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First time in London - dare I ask for recommendations?

Hello all, Buttertart from NYC here.
We will be in London at the end of June for a university conference - have been to many other cities worldwide but never London...
Have been looking at guidebooks and haunting this board, but must say London seems more daunting in size and number of restaurants than anywhere previously visited (including Shanghai, where we know our way around a bit).
Will be staying in Bloomsbury and the conference is in the East End but more than willing to travel for food.
Would be most grateful if you could bear one more such request and we could be pointed in the right direction, particularly for the following:
1. prix-fixe lunch at a swish place, anniversary celebration
2. best high-end Chinese, any cuisine
3. best low-end Chinese, ditto
4. best Indian, if possible Bengali (sis-in-law from Kolkata, love the food)
5. best gastropub/new British
6. best other Asian (Cambodian? Lao? Thai?)
7. any under-the-radar gems
Price is not exactly no object, but we are of course aware that London is more expensive than NY and are willing to spend.
Many many thanks in advance.

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  1. Hello buttertart. You're right - London is huge, but you're in safe hands here. To address your points in order, as far as I can:

    1. Le Gavroche, Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road or Wild Honey
    2. I'm no expert, but Hunan in Pimlico has a great reputation. I also like Haozhan in Chinatown and Dragon Castle in Elephant and Castle (dreadful location, but great food!). If you really want high end, you can't beat Hakkasan.
    3. Not sure if it's really low end, but I liked Snazz Sichuan in Euston.
    4. A poster who knows his Bengali food raves about a place on Brick Lane. Do a search for posts by J Fores. Definitely not high end though. For that you need Benares, Amaya, The Cinnamon Club or Quilon. Moti Mahal has a good reputation, and I like The Painted Heron, which is on the Embankment in Chelsea.
    5. Anchor & Hope in Waterloo, Great Queen Street in Covent Garden or St John in Shoreditch. Hereford Road also has a good reputation.
    6. Can't help you but The Mango Room in Victoria is supposed to be good for Thai.
    7. Chez Bruce in Wandsworth - not exactly a "hidden gem", as I heard it described the other day, as it has a Michelin star, but definitely off the tourist trade. Also The Glasshouse in Kew, which you could combine with a trip to the (fantastic) Botanical Gardens.

    1. That's a lot of questions! Have you tried browsing the board? Try searching by area or cuisine type and see what comes up.

      For Thai, I'd recommend Crazy Bear, which is on Whitfield Street close to where you'll be staying in Bloomsbury. Also nearby is Patara on Greek Street (Soho) and Busaba Eathai on Store Street. (Google their websites for menus, reviews, etc).

      I think greedygirl is referring to The Mango Tree in Victoria, which is one of London's most popular restaurants. It's good but expensive and very loud because it is always busy. It has a sister restaurant in Chelsea called Awana which does good Malaysian food but is similarly pricey and noisy. If that doesn't bother you, then go for it.

      For Chinese, you could try Shanghai Blues which is in Holborn, near to Bloomsbury.

      greedygirl's Indian recommendations are spot on. I enjoyed Moti Mahal a great deal - you could go for lunch when it is slightly cheaper. Also have a look at Zaika in Kensington.

      If you're feeling overwhelmed by choice - and believe me, I suffer from this and I live here! - you might find www.toptable.co.uk and www.london-eating.co.uk quite helpful. You can search by area, cuisine, 'best for' and so on, and look at reviews from other diners.

      Enjoy your trip!

      2 Replies
      1. re: DollyDagger

        You wont fınd much West Bengalı Kolkatan food ın London ıt ıs maınly from East Bengal/Bangladesh whıch ıs dıfferent, although for sweets, there are a couple of places that do passable Mıshtı Doı and Sandesh ın Brıck Lane.

        Oh Calcutta (dreadful name, but good place) ıs openıng ın London around now whıch promıses proper West Bengalı food. If ıt the Mascher Jhol ıs as good as ıt was ın Kolkata recently, ıt wıll be worth a vısıt.

