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London - please help with my list

I would greatly appreciate any advice you might have to offer on my research below:

My sister and her husband will be travelling to London (from Ottawa, Canada) for their 20th wedding anniversary. They will be staying near Russell Square in Bloomsbury from July 7-14. They will have one 'big splurge' meal out to celebrate. At the moment, the front runners are Gordon Ramsay's Royal Hospital Road and Maze. (They've looked at Marcus Wareing, One o One as well). I know that Ramsay's RHR is not considered the *absolute best* restaurant in London these days - but it would definitely be an experience and a competent meal (not to mention expensive!). Other suggestions are welcome.

Also looking for some good restaurants for the rest of the week at a better price point. I know they will spend a day wandering in Soho, so some suggestions for a quick lunch and a good inexpensive evening meal would be appreciated. So far, what I've come up with is Hummus Brothers for lunch and Princi for dinner.
For a dinner near Covent Garden, I thought Gianconda was a good choice. Any other suggestions?
They might go to the theatre one evening...
Other eating destinations being considered: St John's (though I'm not sure they're too interested in offal), Tayyabs, Golden Hind and J. Sheekey Oyster Bar.

Around their hotel, there is the Brunswick centre with some options. Does anything stick out there? A good place for a morning coffee perhaps? Also a pub close by called Friend at Hand, as well as the Bountiful Cow should they suddenly be overwhelmed by a craving for beef? Any good clues regarding the options within walking distance would be awesome.

Finally, some markets they could visit? I've seen some of Limster's posts - which are incredible. But I'm wondering - if they were only to go to one market, which would be the best for a visit? (Anything open any day from Wed through to Monday). Borough Market? Brick Lane?

Thanks very much to anybody who takes the time to respond.

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  1. The hummus at Hummus Bros is amazing, so good call on that one! It can get pretty busy during lunch, so your sister and her husband will most likely end up sharing a table.

    As for Russell Square, perhaps you could try Bea's of Bloomsbury on Theobald's Road? Coffee, cake, sandwiches, soups (i.e. their whole entire menu) have all garnered favourable reviews.

    Of the two markets you've listed, I've pick Borough Market over Brick Lane, although it does depend on what they're into. If it's just food, then definitely the former. If they're looking for interesting accessories and clothing in addition to a wide variety of food, then Brick Lane on Sunday's probably better.

    1. Be aware that Borough Market has limited opening Thursdays and is open from noon on Fridays and all day Saturdays. It's well worth visiting.

      I like Princi very much. I've never had a dinner there, but lunch is always a treat. Near Covent Garden there is also Great Queen St. which serves modern British cuisine. I haven't been there for awhile, but we enjoyed a lunch awhile back.

      1. For me, Masters Super Fish is better than the Golden Hind. They're both equal in terms of the fish (great at both), but the chips at Masters are better. The Golden Hind's chips are a poor partner to the glorious fish. The lunch deal at Masters is great value.

        Consider Hereford Road. Perhaps a bit more "accessible" than St John? I don't know, but either way I like the place.

        Hummus Bros is cool. Make sure you let them know to add the garlic and lemon, otherwise I have found it quite bland (I am Lebanese though and I bleed hummus...)

        1. Russell Square is also not too far from Exmouth Market, where the excellent Moro is - I would highly recommend lunch or dinner there. There are also a few good pubs around Exmouth Market as well.
          Giaconda is definitely a good choice for Covent Garden, and Great Queen St mentioed about is also fantastic.
          The Brunswick Centre has a few eating places, mainly chain restaurants but there is a good pub opposite (I'm afraid I cant remember the name, it's on a corner).
          Another place worth trying out in Soho is Fernandez and Wells - great place to stop off after a day shopping or walking around London.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pj26

            I'll second the recommendations for Bea's of Bloomsbury and Fernandez & Wells - both excellent.

            The pub might be the Friend At Hand? It's not a bad little boozer.
            http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/...

            I'd definitely go for Maze over RHR and Borough Market is definitely the place to go if you can only have time for one.

