 20, 2007 05:52 PM

                  Vegetarian places worth trying:

                  The Place Below:
                  http://london.randomness.org.uk/wiki.cgi?The_Place_Below%2C_EC2V_6AU
                  Lunch only, and weekdays only, in the heart of the City; handy for some tourist sites, but best to go early (11:30am-midday) or late (1:30pm-2:30pm) — you get a discount on eat-in main dishes at these times too. The chap who runs this, Bill Sewell, has put out a couple of really nice vegetarian cookbooks.

                  Maio, Brixton:
                  http://london.randomness.org.uk/wiki.cgi?Maio%2C_SW9_8PY
                  Informal, cheap, disorganised vegan cafe near Brixton station serving African/Caribbean food. A great place to get the feel of Brixton. Don't know whether they're open in the evening.

                  Indian Veg Bhelpoori House, Islington:
                  http://london.randomness.org.uk/wiki.cgi?Indian_Veg_Bhelpoori_House%2C_N1_9EX
                  Not somewhere to travel to for the quality of the food, but if you find you need a cheap meal to stretch the budget, and the Northern Line happens to be convenient, you can get all-you-can-eat buffet food here for £3.50 per person. Almost all dishes are vegan.

                  Manna, Primrose Hill:
                  http://london.randomness.org.uk/wiki.cgi?Manna%2C_NW3_3AJ
                  Veggie restaurant of long standing; gorgeous vegan desserts.

                  Morgan M, Holloway:
                  http://london.randomness.org.uk/wiki.cgi?Morgan_M%2C_N7_8NS
                  Not been here, but they have a vegetarian tasting menu that I keep meaning to go and try.

                  Rasa, Stoke Newington:
                  http://london.randomness.org.uk/wiki....
                  Again, not been here, but it comes recommended by vegan/vegetarian friends. A bit of a journey from where you're staying, but I hear it's worth a trip.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kake
                    d
                    DietStartsTomorrow Oct 19, 2007 04:18 AM

                    Rasa is indeed fantastic! Went there recently and it is well worth the trip.

                  2. m
                    myplateoryours Nov 2, 2007 08:55 AM

                    Checked out these boards before our current (very brief) trip to London and decided to try Ishbilia. The food was absolutely the best -- and I am finicky about Lebanese food since no one cooks it as well as my grandma did. But Isbilia hit the mark. We had them just send out a selection of mezze for six people and we ate til we couldn't breathe. The food was phenomenal, the service unobtrusive but excellent. Check for the six of us, with wine, came to 112 pounds. Pretty amazing.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: myplateoryours
                      howler Nov 2, 2007 10:19 AM

                      did you get the foul muqqala? wonderful stuff.

                      1. re: howler
                        m
                        myplateoryours Nov 3, 2007 12:57 AM

                        Yup. But, truly, everything was wonderful. First really good Arabic bread (what we used to call Syrian Bread when I was growing up and now has deteriorated to fat, cottony supermarket pita bread) I have had in recent memory. And that was just one of three outstanding breads. It was just an amazing evening.

                    2. g
                      gourmetfrog Nov 16, 2007 12:00 PM

                      Hummus Bros has just opened a branch near Holborn Station on Southampton road .

                      For vegetarian Indian, the Hare Krishna bake delicious samosas on Soho Street,very central.

                      For fish I have recommended elsewhere the sandwiches place Scandinavian Kitchen on Great Titchfield Street.

                      Otherwise the Risotto cafe on Goodge Street has many veggie options,eat in or take away for smallish prices.
                      Same can be said for Maoz on Old Compton Street,good value for money in this area.

                      i would avoid the eat all you can like the plague.

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