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Chicago Foodies heading to London for a week

drewcwsj Jan 23, 2009 12:03 PM

I have been reading this forum closely over the last few months while I have been planning a London vacation for me and my wife. We live in Chicago and really appreciate the restaurant scene there, the variety and quality is simply astounding. Some of our favorites: Everest, Alinea, Tru, Merlo on Maple, Trotters, Spiaggia, Coco Paza, MK and on and on...

So our challenge is to find really outstanding dining experiences in London - cost is not a concern but we also like to save a buck when we can and the exchange rate is certainly helping. Based on my research here and elsewhere this is the list I am considering:

- Galvin at Windows (we are staying at the Park Lane Hilton and thought this would be decent for a jet lagged meal)

- Greenwich day trip

- High Tea at the Connaught

- Christophers for dinner - Going to the ballet at the Royal Opera House that evening till 10pm and need a late night dining option and the concierge recommended this

- Amaya for dinner - Highly recommended by a close friend as some of the best Indian food in London

- Tom Aikens for lunch

- Maze for dinner

- Marcus Wareing for dinner

- Wild Honey for dinner

I think this is a pretty good sampling of what London has to offer but I'm up for suggestions. Maybe Sketch for lunch?



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  1. PhilD RE: drewcwsj Jan 24, 2009 12:00 AM

    Christophers seems to be a fairly lazy recommendation from the concierge so I would look to swap that out - I have never heard good things about it. I think you can do better. "Boca di Lupa" (http://www.boccadilupo.com/) is not to far away and is open until midnight. It is very new, has an innovative menu structure, and is getting some very positive reviews (and one or two dodgy ones but I think it depends on what you order).

    You have a slot for Sunday lunch - Foliage, is very good and a bit of a bargain at £29 for four courses. Very elegant, precise, classical cooking (one star Michelin).

    I have a moral objection to Tom Aikens, my understanding is that he went into administration (like Chapter 11), emerged the next day in a different corporate structure, with no debts, and lots of small specialist/artisan suppliers with unpaid bills and little prospect of getting their money (I bet they are only doing cash on delivery business with him now). Still I hear he is still a good cook.

    You are missing a gastro-pub and/or a representation of "nose to tail eating" (lots of offal and traditional British dishes). You could go to "The Narrow" which is one of Gordon Ramsay's pubs quite near Greenwich, or you better still try dinner at "St John" (the original and recently starred by Michelin) or "Hereford Road" where the chef is the ex-St John head chef (good write up on OAD).

    7 Replies
    1. re: PhilD
      drewcwsj RE: PhilD Jan 24, 2009 08:25 AM

      I thought Christophers seemed a little lazy too. I checked Boca and their onlne reservation tool says they are booked solid on Saturday, 21 Feb.

      As far as Sunday, we left a few openings just because we figured we would be on caloric overload but we are starting a list so if we feel like a nice meal we can always book one at the last minute. We'll add foilage to the list.

      I hear you on the Aikens situation and it is concerning. Wonder how he is sourcing quality ingredients if he burned his suppliers. I'll rethink this one.

      I was planning on a pub lunch in Greenwich - heard of a good authentic pub, Richard I, and I'll check out the Narrow.

      Thanks for the input - we're really looking forward to this trip.

      1. re: drewcwsj
        PhilD RE: drewcwsj Jan 25, 2009 01:01 AM

        I forgot to mention "Corrigans". We are heading there next week for our first visit. All reviewers seem to love it and Richard Corrigan has a great pedigree. It opened too late for the '09 Michelin. Good Irish cooking with lots of game and seafood - although the game season stops early Feb so it may change by the time you get into town.

        1. re: PhilD
          zuriga1 RE: PhilD Jan 25, 2009 05:04 AM

          I'll be interested in your opinion. We've always admired the food Corrigan produced on the various TV programmes. He's been on my list for awhile.

          1. re: PhilD
            SpikeyD RE: PhilD Jan 25, 2009 08:36 AM

            We're off to Corrigans in a couple of weeks - really looking forward to it, and hoping that he's recovered some of the spark he showed in Lindsay House in its early days...
            Why not cover the gastropub and Sunday lunch experience in one go - the Anchor & Hope do a really good one. It's a single service and has the advantage of being the only meal you can book for :)

            Christopher's is dire. You might be lucky and find the Ivy has a space if you're quite late. Or Sheekeys. Both about a 15 min walk from the Opera House. If you can't get a reservation at a top tier place, then you might just wander into Soho and enjoy one of the Chinese places recommended elsewhere on this board... assuming you like Chinese food, of course :)

            1. re: SpikeyD
              drewcwsj RE: SpikeyD Jan 26, 2009 03:14 PM

              The ballet runs until 10pm so that limits us. PhilD already warned me about Christophers but it is good to know that is near universally despised. Guess we'll just stroll and find a place as I just checked and Ivy and Sheekeys are both booked solid.

