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London 4 Americans - Fun,Hip not BIG $$$

I adore London and was there last summer with my boyfriend. We had a 3 dinners:
1. So-so at The Wolsley
2. Good experience at Cinnamon Club
3. Great dinner at Maze

At the time, I chose Maze b/c it is considered the more inexpensive, informal Ramsay experience. We liked it alot, but with the dollar tanking so badly, inexpensive for Americans turned out to be over $300 for the two of us, with no wine and just a cocktail each.

I'll be back in March with my mom, my best friend and her mom. We want to have dinner at nice, fun places, but will probably save a big spluge for when we visit Paris the following week, since the Euro is a bit better than the Pound.

Where can we go for fun, hip, dining with good food, good cocktails, good ambiance. Not looking for cheap, just not over-the-top expensive. Maybe $100 per person or so.

If it helps, for those that know NYC, looking for places like Buddakan, Morimoto's, Del Posto's or those that know Miami, Barton G's, China Grill.

Open to all kinds of food. Any ideas?

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  1. Given your budget, why not try some of what Adam Parker(?) from The New Yorker called Britain's "Haute Barnyard" restaurants that stem from Fergus Henderson's cooking at St John and Mark Hix's cooking at any number of places.

    With the exception of The Spotted Pig, you wont find anything like them in NYC and certainly not in Miami.

    Anchor & Hope - The Cut, Waterloo
    Great Queen St- Covent Garden
    Hereford Road - Notting Hill
    Market- Camden

    £60 per person with wine will be plenty

    I would tend to split cocktails out from supper and head to some of the dedicated bars beforehand. Think going to Angel share, Flatiron or Pegu and then going on for supper. The mixing will be better and you often get happy hour deals.

    Hotel bars worth trying ( although more expensive) include Duke's, The Lanesborough and No1 The Aldwych ( my own personal favourite a lovely bar and very buzzy) allow $20+ per cocktail

    In Notting Hill, you could try The Lonsdale. If you are lucky, Charles Vexenat, mixer of the year will be behind the bar. You wont miss him

    In Covent Garden, the downstairs martini bar at Christophers is not bad (don't eat there) or any one of the bars owned by The Match Bar group are reliable ( The Player is SOHO is one of the best) allow $16 per cocktail

    Hope any of this helps

    S

    1. You can get equivalents in all those places you mentioned, but I think while you're here why not sample some British fare - here are some options

      The Waterway - Little Venice, good food and great location.
      The Gun - A lovely pub with get views overlooking the O2 arena. The food is fab and the bar area is a like a posh medieval barn - it actually dates back 200 years. SOme great ales, beers etc.
      The Cat and Mutton - Broadway market - Good at the weekends - really buzzy with a younger, trendy crowd.

      All three reasonable, especially the last one.

      Some bars.

      The Amber bar at the Baltic (Southwark) - does every conceivable type of vodka, palys jazz, nice atmosphere.
      The Long bar at the Sanderson Hotel (off Oxford street) - fab cocktails - very hip.
      Jewell bar - (Piccadily).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Nii

        I agree with the other posters.

        Why do you want to come to London to visit places like you have in NY and Miami?

        We had some friends from NY here over the weekend and they wanted to go to The Sanderson Hotel for drinks... Along way to go for the same ambiance you can get at home, but double the price.

      2. Hakkasan is probably the best place to go for what you describe, but it is very pricey. Like many high-end places, it's much cheaper if you go at lunchtime.

        I'm not sure about hip, but I like Fino on Charlotte Street for great tapas. Anchor and Hope, in Waterloo, is good, but you have to bear in mind that they don't accept reservations. It does have a sister restaurant though, which is called Great Queen Street, I think, and is in Covent Garden.

        Gordon Ramsay has opened a pub in Docklands (East End), called The Narrow, but I haven't been there yet.

        3 Replies
        1. re: greedygirl

          Thanks so much for the suggestions. It's incredibly helpful. You are right, I don't want to visit places that are just like Miami and NY and I very much want to enjoy something I will find only in London. Of the places mentioned, which are the ones that I should consider for our most indulgent night? Which of these would be best for a faster lunches?

          The Waterway.
          The Gun
          The Cat and Mutton -
          Anchor & Hope -
          The Cut
          Great Queen St-
          Hereford Road
          Market-
          Hakkasan
          Fino
          The Narrow

          1. re: Miami123

            it's a bit of a schlep into the East End but why don't you try bistrotheque - if you get the right night you can check out the drag shows as well.

            1. re: Miami123

              I'd definitely go for the following -

              Anchor and Hope
              The Gun - it's location is lovely.
              The Narrow (Gordon Ramsey's place)

              You could eat at any of the above for a good evening meal.

              The Cat and Mutton would be better on a Saturday afternoon and then you could hit Broadway market - good street stalls and street food.

              How about St John?

              Hakkasan is like a nightclub - dark, trendy, stylish etc. It's a fab place but just like Buddakan or Morimotos's in NYC. I'd bypass that and go for one of the above and then maybe go for drinks after?

