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May 8, 2012 04:51 AM

[London] Late May itinerary critique and specific dish suggestions, please

It's been way too long since I've had a long enough business trip to London to really dig in and EAT, but I'm planning on rectifying that at the end of May. Hurrah!

Here's what I've got booked:

Lunch: St John Bread & Wine
Dinner: Roganic

Lunch: Colleague is choosing an Indian restaurant. I'm not holding my breath
Dinner: Texture

Lunch: Tayyabs
Dinner: Sedap

Lunch: Proper Sunday roast - but where? In a frenzy of indecision, we're currently quadruple-booked at Bull & Last, Red Lion & Sun, Harwood Arms and Hawksmoor Seven Dials.
Dinner: Koya (under the assumption we'll want something LIGHT post-roast)

Trek out to East Ham for a chaat crawl and late lunch at Thattukada before grabbing the Eurostar home

Any and all input welcome - especially on the Sunday lunch. We've never been out to Hampstead - is it worth a trip for a pre-lunch gambol on the Heath if it's nice out? Not that it will ever be nice out again, says the sodden Belgian...

I'm feeling pretty good about the itin overall, but if recent experience at any would lead you to warn me away or steer me elsewhere, I'm all ears.

We'd obviously go for the tasting menus at Roganic and Texture, and I know what I like at Tayyabs, but are there dishes at St John B&W, Koya, Sedap and Thattukada we shouldn't miss?

If kyleoh and JFores don't pick up on this post, I'll issue another one with a specific plea to them in the title. :o)

Many thanks in advance!

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  1. For Sunday lunch a pub is best so I would discount Hawksmoor. I don't know the Red Lion but both B&L and Harwood are good. I would check the weather focast and choose B&L if sunny with a walk on the Heath first. If doubtful head for Fulham. If you want a real pub B&L is the better option, but I think the cooking is actually a bit better at the Harwood.

    My advice with St John is to keep it simple as they don't do complex as well. The bone marrow salad is the signature but much imitated these days. That said after numerous visits its no longer on my list as I have got a bit tired of it.

    6 Replies
    1. re: PhilD

      I wouldn't necessarily discount Hawksmoor - their Sunday roast is very, very good.

      1. re: pj26

        I was thinking more about ambiance and character fr a visitor to London, thus a pub is a good option. I don't doubt it is a great roast, but isn't a good roast about a pub or a family meal?

        1. re: pj26

          Ditto re Hawksmoor Seven Dials. Even before I read the very predictable references to B&L and Harwood I was goin g to log on and endorse Hawksmoor. Although not a pub atmosphere, the food is really spectacular and their Sunday lunch is terrific value for money (GBP14.50pp?). FYI, the drinks are also suberb as is the roast bone marrow starter. Regarding St John, I also agree that simple is best...but whatever you do, order the Fois Gras. Another options for Sunday is Brawn...again not a pub, but very good food. Indian shouldn't bea problem as you will be spoilt for choice. As your colleague to check out the other CH threads (or perhaps do so yourself and start dropping hints!). Only other suggestion would be to consider Saturday lunch at Pollen St. social. it's a set menu and a fabulous way to experience a great restaurant at an affordable price.

          1. re: StayThirsty

            Thanks for the input, and the foie gras rec at St J (shockingly, it will be my first time there, even though our offices are in Old Broad St).

            I'm actually not *too* worried about the Indian lunch - she's brought me to Dishoom and Ndali before, so I might steer her toward Chor Bizarre (just for fun) or Moti Mahal. She's a vegetarian, so I wouldn't push her toward places like Tayyabs or Lahore, and I was utterly unimpressed by Cafe Spice Namaste.

            I've been to Pollen St Social after loving Atherton at Maze, and was sadly unimpressed. Just...meh. But mileage always does vary, doesn't it?

            1. re: Kelly

              I too found PSS slightly disappointing yet found him at Maze very good.

            2. re: StayThirsty

              Brawn is excellent but make sure you book well ahead for a Sunday as the flower market is on and it gets completely manic around there.

              I guess Hawksmoor doesn't have that pub atmosphere, but that isn't always necessarily a bad thing. The pubs I would recommend for Sunday lunches often have more of a restaurant feel than a pub feel anyway. And I do begrudge have some rather ordinary pub roasts, where I have to order at the bar, clamour for a seat but still pay over the odds - i.e. restaurant prices.

              Which reminds me I had an excellent Sunday roast at the Jugged Hare in Barbican a couple of weeks ago - even though it bills itself as a pub, I would class it as a restaurant. It was very good nonetheless!

        2. Re: Sunday lunch. If the weather stays like it is now (wet), there isn't a whole lot for visitors to do in Hampstead. That said, B&L and the Red Lion and Sun are both excellent, with B&L being slightly more expensive. I find the staff more welcoming and relaxed at the Red Lion and a recent Sunday roast there was excellent. (Very generous portions though - you may wish to skip starters).

          If it's easier staying central (depending on your plans for the day / where you're staying), then I do think Hawksmoor is a good call. It won't be cheap and it may be busy and loud, but you will almost certainly eat very well. Their cocktails and desserts are exceptional as well.

          Friday lunch - Aware this is your colleague's choice but you may wish to mention Roti Chai to them. It is new-ish, close to Selfridges so good for pre- or post-shopping, and we have had some excellent meals there. You can eat casual street food stuff on the ground floor or head downstairs to the dining room proper (stylish but not formal) for a more curry-based menu. We had a wonderful paneer dish here and there are other veg options.

          Another good option is Delhi Grill, but if you're doing Tayaabs the day after it might be too casual. The food is really very good though. The lamb rogan josh, mixed grill, and any of the daily specials never fail to impress.

          At Sedap, the char kwey teow is very good (though portions seem to have shrunk in recent years) and I am always hearing good things about their fish dishes.

          Please do report back!

          1. at koya, i really recommend trying one of the noodle dishes (up to you if ou go hot or cold) with the walnut and mushroom miso - it has a wonderful sweet and savoury flavour.

            hix oyster and chop house has a good sunday lunch deal - i posted about it recently; sharing starters, a choice of chicken or beef and then cheese or a sweet pudding - but the area is a bit lifeless on a sunday, although you can link it with time exploring brick lane, colombia road etc

            1. Family emergency has led to trip cancellation. I am gutted. And can only hope that the my-work-partner's-work-and-child-care stars all align at some time in the not-too-distant future. Sigh. Whenever we do get to bring this itinerary to life, I'll be sure and report back.