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LA Hound Coming to LONDON for 2 Weeks... Critique My List!

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young_chower Jul 13, 2010 12:47 PM

I am visiting London for 2 weeks in July. My main goals are to 1) Get a good taste of cuisines that strongly represented in London, 2) sample uniquely British foods (including sampling of good and unique local produce and dairy), and 3) spending as little money as possible.

Some background:
- I will be be staying in Bermondsey in Southwark, with the nearest tube stations being London Bridge (and Borough a close second).
- My personal tastes are geared towards strong, robust, intense flavors. Curries, garlic, etc
- I LOVE "ethnic" food and hole in the walls. Please do not recommend Mexican, South American, Korean, and Japanese food as I can get excellent tastes of these back in Los Angeles.
- I am willing to travel up to an hour each way on the tube if the food is worth it. Would rather not take a bus.
- I am on a budget. I know London is expensive but I'd like to try to spend up to £15 per meal, and ideally under £10. I could go up to £20 if the meal is stellar.

So, here's my list from my research:

Fish & Chips:
- The Golden Hide
- Master's Super Fish
- Fryer’s Delight
- Rock & Sole Plaice

Gastropub:
- Harwood Arms
- Bull & Last
- The Eagle (This is maybe... comments?)

Chinese
- Silk Road
- No. 10 (any other good Szechuan places... say some mixed reviews)
- Leong's Legends for soup dumplings (I've been to Ding Tai Fung... does this compare well?)

Indian (I know its a very diverse cuisine, but I'm lumping them all together):
- Thattukada
- Needoo's
- Tayyabs (say mixed reviews... but it seems popular?)
- Pani Poori stall outside of Thattukad
- Ananda Bhavan

Italian
- Franco Macna
- Bocca di Lupo (seems over my budget but the reviews look great)

Ice Cream/Pastries
- Scoops
- Maison Bertaux in Soho

Tea & Cakes:
- A Gold
-Spitalfields

Random:
Kappacasein for Cheese Sandwich

Markets and Shops:
- A Gold
- Borough Market (including the spanish sandwiches and english marmalades)
- Neal's Cheese Yard
- La Fromagerie for more cheese
- St. Johns (just stopping in and getting bread)

Cocktails:
- Milk & Honey
- 69 Colebrooke Row

Brewery Tours/Tastings:
- Sambrookes Brewery

Supermarkets:
-Waitrose
- Whole Foods (yes it's from the US but I want to see the British outpost)
- Tesco
- Sainsbury

*Also planning on taking a day trip to Middle Farm to pick vegetables and see an English farm.

1) I really want to try Sri Lankan food. Can anyone recommend a solid choice?

2) Where on earth do I eat when I'm doing all the touristy stuff like
- Oxford Street (and Regency St, etc)
- Portebello Road Antiques
- Royal National Gardens
- Hampstead Heath
- Parliament
- British Museum, Tate Modern, National Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery
- checking out neighborhoods like Notting Hill, Mayfair, Kensington, Camden Town, Chelsea, etc

Thanks! Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. howler RE: young_chower Jul 13, 2010 01:27 PM

    congratulations - you actually read earlier threads!

    i'd say your one big gap is middle eastern food. i'd recommend iranian to you, but you probably know of stellar places back in la, so i'll leave that out. but do try lebanese - london does it very well. a very satisfying lunch is to get a chicken taouk sandwich (ask them to liberally drape it with toom, THE garlic sauce and toast it) plus a salad like fattoush or tabbouleh. that'll be around 10 quid and you can score at ranoush, just opposite whole foods on ken high st. when you're around portobello, stop in for lunch at el pirata de tapas for an outstanding under 10 quid spanish meal. i consider it one of the best values for money around. there you might want to order the tortilla (spanish omelette); it'll take some time but its so well worth it. at the marble arch end of oxford street is green valley, a lebanese supermarket on upper berkely street. get the lamb pizza, the halloumi pizza and finish off with some ice cream. again - all excellent and the total should be around the 10 quid mark.

