One week in London, too many options, lots of questions.
My husband and I are going to be in London for one week in mid October. We arrive late Saturday night and will be staying at the Sofitel Heathrow. So first question: does anyone know of a place to get anything to eat/drink after 11pm at the airport? Specifically in terminals 3 or 5?
We will then be staying just off the Earl's Court tube stop, which, from copious reading of these boards, seems to be primarily surrounded by Asian restaurants of all description. Addie's Thai stands out as a solid option from this genre. Several sichuan restaurants are often mentioned as favorites, but I am ashamed to admit I am easily put off by extreme heat. We are also interested in checking out the Troubador, any thoughts on the food there? Is anyone familiar with The Blackbird? It is directly opposite our hotel, so if it is decent, it would be handy. Is Masala Zone worthwhile? We would like to walk down to the Harwood Arms, should we do dinner or lunch, and is a reservation necessary? Any other pubs/restaurants around there worth stopping into? Specifically, does anyone have a favorite pub that does a pub quiz Sunday, Wednesday or Thursday night? We might fail miserably given the, I assume, largely British based questions, but we are suckers for trivia. We have reservations for St John Monday night, which will be our largest splurge for the trip (sadly only the one) and my husband will be working in Uxbridge during the week, leaving me to explore on my own during the day and perhaps we will dine together in the evenings.
And then we will spend Friday-Monday in Knightsbridge, at the Jumeirah Lowndes. I have read good things about Star Tavern and Pantechnicon in that vicinity, any thoughts? We could do one more nice dinner, or very nice lunch (something under 40gbp a person) for Saturday or Sunday, Sadly many of the places I in which I am most interested seem to be far pricier for a set lunch on a weekend, from what I can see. Am I missing any wonderful deals for a Saturday or Sunday lunch at one of the Michelin rated standouts?
We are coming in from Chicago, which is a pretty fantastic city for food. We would like to focus on what we can't get at home. To me this means true British, Indian, anything innovative and modern that is specific to a certain chef, fish and chips, game...what am I missing? We eat anything, we are on a restricted but malleable budget (I will foresake breakfast and grab a bag of crisps for lunch if it is worth it to fund a somewhat pricey dinner) , and we are willing to travel out of our area(s) for something really special. We aren't looking for celebrity sightings, trendy and overpriced, or touristy. I tend to get excited by French inspired, artistically plated, unique flavor combinations....god, that sounds pretentious, doesn't it? My husband just likes good food.
So. How is that for a novel? Thanks in advance to anyone who wades through it to find the questions within! And further thanks to anyone with time and interest in answering them.
The Heathrow website lists all the restaurants at various terminals. I'm not sure if they tell their hours, but it's worth a look. I'm flying out of T5 tomorrow - maybe I can garner some info while walking around. I'd imagine that something has to be open in the late evenings, but perhaps not the best of the choices.
As for fish and chips, Master's Superfish is my favorite and seems to hold up with people who come to London for a visit. It's a very short walk from Waterloo Station and makes a good lunch, even if you're on your own. It's a hole in the wall, but worth the trip.
When you are in Knightsbridge the following are all good, and within a very short walk of your hotel:
Zafferano (adjoining to hotel). Top Italian. Expensive.
Amaya. Off Motcomb Street. 100 yards from hotel. Top Indian. Expensive.
Salloo's in Kinnerton St. Top Indian. Expensive. About 400 yards.
Motcombs. Motcomb St. Mid-market European bar & restaurant. 100 yards. Nice.
Pantecnichon. Motcomb St. 200 yards. More restaurant than pub.
Star Tavern. Belgrave Mews West. 300 yards. More pub than restauant. Much cheaper and less swish than Pantechnicon.
Ishbilia. William St., off Lowndes Sq. Excellent Lebanese. Also about 400 yards.
Nag's Head pub. Kinnerton Street. 300 yards. Chatacterful local place for a drink, but the food was terrible on my last visit.
Edit: Neglected to mention that Gordon Ramsay's Petrus opened in Kinnerton St. earlier on this year. 200 yards. Just opposite Pantechnicon.
My favourite pub with excellent bangers-and-mash and daily pie specials (not to mention burgers and tons of other English pub sort of choices) is The Swan near Russell Square tube stop.
For F&C, I like George's Portobello Fish Bar, which is on Portobello Road after the end of all the market stuff that's along that road on Saturday.
