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Oct 19, 2012 11:06 PM

Finalizing plans for December trip to england any help appreciated

So after doing some research on this and many other sites on good eats in London, Birmingham and Liverpool, and also after reviewing a lot of menu's with my admittedly picky gf, I have made some reservations and would like to share them so that maybe we can get some tips on dishes, seating, alternate options or even just comments in general. Anything is helpful. Also just to add my gf does not like red meat or pork and she is a bit picky. I will eat anything (and everything) set in front of me. I love indian food and most ethnics but my gf is a bit scared of trying new things.

Just to complete the available info, We will be in england from the 4th of Dec. to the 18th and will spend about 9 days in birmingham and 5 in London, with side trip to Liverpool and hopefully a few scenic drives around the Cotswolds. In Birmingham we will be staying with family in Wall Heath which I believe is in the northwest of the general area surrounding the city. In London we will be staying at the Park Plaza County Hall down the street from Waterloo station.

First off, we've made a res for lunch at Roganic the day we land in London, We decided to get as much out of London as possible and we are going to walk around marylebone after and take a train to bham that night.

So far we've decided to take it easy and have just made one res at a place called Annexe for a christmas menu lunch that looks excellent. We will be staying a night in Stratford upon Avon and if there is a rec that would be great but we figure it will be easy to find one while we walk around.

We're also planning on having Lunch at the London Carriage Works when we drive up for a day trip to Liverpool, Again it is a christmas menu but my gf is bonkers for that kind of thing.

We hope to get some recommendations for old english pubs for cheap hearty eats in and around the west midlands. But any recs are welcome, as long as they are easy on the budget as we are saving the bulk of spending for London.

In London so far we have:

-Thursday the 13th late night at the Wolseley (not a res but planned)

-Friday the 14th bfast at the cinnamon club (black and white pudding)

-Friday the 14th dinner at Pollen Street Social (confirmed seating in main area)

-Saturday the 15th lunch or dinner at the delhi grill (again no res just planned)

-Sunday the 16th we plan on going to the columbia street flower market and touring that area so any recs for that would be great.

-Monday the 17th dinner at Min Jiang (just emailed to advance order the duck and request a view of the park, not sure if thats necessary)

We also plan to eat as much chocolate as possible and would love more recs for great old pubs.

Again thanks for any help it is greatly appreciated.

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  1. If you're staying near Waterloo and you want good fish and chips then definitely go to Masters Super Fish.
    For Columbia Street Flower Market (I assume you mean Columbia Rd ) then Brawn on Columbia Rd is good but is quite heavy on the meat an especially pig so may not be a good option for your gf.

    Hope you enjoy Roganic . I went a few weeks ago and it was one of the best meals I've ever eaten.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Paprikaboy

      I looked at brawn and had the same concerns you are voicing. Maybe if we are in the area I'll be able to talk her into it, the menu has a few things I would love to try.

      1. re: muushupork

        You shouldn't worry too much about Brawn - they do have a lot of offal, but also have some very good vege dishes, and there's always at least a couple of seafood/fish dishes as well as steak etc. What I'm saying is it's too good to miss!

        1. re: pj26

          TYVM I really am looking forward to it!!

      2. re: Paprikaboy

        I found Masters to be terribly overrated -- the fish was only middling, and the chips were lackluster. Not to mention the complete lack of ambience to the place.

        If you're looking for more pubs, the Marksman ( is only a few minutes' walk from the flower market and do a cracking Sunday roast. Recommend booking ahead, though, they get seriously busy those days.

        1. re: kooshball5

          Agreed -- I get dragged there occasionally by friends who insist its the best, and I find it sort of depressing.

          I've been of the mind lately that there are many better fish and chip places than the ones traditionally frequented by cabbies; why are they the authority?

          1. re: brokentelephone


            If you've ever been in the back of a cab in London, you must realise that cabbies are an authority on everything! :)

            1. re: Paprikaboy

              I really don't like the fish part of fish and chips,but I love chips and curry sauce, is there a good suggestion for that? Maybe in borough market or somewhere along the thames?

              1. re: muushupork

                I haven't had chips and curry sauce since I was at university oop north.
                So can't really help you on London.

                Interesting survey on regional preferences on chips.


                1. re: Paprikaboy

                  When I was a young sprog, the chippy in the village did fish, chips and peas. That was it. Remember going in once with a mate who asked for curry sauce. "Curry sauce, lad? This is an effing fish & chip shop. That;s what we sell. Effing fish and effing chips. Now, what do you want?"

