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A couple lunches and dinner in Covent Garden/Soho and Tower areas of London?

My husband and I (mid-20's, foodies, love wine and beer on tap) are spending 2.5 days in London this coming March, and I'm looking to find a couple restaurants near our itinerary (which is loose at this point, but should be something like this):

Saturday arrive midday, dinner at The Laughing Gravy near our hotel on Waterloo Road (Waterloo/Southwark area).

Sunday- explore Westminster area, Hyde Park, Covent Garden, Soho, including a couple hrs+ for the national gallery.
For this day I'm looking for a lunch and dinner place. For lunch, perhaps a gastropub or Italian place in the Covent Garden/Soho area. I imagine we'll be wondering around quite a bit so we can plan to go somewhere outside of this area for a great meal. In general I'd love some gastro & other pub recommendations.

For dinner, we'd love to try a great Indian place, also in this area.

Monday- Hampton Court in the morning and then lunch somewhere near the Tower of London...something with a view of the Thames might be nice.

Price range for lunch, would like to stay around 20-30£/person if at all possible, perhaps more if we include a drink.

For dinner on Saturday, would like to stay under 100-150£ total- generally I was thinking this could be a splurge meal.

Thanks!!!

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  1. For lunch on Monday I would suggest the Blueprint Cafe, on the south side of the Thames a few hundred yards from Tower Bridge. Great food, the chef is Jeremy Lee who is a real class act and has been there for years. Fabulous views over the river as the dining room is on the first floor and glass-fronted. Should fit in with your price range as well.

    1. For lunch in Covent Garden, the gastro-pub Great Queen street.

      1 Reply
      1. re: r.vacapinta

        Or also in Covent Garden and round the corner from the National Gallery, Terroirs (wine bar with good food) or Les Deux Salons (new French-style brasserie). The National Dining Room at the gallery also does pretty good British food.

      2. what style of cooking/setting do you want for your splurge meal?

        i adore barrafina (soho) for a fun atmosphere, really good tapas and excellent wines, all sold by the glass. to avoid queuing you need to arrive as they open or c60 mins later (when you can join the queue with a glass of wine) as you can't book and there are only 23 seats. £100-150 would really allow you to eat and drink really well.

        when i was there a few weeks ago with my bf we spent around that and had loads of lovely stuff - croquetas, padron peppers, jamon, razor clams, octopus, a beautiful fish stew, a really zingy gem salad with anchovies and pancetta, santiago tart with crunchy almond ice cream, wines and sherry. it depends if you're happy to spend that in a tapas bar though, or you'd prefer a more formal setting.

        on friday night you should pop into baltic (also on waterloo road, a polish restaurant with bar)for a drink - the bar is nice and buzzy and they do some interesting drinks.

        chowki (piccadilly circus) might be a good central indian option.

        1. Also on Great Queen St. right near Covent Garden is Moti Mahal, another fine Indian restaurant.

          1. Some friends and I will be there in March, and we're thinking along similar lines.

            For me the ultimate splurge is Rules, at 35 Maiden Lane near Covent Garden. Delicious English cuisine with emphasis on game meats - they have their own preserve in the north - and a great ambience.

            http://www.rules.co.uk/rest/rest.html

            Moti Mahal is a fine Indian restaurant, and so is Mela at 152-156 Shaftesbury Avenue in Soho. Their main menu is full of non-cliché choices, and their 2- and 3-course set menus for lunch and dinner are attractive and attractively priced.

            http://melagroup.net/mela/shaftsbury....

            We're also thinking of trying Chowki, at 2-3 Denman Street just off Piccadilly Circus, which is related to Mela but features regional dishes that will be new to us. .

            http://www.chowki.com/

            None of us finds Italian food very interesting, but I was once taken to Bertorelli at 44a Floral Street in Covent Garden and enjoyed the Salsicce Toscane grigliate (Italian beans and sausages), which I hadn't had anywhere else. Definitely not a pizza joint!

            http://www.bertorelli.co.uk/

            We don't ordinarily do pubs, but there's one place I never miss that's perhaps nominally a pub: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. This is out of your area, perhaps - it's at 145 Fleet Street, or rather in an alleyway called Wine Office Court just off Fleet Street to the north, not far from Samuel Johnson's house and the statue to his cat Hodge. Traditional English food and drink in a building that dates back to 1667; be sure to eat in the ground floor Chop Room, to the left as you enter, with the portrait of Dr. Johnson in the corner.

            http://www.english-restaurants.com/en...

