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Mar 21, 2012 01:26 PM

London...after 10 years

Shockingly, I haven't been to London to stay...and to eat, since 2002. I'm going to remedy that over Memorial Day weekend.

I'll have four nights. One of those will definitely be dining at a friend's house.

Two nights I have pretty firmly in mind: Roganic and the Ledbury.

That leaves one night, and several lunches for which I'd love to hear your suggestions.

General guidelines are that I'm leaning Best of British, not cuisines that are equally great in New York, although I'm open to be convinced otherwise and that I (sadly) can only eat one major meal a day and barely that, so lunches that are lighter, small plates or snack-like are much appreciated.

Final thought is I'm not sure how many of these I'll be joined by friends for and how many solo (Ledbury group, Roganic solo, I think), so if it's a spot you can't enjoy without sharing a whole cow family-style it probably doesn't work. I haven't done St. John's because I love offal in doses but can sometimes get oddly squeamish, so that's an intentional omission.


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  1. Have you looked at the St John's menu? It's not exclusively offal - in fact there are more non-offal dishes than offal dishes. The menu up on their site at the moment has only one or two offally-type starters and none at all in the main courses (unless you count the trotter that comes with the roast pork). The dishes include: beef, squid, langoustines, rabbit, pork, pigeon, suckling kid, haddock, pollack and veggie meals too.

    1. Hi Elaine,

      You're obviously doing fine dining a couple of nights so if you're looking for 'great British food' you probably want a little bit of informality to it rather than going somewhere like the Rhodes places which are still all formal and micheliny.

      There are some great choices around, personally I really like Great Queen Street in Covent Garden. There is also the Hix Group - the chophouse or the Soho restaurant. They're not the sort of places that set the world on fire with their food but they are set up to ensure you have a superb evening and they are very good restaurants and they are very British.

      I think either of those would warmly welcome a solo diner.

      I think my top recommendation if you don't mind wandering east would be Brawn on Colombia Road.

      The Gilbert Scott is a wonderful wonderful venue but food reports are so so.

      The final obvious one is Dinner by Heston (May comes available at 0900 on 1 April) which is obviously another fine meal but which will contrast with your others. Maybe not somewhere to go alone as you'll want to try each other's food!

      There are plenty of other more classic places like Rules and Wiltons which others can give you the lowdown on or have a search for them on the boards.

      8 Replies
      1. re: ManInTransit

        As ever, I will echo the recommendation for Rules for anyone wanting to try classic British cuisine. It's also a place admirably geared up for the single diner, having a few "single sized" tables, so there's none of the faff of them whisking away the other crockery/cutlery, as though your date has stood you up.

        1. re: Harters

          I'm going to Rules next week; any must-try dishes?

          1. re: gembellina

            Just had a nosy at their current menu. If it was me, I'd be starting with the pressed rabbit - I've had a rabbit starter there before and they know what they're doing with the Fluffy Cute Thing.

            I'd be torn between several things for a main but I think I might go for the steak & kidney pudding. I've never had an upmarket one and it'd be interesting to see how it compares with a Hollands one from the chippy. If not that, then the ox cheeks - cheeks are such a lovely bit of meat - long cooked and unctuous.

            I'm sure you'll have a really good meal whatever you opt for.

            1. re: Harters

              Mum went for the pressed rabbit - strong and smokey and meaty but very tender. Dad has the steak and kidney pudding and could only manage about 2/3 of it! So much meat, and a brilliant suet crust. Personally would have preferred a bit more gravy on/in it but I'm sure they would have provided if asked.

              Crab salad was generous, duck was perfectly cooked, but the star of the show for me was the steamed chocolate pudding, which somehow managed to be rich without being too sickly sweet, and dense without being too heavy. Mmmm wish I had managed to eat all of it now!

              1. re: gembellina

                Chuffed to hear you all enjoyed it.

          2. re: Harters

            I love the idea of an actual single table. I hate all that show of "just you?" and removing the glasses and napkins etc. I think rules might be it. Great Queen Street also sounds very interesting, as I'll be staying near Covent Garden.

            Of course the idea of Dinner by Heston with all these antique recipes is super tempting to a former English lit major -- eat like Shakespeare or Austen! - but I suspect it will be tough to get a table.

            1. re: Elaine Snutteplutten

              The tableware removal really pisses me off when I've made a solo reservation. They know I'm coming and they know when I'm coming. Have the freaking table set for one before you seat me..Happens so rarely.

              1. re: Harters

                Speaking of unaccommodating to solo diners... I woke myself up on Saturday night to see about Dinner by Heston (as UK 9:00 am is my 4:00 am). After going through several screens, Open Table told me that I did not meet the minimum party size for an online reservation at Dinner by Heston (I was actually trying for lunch at Dinner by Heston, but anyway)....

                I suppose I could have called them, but I was too annoyed and went back to bed.

        2. I was in London, mostly solo about ten days ago and had great meals at Pollen Street Social and Terroirs, both for lunch. Terroirs is part of the same group as Brawn (I think) - I was dying to go there but it wasn't open when I was in town. Also Salt Yard near Charlotte Street is quite good too, though it's Italian/Spanish tapas, most definitely not British.

          1. We had a fantastic British meal at the Harwood Arms in Fulham. Definitely Best of British (dessert was gooseberry doughnuts with Regents Park Honey cream) and very memorable without being stuffy. Also ate well (again, British) at Bumpkins in South Ken.