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Visiting London from New York

I'm in London right now on business from New York. Working and staying in the Marylebone and Marble Arch area. I leave on Sunday. At most I have three dinners and two lunches to figure out. I'm more than willing to go anywhere in London. Cost isn't much of an object but it doesn't need to be expensive. Will eat anything if its tasty. I went to the Wolesey last night. I didn't care for the quail egg with hollandaise but I loved the chicken liver. I definitely want to try 'new english cuisine'. I was thinking of the place by the Borough Market (Roast?) but I don't really know anyplace else. Would love some Indian but not Brick Lane. So one 'new english' and one indian and other than that I'm open. I'm sure I'll be by the Tate Modern at some point this weekend so maybe a lunch spot near there? So basically I'm open to most anything from street food to prix fixe. I know there are a million restaurants in London so please just throw some ideas at me at I'll figure out from there. Thanks!

p.s. - Dining solo. I know it doesn't make a difference in most places. Having the option to eat a the bar is great.

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  1. There's a place near Roast called Wright Brothers it's an Oyster house. they have a bar and you can eat and drink and watch them cook and shuck. Great food and has a great atmosphere too. All the places around Borough are great for people watching so good if you're dining alone. If you go to Roast try and get a window seat and you can peer down through the window on the punters below

    1. Your brief is really far too wide to offer good guidance but if you're going to be near Borough Market how about a food safari?

      The Rake - begin the evening with a Veltins, fine German pilsner and a light snack.

      Fish! - sit at one of the tables facing into the market and order up baby octopus with borlotti beans washed down with a glass of lively Trebbiano d'Abbruzzo.

      Tapas Brindisa - what you'd expect from top Spanish food importers Brindisa; have a Serrano ham and romesco sauce with a 2004 Ribera del Duero

      Boot and Flogger - part of the Davy's wine bar chain but one of their best. Order a fine claret with cheese

      Wine Wharf - sit back with whatever takes your fancy from their 100 plus wines by the glass. The desserts aren't great but by then do you care?

      I think this is an ideal way to spend some time solo - have fun!

      You'll find a whole host of possibilities on my blog www.thebigblackpudding.com along with first hand reports. Would love to hear how you get on.

      1. If you're going to be in the Borough Market area, I'd suggest Magdalen for modern British cooking. It's on Tooley Street, near Tower Bridge (so a bit east of Borough Market). Delicious! (Not in the area but Wild Honey, in Mayfair, and Hix in Clerkenwell, also great.) For Indian, I love Rasa Samudra (seafood and veg only) on Charlotte Street and Rasoi Vineet Bhatia (Sloane Square). This last is a beautiful, romantic restaurant as well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: New Yorker in London

          I agree that Magdalen is great, as is Wild Honey. I like Rasa Samudra as well.

          I recently had decent Indian food at Moti Mohal on Great Queen Street in Covent Garden. Definitely a cut above your normal curry house fare (which has its place too, imho).

          For a casual lunch, you could try La Fromagerie on Marylebone High Street. Staying with the French theme, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe is in the area you're staying. You're also near Edgeware Road, which is a good place for Lebanese/Middle Eastern. Have fun!

        2. For 'Indian,' almost any place you choose will be better than what's in Manhattan. I'd try Amaya, Zaika, Benares... not at all like a Brick Lane curry house. If you can get to the Borough Market by noon, it's easy doing solo dining at Tapas Brindisi and the food is excellent. The Tate's cafe isn't half bad if that works out more easily. For Modern English, we always enjoy Great Queen St. (the restaurant, not the street) - low-key and a good example of what it's all about.

          1 Reply
          1. re: zuriga1

            For modern British book a table at "Hereford Road" quite a short cab ride from where you are staying. The chef is ex St John and it is very good. You will need to book.

          2. Try Sadya in Balham, it will take you about 30 or so mins to get there from the Marylebone area on the tube, but the Keralan food there is very good, especially for the price. I'd get their veg sadya (essentially a Keralan thali). If you make arrangements ahead of time and want the whole aesthetic, you can get your food served on a banana leaf.

            3 Replies
            1. re: limster

              if any malayali speakers see this - or if its a tamil word - what does 'sadya" mean? it sounds close to the hindi 'satya' which means truth, so does sadya mean authentic?

              1. re: howler

                I happened to look at their website, which says: "SADYA literally means a FEAST, served during the festive period in Kerala."