    hampstead heath - you probably want to eat at the cafetaria in kenwood house. its surprisingly good for park fare - decent sausages and mash etc - and then you can spend some time wandering around kenwood house itself before tramping down the heath. again, it'll be under a tenner.

    parliament - is a wasteland. but a brisk twenty minute walk across st. james's park will bring you to piccadilly circus. at that point you're extremely close to chinatown, or a taouk sandwich + tabbouleh at noura etc.

    go to tate modern on a friday and you can spend the whole afternoon grazing at borough market. check out the various posts here (esp. those by limster) for whats really great there. i suppose you should reserve tayabs/needos for the time you hit whitechapel.

    i really am surprised that the v&a and the natural history museum aren't on your list. be that as it may, just by south ken tube station on old brompton road is bosphorous kebab house, a turkish hole in the wall grill. you'll eat like a prince for well under 10 quid (the spicy lamb kebabs are a particular favourite).

    when you're in mayfair, do check out postcard teas. it's a spot of tranquility in this mad metropolis and of course, the teas here can be found nowhere else in london. once again, check out limsters posts.

    you should make some effort to appreciate ale (as opposed to lager). good ales are wonderful, complex - and are drunk at room temperature so as to better appreciate their qualities. they need to be kept well (ie lines must be clean, barrels stored properly etc). on the border of chelsea and south ken is the anglesea arms on selwood terrace - its worth a visit. even better is if you can get to the dove in hammersmith, but i fear thats a bit out of the way for you.

    enjoy.

    5 Replies
    1. re: howler
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      Harters RE: howler Jul 14, 2010 07:24 AM

      Howler (or anyone else)

      Any thoughts on Fakhreldine for Lebanese? It always pops up on TopTable for me (and currently has 50% discount 0- which sounds like a belter of a bargain). I don't visit the capital often enough to have got there yet.

      1. re: Harters
        howler RE: Harters Jul 14, 2010 09:21 AM

        i've eaten at fakhreldine just once. it's an attempt to upmarket lebanese cuisine by making the room trendy-ish, but the portions are skimpy and uninspired. put it this way: the 50% discount doesn't tempt me to give them another chance.

        1. re: howler
          h
          Harters RE: howler Jul 14, 2010 10:28 AM

          If ever you met me. you'd realise I don't do skimpy portions. Not ever. Never.

        2. re: Harters
          deansa RE: Harters Aug 11, 2010 05:01 PM

          Agree with Howler's assessment, from my visit a while back. To me it felt more of a cocktail bar for the glamourous set, which just happened to sell small Lebanese dishes to soak up the alcohol. Not actively bad food, except for pureed umjeddrah (Why do restaurants here do that?! Do they think we can't cope with the sight of lentils?) but nothing amazing either.

        3. re: howler
          Paulustrious RE: howler Jul 14, 2010 09:41 AM

          Exhibition Road with the Science Museum, Natural History, V&A, Albert Memorial etc would be on my list. I was a student there 35 years ago at Imperial College. There were a series of student-frequented restaurants called 'The Pots' stretching between South Ken and Earl's Court. I could only remember one of them called "The Stockpot". The fare was basic, reasonable quality grub. Google shows me it is still there and pretty much unchanged. If I wanted a 'decent' meal for under a tenner I would consider it. It won't be a culinary experience, but the best value in the area.

          If you think this is bad advice (after all it's a long time ago for me) then please set me right.

        4. h
          Harters RE: young_chower Jul 13, 2010 02:36 PM

          Interesting you havnt included any places offering the British cuisine (except for pubs) as you want to sample local produce. Many too choose from - at all levels. I accept that such places get fairly minimal play on Chowhound.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Harters
            howler RE: Harters Jul 13, 2010 05:01 PM

            its hard to recommend good modern british cuisine at the 15 quid price point. and i was trying to think of a place to get a decent full english breakfast (to be had instead of lunch say) when i realized i never go out to eat it myself and always cook it at home.