            Happy eating!

            3 Replies
            1. re: John Francis

              We, mistakenly, took some hungry, out of town guests to Chowki. It was quite mediocre. We have no intention of ever returning.

              1. re: relizabeth

                i've not been for a few months. i hope it's not permanently on a downward tend.

                wrt moti mahal - it is pricey and costs add up easily so be careful if you're on a budet. i had the tasting menu most recently and there was far too much food - but they do do doggy bags!

                1. re: relizabeth

                  I like Chowki but not to take guest to. For me it is a simple, quick curry after or before doing something else. Mela is a bit more upmarket and a good value option for its location but still not destination dining.

              2. There is a great pub/restaurant called the Draft House near Tower Hill (Tower of London area). They have the most incredible selection of beer, and a lovely atmosphere to hang around. The food is sort-of dineresque, but pretty good if drinking is your thing (as it is mine LOL).

                7 Replies
                1. re: brokentelephone

                  Thanks all for the Covent Garden/Soho suggestions and Tower Hill!!

                  Switching gears a little b/c my husband blurted out that we're doing going to the theater on Monday night (yay!)- suggestions for a very light lunch/pub near Westminster Abbey/St. Jame's park and then pre-theater dinner? For the dinner, I'm looking at Gauthier or J Sheekey (but getting some negative vibes about "downhill trends" on this one), or other suggestions for a nice pre-theater meal, which could be in the splurge category. Thanks!

                  1. re: laurenpk

                    Where's the theatre?

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Sorry, it's Her Majesty's Theater (Phantom of the Opera) on Haymarket...

                    2. re: laurenpk

                      100% goto Les Deux Salon -- assuming the theatre is near Leicester Sq/Covent Garden area. It is awesome!

                      Plus, really try to goto the Draft House is you're in Tower Hill. Its so awesome!
                      Also, if you want to get absolutely boozy then hit the Bavarian Beer House in Tower Hill. Its a pretty cheezy German-themed pub which has a good selection of German beers, some of which can be bought in 2 pint steins.

                      AWESOME!

                      1. re: brokentelephone

                        If you are in Southwark then I'd strongly recommend the Anchor and Hope. I've been to Laughing Gravy a few years back and it wasn't anything I'd write home about, wheras the Anchor is, and is only around the corner. Also in the area is Wright Brothers up nr London Bridge (less than 10 mins walk), which serves lovely seafood. May be worth stroolling uyp there Saturday afternoon as Borough Market will be on - the best food market in London.
                        For lunch the next day in town, I'd go Boca Di Lupo for great Italian pasta, or Great Queen Street for excellent english food at great price.
                        I'm no expert on Indian food, but I did just try Dishoom, and loved it.
                        Tower of London area - Magdelen is a lovely french restaurant, or More is on the same street. Otherwise there is a new Italian that is meant to be great on Bermondsey Street called Zucca - anyone got any feedback on it? I really want to check it out.
                        Saturday dinner - you could go for a set menu somewhere to bring your cost down, great ones I've recently had include Trinity (Clapham, so may be too far for you), or Joel Roubouchon. Alternatively Terroirs, Les Deux Salons, Hix Soho, Bistro Bruno Loubet should all come in around that price range and will be good food in lovely surroundings.
                        As you are here in March the St John's hotel and restaurant will be open by then - it may well be worth booking in there early as I'm expecting it will be very popular - very tasty British food.

                        1. re: justmarried

                          Re Zucca... I saw some fantastic photos of food there on another website. This place is definitely on my shortlist and sounds well worth a try. The dishes were just what I've been looking for recently.

                          1. re: zuriga1

                            Thanks all!

                  2. There have been some good food tips so far, just to add a couple of drinking suggestions - as you're staying near Waterloo, try The Royal Oak (near Borough) for well kept real ale http://london.randomness.org.uk/wiki..... Lovely little pub - like stepping back in time! While you're in town, The Harp in Covent Garden is worth a look http://london.randomness.org.uk/wiki.... - but every time I've been there, it's been packed, so be warned!