              1. re: drewcwsj
                zuriga1 RE: drewcwsj Jan 26, 2009 10:04 PM

                Awhile back, we had a lunch at Boulevard Brasserie. I checked and see they do a post-theatre dinner from 10-12. It's not fine dining, but it may be simple and serve your needs. They do make very good frites, and it's not the worst spot in town.


          2. re: drewcwsj
            greedygirl RE: drewcwsj Jan 26, 2009 01:27 AM

            The Trafalgar is a nice pub in Greenwich, right on the river. Specialises in whitebait, which used to come out of the Thames but doesn't any longer!

        2. h
          hollow_legs RE: drewcwsj Jan 24, 2009 02:34 PM

          Blimey - what a trip! Do have a look on Toptable for Galvin's as they currently have some good deals running: http://www.toptable.co.uk/venues/rest...

          2 Replies
          1. re: hollow_legs
            drewcwsj RE: hollow_legs Jan 24, 2009 06:55 PM

            Do you have to book through toptable to get the half price deal?

            1. re: drewcwsj
              DollyDagger RE: drewcwsj Jan 25, 2009 01:38 AM

              Yes, but it's a fairly quick and painless sign-up process.

          2. limster RE: drewcwsj Jan 25, 2009 10:00 AM

            Are you looking for specific cuisines or just anything that's good? If you're seeking to diversify cuisine-wise, Moro has excellent Moorish tapas, Kikuchi for very refined izakaya cooking, Original Tagines for Morocan, Ishbilla and Al-Waha for outstanding Lebanese (the likes of which I've never encountered in the US).

            2 Replies
            1. re: limster
              Robin Joy RE: limster Jan 25, 2009 11:28 PM

              Can I add a vote for Ishbilia please? It's great, and the wines really show that Ch.Musar is not the only Lebanese worth drinking. It's near to M. Wareing and Amaya, all about 15 mins. stroll from the Hilton.

              1. re: Robin Joy
                drewcwsj RE: Robin Joy Jan 26, 2009 03:07 PM

                Thanks for all the inputs - I'll talk things over with the wife - so many choices and so little time.

            2. b
              beckypoostchi RE: drewcwsj Jan 27, 2009 12:54 AM

              I second the Sunday lunch experience at the Anchor and hope, and do suggest a trip to St Johns. If you are adventurous maybe visit an old pie and eel shop ( one in Tower Bridge) and then walk down the southbank to Borough market (on fri/sat is busiest) as its a foodie heaven and in a wonderful setting. Bocca di Lupo was fantastic when i went there last week - if you can get a table you should definately go!
              Indian food - it seems a shame to go to an "upmarket" indian when the whole of east london offers such brilliant Indian/Pakistani restaurants such as Tayyabs, and many more on Brick lane.
              Barrfina is a great high end Tapas place for lunch in Soho for when you are wandering also....

              2 Replies
              1. re: beckypoostchi
                drewcwsj RE: beckypoostchi Jan 27, 2009 07:23 AM

                From what I read of the Sunday brunch at Anchor & Hope it will not work as it truly is a single serving meal and my wife has food allergies that pretty much require her to eat a la carte.

                As for Amaya that was a recommendation from a close friend of hers and she really wants to go. I get to pick everything else. Not a bad deal.

                1. re: drewcwsj
                  justmarried RE: drewcwsj Jan 30, 2009 08:54 AM

                  Covent Garden is a nightmare to find a decent restaurant, but Terroirs just opened up just off the Strand and I had a beautifully indulgent lunch there last week - fab wine list, great French food, and is very new so the hoards aren't there, yet! Otherwise, Great Queen Street isn't too far away - same owners as the Achor and Hope but you have a la carte. Your list does look very heavy- why not try a Japanese option to lighten it up? The new Tsunami on Charlotte Street is great and if you use Top Table you can get 30-50% off the bill.

              2. belma79 RE: drewcwsj Feb 6, 2009 09:46 AM

                I would probably cross off Tom Aikens from you list. I've been once, not that great and also agree what others have said about it in the thread.
                You should try to make it to Borough Market either on Friday afternoon on Saturday - Neal's Yard Dairy is amazing and Monmouth coffee is great too. The market is busy, but there's great food and it's fun to browse.
                Also, if you like the idea of an upscale Italian, check out Locanda Locatelli - I had a beautiful dinner there recently and although pricey would just about fit your budget. I think it has a Michellin star.
                Have a great time!

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