            2. I think that at some point on Saturday, you should stop into St. John and hang out at the bar. The bartenders are usually pretty cool. Have some wine. And maybe the pig's ears salad or the bone marrow salad. Or the Welsh rarebit. Love the Welsh rarebit. (It's just cheese on toast, with Worcestershire sauce. But boy is it good.)


              If you're going to Borough, you can walk from London Bridge or Millennium Bridge pretty easily...maybe 15 minutes? They open at 6 on Saturdays. (Which creates a bit of a problem in that Borough starts to close around 3. But maybe you could check out the Tate Modern, St. Paul's and/or the Museum of London in between or something.)

              1. If you're near Marble Arch you have Les Porte des Indes on your doorstep; Bryanston Place. It's a very spectacular space and the food is Indian influenced by French cooking. It's not just some pot luck fusion PR thing - the French were in India and I guess they did influence the cooking on the Malabar coast.

                Anyway, the food at Les Porte des Indes is exceptional - light, creative and clever - but not clever for clever's sake. I've been there four or five times and always walked away wanting more.

                16 Replies
                1. re: mr_creosote

                  i think you mean the carnatic coast, not the malabar.

                  1. re: howler

                    sorry, yes! Google informs me Puducherry! Geography never was my strong suit.

                    1. re: howler

                      Thanks Google. French India is a general name for the former French possessions in India. These included Pondichéry (now Puducherry), Karikal and Yanaon (now Yañam) on the Coromandel Coast, Mahé on the Malabar coast, and Chandannagar in Bengal. In addition there were lodges (loges) located at Machilipatnam, Kozhikode and Surat, but they were merely nominal remnants of French factories.

                      1. re: zuriga1

                        this is another thread - or another life actually - but india has the best claim to be the most diverse area on this planet.

                        i'll elaborate later if there's interest, but note that the religions/philosophies/whatever spawned are all incredibly gentle: shaivism, vishnuism, buddhism, jainism - and not one war has been fought on their behest. much is made of the middle east that gave rise to christianity, judaism and islam - but thats even more true of india.

                        and to tie it back to food, each of the examples i've stated above is inextricably intertwined with a particular cuisine. there you go.

                        1. re: howler

                          Funny above posts. BTW, is Pondicherry REALLY that French influenced? The Company and a collection of Maratha allies kicked them out of their almost three centuries ago.

                          While the poster says that he doesn't want to go to Brick Lane, he might want to consider a Bengali (East) meal at Gram Bangla which is on Brick Lane, but in no way reflects its accursed "curry" cousins along that road.

                          1. re: howler

                            I'm quite sad that Chowhound really doesn't let us explore other topics more easily. Some friends and I set up a Yahoo group once for a similar site's buddies.. when it closed down. Six years later, we're still gabbing. I'm all for religions that don't spawn wars.. they are all too rare. Maybe the food keeps them too busy cooking to worry about territory or other problems. (I'm trying here....)

                            1. re: zuriga1

                              I never encounter this in other forums (ei. Outer Boroughs and Manhattan) but the post flow is a lot higher there and it's probably just harder for the mods to check or they have different mods for different boards. You'll see drawn out conversations about changing areas, ethnic groups, etc without mods jumping on things.

                              To add to my above Gram post, a meal there is about as authentically village Bangladeshi as you will find in London. They have EVERYTHING depending on the day you're there (one time I was there for the holiday that comes after Bengali New Year and it was immense. 2 types of fish eggs, nearly a dozen types of fish, quail, chicken in a heavier sauce, baked or grilled chicken, a whole chicken, chicken pulao, biryani, goat, lamb with chana, two types of liquidy daal, chana daal, kerala, shutko/mixed veg, two types of shutki, etc. It was so much that they have to put a row of it on top of the counter display which was already full and then expand it over to the one table in the corner.)

                              1. re: JFores

                                >I never encounter this in other forums (ei. Outer Boroughs and Manhattan) but the post flow is a lot higher there and it's probably just harder for the mods to check or they have different mods for different boards<

                                Yep - too much to keep up with in other boards.

                                I'll give Gram a try if we're in the area. It's one we get to, but rarely. I was in Manhattan about 3 weeks ago when it was 100F. A/C in different restaurants was breaking down!

