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My London Restaurant Plans (so far)

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Peter Cherches May 8, 2009 02:41 PM

Thanks to the hounds for advice so far.

I'll be in London for 7 nights in June. So far I've got the following on my list:

Ba Shan before theatre at the Haymarket

I have two concerts at Royal Festival Hall. Definitely RSJ before one and maybe Canteen before the other (otherwise not planning on trad English food, so that might be a good bet for convenience).

Planning to do the Borough Market, Tate Modern & Globe on Friday afternoon and will probably do lunch at Tas Pide (I'm a pide nut).

May do an afternoon around Whitechapel and check out Gram Bangla & Brick Lane Beigel.

I have the following Indian restaurants on my list (my main focus)

Definite: Thattukada, Hyderabadi Spice & Ma Goa. Despite mixed reviews I'd like to do either Rasa Travancore or the original Rasa, but Stoke Newington really does seem a pain to get to by public transport. I guess one transfers to the 73 bus from a tube station?

Anything in particular I'm missing, given my plans and interests? As I mentioned in my Regional Indian thread, I'm not interested in "standard" Indian menus.

I'm staying at Holiday Inn Express at North End Road and Lillie Road (West Brompton/West Kensington/Earl's Court area). Anything worthwhile nearby in case I'm really exhausted the day I arrive?

Thanks, all.

http://petercherches.blogspot.com

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  1. greedygirl RE: Peter Cherches May 8, 2009 02:53 PM

    In the Earl's Court area there's Addie's Thai which I haven't been to but is apparently quite good. Or for Iranian food you've got Alounak which is decent but not amazing. And limster recommends No 10 Chinese Restaurant, also in Earl's Court.

    1. howler RE: Peter Cherches May 8, 2009 03:41 PM

      while i'm a huge fan of no 10, there's always wu liang ye in new york which frankly has a broader menu and genius in the kitchen. and i'd shuck up 20 quid for lunch and go get the keralan veg thali at quilon (buckingham gate). warning: its a good deal only at lunch!

      i'd recommend taiwan village - the chef is ex hunan and if you let him, he'll prepare a ton of dishes from what he bought at the market that day (ie, same idea as hunan). the meals i've had have ranged from good to sublime - but you MUST leave yourself in the chefs hand. as a bonus, its right at the intersection of north end and lille road - if i remember right, i park my car in the holiday inn garage whenever i eat at taiwan village.

      finally, mohsen: glorious, lovingly cooked iranian on warwick road. the daily specials are to die for as are the saffron flavoured chicken kebabs etc. i'd certainly skip ma goa in favour of mohsen - and this is coming from an indian.

      6 Replies
      1. re: howler
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        Peter Cherches RE: howler May 8, 2009 05:14 PM

        Wow, that Taiwan Village rec could really come in handy. Talk about convenient. Moshen, too.

        I'll consider Quilon for a splurge lunch. Are they fussy about dress?

        I have kvelled about Wu Liang Ye many times. Howler, have I seen you occasionally on the NY boards? Or maybe SF Bay Area Indian threads.

        With two possible day trips, I still have twelve meals (not including breakfast) on my London dance card.

        1. re: Peter Cherches
          howler RE: Peter Cherches May 9, 2009 04:51 AM

          you may have seen me on the ny boards from about '98 to about 2001 - i moved to london from manhattan in mid 2000. wu liang ye used to be my n'hood chinese.

          you shouldn't miss mohsen. and you shouldn't miss the lebanese/middle eastern scene here which is far superior to new york. for instance, a cheap but unbelievably delish option is green valley, a lebanese food hall on upper berkeley street (marble arch). get the lahme bajin (or maybe the manooshin, but NOT the cheese pizza), wander over to the sweets section and get the clotted cream served between fried vermicelli or even the ice cream. finish up with coffee and you'll have spent less than 10 quid.

          you can be as casual as you like at quilon. my only gripe with the thali is that it could be more filling, but perhaps i'm just being greedy. it is impeccable veg cooking, very hard to find in london.
          another fab lunch option is el pirata de tapas on westbourne grove for spanish tapas - i promise you that wont eat this well under a tenner anywhere in london. the tortilla is to die for, and if you never ever had the experience of pata negra ham, here's your chance.

          i don't know your budget, but you should certainly try out some of the schmancier places - perhaps for lunch, as you can get some amazing deals.

          1. re: howler
            limster RE: howler May 9, 2009 09:35 AM

            Ditto the Mohsen and the Lebanese recs. Worth mentioning again are Ishbilla and Alwaha (among the my favourites).