        I dıslıke The Cınnamon Club a great deal but agree that Motı Mohal has never dısappoınted.

        For New Brıtısh and 'under the radar' I thınk people stıll forget about Magdalen whıch ıs one of the best of the 'School of St John' places down near London Brıdge. You could combıne wıth a trıp to Borough Market on a Frıday lunchtıme. I hear they were flooded recently so don,t know what theır status ıs. Food ıs usually bang on the money though

        S

      2. 1. Hibiscus - I think their prix fixe is about £35, and Claude Bosi's cooking is out of this world.
        2. Hakkasan, hands down.
        3. Does your conference happen to be in ExCel, if you're talking 'East End'? If so, China Palace near the centre does incredibly cheap, very good dim sum. On par with the sort I'm used to in Hong Kong.
        4. Not my expertise, so I shall leave this to other 'hounds!
        5. Gastropub? Great Queen St, sister to Anchor & Hope and probably not as crowded with tourists these days. Modern British? Then you MUST go to Hereford Road. And try the whole braised oxtail.
        6. It's not in the best of areas, nor is it very fancy, but Green Papaya in Hackney does very good Vietnamese - one of the best pho ga (chicken noodle soups) I've had in London. Alternatively, Song Que in Kingsland Rd. Hazuki on Chandos Road near Charing Cross also does excellent Japanese.

        1. 1. Can't help you.
          2. Can't help you. Apparently there's quite a bit here.
          3. The low end Chinese scene is GRIM here especially compared to New York or LA. GRIM. I don't know if the high end scene is better than NY as NY has an enormous Chinese community and therefore a very small and very bad high end Chinese food scene, but the low end stuff is scary here and still VERY expensve (no 6 dollar for 3 course meals to be had, basically. And DEFINITELY no equivalents to ei. Chengdu Heaven or other completely non English speaking and non English catering places.)
          4. Go to Gram Bangla on Brick Lane for excellent Bangladeshi food. The fish chutney is especially good. The food is most definitely Bangla and Kolkata Bengalis would probably have some funny things to say about it ("They even put shutki in there vegetables! What is this?!?!?") but it is the best Bangladeshi food I've had outside of my ex's mother's kitchen. Get rohu mas, fish chutney, the loti (I don't know it's name in Hindi or English or West Bengali, it looks like an enormous green bean) with prawns and shutki. I prefer the loti's dose of shutki over a full order of it as the bone hunting and dried fish flavor can get old, particularly since they do there's in a rather light tomatoey broth. Their lamb with chana is also quite good. Make sure to grab a jelebi if they're making them fresh!

          For Thai I'd say Addie's Thai. It's been the best I've had in London so far out of a growing handful of places. Their beef salad is especially good, but they can underspice dishes badly (to the point of being sweet) if you aren't very specific about Thai spicing.

          1. An interesting place to try is Rochelle Canteen which is run by Margot Henderson (wife of Fergus of St John fame). It's quite a little haven in the sometimes grim East End. You can BYO at no extra charge (buy a bottle at the City Beverage Co on nearby Old Street) and if the weather's nice there are tables outside.

            I found the food good overall and it's not too expensive for London (I've posted a menu so you can see some typical prices) and the service is friendly. You need to book and it's only open at lunchtimes though.

            http://www.doshermanos.co.uk/2008/04/...

            http://www.arnoldandhenderson.com

            There's another good lunch only place not too far away that I'll be writing about soon so keep checking the blog !

            HP

            PS I revisited Anchor and Hope recently and it was excellent. Go near to the start of service i.e. 12pm for lunch or 6pm for dinner and put your name down.

