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Equivalent to St John's...?! [London]

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I've got a very foodie and well-travelled friend coming from NYC in August and I need to find an amazing restaurant to take him to. Put it this way, the last restaurant he took me to was Noma in Copenhagen...! Hard act to follow indeed.

So I was going to take him to St John's, but on the night in question it is closed for a private event. And I so want to take him to somewhere fabulous, ideally modern British but not too fine dining in style. I've been thinking J.Sheekey, but have gotten my brain fixated on St Johns.

Help. Please! London's dining reputation is at stake here!!!

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  1. did you see if st john bread and wine was open?

    9 Replies
    1. re: t_g

      I did and it is. But I wanted something, well, more! More impressive I guess.

      1. re: NotQuiteACat

        The Ledbury

        1. re: NotQuiteACat

          Bread & Wine is way more impressive than St John. The menu is consistently more adventurous, inspired and creative. I'd struggle to name a more excititng restaurant in London right now.

          1. re: skut

            I checked the Ledbury but no reservations available for that evening.

            Is Bread & Wine really *that* good? Does it feel like an occasion restaurant? I've only ever done the original. What about Magdalen?

            1. re: NotQuiteACat

              I'm a Bread and Wine fanatic, but from what you're saying I'm not totally sure it is impressive enough - mostly ambience-wise. It's got a very canteen-esque vibe (which I love). I must say, despite being a food fanatic, my wallet isn't well enough endowed to have tried enough of London's best to be an authority here. Two restaurants that consistently seem to blow people away are The Ledbury and Hibiscus. I haven't been to either, but I reckon they're sure fire hits.

              Is The Fat Duck too far/too soon to book? Obvious choice, but for a reason.

              1. re: chief1284

                Bread and Wine, does sound great and I might do it and book a back-up reservation.

                The Fat Duck is too far/too soon to book. And more importantly, I'm saving that one for my (sadly, as yet to be found) fiance!! :-)

                Hibiscus is one to check for. I've also heard good things of Hix - true or overrated?

                1. re: NotQuiteACat

                  Hix is an impressive restaurant - it displays a lot of nice little touches, and has a great ambiance. Bread & Wine eschews these, and is therefore perhaps less of an occasion restaurant. I would also say that even if you decide against taking your friend there you should go yourself, and trust the staff, they always know what's especially interesting that night.

                  1. re: skut

                    The gentleman involved is actually more into the food than the experience. We both enjoyed a local herring place in Copenhagen more than Noma's awed gastronomic reverie!

                    I've so far made reservations for St John B&W, Magdalen and Hix (chop house) and am willing to be persuaded depending on feedback! :-D

                  2. re: NotQuiteACat

                    I was very impressed with Hix Soho, and would certainly eat there again. Can't speak to the other branches.

                    The Ledbury and Hibicus are more French than British, if that is an important criteria for you. And while I enjoyed my meal at the Ledbury a while ago, it's worth noting that I found one of my dishes oversalted; still the highs were very high.

                    If you want to even the score a bit with your friend, and if both of you like wine, consider splashing out on a nice bottle. I remember the Ledbury having several Jacque Selosse champagnes on their winelist, which are hard to find in the US (I love their version originale blanc de blanc, NV). (Reading online, other wine I had thought about on their winelist was the '04 Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf de Pape, even if it may not be as glorious as the '90 vintage). The other bottle that I've had my eye on for a while is the 2000 Trimbach Clos St Hune that's on La Trompette's winelist (haven't eaten there, but the 1997 vintage was excellent, and 2000 shouldn't be too far behind). La Trompette's cooking is also French if that's a factor in your decision. These 2 places seem to have fairly reasonable prices for their wines.

                    An alternative is to try the well conditioned brews at the White Horse Pub in Parson's Green. My beer loving chowhound friends tell me it's one of the best places for beer because of the unmatched care they take in storing/handling their brews. The pub food is very good too, even if it's not at the level of Bull and Last.

        2. Launceston Place? Not quite swanky enough? People seem to love it.

          7 Replies
          1. re: zuriga1

            We went to Launceston Place yesterday for lunch. Liked very much but didn't love. Great value though.

            Haven't been personally, yet, but how about Viajante in Bethnall Green? For modern British, Trinity in Clapham? I also like Magdalen, personally.

            1. re: greedygirl

              We haven't been to Launceston Place yet but will do one of these days. You do get around! :-) It seems that lunch is certainly worth a try. My niece will be working in London for a few weeks in late August. I'm going to line up lunch places!

              1. re: zuriga1

                I've had the food from Launceston at Taste of London and it was yummy. But I think the NYC guy is more East London than West, he's a bit bohemian!

                I would recommend J Sheekey's and also Arbutus for the best value set lunch. Try Hardens lunch special search to turn up the best value set lunch menus - it's amazing how cheap it can be compared to the evening a la cartes!

                1. re: NotQuiteACat

                  Thanks for the suggestions. I probably missed something. Who's the NYC guy?

                  1. re: zuriga1

                    Hmm, I'd tell you but then I'd have to bump you off! It's all a bit of a secret tbh!

                    1. re: zuriga1

                      The NYC guy is the person that the OP is having dinner with, as indicated in the orignal post.

                  2. re: zuriga1

                    Will travel for food, that's my motto.