            If they happen to like Sichuan/Xin Jiang food, I'd recommend a visit to Ba Shan in Soho.
            http://www.london-eating.co.uk/35947.htm

          2. Thanks to you all for your help! zuriga1 - I'm likely a little confused about Princi...it's not considered a place for dinner really?
            I've added Great Queen St, Bea's of Bloomsbury, Hereford Road, Fernandez & Wells, Ba Shan and Master's Super FIsh (no offense, but it's a name almost as funny as Golden Hind!) to the list.
            I'm very jealous....

            2 Replies
            1. re: tochipotle

              woops, should have mentioned Moro too! Thanks again.

              1. re: tochipotle

                Lots of people must eat dinner at Princi since it's open till midnight. It's just that I never have. And for me, I like a bit more space between tables when eating dinner. The seating there reminds me of a cafeteria, although a nice one. :-)They have a great bakery and food to carry out, too - might make a good snack if a big meal isn't required.

              2. You could do borough market on Saturday and then go for a lazy lunch at st johns bread and wine ( close to brick lane and Spitalfields market also for a good rummage on a sunday).
                Sheekys is good but Scotts is better (pricey). Great Queen st, Anchor and Hope, Barrafina in soho, Bocca di Lupo in soho also.
                For their special inner maybe Lindsay House or River Cafe? or Pied a Terre?

                1 Reply
                1. re: beckypoostchi

                  I think Lindsay House is due to close on May 1st when their lease runs out.

                2. If they are flying in or out of Heathrow then they could stop at Chiswick and go to La Trompette which has a great lunch menu and is really reasonable for a Michelan stared restaurant.

                  Their hotel is near Charlotte Street (Goodge St tube) which has loads of great restaurants Roka for Japanese (http://www.rokarestaurant.com/), Fino for Tapas.

                  www.squaremeal.co.uk is a great website when choosing restaurants and bars.

                  Borough Market is really busy on a Saturday and not always enjoyable because of this. There is a good Tapas plance called Brindasea on the edge of the market which is very good.

                  1. Hi, I've been to Maze a couple times, and although it's not the best food I've ever had, it is quite delicious and inventive and a really nice experience. The resto is always really buzzy, so you feel quite at the centre of the universe when there. I even saw the "man himself" on my last visit in November (I'm sure he was just visiting, not cooking).

                    But, no poster has commented on Gordon Ramsay's Royal Hospital Road, and I would like to have some opinion on that as well. I'm heading to London soon, and I'd like to know if that restaurant is worth my time when I only have a few days to dine, and if it's not the "absolute best" in London these days - what is?

                    Thanks!

                    1. Forgot to add that I loved The Square when I dined there some years ago, so you might want to add that to the big splurge celebration meal list. However, I would love to have some local London fine-diners weigh in who have been to some of the top restos recently and can give us a more current review.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: MichelinStarChaser

                        For their big meal, Maze is massively over-regarded on this board. not that it's bad, in fact its quite good, but it is not in the upper echelon if that is what you're looking for.

                        on a good day the Square is the best restaurant in London, very refined, elegant classical french cooking. Alain Ducasse is much improved and very good, albeit a little 'traditional'. Pied a Terre is fantastic if you like big, punch flavours. its not that it lacks refinement, but it is very high volume compared with the square. Hibiscus is a great favourite of mine, and for seafood you can't go past One o One. GR @ RHR is a very good meal, and if they've seen Big Sweary's TV shows they'll appreciate it.

                        the Ledbury is also showing some serious signs of making a move upwards, whilst Marcus Wareing for all his promises doesn't seem to be showing the development he contended he needed to go it alone to exhibit.

                        do not consider anything other Borough Markets for a market day. you could make other choices that would be fine, perfectly ok but they would ultimately be wrong and sub-optimal. Borough is the best european food market this side of Rungis.

                        1. re: batfink23

                          Thanks, bat, that was very helpful! I'm sort of elbowing in on their topic because I'm looking for some London recommendations as well. I've been to Maze a few times, and it was fine, but I'm looking for something different. For myself, it doesn't have to be a celeb-chef place, I just want top-notch. (Loved the "Big Sweary" moniker, BTW!) Haven't been to Pied a Terre in a few years, maybe that's worth another visit.