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Coming from Toronto to Edinburgh and London for a week - Not looking for grand dinners, but more unique treats I won't find at home

I have been following the board for a while now in preparation for an upcoming trip. My husband will be in Edinburgh on business, and we are tacking on a few days in London, hoping to squeeze in some touristy things, since my husband has never been to the UK. We don't have the budget for grand dinners out, and don't want to spend a lot of time in pursuit of what we eat, since we'd like to squeeze some touristy activities in.

We are hoping to find some special and unique food finds (things we don't have at home), whether from a bakery, take out counter, grocery store, or restaurant - especially if they are in reasonable proximity to sites we could walk by/visit.

My list is appallingly short, which is why I am posting.

So far, for Edinburgh:
- Konditormeister (Toronto has a shortage of German cakes, imo)
- The Tailend Restaurant

And for London:
- Sedap (I don't think we have something that compares here in Toronto)
- Bombay Brasserie lunch buffet

Thank you so much for any suggestions you have!

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  1. If you could be specific about which sites your'e visiting in London (there's a lot and I could hazard a guess but not being a tourist it's a bit difficult)
    Also I've no idea what's good in Toronto , I assume your poutine is better than it is in London but have no idea how good your Japanese,indian etc is?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Paprikaboy

      We have such limited time in London, but we are definitely going to the British Museum. We are staying in Brixton Hill, though. On the Saturday night, we have tickets to see "One Man, Two Guv'nors" at the National Theatre. We may get to the National Gallery, and it would be great to do a walk-by or bus ride past places like Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London.

      I suppose my question is ideal for those who know both Toronto and London, hahaha. From what I gather, Toronto's Indian options are poor compared to what's available in London, whereas I think we have quite a few quality Japanese restaurants.

      1. re: Full tummy

        There are a few good Japanese restuarants here but none worth going to if you're from Toronto.

        We have nothing like Hashimoto, and most of the upper-tier places cannot compare with a reasonably good spot in Toronto (sushi just isn't as much of a thing here, bar cheapo crap).

        1. re: Full tummy

          If your staying in Brixton Hill then as BrokenTelephone mentioned you could go to Brixton Village Market.
          Also you're not far from Tooting, which has loads of South Indian and Sri Lankan places. A bit ruff and ready but great food. My particular favourite is Apollo Banana Leaf.

          1. re: Paprikaboy

            The market sounds great, and I will look up Apollo Banana Leaf. Thanks!

      2. Whilst you're visiting the British Museum (you *can't* miss this), do pop across Great Russell St to the Museum Tavern for some pub fare and warm beer. Karl Marx and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were regulars.

        1 Reply
        1. re: klyeoh

          Thank you! That is a great suggestion!

        2. I always liked to browse the foodstuff at Fortnum & Masons (Piccadilly), or the food halls at Harrods and Selfridges. You'll always find something interesting.

          Try the afternoon tea at Fortnum & Masons (http://www.fortnumandmason.com/c-54-d...) - you need to book ahead though.

          The salt beef sandwich at the Brass Rail, Selfridges, is another classic:
          http://londonreviewofsandwiches.wordp...

          You'd probably visit Covent Garden - if so, don't miss London's oldest restaurant, Rules (http://www.rules.co.uk/), which has been oft-quoted by many London Chowhounds.

          1 Reply
          1. re: klyeoh

            Salt Beef Bar is ok if you're in Selfridges, but can't compare with Caplanskys or Moe Pancer's in Toronto -- Toronto is one of the remaining Jewish deli capitals of the world!

          2. The National Theatre has some nice restaurants for a pre-theatre meal. There's one called The Terrace Cafe that serves small plates sort of tapas style, and we really enjoyed that meal a lot, plus it doesn't break the bank.

            Museums here often have good eating choices.. I especially like the V&A's cafe which is beautiful besides having good choices of food. The National Gallery/Trafalgar Square area is teeming with decent chains such as Pret A Manger (good sandwiches), Eusaba Ethai (Thai), and there's the Crypt at St. Martin's in the Fields. There are free concerts there at lunchtime in the church.. one hour to rest your feet.

            1. Sedap isn't near any tourist attractions generally, though is probably about a 35-40 minute walk or 20 minute bus from British Museum and Sir John Soane Museum (which is small but very interesting former home filled to the brim with art, ancient curiosities, etc -- if you're in the area its def worth a look through).

              If you do go to Sedap ensure to order dishes recommended by klyeoh because much of what is on the menu is either bog-standard cantonese/malay and not great (i.e., I ate there and was more than unimpressed but I apparently ordered the wrong dishes). It is entirely devoid of any atmosphere, btw.

              Toronto does most Asian food (Asian to North Americans, not including Indian/Subcontinent) far better than London, esp Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese (generally), Thai, etc. so I wouldn't bother with any of those.

              Borough Market is always a great place to check out on a Friday/Sat morning. There are loads of stalls offering cheap bites; you could easily have a Fri/Sat lunch there if you're in town.

              If you're in Brixton Hill why not check out Brixton Village Market? It's an old food/drygoods market but has been gentrified by hipsters and has many food options and a really great vibe in the evening.

