London: Lunch time near museums
Since all museums open up at 10am, I'm thinking that we're going to be in/around museums many days of our trips when hunger strikes!
I know that most museums have cafes/bars/restaurants, but sometimes a captive audience doesn't make for a good food experience.
So, I throw it open to the Board for your recos on lunch places near the following:
2) Tate Modern
3) Tate Britain
4) National Gallery
5) Wallace Collection
6) British Museum.
Thanks in advance!
(1) V&A -- I live around the corner so have the most experience. I would definitely recommend Tartine on Draycott St which is in a 10 min walking distance from the V&A. La Bouche on Old Brompton Rd. is great as well, and offers a good steak frite lunch special for around 11£
(2) Tate Modern- Sort of a culinary wasteland so I recommend eating at the museum itself. The view is great and the food is good as well. Try a Wokka Saki -- the kick of vodka with the taste of sake. I had 7 shots last time I was there and the staff were fab, despite my increasing obnoxiousness!
(6) British Museum -- lots of places right near by... there is a cafe that only serves bibimbap (korean rice bowl with veggies) which is fairly good for a cheap price. If you haven't had it before, ensure you add lots of gochujang sauce and then mix away! There is another pretty good Korean at Holborn tube called Asadal which I frequent often.
Tate Modern area a culinary wasteland? You either have ridiculously high standards or are speaking from ignorance. Just to name a few places nearby that are decent to great and are either right near the Tate Modern or are a short walk away in Waterloo: RSJ, Anchor and Hope, Tsuru, The Table, Master's Superfish. Then there is the other places in Bankside like Leon and Tortilla and a few other decent places. Also, Borough Market isn't far and depending on the day it's always good to visit and grab a sausage roll from the Ginger Pig.
To add a couple: Viva Verdi next to Tsuru for hams and cured meats from Emilia-Romagna as well as pasta, all excellently made, and without any fuss.
Best Italian at Borough market is one of more notable places that opened there this year, with honest, well made soups and other savouries, as well as good cakes. Their espresso are more rounded and less acidic than Monmouth's.
The Wallace Collection has a very nice restaurant - if you're there later in the day, they also serve tea with the usual goodies. If not, walk up Marylebone High St. and you'll find lots of choices. It's a busy street with lovely shops and every restaurant chain known to man - Paul, Patisserie Valerie, Pret A Manger. There are other places nearby - the famous Golden Hind for fish and chips, Providores for tapas etc.
The V&A cafe is actually pretty good and also beautiful. As well as brokentelephonme's suggestions, Brindisa is two minutes walk from the V&A and has good and inexpensive tapas. Tate Britain is a problem - the cafe is so-so and there's nowhere nearby that I know of. In addition, the restaurant and cafe at the National Gallery are excellent, though often crowded at lunchtime.
I used to live next to the British Museum for many years. Some nearby spots for lunch are:
- Saffron Lebanese Cafe: on Sicilian Avenue, which can be accessed from Southampton Row or Bloomsbury Way, about 7 or 8 minutes from the BM.
Really good lamb, kofta, hummus and other middle eastern food, also some wraps and salads, with indoor and outdoor seating (if you are there in the one or two weeks of 'British Summer').
- Hummus Brothers: on Southampton Row, about 5 minutes from the BM. If you walk down Great Russell Street to where it dead ends into Southampton Row, and then make a right, Hummus Brothers will be just a minute down the road on your left hand side.
Hummus Bros does lots of jazzed up varieties of tasty hummus with piping hot pita bread, with chicken, grilled vegetables, avocado, beef, etc. They also have other sides and plenty of seating. Not as authentic as Saffron, but still very good and filling.
- Abeno Okonomiyaki: on Museum Street, just across the street from the BM.
A small Japanese okonomiyaki restaurant for a longer sit-down lunch. Here's a quick blip if you are not familiar with it:
Your clothes will come out reeking of grilled okonomiyaki, and it is not completely authentic in that the servers cook it for you, but it is delicious and tastes like the real deal. More expensive than it should be, but still mid-range.
- I second the Korean Bi Bim Bap restaurant for a quick lunch, also located on Museum Street. There are only two little tables (seating two each, if I recall), so this is more of a takeout place.
- Princess Louise Pub: on High Holborn, just across the street from Holborn Tube Station.
If you the time, or inclination, for nice pint of Samuel Smith beers, lagers and ales, swing by this beautiful pub. Lots of private nooks and crannies to drink in, and was recently refurbished with lovely decor. I have never eaten there, so can't vouch for the food.
Steer clear of any of the restaurants on Southampton Row other than Hummus Brothers Cafe. You may walk along this road to reach the British Museum if you are coming from Holborn Station, but the restaurants on Southampton Row itself are tourist traps and are not worth a look, especially the Hason Raja Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant and the pizza places.
Also avoid the Thai restaurant on Museum Street - the worst attempt at Thai I have ever experienced. I am actually writing this in Thailand right now, and the locals here wouldn't even recognise it as Thai food!
Enjoy the British Museum, one of the best in the world! Don't try to see it all in one day though.......I was in London for 7 years and just about managed to see every room and exhibit, some several times, but I'm sure there is more to discover.