For a fancy meal, I think Fifteen offers excellent value for money (a 4 course meal for 60 GBP), but you'll need to make a reservation well in advance (don't worry you can do it over email and just let them know the hotel you'll be at).
Don't forego breakfast! At least on one morning. A good Full English in a cafe will mean that you don't even need crisps for lunch and (although stuffed with fat and calories) it is delicious.
When you're in Earls Court, Masala Zone, which is part of a small chain, is inexpensive and pretty good, especially for lunch (not much atmosphere in the evening).
Harwood Arms is excellent but you will definitely need to book for dinner. I think they do a pub quiz - check their website for the day. Another pub with good bar food that has a quiz on Sunday is the Prince of Wales on the Upper Richmond Road - Putney tube will be easy from Earls Court. I haven't been to the quiz, but though the restaurant is not cheap, the pub part is a proper pub (Harwood Arms is a bit smarter). The food there is excellent too but they don't do it apart from bar food on quiz nights.
I am one of the few on this site who is not a fan of St John. I find it pretentious in a funny way and I'm not thrilled by the food (apart from the Eccles cake!) I would go to the Harwood Arms or the new Koffman (I am panting to go) or even out to the wilds of Wandsworth to Chez Bruce, which fits your French-inspired desires. Have a look at its website.
Update: After more board scouring, and given your advice, zuriga, we will be trying Master's Superfish for sure. We have made a reservation for a Saturday lunch at Milk and Honey, which looks superb and is very affordable. I will be sure to seek out a proper Full English one morning. We love Lebanese, and will look for Ishbilia. The Harwood Arms does their pub quiz Tuesday night, but I am going out to Cambridge overnight Tuesday (Ely actually) to visit a friend. I intend to rely on her judgment of where we will eat and drink there. We are probably going to take our chances at just walking into the Harwood Arms for bar food some night (I have to have a venison scotch egg), and perhaps make a reservation for another night if it is as good as everyone says. I expect it will be, the menu is amazing. We are going to stick with St John on Monday. I am planning to visit the Tate and Borough market on one of my solo weekdays.
Is a true English tea worth doing all by myself? At one of the posh hotels? Or are there places for scones and clotted cream that anyone might recommend which are a little less fancy?
Thank you so much for all the replies so far. I am becoming a bit obsessed with researching options for while we are there, but I just can't stand the idea of wasting our limited time and money just because we got hungry and didn't know where to go. Last time I was in London I had several horrible meals in the more touristy centers (the worst fish and chips I have ever had in Piccadilly) and I am trying to avoid it this time. So keep the replies coming!
Hi Kstaigs, few quick points to your various posts, sounds like you're pretty on top of things.
Definitely don't go to Masala Zone, it's horrendous and an affront to proper indian food. There are plenty of good places to get indian or pakistani cuisine in London without resorting to a chain. You probably want somewhere around Knightsbridge which isn't an area I know much about for curry (tend to go east) but I'm sure others can help.
I think the best value Saturday lunches seem to be at Milk and Honey, its sister restaurant Arbutus (the cheapest Michelin lunch deal I believe) and at a slight cut above, Pied a Terre. If you look at the Pied a Terre menu http://www.pied-a-terre.co.uk/lunch-menu it is sensational value for a two-star.
With your borough market day don't forget the market only runs Thursday to Saturday so you'll have to do that later in the week.
As to English tea. The posh hotels are great but at the Ritz, Langham etc it is definitely something of an 'experience' and I think you'd probably be better off going as a two than a one. It might sound silly but this site is a bit of an encyclopedia http://www.afternoontea.co.uk/ and shows some deals (Cadogan in Knightsbridge currently doing it for £15 inc a glass of Champagne).
St John will be awesome.
another option for tea is to go to the wallace collection for their cream tea - http://www.thewallacerestaurant.co.uk/.
it's a small museum just off marylebone high street so can easily be factored into an exploration of the foodie treats in marylebone (if you time it right you should have a sausage roll from the ginger pig for brunch and then cream tea at the wallace collection).
the tea is served between 3 and 4:30 in their covered courtyard which has a nice light airy feel. you can also explore the museum itself if you want some culture. don't be tempted by the full afternoon tea - the scones are the best bit and more affordable as a stand alone option.
I thought Addie's Thai was fantastic, but very hot, so keep in mind when ordering that if they say it is hot, it is. Delicious though, and a nice atmosphere/experience.