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London on a Budget

  • m

My wife and I will be spending the first part of December in London, for the first time. While we're no stranger to fine cuisine we're a) coming from a gourmet heaven (Los Angeles) and b) will be on a limited budget. So we're looking for local ingredients and cuisines, not at the highest end. Good pub food perhaps. Or, if not chicken tikka the way it's done over there, the way it's been interpreted in London and taken into the national cuisine. Also: I'm curious to know if anyone has anything to say about traditional and/or interesting kosher restaurants, either milk or meat. And thanks.

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  1. I think you would be disappointed in the kosher restaurants here if you are used to what L.A. offers in that department. Jewish foods here are not made quite the same way, and I've yet to have a really fantastic kugel, corned beef (salt beef here) sandwich or the like in London. I go to the Katella Deli south of L.A. for those fixes now. :-) Many of the kosher places are at Golder's Green if you want to try one out.

    There are so many good pubs with food. If you search the board a bit, you'll come up with a lot of choices. I mentioned The Grenadier to someone the other day - very traditional and centrally located. I don't know about prices - haven't been there in years but I hear it's still fine.

    9 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      Zuriga1 -- are you MOT?

      I think London has a lot of great kosher restaurants -- I've traveled with my family and eaten Kosher in a number places and very few can match what we have here in London. Sure, American cities have 'regional' kosher food which we can't find here (deli mostly) but aside from NYC, London is up there kosher wise (barring Eretz Issy Bizzy of course, and Paris -- but the French, either Jew or Gentile, one-up the rest of us foodwise no matter what).

      That being said -- central London has few, and you'd have to go up North to Golders Green, Hendon, Temple Fortune, Finchley, or Edgware for a decent bite. Golders Green has a lot of places to sample (Chinese, Indian, Israeli, Fish and Chips, etc), and is closest to Central London on the Northern Line.

      If you are actually Kosher (or entertaining someone that is) there are two places in the central area to get kosher food. The best (and most tayer) is Bevis Marks Restaurant in the City (financial district) -- it would have a kosher Michelin star if there was such a thing -- and for a cheap sandwich you can head to Chap-a-Nash in the diamond district on Hatton Gardens which isn;t bad for somewhere run by frum Jews (i think only Jews will understand the distinction). Finally, there is a Sephardic gourmet deli in St Johns Wood called Adafina with lots of excellent food (probably the best kosher in London) and is close to Central.

      I don't generally eat kosher-kosher, but i do love haimisha food so will travel for a good corned beef or chopped liver.

      Lots of Tesco/Sainsburys have kosher sections, and eating kosher shouldn;t be a real problem.

      1. re: brokentelephone

        Well, I *am* disagreeing you with about the quality of kosher food, and I've had it for a lark in Paris's 4th, too, and it wasn't what I call delicious. Even my latkes were better than theirs, and I am not the greatest latke-maker in the world.

        I'm not sure what you mean by regional kosher. And I have yet to find (but I'll keep looking) a corned beef sandwich in London that can compare to almost any Jewish deli anywhere in the States, and I even lived in Tucson, hardly the food capital of the world.

        Thanks, though, for mentioning Adafina. I will definitely give it a try.

        1. re: zuriga1

          Well -- I've always found kosher restaurants to be dismal everywhere so great was a relative term. I suppose I should have said we have a pretty good selection of kosher places.

          There are a few gems though -- a Persian Jewish in Finchley (its not nearly as good as other persians in london but interesting to see kosher iranian), a great falafel on GG road, Sollys on GG, and I love the bagels from Daniels in Temple Fortune. Granted, I'm originally from Canada and not East Coast America so my bagel taste isn't soooo developed, but I eat them a lot and find them pretty passable.

          I meant North America as a single region more than meaning the Jewish food varies from place to place (though there are things like Montreal Smoked Meat, NY Pastrami, LA Corned Beef, but those are just really I think deli culture flourished in US so in most other cities with big Jewish populations you just have the basics (or stuff poorly appropriated from the US).

          There are some salt beef places that are really really good here -- but far. B&K in Edgware is awesome, and the place at the bottom of Finchley road in Temple Fortune is good too.

          1. re: brokentelephone

            Part of my problem is that I live quite a distance from central London, so I'm not there enough to really try a lot of places I'd like to. I'll keep your recommendations in mind. Luckily, a niece of mine from CA has just moved to London, so I think I'll be around more and sharing lots of meals and exploring with her. She'll probably live in North London somewhere or other as that's where some of her friends now are.

            That kosher Iranian (not that I'm kosher) sounds interesting, too. I had quite a few Jewish, Iranian friends back in NY. One even owned a few restaurants, but nothing kosher, thank goodness. :-)

            1. re: brokentelephone

              I'd echo the endorsement for B&K. It takes a bit of a trip to get there but everything we have tried there was first-rate deli fare. If only they also had celery soda.

