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Jun 4, 2008 06:01 PM

Visiting London for 3 days - please help!!

I am coming in September with my husband for a wedding and we are spending an extra few days in London. I have never been and I am soooo overwhelmed by all the food options during my research!!!

Can anyone help me in giving me suggestions of places to go - breakfast, lunch and dinner - all types of cuisine, but not too expensive - from cheap to mid price. Really just looking for the best places, but I don't always believe they have to be the most expensive.

What should I really not miss while I am here??


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  1. You should state where in London you will be staying, where you will be spending most of your time, what sights you will be visiting, etc. London is a VERY large & spread out city.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DavidT

      Okay - thanks! I haven't picked out where in London we will be staying - open to suggestions on that as well, but we will be doing most of the main sights - Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the City, Portobello Road on Saturday, Harrod's in Knightsbridge, Soho...all the main areas, so for suggestions in any of those places would be great!

    2. I agree with the poster above -- need more specifics about geography, cuisine, etc. However, I will rattle off some of my favorites...

      Borough Market: Go to Neal's Yard for cheese, stop by the cheese toast people for a cheese toast (aka grilled cheese sandwich), stop by Burnt Sugar for the best fudge in the world, and hunt through the rest of the market for good stuff to eat.

      Go to Arbutus for the prix fixe lunch -- great price, great food, great service.

      Go to Wagamama for one meal -- the place just works well. I wish they had a bigger presence in the US.

      Grab a bite to eat at La Fromagerie on Moxton Road, just off Marylebone High Street. The cheese room is fantastic and their small menu is pretty tasty. Lots of stuff you don't see in the US.

      Grab lunch or dinner at Brindisa for spanish tapas.

      Grab lunch in the over-priced, but wonderful Fortnum & Mason. The Highland Scramble is particularly tasty -- I'd never had eggs that tasted so good.

      For a cheap bite, go to Hummus Bros. for (duh) hummus.

      In Hampstead, stop by the crepe stand from Brittany for the buckwheat crepes.

      For croissants and breads, stop by Poilaine in Belgravia - you'd have to be in Paris to find a better version.

      Go to St. John for offal. It's not stunt-cooking -- it's just really good, really honest food from a passionate chef.

      Those are just what I can remember from the last few visits.

      2 Replies
      1. re: glutton

        Someone mentioned getting a full English breakfast. I had a good one at Roast, which overlooks the Borough Market. It provides a great view and the food is very good, too.

        If you're in London, you've got to have some Indian food (and other foods from that part of the world). Search the board on recs for that -- there are tons of choices. JFores has been writing about a Bengali place that sounds wonderful.

        1. re: glutton

          Finally had the toasted cheese sandwich at Borough -- with all those onions, spring onions, chives, and a touch of garlic it was very, very good -- indeed, probably the 4th best sandwich I've ever had. And great value too since I didn't feel hunger again for 24 hours! BB

        2. Do visit the Borough Market but remember that it's only in full swing on Fridays after 12 and on Saturdays. Friday's are better and a bit less crowded. If you want a sit-down lunch, the tapas at Brindisi are delicious but be there by noon if you want to grab a table.

          One meal is fun in Chinatown. Lots of us here have been more than satisfied with Haozhan (they have a website). They do an £8 lunch deal which is fine. Chinatown is within easy walking distance of Leicester Square or Covent Garden.

          Go back and read some of the suggestions here at Chowhound and see what appeals to you. There are tons of good ideas. Choose a hotel and then people will have a better idea of what you'll be near at dinnertime, not that it matters much. London is very easy to get around.

          1. The advice I would give any tourist, whether visiting my part of the UK or London , is to look for options that enhance your trip - mainly by providing experiences or cuisines that you can't get at home. I see you many of your posts relate to California, where I understand you have great Chinese food. So, to disagree with my friend zuriga, you may want to pass on that here (except that our Chinese food is generally different to American Chinese, so might fit the "different experience" bill).

            For breakfast, assuming you eat meat, you might want to experience the "Full English". This website will be worth a read. http://londonreviewofbreakfasts.blogs...

            Borough Market is firmly on the tourist trail but is no less worth a visit. Graze your way round the stalls. It isnt cheap.

            Americans always want to eat fish & chips and the board has regular mentions of the current "most recommended" place. Those of us who visit London only as visitors from the north of the country refuse to use the word "best" about southern F & C ;-) . The "search" will find recent reccs.

            May I also suggest that you give an idea of your dinner budget per person. London is the second most expensive city in the world (after Moscow) so it'd be helpful to know what you regard as "too expensive". Bear in mind that menu prices already include our tax but that a 12.5% service charge (auto gratuity ?) is added in most London restaurants (no further tip is required). Do try at least one dinner in the "modern British" style - it'll dispel some of the 1950s myths that still prevail in occasional posts about our cuisine from a small minority of your compatriots (probabyl those who havnt visited in 40 years).


            1. I would go for food that you wouldn't normally be able to get in LA so consider St John as previously mentioned (although it is getting a bit expensive for what you get these days) or St John Bread and Wine in Spitalfields. The latter you can combine with a Jack The Ripper Tour or Dennis Severs' House.




              A short tube or bus ride from there and you can get down to Borough Market by London Bridge Station. Saturday lunchtime is primetime and will be horribly mobbed. As previously mentioned Friday may be better.

              Recently I've had a pretty bad experience at Brindisa - it's not what it was but they only serve small plates so you could try one or two first and take it from there.

              Also, try the Wright Brothers for Oysters and Stout although the Oysters won't be the superior native variety at this time of year.

              Konditor and Cook do really good cakes.