            1. re: howler
              h
              Harters RE: howler Jul 14, 2010 02:43 AM

              Fair point, howler - I'd missed the OP's price limitations. I'd find it less than easy to hit that around home - and at London prices, very difficult.

              Should be possible though using, say, Toptable and going for lunch. Surely some of you locals must know of places. I hate it when I see tourists coming here and this board can't recommend anywhere for our own cuisine.

              BTW, for the OP, Rock & Sole was one of the vilest fish & chips I can ever recall eating. And an eye-watering price.

              As for the "Full English", I'd go for the authentic greasy spoon experience (rather than an upmarket version - like the very full £21 version at Simpsons) . If the OP is going to Borough Market, there's a decent caff. I can also recommend Diana's Diner on Endell Street near Covent Garden.

          2. limster RE: young_chower Jul 13, 2010 03:19 PM

            I would probably skip the Chinese places, as you have awesome Chinese in LA, I don't think the XLB from Leong's is close to DTF's. However, if you have to try it here, I'd get them at Min Jiang in Kensington, which ranks up there with any I've had including the DTF in LA as well as a version made by a former head chef of Liu Bo Long. If you do go to Min Jiang, be sure to also get the Shanghai style shumai.

            The Dining Room at the National Gallery (not the cafe) is pretty good, and also offers a good range of British cheeses that might complement your trip to Neal's Yard.

            The White Horse in Parsons Green has a good selection of beers, and comes strongly recommended by my beer-loving CH pals for their care in storing and handling various brews.

            BTW, Kappacaesein is at the Borough Market. There, don't miss the chocolate at Rabot Estate. The chuao and dash of milk choc bars are outstanding. Plus the limited supply of chuao cacao beans means there are only 3 (AFAIK) manufacturers of chuao bars, and their chuao was superior to the Amadei and Domori versions, even if it cost 1/3 of the price. Jim Leff has written extensively about it as well.

            If you do end up in Hammersmith (unlikely, as Howler says), it's worth your while to try the shiso maki at Tosa (a yakitori-ya). There's plenty of good yakitori places in LA, but the sheer quality of the pork here compared to many American versions makes it something that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. It's a good example of how the local produce can be transformative across many cuisines. Indian Zing is also in Hammersmith if Maharastrian is on your radar.

            Scones and clotted cream and jam can be wonderful, and will provide a nice example of the great dairy here that would be different from cheese. Try the Stafford in St James; I've yet to find a replacement for the former restaurant at the St James Hotel & Club, but this is quite elegant. A Gold might be pretty good for that. (while you're there, snag some Pierre Marcolini Choc next door at Verde & Co.).

            BTW, you might be hard pressed to stay at £20 or under at the Bull and Last or The Harwood Arms. The Eagle is solid and slightly cheaper, and you could squeak by with that limit if you order carefully.

            Perhaps a 10min walk from Borough Market is a pub called the Britainnia -- go there for a huge selection of Single Malts.

            3 Replies
            1. re: limster
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              young_chower RE: limster Jul 14, 2010 03:10 AM

              Thank you limster. I really love Szechuan food, and supposedly all the once worthy Szechuan restaurants in LA have changed chefs and are a shadow of their former selves. The nearest is 2 hours away in San Diego, where I luckily went to college and sampled the cuisine there.

              I think I'll still hit up Min Jiang I think.

              Also, what dishes do you and everyone else recommend at the Gastropubs?

              1. re: young_chower
                h
                Harters RE: young_chower Jul 14, 2010 04:05 AM

                You'll find the best of the gastropubs regularly change their menus, often on a daily basis, so it's difficult to make specific recommendations.

                As this is possibly going to be your experience of British cuisine, I'd suggest looking for something that appears seasonal - it is what we do best. A good sign would also be something where provenance is mentioned - they're saying it's, for example, Elwy Valley lamb or Gloucester Old Spot pork for a reason.