                                1. re: zuriga1

                                  Haha. I'm dealing with NYC monsoon season right now. I guess it adds authenticity to your Bengali meal when it was 100F when you walk into the restaurant and it's raining so hard that you're wondering if your elevated 7 train will be able to run on the way home by the time you leave (turns out it had to stop between stations to let the winds die down.)

                                  Gram is the only restaurant that I really miss when I'm away from London. I can get the other stuff I get there easily (Italian sandwiches, Turkish and Pakistani grilled meats, etc) but Gram has so many things that I have only had in their restaurant or in home kitchens. In fact, I haven't had the majority of their dishes in home kitchens because their food is so village that my Dhaka Bengali friends just don't cook like that anymore. Also, if you start asking for the names of things they will give you them in Sylheti. I realized this because I've been going to order some of the stuff I've just learned the names of back here in NY at Dhaka Bengali owned places and I've found that the words they taught me for quail, two types of fish, the fuzzy green vegetable, and banana blossom are all in Sylheti (Sylheti and Bangla are, contrary to what many Dhaka Bengalis like to say (that it's just really low class Bangla) VERY different. Definitely not whole other language level different (what the Sylhetis claim) but a very healthy dose of village, hill tribe, Burmese, etc influence with far fewer new foreign words.)

                                  BTW, I've been meaning to try Ruchi and a few other Whitechapel Rd Bengali places that masquerade as chicken/kebab places. Have any of you tried them?

                                  1. re: JFores

                                    Hi JFores. Does Gram Bangla have Chitol maser muithha on its menu?

                                    1. re: medgirl

                                      Fat chitol fish? Describe the dish as I've never heard of it. Does fat mean stuffed in this case?

                                      1. re: JFores

                                        Hi JFores, sorry for the late reply, I was working a 24 hour shift! Not 'mota' as in fat, but 'muithha', pronounced 'moo-ee-t-haa'. Don't know the origin of the word, one of my aunts says it comes from 'mutho' which means 'fist' because it is a dish of curried fish cakes that are shaped in the cook's fist? Basically, it is boiled cakes/dumplings of flaked chitol-fish, potato and spices, curried in a rich sauce. It is one of my favourite Sylheti dishes. But one that is so laborious to make that it is sort of dying out. I saw frozen packs of the cakes being sold in some brick lane bengali supemarkets, but didn't get around to buying any, would much rather sample the finished product at a restaurant if possible.
                                        I thought that if anyone could locate chitol maser muithha in London, it would be you! Never seen anyone as enthusiastic about Bengali cuisine.

                                        1. re: medgirl

                                          I've seen fish kofta curry there which might be somewhat similar to what you're describing. I'm actually much more familiar with Dhaka Bengali food which has made Gram Bangla a fun learning experience at times (it's my first major Sylheti food experience.) I can ask them about it when I get back and if you ask they might be able to do it in the future, but I haven't seen exactly what you've described; just fish kofta. Fish kofta is also made with chitol macher.

                                          Ahhhh ok just looked at your recipe. They call it fish kofta curry and I'd never heard it muitha before. I've only seen it there twice. Straight after Bengali New Year and the holiday a month after Bengali New Year. Looks pretty much the same but the kofta might have different ingredients.

                                        2. re: JFores


                                          The above link contains a recipe describing the chitol muithha.

                                          1. re: medgirl

                                            Oooo I like this site. I usually use 2 cookbooks, a collection of home recipes, and Khanapina (the Bangladeshi specific one.) Adding this to my Bengali cooking list!

                                            1. re: JFores

                                              Glad you found that senskitchen website useful. There are some good bengali cooking blogs around as well.
                                              And thanks fro letting me know that Gram Bangla does do the fish kofta curry on special occasions. I might try and acquire some on such an occasion.
                                              Going to Calcutta soon and looking forward to some great food experiences.

                      2. Wright Brothers is a great option. Anchor and Hope - on THe Cut is arguably one of the best "mod brit" gastro pubs around with very lively bar ( and can eat at bar also)
                        Try Tayyabs for Pakistani food ( near whitechapel) - pretty inexpensive but very good . Zuma is good for sushi ( a bit expensive),and so is Umu (even more expensive). I agree St Johns is worth a visit, but had a terrible time at Hix's and will not be returning. Relaise de Venise off Marlebone high st is a great little place that serves steak and frites with a special sauce. Lively, buzzy and fine for lone dining.