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Mar 26, 2008 04:21 AM

Need help in London

Ok Chowhounds...we love Indian, fish, italian...I welcome your recommendations. We will be staying at the Marriott near Westminster. Please recommend better places to eat than OXO Brasserie & Tamarind that we have reservations for. I appreciate your help. THANKS!

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  1. For Italian, I will make my standard recommendation for Passione.

    It is nationally well known and, as such, I'd advise making your reservations as soon as possible.

    1. My personal fave on a cost/quality basis for Italian is Caraffini in Lower Sloane St. Also I would rather not suggest anywhere that I haven't been to, but the fairly new Hibiscus (Eurocuis) has been getting rave reviews. For Indian try Salloos in Kinnerton St., not far from Harrods. See:

      1. For fish: Back to Basics on Foley Street (Fitzrovia). Crowded tables, somewhat random service but huge portions of fresh "catch of the day" fish served nicely. Apparently the newly-reopened Scott's on Mount Street (Mayfair) is superb - haven't been (yet!).
        For Italian: Latium on Berners Street (Fitzrovia) - great fish ravioli. Oliveto on Elizabeth Street (Victoria) for pizzas/pastas. Apparently its sister restaurants, Olivo & Olivomare (both in the same neck of the woods, v convenient for Westminster) are also good. Olivomare is a specialist Italian seafood place, so would be right up your street. For cheap 'n' cheerful but still good, Spacca Napoli in Soho & Ciao Bella on Lamb's Conduit Street (Holborn).
        For Indian: If you want a pricey but good curry in Westminster, the Cinnamon Club on Greath Smith Street is fun.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Londoner27

          You and I are in the minority here about liking the Cinnamon Club. I'm glad to see someone else has enjoyed the food there. I find it a great place to take my visiting friends from the States. They often have special deals on worth a try for sure.

          1. re: zuriga1

            Have you been to Tamarind? If so, your opinion?

            1. re: synergy

              I haven't been to Tamarind, but I know that the chef who used to be there is now at another restaurant called Benares. He's very well known in the UK as he appears frequently on cooking shows. I haven't been to Benares either. My son's wife loved Amaya when she was in London. We have such a good Indian place in our town that we rarely eat that in London, although it's definitely time to try some others.

              1. re: zuriga1

                I've read other good reviews about Amaya. Do they have a web site you could forward the link ...or do you know where they are? We are staying at the Marriott in Westminister.

                1. re: synergy

                  Here's the website...

                  Amaya, Halkin Arcade, Motcomb Street,
                  London SW1X 8JT
                  tel: + 44 (0)20 7823 1166
                  fax: +44 (0)20 7259 6464

                  It looks beautiful on the website. So many choices in London!
                  You can get a map by using Google Maps which is a great website. You'll be in a nice, central location and it's easy to get everywhere by Tube. I went to a party at the Marriott last summer, and it's a lovely hotel not far from the Eye.

                  1. re: zuriga1

                    Zurigal, thank you so much. We've taken the tube many times and are quite comfortable doing so.

                    We've stayed at the Marriott often near the Oxford tube stop, off of Edgeware. THat neighborhood has many middle eastern restaurants. Any that you and other Chowhounders would recommend?

                    1. re: synergy

                      The Maroush mini-chain has a number of branches on Edgeware Road. I've eaten in several and they are reliable. The nicest is Maroush 3 on Seymour Street (just round the corner from the tube).

                      As a fellow tourist, you might find my recent report back, from a couple of days in the capital, some use:-


                      1. re: Harters

                        Your meal at Hisbuscus sounds wonderful! I too will only be there 48 hours. :-)

                      2. re: synergy

                        Ishbilia is another name that often comes up here. It's Lebanese and near Harrods.

            2. re: Londoner27

              Yes, a specialist Italian seafood place would be a perfect combo. :-)

            3. Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I appreciate it. Keep 'em coming!