                Bear in mind that there are those of us (and I'm definitely one) who feel the word "gastropub" is very overused and is now pretty much a marketing term for any pub that serves food. For example, the Harwood Arms might be in a building that was once a neighbourhood pub. Buit it has no real pretence to still being a pub (except it has a quiz one night a week) - no-one's really going there just to drink half of mild, or to get rat-arsed on a Friday night, while having a game of darts. It's a restaurant by any normal standards that we might judge these matters - that is not to say it's not worth going to - Michelin starred places are always worth going to (even those where one might question the Michelin decision making process)

                1. re: young_chower
                  limster RE: young_chower Jul 14, 2010 01:31 PM

                  There aren't dishes that all gastropub excel at, they will vary from place to place.

                  Ferrero Roche ice cream at Bull and Last for sure!

                  Near the Eagle is another good gastropub called the Coach and Horses -- I've always wanted to try their ham, which they cure themselves (had other dishes there that were excellent).

                  Forgot to mention that if its lamb skewers that you want at the Xinjiang places like Silk Road, I'd steer you towards Royal Palace in Rotherhithe instead (plus they also have awesome chicken heart skewers, better than any coracon de gallinha I've had at Brazilian rodizios). Silk Road is great for the other stuff.

              2. j
                JFores RE: young_chower Jul 13, 2010 08:29 PM

                Lovely, but skip Tayyabs and Rock and Sole IMO.

                While out in East Ham for Ananda, the stalls, etc you could also see if you can squeeze Hyderabadi Spice in. Also, it's something like 3 stalls (or was before I left.)

                1. zuriga1 RE: young_chower Jul 13, 2010 11:01 PM

                  If you find it difficult to get to Middle Farm, there is a farm much closer to London, but they are only for picking fruit and veg - no cows for milking etc. It's a huge place, but a different sort of experience. Lewes is a lovely town to wander around and a good daytrip, so I hope you make it there. The farm in Esher is called Garson's.

                  1. p
                    pj26 RE: young_chower Jul 14, 2010 02:00 AM

                    That list sounds great - and for a touristy and foodie experience in one, head to Broadway Market in Hackney on a Saturday. Much better than Portobello which is now being taken over by chain stores. It also has some fab pubs and a great range of food stalls. And Columbia Road on a Sunday is when the flower market is on - cute little fashion shops, antiques, jewellry and art, really great atmosphere.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: pj26
                      howler RE: pj26 Jul 14, 2010 09:34 AM

                      'Portobello which is now being taken over by chain stores'

                      really?! since when?

                      1. re: howler
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                        pj26 RE: howler Jul 15, 2010 01:54 AM

                        have you been down there recently and seen that huge monstrosity that is All Saints? And the many of the smaller antique arcades are also being sold off to larger congolmerates. Sadly it seems to be losing it's charm.

                      2. re: pj26
                        limster RE: pj26 Jul 14, 2010 01:33 PM

                        Buen Ayre tis a solid place for Argentinian steak. The crepe stall seems pretty popular and appears to sell breton-style galettes. Any good?

                        1. re: limster
                          p
                          pj26 RE: limster Jul 15, 2010 01:56 AM

                          Haven't tried the crepes myself but do love the hog roast towards the canal end of the market and the banh mi is pretty good (although admittedly I haven't tried these anywhere else so have no comparison).

                      3. y
                        young_chower RE: young_chower Jul 14, 2010 03:07 AM

                        Thanks everyone for the feedback.

                        What about farmer's markets? I hear that the Marylebone Farmers’ Market is the best in London, can anyone comment?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: young_chower
                          zuriga1 RE: young_chower Jul 14, 2010 03:29 AM

                          Personally, I found the Marylebone Market very small and not very good at all. But that's just my opinion.

                          Cruise around Soho... many small restaurants and lots to try out.

                          1. re: young_chower
                            j
                            johnnypd RE: young_chower Jul 14, 2010 09:36 AM

                            Sunday Upmarket is worth a look, if just for the general vibe and people watching opportunities. there's plenty of food stalls, here's a photo thread that sums the market up pretty well and has some good shots of and talk about food - http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthr...

