Bristol and one day in London with Mom
I am coming to visit Bristol for 3 days and London for one with my Mom. We both enjoy food (any kind really) but I prefer good, tasty, not "stuffy" dining places (if there is a emphasis on local ingredients all the better). Price is not so much of an issue, although I am not paying, just choosing the places, I don't want to bring her to someplace that is crazy expensive and have her pick up the tab. I haven't been able to get much of a read on London (we'll do lunch and dinner there) so any suggestions would help.
As for Bristol, it seems the ones most talked about are
any insight on ones to miss or not miss?
If anyone is traveling to Vermont or New Jersey we'll be happy to return the favor... it is beautiful this time of year.
So far as your options in London are concerned, this is a tricky one because the spec is so ‘wide’. What we've focussed on here is good value and local sourcing of produce - good choices especially for lunch leaving dinner as perhaps a slightly more up market affair.
The Greyhound, 136 Battersea High Street certainly use fresh seasonal produce which has been carefully sourced and the exceptional wine list makes it stand out among gastropubs.
Konstam at the Prince Albert, 2 Acton Street, Kings Cross is another gastropub worth thinking about; chef/proprietor Oliver Rowe has made a feature out of sourcing all his ingredients from within the M25 and his cooking is very good. The decor is quite basic but the atmosphere is special.
Trinity, 4 The Polygon, Clapham Common has seen chef/proprietor Adam Byatt (he once of Origin in Covent Garden which was a firm favourite of ours) go back to his roots to create a high quality neighbourhood restaurant emulating his first effort Thyme in the same area. The inventive French influenced menu is strong on fresh and unusual ingredients and the place has a nice buzz to it.
All three I would say meet the criteria - good value, high quality and special. They might also give you some ideas that others wouldn't think of - breaking out of the mould and avoiding the 'big names'
Personally, if forced to choose amongst these then I'd probably opt for Trinity but that's because I am a fan of Adam Byatts cooking, but you'll be pleased with any of these choices - and you won't be embarassed by the bill in any!
I hope this helps - if you refine your criteria then more options become available of course. Perhaps you'd come and visit us sometime at our blog www.thebigblackpudding.blogspot.com
"Oliver Rowe has made a feature out of sourcing all his ingredients from within the M25"
Is this the guy that there was TV series about - couple of years back? I recall seeing one programme but then we were out of the country and missed the remainder. Seemed a novel concept- glad it worked (if same bloke)
That's the belly-dancing join in the City near Liverpool Street station, although I don't know whether the dancing is on at lunchtime.
I haven't been but a lot of restaurants in the City are targeted at expense accounts and are not such good value for money. If it's Lebanese you're after I'm sure there may be better places around. Someone on this board may pipe up with a suggestion.
If you're going to be in the area anyway consider St John Bread and Wine which is the kid sister to St John. Like Simon says above it will be unlike anything you can get in the States. You can book online. I'd suggest checking their menu though because it can be a bit much for some people Several years ago I had deep-fried quails heads there. They were crunchy, since you ask.
Spitalfields market is also in the area which has a wide range of shops and eateries although they're mostly chains like Giraffe, Canteen, Leon and Carluccios. There are some new ones opening soon (or which may have already opened).
If you're prepared to walk a bit further from Liverpool Street then Rochelle Canteen run by the wife of the St John guy is an interesting place to eat. They're only open at lunchtimes but everything is seasonal. If the weather's nice you can eat in the garden. Note they're not licenced so if you want something other than a soft drink you can BYO.
I can't help in Bristol, but if you are having one lunch and one supper in London, then why not try some of the places serving interesting modern Brit food, places you would not see in the US
Anchor & Hope
Great Queen St
And even the original, St john itself. Lunch will be easier to get a table for than supper.
You can find lots about all of these on this board.
If you want somewhere new and buzzy, the other brother tried the newly reopened Quo Vadis yesterday and really enjoyed it
Formerly a Marco Pierre White restaurant, it is now owned by The Hart Brothers who own Fino & Barafina. They are far from my favourite places, but this looked very good. Also, an interesting piece of trivia for a visitor, Karl Marx lived in a flat above the restaurant when he wrote Das Kapital. Ironic.
Hope any of this helps
re: Simon Majumdar
Just to add to mi hermano's reply above I have also had a decent meal recently at The Botanist in Sloane Square which is very convenient if you're staying centrally.
You haven't said what is an acceptable price range so I would always check the prices first to see if they fall within acceptable bounds.
For lunch it's also worth checking out the deals at some of the more tony restaurants like The Capital, Foliage, Galvin at Windows. There may be bargains to be had. Also, look at sites like TopTable or OpenTable as you may be able to get good discounts through them. For instance TopTable is offering 50% off the set menu or ALC at GaW for lunch.
I find these sites useful as well for checking on availability although not all the big ticket places will be listed.