            1. Oh yeah, go to Mohsen. Excellent Iranian food of a quality that the city (and I mean New York by that) does not have. Play with London's strengths which I believe are markets, Bengali food, and Iranian food. Also possibly Lebanese as the average Lebanese meal is better here, but the average price of the average Lebanese meal is around 2-3 times more here. If you're coming from experience with Srip, Chao Thai, etc than you might want to leave South East Asian for when you get home. Same for low end Chinese. Despite that, try the high end Chinese and report back. I'm always VERY sceptical about any Chinese meal that isn't specialized to a region and costs enough to feed a village in Sichuan for a few months. That's just me being a cheap/ethnic food nazi though. As said, Gram Bangla for Bengali. Other notable South Asian restaurants are New Tayyabs as many will say, but mostly for their grilled items. If you want to travel for what I think is better and cheaper grilled fun, then go to the Kebabish on Green St in Newham/Upton Park. Delicious sizzle platters of grilled glory. Anoher thing I enjoy about it is how a 90% Bengali street scene becomes almost 100% Pakistani/Punjabi as soon as you enter the place. The demographics INSTANTLY change. Definitely do gastropubs. High end South Asian is give or take btw. Ei. Quilon's veg is supposed to be amazing but I haven't heard really rave reviews about other things there. Again, I just don't see the point of eating the same meal as I would get in someone's house for an incredible price, especially since I live in a dollar state of mind (and on a student's budget no less.) Another Bengali place is Baburchi if you wanted to check out Green St market (brilliant South Asian oriented market in far East London. Brixton market is even better, but more Afro-Carib.) Baburchi is across from the above mentioned Kebabish and while it is buffet, they will generally have East Bengali specialties like keski mas, shutki, aloo bhorta, etc. The quality is lower than Gram, but the prices are too. Very friendly staff; I might be getting an apartment off one of the waiters. As said, Mohsen. Definitely an under the radar gem and definitely very good (and VERY reasonable particularly given it's location.) Expect your meals to be 2-4 times more expensive than New York depending on what you're eating. Only Chinese would be in the 4 range, but a terrifying number of restaurants are in the 3 times more expensive range.

              21 Replies
              1. re: JFores

                "Cheap/ethnic food Nazi" - ROFL!

                Off topic but have you tried the pizza place in the covered market in Brixton yet? It's just reopened with a wood-firing oven and a Neapolitan owner and is getting rave reviews. Cheap too by London standards (wine is £6 a bottle and a pizza less than a fiver).

                1. re: greedygirl

                  I very nearly went there for lunch with a friend and his relatives once, but it ended up falling through at the very last second. I'll consider giving it a try as I constantly pass it, but I'm sceptical. Might as well try though. Are the less thgan 5 quid pizzas personal or properly sized pizzas?

                  1. re: JFores

                    What do you mean by personal and properly sized? AFAIK they're Italian style - ie one largish pizza each. You may have noticed that THIS IS NOT AMERICA!

                    http://www.timeout.com/london/restaur...

                    http://www.metro.co.uk/metrolife/food...

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      sounds lovely! this just might replace the spot pizza fresca in ny used to have in my life.

                      and btw, i think jfores is just being his youthful hurried self - i dont think he means to offend. i think he's worried that such a cheap pizza is tea-saucer sized given the prices of most things in london.

                      1. re: howler

                        It's only open at lunchtimes at the moment, as the market shuts at 5pm, but they're trying to get it to open later on Fridays and Saturdays. They're also opening a craft bakery opposite, and have employed a local master baker.

                        I haven't managed to get there myself yet but have had many good reports from my friends. Maybe a Chowdown calls.... (it is tiny though).

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          that much labour of love and generosity of spirit (no i'm not punning on the wine price) ought to be rewarded- lets go!

                      2. re: greedygirl

                        In regards to the American portion size, pizza that cheap is almost always a very small personal pizza in the UK. In fact, all of the pizzas I've had here have been personal pizzas. I only eat at a small handful of pizzerias back in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island so I am very touchy about pizza (I only ate Di Fara for nearly two years as I lived within 30 mins walking distance and therefore went constantly.)

