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Recent London Grill experience

We're new to Philly and my wife and I stumbled into London Grill on a recent Sunday for brunch. I have to wonder what all the positive buzz I've heard about this place is all about. The service was just this side of abysmal and the food was sub par. Even if the food was decent their service was enough to prevent me from going back and even if the service was great the food wasn't enough to come back for. Without much effort I can do the same in my kitchen. On another note, we were in Bishop's Collar this past weekend. They were twice as busy as LG had been the week before and the service was spot on and the food was notably better. Not making any adjustments for bar food vs. the more structured style of LG. Head to head, BC was a better meal and I'll be back.

And like many, we were back at Matyson this week for their Cinco de Mayo tasting meal and as usual, they knocked it outta the park. Just about the best service I've had in my 9 months in the area. A visit to Vetri is on the calendar for June....

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  1. SCott, I'm in their neighborhood, and don't recall any buzz about London Grill being special. Ordinary is more like it, but to have restaurants in one's neighborhood is one thing--it never felt like a place to go looking for.

    1. The bar menu and Happy Hour at LG is the only reason I used to go. Never a dining destination place, had a mediocre meal there when I ate in the dining room, but the service was good.

      1. I've been in Fairmount neighborhood for a year now, and have only been to London for a brunch. It was fine, but the service was terrible. For dinner in the neighborhood, I'm pretty sure Saint Stephen's can't be beat.

        2 Replies
        1. re: hollyd

          St Stephen's is the one and only place I genuinely like in the area!

          1. re: saturninus

            I love it. Everything I've had there has been great, but it's really hard for me to not order a cheeseburger. The best other than Good Dog, for me.

        2. I entertained Canadian friends at LG a few years ago prior to an afternoon at the PMA and haven't been back since. The eggs Benedict were undercooked and on bagel halves (not English muffins, as stated in the menu) that were so hard that I couldn't cut them. The "hollandaise" was a runny mess of nondescript flavor. Our waitress, however, was very attentive and apologetic for the sad entree and provided us with a complimentary dessert. Despite her good intentions, one memory like that can send you elsewhere permanently.

          1. We have lived in the neighborhood for 13 years. Been to London Grill twice. Once to try it and the second time to see if the improved. Haven't been in 10 years. Nuff said?

            5 Replies
            1. re: joluvscards

              where do you go in the neighborhood? I'm moving to Fairmount at the beginning of June and I'd like to know where to skip and where to make a habit of going. I tried L'Oca the other night and wasn't disappointed, but wasn't blown away either. for the price, i didn't leave satisfied and i don't mind indulging if it means satisfaction....
              ...anyway, where do you go in Fairmount???

              1. re: EastCoastWineMan

                There aren't any places that I have tried that will "blow you away". My benchmark for that is a restaurant that I would drive to if I weren't in the neighborhood. IMHO there aren't any. However, I haven't tried
                St. Stephen's or a few of the new pubs that have opened recently.

                Here is my list:

                Figs - Owner-chef Mustapha is in the kitchen most evenings. Reasonably priced byo medi. Our neighborhood fav. http://www.figsrestaurant.com/index.html

                L'Oca - We've eaten there six times and five meals were terrific. It's a plus that they now accept reservations.

                Long's Gourmet Chinese - We really like this healthy asian. Try the specials. They deliver.

                Zorba's - fair, not great, greek. We go on occasion. I find some of the food to be too greasy for my taste.

                Tria - decent thai byo. We don't love it but we go occasionally.

                McCrossens Tavern - haven't been in a long time but used to be good.

                Pete's - decent diner for breakfast and lunch.

                We avoid -

                Jack's - was good years ago...

                Bridgets - the only advantage is that they are cheap. Most meals have some canned component.

                Rembrants - revolving door of chefs.

                London Grill

                Water Works - breathtakingly expensive for inconsistent food. Another revolving door.

                Illuminaire - just terrible

                1. re: joluvscards

                  Friends had lunch at Figs on Thursday and absolutely loved it. He had rare tuna on a roll with interesting dressing and she had sliced duck breast. They can't wait to return - and they tend to be very critical.

                  1. re: joluvscards

                    Jo, thanks for that report...very clear...looking forward to moving into the neighborhood....maybe i'll give L'Oca another shot, but IMHO there are so many good byobs in Philly that if somewhere doesn't hit the mark the first time, I'm not giving them a second chance.

                  2. re: EastCoastWineMan

                    Figs, Zorbas, Bridgids, St. Stephens, Angelinos. I love me some Angelinos meatballs.

                2. My daughter came up from DC to take me to London Grill for Mother's Day brunch. Our experience confirms what others have said here: pedestrian food and bad service. My daughter's appetizer - ravioli with an egg inside - was interesting in a "How did they do that?" kind of way. My beet salad appetizer had beets that were too large with very little goat cheese. I'm not accustomed to being served a salad I have to cut up at the table. The entrees were pedestrian. My daughter only ate half her Italian strata and sausage. My eggs benedict with smoked salmon came with a large piece of eggshell. When I pointed it out to the server, he just shrugged. Service was so poor that our first course - fruit with nut bread and yogurt dip - was not served until after our appetizer. We had to ask twice for milk to put in our coffee. We didn't stay for the dessert which was included.

                  1. I went to London Grill because a friend had heard it was good. We were there at about 5:30 on a Saturday night. We sat outside and service was great. I had fried calamari with hot peppers and a sweet dipping sauce. It was fine. Then I had the seared duck breast medium rare which came rare and I sent it back and they fixed it which improved the texture, but it tasted blah. The only good part of this dish was the pierogi and cabbage. What a bad dish. My friend had lobster with corn and potatoes and liked it a lot. It was a pleasant place to sit outside.