Honeymoon in London April 2-4th
So, I'm heading to London for 3 days in April for my honeymoon and am looking for must try places.
I have read and read, but the big names and the Michelin stars dominate the discussion. I want some real good food that will make me want to go back.
I have already made a reservation at St. John, but I wanted to try some Indian, classic British food, maybe even some Cambodian.
Money is never the issue, but spending good money on bad food is a big deal. Most of our favourite restaurants are cheap hole in the walls.
These are some places we love in the States so you can see what we like and can maybe suggest a similar experience in London.
San Francisco: Lers Ros (thai), Nombe (Japanese Izakaya), Beretta (Italian small plates), Alembic (California cuisine), La Palma and Taqueria San Jose (Mexican) and Pho 2000 (Vietnamese, way better than the Slanted Door). We did not like NOPA, have not yet been to French Laundry or Manresa, thought Mission Chinese Food (a pop-up) was way overrated.
Los Angeles: King Taco, Guisados, In-n-Out, Ruen Pair (Thai)
I want to try things like meat pies and mushy peas. Things people queue in line for or crash after a night of partying. Read about River Cafe, will pass on the best Italian in London, Dining with Hester Blumenthal sounds interesting but I bet there is better English food in a local mom and pop. Bob Bob Ricard sounds interesting. Might try the Ledbury, if I can get in.
if you like alembic i assume you are an offal fan? in which case go to st john bread and wine.
also try brawn - in-house and carefully selected charcuterie, along with small plates, constantly changing menu with big emphasis on seasonal meat, fish and veg.
another place i like is elliott's by borough market - market produce cooked simply but very, very well. also try 40 maltby street in same area - wine bar in converted railway arch - simple british food on the light side, good atmosphere too. in similar vein to these is rochelle canteen - owned by the wife of the guy behind st john i believe? check them out on google images to get a feel for the dishes.
I would not bother with Mexican food in London at all, and Japanese cuisine is better in California. However as limster says some of the fish here can be superior, in particular cornish mackerel or scottish shell-fish. A lot of places with a bit of buzz behind them atm are US-themed or influenced, and again i imagine you can get better at home so why bother in the UK? saying that from someone who lived in southern california In-n-Out isn't all that special!
places like copita, barrafina, jose etc do good tapas - not stodgy or oily as can often be the case - and far better than anything you can get in california.
nice breakfast spots include st ali, caravan and providores - all with an antipodean influence and obviously great coffee (which believe me will be better than nearly anything you can find in LA or SF).
Trinity for modern British/European in Clapham (and take advantage of the excellent pricing on chef's cellar wine list)
Koya for udon in Soho
A chaat crawl in East Ham; or if you like staying put, Hyderabadi spice for Hyderabadi styled dum biryani or Thattukada for Keralan
Truly Indian for (largely) Punjabi in Borough
Sunday Buffet at Bombay Brasserie for a range of Indian dishes (vegs are the star) in Kensington
Daquise for Polish in Kensington
Crawl through Brixton Village and Brixton Market (see the long threads on it) -- they're a chowhound's dream come through.
Bull and Last for great pub food cooked to a very high level in Kentish Town
Sedap for Penang styled Nyona near Old Street
Burger at Goodman's in Mayfair (get the truffle fries with that)
My Old Place for Dongbei near Spitalfields, or Crystal China on Tower Bridge Road
Ba Shu or Golden Day for Hunan in Chinatown/Soho
Royal Palace in Rotherhithe/Canada Water for various Chinese grilled skewers e.g. lamb and chicken hearts, as well as the hot pot
I'm afraid your American restaurant references mean nothing to me.
For "classic British", then I'd look no further than the upthread reference to Rules.
For Indian (by which I presume you mean Indian sub-continent, rather than just the one country), a little more help might be appreciated as to what type of palce you're looking for.. There's a good choice of casual (like Tayyab's), "modern Indian" Michelin starred (like Benares), or more classic upscale-ish (like Moti Mahal).
You don't mention it but thereis, of course, the "Modern British" cuisine". You'll be spoilt for choice there, as that is the style many places cook to. Places like Corrigan's, Great Queen Street and Pollen Street Social.
No idea about Cambodian food. Possibly someone will know of somewhere, but there's no tradition of that country's food here.
Recent Indian favorites here seem to be the Bombay Brasserie (especially go for Sunday brunch - a terrific value), The Cinnamon Club.. wow of a room and, I think, lovely for a honeymoon or Trishna. Off topic, but I wonder if you've ever been to Gather in Berkeley. I loved that place because it was so different.
you should definitely seek out a brilliant English breakfast for brunch one day. My favourite is Hawksmoor Spitalfields (only on weekends, but if you can get there on a weekend they do an amazing "for two" breakfast that I don't think they serve in the other branches) or any of the other Hawksmoors for weekdays.
Rules is a good choice for British food - it's the oldest restaurant in London and maintains a brilliant standard. Good cocktails too. I'd probably take that over Dinner by Heston, to be honest. Pubs are probably your best shot for less formal English dining, but be careful as quality varies massively. You'll find that the best pubs are almost as expensive (or more!) than restaurants though. The Bull and Last is a good pick.I can't think of any 'mom and pop' shops that do anywhere near decent English food. The Ledbury is very high on my to-do list.
For curry, Tayyabs is often recommended, but the only thing I really enjoyed was the lamb chops (which were amazing and worth a visit on their own).
You mention a Japanese you like in San Francisco... you might want to look up Sushi of Shiori, which is a tiny tiny place near Warren Street station, looks like a hole in the wall but actually does the most delicous and delicate Omakase (you need to preorder it)
In more democratic dining options, the longest queues in town are currently for american style food, so maybe not the best choices if you live there! But you may like to try one of Polpo, Polpetto or Da Polpo for Italian small plates which were some of the most buzzed about restaurants in Soho last year. Or try Duck Soup for an ever changing small menu of fresh ingredients prepared well. Koya is also one of my favourites for delicous hand pulled noodles (although again, suspect you get alot more of that in SF than we do here in London)
Having lived in SF and London, I wouldn't bother with Japanese food in London. I'm assuming you live in CA, based on your list. One can get great Japanese food in London; however, it still isn't as good as in SF. I think there just isn't the Japanese population to sustain it.
If you want to splurge on great British cuisine, I love Magdalen on Tooley Street by London Bridge Station.
It depends on what sort of Japanese food. I've yet to find sush or rameni here that I've enjoyed as much as when I lived in SF. Sushi Shiori is good not great imho.
But other things are as good as or better. I would certainly go for the torikawa at Jin Kichi and shiso maki at Tosa, the udon at Koya, korroke at Asakusa or a variety of izakaya dishes at Kikuchi (assuming it's as good as it was a few years ago). And if sushi or sashimi is on the list, the saba/mackerel and sake/salmon here are easily superior, as the raw ingredients are so much better.