                            1. re: young_chower
                              j
                              judithuk RE: young_chower Jul 19, 2010 08:22 AM

                              live around the corner from this and I never bother to go. not very good and very expensive even just before closing when prices are supposedly reduced. You are far better off researching WI ( women's institute) markets. homemade and reasonable. I should imagine they have a website

                            2. greedygirl RE: young_chower Jul 14, 2010 04:22 AM

                              For cheap, great food head down to Brixton Village market. You can get a huge antipasto from Dario at Bellantoni's for a fiver, and then head to Cornercopia for fresh, seasonal cooking from Ian. Margarita at the Islander's Kitchen makes tasty Filipino food, and you can get good roti and Caribbean food from D's Roti Hut. There's also Colombian and, at this time of the year, jerk chicken cooked outdoors in traditional Jamaican barbecues. You might also find the neighbourhood and surrounding markets interesting for their range of African and Caribbean foods. Brixton Village is open Tues-Saturdays at lunchtimes, and on Thursday evening, when there's a great vibe. I'd be happy to give you a tour if you e-mail me (address in profile).

                              If you're in town this weekend, I highly recommend a trip to the Lambeth Country Show for a unique slice of London life. There'll be cheap eating opportunities a-plenty, including very good jerk chicken/pork etc.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: greedygirl
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                                Simon Majumdar RE: greedygirl Jul 14, 2010 06:49 AM

                                I would skip The Fryer's Delight and Rock & Sole Place based on relatively recent visits. My current favourites are

                                1) Masters Superfish
                                2) Golden Hind
                                3) Poseidon (Near East Finchley Tube)

                                I have actually moved the other way and am currently discovering the considerable joys of L.A's ethnic dining and no, you wont find dumplings like Din Tai Fung in London.

                                The Bull & Last is a great choice. I think the owner/chef, Ollie Pudney is a bit of a star.

                                For cocktails, I would extend the list a little. You don't include any of the great hotel bars and should definitely try The Connaught, where Ago Perrone is making some astonishingly good drinks (try his gimlet)

                                Also, Mark's Bar at Hix SOHO is a great place, with a menu designed by Nick Strangeway and the bar above Rules is IMHO the best in London. Ex-Pat Bostonian, Brian Silva is one of the best cocktail makers in the world.

                                Hope this helps

                                S

                                1. re: Simon Majumdar
                                  greedygirl RE: Simon Majumdar Jul 14, 2010 06:54 AM

                                  I agree that the Rules cocktail bar is great, but a drink there would pretty much bust the OP's budget!

                                  1. re: Simon Majumdar
                                    j
                                    johnnypd RE: Simon Majumdar Jul 14, 2010 09:21 AM

                                    I would 2nd Mark's Bar underneath Hix Soho. Skip M&H and go there instead. you have to order bar snacks, like the lovely fish fingers with peas, but they are seriously delicious, fairly cheap and quite 'british'. the cocktail list is incredible and will have plenty of libations you simply wouldn't find in the US, or anywhere else in the UK for that matter. they've really done their homework with one or two drinks harking back to the 17th century even.

                                    Colebrook row is a winner, but i'd also see if you can get reservations at Lounge Bohemia too, ran by a czech guy i think, who makes what you might call deconstructed cocktails - table service which is welcoming, informal and cool (no suits allowed).

                                    1. re: johnnypd
                                      greedygirl RE: johnnypd Jul 14, 2010 10:01 AM

                                      I wonder if the OP has any idea how expensive cocktails are in trendy London bars....

                                      1. re: greedygirl
                                        howler RE: greedygirl Jul 14, 2010 10:11 AM

                                        quite apart from the expense, i find cocktail chatter just so much posing. given the temperature cocktails are drunk at, i bet it's virtually impossible to distinguish between cocktails made by two people following the same recipe. i'm sure a blind tasting would quickly put all these pretensions to bed.