            I should put in a word for the Penang-Nyona curries and the kueh (small dessert-ey cakes) at Sedap, since their rendition is excellent and the cuisine is pretty hard to find (it's Malaysian, but specific to the city of Penang, and I've never seen stuff like that in the US, let alone of this quality, even in the Penang chain in the US).

            If Chinese is on the agenda, in general, I find the average standard for Cantonese quite high, so that might be a better cuisine to look for. Goldmine in Bayswater is excellent for roast meats (cha siu/glazed pork, siu yok/crispy skin pork belly - my fave, and roast duck).

            1. re: limster
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              Peter Cherches RE: limster May 9, 2009 10:12 AM

              Does sedap do kueh dadar? I love them.

            2. re: howler
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              Peter Cherches RE: howler Jun 17, 2009 02:39 PM

              I have to thank Howler again. Just back from El Pirata. The lunch seems like a great deal, but I did dinner. Luckily they did a half order of pata negra. The seared sea scallops with artichoke & bacon was absolutely amazing. To tell the truth, though they make their "runny" tortillas to order I actually prefer the firmer, more common style.

          2. re: howler
            limster RE: howler May 8, 2009 05:43 PM

            Taiwan Village looks awesome...some friends have recently recommended Hunan as well, so this is really timely for me.

          3. t
            themags RE: Peter Cherches May 8, 2009 04:02 PM

            It's not that bad getting to Stoke Newington altho' yes, it's not on the tube. The fact that it's not on the tube is a big reason why the neighbourhood has retained its charm! You can get a 73 or 476 bus from Angel (Northern line tube) which is the closest tube stop or you can take an overground train (i.e. commuter train) from Liverpool Street to Stoke Newington station. Either print out a map or buy an "A to Z(ed)" when you get here. You can also pick up the 476 at Euston or Kings Cross and the 73 goes all the way to Victoria via Kings Cross, Euston & Tottenham Court Road. The buses are better these days with computerised annoucements of stops - the 476 I prefer as it's a double decker and you can usually get a seat and perhaps the driver might actually tell you what stop to get off at - the 73 is a "bendy" bus and they are not all that user-friendly.

            When at the Tate Modern do have a drink up in the restaurant as the view is fantastic.

            If you're coming from NYC I'm not sure why you'd bother with Brick Lane Beigel!!! Unless it's 2AM and you are stumbling drunk 'round Brick Lane.....

            2 Replies
            1. re: themags
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              Peter Cherches RE: themags May 8, 2009 04:58 PM

              I might not eat the whole beigel--but want to see how the London idea of a bagel compares. Even in NY it's hard to get a great bagel--I always tell people it's much easier to find a good Montreal bagel in Montreal than a good New York bagel in NY.

              1. re: Peter Cherches
                zuriga1 RE: Peter Cherches May 8, 2009 10:39 PM

                Don't waste your time at Brick Lane Beigel. I'm an ex-NYorker and I have yet to have a good bagel in the London area. The salt beef on bagel at Selfridge's is more expensive but tastes better. The only half decent bagels I've had were from Carmelli's bakery in Golder's Green. I've solved my cravings by learning to bake my own. Bubbe would be proud.

                I don't know if The Cinnamon Club would interest you. It's not 'traditional' Indian and the setting is lovely.

                At the Borough Market, lunch at Brindisi's tapas place is excellent but it's a small restaurant and one needs to eat early or queue up later on.

                I'll be in NY this coming week. If you have any 'must try' places, I'd appreciate a hint, although most of our nights are already booked. zuriga@hotmail.com. I've been gone 5 years and so much changes.

            2. PhilD RE: Peter Cherches May 9, 2009 12:17 AM

              Peter - I know this isn't Indian/Chinese but your hotel is quite close to one of London's better gastro pubs, The Harwood Arms (http://www.harwoodarms.com/index.htm). It specialises in game, and the cooking is really good, especially the scotch eggs that are served as a bar snack or starter. You probably need to book a table, you could walk there but it is probably better to grab a cab, it won't cost much.

              12 Replies
              1. re: PhilD
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                Peter Cherches RE: PhilD May 9, 2009 04:28 PM

                Thanks. Harwood Arms looks quite an easy walk to me based on the map. My choice of Canteen is based on my need for a pre-concert place at or near Southbank Centre.

                1. re: Peter Cherches
                  greedygirl RE: Peter Cherches May 12, 2009 07:58 AM

                  For pre-theatre at the Southbank, I really like RSJ, which is a French restaurant on Coin St. Good traditional French cooking, and a great wine list specialising in the Loire region.

                  1. re: greedygirl
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                    Peter Cherches RE: greedygirl May 12, 2009 08:18 AM

                    Yes--that was in my original list. Thanks for the confirmation.