                        I'd be up for lunch there after Saturday market shopping, though.

                        The immediate area is also home to my favorite during market eating spots. Las Americas Bakery, Bushman Kiosk, Jeff the Chef's cart for patties, etc. The Portugese cart disappeared when I left for the last school break, though. :(

                        1. re: JFores

                          On the assumption that size actually IS important, is not the 9" or 10" pretty much industry standard in UK restaurants? And isnt this sufficient for most people?

                          Might this be another America/Europe difference - where in Europe one normally gets a personal pizza, whereas its a larger, more communal, thing over there?

                          1. re: Harters

                            More like 12-14 inches in the non-chain places I frequent. Pretty much the same size as in Italy, land of pizza... But yes, more than enough for one person.

                          2. re: JFores

                            I'm very lucky to have a local Italian place that does excellent, large personal pizzas. I can't remember the price, but it's probably on the high side and isn't one of the cheap versions. I'm not advocating people schlep down here to Dorking for a pizza, but it's nice for us locals to have the option.

                            1. re: JFores

                              JFores - Have you tried the Guyanese cart a bit further along from Bush man? Large portions and good prices. I paid £4.50 for a large plate of prawn and pumpkin curry with white rice.

                              1. re: Nii

                                Yeah, but when I tried it, I paid the same for chicken curry and rice and my friend paid a similar amount for a so-so vegetable curry. The cook is actually Liberian btw. The food is eh. Nothing amazing and no peppa or other accompanying joys of Guyanese food. Not a cart I would eat at again unless the pumpkin and prawn curry was REALLY good or they started making their own dal pooris.

                                1. re: JFores

                                  What a shame! They really looked after me! Gave me two types of hot sauces to add to my meal and I sat inside.

                                  1. re: Nii

                                    Oh really? I caught them on the first week I had ever seen them out there so it might've just been that. Had a very long interesting conversation with the guy behind the counter, but the chicken curry was only eh and the roti was pretty much the same. Do they have another cook in there now, maybe? I can give it another try when I get to Brixton next if it is worth it. I think I'm doing Brixton this Saturday instead of Upton Park.

                            2. re: greedygirl

                              Tried the margherita at Franco Manca at lunchtime today. Good rather than exquisite we thought. Felt that the pizza could have done with a couple more minutes in the wood fired oven, it certainly didn't reach us piping hot which is essential as the first few bites of fresh-out-of-the-oven pizza are where it's all at IMO. You could tell that all the ingredients were good quality although I felt that the mozzarella was lacking that extra bit of "stringiness" which would elevate it to the next level. Plus dried herbs sprinkled on the pizza rather than fresh chopped basil, that's a trick missed I feel. Cheap and cheerful wine, as expected when you're paying £1.25 a glass, £6 a bottle. Pizza was £4.60, side salad £1.50, Monmouth "organic" espresso £1 a shot. Meal for 2 came to £9.60 no service.

                              Not sure I prefer it to my neighbourhood standout pizza (Sarracino on Broadhurst Gardens, NW6) but would happily revisit if I was shopping at the market or otherwise in the nabe.

                              Btw take JFores there at your own peril, I don't see this place measuring up to Di Fara in his estimation :-)

                              1. re: oonth

                                Bit like the whole of London, really. ;-)

                                Thanks for the review - hope to make it there myself sometime soon.

                                1. re: oonth

                                  Alas, dried herbs. I'm crushed. There's nothing like a whiff from a few strategically placed fresh basil leaves....won't be cancelling trip to Naples.

                                  1. re: oonth

                                    they import a wood fired oven, teach a local farmer how to make mozzarella and then use dried herbs?!

                                    talk about losing a ship for the want of a nail ... i'd be tempted to try them out again. it must have been an off afternoon.

                                    1. re: howler

                                      One of the owners posts on a local board I frequent, so I've drawn his/her attention towards the herb issue.