                                        1. re: greedygirl
                                          j
                                          johnnypd RE: greedygirl Jul 14, 2010 10:13 AM

                                          good point greedy, i kind of guessed that since the OP had a separate section for cocktails that young chower had perhaps put aside some money for that particular luxury...

                                          I'd also point out that bus travel in London should not be scoffed at, it's a reasonable way to get around, the buses are clean, get to where you want and have much the same passengers as the Tube, save for more unruly kids the further out of the centre you go. It's not really like LA where the bus will have crazy folk, homeless people and a man who smells like/drinks his own urine.

                                          1. re: greedygirl
                                            y
                                            young_chower RE: greedygirl Jul 15, 2010 02:54 AM

                                            The cocktails are low on the list, I've put it on there just in case I head out specifically seeking them.

                                    2. g
                                      gemuse RE: young_chower Jul 14, 2010 10:19 AM

                                      For szechuan I've had a couple of great meals at Chilli Cool in Bloomsbury. It's inexpensive and the portions are frighteningly large. The tripe in chilli sauce is fantastic, as was the fish.

                                      For British food, the breakfasts at the Canteen chain are fantastic and good value. The lunches and dinners are decent there too, but I think they do breakfast best of all. You can go in anytime during the day and get 2 very good freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam for £3.50.

                                      Also, it might not be totally Chow-worthy, but the Pie Room at the Newman Arms near Goodge Street is a place I take most of my out-of-town visitors. For £10, you can get your choice of pie (puff pastry or steamed suet) on a plate piled high with steamed cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. Add a pint of ale, and you have the quintessential British experience in a quaint pub setting. The puddings are outstanding, so save room. Call ahead to make sure you get a seat. The room is small.

                                      Lastly, since you are staying in Bermondsey, I recommend lunch at Maltings Cafe on Tower Bridge Road. They are only open for lunch and only do a couple of chalkboard specials each day, but I've never been disappointed. Usually they have one meat dish and one fish for around £8-9. It's really serious food and an outstanding value. Don't think they have a liquor license yet, but I think you can BYO.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: gemuse
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                                        Ibrahim.Salha RE: gemuse Jul 14, 2010 01:50 PM

                                        YES on Malting's. Was going to suggest it as well. One of my favourites in the entire city. Zucca (sister restaurant; longer hours) is also worth a go but is slightly more expensive to make up for the slightly more expensive ingredients. The cooking at both surpasses the (low) price.

                                      2. y
                                        young_chower RE: young_chower Jul 15, 2010 03:15 AM

                                        Thanks everyone for your amazing help! Some more questions:

                                        1) I've never had Jamaican food before. Any suggestions?

                                        2) There doesn't seem to be a definitive farmers market in London the way Santa Monica FM is in LA or the Ferry Building is in San Francisco. Thoughts?

                                        3) As I walked through Bermondsey last night on Bermondsey St last night, the area seemed very uninteresting food wise (read: too many yuppies). Does anyone know of any chow worthy spots?

                                        THANKS!

                                        13 Replies
                                        1. re: young_chower
                                          i
                                          Ibrahim.Salha RE: young_chower Jul 15, 2010 03:24 AM

                                          2) I'd say Borough Market is closest to the definitive London farmers/food market. It's probably the most popular, judging by the crowds and tourists who flock there.

                                          3) Zucca, which I mentioned just above, is on Bermondsey St. Worth checking out, definitely.

                                          There's a couple of pricier places on that street which are decent, but they're not worth raising your budget for. There's a place called Bermondsey Street Coffee (used to be called coffee@Bermondsey St I believe) which has some good coffee.

                                          1. re: Ibrahim.Salha
                                            h
                                            Harters RE: Ibrahim.Salha Jul 15, 2010 06:40 AM

                                            I've only been to Borough once - and thought it much more of a tourist attraction than a farmers' market such as one sees elsewhere in the country.

