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Oct 15, 2012 07:09 AM

Cozy gastropub with great food? [London]

Hi, I'm back! I ended up having a wonderful Sunday night dinner at Barrafina on my September trip. Thanks to all who helped with that.

The whole family will be in London for just a couple of days in late November. We have already booked one dinner for one of those night at the River Cafe. I'm looking for someplace a bit more low key the other night. We'll be staying near Hyde Park corner this trip (yes, tough area for food, I'm guessing) but don't mind an easy tube ride. Lulu and I have been to Great Queen St. twice. The first time was great, the second time was good but not earth-shatteringly so. But I'm looking for something similar (and I loved Magdalen Arms in Oxford - that kind of place would be great). An easy, cozy place with wonderful food. We'll have just spent time in Spain and Italy, so I'm thinking we'll skip restaurants that specialized in those foods. British food would be preferred. Anything come immediately to mind? Many thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.

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  1. I'd trek out west to the Harwood Arms, and get yourself some venison scotch eggs. J.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jon Tseng

      Ah, I should have mentioned an important fact. While my husband and daughter would be fine with that, I am not a meat eater. I eat fish and poultry, but no red meat. Sorry to have left that out in my OP.

      1. re: LulusMom

        The Harwood is probably the best bet that side of town, and from memory it isn't all red meat. Their sample menu has monkfish and crab starters and cod, halibut and chicken as mains - plus lots of game and red meat. There are a few other options but fail the "cozy" test i.e. the sloaney pony (aka asthe White Horse) but it is big and pretty lively.

        I must agree with LulusMum about the ORF - if desperate in that area the Guinea Grill is the better option.

    2. In that general area I would consider Thomas Cubbit or the Only Running Footman. Have done more drinking than eating at TC and had at a meal at ORF once when friends wanted to meet up at Automat. I cant really remember the meal at ORF though I'm sure I was happier than I would have been at Automat.

      You could also consider the Punch Bowl for a Guy Ritchie sighting - again can only vouch for the alcohol.

      All these place will be pretty buzzy to heaving outside of lunch hours. So not sure they are viable for you

      I would consider walking towards green park and picadilly where you'll have more options; Hix, the new Hawksmoor Air St, Nopi, jump to mind


      1 Reply
      1. re: NYLONDave

        Thanks for the info NYLONDave. I've been to Only Running Footman and wasn't at all impressed. Also to Nopi, which I loved, but I'm looking more for the type of place like ORF, just ... better. I'm not at all married to staying in that neighborhood, but would prefer to not have to go miles and miles away.

        I'm all for the alcohol, but my daughter is only 6. Trust me, she'd be all for a glass of nice wine, but given her age, I doubt they'd take her order.

      2. If you liked Great Queen St., then maybe you'd like Anchor & Hope near Waterloo. It's not that long a Tube ride, and I think the owners of Magdalen used to work there or maybe it was Great Queen. If I remember correctly, the food is very similar.

        I just got to Nopi last week and really enjoyed what we ate. The broad bean fritters were delicious!

        12 Replies
        1. re: zuriga1

          The broad bean fritters were wonderful, as I recall. Thanks for the Anchor & Hope. Sounds like it could be just the thing (and as you are the one who recommended Magdalen Arms, i know you know what I'm talking about!). Thanks so much.

          1. re: LulusMom

            Anchor & Hope is sister to Great Queen Street.

              1. re: LulusMom

                I always thought the A&H had a stronger reputation than is delivery.....also isn't is no reservation in the evening - so may not be good for a young child. It may also be good to check if a pub will take a booking for a child - the licensing laws can be a little idiosyncratic depending on where the dining room island the time if day.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Anchor and Hope is a smaller space so it can get pretty rammed, and you may need to share tables (which you may not mind doing). If you get there before 7pm you shouldn't have a problem getting a table.

                  I'd second the rec below for the Duke of Wellington, I've had some great lunches there.

                  1. re: pj26

                    Thanks for seconding this one. Helps me narrow.

                  2. re: LulusMom

                    I'm a bit of a lush and find drinking at Anchor & Hope waiting for a table to be quite an enjoyable experience -- my recollection of their food is directly tied to the amount of time I'm forced to wait.

