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First time in London for 5 days in August

yvonnez Jul 18, 2010 05:28 PM

I will be in London for 5 days for the first time, from August 19-24. I was wondering if anyone could help me with lunch and dinner recommendations. I am staying in Kensington, but will be willing to travel around for good food.

I want to basically experience modern British dining, gastropubs and also maybe some more traditional fare. I am travelling across the rest of Europe following London, so would rather try other European cuisines when I'm in that particular country (Italy, France, etc.) unless the particular London restaurant is spectacular.

As for budget, I'm not sure how expensive food is exactly in London, but hopefully, around 20-30 pounds per person for dinner, and less for lunch? Not looking for Michelin stars, just delicious up-and-coming restaurants.

Thanks for all your help!

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  1. Robin Joy RE: yvonnez Jul 21, 2010 01:16 AM

    The Ebury Wine Bar is reliable and pleasant. It's a ten minute stroll from Buckingham Palace, or a couple of stops on the tube from South Kensington which is where three large museums are grouped.


    For a very nice pub The Star Tavern is a good bet. The food is basic, not gastro, but good quality, and it's a great refuge from the madness of Harrods half a mile away.


    Thirdly Motcombs is a bit of a fave of mine. Wine Bar/Restaurant near The Star with some pavement tables:


    1. d
      DavidT RE: yvonnez Jul 21, 2010 09:21 AM

      Be sure to take 15-20 minutes to scroll back thru the prior threads & discussions on this board over the past 3-6 months. There have been many, many posts on dining in London and I am sure you will find some helpful suggestions already here for you to review.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DavidT
        yvonnez RE: DavidT Jul 22, 2010 06:04 PM

        I have already had a look at the previous discussions - there are a lot of posts about non-British food, but really not that many British restaurants, especially not in the Kensington area.

      2. s
        Steve_K RE: yvonnez Jul 21, 2010 01:59 PM

        Texture Restaurant is doing a fantastic set lunch menu at the minute, 3 courses for £22.50 from memory. It's roughly a 1 minute walk from Marble Arch tube station, not too far from Kensington. While not 'British', it does 1 star Icelandic influenced cuisine very well.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Steve_K
          Nancy S. RE: Steve_K Jul 22, 2010 04:20 AM

          I had an excellent dinner at Texture in March. Lovely service and delicious food. My favorites in London are The Ledbury, The Square and, for the gastropub meal, The Harwood Arms (especially fun for the Tuesday quiz night).

        2. y
          yvonnez RE: yvonnez Jul 22, 2010 06:06 PM

          I have booked two dinners now:
          St John - because that's probably one of the most talked about restaurants in London that is not totally fine dining
          Simpson's in the Strand - traditional Brit meal - roast beef sounds delicious

          6 Replies
          1. re: yvonnez
            howler RE: yvonnez Jul 22, 2010 07:26 PM

            check out the lunch options at launceston place and clarke's - both excellent and kensington local favourites. also, as you're probably not going to poland, check out daquise in south ken
            (limster has a post on it). le cafe anglais on queensway is not to be missed either, you'll do very well for dinner there.

            1. re: howler
              Harters RE: howler Jul 23, 2010 06:47 AM

              One of these years, I'm going to get to Clarke's. My desire to go there dates back a goodly number of years when Sally Clarke was a minor celeb. chef (not too many woman doing really good things 20+ years ago). Somewhere else always seems to pop up and knock it off our "to do" list.

            2. re: yvonnez
              Robin Joy RE: yvonnez Jul 23, 2010 12:40 AM

              If you really want British, with both barrels, go to Wiltons:


              1. re: Robin Joy
                Harters RE: Robin Joy Jul 23, 2010 02:03 AM


                I'd been going to suggest Rules as well for traditional British but hadnt when I saw the OP's price guide. Wouldnt Wiltons be ruled out on similar grounds - good as it is?


                1. re: Harters
                  Robin Joy RE: Harters Jul 23, 2010 06:17 AM

                  It did occur to me, yes, but unless it's one course and no drink, then Y's picks of St John & Simpson's for dinner have already blown their budget!