                                      1. re: howler

                                        I'm just back from Italy, and the pizza at Franco Manca compared very favourably with one I had in Bergamo (at a pizzeria with a wood-fired oven). In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Franco Manca was better. Plus the pizza in Italy had a meagre sprinking of DRIED oregano on it, just like at Franco Manca, so maybe not so inauthentic on pizzas that aren't margheritas?

                                      2. re: oonth

                                        Hi,

                                        I am the pizzaiolo that has designed the dough process at Franco Manca and responsible for the consistency of the product. We have had few problems in the past with the guy that we had employed to make pizza day in day out and have now recruited someone else and many of the initial problems have now disappeared and would invite you to visit again.

                                        One small note on the dry herbs comment: We are only using Dry Oregano, which is an herb that needs to be used dry anyway. It was not my choice, the theory behind using it was that when Basil was not in season, many years ago even in Naples they would either omit it or use dry oregano. Pizza Marinara requires dry oregano for example.

                                        Anyway I hope you give us another shoot.

                              2. I'd recommend drinking tea at Postcard Teas in Mayfair or TeaSmith in Spitalfields market. Not English tea, but traditional, serious and carefully brewed teas from China, Taiwan, Japan, India, Korea. Particularly interesting at Postcard Teas is their coffee blossom tea and gyokuro, of which the former is probably not available in the US and the latter will likely cost less than what you pay in the US. Also ask if they have other teas not on the menu, as their selection changes often. At Teasmith, try the Phoenix Supremem Oolong and the Anxi Tieguanyin.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: limster

                                  Excellent idea. You could also check out Borough Market for a fun market day, though that isn't cheap. My budget and I are in grave danger whenever I enter there (a friend of mine and I walked there from Mile End yesterday to take in the weather and just eat free samples... it became 20 pounds more than free samples... oy vey. Lemon stuffed olives are so good! They're like the olive of summer!) BTW, particularly interesting is Postcard Tea's selection of Korean teas as those are very hard to find (of quality) if you don't go to a specific couple of Korean shops in Bayside and Flushing. I think gyokuro is a little grassy, but Japanese teas have never been my thing. Many of Postcard's oolong's come from Eastern Teas and are purchased from them after import.

                                  The coffee blossom tea sounds very interesting. Explain please. My current drinking tea is ali-shan oolong. High mountain tastic.

                                  BTW, go to The Golden Hind for fish and chips. I forgot to mention that. It'd especially be good to go there on the same day as Postcard Teas as they're relatively close.

                                  1. re: JFores

                                    re: Postcard Teas - you can request a more traditional style of gyokuro (a bit stronger, tons of umami, looks like chicken broth). The owner of Postcard Teas is also a co-owner of East Teas, hence the crossover. The website for postcard teas describes the coffee blossom tea here: http://www.postcardteas.com/introduct...
                                    Essentially, he got the idea from yuanyang, which a mix of coffee and tea served in SE Asia and HK. Try some of the oolongs from Wuyi (Fujian) or Fenghuang (Guangdong/Canton) when you get the chance.

                                    1. re: limster

                                      Thanks! If they do have a stronger one then I'll ask the guy at East Teas if I could try a cup when I get there next week or the week after. I need to report back to him on my current purchases (all oolongs.)

                                2. My wife and I just returned from London and had a very good eating trip. We especially enjoyed the prix fixe lunches (around 15 pounds each) at Amaya (Indian) and Arbutus. The risotto at Arbutus was outstanding, as was the strawberry sorbet for dessert. Great service and a lovely setting. Very convenient to the British Museum, if you're in the area.

                                  Amaya was outstanding. They have a few prix fixe options and we chose the cheapest one because it seemed like enough food. It was. The grilled monkfish was particularly flavorful, especially with the fresh, light raita. We got a side of naan and it was fresh and hot when it arrived at the table -- much better than the doughy, lukewarm things you normally get. Gorgeous place.