                    Great Queen Street is probably better, though, and sharing tables sucks, as does waiting for them.

                    1. re: brokentelephone

                      I see your lush and raise you two. Definitely understand the eating/boozing factor coming into how you perceive a restaurant and appreciate that you shared it.

                      So, here is a crazy thought - I'm thinking that on day 2 we *might* spend the day in Greenwich. This is with a 6 year old girl, and we are all used to much warmer weather than I'm guessing we'll find there at the end of November. Am I crazy? We get to London on a fairly regular basis and I just thought doing something different for the day might be fun. So thoughts on this would be useful, and also any thoughts on places in Greenwich/Blackheath for either a big lunch or early dinner would be really great.

                      Currently margarita'ing in advance of trick-or-treating with a mini-Cinderella.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        Greenwich is lovely, there's loads to look at and do and November will be fine - it doesn't get quite as cold as one may think in London, it's more of a dampness and drizzle that gets you down - just make sure you wear layers.
                        There's a great pub right on the river called the Trafalgar - good pub grub and amazing views. The Gypsy Moth (right by the Cutty Sark) also has pretty nice food (for a pub). There is a Rivington Grill for British food - I haven't personally been to the one in Greenwich but often go to the one in Shoreditch, it's perfect for a long lunch.
                        There's also some good ethnic eats a bit further around in Deptford but you might need to search the board for those.

                        1. re: pj26

                          Thank you so much, this is all wonderful info and a big help.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Looks really good - lots I would order on that menu. Thanks.

            1. The Duke of Wellington on Crawford Street (Marylebone) is quite nice. You do need to check their policy on children though - many pubs will allow kids at lunchtime, but not in the evening.


              Not a pub, but I went to Elliot's Cafe in Borough Market a couple of weeks ago and had a lovely meal. I think it might be up your street, and you could browse the market first which Lulu might enjoy.

              1. A quick check of the web (Time Out online to be precise) tells me that both Anchor & Hope and The Duke of Wellington will accept children. Elliot's Cafe didn't show up on their list, but has its own website (and I assume as a restaurant there is no question about letting children in). The lack of reservations is a little worrying for A&H, but it looks really good. No sample menu on the Elliot's website, so not sure how meaty they are. I'm very much appreciating everyone's help.

                8 Replies
                1. re: LulusMom

                  I think if you show up at the opening time for dinner (6?), you may not have a problem. We do that at lunchtime and have always gotten right in, but we are early eaters, even for dinner. It's been so long since I ate at Great Queen that I can't honestly compare the two, but A&H seems much less formal, not that the other is very fancy. :-)

                  1. re: zuriga1

                    We'll be ripe for an early dinner that night, as we'll have to get up early the next morning for the airport. This info helps a lot, thanks.

                  2. re: LulusMom

                    The menu changes at Elliot's Café every day because everything is sourced from Borough Market. Not that many choices iirc (the kind of menu I like), maybe half a dozen or so starters and eight main courses.

                    I also think you would like The Harwood Arms, where I've eaten more recently than A&H. The Coach and Horses in Farringdon is also a great gastropub, and up the road there's the Eagle, which is supposed to be the original gastro. Also in Farringdon/Clerkenwell is Moro - I've only eaten tapas at the bar - and they have an actual tapas bar next door called Morito. Polpo (Italian small plates) now has a branch in Clerkenwell too and is supposed to be very good.

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Just made something from the Moro cookbook last night that was wonderful, and trust me, I was thinking maybe I should break my own set of rules and put that on the list. But somehow I really feel like having something very British.

                      Will check out the other pubs you've mentioned. Wealth of info here, thank you so much.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        If you were here for longer, I'd suggest going on the train to Whitstable for the day, and visiting the fantastic Jojo's, which I know you'd adore.

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Next time - please remember this tip for then.

                    2. re: LulusMom

                      I have brought my kids to the Duke of Wellington a few times with no problem. Things downstairs are a bit tight, but if you book a table upstairs, there's room. I haven't been to GQS so can't compare but we've really enjoyed the Duke and it's not all that far.