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Feb 14, 2009 02:26 PM

"British" Restaurants & Cookbook Stores [London]

I'm coming to London in a week's time for a brief visit. Since I've been so enamoured with cooking British food at home of late (Simon Hopkinson, Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson, etc. -, I'd really like the opportunity to try some places while I'm in London. I've done a bit of research, and would appreciate any thoughts on "if you could only go to one of these places, which one would you go to ... assuming you can get a booking":

St. John's
Hereford Road
Alistaire Little
Wild Honey

Also - I just noticed that Launceston Place has been revamped and reopened. Any thoughts on that - we used to enjoy it in it's previous incarnation. My husband will be in London on business and at this point I'm not sure what we're going to be able to do when, and with how many people, etc. I'd also be interested in knowing if there are some lesser expensive places doing interesting things with "British" cuisine.

Lastly - I want to go to Books for Cooks, and am wondering if there are any other cookbook or food-related bookstores that you might recommend. Ones with used book selections would be particularly helpful. I'll be staying near Baker St./Marylebone Road for two nights, and then at the Draycott near Sloane Square for two nights.

Thank you!

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  1. P.S. - I did do a search for threads that I thought might on point - "title:British" "title:english" etc., but wasn't finding much. So if I've missed something, please do point me in the right direction so that you don't have to rehash it!

    1. Wilton's on Jermyn Street is a classic, old-school English restaurant. Very traditional and rather expensive.

      3 Replies
      1. re: DavidT

        Green's (on Duke Street) is another similar restaurant. A little less expensive.

        1. re: DavidT

          Another vote for Green's, I think it's lovely.

          Also worth a look: Shepherd's near The Houses of Paliament, Langan's in Stratton St. near Green Park tube (maybe a bit tired these days, but very jolly and enjoyable), Rules in Covent Garden (something of a tourist cliche, but I think it's pretty good) or for something completely different try The George & Vulture, if you can find it! It's in an alleyway between Cornhill and Lombard St. in the financial district (The City). Weekday lunchtimes only, and it gets extremely busy, mainly with noisy male suits. The food is plain, but it's a very, very British experience. When you ask for cheese a whole Stilton arrives and you help yourself with a spoon. Bank tube. Book.

        2. re: DavidT

          agreed. I could see this might fit the bill, budget depending.

        3. I've been to Launceston Place, and it was my most fondly remembered meal from 2008. The presentation (we had the tasting menu) was beautiful, and the staff look after you incredibly well. It does come at a price, but for the chef (Tristan Welch, ex Petrus) it's still a good price. Lunch is a good deal at £18 for three courses set menu.

          For something a bit cheaper and a bit more rustic, I'd recommend the Anchor & Hope in Southwark. It's a gastro pub and the food is excellent, although you can't book and sometimes have to wait for a table (we waited an hour on a Saturday night). Still, the waiting staff are lovely, the food generous and delicious.

          St John's is also very good - I haven't been the any of the others on your list but I know of people who have raved about Wild Honey.

          1. MMRuth - after reading your postings about the cookbooks and your new love of British cuisine, I'm so happy to read you'll be over here in person to try out some of the dishes.

            Many of us seem enamoured lately with Maze. Check out the menu via the website. We had a really enjoyable meal there.. something a bit 'different.'

            I'm pretty sure I remember the Waterstone's near Green Park Tube having a large supply of cookery books, although Books for Cooks is definitely a place to try first.


            1. St John and Hereford Road are good choices, Wild Honey is excellent but more European than British. "Corrigans" has some very good, quite traditional, Irish cooking which has lots of similarity to British food.

              Most large bookshops have quite extensive cookery sections, but they are mostly filled with the celebrity chefs, hot restaurant chefs books. Some are better than others, but generally reflect the European/Asian melting pot that British cookery has become i.e. Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. Books for Cooks is a very good shop which will offer a broader selection. If you want a good technical books the Leith's Cooking Bibles are really good (but are heavy). If you want something really fashioned pick up a copy of "Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management" a true English classic, much neglected now in times of glossy coffee table books but a treasure trove of old fashioned recipes.