                                  Among the other highlights... the toasted cheese sandwich at Borough Market, the hazelnut meringue from Ottolenghi in Islington, the croissant from Poilane in Belgravia, the "highland scramble" (scrambled eggs and smoked salmon) at Fortnum & Mason, and the blue cheese/pesto baguette at Euphorium Bakery in Islington. We ate pretty well...

                                  1. Hi buttertart,
                                    most bengali food in london is of Bangladeshi (East Bengali) origin, which is very different from what you'd get in Kolkata.
                                    I haven't been there myself, but I have heard that a restaurant called Calcutta Notebook (201 Replingham Road, London, SW18 5LY) does authentic West Bengali food.

                                    1. Many many thanks to all who replied, this has helped enormously. Will be happy to return the favour at any time!

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Sorry for the long derail about a neighbourhood pizza joint in Brixton!

                                        I just came across the following review by a regular poster here. I think it sounds great, and might well give it a whirl myself.

                                        http://worldfoodieguide.wordpress.com...

                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                          Looks very much in line with what we're seeking - thanks again.

                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                            Thanks for linking to my post on Konstam. Absolutely top restaurant - unpretentious place, brilliant service, nice fellow diners, and most importantly, delicious, fresh food prepared with ingredients sourced from within the M25. I loved it and wish it were my local!

                                            Helen Yuet Ling Pang
                                            http://worldfoodieguide.wordpress.com

                                          2. re: buttertart

                                            Could you write a report on your meals?

                                            1. re: JFores

                                              I'll do my best! I've been doing so here and there on this board, though not often enough...

                                              Helen

                                          3. Two really good high-end Chinese which haven't yet been mentioned here are Kai in Mayfair and Ken Lo's Memories of China on Ebury Street. I lunched at both last month and they were fantastic.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: afds

                                              if you enjoyed kai and ken lo's thats great, but to be fair they are neither anywhere close to much better alternatives around.

                                              1. re: howler

                                                Names of the much better alternatives please? For my next visit...

                                            2. 1. Petrus, The Capital, any Ramsay place, any of La Trompette/The Glasshouse/Chez Bruce
                                              2. Hakkasan
                                              3. Personal faves are Chuen Chung Ku and Royal China (Baker St branch) but there seem to be others here with better knowledge.
                                              4. Love Rasa Samudra.
                                              5. Ate at Great Queen Street last night and was seriously impressed. Good portions, fantastic hearty/trad staples (loved the crab on toast), reasonably priced wine by the carafe. Also like The Engineer.
                                              6. Awana for Malaysian. Always seems to have half-price specials so check toptable and london-eating before you book.
                                              7. The very very nicest meal I've ever had in London was at Pied a Terre. It costs a small fortune but it's a smaller, more intimate and less well-known/popular than the other top Michelin-starred places. For fun, romantic cheap eats, Andrew Edmunds. For great food in a beautiful setting, Notting Hill Brasserie (bizarrely under-crowded for somewhere that good). For all-round great food, The Ledbury. For fantastic French with a great atmosphere (piano/bass combo most evenings, converted barn feel), Cafe du Marche. Another great French one (but now really hard to get a booking) is Galvin Bistrot du Luxe.

                                              1. 1. Le Gavroche. Amazing value - for £48 you get a three course lunch plus canapes, amuse bouche and coffee and petits fours, and half a bottle of wine a head (choice of 2 whites and 2 reds). The service is phenomenal and it's a really great experience.

                                                1. So, here is the plan, in case anyone's interested: 1st day lunch fish and chips at the Golden Hind, dinner at Moti Mahal; 2nd day lunch at Hibiscus, dinner at The Gay Hussar (have been reading about this place forever, love Hungarian food, not much of it here in NY), 3rd day lunch open (we will be each on our own during the day), dinner Hereford Road, 4th day - a Sunday - totally open...note a lot of places are closed Sundays - any recs for dinner? Sorry for once again presuming on your good natures, and thanks a million for all assistance already received. Cannot wait to get there!

