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May 20, 2011 10:44 AM

In London for a short time - dining suggestions

My husband, 4 year old daughter and I will be passing through London to and from our way to Paris this summer, and I'd love chowhounds' input on where to eat.

Daughter is used to restaurants and is willing to eat anything (or not, depending on her mood. But whether or not she will eat has no bearing on whether or not there is "Kid food" on the menu. At a Greek restaurant last week she ignored the grilled Halloumi we ordered for her pleasure in favor of grilled octopus and taramosalata. In other words, discount her dining preferences.) We're staying in South Kensington (the Kensington Hotel), and are looking for/thinking of the following:

Friday night: We'll have just gotten off the plane and will be tired, so looking for something casual and close to the hotel. Is Bumpkins good? What about the Duke of Clarence?

Saturday morning: I have never visited Borough Market in all the times I've been to London, and I think it's about high time I do, so was thinking of hitting it early in the am on Saturday and finding a nibbly breakfast, maybe picking up stuff for a picnic lunch.

Saturday tea: My daughter is a big fan of tea parties (also: twirly dresses and shiny shoes) and we're thinking a real tea would be a fun activity. I'm trying to find a very traditional afternoon tea -- I hate that all the hotels have gone very modern. I don't want the word "Gucci" anywhere near my tea. Husband wants it to be a pretty room and nice atmosphere, I want the food to taste good and not require a second mortgage on the house. The Orangery is the obvious choice, but I'm afraid it will be horrifically crowded on a Saturday in July. Was considering either the Liberty Cafe (maybe too modern?) or the Grosvenor House Hotel (expensive, but at least they have a children's tea and the husband and I can order a la carte or do just a cream tea. I'm perfectly happy to split a pot of tea, a plate of sandwiches and a slice of cake with him, and I think we can do it there. ) Any tea rooms/restaurants/ideas which I'm missing?

Saturday dinner: I have a reservation at the Harwood Arms -- is this a terrible idea?

Sunday I thought we'd hit Ottolenghi and pick up a picnic for the Eurostar to Paris, which we take at lunchtime.

We're coming back on a Saturday night and getting in quite late -- around 5:30 pm. OTOH, we won't be jetlagged at all. I've made a reservation for St. John Hotel in Leicester Square -- is this a terrible idea with a 4 yo? Would prefer the restaurant, but it seems like quite a pain to get to from our hotel. Am totally open to other suggestions. We do like (if you haven't guessed) British food. We'll be eating French in Paris, and there are really great Asian options near our house in LA.


St. John
26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY, GB

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  1. For your afternoon tea, the Mandeville Hotel near Oxford St has a nice, traditional tea in a small, pretty room. It's often very quiet and the food is good. New to the scene is the tea at Deux Salons - that's near Charing Cross and a typical brasserie atmosphere, but the food has lots of British elements to it. I'm thinking of taking visiting friends there in June.

    Beware the Borough Market on a Saturday, especially in summer. It will be so crowded that you'll hardly be able to walk around or hear yourselves speak.

    1 Reply
    1. re: zuriga1

      Thanks for the tips. I know Borough market will be crazy crowded, but I still REALLY want to go, and given the tight timing, I figure it's crowds and Borough Market, or no Borough Market at all. Will check out the Mandeville.

    2. The Harwood Arms is great but it is - nominally - a pub and as such may not allow children in the evening so you should check.

      2 Replies
      1. re: greedygirl

        I thought of that, since last time we were in London (with le bebe) we missed some pubs (i.e., the Star Tavern) since they wouldn't allow kids. The Time Out London website said that Babies & Children are welcome at the Harwood Arms (not just admitted -- apparently they even have a children's menu!) so I think it should be OK. Harder if we want a casual pub meal Friday night - a couple of the more appealing pubs near our hotel don't allow children after 6 pm.

        1. re: Savour

          The Harwood definitely allows babies and toddlers in the evenings. There have usually been at least a couple there every time I've been for quiz night.