                    1. re: Peter Cherches
                      greedygirl RE: Peter Cherches May 12, 2009 08:43 AM

                      Sorry - didn't realise you'd already decided on RSJ. If you're here for one of their winetastings, they're great fun.

                  2. re: Peter Cherches
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                    batfink23 RE: Peter Cherches May 12, 2009 08:58 AM

                    scratch canteen. that's all.

                    oh, and you could do a lot worse than a window table at Skylon, which is in the festival hall. make sure you book the restaurant and not the grill if you can. just better and more comfortable.

                    1. re: batfink23
                      nanette RE: batfink23 May 12, 2009 11:11 AM

                      I will agree with batfink here (!!!).

                      I've been to Canteen and it is expensive for what it is. Pay only a few £'s more for a much better seat, view, and food on the otherside of the Festival Hall at Skylon.

                      There is currently a pre/post theatre offer on Top Table for Skylon - 2 courses and a glass of wine for £24.50. Seeing as how you'll pay in upwards of £10 for a main meal at Canteen, Skylon is a much better value.

                      1. re: nanette
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                        Peter Cherches RE: nanette May 12, 2009 12:26 PM

                        Thanks. As of now the Top Table offer is only on until May 31. Will see if it's extended.

                        1. re: Peter Cherches
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                          batfink23 RE: Peter Cherches May 13, 2009 02:10 AM

                          Its a D&D place - this is always on offer.

                          the thing is with a lot of toptable "offers" they are not really offers per se. the post/pre theatre thing is a staple of nearly all london restaurants of standing.

                          1. re: batfink23
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                            DollyDagger RE: batfink23 May 13, 2009 02:14 AM

                            It's just advertising for the restaurants a lot of the time, but they are helpful for people who might not know about certain time-specific deals etc.

                            1. re: batfink23
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                              Peter Cherches RE: batfink23 May 13, 2009 07:34 AM

                              What's D&D?

                              1. re: Peter Cherches
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                                DollyDagger RE: Peter Cherches May 13, 2009 08:30 AM

                                Restaurant group, used to be Conran. http://www.danddlondon.com/

                                1. re: DollyDagger
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                                  batfink23 RE: DollyDagger May 13, 2009 08:40 AM

                                  not quite, a separate company that bought the majority of the old conran group. though there is still much speculation over what bits are actually owned by whom, and what bits are just subject to operate only leases.

                  3. limster RE: Peter Cherches May 9, 2009 10:15 AM

                    You've got good Filipino places in NYC, but if you want to eat in Earl's Court, the very porky pancit bihon at Lutong Pinoy is a more than decent bet.

                    The White Horse in Parson's Green close by to your hotel (~1 mile) is an excellent pub and totally worth a leisurely meal.

                    As you know, London is big and diverse, and would be great treasure hunting for a chowhound like yourself, so do reserve a couple of meals for exploration -- we could also benefit from your adventures!

                    1. oonth RE: Peter Cherches May 9, 2009 12:15 PM

                      I endorse the rec for Harwood Arms above, the game tea w/ venison sausage roll is fabulous and overall this is a much better place than Canteen for sampling simply prepared dishes using well-sourced, high quality UK produce.

                      I really wouldn't bother with Brick Lane Beigel, the bagels are pretty awful by any standards although the fillings can be OK. If you really want to try a worthwhile London bagel, I suggest Golden Brown bakery @ 88 Golders Green Road although Golders Green is going to be out of your way.

                      Personally I wouldn't bother with Rasa - Quilon and Thattukada are much better bets for Keralan food at opposite ends of the spectrum. In addition to the lunchtime veg thali, Quilon's konkan fish is outstanding. @ Thattukada the basic fish curry is fabulous and impressed me the most. Malayalam folk at the table next to me were eating whole fish (covered in sauce) and rice with their fingers, you won't see that at Quilon (or Rasa for that matter)!!

                      IIRC from reading your posts when I was living in NYC, you like both traditional and more modern Indian offerings. In which case I recommend Indian Zing @ 236 King Street, Hammersmith (http://www.indianzing.co.uk/) not so far from where you're staying. The mussel rasam and baingan/makai bharta are excellent, the vegetable bhanavia and scallops lonche also very good. Periodically they have specific food fiestas including Goan, Maharashtrian and Biryani, I would like to try these out. Pricey for a neighbourhood restaurant but there is currently a special offer:

                      http://www.squaremeal.co.uk/restauran...

