London: Bloomsbury suggestions
I'm spending three weeks in the Bloomsbury/King's Cross/Grays Inn area, and while my hotel has a wee fridge (yes, I've already been to the Borough Market today, and it's not even noon yet), there are no self-catering facilities.
Lunches will be taken care of (I'm here for my job), but I'm eager for recommendations of places that offer good food in an environment that's reasonably good for dining alone. Price not a particular consideration.
Last night I went to Carluccio's, despite my general dislike of the Brunswick Center. Friends of mine know Antonio Carluccio (who apparently used to be involved with Slow Food), and they vouched for the chain (except for the one in Ely -- they say it's worse than the rest).
Chain or not, it was a nice meal. The glass of Montepulciano D'Abruzzo was drinkable; the green bean contorno was tasty; and the bowl of mushroom-pancetta soup was an amazement -- I kept spooning up more cepes, morels, and field mushrooms than should fit into the bowl, cornucopia-style.
Tonight I've got a booking for Fino, near Goodge Street Tube station. I've had recommendations for Konaki, Asadal, Roku, and Navarros as well -- any thoughts on those?
Konaki - went about 8 years ago and it was OK but nothing amazing. Would recommend the Real Greek above it.
Navarro - you will be disappointed if you go after Fino. Just not the same league.
Roku - do you mean Roka? If so, pricey but rather good. Same stable as Zuma, another high-end Japanese eaterie.
I think that in Bloomsbury, you can do better. Specifically...
Bam-bou - beautiful decor, fab seafood, great combinations of flavours.
Cleveland Kitchen - well-priced local.
Latium - awesome Italian, bit pricier than the above. Try the fish ravioli.
Camerino - not in the same league as Latium but still decent local Italian.
Ciao Bella - top top tip. Cheap by London standards, friendly and reliable Italian.
Archipelago - wasn't wowed by the atmosphere and found it a bit noisy but hey, how many opportunities do you get to eat crispy locust and zebra with red wine & juniper?
The Perseverance - good pub food.
Edokko - _great_ Japanese food, reasonable prices.
Ikkyu (?sp - may have name wrong) - hard-to-find Japanese on Tottenham Ct Road (I think it's somewhere around Goodge St, couldn't be sure) with good sushi.
Busaba Eathai - just off TCR, fun atmosphere.
And if money is not an obstacle and you want a fantastic meal, Pied a Terre. One of the best meals I have ever eaten.
In case this is of any use (but you seem to be wandering round trying loads of places already): if you like Japanese, Aki on Gray's Inn is decent, but I really like Yoshio's on Goodge St (not quite bloomsbury...). There's Acorn house on Gray's Inn, which I haven't yet tried but looks potentially good. Sardo's on Warren St. Charlotte St has places worth trying, marginally off your track. Holborn -- there's a decent Chinese, Kam Fung on Red Lion St, the only one in the vicinity. There's a passable Korean on (I think) Museum St or adjacent anyway. Okonomiyaki around there south of the British Museum too. Indian -- my usual recommendations for cheap but good places: Indian YMCA, Raavi. If you venture towards Exmouth Market a few more places open up -- I like the burgers at Dollar or rather ($) bar and grill, Little bay is perfectly decent bistro at exceptionally low prices, there's Moro, Quality Chop House, etc.
It's on my list, for sure. Not only due to recs on Chowhound, but also because an honest-to-god friend (like, real life and everything!) likes it a lot.
In finding the address (friend was unclear), I did discover a lot of negative reviews, mostly about extremely rude service. I will report back.
I'm a big fan of the Bountiful Cow, near Red Lion Square (http://www.timeout.com/london/bars/re...) - the decor's a bit naff but the steaks are great, and very casual so no problem dining alone. Cigala on Lamb's Conduit street is good for tapas, as is Salt Yard on Goodge Street. I'm sure more ideas will come to me, but my mind's going blank!