                                            1. re: Harters
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                                              Ibrahim.Salha RE: Harters Jul 15, 2010 01:46 PM

                                              I agree with that. It's very much on the itinerary for a lot of visitors to the city nowadays, and not just gourmets either. Saying that, there's a lot of good stuff to eat there (Brindisa's chorizo, Monmouth coffee, Ginger Pig sausage roll and so on), plus shops like Utobeer, Neal's Yard Dairy and DeGustibus are worth checking out.

                                              young_chower: Here's a little piece on some of London's markets, which should give you a taster of what they're about. An introduction, of sorts: http://www.eatmemagazine.com/index.ph...

                                              1. re: Ibrahim.Salha
                                                h
                                                Harters RE: Ibrahim.Salha Jul 15, 2010 03:45 PM

                                                If you do go to Borough, make sure you get some of Bourne's Cheshire cheese, if it's a day Mr or Mrs Bourne is there. IMO, very possibly the finest English cheese you'll come across anywhere.

                                          2. re: young_chower
                                            p
                                            pj26 RE: young_chower Jul 15, 2010 03:42 AM

                                            'More' on Tooley St is pretty close and had some good reviews - you could try that.

                                            1. re: young_chower
                                              greedygirl RE: young_chower Jul 15, 2010 03:45 AM

                                              There are lots in that area but it is going to be fairly wealthy due to its proximity to the City. The neighbourhood has changed enormously in the past ten years. Search limster's posts for ideas as he lives there. Also do try Zucca for good Italian food.

                                              1. re: young_chower
                                                g
                                                gemuse RE: young_chower Jul 15, 2010 04:19 AM

                                                I moved here from the Bay Area 8 months ago. While Borough Market is a wonderful foodie experience (and probably the definitive London market, in the sense you imply), it is not really like the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market or any of the other SF farmers markets. Borough only has a few organic stalls, and those that are organic are mostly not local. It's hard to get both local and organic here in London. You have to remember that the English climate is not as fertile as California. Much of the organic produce comes from Europe or Africa. Bermondsey Square actually has a small farmers market on Saturday mornings, if you are still here then, and the farmers market in Marylebone on Sunday is also good. At both markets you will find a combination of organic and nonorganic, but both have some really nice local producers of meat, cheese, breads, fruit and veg, which is probably what you're after.

                                                1. re: gemuse
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                                                  panda444 RE: gemuse Jul 15, 2010 02:21 PM

                                                  Hey. If you are staying near London Bridge station, may I recommend a Turkish place at St Johns (big train not undergound and only about 5 minutes from London Bridge station by train and then a 3 minute walk) called Meze Mangal. If you're not familiar with Turkish food, I heartily recommend you order the Lahmacun (v thin pizza type thing (but soooooo much better) with minced lamb) and a mixed kebab from the open grill. Various meats, kidney etc with a good salad. Sounds basic but is very well executed. Both will come to less than £15. Definitely a local's place and you may need to call ahead and book. Happy to give more details if you require. Don't tell anyone, it's busy enough as it is ;o))

                                                  1. re: panda444
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                                                    young_chower RE: panda444 Jul 15, 2010 04:27 PM

                                                    I'm very intrigued. I saw Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations episode (US show) when he went to Istanbul and the food looked fantastic... way beyond just kebabs and rice. I'll check it out and report back.

                                                    1. re: young_chower
                                                      zuriga1 RE: young_chower Jul 15, 2010 10:49 PM

                                                      TAS is a London chain of Turkish restaurants. They are all over the place and very affordable and not too bad at all.

                                                      1. re: young_chower
                                                        greedygirl RE: young_chower Jul 16, 2010 12:42 AM

                                                        Turkish food is great - they have fantastic vegetable dishes.

                                                        1. re: greedygirl
                                                          h
                                                          Harters RE: greedygirl Jul 16, 2010 03:42 AM

                                                          And, of course, because of empire, Turkey's influence on the food of the whole eastern Mediterranean area is immense.

