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Last Minute Trip to London - Dining Tips Requested

I haven't been to London in at least 10 years although I used to go quite frequently and I find that I am frighteningly out of touch with what's good in fine dining and great casual for lunch. So far I have reservations at The Gilbert Scott, Pollen St. Social and The Ledbury for dinners . That covers Sunday, Wed. & Thur. of the firstish week of June. This is a last minute trip and all I know is that I am staying at a hotel that begins with the letter A (sorry the phone call was garbled and hurried and I missed the rest) but I assume that it is centrally located.

Ideas for Monday & Tuesday dinners appreciated. All of my lunches will be solo and will involve visits to The Tower of London, The British Museum, The Tate Gallery, Westminster Abbey and Neal's Yard. I want to try some fun Indian/ethnic foods for lunch plus great pub grub. Any suggestions?

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Neal's Yard
6 Park St, London, England W1K 7, GB

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  1. For gatropubs, I would suggest The Harwood Arms and Bull & Last. I'm also fond of The Square, which is a "sister" restaurant to The Ledbury, as is The Harwood Arms. Also, I'm a fan of J. Sheekey for their oysters and Dover sole.

    1. You have an excellent list. The Gilbert Scott is a good idea for fairly traditional British food but you could take a step further and go to St John either in Clerkenwell or the St John Hotel in Piccadilly (probably more convenient) which I'm sure you would enjoy.

      Pollen Street and The Ledbury are the two most exciting restaurants in London at the moment for me, alongside Viajante. It's in Bethnal Green which is a little out of the way but is perhaps the best example of the Iberian variety of molecular cuisine that you can get in London at the moment.

      Equally Dinner by Heston (if you can get a late reservation - try phoning on the day) will be like nothing you have tried at home at a guess and if you are seeking the Nordic cuisine that is currently sweeping all before it then I would suggest trying Texture.

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      St Johns Restaurant
      24 Sir Thomas Street, Liverpool L1 6JB, GB

      The Clerkenwell
      69-73 St. John Street, London EC1M 4AN, GB

      6 Replies
      1. re: ManInTransit

        I also like Texture. We have reservations for Dinner in July (and Pollen Street Social as well). Those two, along with The Ledbury, The Square, Harwood Arms, Bull & Last and The Sportsman comprise our UK itinerary.

        1. re: ManInTransit

          Manintransit wrote:
          "You have an excellent list. The Gilbert Scott is a good idea for fairly traditional British food but you could take a step further and go to St John either in Clerkenwell or the St John Hotel in Piccadilly (probably more convenient) which I'm sure you would enjoy."

          I wanted something traditional for at least one night. I thought of Rules as I haven't been there since the late 70's ( when I was a child, nay infant :-))but the menu looked nice at the Gilbert Scott. I'll Check out the menus at the two St Johns.

          "Pollen Street and The Ledbury are the two most exciting restaurants in London at the moment for me, alongside Viajante. It's in Bethnal Green which is a little out of the way but is perhaps the best example of the Iberian variety of molecular cuisine that you can get in London at the moment."

          I was surprised and happy to snag those reservations. Viajante sounds very interesting and I will check it out. Normally I would have said Iberian molecular would be a non starter for my SO but we at at Dufftys "Avenues" in Chicago last week which had lots of molecular components and he was completely wowed (as was I). Of his Thai inspired soup he just kept staring at it, slurping (albeit quietly) and saying "I can't believe how much is going on in this dish." He even liked the uni amuse (as did I and I am not a fan of sea urchin) after asking "what the hell is this?" So he may be ready for something of this ilk. Where is Bethnal Green? I ask only because I still have no idea where we are staying and thought that maybe it ISN'T inconvenient for us. Last two trips we stayed in Chelsea and Mayfair.

          Nancy S wrote:
          "For gatropubs, I would suggest The Harwood Arms and Bull & Last. I'm also fond of The Square, which is a "sister" restaurant to The Ledbury, as is The Harwood Arms. Also, I'm a fan of J. Sheekey for their oysters and Dover sole."

          These sound very interesting and I will look into them. My SO has a penchant for Dover Sole which is just about the only fish he ever requests me to cook for him (except Copper River Salmon). Even in Chicago it requires special ordering at least a day ahead for real Dover Sole. I assume that it is even better closer to the source.

          Any must do Indian/Afghani/Pakistani lunches out there suggestions? These need to be lunches as I will be solo and don't need to worry about anybody else's wants.

          Thanks to all for their in put.

          Kate

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          St Johns Restaurant
          24 Sir Thomas Street, Liverpool L1 6JB, GB

          The Clerkenwell
          69-73 St. John Street, London EC1M 4AN, GB

          1. re: KateBChi

            Bethnal Green is in east London. It is on the central line so it isn't too much hassle from west London but it probably will be quite a long way from wherever you are staying. From what you say it's possibly not your other half's cup of tea. Not least because there is no menu, you simply choose the number of courses you would like. I've sent friends there with the highest praise and a few have come back a bit fazed and nonplussed.
            Here is a sample menu
            http://www.townhallhotel.com/assets/p...