              Visit The Rake (which claims to be the smallest pub in London) for some ale and a Mrs King Pork Pie (IMHO the best there is). The Market Porter has several types of real ale on tap but can get busy and I've never had a great pint there.

              If you're not looking for a full meal you can easily fill up on freebies although when I visit markets I always try to buy something instead of just gawping.

              From Borough Market you can walk along the river to Waterloo. There isn't a great deal of culinary interest there but you get nice views of the city and there's a few pubs along the way if you fancy a pint. You can also pop into Tate Modern which has places to eat (although I haven't tried them) and you can also go on the London Eye to get views across London (book a time slot online). Cross over Hungerford Bridge and you can walk up to Trafalgar Square and from there onto place like Fortnum's.

              If you go out to Notting Hill for the Portobello Road Market then lunch at Hereford Road will also be a possibility. This is currently my favourite of the "School of St John" eateries and the chef Tom Pemberton (ex-StJB&W) is always manning the stoves. Check their menu out beforehand though as the style of cooking isn't to everyone's taste.



              I'd avoid Wagamama which on my last visit (it was a working lunch so I had to go) was extremely nasty but the originator of the brand has just opened a new place called Cha Cha Moon just off Carnaby Street where currently all dishes come in at £3.50. It's had mixed crit but at that price if it doesn't deliver you won't be too much out of pocket. That said I'm sure you don't want to come to London and eat Chinese food. I know I wouldn't go all the way to LA and eat Fish and Chips.

              9 Replies
              1. Point taken. But what's point of travel if not to have a little adventure and to take oneself a little out of one's comfort zone. I mean for a Westerner, eating at a School of St John type of place is hardly the equivalent to eating Dog or Cane Rat.

                Talking of Chinese food (and taking into account its regionality) which countries do you think does it best ?

                1. re: Hermano Primero

                  Thanks EVERYONE for all those suggestions!! I think I will plan on going to the Borough market on Friday for lunch and then the Tate Modern as Hermano Primero suggested.

                  glutton - you mentioned getting a grilled chesse sandwich - is this the same place that another person mentioned on these boards as the Raclette stall? They had said to get the melted cheese sandwich - I am assuming it is the same place?

                  And I am super exicted about the crepe stand you mentioned as the the wedding is nearby that place and we will definetely make a stop!!

                  As for fish and chips - I think my husband would love that, but we have been to Ireland before and had excellent fish and chips - do they do them different or better in London?

                  And I am interested to see how chinese food might be different in London than California, so I will definetely check that out. zuriga1 - are they any must order items at the place you suggested: Haozhan? Does anyone have any other thoughts or suggestions for Chinese?

                  thansk again for all the ideas - one more question - if you were going to leave London forever - where would you go in one day for all your favorite foods?

                  1. re: allisonteal

                    Raclette = grilled cheese sandwich (actually raclette is a type of cheese used to make a kind of fondue, but let's not be picky). The chorizo sandwich at Borough is excellent as well.

                    London is not the natural home of fish and chips, so I wouldn't bother if you've had them elsewhere.

                    If I was only in London for one day, I'd probably go to Borough (although I hardly ever go there now!). You can get great cheese at Neal's Yard Dairy, a traditional British fry-up at Maria's, good wine at Bedale's and lots and lots of things to nibble on.

                    1. re: allisonteal

                      " fish and chips - do they do them different or better in London?"


                      I think the differences in Chinese food will be region of origin and hiow the food has been adapted to local taste. Almost exclusively, Chinese food in Britain is Cantonese in origin (and, of course, then adapted for the British market) coming to us via our former colony in Hong Kong. You probably know that San Francisco is one of three "dragon cities" in the west - those of particular cultural importance to the Chinese communty. Another is Vancouver. The third is the centre of my metropolitian area - Manchester.

                      1. re: allisonteal

                        If I was leaving for somewhere abroad I'd probably go for a pint of Mild and some Pork Scratchings at The Wenlock Arms - my favourite London pub - and then go for Fish and Chips somewhere.

                        If I was staying in the UK I'd still probably go for a pint of Mild and some Pork Scratchings at The Wenlock Arms and then go for a walk along the river.


                        1. re: allisonteal

                          Here's a little article from Time Out. It is a couple of years old though.


                          1. re: allisonteal

                            At the Borough market, there is a stall pretty close to the Southwark Cathedral that has two types of grilled cheese sandwiches (at least that's what we'd call this sandwich in the States). They've got a raclette sandwich where they melt the raclette cheese and spread it on bread. It's good, but not as good as their other sandwich. Their toasted cheese sandwich is a mix of grated cheeses (cheddar, etc.), mixed with some spring onions, garlic, etc., and then pressed in a pannini-style press. You get lots of crispy cheese on the edges and the sprinkling of onions, etc. really makes the sandwich wonderful.

                            I live in Los Angeles and I've had lots of Chinese food here and in London. In my opinion, the best places are the most authentic. If you're at the most authentic Chinese places (no matter the region in China), then there isn't much difference between London and LA when it comes to the dishes they cook. The quality of that food is also pretty close, but the prices in LA are way cheaper. If this were my vacation, I would not bother with Chinese food in London. Instead, I'd focus on Indian and European foods since those are all much better in London than in LA.

                            1. re: glutton

                              Interesting. A lot of restaurants in Central London are handicapped by sky-high rents. AFAIK there's no capping and they can just be raised whenever the freeholder likes. The impact of this is that only chains can afford to maintain a presence.

                              I don't know the exact figures but I reckon rents would make up a large proportion of the cost of any food you eat in this city.

                          2. re: Hermano Primero

                            Howdy, we split off the discussion about where in the world is Chinese food the best. It's on the General Topics board, where chow topics covering multiple geographical areas are discussed -- the link is if you want to continue there. Thanks!