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Jan 10, 2012 09:05 AM

A NY'er in London - Calling all Anglophiles

I've been to London several times a year for the past 7 or 8 years and, as a NY'er, still can't shake the impression that, with the exception of curry, it's nearly impossible to find an awesome meal at a reasonable price. There are no Momofuku's, no Fatty's, no Torrrisi's. Or are there?

Hit me with your best shot. I want your best London hidden gems, from a New Yorker's perspective.

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  1. Some favorites:

    St. John - modern British cuisine

    Simpson's in the Strand - traditional British cuisine

    Fortnum and Mason - prepared food

    1. This should probably be on the UK board but until it gets the boot I will second peter j with the St John's recommendation. Nose to tail eating that doesn't come CLOSE to breaking the bank (it doesn't even chip the bank). Eat at St John's and you'll be coming back to NYC saying: "Why are there no restaurants like St John's in NYC". And I'll head off the attacks by saying, "No, the spotted pig is not St John's equal".

      1 Reply
      1. re: Spiritchaser

        >>>Eat at St John's and you'll be coming back to NYC saying: "Why are there no restaurants like St John's in NYC". And I'll head off the attacks by saying, "No, the spotted pig is not St John's equal".<<<

        Exactly. And neither is The Breslin (though I like both). And I'm still looking for treacle sponge in NYC that's as good as Simpson's.

      2. Friends of mine have been raving about Brawn.

        12 Replies
        1. re: gort

          Two dimensions of the eating universe in my two that come to mind.

          Friers Delight on Theobald. Beats the Frozen Fish used at pubs fsh and chips, and quite good.

          Kikuchi in Hanway Street near Center Point and the famed Spanish bar. Amazing sushi sashimi and more with the owner always behind the sushi bar. Always a great time and awesome food。

          There is Wagamama so th Mofumofu you miss from here has its kind in London.

          1. re: jonkyo

            Wagamama is NOTHING like Momofuku. Wagamama is a mediocre chain of restaurants selling 'oriental' food. No London chowhound worth their 'hound' status would eat at a Wagamama's.

              1. re: medgirl

                I avoided it outright, but just one time, ate there, due to curiosity and just one of those things when you keep passing by a place and you have already made conclusions without even stepping in, and you decide to punish yourself with a meal due to feeling guilty and sorry for the establishment that you have condemned it.

                And in the end the punishment was extreme, and you feel vindicated that your condemnation was correct.

                1. re: jonkyo

                  That's not what you said in your OP:

                  "There is Wagamama so th Mofumofu you miss from here has its kind in London."

                  1. re: scoopG

                    Unless he has a smilar opinion about Mofumofu (or does he really mean Momofuku?)

                2. re: medgirl

                  Has Wagamama sunk that low?! Granted that I hadn't stepped into one since Dublin in 2004, I still remembered the time when Wagamama was the go-to place in London. Back in 1994 when Alan Yau (who later started, then also sold, Hakkasan & Yauatcha) ran the place, we queued for an hour (even once on a Wed evening near midnight!) just to snare a couple of seats at one of its canteen-style communal tables. Everything about Wagamama was inventive & "cool" in those days - the handheld wireless devices the waiters used to take our orders, the communal tables, waiters scribbling our orders on our paper placemats, the high-quality pseudo-Japanese noodle dishes which came in huge bowls, and the presence of A-list celebrities there. I went to the original Wagamama countless times then, seen people like Hugh Grant, Elle MacPherson, Sam Neill, Tara MacDonald, etc. Oh well, I guess Wagamama post-Alan Yau is a totally different bowl of noodle now.

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    Klyeoh, Wagamama is now a global chain, with all the trappings of a franchise run by a bunch of MBA's (people once thought Hard Rock Cafe was pretty cool too). Even 5-6 years ago, it was already in decline, quality-wise. I would only recommend Wagamama to two sets of people: families with small kids and people who who have never had japanese food and need a user-friendly gateway experience to introduce them to ramen and soba. I think anyone who recommends Wagamama on a forum like Chowhound probably hasn't been there since 1994, when they were actually introducing a new menu and palate to western diners.

                    1. re: gemuse

                      I know *exactly* what you meant, especially with regards to the MBA-run thang :-D Reminded me of a business trip I made to Phoenix, Arizona, a while back. One of my new Singaporean staff who accompanied me on this trip was all excited about trying Benihana as he'd used it as a case study of a successful restaurant chain for his MBA project (we don't have Benihanas in Singapore, so most of us haven't eaten in one) - so we traipsed into the Scottsdale outlet one evening. Oh Gawd, we experienced like the worst Japanese we'd ever had in living memory. My poor dumbfounded young staff realised then that good MBA case study did *not* equate good taste.

                      1. re: klyeoh

                        Heh. I'd love to see that Behihana case study. Restaurants never seem to fare well in the long term when they fall into corporate hands. While there's nothing wrong with bringing some good business acumen to the enterprise, they tend to lose the thing that made them special in the first place.

              2. re: gort

                Another thing just came to mind, although it's definitely NOT trendy a la your Torrisi's, Momos, etc: Turkish food in Green Lanes.

                1. re: gort

                  Brawn is amazing! Im a NYer that just spent five nights in London and i have to say it is better than any place of its kind that i have been to in NY. In fact, i might say it is the best meal I've had in all of 2011 ( even though i had it in 2012).

                2. I am not a current NY'er (lived there in the past) but why don't you go the Gastropub route?

                  Places like Bull and Last; Harwood Arms; Great Queen Street and Anchor and Hope should fit the bill.

                  1. "it's nearly impossible to find an awesome meal at a reasonable price"

                    It's nearly impossible to answer without knowing what the OP views as reasonable price. What might be unreasonable to an American might be very reasonable to a Briton. That said, I accept that there is "London pricing" in restaurants and then there is the rest of the UK which is generally more reasonably priced.

                    I'm also never quite sure what is meant by "awesome" - I don't think it translates too easily into British English.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Harters

                      This seems to happen a lot... While I didn't label the post with a specific price, nor details of what I consider an awesome meal, I think a societal convention has been established within NYC foodie circles that converges to an approximate norm defining both "reasonably priced" and an "awesome meal." And even if there weren't an approximate norm for their definitions, I'd still be interested in hearing individuals interpretation of what an awesome meal at a reasonable price is. Makes for a nice cross-section. Wouldn't you say? The responses so far seem to be pretty spot on for what I'm looking for.

                      Awesome = Ace or Excellent (for the purpose of this post)

                      1. re: rushbikes

                        On the basis of "excellent" (thanks for the translation), I'll toss in Rules for traditional British and Moti Mahal for Indian. Perhaps my two favourite upscale places in London

                        With some hesitation, I'll also throw in Hibiscus. We've had two meals there since it moved to the capital. Both were good; one was excellent.

                        I'm afraid I'm not able to discuss the price point with you except to say that I find all three places to be reasonably priced for their delivery - I have insufficient detailed knowledge of reasonable prices in NYC, based on two trips there, to have the conversation - except that I find NYC to be expensive in comparision with other American places I've visited over the last 30 years, in the same way I find London to be generally more expensive than the rest of the country.