            For Indian food, Moti Mahal in Covent Garden is a good central option which is very popular. If you are looking for something a bit less formal then Islington (nearest tube Angel, 30 mins or so from the West End) has both the Delhi Grill and the Afghan Kitchen which are both sensational examples of their respective cuisines. The former especially although I would call ahead for their lunchtime opening hours if you are planning on going during the week.
            The two Pakistani options that are so often recommended (with good reason) are Tayyabs and Lahore Kebab House. There are both in the East End and would be a trek from Mayfair but they are very authentic, atmospheric and incredible value.
            There are a couple of high end Indian restaurants like Benares in Berkeley Square in Mayfair, Tamarind behind Piccadilly and the Cinnamon Club which is well-situated if sightseeing in Westminster. My personal view is that I've never been blown away by high-end Indian dining in London and would always prefer to go for the more down to earth options and save the splurge money for different restaurants. But that's only a personal view.

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            Moti Mahal
            45 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AA, GB

            The Cinnamon Club
            The Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BU, GB

            1. re: ManInTransit

              Thanks for the info! I just found out that my best friends college age son will be there when I am. We'll treat him to a poshish diner one night but I am lost when it comes to suggesting cheap places in London in 2011. I spent three weeks in a YWCA in London in the late 1970's (I lied - not an infant) and remember a hostel in Islington that had the advantage of a hot plate in the room plus a few B & B's in Sloane Square but as my wallet grew I never looked back. I have lost any street credibility as someone who can recommend good cheap eats. The only thing that comes to mind is Brixton Market and Indian/ Asian in Islington as ManinTransit mentioned. Any other ideas?

              1. re: KateBChi

                Staying in Covent Garden. Does this alter any thoughts?

                1. re: KateBChi

                  Only that Moti Mahal is a good option for your Indian as it is on your doorstep.

                  Viajante (Bethnal Green tube) is pretty accessible as it's only about 15 minutes on the Central Line from Holborn which is 5 mins from Covent Garden.

                  In Covent Garden itself I love Great Queen Street (looks like a traditional British gastropub and is related to the famous Anchor and Hope at Waterloo). It is actually a restaurant but you can sit at the bar solo and have some great modern British food.
                  There is also Les Deux Salons which was hit and miss when I went but does a good value lunch.
                  Terroirs is a wine bar and charcuterie place which again would be ideal for a solo nibble.

                  But if you are Covent Garden then the number one place you must visit is the Opera Tavern. It is hard to exaggerate quite what a wonderful reception this place has had from everyone who has been. Mini, fois gras burgers, clever twists on scallops, iberico pork burgers, pigs ears, anchovies.
                  Clause Bosi was in there the other week and the reviews from critics/punters/fellow chefs have all been overwhelming. Go!
                  It also has seats at the bar so ideal for solo dining.

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                  Moti Mahal
                  45 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AA, GB

        2. hi, do I remember names of the places we dined, unfortunately I don't, I'm sorry.

          but, we never had a bad meal in London, not one time.

          we did eat at RainForest Cafe there just because our daughter was celebrating her birthday over that week and she loves RainForest so we accommodated her with her request. It was good too so we were glad we went.

          what we did was ask for suggestions while we were out and about sightseeing.

          good luck and have a ball the shopping is so much fun.....

          1. For lunch on the British Museum day, if you fancy something a bit different, you might want to check out Abeno http://www.abeno.co.uk/findus/index.html - they do a special kind of japanese omlet called okonomi-yaki, which I love. They cook it in front of you on a hot plate. It's just a minute or two walk from the British Museum.

            1 Reply
            1. re: uniqueusername

              we have a james beard award winning chef in phx that makes those at lunch time - he only makes one style though

              if you have never had one - worth the experience - closest thing i could say that it is like (however isnt) is bahn xeo vietnamese dish, however there are alot of difference still but similar concepts

              he only makes one flavor of them looks like that place has a few different options - very cool

            2. We were visiting a few weeks ago & found that The Forge was running a special on Sunday & Monday nights. For 20.11 pounds you got an app, main & desert (from a choice of 4 in each category), plus a 1/2 bottle of house wine. It was one of the highlights of our trip.

              http://www.theforgerestaurant.co.uk/

              4 Replies
              1. re: cavandre

                Thanks so very much for those who replied and graciously offered advice. I haven't booked lunches but for dinner have booked Opera Tavern, The Gilbert Scott, Pollen St. Social, and St John. I thought that I had a reservation at the Ledbury but I never got confirmation via email and it appears that I am out of luck with that. I am a wee bit bummed but I am going to London tomorrow so all is pretty much alright with the world!

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                St Johns Restaurant
                24 Sir Thomas Street, Liverpool L1 6JB, GB

                1. re: KateBChi

                  I would telephone The Ledbury directly.

                  1. re: KateBChi

                    Another link to the wrong St. John.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      The board does it automatically - don't ask me how.