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Help - overwhelmed with choice of restaurants in London

tjunmin Aug 3, 2009 01:20 AM

We will be in London for three days, staying at the Waldorf Hilton on Aldwych.

I've been looking at restaurants in the area, and have been overwhelmed by the large number of options and would appreciate any suggestions for good places in the area for breakfast and dinner.

We are looking for good places at reasonable prices, nothing too expensive. It doesn't need to be posh, what matters is that the food is good. In terms of cuisine, we are flexible. The main restriction is that my spouse does not eat seafood.

A few restaurants I found are Sofra, Cote, Axis, Indigo, The Amphitheatre Restaurant, San Francesco, Christopher's American Bar and Grill.

Any suggestions of places we should not miss? Any suggestions narrowing down the list of restaurants above?

Your assistance will be much appreciated!

  1. nanette Aug 7, 2009 01:50 AM

    The D&D group of restaurants is currently offering a couple of good specials. One of their resraurants, Skylon is situated above the Royal Festival Hall and has good views of London and nice food. For £15 you can have 2 courses and a glass of wine. It is close to the Aldwych, and a better choice and value than Axis. You will need to book online and print out the voucher to take advantage of this offer.

    You may also want to consider the following spots where quite good food is found at reasonable prices (and there are options that are not seafood) around Covent Garden/Soho:

    Gianconda Dining Room (dinner/lunch)
    Terroirs (light dinner/lunch, natural wine)
    Fernandez & Wells (breakfast)
    Breakfast Club (breakfast)

    The National Dining Rooms/Cafe at the National Gallery are currently running a breakfast special - £9 for a full English and coffee/tea. I've not been there for breakfast, but afternoon tea was good, and they serve Peyton and Bryne jams which are wonderful.


    You will of course find more places further afield, and there is a London Breakfast Blog should you want to venture out before coffee:


    1. e
      EliseHorowitz Aug 4, 2009 01:26 AM

      I've worked in the area for nearly 5 years & I would skip most of those places you mentioned & try to get out of the area for most of your dining, as it caters mostly to tourists and the food is typically just so-so.

      For very cheap and tasty Indian food, try out The Indian Club on 143 Strand, 5 min walk from your hotel, and above a hotel itself, on the 2nd floor. For Japanese, Matsuri on High Holborn, or for good lunch specials, Hazuki - 43 Chandos Place , Holborn , WC2N 4HS -0871 7035370.

      For good Italian value for money; Latium 21 Berners St, London, W1T 3LP

      1. t
        tjunmin Aug 3, 2009 08:47 PM

        Thanks so much for all the helpful responses. :)

        1. h
          Harters Aug 3, 2009 05:46 AM

          In terms of breakfasts, you might find this a fun and helpful read:


          You will be only a few minutes walk from Endell Street (the other side of Covent Garden). I can thoroughly recommend Diana's Diner for breakfast. Good quality "greasy spoon" caff doing a really good fryup. Take an appetite with you.

          1. p
            pj26 Aug 3, 2009 03:49 AM

            I'd second Great Queen St for a great meal. You are also not too far from the Wolsely for a great breakfast. Axis and Indigo are pretty good but you could find better in the area for less than what you would pay at those two establishments. You could also walk up to Soho and try Bar Shan for Szechuan dim sum, or Arbutus for very good French/British cooking - they do a very good lunch special and within easy walking distance.

            1. Naguere Aug 3, 2009 03:33 AM

              For a real eating experience, go to St John, world famous and a treat to be in either restaurant.
              modest dishes going up to a whole suckling pig.
              you will talk about it for years.


              1. zuriga1 Aug 3, 2009 03:05 AM

                From what I've heard or read, you can give Christopher's a miss. I'd travel over to Great Queen St. (very close to your hotel) and try Great Queen St. restaurant. The food is very good but book ahead as it's popular. On the same street is Moti Mohal for Indian cuisine.

                Look at www.london-eating.co.uk or Toptable for some special offers. I'm not sure when you are arriving, but there are some good ones right now. The Aldwych area tends to have a lot of tourist spots. Don't be afraid to venture a bit out of the neighborhood for some very good places nearby and easily reached by the Tube.

                17 Replies
                1. re: zuriga1
                  Harters Aug 3, 2009 03:15 AM

                  Mrs H, who is not always a great fan of south asian food, raves over Moti Mahal. Not just for the food but, also, for a reasonably upmarket dining experience.

                  I'm also a fan of Toptable for my trips "down south", although this week, I'm just going for a bloody big steak (or a big bloody steak) at the Gaucho in Richmond.

                  1. re: Harters
                    zuriga1 Aug 3, 2009 04:13 AM

                    I'm saving my beef experiences for the upcoming U.S. trip. Enjoy your steak!

                    We haven't gotten to Moti Mahal OR Quilon yet, but sooner rather than later. I'm trying to decide on a nice birthday dinner for Mr. Z.. feel like the OP here. Just too many choices! Right now One O One has a 50% off lunch or dinner offer. It's almost too good to pass up. Too bad you won't be in London a bit longer.

                    1. re: zuriga1
                      Harters Aug 3, 2009 05:40 AM

                      Thanks June

                      It's a flying visit this time - as the email. I can only hope to add in a couple of decent lunches somewhere off the M40 driving each way. Assuming I am not bankrupt after paying Gaucho prices!


                      1. re: Harters
                        zuriga1 Aug 3, 2009 08:27 AM

                        Bray? My geography here isn't still too good, but I think that might not be too far out of the way.

