NYC Hound looking for food/drink experiences unique to London
I live in Manhattan so have access to some great spots, but I'm visiting London for the first time in March and am looking for some things to do (foodwise) that are unique to London. I will be there a week and would love some great breakfast/coffee spots for daytime and maybe a few great places in the evening-don't have to be upscale just delish. So far, I've got Fernandez and Wells, Toms Kitchen, Postcard Teas, Borough Market for some day spots.Considering maze if reviewers think it's worth it. I'm not restricting myself to the area in which I'm staying (SOHO) and will be doing lots of walking/travelling by tube.
I am not a vegetarian but not a big fan of beef/pork .
Thanks and I can't wait to visit your great city!
Head over to St. John--just the bar--for the Welsh rarebit and a pint of Greenwich Meantime. Welsh rarebit is just cheese on toast, but St. John's version is the best cheese-on-toast I've tasted. From Soho, you can take the 55 bus east down Oxford Street to St. John Street.
I just had breakfast on Sunday at The Grocery on Kingsland Road. Just north of Old Street. I had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and toast. It was fantastic. (Much better than the version I had at The Wolseley just a few days prior. And £5 cheaper!)
I'm totally addicted to Ottolenghi these days. Casual place that turns the lights down in the evening and brings out the candlelight. But still an okay place to eat by yourself. Good thing about Ottolenghi is that they do breakfast, lunch or dinner.
J. Sheekey Oyster Bar...no bookings. Great atmosphere. Great oysters.
I prefer Caffe Verganano to Monmouth or Flat White, especially if you are an espresso fan - you get a glass of water with it and it is a nice place for a rest.
There is one along the Southbank, along side the Festival Hall near Waterloo Station. The one on Charing Cross Road is quite small.
I seem to be a walking advertisement here for Maze. I lived most of my life near Manhattan but am now located here. I can't remember having a meal quite like the one I had at Maze, but I've been gone for awhile now and things change. I think you'd enjoy the novelty.
Do have one good Indian meal....it's better than most anything in Manhattan that I ever tried. Amaya is lovely as is Benares and a host of others. Soho is filled with nice gems. Princi is a nice spot for lunch - good Italian pastries and food.
Rules is the oldest restaurant in London, and while it has been abandoned mostly by Londoners, it's still worth a visit. Game is its forte.
Borough Market is one of the best places for a foodie to be in London; it's one treat after another. But while there is an outpost of Neal's Yard Dairy in Borough Market, find your way instead to the original near Seven Dials. Insist on tasting the Stilton made with unpasteurized milk.
For a splurge, take in Scott's in Mayfair; very trendy (Sir Elton was dining nearby when I visited).
St. John offers "nose to tail" dining, with offal and others.
My favorite takeaway is on the corner of Charing Cross Road and Oxford Street. It's Turkish food, and I can't think of the name, but just go to that corner and look for a lot of happy people eating crazy-good food.
re: Scott Joseph
re: Scott Joseph
Have you been to Paxton & Whitfield Cheese on Jermyn Street? I think I've been once, but was wondering how it might compare to other cheesemongers in London. The friend with whom I will be staying just loves Mimolette, and I want to get her some, as well as try some English cheeses that I'm unlikely to find in NYC.
I was looking at Flat White for a coffee maybe after Yauatcha?
I'll keep in mind what you said about spending some time at Postcard Teas.
I also forgot to mention The Wolseley and Corrigan's in my original post. I'm definitely up for a good pub; be it gastro or straight up.
Any suggestions for GREAT Indian? I've read a little about Amaya.
The Wolseley is a beautiful place, but the brasserie-ish food is not unique to London, perhaps a tiny bit similar to Balthazar in Manhattan.
I wasn't wowed by the dim sum at Yauatcha (and skip their teas if you're going to Postcard Teas), but their patisserie makes for quite a looker, with many beautiful sweets. The macarons aren't as refined as say Laduree (a touch less crisp in texture and less dense on the inner chewy centre) but they're not as expensive and you won't be able to find a pandan version easily elsewhere -- this one's got the right flavour, reminding me almost of kaya (a pandan, egg and coconut milk spread on toast common back home in Singapore).
Forgot to mention, but in Trafalgar Sq., the National Dining Rooms at the National Gallery is worth a stop for their fairly extensive British cheese selection for a cheese plate.
I thought the dim sum at Yauatcha were actually very good. They are expensive which can lead some reviewers to downgrade them i.e. the quality is not exponentially better given the higher price. However, I was more than happy to pay the price to get reliable quality and freshness that was more akin to my experience in HK than other places in London.
And yes Flat White is almost opposite so a good place for a post meal coffee.
There's a huge variety of GREAT Indians - you could go for the top end Benares or Bombay Brasserie or head out East to Tayyabs for authentic Indian and Pakistani (It's also BYO so very good value).
For gastro pubs there is a recent thread here somewhere, but you could try the Eagle in Farringdon or the Morgan Arms in Mile End or the Marquis in Canonbuy (the list is endless if you are willing to travel a little - good gastros in the West End/Soho are few and far between).
I think you could probably do better than Tom's Kitchen (he's a bit persona non grata in some foodie circles due to his dubious business dealings recently) - maybe St John's Bread and Wine in Spitalfields
Other coffee places to think about beyond Fernadez & Wells are Monmouth Coffee (Borough Market has a branch) and Flat White (Soho). None of the coffee spots are really unique to London, in the sense that you could probably find coffee of similar quality in many cities, but they are great.
I was really impressed with the Mauritian-inspired seafood at Chez Liline, and it's a bit of a one of a kind restaurant doing it's own thing (not traditional Mauritian food, but using a variety of flavours and spices from all over, with a grounding in French technique), so it may be fairly unique (and not just to London).
If you're going to Postcard teas, do go deep into their pu-erh list (be prepared to hang around for 5 or more infusions depending on the age/variety, since some of them take many infusions to peak), or ask about Wuyi oolongs or other teas not on the menu. Taiwanese high mountain oolongs are probably worth checking as well.
I would recommend going to a pub like the White Horse in Parson's Green. Excellent food, a tiny bit fancier than basic pub grub. A buddy of mine raves about their storage and handling of beers, but I'm no expert, so just merely passing on the tip.