In London looking for Indian food, pubs and comfort food
I am heading from Boston to London with my father to visit friends and do some sight seeing.
Many have said if we eat one thing in London it's Indian food, any recommendations? The rub is my father has no taste for Indian food, esp. curry. Is it possible to find a place that serves good Indian food and perhaps something else to serve his more delicate palate?
Also any recommendations in general for places near Maida vale area (or anywhere for that matter, we're not afraid to travel)? Pubs, London comfort food, dare I say a gastro pub?
I think your dad might just like the Cinnamon Club. Many purists poo poo it, but my American friends always seem to enjoy that place as it's a bit 'different.' The setting is also very nice. Try to find restaurants that serve things you wouldn't find at home. There are tons of suggestions in the pages here. Try to book ahead as things get crowded in London.
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re comfort food there is a great pub in beak street in soho called the coffee house which does home made steak pies and shepherds pies at lunchtime. It is not a gastro pub but an old fashioned boozer so not a foodie place but great for comfort grub. And of course in east london you have the pie and mash shops - complete with jellied eels for an authentic Cockney experience. Clarkes in Exmouth Market EC1 make their own pies which are fab - i've taken extremely fussy french people there for hangover grub and they love it! Everyone sits on benches and orders from the counter.
Cinamon Club is the top end of indian food and prob light years away from the curry houses most brits go to - if you want the authentic curry experiences (well in UK terms) go to the east end. Brick Lane is packed with curry houses (and great supermarkets selling spices, etc) but it's got very touristy. Friends of mine rave about a place called Taayabs on Fieldgate St behind the London hospital in whitechapel - but I've yet to go there.. If you don't want to go that far east, Gulshan Tandoori in exmouth market (see above) is excellent as well - all my family love it. Perhaps your dad would be tempted to try something not too strong? MIne has just become a big fan - he loves rice-based dishes like chicken tikka biryani which has the veggie curry on the side and is not hot at all. Best thing is to order loads of different dishes and share!
Amaya in Knightsbridge is the best Indian food I had in London. The restaurant is gorgeous and the food is amazing and unique. You can watch the chefs cook on flame grills. This is not a typical "curry house" but a Michelin-starred destination restaurant for Indian food lovers. I have been there 3 times and each time was fantastic. I have just moved back to the US after living in London for 4 years and really miss the great restaurants there!!
I think there is a universal truth that relates to Indian (and other ethnic foods) restaurants. If it has "english dishes" on the menu as well as the Indian food then it is best avoided.
London does have spectacular range of Indian restaurants, and as a result there are restaurants that now serve very sophisticated Indian food. Food that is well spiced, with a good range of flavours - not simply hot.
I am heading for Cinnamon Club myself this weekend so will report back. Another recommendations is Haandi (136 Old Brompton Road) which is quite central and not to expensive for its location. I also like Veeraswamy (99 Regent Street), it is quite expensive but quite up-market.