                  Bear in mind, that oop north, we're proud of our chippies - having the first properly documented one in Mossley, just on the eastern side of our metro area. Dates to 1863.

      3. you are much better off going to the bombay brasserie for its weekend buffet lunch rather than the delhi grill. if its dinner, try out moti mahal (but its a lot more expensive).

        7 Replies
        1. re: howler

          Is Bombay Brass that much better than delhi grill? I looked into it and would love to try the lunch buffet but I have seen mixed reviews.

          1. re: muushupork

            Yes, the Brasserie is that much better than the Grill. On balance, the Grill is good not great and has a small selection, while the buffet lunch at the Brasserie is the real deal. Plus it's a bargain for the quality. Look up the post by kyleoh to get a sense of the place.

            1. re: howler

              Would I need a res for the lunch at the brass? Maybe we can do both!!

              1. re: muushupork

                No you won't need a reservation for the brass, though I guess it never hurts. And if you are willing to spend a bit, I recommend Quilon for excellent Keralan food. You can always find a punjabi menu, but good keralan cooking is a rarity.

                1. re: howler

                  I just made a res for the brass on sat. dec. 15th is the buffet on sat. and sun.?

                  1. re: muushupork

                    Yes Saturdays and Sundays are the lunch buffet days.

            2. re: muushupork

              There are plenty of reviews of the Delhi Grill in this thread including howler's review

              I think the answer is that for lunchtime you go to Bombay Brasserie (Delhi Grill often isn't full for lunch) but in an evening try the Delhi Grill.

              As to Rogan Josh/Rogan Gosht there was a fairly long debate about the etymology of it all which the Delhi Grill came on and contributed to. The short answer is that Rogan Josh is Kashmiri whereas the Delhi Grill's version is punjabi - but they are broadly very similar. If they have a goat version as a special then definitely have that.

          2. I'm never quite sure about Midlands geography, so I'm not 100% certain if these are regarded as West Midlands or neighbouring areas but both offer good food:

            Bluebell, Henley in Arden
            Inn at the Farm, Solihull

            Former is the more "gastro" of the two.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Harters

              Those are definitely in our travel range and I will check into them asap, thanks!

              Edit: Looks like Bluebell would be great for me but the Inn at the Farm would be perfect for both of us!

            2. Cannot recommend Brawn highly enough if you are going to Colombia Road. I would check the menu for your girlfriend though - I think there should be enough for her to enjoy. The other option round there is the Corner Room by Nuno Mendes which is amazing value and really interesting food (should not be fazing for your girlfriend then).

              Also round the corner are all the Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road. Many will tell you they aren't as good as Deptford but I have really enjoyed Cay Tre and the Viet Grill and they are good options if you live nearby or are in the area.

              Howler's right that Moti Mahal is better than the Delhi Grill but my bill there a couple of Saturdays ago was £140 and my last bill at the Delhi Grill was £37. And Moti Mahal definitely isn't 4 x better in my opinion. All depends on your budget of course.

              Do let us know how you get on - your itinerary sounds great.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ManInTransit

                Ive definitely considered moti mahal as it looks amazing but since my gf is very new to indian ( having tried for the first time only a couple months ago ) I would much rather try delhi grill for 37.

                1. re: muushupork

                  The Delhi Grill really is fantastic - we go frequently and the staff are lovely as well. Probably worth booking it though, some evenings it's quiet but others it's full. Weekends you have to book.

                  The breads there are excellent, as is the chicken tikka, rogan gosht and the goat curry which is often on as a special.

                  1. re: ManInTransit

                    Here in FLA the dish is called rogan josh and it's my favorite, is that the same thing you think?

              2. a thought for your saturday - broadway market is a great place for spending a day grazing your way through all sorts of foods. you could start or end at islington (delhi grill) with a walk along the canal and there is a real mix of things which you and your girlfriend could share - i was there this weekend and shared with my boyfriend, vietnamese noodles/rolls, a slice of margarita pizza, some gnocchi with pork & fennel ragu, veggie samosas and falafel. my boyfriend also managed tiramisu cheesecake and a pierogi! there's usually good buskers and lots of interesting non-food stalls.

                i like walking along the canal one way and back via colombia road (shops are open but no market) and rivington st towards old street tube, for the urban graffiti vibe.

                25 Replies
                1. re: abby d

                  Our main event for Saturday will keep us in the area around the British Museum where we will be doing the london walks tour hopefully. I figured we would try to focus on things surrounding and go north for dinner at the delhi grill.