              1. I enjoyed my lunch at Wild Honey recently - which has just been awarded a Michelin star. It's in Mayfair. I also like Rasa Samudra on Charlotte Street, which is an Indian seafood and vegetarian restaurant.

                Passione is good for Italian, but I had a great meal (quite a while ago now) at Vasco and Pierro's Italian Pavilion on Poland Street in Soho. It's one of Ken Livingstone's favourite restaurants, apparently!

                5 Replies
                1. re: greedygirl

                  Mine is a dissenting voice for Passione, I went a few years back and was underwhelmed, really can't remember what we ate but it wasn't memorable. In fact the only thing I do remember is the horrible mint green colour of the paint on the walls.

                  Last week I tried out Latium with a friend. Between us we sampled 6 dishes and 2 half bottles of wine. It was good enough but nothing spectacular and £50 each so clearly not your everyday Italian. Highlights were probably the mains, pan-fried guinea fowl for me, pork belly for my friend. The starters were disappointing - steak tartar which was bland and accompanied by way too much rocket (a plate filler if ever there was one) and lamb salad which was similarly insipid. The much vaunted fish ravioli was a mixed bag, I liked two of them (the tomato ravioli with tuna was excellent and the spinach ravioli with brill was the next best one) but found the other two just OK; the crab tortelli was reasonable. The wines (Gavi di Gavi and Valpolicella) were fine and normally priced. Asked for tapwater, was given bottled water, service was on the clumsy side I have to say.

                  Have eaten twice at Vasco & Piero's, one time was good, the other time poor.

                  Not sure where I currently stand on Italian food in London, a lot of my old favourites (Sardo/Sardo Canale, Metrogusto, Enoteca Turi) I suspect have slipped in quality and gone up in price, I need to find a couple of good standbys, more rustic/hearty style and lower, more everyday prices.

                  1. re: oonth

                    Sorry to hear you were underwhelmed by Latium - I last ate there 7 months ago so maybe standards have slipped.
                    I agree with you about Passione - didn't like the atmosphere and wasn't wowed. I also agree that Sardo & S Canale are not what they were: still pleasant but smaller portions, higher prices and not the same standard.
                    To be honest, I can't really think of any 'staples' either (save for Spacca Napoli and Ciao Bella at the cheap end). Caldesi is pleasant but nothing special, Camerino likewise, and the old Giardinetto (amazing dishes, hideous decor) has apparently moved and become much worse.
                    I've never been to the River Cafe or Locanda Locatelli, which are probably the two Italian places in London that are the most talked-about - have you tried either of them? (Although I guess at the prices, they're not exactly "standbys"!)

                    1. re: Londoner27

                      Underwhelmed is probably overstating it, I just wasn't blown away, it was good/solid with a couple of real high points (some of the fish ravioli and aspects of the mains) and low points being the starters.

                      I have been to LL once soon after it opened and it was good to very good. But they've hiked the prices since and I'm not tempted to go back, basically I tend to stay away from so called modern Italian preferring more rustic, no frills Italian dining. Never been to River Cafe and not tempted to. Giardinetto I tried once and it was not bad as I remember it, I think we stuck with traditional Ligurian dishes including the bagna cauda; you're right it's now relocated to Mayfair and gone all upmarket. Little Italy in Soho used to be another real favourite but that has now been revamped I notice.

                      Have a couple of low key, local NW3/NW6 options to try out, will report back if I find anything standout. And Sarracino on Broadhurst Gardens (West Hampstead) is a very solid option for a [wood fired] oven baked pizza.

                      1. re: oonth

                        I'd love to try Locatelli but they are one of those places that, unless they have recently changed, do not take reservations well in advance. Attempts to book have fallen foul of us needing to re-arrange schedules to allow us to travel to London. Maybe one day......

                        1. re: Harters

                          John, really shouldn't be a problem getting a lunchtime reservation at short notice so next time you're planning a London trip, keep a lunchtime slot spare and give them a call a couple of days before.