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3 lunches 3 dinners in London nothing formal

Looking for the best 6 meals over 3 days in July one can have in London that wouldn't require formal dress ("dressy casual" at best). In other words, nothing too stuffy nor business/power lunch type places.

Coming from NYC so not really interested in international cuisine of which I can get at home -- the more purely/exclusively British, the better. Price is no object on the upside or the downside; if you know a hole in the wall that makes the best $5 _____ that side of the atlantic, add it extra to the list (for midnight snack perhaps). I have a great preference for offal, game, and hard to find seafood. Can anyone give me a head start on a list?

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  1. Some suggestions for your list
    St John
    The Tramshed
    The Bull and Last/ Draper's Arms/ Harwood Arms/ Hope and Anchor for gastropub food.
    Great Queen Street
    The Tayyabs Experience
    Rules (quite stuffy but in the most classic British way possible)
    Meatliquor/Admiral Codrington for a burger

    5 Replies
    1. re: ManInTransit

      I had dinner at Great Queen Street for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I would not describe the menu as particularly adventurous in terms of "offal, game and hard to find seafood," but the food was very tasty, service was good and the prices were reasonable.

      1. re: DavidT

        I like Great Queen Street a lot and it clearly fulfills the very British brief.

        1. re: ManInTransit

          Very good list (although if you are from NYC you may want to leave off the burgers, you can get just as good/better there).

          Had a fabulous lunch at St John's last week, so be sure to include that on your list, British cooking at its best.

          For hard to find seafood, maybe Jose or Pizarro in Bermondsey St, you will get a fantastic array of seafood - not sure if you can get tapas like that in NY? Or perhaps head to Bentleys Oyster Bar?

      2. re: ManInTransit

        Thanks for the initial list! Do they all serve lunch as well as dinner? And as I am dining alone, do most places have just seating at the bar so reservations would be unnecessary? Thanks again.

        1. re: illiquid

          I believe everywhere on that list does lunch and dinner, although some like Tayyabs (I completely agree with Zuriga by the way - and there are other Pakistani/Indian places too if you're interested) would be better in the evening.

          Many places do have seating at the bar but if you want offal you have to do the full St John experience and that means a reservation in the restaurant rather than eating from the very limited bar menu.

          I would say as a general rule that you should call and reserve all the restaurants, even the gastropubs and even for one as you could otherwise end up disappointed.

      3. I can recommend J. Sheekey for its' extensive seafood. Where else can you get fried cod tongues?

        The atmosphere is a little on the glitzy side, but I have dined there in casual clothes and felt quite comfortable. The staff is professional in the best sense of the word. It is located between Covent Garden & Trafalgar Square.


        1 Reply
        1. re: DavidT

          I've had fried cod's tongues at Hix Soho a couple of years ago, and also seen it on the specials menu at Pizarro. Like to use the opportunity to recommend Hix as well.

        2. Thanks for all the suggestions!

          Another question: I will be dining alone -- will reservations for 1 be necessary for lunch and/or dinner for the places listed? I will be there for Fri/Sat/Sunday first week of July -- do those restaurants all have seating at the bar for single parties?

          1 Reply
          1. re: illiquid

            I would recommend booking for most of those to avoid disappointment - it's coming up to a very busy time in London (some sporting even going on, apparently!). And most having bar seating, but dining alone isn't uncommon in London so they will make you feel welcome even if you are seated.

          2. Just another suggestion... If you like Indian food, it might be worth considering a lunch or dinner of that. Having lived near NYC for years, I can assure you that the Indian food in London is a zillion times better than anything I ever ate in Manhattan. I think it's considered 'British cuisine' now with how popular it is here and the abundance of choices.

            The dress code here is much less formal than in NYC.

            1. You won't get game anywhere in July - it's not the season for it.

              1. Cornish crab is probably not so easy to find in the US. I like the version at Wright Brothers (Borough market branch). Good all round seafood there as well -- get the local mackerel as well. The oysters from the area are probably worth trying to get a sense for the differences in flavour profiles vs the N. American ones.

                Sausage roll at the Ginger Pig (Marylebone or Borough Market).

                Also Borough Market at the Kappacasein stall -- grilled cheese sandwich with Montgomery cheddar with chopped leek and onion on Poliane bread.

                Trinity had an outstanding tasting menu with a modern take on british cooking paired with all British wines -- the combination of wine and food was superb, the two components coming together seamlessly. I found a couple of the wines excellent -- structured aroma and depth in '11 Camel Valley Estate Bacchus from Cornwall, with a tropical fruit aroma (passionfruit, soursop) and a dry clean mineral backbone; a smooth and balanced '11 Welcombe Hills Pinot Noir in Warwickshire, with a beautiful aura of caramel. The '08 Balfour Brut Rose (Kent) was an excellent sparkling wine that showed wonderful synergy with berries in the dessert, greater than the sum of their parts. In the past, I've enjoyed a number of wines made here, but found their prices high relative to comparable wines from elsewhere, but these wines seem well priced for the quality (£45 for 6 ~125ml glasses).

                I suspect you could probably taste several of these wines at the small wine stall in Borough Market (just next to Rabot Estate, the chocolate shop).

                I like the custard tart with nutmeg at the Eat My Pies stall (Whitecross Street market, Brick Lane Market, Broadway Market). The pies are pretty good.

                It's unlikely you'll find Penang styled Nyona food like those at Sedap (none of the Penang branches and related restaurants in NYC are even close), so I'll throw that in as a recommendation as well.

                Lebanese food is apparently superior here vs NYC according to a couple of ex-NY chowhounds, and if you have a hankering for that, Al-waha in Westbourne Grove is excellent.