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Oct 6, 2011 05:54 PM

3 Dinners in London

Looking for some places in London. We are not huge eclectic eaters and not looking for any organs, etc.

We are Americans...looking for pub food, and casual French or Italian restaurants. Maybe one meal could be at a more upscale place.

Looking at Mango Tree, Palm Court Brasserie -

I would love some suggestions as we have no idea. The gbp is crushing the usd, so not looking to spend a crazy amount.

65gbp would be great. 100 max. Two people, a couple of drinks?

Thanks for any and all suggestions.

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  1. Perhaps try searching out gastropubs as there has been loads and loads written about them. I like the Harwood Arms if you can get a reservation, the Princess in Shoreditch is also nice and in a cool area if you're on the younger side of the age spectrum.

    Casual italian I would try Polpo, Polpetto, Spuntino, Da Polpo, Zucca, Bocca di Luppo, or Tinello -- these are some of the better new modern Italian places and are very good. Zucca is in an area which probably wouldn't be frequented by tourists very often so perhaps might be a fun outting (there is a great pub called the Draft House nearby which stocks an insane selection of beer if you're a beer drinker).

    French wise, I am not much help but if you're staying in South Kesington try La Bouchee on Old Brompton for a real old French brasserie style dinner (ask to sit upstairs rather than in the basement -- this advice applies to any two level restaurant really). Racine on Brompton for a more upscale French restaurant, Les Deux Salon near Trafalgar Square is terrific, fun, and a great room and definitely worth a visit.

    Pubs wise -- if you're into drinking and want to see some cool older ones the area around Holborn has some nice ones, especially the Cittie of York, Princess Louise, Seven Stars (tiny pub frequented by the legal profession -- kinda cool), and for a really shitty typical chain pub the Shakespeares Head near the station (which I have a massive soft spot for).

    Finally, for crazy michelin starred food at great prices I would try Viajante in Bethnal Green. The area sucks and it would definitely be a destination only type place (and depending on budget, a cab in cab out) but it is really excellent experiemental innovative cooking at not-so-crazy prices.

    If you let everyone know what area you'll be staying and if you want to travel, see obscure areas, etc., you might get a better response (and if you just search the area you might find a post already exists).

    4 Replies
    1. re: brokentelephone

      If you want to try Michelin type food, without spending too much money, you would be best to go for lunch deals - places like Le Gavroche have one of the best deals in town, and others like the Ledbury have excellent specials for lunch. I personally didn't have a great experience at Viajante, but loved their offshoot the Corner Room, which is just upstairs.

      And Brokentelephone is wrong about Bethnal Green 'sucking' - there is a few brilliant places there, try Brawn on Columbia Road, they have laid back French style dining, it's the sister restaurant of Terroirs in the West End which you could try. There are also some very good gastropubs in the area, or some old school boozers if you are just after a drink.

      Le Gavroche
      43 Upper Brook St, London, England W1K 7QR, GB

      127 Ledbury Rd, Kensington, England W2 5, GB

      1. re: pj26

        It sucks if you're a tourist -- I know hipsters love that shit but it's not exactly a riveting area to visit in the grand scheme of london (from a tourist perspective). If you notice I did recommend going there for a specific purpose, but in terms of walking around afterwards there aren't many worse places in london to do it.

        1. re: brokentelephone

          That's not quite right brokentelephone - the area around the town hall might be a little dull for a tourist - but a short walk up to Colombia Road, particularly on a Sunday, and back through Shoreditch with a stop at the Princess would be exactly the sort of thing I'd want to do on as a tourist. Of course if you want to see Westminster and Buckingham Palace then that's different.

          1. re: ManInTransit

            I suppose I was thinking of it in terms of dinner rather than lunch.

            That said, they'd still need to walk from Bethnal Green to Shoreditch and in my opinion, if it is not Sunday that walk would be dull and might feel slightly sketchy depending on where the OP is from.

            Yes, there is lots going on in Shoreditch, but Bethnal Green is not Shoreditch and no matter how many great destination restaurants are located there (st. johns, viajante, etc) I stand by the fact that the area blows.

    2. Pie and ale at Newman Arms.

      Sunday roast at the Hawkmoor.

      Gastropub-wise had a good meal at Great Queen Street recently (lots of beef) but The Bull and Last is superior if you're willing to travel up to Kentish Town.

      Steak frites at Relais de Venise is also very enjoyable and eminently affordable.

      Definitely Bistrot Bruno Loubet for French. Outstanding but understated and unfussy cooking.

      6 Replies
      1. re: limster

        Is the Bull and Last superior to their sister-pub (the Prince of Wales in Putney)?

        1. re: brokentelephone

          Don't know -- haven't been. Would love to hear any firsthand info.

          1. re: limster

            I've been the the Prince of Wales a few times, but only for Sunday roast so I can't really speak much on the menu generally. The first time I went it was superlative, the next mediocre, and the last time it was quite good.

            1. re: brokentelephone

              I have had some really excellent meals at the Prince of Wales. Having said that, the last meal (six months ago) was not as outstanding as the first (about two years ago).

              Going back to the OP's question, what about the Gioconda Dining Rooms? It's a fun place, in the West End, the food is good but not challenging and the prices are reasonable.

              1. re: Jenny Sheridan

                I second Gioconda Dining Rooms -- cozy atmosphere and pretty good food.

                1. re: Jenny Sheridan

                  Gioconda looks good!

                  Funny - challenging is a good way to put the food I don't want.

        2. serialportme -

          Your assertion that "The gbp is crushing the usd" is simply not correct. At the current exchange rate ($1.56 to the pound), the U.S. $ is very close to the strongest it has been against the British Pound in the past 5 years (and probably even longer).

          That being said, dining in London is costly.

          For an up-market dining experience, I like J. Sheekey (classic British seafood), which is not far from Trafalger Square/the National Portrait Gallery and the theater district.

          3 Replies
          1. re: DavidT

            Fair enough, it isn't crushing in terms of history - but in terms of travel to London it makes things more difficult to afford.

            I dine in NYC often enough and understand pricing for a good meal, but multiply it by 1.5 and it isn't a good thing.

            1. re: serialportme

              As I stated in my prior post, I do agree that dining in London is costly. However, you should be aware that:

              1) Prices quoted on London menus are inclusive of the roughly 20% national value-added tax (VAT), while prices quoted on U.S. menus typically do not include the state/local sales tax that will be added to your bill (typically 6%-10%).
              2) Whereas tipping of 15%-20% in the U.S. is fairly common, tipping in restaurants in Britain is usually in the 5%-10% range.

              Both of these factors narrow the pricing gap quite a bit.

              1. re: DavidT

                Personally I would only tip less than 10% in London if I considered the service to be poor in some way. In the other direction I wouldn't really ever tip more than 12.5% which is what many restaurants add automatically.

                You should always pay close attention to whether service is added to a bill - if it is there is no need to pay any more.