          2. Maybe approach it by area rather than 'destination restaurant' to get the most out of the cooler neighbourhoods.
            Id say a Saturday in Notting Hill, portobello shopping - Electric Brasserie for lunch or the Westbourne or Bumpkin. All good drinking spots as well!
            On a Sunday try Spitalfields (which is more market shopping) and go to Canteen or St John Bread & Wine and wander down brick lane as well for a cocktail at one of the bars along there. Very LES!
            This way you combine shopping with eating for a rounded experience.
            Then save all that Mayfair/Soho stuff for midweek.
            Top centre of town ideas:
            Barrafina in Soho is like being in Barcelona at Cal Pep and fab
            Wild Honey now has a michelin star and is quite sexy in a luxurious masculine way (and fine for girls too) and still quite English
            The Long Bar at the Sanderson is so beautiful and Eurotrashy
            Yautcha is nicer than Hakkasan in my opinion - they also do fab afternoon tea with beautiful (light!) cakes. Actually - on that note, the Dorchester does a wonderful afternoon tea! (all the hotels do actually and thats such an English thing to do!!)
            The Player in Soho is a great members bar and the Library bar at the Londseborough is lovely
            Look for Elderflower martinis generally, very now and local
            Ramsay has recently opened a bistro down hospital road from his flagship - foxtrot oscar - which is so new it isnt even on anyones radar yet (practically)!

            1. Thanks to all for the WONDERFUL advice. It's been incredibly helpful. I'm working on narrowing down the options, and would love it if you could give it a look over to help me finalize: This is what I've got:

              wed dinner: Golden Hind

              late night pub stop at: Black Friar 174 Queen Victoria Street (open to opinions. looking for traditional pub experience in this neighborhood after an evening walk in the area)

              thursday lunch: Barrafina (getting there by noon to avoid line - have a busy day)
              thursday tea: Ritz @ 5:30
              thursday dinner: Amaya & St.Alban both reserved for 9:30 pm (please help me pick. i thought Amaya would be a fun place, but am reading terrible reviews)

              friday lunch: Hakkasan @ 12:30 for dim sum
              friday dinner: Maze or Cecconi's (thoughts? i've been to Maze and liked it. which is more expensive? anyone have a thought on Cecconi's?)

              saturday lunch: strada at st. paul's or fire & stone (opinions? looking for something fast and easy near st. paul's cathedral)
              saturday break: Laduree @ Harrods
              saturday night: Zuma @ 9pm

              Some of you have offered great ideas for bars too. Would adore suggestions for options of places to go after dinner each night, relatively close by the selected dinner spots. Any thoughts at all are appreciated. Thanks!

              4 Replies
              1. re: Miami123

                We are all different, but Thursday's schedule seems like 'overload' to me. Even if you are a huge eater, that is a lot to eat in one day. An afternoon tea at the Ritz is like having a dinner, but if you think you'll be OK for another meal later on, then party hearty!

                1. re: zuriga1

                  It's true. Thursday is a lot. The mom's want tea, so I had to fit it in somewhere and this was the only/day time the Ritz had. It's more of an experience thing. 3 of the 4 of us don't eat much carbs, so it's more of a tea and nibble kind of a thing.

                  Any thoughts on the rest would be of great help. Thanks again!

                  1. re: Miami123

                    That's a lot of ££ to pay for a nibble! :-)

                    1. re: Miami123

                      P.P.S. I seem to be one of the only people here who likes the Cinnamon Club. Could it be because both of us are from NY? I'd go for some of the legendary spots like The Ivy... Passione... Galvin Brothers etc.

                2. Firstly, Miami123, there is nothing about the Euro which makes it better than the Pound and there never will be.
                  Ok, for Fun,Hip you simply cannot beat Pizza Pomodoro, 51 Beauchamp (pronounce it "beechum" to your taxi driver)Place, not far from Harrods. Hardly very English, rather tired and the pizzas are pretty average but this place rocks. Don't go too early....Live music from about 9pm every night and perfectly suitable for Mom. If I won a free night out here or at a Ramsay (been to several over the years) then the PP would walk it! Definitely not big $$$

                  1. Thanks for the Pizza Pomodoro recommendation. I'm giving it serious thought for Thursday, to visit late, instead of Amaya. I visited the website and it looks great. Question: I see there are two locations. You mentioned that I should go to the Knightsbridge location, but I see that the other (7-8 Bishopsgate Churchyard) is the larger of the two location and seems to be more festive. Thoughts?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Miami123

                      M123.......Knightsbridge is the one. Bishopsgate Churchyard is in the City, which is the financial centre. PP there will only have office workers and no residents or visitors. Ok if you are with 20 pals and full of cocktails. Actually you would have a good time at either, and it depends a bit on where you are staying.
                      Amaya is quite a different prospect. Very superior place with great food but just too noisy for an upscale experience. Also, I personally cannot understand a word any of the waiters say. Motcombs wine bar/restaurant 50 yards away is good though.

                      Hope this helps.

                    2. If you are after fun and hip and find yourselves around Covent Garden, Wahaca on Chandos Place is pretty good for a quick bite. It is "Mexican" and you can either order full meals or eat tapas style (about 2 dishes per person). The food is pretty good, and the space defines fun and hip with bright colours, music, and a relaxed atmosphere. Also rather reasonably priced if you're not drinking, though hard not to as the hibiscus margarita is really good. Great place for a quick lunch.