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    I am envious - some great choices.

                                                    For Sunday I know Maze Restaurant (10- 13 Grosvenor Sq) is open - Jason Atherton is a Gordon Ramsay protege and the restaurant gets very good reviews. Maybe a too similar to Claude Bosi at Hibiscus though, but you could do worse than compare and contrast two hot chefs.

                                                    There is also Maze Grill but again could be similar to Tom Pemberton's food at Hereford Road

                                                    As an alternatative you could try Barrafina (Frith Street, Soho) for great, high quality, Spanish tapas - very fashionable in London at the moment.

                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                      I'd go for some Singaporean/Malaysian food. I'd consider Kiasu in Bayswater or C&R in the Soho; look up older posts on these places for specific dishes to get. The places here are much better than Penang etc. in the US.

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        A traditional thing to do on a Sunday is a pub lunch - you might consider getting out into the countryside - perhaps try Heston Blumenthal's gastropub in Bray (easy train ride from London).

                                                        You sound like you're going to have a great time!

                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                          A V good list, although I question the GH based on some recent visits friends of mine reported as "beyond disgusting" sorry to put a spanner in the works

                                                          On the Sunday, why not start by heading to Spitalfield and grazing at the stalls in Brick lane and The Upmarket? Then as GG suggests, a Sunday lunch

                                                          You could tie it in with a visit to Columbia Rd flower market and lunch at The Royal Oak

                                                          The Drapers Arm in islington

                                                          www.thedrapersarms.co.uk

                                                          Also does an excellent Sunday lunch

                                                          S

                                                          1. re: Simon Majumdar

                                                            Thanks again all, may reconsider GH based on this...trust yr judgement (envious of your food journey, by the way) - it's a sentimental choice, we met in Toronto at university and there were some good and extremely cheap Hungarian restaurants there at the time (Sunday 3-course roast duck dinner CDN 2.20, oh the memories...).
                                                            Thanks for all sugestions received, must say UK board considerably more hospitable than Manhattan, where response is more likely to be "oh God, not this again, read the g.d. board already".
                                                            Will post on our experiences, thrilled to be visiting your city. At long last.

                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                              You know what? You should go. Particularly if it brings back good memories of other meals

                                                              I used to like their duck with cherries a lot and the service always used to be fun.

                                                              It would be great to know if you have a good time, so make sure to report back

                                                        2. re: buttertart

                                                          Some of us here had a very good lunch at Ishbilia (Lebanese). You can pace yourself there with lots of appetizers and still have a good dinner later on the Sunday. It would be so nice for you to see some of the beautiful countryside here... The Hind's Head in Bray is one of my favorite spots, and the food is fantastic and very different than the NYC scene as is the village. Having just been in Manhattan, I think it might be you won't find prices here all that alarming!

                                                          1. re: zuriga1

                                                            Thanks again vv much! want to see and do as much as possible, too bad time is so short.

                                                        3. 1. Petrus has the very best Prix Fixe lunch in Town - bar none!! An anniversary dinner you will remember and talk about forever.
                                                          2. Hakasan, though I've not been in a good while (must sort that one out)
                                                          5. The Greyhound, Battersea (but see my other recommendations on www.thebigblackpudding.com
                                                          )7. I agree with others that The Glasshouse and Chez Bruce (full very recent reports on the above mentioned site) are exceptional choices that are ever so slightly under the radar. Each are a little far to travel though so on the east side how about Cafe du Marche in Charterhouse Square for super provincial French or, not far from there, The Bleeding Heart in Bleeding Heart Yard where traditional French cuisine meets old London building! Here you could take your choice of grill, bistro or restaurant depending on your modd - none will disappoint. Perhaps a balance in terms of journey, The Ledbury, Notting Hill, is another just under the radar and a real favourite of mine. Restaurant of the Year and Restaurateurs Restaurant of the Year - can't go wrong.

