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Apr 29, 2013 02:22 PM

Trip Report [London]


Hello! Just a brief summary of my recent visit to London. Plans changed and was not able to cover much ground. First night decided to go to a place near my hotel in the Gloucester Rd Tube station. Memories of India - Just Ok and basic. Pretty normal but with good service. Style Pakistani and Northern India. Will return again just in case of emergency assuming I stay in the same area again.

Second night went to Zayna in the Mable Arch area. Again, style was Pakistani and Northern India. Very friendly and good service. Food was ok; does not know what it gets so high ratings and rave reviews. Will return? Not likely. Better to continue exploring other places.

Went for lunch to Chez Marcelle (Lebanese). Great !! Homemade food at very reasonable prices. I had the opportunity to meet Marcelle since I was the first and only person since I went there early. Had the fatoush and the stuffed cabbage rolls. Will definitely come back. This place with Mosen and Al-Waha should be in anyone list in the middle east category ( Lebanese/Persian).

Last night I was very tired and not willing to even try other options in my list like Indian Zing, Thai 101 or Café Spice Namaste. I decided to go to a place walking distance from the hotel. Went to Thai Taste in Cromwell. Basic thai food but a very good options under my situation and location. I see myself returning again if I stay in the same hotel and does not want to explore further.

I stayed in the Crowne Plaza Kensington.Highly recommended - Just a three minute walk from the Gloucester Tube Station.

ATTENTION: We went to a restaurant in Breda (Southern Netherlands) called Salon de Provence. Please take note and watch this place carefully. It is a BIB Gourmand now but I will not be surprise will get at least one star soon. Had a tasting menu which in my honest opinion compares favorable with 3 starred places like Arzak, Martin Berrazategui and Akelarre in Spain Basque Country at a fraction of the cost. No, I'm not crazy just impressed but the execution by the chef who has experience working in 1 and 2 star restaurants in the past.

Regards and thanks for the recommendations


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    1. I just have to ask. You were in London but you ate Indian, Pakistani, Lebanese and Thai. I'm curious why you stuck to all non-English, even non-European places.

      1. Hi C. Oliver,

        The intention of this visit did not purport to capture the full gastronomic potential that London has to offer. Just a business trip with only a few hours to unwind. I did consider some options like the River Café, Ledbury, St. Johns Restaurant, Sweetings, Guinea Fowl, Newman's Arms, etc. This time I was ok to find that elusive Indian restaurant in London that serve indian food. That did not happen this time. For European , I prefer other cities than London such as Madrid, Paris, etc. We did go to Olives for a quick Italian because was near the hotel and a colleague has certain restrictions which narrows the scope of options. A real tourist trap one notch above awful. I have had not too many good experiences in London unless you go to super high end super expensive places (even for indian). Then, I ask to myself, does it worth it? Don't think so.


        11 Replies
        1. re: domenexx

          It's sad to read you've had such awful food experiences in London. Maybe one day when you have more time, you'll be able to check out some of the restaurants that are not high-end and very expensive. There are tons of those serving very decent meals. I think many of London's gastropubs fall into that category. And heck, my local Indian restaurant is superb and only 40 minutes away by train.

          1. re: zuriga1

            Your post reminded me of a lovely dinner we had some few years ago at O Fado on Beauchamp.


          2. re: domenexx

            If you're equally time-constrained next trip try these (all within 15 mins of your hotel, most closer):

            Star of India for Indian which is probably closer to your hotel than Memories of India (which is not good by any measure).

            Admiral Codrington for British gastropub -- it's about 15 minutes walk from your hotel and really quite good.

            The Enterprise -- again, British gastropub type food in a nice room, slightly higher end than most pubs.

            Fernandez and Wells -- about 5 mins from you at South Ken station is a great Spanish deli/coffee shop/sandwich shop which makes excellent cakes and great easy meals. Across the street is Brindisa which is OK, but not nearly as good, although more of a full restaurant.

            Gessler at Daquise -- great Polish restaurant which tableside service (think chef bringing pan and serving you wearing a tall chefs toques).

            La Bouchee for French -- I can't imagine much of a difference between here and a neighbourhood spot in Paris. All French staff and good solid cooking (esp soups).

            If you just search for South Kensington there are loads of reviews on here of places to try. It'll take like 10 minutes of your time and you'll eat better than at Olives, Thai Taste, or whatever other crap you ingested on your last visit.


            This is a London board so we're obviously quite keen on our local restaurants. If you'd have bad meals perhaps you should try reading reviews, etc., rather than implying our food is somehow not up to scratch -- bar NYC (and maybe Tokyo and HK) there aren't too many places in the world with the breadth and quality of restaurants as found in London.

            1. re: brokentelephone

              Thanks again Brokentelephone,

              I will try your gastro-pubs recommendations next time in London. I went once to Star of India when I stayed at the Bently. It was ok; need to keep looking.

              For perspective, I did plenty of research on my main target; Indian Cuisine. My report reflects my objective assessment of my experiences in the places that I selected. My selections are not representative of London potential nor imply that the options are not up to scratch. Any pain was self inflicted based on my decisions. No need to get defensive. Trying new restaurants is part of the fun; once you win, once you lose.



              1. re: domenexx

                Defensive? Like a hockey player? I don't understand.

                Anyhow, good luck with the restaurants. Let us know when you find that elusive Indian restaurant in London.

                1. re: brokentelephone

                  For my own information, is good Indian food hard to find in London?

                  1. re: c oliver

                    No, there is excellent Indian food to be found in London but you will need to be a little more specific than just 'Indian' as it's just too broad a term. There will be threads on the board about the various different regional 'best places and recommendations' and also different price points - for example Needoo (which is a Pakistani grill place but will often be lumped in with 'Indian') is cheap cheap, and at the other end of the spectrum, you have places like Benares or Cinnamon Kitchen with Michelin stars, so obviously a bit more pricey!
                    It definitely can be found, just do a bit of digging deeper.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Not even a little bit.

                      The typical British curry houses tend to be Bangladeshi in some parts of London (not sure about outside the capital), but not only are there a plethora of centrally located restaurants selling authetnic Indian food, but there are ethnic enclaves scattered around selling highly regional foods probably not available in many places outside their particular region in India (read posts from Howler, Jfores, etc.).

                      Additionally, there are large groups of Indians by-way of Africa (I suspect Ismaili though others can clarify) that have their own cuisines, as well as Indian from the Caribbean who have brought their own particular hybrid style of cooking to London. I'm not sure if Indian Chinese is available (as it is in my hometown of Vancouver, Canada), but if so, its an interesting amalgam (imagine traditionally Indian spices in a noodle stir fry cooked in a wok).

                      1. re: brokentelephone

                        In the major areas of immigrant population outside the capital, you will find places that are more "authentic" (hate that word, but you know what I mean) than the high street curry house. But they are relatively uncommon. That said, I suspect that it is much the same, statistically, in London, bearing in mind the number of curry houses one sees.

                        It is a simple matter of business. Restaurants are, generally speaking, catering to the majority Anglo population, rather than their own communities. It's only with the growing interest in south asian food, that it's started to become commercially viable to market your restaurant as, say, a gujarati vegetarian, or kashmiri place. But this is marketing to a niche consumer base.

                        By way of contrast, the place I know that has a customer base overwhelmingly from the south asian community is a very large all-you-eat buffet. Now, don't get me wrong, this is decent buffet, but it's buffet none the less.

                        1. re: Harters

                          Agreed. Of the 9 places I just thought of within 10 minutes walk from my house all have pretty much the exact same standard 'Indian' menu.

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