London help for an NY hound
I'm going to be spending a couple of days in London next week (mainly located in the City but will travel). Looking for good places where I'll feel comfortable eating on my own (femail if it matters). Look forward to hearing your recomendations.
Re: types of food...not Sushi (probably better in NY) but otherwsie open.
Lunch? Dinner? Weekend? Rather different prospects in The City as many places only open on weekday lunchtimes (although this disapplies in Farringdon/Clerkenwell, just a few minutes walk north of St. Paul's Cathedral).
I think Swithins in St. Swithin's Lane serves terrific fish (ground floor) and would be totally suitable for a lone lady.
Are you actually overnighting in The City?
I wouldn't worry about feeling comfortable eating alone. I think it's easier here than in Manhattan for some reason - at least that's how I feel these days having lived in both areas. Treat yourself to a good sub-continent meal (i.e. Indian). It's better than everything in NY. There are lots of lovely places.. Amaya, Benares to name two.
I really like New Tayyab's for terrific Pakistani kebabs, curries and naan. They have a special for every day of the week that is worth checking out. I haven't been there alone and it is a sort of family type of place but the servers are very hospitable and I imagine you wouldn't be uncomfortable dining there alone.
It's near the City and very reasonably priced for the amount and quality of food you get.
Without some more details on cuisine preferences, locations, your budget, etc; it's hard to make recommendations. However, I did stumble across a website you might find helpful.
You can search for restaurants that are suitable for solo diners and I've found their suggestions pretty much spot on.
Look for places where you can eat at the bar - J Sheekey Oyster Bar (has a good menu, not just oysters); Bocca di Lupo; L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon; Dehesa; etc.
Budget? I'm a native Brooklynite so I'll just toss out my picks. All of these places pretty much have no equivalent in New York (which is rare here.) How much staring can you handle? If the answer is loads, then Gram Bangla is the place for you! Otherwise don't go... On more serious recs you've got Thattukada in East Ham which is absolutely top notch Keralan food. The place is incredible, the staff are lovely, and I have literally never had a bad item on the entire menu (including the invisible menu which is just as large as the written one.) New York has no equivalent because of our comparative lack of South Indians (where as Gram Bangla has equivalents in Jamaica, Church Ave, etc but those places are cheaper and a step below Gram in quality... and spice.)
If I were you I'd try to get to Brixton for Franco Manca. We've got loads of pizza in New York (and even some of the worst corner slices would be considered amazing if sold here) but Franco Manca is an absolute gem. Order the number 2 and enjoy. Avoid on Saturdays. I personally wouldn't order anything but the number 2 there (every time I stray from it I get a pretty bad pizza.) It's traditional Nnapulitanu style so it's not going to be what you expect. I'm a Di Fara fanatic so it threw me at first. The area is also incredibly interesting and I really enjoy walking around the market. It was my first comfort zone sort of place in London.
If you're adventurous then there's also SIlk Road, but I don't think the trek is worth it alone. The portions are just too insurmountable (think mountain sized. The big plate chicken could actually get it's own post code.)
I'm on a poor student's budget so the above are all dirt cheap (for London at least.)
Really great places in Clerkenwell - places where you'd be fine eating alone are Medcalf in Exmouth Market, or a place called The Ambassadors right opposite - then there's my all-time favourite, the Quality Chop House at the top of Farringdon Road (the world's best fishcakes and sticky toffee pudding - you won't regret it!) In fact, if you want company...!
Just on the edge of the City is St John Bread and Wine - I've been there many times on my own and don't feel uncomfortable at all. It serves good British food so would be worth checking out if you are over from NY.