                  Always nice to have a keen new visitor, so hopefully they will enjoy London and report back.

                  1. re: Robin Joy
                    yvonnez RE: Robin Joy Jul 25, 2010 06:54 PM

                    Haha, yes. I was never that good at budgeting when it comes to food...

                    But the Simpson's pre-theatre three courses is 30 pounds. So that fits into the budget.

                    St John will probably be a bit of a blow-out.

            3. c
              Calam1ty RE: yvonnez Aug 10, 2010 09:28 AM

              Since you are staying in Kensington, what about Maggie Jones's - Maggie Jones's, 6 Old Court Place, London, W8 4PL (off Kensington Church St near Kensington High Street.

              At lunch it's very cheap. At dinner it costs more. However, get ready for wholesome and large portions. And it's BRITISH.

              Simpsons is a nice but very expensive experience. Be prepared for the stuffy, shabby interior but the service is top notch. I don't know if I'd bother going back, though. I've had just as good elsewhere for half the price. Shrug.

              Also take a look at www.afternoontea.co.uk - this one is cheap http://www.afternoontea.co.uk/index.p.... You can't come to the UK without having at least one tea. My favourite has been The Cavendish.

              My two pence.I'll think about more though.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Calam1ty
                howler RE: Calam1ty Aug 10, 2010 09:38 AM

                sorry to say, maggie jones is actively awful. there are MUCH better choices in the area - for example, launceston place for lunch. and there are no chippies in kensington.

                1. re: Calam1ty
                  yvonnez RE: Calam1ty Aug 13, 2010 04:14 PM

                  Thanks for the link - The Cavendish has a 2 for 1 offer that sounds good.

                2. c
                  Calam1ty RE: yvonnez Aug 10, 2010 09:31 AM

                  And please stay well away from any big chains or restaurants claiming to serve anything American. They'e wrong!

                  When in doubt, sausage and mash or ANY meat pie will be your best bet and what Britain does better than anyone, IMO. Oh and fish and chips, go to a local chippie and never order it from a pub or restaurant or you'll be mostly disappointed. I'm sure people can give you some names and addresses for good chippies in the Kensington area.

                  I used to think London was expensive for food but not any more. The pound being weaker is one reason but other places getting more pretentious is another.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Calam1ty
                    Harters RE: Calam1ty Aug 10, 2010 11:13 AM

                    "ANY meat pie will be your best bet"

                    Would have to disagree - particularly about the "any". As with any food, anywhere in the world, you need to exercise care and judgement. We make some bloody awful meat pies here - cheap and nasty factory produced shite. You are far more likely to come across these than anything worth eating.

                    1. re: Calam1ty
                      yvonnez RE: Calam1ty Aug 13, 2010 04:07 PM

                      We Australians are pretty famous for our meat pies too!

                      And I will stay away from American chains, definitely.

                      I have heard good things about Pret-A-Manger for a quick bite...?

                      1. re: yvonnez
                        zuriga1 RE: yvonnez Aug 13, 2010 11:28 PM

                        You can't go wrong with a sandwich at Pret A Manger, and they are everywhere. They're fresh, interesting and do the job.

                        1. re: yvonnez
                          r.vacapinta RE: yvonnez Aug 14, 2010 04:25 AM

                          The Marks & Spencers shops are also a good bet. My fast, work lunch often consists of one of their sandwiches, some fresh fruit and one of their freshly squeezed juices.

                          Cheap and healthy stuff. There's another good chain called EAT. I wish these kinds of chains had existed in the U.S.

                      2. y
                        yvonnez RE: yvonnez Aug 13, 2010 04:06 PM

                        Thanks everyone for the suggestions - I guess I'll have a few places in mind when I'm wandering around!

                        1. v
                          Victorfoxtrot RE: yvonnez Aug 17, 2010 02:01 PM

                          one more for consideration! 32 Great Queen Street located in Covent Garden - the address is the name of the restaurant. They don't have a website, but this is gastropub fare at its best. Menu changes every day, all seasonal stuff. Budget wise I think £30per head should be fine. Check out this review, as they aren't on line. Book ahead! http://londoneater.com/2010/03/31/gre...

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