                                                        2. re: young_chower
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                                                          seddon RE: young_chower Jul 22, 2010 01:03 AM

                                                          Or you could a bus up to the Kingsland Road for some great Turkish grills (and loads of other types of Turkish cusine represented) I like the original Mangal on, I think Arcola St, near Dalston Kingsland Station). Huge number of restaurants and on a warm summer night the shole streets smells of BBQ meat. Their more 'upmarket' Mangal 2 and Number 19 both have more meat choices -kidney, swaetbreads (hit and miss, but when good, v good). Lamb and quail good choices everywhere.

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                                                    gembellina RE: young_chower Jul 19, 2010 09:05 AM

                                                    A quick scan suggests no-one's addressed the Sri Lankan food question. I've had two good meals at Apollo Banana Leaf in Tooting - about 30 mins on the Northern Line from London Bridge. I've not been to Sri Lanka so I can't vouch for its authenticity, but every dish was delicious and plentiful, and you could certainly eat well for under a tenner. Pick up some beers from a cornershop nearby as it's BYO.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: gembellina
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                                                      young_chower RE: gembellina Jul 19, 2010 05:03 PM

                                                      were the flavors rich, intense, and spicy? I assume that would be the biggest indicator of authenticity. Also, did they have generic duds on there like tikka masala?

                                                      1. re: young_chower
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                                                        medgirl RE: young_chower Jul 19, 2010 11:45 PM

                                                        I'll second the rec for meze mangal, the turkish restaurant near st johns. we have been going there for the past 5 years and it has steadily grown in popularity while maintaining its high standards, despite being an unassuming hole in the wall. you should definitely book a table, even for weekday lunchtime, we have got caught out by its recent surge in popularity! it's not a big place and a lot of floorspace is taken up by their huge turkish charcoal grill in the centre of the restaurant. They also have a woodfired oven for baking the breads.
                                                        you could combine your trip to meze mangal with checking out nearby new cross and deptford, which has been covered in the New York Times as an example of proper 'street' London, not the bland touristy bits you get centrally.
                                                        http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/03/22/...

                                                        1. re: young_chower
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                                                          gembellina RE: young_chower Jul 20, 2010 01:46 AM

                                                          everything was certainly rich and intense, and the dishes tasted clearly different from each other, which is not always the case in "high-street" indian places at this price! also not too much chilli heat to swamp the flavours.

                                                          the odd korma and vindaloo had crept onto the menu, but stick to the sri lankan specials - there's plenty to try. stringhopper and mutton ceylon were very good. crab masala (as recommended by timeout) had a delicious sauce but the crab meat was quite overcooked.
                                                          http://www.apollobananaleaf.co.uk/ban...
                                                          website here:
                                                          http://www.apollobananaleaf.co.uk/ban...

                                                          1. re: gembellina
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                                                            seddon RE: gembellina Jul 22, 2010 12:57 AM

                                                            I agree on the apollo banana leaf. Other great dishes are cashew pakora, meat masala dosa, fish cutlet, lemon rice. Sambal is very good. Devil dishes I like but others don't. Worth the trip from central London (which is what I do) and is really really cheap.

                                                          2. re: young_chower
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                                                            apple7blue RE: young_chower Jul 27, 2010 05:59 PM

                                                            gembellina and young chower, Papaya's biriyani is to die for, and they have other great dishes like mango and banana curries . . . they are authentic, and while biriyani is a regional dish, their's is made so well. Are you still in London young_chower? If so, please go to Papaya on your last day, and I really will pay you to bring some over for me--meet you at LAX!

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                                                          apple7blue RE: young_chower Jul 27, 2010 05:50 PM

                                                          I am currently living in Los Angeles. Just a few notes about your London trip: Best Sri Lankan food--Papaya on Rayner's Lane, Harrow, London. Take the tube to Rayner's Lane, and walk there. Order the vegetarian biriyani. So good, I would pay for you to bring me some back. Waitrose pawns Whole Foods. On Oxford Street, check out the Hare Krishna's restaurant. There are so many places, this might seem weird to people there but definitely go to a Pizza Express.

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