                  1. re: muushupork

                    I don't know if you like drinking/cocktails but if you do go to the Delhi Grill then you should have a drink afterwards at 69 Colebrooke Row. A wonderful, tiny, hidden place (worth calling to book - ask to sit at the bar) which does great cocktails. Been voted one of the best bars in the world I believe.

                    1. re: ManInTransit

                      I will let the gf know thats more of her thing but thanks again!

                      1. re: muushupork

                        I'm assuming the reason for the Liverpool visit is a personal one? In which case, ignore this! But if it's not...really not the most exciting place in the UK to visit (having just moved here!) Plus it can take a VERY long time to drive here, depending what happens on the motorway. With a clear run it should only be 4.5 hours, but we encountered two smashes (which aren't uncommon) and our move here with two very small babies took an agonising 7.5...The train, on the other hand, is just over 2 hours.

                        1. re: helen b

                          I'm sorry, but I couldn't disagree with you more - it's certainly not the food centre of the universe, but it is a very vibrant city with amazing architecture and a great arts/cultural scene. I moved here having been born and bred in London, and was surprised at how different it feels to so many other cities in Britain. People who visit me from London and other parts of the country always love the place and its unique atmosphere.

                          Having said that, I was going to reply to the original post to say don't come to Liverpool on a day trip if you are driving from London - but I think they will be coming from Birmingham, which will be much quicker, so it's possible. Trains are generally better than cars though - you don't have the bother and expense of finding your way around a city and paying for parking. Liverpool's central areas are very walkable.

                          Food wise, the London Carriage Works has had a mixed press, but you should have a decent meal there, and lunch menus are good value. If fine dining is what you want there are other options too - Ziba, 60 Hope St, Panoramic (amazing views) and Puschka (which is more relaxed than the others, but still very good food).

                          1. re: Theresa

                            Liverpool is one of our great cities with an importance that stretches around the globe. Its impact on history as our port to the west, and therefore The Americas, has been profound. Not least because it transported my grandparents there and back again ;) From industry to slavery to shipbuilding to its rare welcome of's fascinating.

                            But the poster is doing a day trip and, by car, can therefore only have a few hours. If there is a personal reason for pilgrimage, that's a different matter; if they think it'll be an interesting day trip then I think hobby horses must be cast aside as somewhere like Oxford or Bath are more accessible, in both senses.

                            1. re: helen b

                              Agreed - and a day trip by car from London sounds like a nightmare.

                              I wasn't trying to influence people because of it being a hobby horse, I was just disagreeing with you saying it "wasn't the most exciting place" to visit, which kind of implies that it's boring. We've all got different opinions on places, and I agree, there are many towns and cities closer to London and Birmingham worthy of a visit (and quite a few may be worthier!) but the last thing Liverpool is is unexciting or uninteresting :o)

                              1. re: Theresa

                                I'm actually glad this came up. We would be travelling by car just because we got a great deal on a weekly rental through AAA. We actually weren't dead set on Liverpool aside from a little bit of research and the fact we hadn't been there before in our travels around the UK. I have to say from the description it isn't really as interesting to me as Bath or Oxford would be, and even though we've both been to Bath it wasn't together and I think it is a much better fit for my interests. Would you guys have any suggestions for Lunch in Bath and/or Oxford??

                                I will also do my own research.

                                1. re: muushupork

                                  If you've been to Bath I'd do Oxford. It's wonderful (personal bias alert, sorry) and loads of nice places to eat, Magdalen Arms being one (do a search here).

                                  1. re: muushupork

                                    If you are looking at day trips from Birmingham, Shropshire is a good idea - it's handy, very pretty and has historical places like Iron Bridge to visit and of course lunch in Ludlow - some great places to eat there and it's a lovely town with lovely walks. It used to be the most Michelin starred place (in terms of stars per head of population) in the UK. It may still be. Mr Underhills is great. And of course there's Ludlow market - loads of local producers and all sorts of lovely stuff to eat and/or buy. It's held on four days a week.

                                    Bath and Oxford also aren't very far from Birmingham, and are not bad for a day trip from London, if that's what you are planning. Don't have any food recs for those though (except perhaps lunch at Le Manoir if you go to Oxford ....)

                                    1. re: Theresa

                                      Ludlow's a jolly good idea actually! Though I still think Oxford :)

                                      1. re: Theresa

                                        I believe Underhill's only does dinner. However, there's a bloody good option in La Becasse for a top quality lunch (even though, gobsmackingly to me, it lost its Michelin star)

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          We just found La Becasse 2 nights ago and my gf seemed very interested in the festive menu. The only problem we have is the amount of options in the small town of Ludlow. I found the green cafe and with the surroundings and daily changing bfast/lunch menu, it might be the way we go.

