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Unique or Unusual Restaurants in/around London

Rhibert Feb 6, 2012 08:04 PM

Hello! DH and I will be travelling in Europe last week of May/first week of June (I'm posting this question specifically for each of the various cities we'll be visiting).

Can anyone suggest some unique or unusual restaurants in or around London? You know, the kind of place that will actually be part of our story when we get home, not just fuel to keep us functional. For example, when we went to Toronto, we ate in one of those dine-in-the-dark restaurants (we'll pass on the one in London), and when I was in Quebec I had dinner in the oldest house in Quebec City. I've tried Google but it seems many folks are confusing unusual with trendy or hard to get into or 5 Michelin stars or whatever. Food doesn't have to be a particular cuisine, or even a particular quality level (if there is a hot dog stand at the top of the Tower of London that would qualify!). Even a decent distance out of town would be worth it for the right place.

Thank you so much for your help!

  1. a
    ayanamidreamsequence Feb 10, 2012 02:59 AM

    Never eaten in it but Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub off Fleet Street has a lot of literary connections and a bit of history (since 1667, though pub on site since 1530s) and an interesting interior for a pint (explore the basement bar). It is a Sam Smiths, so has some interesting brews as well. Keep in mind it is a city pub, so may not be open on the weekends. It used to have a chop house, but not sure about that anymore.


    3 Replies
    1. re: ayanamidreamsequence
      Harters Feb 10, 2012 04:47 AM

      I havnt heard mention of the Cheshire Cheese for donkey's years. It was somewhere my father always used to go on his annual business trip to London for "fashion week" - that would have been late 1960s/early 1970s.

      1. re: Harters
        ayanamidreamsequence Feb 10, 2012 05:06 AM

        When I last lived in the UK (2009) I used to go after work with a friend for a pint or three most days. Could get a bitter for less than two quid, and a decent selection of bottled ales and beers on tap. A big place, with 3 bars, the best of which was in the basement/cellar. Lots of nooks and crannies to have what felt like a conspiratorial pint and chat.

        This site suggests that, at least in 2010, the Chop Room was still serving food, and has some good pics of the place:


      2. re: ayanamidreamsequence
        ette Feb 11, 2012 02:34 AM

        Cheshire Cheese is definitely fun. I thought the pub food there was tasty. Not memorable food, but solid and tasty. It's worth going for the fun.

      3. u
        Unusual Restaurants Feb 9, 2012 07:50 AM

        Dinner by Heston Blumenthal - Avant-garde cuisine, molecular gastronomy
        Dans Le Noire? - Dining in the dark, often with blind waitstaff
        Fifteen - The staff are 'disadvantaged' youths
        Skylight Cafe - Cooking and serving by homeless trainees
        Inamo - Touchscreen ordering
        Bel Canto - Opera singing waitstaff
        Dirty Dicks - 200+ years old dead cats, and other odd relicts in a vault
        Boisdale of Bishopsgate - £90 seagull eggs omelette (seasonal)
        Archipelago - Exotic menu includes chocolate covered scorpions, bees, peacock, etc.
        La Fromagerie - All-cheese restaurant
        Garlic and Shots - Everything is made with garlic sometimes even ice cream
        Wapping Food - Inside former hydraulic power station
        Silk - Inside former infamous courtroom
        Café in the Crypt - In working church
        Cafe Below - In working church
        Les Trois Garsons - Mix of taxidermy and antiques, handbags suspended from the ceilings

        from http://t.co/oPicJB2k

        2 Replies
        1. re: Unusual Restaurants
          tavegyl Feb 9, 2012 08:06 AM

          La Fromagerie is not an all-cheese restaurant. It's attached to a cheese shop and deli/ upscale grocer.

          1. re: tavegyl
            Unusual Restaurants Feb 9, 2012 09:02 AM

            : ) cheese
            tasting cafe

        2. r
          Rhibert Feb 7, 2012 07:59 AM

          Thank you for all of the suggestions so far! The "Oldest Restaurant" one is definitely in the right direction, and Archipelago sounds quite interesting too!

          Sorry I neglected to mention, we live in St. Louis MO so just about anything could be "unusual" to us (nothing of excitement here, that's why this is a particular goal when we go on vacation).

