Urgently need help with non-foodie visitors! [London]
We have some friends in for a few days from New Jersey. As it turns out, they are not adventurous eaters at all. We went to a Thai restaurant last night because they thought they might enjoy it. The daughter liked the egg rolls but didn't like the vegetable soup. She thought it was too watery. Also there were some capers in it, which completely freaked her out. The son ordered penne with red sauce (they have a few non-Thai things on the menu) and seemed fine with it. He did taste his mom's curry and gagged, saying it was horrible and tasted like licorice. He advised his sister to NOT taste it, so she sniffed it and deemed it horrible. (they are both teenagers)
The wife ordered green curry, which she seemed to enjoy. Apparently she has just recently learned that she doesn't HATE curry, but is okay with the green type. She believes that it is the yellow curry that she despises the taste of. The husband ordered a spicy beef dish, and thought it was okay except when he got a bite of one ingredient which he thought was awful and wasn't sure why anyone would put something like that in food. (Ginger, as it turns out when I tasted it.)
We had made reservations at The Red Fort for tomorrow night because they have NEVER had Indian food and had heard it is really good here in London. Which it is but now I am re-thinking keeping the reservation. I'm not sure they are ready for a culinary adventure, and I'm not sure I want to be the sponsor of their first Indian experience where they are going to dissect everything. (and probably dislike it.)
We also have reservations at Gaucho Piccadilly for tonight, which we really enjoy. But we discovered the wife only eats seafood. The husband told me his favorite foods are chicken & shrimp. I'm not sure if the spatchcocked chicken at Gaucho would work for him. I like it, but who knows. I fear the ceviches will be too adventurous for everyone.
So now, I am seriously in a quandry about what to do for the next 2 evenings.
Please, please, please...suggestions? Any where in the central London areas of Westminster, Theatre District, all the way up to & including Hampstead, Marlybone, St. John's Wood, Islington.
Please do post local suggestions for where Just One Bite might take these visitors. However, general discussions about how to deal with picky eaters are belong on the Not About Food board, where you are welcome to start a thread on that subject. We've removed an off-topic discussion of that here. Thank you for helping us keep this board focused on where to find great food in the U.K. and Ireland.
I can't help with any reccs, but I would stick with your reservation at the Red Fort. Your visitors have expressed an interest in "Indian", so take them and let them find out if they like it or not. Possibly they will. Possibly they won't - reaffirming their probable prejudices that it is impossible to get good food apart from the tiny number of places they regularly go to in New Jersey.
Springing the seafood issue on you at the last minute is annoying - easier to cope with than if she'd suddenly announced she was a vegan. Maybe look for a run-of-the-mill Italian place?
I feel for you. Be thankful you only have them for 2 days, not 2 weeks.
Not wishing to offend anyone, but god, they sound like a nightmare!
It probably sounds obvious but you're probably best sticking with things you know that they will eat - rather than taking a risk and having them go hungry. If they can cope with shrimp and seafood, you could try the new Fishworks on Swallow Street or Pescatori.
Personally, I'd avoid anywhere that is particularly expensive - just in case you end up paying out for food that no one eats. I'd be more inclined to cook Indian food for them, rather than go out - especially considering that, given the ginger incident, they've most likely never tasted a lot of the ingredients you'll get in the Red Fort.
Do you know what the children actually -like- to eat? If so, I might be able to come up with a few more recommendations.
I was unimpressed with the Charlotte Street branch of Pescatori when I visited in March. My starter of tuna tartare was fine, but my main course of gnocchi with scallops was almost entirely devoid of scallops, and the tiramisu was very dull.
The Dover Street branch might be better though.
If they really don't want a culinary adventure, take them somewhere simple like Pizza Express. I realise it isn't fancy, or all that original, but the food is reliable and reasonably tasty.
Or, go to a pub like the Anchor & Hope.
How about Itsu, Yo! Sushi or another conveyor belt sushi place? You mentioned that the mom likes seafood, dad likes shrimp, and I'm assuming the kids like something you can get at these places (e.g. California rolls, chicken katsu, gyoza). I don't imagine there are lots of conveyor belt places in Jersey (correct me if I'm wrong!), so it might be a fun experience.
Same goes for Wagamama. Not necessary exciting for a CHer (especially given a recent post), but it sounds like it might be a real different experience for your guest family. And once again, there's something for everybody at Wagamama.
Another recent post also mentioned Belgo for its simple food and fun restaurant theme. Maybe give that a try? It'll be a chance for them to try "Belgian" food without straying too far from their comfort zone.
How about one of the Greek places on and around Charlotte St? Not been there for a while, but I recall one called Anemos (?) which was always lively, and teenagers love the plate smashing!
OH DEAR. Just done a bit of browsing and found that Greek restaurants are rather a thing of the past in Charlotte St. Sad.
Ok then, Efes (pronounced "effies") Turkish is similar, only with less plate smashing and more belly dancing. Plenty of seafood choices.
Thank you ALL for your suggestions. It was a bit of a nightmare! We ended up not keeping the Red Fort reservation (as Dolly Dagger mentioned, we were paying and I was not interested in paying for food not eaten or even tried!)
One night we cooked at home. Next night we did end up at Gaucho, where mom & son had fish (without the mysterious and icky sounding aubergine chutney), dad had a steak & daughter had a salad. They've changed their menu recently and seem to have a few more seafood dishes, and everyone thought the presentations were nice although they were quite skeptical about using the salt & pepper, which came in little bowls instead of shakers. (germ issues.)