              1. Excuse me for my ignorance of the kinds of food/restuarants that you'll find in Toronto and if any of these suggestions are irrelevant. I'd suggest looking out following places.

                Ian Mellis cheese shop. Fantastic range of tasty cheeses, great fun trying. There are a few branches across town.

                Oink - slow roasted whole pig rolls (I think what is referred to as pulled pork west of the Atlantic)

                The Farmers Market - Where else can you shop for food in the shadow of the castle? There is a website/faccebook site showing the stalls on each week

                Valvona and Corolla if you're on that side of the town. It used to be a stand out supplier of Italian Produce. Now it's a bit touristy and expensive but they do still have some cracking produce.

                If you can stretch to one upper end meal, I'd really suggest going to The Kitchin. Their lunch menu is really reasonably priced and I cannot think of a top end restaurant that epitomises Scottish produce more

                There are also a few nice sea food restaurants if you want to enjoy the fruits of the Scottish seas. If you have somewhere to cook then I'd recommend going to Eddies Fish Market for a fantastic array of fresh fish

                There's a Vietnamese restaurant (called Vietnam House) that does a great lunch offer and in my eyes is fantastic but having said that, it's the only Vietnamese restaurant that I've been to!

                3 Replies
                1. re: AWaiting

                  Thanks! I will check out your recommendations!

                  1. re: Full tummy

                    I'd support the recommendation for the Kitchin, pop into the area of Stockbridge (its a cute little area and you can walk along the Water of Leith to the Botanical Gardens one way and to the National Modern Gallery the other way which is a lovely walk if you want something touristy) for a breakfast at the Pantry for breakfast with black pudding, lorne sausage (doesn't taste that different but it comes as a square making it unique in the UK I believe) and abroath smokie kedgeree for a couple of local ingredients, if you prefer something right in the centre of town Urban Angel at Hannover Street does black pudding.
                    If you want local beers, Bow Bar is always a recommendation due to central location, also has a reputation for an excellent selection of whisky (I'm not knowledgeable on whisky so I can't say with authority) and an interesting interior.
                    Konditormeister has a stall at the farmers market as well if you're just looking for take away, though if you're looking for cakes - best sit in.
                    Gardener's cottage - their website has their menu, not expensive - don't know how unique it is to what you get in Toronto but they do local produce such as roe deer, local cheeses, menu changes daily and its a nice little setting if you like that kind of thing (there's two rooms, in a previous thread it was commented on that one of the rooms was less comfortable).

                2. Nopi is on my London wishlist, and it's located within a 20 minute walk of the British Museum. We don't have anything like it in TO. Might also want to try the various Ottolenghi shops that do take-out around town.

                  It's expensive, but walking through the Harrod's food hall, even just to browse, is an experience.
                  Close to the Victoria and Albert Museum in Knightsbridge, if you're considering a visit to that museum.

                  1. Tailend has tanked in my opinion with arrival of new owners. Chips are still ok but the quality of the fish has dropped. I know Tdot is in the middle of a continent but I found the halibut and other things to be pretty good for fish and chips so you would likely be disappointed. Everything is frozen and processed at sea nowadays regardless. If you have a car go to Mohr fish in Callendar or the Anstruther chippy instead. I would try Wisharts/Ondine for lunch instead of Tailend if you want seafood. A bit more expensive but worth it. Dinner there would be stratospheric in price.

                    Konditormeister is pretty good, nothing exceptional though. Try and seek out some rowies (scottish squished croissant w/lard).

                    I would strongly recommend Gardeners cottage for something interesting and Scottish.

                    Other scottish things -

                    Dining room in the whisky club on Queen st

                    Stop in at Cadenhead's on the royal mile for a tasting, also every Thursday do a full tasting session in the bar across the road. See http://www.jollytopertastings.co.uk/w...

                    Black pudding and egg roll from Crombies on Broughton st in the morning. Brown sauce not optional. Good after the whisky tasting.

                    I would give a finger to eat at Lai Wah Heen again. Love that place. Best dim sum outside Hong Kong.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: camerasforeyes

                      Also for the love of all things good DON'T eat any Asian food here in the UK. I know that Toronto is not Vancouver but even the average places around Spadina destroy our best attempts at reasonably priced asian food.

                      1. re: camerasforeyes

                        Maybe not Chinese/Vietnamese/Korean/Japanese, but the Indian surely knocks the socks off anything I've tried in Toronto. I haven't seen much south Indian/sri Lankan in Toronto so maybe the OP might have time for a trip down to Tooting as Paprikboy mentions above. Any of the east London grill places which are often recommended, like Tayyabs, are not that different to Lahore Tikka House etc in TO so may not be worth the trip.

                        1. re: gembellina

                          Good point. Although there is decent South indian food in TO I think the North Indian/Bangladeshi is better here in the UK.

                    2. If you do go to Ian Mellis' and Oink on the West Bow in Edinburgh, you have to check out the Bow Bar. Brilliant Scottish bar, Perfect for a pie and a pint and 240+ Drams in stock