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May 31, 2010 12:38 PM

Traveling through London in July....where should I avoid?

First time overseas with wife and God help me, FIL and BIL. Looking for advice on what places to avoid while we're in London in early July. We've got adventurous palates, but I hear far too often about people getting stuck in awful places for too much money. Any help would be great.

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  1. Avoid the chain "Garfunkels" at all cost. It wasn't my choice of a place to eat and I ended up spending 15 pounds for a late afternoon lunch that was absolutely dreadful. I ordered the chicken and mushroom pie which was advertised as having a light and flaky crust. Nothing could be further from the truth and the mashed potatoes were inedible. On the half good/half bad end, we went in Super Star Chinese in China town. On the bad side, service was horrible and we were overcharged. On the good side, the spring roll was really good as was the fried rice. The rest of our food was not so good so I'm sure there is much better Chinese food to be found in London. You didn't ask about good meals but we had two or three lunches in the cafes of the museums and those were outstanding.

    1. Also avoid anywhere purporting to be a steakhouse with "Aberdeen" , "Angus", "Scotch" or "Scottish" in the name. Guaranteed to be a tourist trap and totally crap.

      Perhaps a better and more enjoyable way to approach this is look for where you *want* to eat, rather than where to avoid. That's more likely to find you the best of what we have to offer rather than the possibility of the simply mediocre. In which case, a trawl through past threads should throw up plenty of examples. You'll also find that there are local restaurant review sites (such as london-eating) which probably give a wider view than Chowhound (I always check out both whn visiting the capital). You might also want to have a look at Top Table (similar to Open Table in America) which often has discount deals (particularly lunch).

      A tip worth passing on, as youre a "first timer", is that our menu prices include tax. And, often, a menu will clearly state that a discretionary service charge will be added to the bill (often, in London, at 12.5%). This is the tip! Nothing further is required and, yes, it is discretionary - no-one is going to call the cops if you chose not ask for it to be removed completely is service had not been adequate. If the menu does not mention the service charge then a tip remains discretionary and many of us do not tip at all - if you do decide to tip, 10 - 12.5% is the top limit you want to spend.

      1. If you plan out your days a bit and try to eat at recommended spots nearby, there's no reason you should get stuck by just doing 'chance' meals. Too many people just wander around and then get hungry and walk in to the first place they see.

        I'd suggest also not eating 'Indian' food in Brick Lane. You can do better with all the really good quality Indian food offered in London. Do read the board here as London is full of really great spots to enjoy.

        1. The help is appreciated. Generally, I try to go for the positives, and had been perusing, but I like to know up front some where to run screaming in the other direction from. It saves a little trouble after I end up overwhelmed.

          1. Let us know where your hotel is and what sites you plan to take in - then it's easier to rec places! London is vast.