                                      2. re: muushupork

                                        The Nosebag in Oxford is great, or if you drive to Headington about two miles east of the city Jacobs and Field is delicious (really good sandwiches, hot fancied-up comfort-food entrees like kedgeree, etc.). The White Hart (in Old Headington, behind the John Radcliffe hospital) has some of the best pies I've ever tasted.

                                        ETA: If you're in town around teatime, the afternoon tea at the Rose is an absolute must. Far and away the best scones I've ever had.

                                        1. re: kooshball5

                                          We might just do both Oxford and Bath! Having 9 days of free room and board in Bham has made it very easy for us to travel around. I also like the idea of Ludlow market hopefully I can convince the gf! Thanks everyone!

                                          1. re: muushupork

                                            We have made a res for Sotto Sotto in Bath and will be making a day trip to see all the sites I missed when I went before. Also we will be going to Ludlow and Stokesay castles and will have brunch at the green cafe before going to check out all the sites in the area (and the christmas market in Ludlow for my gf).

                                            1. re: muushupork

                                              As an ex-resident of Bath I had to look-up Sotto Sotto as I couldn't remember it. I am pretty certain I never ate there, which may mean I missed something good, but I did search far and wide for good places. My recommendation for the city is Allium Brasserie - Chris Staines is a very talented chef and delivers a good varied menu.

                                              On PSS, whilst I am not a fan, I wouldn't write it off, for me I would give it another shot. If you are going for dessert my advice would be to take a chance and eat dinner there. If you want an alternative for the main meal Wild Honey is around the corner and very good (at its price point).

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                The thing with Sotto Sotto is it is supposedly an excellent italian place that serves pizza and is in a very neat setting underground. My gf is simple in her tastes and pizza is at the top.

                                                With PSS it was more about moving spent funds from one place to another, Ive never been there but from what ive read the dessert is more can't miss than anything else, and the money seems like it would do much better if spent at The Ledbury.

                                                1. re: muushupork

                                                  Re: Bath it will be interesting to hear about. My one word of caution is that Bath is very touristy with restaurants geared to cater for them and so good (not even great food) isn't that easy to find.... choose wisely.

                                                  Understand about PSS and budget, I would also focus funds on the Ledbury. Their FOH team is very good and if your gf wants to eat simpler food and avoid things just ask them. Brett is a very accommodating chef and will go the extra mile to look after her - it is worth trusting him.

                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                    That really helps to hear Phil, my gf can be picky at times, and letting her know what you've said will definitely help her loosen up a bit. Shes mainly just averse to red meat and pork, but if she knows she can have some input in the process i think she will definitely get excited.

                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                      The main thing with Bath and most of our time in and around bham was to save money for London. The fact that Sotto Sotto is relatively cheap and also that its my gf perfect type of place is all I need. I honestly found it just from looking at the bath page of tripadvisor. Its #1 on there, but I do have subdued expectations.

                                                      1. re: muushupork

                                                        I have a healthy distrust of TA reviews and usually read them when I need a laugh....!

                                                        Suggest you check out the menu at Allium and compare the prices - I thought if was quite cheap for such a central location. The King William is a great food pub, but gets really booked out - just along London road, I used to love the The White Hart (over the river behind the station) as a good food pub with a nice local feel (again books out).

                                                        In Brum it I would stick to curry, yes some good places with Michelin stars but they are not cheap. My suggestion would be Lasan for up-market Indian (and IMO is far better than any in London) or head out to Ladypool Rd or Stony Labe for a Balti, from Al Faisals was really good - but Balti faves change frequently with lots of pretenders to the crown of best Balti in Brum. Check out a website called "The Balti Triangle" for lots of ideas. Note: the Balti craze was sort of invented in Brum, it may not be "authentic" Indian Indian, but the large community around the inner city suburbs of Brum have developed something pretty good.

                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                          Will definitely check out allium then, although the gf might be easier to convince if its a pub like the king william.

                                                2. re: muushupork

                                                  If you're going to Ludlow, you just *have * to visit the Ludlow Food Centre, a mile or so out of town.


                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                    Thanks for the excellent suggestion we will definitely check it out!!

                                                    Edit: Just checked the map and the food centre is perfectly placed on bromfield rd. on the way from ludlow castle to stokesay!