London/Marylebone Suggestion - Dining Solo
So, I have a last minute business trip from NYC to London Mon-Wed this coming week, and would love to find a decent nosh somewhere in the Marylebone area -- anywhere in the area between Regent's Park and Hyde Park (please forgive me if that's not what the area is called -- I'm not exactly familiar with the area).
I'm looking for:
1. Moderately inventive cuisine, or very well done traditional,
2. Someplace I will feel comfortable dining alone (i.e., not overly "scene"-ish, or overly romantic) -- comfortable/friendly,
3. Price-wise -- it is a business trip that falls into "reasonable, but not excessive." Usually in the range of 20-25 GBP (damn this exchange rate). Of course, I'd prefer to pay more for a good meal than have the whole meal covered by work and have something mediocre.
4. Something on the later end of things the first night (this may just end up being room service unfortunately, depending on my all-day flight).
I'm equally open to a bar stool, a pint and a damn good gastro-pub experience as I am to a linen-and-silver sit-down meal. Also, a fan of Turkish/middle-eastern, etc...
If nothing really pops for the immediate area, then perhaps something easily accessible via the Tube from the Baker Street, Marylebone or Bond Street stations?
Oh, and as a side question, how exactly do your pronounce the neighborhood's name? I'd hate to be that irritating American.... (much as New Yorkers hate it when people call Houston Street "hew-stun" rather than "how-stun".
I just got back from 4+ days in London as a solo traveler as well. I'd have to give Fairuz a thumbs-down, unfortunately. I really wanted to like it, but the food was unimpressive - not bad, just not impressive. Service was pretty poor too. The table next to me (party of 3) ordered after me and finished eating before I even got my main dish. At least the baklava was good...
I see that I'm a bit late to make a recommendation now but maybe you'd like to save it for the future. Galvin Bistrot de Luxe in Baker St would have served you well. IMHO the finest French bistro in London - a limited Prix Fixe lunch menu (about £15) admittedly but top quality! Add a glass of wine and coffee and you're still under your £25 budget!! Dining alone? You'll not feel out of place here at lunchtime where you'll find diners of all sorts; from businessmen to shoppers in a busy but not bustling environment. Perhaps before coming to London again you'll stop by my blog where you might find some useful dining suggestions - or drop me a line and I'll be happy to help. www.thebigblackpudding.blogspot.com Cheers!!
My meetings got all shuffled, so I had a little free time for lunch. Popped into La Fromagerie for lunch. Had the most incredibly simple, but delightful meal.
Started with the pea and prosciutto soup -- peas delightfully crisp, deep green colors, and unblended. Rustic, but refined, I'd say.
Then, went for the fish plate. Taramasalata, mackerel spread, anchovies wrapped in sun dried tomato, a small julienned beet salad, and the most incredible cured salmon.
Even the crunchy bread and (not crunchy) butter was tasty...
This is what a lot of "higher end" East Village/LES restaurants are trying to do in New York (i.e., "The EU, Brown, etc"). Unfortunately for me, NYC is coming off as a rank amateur.
Also, Simon -- thanks for the recommendation for Daunt Books. Since it was just 'round the corner, I popped in. Lovely!
I used to live off Marylebone High Street and can confirm it's pronounced the way fresh danish has written it. Golden Hind was and still is my favourite place for fish and chips. Caffe Caldesi across the road is also great, as is Providores. Tomoe (Japanese) I haven't been to yet, but it's meant to be amazing and has been written about at length on this board. Phoenix Palace has gone downhill, as has Royal China (especially the Baker St branch), but I agree that Galvin Bistrot Deluxe is excellent. There are also plenty of excellent cafes along the High Street - it's generally considered to be quite a foodie destination. And visit the Farmers' Market in Waitrose carpark if you're there on a Sunday!
Helen Yuet Ling Pang
i live in marylebone (MARR-luh-bone is how the true locals pronounce it) and moved from SF and NY. i am rather obsessive about food and wine and think there are a couple great recos in the area:
you'd be very hard pressed to beat THE PROVIDORES, which is an all-new zealand resto known for fiercely confident blending of super fresh ingredients into stunningly bold pan-asian dishes. the wine list is very good, obviously loaded with great nz pinots and sauv blancs. eat here early in your trip as you'll want to go back again (and again, and again...). the downstairs is perfect for solo dining.
agreed with GOLDEN HIND. it's sweet, simple, old-school and great for solo dining. you can bring your own bottle of sancerre from just around the corner at nicolas on the marylebone high street. on a nice day, get your fish/chips for takeaway and sit outside at the pub just around the corner to the right as you walk towards the high street.
LE RELAIS is one of those places i feel slightly conflicted recommending, mostly because it's kind of an odd place - that you should try. the thinly sliced steak & frites (cooked in rendered duck fat?) are decadent and lovely. don't expect much from the experience - it's all about turnover in this cafeteria-style environment. however, over time this somehow becomes a part of the charm of the place...
FAIRUZ is quite good. but, DIWAN (a new entrant across the street) is perhaps even better. you'll have to get beyond the horrifying blue/yellow color scheme, but the food here is consistently great. we get takeaway from here 2x per week.
my final two HIGHEST recommendations are:
DININGS - a new japanese entrant a 7-8 minute walk from the high street. sit at the bar upstairs and have an insanely great meal. chef/staff are from nobu and i think the meals i've had here eclipse any i've had at matsuhisa in beverly hills.
FERNANDEZ AND WELLS - an adorable cafe in soho (7 minute cab ride) that focuses on simple but lovely sandwiches, salads, etc - all very spanish influenced. essentially everything these guys do (decor, staff, coffee and food) is at an extroardinary high level. in fact, i recommend it for food even higher than la fromagerie which is saying a lot since it's a world-class option unto itself.
that is all.
I tend to use the latter pronunciation too.
Definitely Golden Hind, in my own subjective (and ever changing) ratings ranking just below Masters Superfish and just above Olleys and Seafresh in Victoria.
A lot of people like the Caldesi places, also on Marylebone Lane (one opposite The Golden Hind, I think) not tried them, so can't say
Going in the other direction towards Gt Portland St tube, I had a very agreeable lunch at Villandry not so long ago. A short walk East
Fromagerie is worth a visit and to pick up a snack.
Slightly, off topic, but while you are in the neighbourhood of Marylebone, do take the opportunity to pop into Daunt Books on the High St, IMO the best bookshop in London and rather lovely to boot. To keep it on topic, it has an excellent selection of cookery books
As a follow-up... I found these while perusing the past postings on the area (apologies for not crediting each individual poster/suggester):
Ibla, 89 Marylebone High St.
Golden Hind for fish & chips, off of Marylebone High Street.
Providores on Marylebone High Street
Ishtar for Turkish on Crawford Street.
Phoenix Palace off of Marylebone on Glentworth
La Fromagerie which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and sells of course fab cheese.
Fairuz Lebanese is very good (1/2 block off the High Street)
Royal China for Chinese
Defune for Japanese
La Galette for crepes
Fish Works for fish
Locatelli, Getti, Anacapri and Caldesi for Italian.
Strada for pizzas.
Busabai Eathai (Marylebone branch)
So, of these (or others), anything especially suggested for the solo traveller?