                      1. FatEddy RE: Peter Cherches May 12, 2009 06:35 AM

                        If you don't mind venturing bit further a field Tooting has some amazing curry houses. my personnal favorite is the Apollo Banana Leaf. Does fantastic Sri Lankan food - Dosa's, Stringhoper fry, Rotu Khoti etc. Brick Lane deosn't even get close.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: FatEddy
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                          JFores RE: FatEddy May 12, 2009 07:10 AM

                          Tooting's places have nothing on East Ham from the ones I've tried.

                          1. re: JFores
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                            batfink23 RE: JFores May 12, 2009 08:59 AM

                            don't agree, but the real point is that there is no reason for him to travel that far.

                        2. p
                          Peter Cherches RE: Peter Cherches May 14, 2009 05:03 PM

                          Is Chez Liline worth considering? No Indian Ocean restaurants in NY. I've had Mauritian in Toronto and Montreal and Reunionnais in Strasbourg & Montreal.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Peter Cherches
                            limster RE: Peter Cherches May 15, 2009 03:31 AM

                            Yes it is. But it's more fusiony than traditional, although with the old school french technique, the dishes I had felt like they've been around for a long time rather than an invention of the chef. The chef used to cook a number of hotels in Asia and has incorporated ingredients from those places in his cooking. Good quality fish (they own the fish monger next door). I've been once and have been meaning to go back.

                            1. re: limster
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                              Peter Cherches RE: limster May 15, 2009 11:15 AM

                              In a sense, though, the cuisines of those islands are fusion avant la lettre, being largely based on French technique mixed with Indian and local flavors along with some Chinese.

                              1. re: Peter Cherches
                                limster RE: Peter Cherches May 15, 2009 03:31 PM

                                Sure, but just to mention that it may not be as traditionally Mauritian as you would experience there. At least that's what the chef said when I asked him about the food, that the dishes (or at least many of them) were his own creations.

                          2. o
                            organist RE: Peter Cherches May 15, 2009 05:40 PM

                            Definitely agree with Parsons Green pub theWhite Horse . They do excellent food I esp like their pork belly (if it is on the menu) and chocolate fondant. You can book a table but it's in the very inside of the pub i.e. less atmosphere but you are gauranteed a seat. Am told they do great variety of beers too. On a good day they have barbecue outside! Another pub in Fulham - Sands End, not that easy to get to but it's quite a nice one too . Other recommendations not too far from your hotel: Timo - small Italian on High St Kensington (near the North End road end of High st Ken) - very good pasta and their hazlenut dessert is a must. If you don't mind taking a bus further west (391) or taking the tube (district line), try La Trompette in Chiswick or Glasshouse in Kew Gardens - same group and both excellent value for money (both French). And if you are adventurous take the Piccadilly line to Ealing Common and try Sushi Hiro - without doubt the best sushi in London.

                            1. b
                              batfink23 RE: Peter Cherches May 16, 2009 01:38 AM

                              oh given your location, gastro pubs The Atlas and Harwood Arms are both excellent.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: batfink23
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                                grobeaar RE: batfink23 May 20, 2009 05:39 AM

                                What about Tayyabs or Lahore Kebab house - or do they fall into too traditional? They're certainly far and away better than rest of curry restaurants on Brick Lane.

                                1. re: grobeaar
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                                  Peter Cherches RE: grobeaar Jun 14, 2009 02:31 PM

                                  Here are a couple of photos from Mohsen.

                                   
                                   
                              2. p
                                Peter Cherches RE: Peter Cherches Jun 14, 2009 02:28 PM

                                First day in town. Dinner at Taiwan Village--just posted on that thread.

                                Mohsen for lunch. Nice people there too. Liked it, didn't love it. I had the yogurt with shallot, one of my favorite things in Iranian cuisine, and theirs was good, as was the bread, made in a clay oven up front. Their Persian ice cream (saffron-rosewater, the national flavor) was too sweet for me--I think it had honey, and a little too much.

                                I had the Sunday special, abgoosht (I suspect India got the word gohst from Persia), slices of stewed lamb served with a bean mash, with the soup the lamb had been cooked in served on the side (tomato-based, and a little too sweet). The beans were missing something, a little bland.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Peter Cherches
                                  howler RE: Peter Cherches Jun 15, 2009 07:37 AM

                                  i think the bread at mohsen is outstanding - exactly crisp and wonderfully tasty. i've also never known the abgoosht to be less than ambrosial, i hope you were unlucky and they've not changed their recipe or anything like that.

                                  other things that are not to be missed: the tongue, the mirza ghassemi and the saffron flavored chicken kebabs.

                                  finally, gosht is an urdu word. as the language of the northern royal courts was almost always persian, northern languages are littered with persian words. then again, many indian languages are grouped with persian in the indo iranian family so its not very clear who borrowed what and when.

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