                        1. re: zuriga1
                          Harters Aug 3, 2009 09:14 AM

                          Without wishing to hijack the thread too much, I keep a list of possibles for each M40 junction culled from www.5minutesaway.com

                          There's a couple or so very decent gastro-ish type pubs. And even chain eating pubs serve up better food than motorway services.

                    2. re: Harters
                      loobcom Aug 4, 2009 08:46 AM

                      Harters, why don't you consider eating your meat at one of the other well-thought of steak establishments.

                      By all means go to Gaucho for ice cream.

                      1. re: loobcom
                        Harters Aug 4, 2009 09:51 AM

                        Convenience to where I'm staying and time of arrival in Richmond takes precedence over everything else.

                        By the by, I rate Gaucho highly in terms of quality - but then, of course, we don''t have much to compare here in "Not London Land".

                        1. re: Harters
                          oonth Aug 4, 2009 01:47 PM

                          Harters, if you go to Gaucho, make sure to order humitas as one of your sides, it's an Andean speciality better described in the link below:


                          I'm actually a fan of Gaucho (a minority on this board), I had a cracking meal at their Hampstead branch a couple of summers back having gone there with low expectations (helped that it was on expenses and we had a bottle of Malbec off their reserve list). Finding humitas was an unexpected bonus.

                          Btw, isn't there a Gaucho in Manchester?

                          1. re: oonth
                            Harters Aug 4, 2009 02:23 PM


                            Yep, we have their only northern outpost (great space - an old methodist chapel/meeting hall, still with the organ pipes fixed to the wall). My "standard" is however big a ribeye I feel I can manage on the night (usually 400g), chips, bearnaise and the humitas.

                            The Richmond branch is in a corker of a location - right on the river bank. I've been looking forward to a visit since I walked past it last year.

                            1. re: Harters
                              oonth Aug 4, 2009 03:27 PM

                              Looks like a great space judging by the website pics.

                              Glad to hear that you've discovered the humitas. You mention bearnaise which reminds me that one issue I have with Gaucho is the absence of chimichurri, the classic accompaniment for steak in Argentinian parillas.

                              Enjoy your London trip.

                              1. re: Harters
                                zuriga1 Aug 4, 2009 11:07 PM

                                Have you been to Ham House? It's worth a short stop if you've never been. It's right on the river, too (NT). I have a feeling you'll be too busy this trip, but it's interesting. I think you and oonth have me thinking we need to visit Gaucho in Richmond for my husband's yearly steak outing.

                                1. re: zuriga1
                                  Harters Aug 6, 2009 03:05 PM

                                  Well, I may have to reflect a bit on my recommendation for Gaucho.

                                  Maybe I just got a particularly skaggy bit of meat but it was quite sinewy - even for ribeye. Other than that it was a pleasant enough experience. Great location and, with last night's fine weather, it was possible to be seated on the terrace.

                                  There was even chimichurri - coming as a dip with some freebie bread. I'm no expert but I thought it pretty good chimichurri. I'm more of a bearnaise expert - and theirs would have benefitted by more tarragon.

                                  I don't know what business expansion plans the company might have but I think if they have any intention doing something they will have to reflect on the "London prices" which are simply not going to fly in most parts of the country. The steak, sauce, couple of sides, bottle of water and tip - £39 - that makes for an expensive meal, even if the steak had been up to their usual mark.


                                  1. re: Harters
                                    zuriga1 Aug 6, 2009 10:50 PM

                                    That does sound expensive, John, especially considering the quality of your steak. What did they charge for other cuts... porterhouse, sirloin etc.? I'm starting to forget things, but I seem to remember that ribeye isn't usually a big seller in American steakhouses, and I haven't eat that cut in years. I've seen hangar steak on menus here, but it used to be a rare sight in the States, although French restaurants in NYC often serve it.

                                    1. re: Harters
                                      loobcom Aug 7, 2009 01:04 AM

                                      Harters, That is what it cost to eat in the Gaucho. I don't go there anymore because of issues with quality, cost and the over-zealous upselling of the wait staff. I had a particularly embarrassing instance of this up-selling one evening at the Hampstead branch, I complained vehemently and the entire meal for 3 was refunded.

                                      I am doing most of my steak eating these days at Goodmans and have built up a great relationship with the manager and the chef. They have gone out of their way to accommodate my requests.

                                      The Hawksmoor is still a favourite because there you can get a great cocktail too.

                                      1. re: Harters
                                        oonth Aug 7, 2009 01:54 AM

                                        Disappointing to hear about your mediocre experience. I spoke up for Gaucho because it seems like an easy target for naysayers and my one experience there impressed me way more than expected but in fairness I haven't been back in 2 years. I have been to some of the other board favourite steakhouses like Hawksmoor, Goodman and Buen Ayre and they will all easily run you £50 per person, steakhouses serving high grade beef are not cheap options. I know you're a Spanophile and one place where you can find slightly better value is El Faro where they serve very good beef from either Galicia or the Basque Country. Problem for you is that El Faro is in the Docklands and probably not best convenient for you to get to when you're in town.

                                        1. re: oonth
                                          Harters Aug 7, 2009 02:56 AM


                                          I've no wish to hijack the OP's thread any more, save to say that, in spite of this experience, I'll no doubt remain a loyal customer of the Manchester branch.

                                          My trips to the London area are now normally to the National Archives at Kew, so I stay and eat round deepest Richmond and Brentford, rather than anywhere more central.

                                2. re: Harters
                                  loobcom Aug 6, 2009 04:57 AM

                                  Didn't eat there but had a nose around in 'River Plate' the Argentinian Steak place in The Calls Leeds. How can they cook steak on an electric hotplate?

                                  Decidedly unimpressed.

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