                                                          So far as your oriental requests, surely you have enough to choose from in NYC. Better, in my opinion, to enjoy British or European here rather than something that will be broadly similar to what you'll find at home (with the possible exception of Indian perhaps).

                                                          1. We're back. We loved it. One of the very few cities I would love to live in, other than NY...Thanks all for recommendations.
                                                            We did get to The Golden Hind (best fish and chips ever (I was a chippie while in high school in Canada and uni in Berkeley, CA, worked for a Yorkshireman who was a second generation fish shop owner) - I love skate, not usually found in the US as the fish in f&c - perfectly cooked - chips wonderful too. Owner very congenial. Nice bottle of French rosé from Nicolas around the corner didn't hurt either).
                                                            Moti Mahal that evening, exciting flavors, attractive restaurant - knocks any other upscale Indian in the US into a cocked hat. Had the prix fixe, booked online for half off the food price.
                                                            Friday lunch at Hibiscus - GBP 25 3-course lunch - was absolute heaven. The food was perfect (http://www.hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk/ for menu...) - the mutton moussaka was very exciting to eat, the flavors of the meat and condiments playing off each other.
                                                            Was angling for a return for dinner - but restaurant is closed on the weekends. Damn.
                                                            Friday dinner at the Gay Hussar (we went to the V&A after lunch, and walked back to Soho) was more fun for the nostalgia than for the food, although my venison porkolt was quite good (husband did not like the smoked goose breast, although loves goose - was jammed on a plate with a rather nasty bean dish and red cabbage, dog's dinner plating school). But it did bring back memories.
                                                            Saturday we had lunch in a little bistro near our hotel (Savoir Faire, Coptic and Oxford Sts). It was also enjoyable - the chicken liver pate appetizer especially. Wine and pastis fairly cheap there as well.
                                                            Saturday night we went to Hereford Road, which was most enjoyable - shared a whole crab and then squab for him and shoulder of pork for me, with tomato salad (the best tomatoes I've ever had in a restaurant) and buttermilk pudding with almond biscotto and a few perfect raspberries to finish. Their 1/3 bottle of wine serving made a nice aperitif/accompaniment to the crab - more restaurants should do this, it's the right amount before a bottle of something else! Ingredients perfect - cooking very good (more like very high-level home cooking than like that at Hibiscus, of course).
                                                            Sunday we ended up - husband's specialty is Chinese history and cannot go a weekend w/o Chinese food - at the Xin Yuan, a Chinese place on Coptic St. - the regular dishes were not teriffic but the crab special advertised outside was excellent (sauteed in Sichuan peppercorn, salt and garlic). Then major tourist mode kicked in, revisited the British Museum, went to Westminster (wow nice Tube stop, exit leading right up to Big Ben), on boat ride on the Thames, wander around the Tower, back to the London Eye. Walked over to the Anchor and Hope thinking they were open Sunday night, they weren't, ended up back at the Savoir Faire for dinner.
                                                            Monday had prix-fixe lunch at Konaki Restaurant on Coptic, decent Greek food - then off to the airport and home.
                                                            Note about the hotel: Radisson Marlborough at Bloomsbury and Great Russell - undergoing renovations, for the first 2 nights we were stuck in a tiny room with an unopenable window which was blocked off by plywood. It was miserably hot. And no compensation made for the "inconvenience". Avoid this place until the renovation is finished, or forever.
                                                            A fantastic trip, trailed off a bit gastronomically toward the end, but got places we wouldn't have necessarily known about without all your help. Can't wait to go back. Another big thank you to all.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                              Sounds like a wonderful trip - you've now eaten in more excellent places than some Londoners manage in a lifetime! I'm especially glad you liked Moti Mahal.

                                                              It's always nice to hear from someone who enjoys London - come back soon for more good eatin'!