          2 Replies
          1. re: Rhibert
            Harters Feb 7, 2012 09:31 AM

            You may also want to try a "greasy spoon" fried breakfast. In it's way, as traditional British food as Rules. This website offers a good read and may help you identify somewhere near where you're staying. If nearby, I can definitely recommend Diana's Diner on Endell Street (near Covent Garden), which was very handy for my last trip to the central bit of the capital:


            1. re: Rhibert
              pj26 Feb 9, 2012 03:37 AM

              I'd second Rules for your quintessentially British experience. It's certainly something you wouldn't experience anywhere else in the world

            2. h
              Harters Feb 7, 2012 05:52 AM

              Unique/unusual is tricky. What might be unusual to me may not be to you.

              However - how about London's oldest restaurant (1798) - Rules:

              I'd also echo Man in Transit's suggestion of supper clubs.

              1. m
                ManInTransit Feb 7, 2012 02:14 AM

                It's an interesting question, although if food quality doesn't matter then Chowhound may not be the right place.

                My first thought would be supper clubs - not sure how prevalent they are in your home city but good food and hopefully great company with 12 strangers in someone else's home.

                MeatLiquor is unusual http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/820093 but perhaps too trendy.

                Galvin at Windows probably has the best fayn dining views in the City and Inamo has a funny system where you order off menus projected onto your table with passable food.

                There are some other places that are just plain weird but I can't speak for the food quality which I suspect may not be all there.
                http://www.medievalbanquet.com/about.... is one.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ManInTransit
                  bleep75 Feb 7, 2012 02:21 AM

                  We have a dine in the dark place in Clerkenwell called dans le noir at 30 clerkenwell green. never been so cannot comment on how good/bad it is.
                  Champor champor in London Bridge area does unusual meats and has had good reviews. its small and would require booking - again never been.
                  I think going to somewhere like Brixton and wondering round the market is unique and has many good eateries.
                  Also going to Southhall and feeling like a foreign land is fun - lots of indian shops restaurants - search other threads for opinions on best.

                  1. re: bleep75
                    gembellina Feb 7, 2012 03:36 AM

                    I've been to Champor Champor, and while it was quite enjoyable and the decor was quite over-the-top, I didn't think it was particularly note-worthy. A similar sort of thing would be Archipelago in Fitzrovia which does zebra, locusts, frogs etc (edit: looking at the menu now, it's distinctly less "weird" that it was before - no locusts!)

                    1. re: gembellina
                      bowlerpaul Feb 7, 2012 05:21 AM

                      If you want something uniquely London you should definately go a pie and mash shop. Here's a selection (though slightly out of date).


                      I know M Manze is till going. Order pie, mash and liquor (parsley sauce) or, you're really brave, for the ultimate Cockney treat try the jellied eels


                2. u
                  ultimatepotato Feb 7, 2012 02:02 AM

                  I would have said http://www.disappearingdiningclub.co.... - however at the moment they are between locations, so the private dining options are for larger groups. Keep an eye on it though as they also do dinner dances and a regular Scandinavian night and, by the time you get here, they should be running in a regular location.

                  1. g
                    gembellina Feb 7, 2012 01:58 AM

                    Not technically a restaurant, but Gordon's Wine Bar on Villiers Street near Charing Cross is supposedly London's oldest bar, and is situated underground in the vaults. Brick arches, candlelight, slightly damp and musty, but usually fun and busy. I would say the food was functional pub food, though the cheeseboard has always looked pretty decent. p.s. not suitable for claustrophobes!

                    Also maybe the St Pancras Grand? We had tea outside on the concourse last Valentine's day, and though it was quite chilly it was fun looking at the beautiful cast iron train shed and seeing the eurostars pulling in.

                    What about somewhere with a great view of London? I've been to the restaurant at the top of the Centrepoint which offers a wonderful view over the city, but like all of these places the food is incredibly expensive and not that great. Maybe better for a cocktail, then dinner at one of the cheapy Korean places at the base of the tower.

                    1. zuriga1 Feb 6, 2012 10:57 PM

                      You don't mention where home is, so it's a bit difficult for people to choose restaurants that might be novel for you and DH. There aren't too many Ghurka restaurants, but Surrey has one or two, and the food is delicious - not a long distance by train. I'll keep thinking.

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