              1. re: Gordito

                But do they have Dr. Brown's cream soda??

                1. re: zuriga1

                  Ah, sadly not to be found. But they do up a very respectable latke and potato salad, and the pastrami and chopped liver are as good as you might hope for them to be.

                  1. re: Gordito

                    OK - you've convinced me. The DH has most of December off, and I'm taking him to B&K with me!

      2. If you're looking for kosher food to take with you, we picked up food in Selfridge's. They had a fridge case of fresh meat, parve, and dairy sandwiches, pastas, wraps and salads. Also had packaged cold cuts (some interesting ones- we bought goose) and mini sausages (ready to eat) that were imported from Israel. We also bought a challah and rolls. All was very well priced.

        1. For good pubs search here for Harwood Arms, Anchor & Hope, Canton Arms, Bull & Last...for cheapish London food research the good fish and chip places (eg Masters Fish in Waterloo) and also Indian (yes, I know London isn't in India, but!) so Needoos, New Taayabs, Indian Zing.

          A Thurs/Fri (Sat is too busy) spent grazing in Borough Market would be good too!

          1. Where will you be staying please?

            The tube system is easy and fast (but often crowded) and good value if you get an Oyster card, but London is a big place. If you were staying in Ealing, for example, there's little point in anyone suggesting a Chinese in Catford!

            1. I am far from an expert on Kosher food, but I have heard people talk positively about Reubens on Baker Street. Not been myself, and anyone more qualified to comment, please correct me if I'm wrong, but its supposed to be a bit of an institution.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chief1284

                Been there once and it was fine. Comfort food, like stuffed cabbage, mashed potatoes. I made the mistake of asking for butter instead of margarine! The looks I got.......

                1. re: chief1284

                  Oh yah, Reubens!! I like the salt beef there better than selfridges if I'm in the area....! Haven't had anything else though!

                2. Indian+budget = good choice in London. Plenty of arguments on this board about whether the curry we have here counts as Indian but you're clearly aware of these pitfalls, and for the most part it tastes good anyway! Search for Tooting (south-west London) or East Ham ( east/north-east London) on here for recommendations depending on where you're staying. In Tooting I like Kastoori and Apollo Banana Leaf; East Ham is miles away from me. I enjoyed Dishoom in Covent Garden too.

                  Don't forget to look at websites like toptable.com for deals, check out places around Soho for pre/post-theatre deals, and go for a set lunch at a Michelin-starred place to experience the food at a much lower price.

                  I wouldn't bother wasting your time with kosher restaurants here. It's not an area I know anything about but I don't think it's London strong point; there are so many things we do well it would be a shame if you missed out on an amazing bone marrow salad for a rubbish salt beef sandwich!

                  1. IMO, it's hard to find a pub in London that doesn't have good food. What I found interesting was that although the menu's read pretty much the same the way they taste varies depending on the cook. Nice little surprise there.

                    We also found a Turkish restaurant within easy walking distance of where we stayed and liked enough to eat there three times in one week. Hopefully it's still as good as it was when we were there!

                    Cyprus Mangal
                    • Address: 45 Warwick Way, London, SW1V 1QS

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sfpipeline

                      "IMO, it's hard to find a pub in London that doesn't have good food. What I found interesting was that although the menu's read pretty much the same the way they taste varies depending on the cook. Nice little surprise there." - yes no surprise at all as the majority of UK pubs buy their food frozen from the same suppliers thus the menus are going to be identical as the cooks simply microwave the dishes - lamb shanks anyone?

                      If you think it is good food then you have either been very lucky and hit the few top pubs for food in London (Harwood, Bull & Last, Canton, Anchor & Hope etc) or you need to broaden your horizons and compare and contrast your experience to date with some of the better ones.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        Phil, I find that often people think food is good simply because it's different than what they're used to. I'll freely admit that on my first trip to London years and years ago, we were starving for our first lunch and went to a nearby pub in South Ken where I had spag bol. It was so different than what I was used to eating in the States that I thought it was 'interesting.' Now I realize what rubbish it really was. :-)

                        We recently tried a new chef at a local gastropub near our house. The menu looked so appetising and appealing. It was one of the worst meals I've had in years and I'm sure it wasn't the frozen, microwaved version.

                    2. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7282...

                      it's actually gotten even better since the original post with more places opening and many expanding, including Cornercopia recently opening a dining room.

                      Plus Brixton is on the Victoria line, so extremely accessible - plus good for a bit of South London vibrancy.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

                        Yes, really agree with this. Go to SW2. You won't be disappointed with the choice on offer.