Three months in London, help me hit the ground running
My wife and I will be spending three months in London starting in January and we were hoping for some help finding great restaurants across the entire spectrum of dining options. We will be living near Marble Arch but we plan on branching out as much as possible. A couple options nearby would be great but I would also love some "not-to-be-missed" places. We love high-brow as well as low-brow food so please give us a couple recommendations to get us through our first week. We love all types of ethnic food (particularly Indian) but we also are exited to try some local fish and chips or pub food. Also, a couple good pubs would be helpful. Thanks in advance and I will try to write about where I have been in return.
As someone said above, you MUST go to Borough Market! I've never seen another one like it. I've been living in London for the last 4 months and it's my favourite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon. Fish!Kitchen in the market is a really great (though a bit expensive) restaurant with glass walls and ceilings. Behind the bar that runs along the length of the dining room is where all the kitchen action happens. Grab a seat at the bar in front of the grill and watch all the various seafood dishes as they're being prepared. Great atmosphere and lots of fishy selection.
Also, I've heard (but haven't had the chance to visit yet) that J Sheeky in the West End (www.j-sheekey.co.uk/) is one of the best places in the city for seafood (sorry, i like fish).
Portobello Market on a Saturday morning is crowded, a bit touristy, but a lot of fun. The street vendors make huge vats of paella and there are lots of brunch and lunch options. I like S&M Cafe where their numbered menu is a list of various types of bangers and mash (pork, beef, duck, veggie, etc).
My favourite tea place is this really tiny place just off Ladbroke Grove (at Ladbroke Grove tube station) called Teas Me. It's family run by Portuguese mother and daughter and there's a big square communal table in the middle that sits about 8 - 10 people. That's essentially all the place can accomodate, but Carla and her mother serve the most amazing homemade food and their homemade portuguese jam is the best I've ever tasted and changes regularly. The food is simple and good and if you're lucky enough not to be working during the week, I'd suggest a late breakfast there. It's right next to Portobello Market, so there's lots to explore in the area. You can meander through Notting Hill when you're done or make your way to Holland Park.
If I'd been living here longer, I'd have more suggestions. But do let me know if you find something worth visiting!
A friend of mine thinks Phoenix Palace near Baker Street (3-5 Glentworth Street, London, NW1 5PG - Tel: 0871 3327835) is better than Pearl Liang when it comes to dim sum and Chinese food in general. He thinks the food's better tasting and it's cheaper as well.
I will be trying out Pearl Liang this weekend and will be able to judge for myself then!
Some W1 recommendations:
Istanbul Meze and Ragam (Indian) in Cleveland Street. Both consistently excellent, not fancy, low prices.
Busabaeathai - There's one near Selfridges.
The Queen's Head and Artichoke is a laid back gastropub near Regents Park.
Bodeans in Soho for American bbq
Randall and Aubin for rotisserie in buzzy / hectic room also in soho
If you're staying by Marble Arch, you should try the Royal China on Queensway or Baker Street for dim sum on the weekends.
Patogh is a super-tiny Iranian place by Edgware Road. Great bread.
The Duke of Wellington is a nice gastro-pub, anytime place. (Food is a bit hit or miss. But still a nice place to hang out.)
Golden Hind for fish and chips.
The Providores on Marylebone High Street for wine and nice casual snacks/lunch.
Because you're close to Edgware, you have a ton of Lebanese options. Best though, in my opinion, is just going to Green Valley, the Lebanese supermarket. (Upper Berkeley Street.) Love the baklava. Love the guys selling the baklava.
all easily found on google maps:
1. Tay-do vietnamese, kingsland road (5.50 large pho)
2. Bang burger shoreditch, beside Jaguar Shoes (7.50 ++)
3. Jaguar shoes, shoreditch on kingsland road, go early (5pm) if you want to sit/eat, (food is brought in from Bang)
4. Beigel Bake, brick lane, go for the salt beef (3.50)
5. Casa Blue on brick lane right across Beigel Bake for drinks and vege snacks
6. Rich Mixx cinema near brick lane for cheaper movies and lounge ++drinks
central and others
1. Assa korean resto (12++) behind centerpoint, totenham court road
2. First out, gay-friendly cafe beside Assa with good wine and cake
3. selfridges food hall- salt beef, and go to the patissserie part for red velvet cupcakes
4. royal china restaurant, with branches in queensway and westferry, i suggest you get on the thames clipper on a sunny day, zip around and then get off and have dimsum in westferry, which is also pretty close to The Narrow, by gordon ramsay, a nice gastropub. I recommend you try the india pale ale with a cheese/meat platter.
Three months in London gives you a lot of time to try out some different places. Everyone will have their own opinion, but in my year in and a half here these are some of my favourites:
- "Gastro" pub (which is what pubs that serve decent food are called in London): The Bull and Last in Kentish town,
- European style wine bar: Vinoteca near the Smithfield market,
- For Indian avoid Brick Lane and instead try Tayyabs in East London,
- "British" cooking: Hereford Road in Bayswater (not too far from you if you are in Marble Arch)
Zayna is very close to Marble Arch and has some good reports: http://www.london-eating.co.uk/35363.htm
There are a lot of Lebanese restaurants on Edgware Road, though I've not eaten in any of them for a few years as I am Lebanese and go out to eat food I can't at home; so I'm sure others will provide recommendations but I'm led to believe Ishbilia in Knightsbridge is one of the best, though reports vary.
The Golden Hind in Marylebone is without doubt the best for fish and chips right now in London. Definitely go there.