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Itinerary Questions from a Visitor [London]

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My partner and I are coming to London at the end of August from Toronto (Ontario). I know there are numerous threads but I have done research and need some help. I haven't decided for sure where we are staying, but surely somewhere in the core. Once I know for sure, I will share that, but really, it doesnt determine where I eat.
We love all food, but would like to focus on unique eats to London. Money is no object, we will be there for 3 nights and would like to do at least one Michelin star. We need ideas for:

Aug 29th Lunch + Dinner
Aug 30th Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner
Aug 31st Brunch, Dinner,
Sept 1st Brunch (will be leaving on a train to Paris)

So we have 3 dinners, 2 lunches, 2 brunches and a casual breakfast (something light and easy).

For sure will want to do:
Dinner by Heston B. (DINNER)

Sanderson Mad Hatters Tea (BRUNCH) - I am obsessed with Alice in Wonderland so while this may be gimmicky, I have a real desire to do it. Is it terrible?

Rules (LUNCH)

Somewhere for great Fish and Chips- considering Poppys, thoughts? (LUNCH)

Somewhere for great Indian- considering Roganic, Quilon Indian, Trishna or Kishmish- any favourites? (LUNCH/DINNER)

Other thoughts for meals I have read about:

Viajante (DINNER)

Pollen street social (LUNCH/DINNER)

Hedone (LUNCH/DINNER)

The Ledbury (DINNER)

Cartmel (for STP- my all time favourite dessert)

What would you choose if you had the meals in London I have.
Any other really great restaurants/pub that are unique with great food that I should be checking out?
Where is great for brunch and breakfast?
Any food markets I need to see?

Thanks in advance!

Abbey
www.abbeyskitchen.com

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  1. A few corrections to your list..... Cartmel is a place far from London, it's not a restaurant that I know of.

    Roganic is not an Indian restaurant.

    Here's a link for the best of fish and chips.
    http://youngandfoodish.com/london/top...

    Some are not very central, but Master's Superfish is.

    Book places like the Ledbury and Pollen St. Social months ahead if you can.

    1. Well you have a pretty good list there and June has pointed out a couple of things that weren't quite right.

      Personally with that list for two fancy dinners you can't go wrong with Dinner, PSS, Ledbury, Hedone and Viajante. To some extent you may be dictated by what you are able to book as they are all very popular.

      For Indian both Quilon and Trishna are very good.

      My favourite breakfasts in London are the Delaunay, Modern Pantry and Caravan. Caravan Kings Cross would be the perfect place to eat prior to your Eurostar trip as it's just round the corner from St Pancras.

      1. Cartmel is a village in Cumbria - home to a company which manufacturers sticky toffee pudding which, I assume, will be the STP the OP refers to. There are only a couple of restaurants in the village (both owned by Simon Rogan - who also owns Roganic in London). As far as I know, neither serve that dessert (although L'Enclume did do a deconstructed version a year or so back.

        If you want to eat the usually accepted original pudding, then you'd want to be eating at the Sharrow Bay Hotel, near Penrith, also in Cumbria.

        It'd be a long journey just for dessert but Cumbria is one of our best foody destinations.

        By the by, "Dinner" puts a tick in the Michelin box.

        1. Thank you all for your replies.
          Oh my mistake- Roganic not Indian, you are right. I must have got my lists mixed up that I made.
          Cartmel, yes, I meant the STP company (they once tweeted to me b/c I talk so much about STP on my blog ha). I saw that they serve Cartmel STP at Poppys so we will hopefully get there for our F&C fix.
          What do you think of this itinerary:

          Thurs Lunch- Poppys
          Thurs Dinner- Pollin Street Social
          Friday Breakfast- Modern Pantry
          Friday Lunch- Trishna
          Friday Dinner- Viajante
          Sat Brunch- Mad Hatters Tea
          Sat Dinner - Dinner
          Sunday (before train)- Caravan Kings Cross

          Would you change any ordering or anything?
          Any other foodie things I should see/do while there (not to miss markets etc)

          Thanks in advance!

          3 Replies
          1. re: hungryabbey

            That's a great itinerary although I can't vouch for Poppys or the Mad Hatters.

            The only obvious thing is that Friday is going to be a big eating day. Viajante does a minimum tasting menu of 6 courses so on top of Trishna and the Modern Pantry personally I know I probably wouldn't be able to manage it or at least enjoy it fully.

            Perhaps drop the modern pantry and do an early (and smallish) lunch at Trishna and late dinner at Viajante.

            1. re: hungryabbey

              I would check the hours for tea as it is usually only served in the early afternoon, which is a bit later than I would usually consider "brunch".

              1. re: hungryabbey

                Poppys is good for fish and chips, but will be filling so don't go mad if you are heading out for dinner that evening. Same goes for Friday with Viajante (as ManInTransit) has mentioned.

                If I were you, I'd try to swap Viajante for the nearby Clove Club in Shoreditch Town Hall. Had a very average meal at Viajante and Clove Club supposed to be very, very excellent.

              2. The Mad Hatter Tea is fine but I didn't think it was noticeably themed, apart from a bottle labelled "Drink Me". For somone who loves Alice in Wonderland, I can't help but think you might be disappointed. Service wasn't great and I found the hotel itself to be a bit...cheap.

                I love tea at Sketch, though Fortnum's is probably a very "English" choice.

                3 Replies
                1. re: gembellina

                  All great advice. Okay here's a revised schedule

                  Thurs Lunch – Poppys (try to order light and share)

                  Thurs Dinner – Pollin Street Social (later, 9 pm ish)

                  Fri Lunch – Trishna (early)

                  Fri Dinner - Roganic (later, 9 pm ish)

                  Sat Brunch - Modern Pantry (mid morning)

                  Sat Dinner – Dinner

                  Sun Breakfast- Caravans Kings Cross

                  1. re: hungryabbey

                    Good list but Roganic closes for good on 20th June.
                    It was a pop up (albeit a long running one). When I went they were saying they were looking for somewhere permanent, looks like they didn't manage it.
                    Maybe you should sub Hedone for Roganic. I've not been but it's well rated and I feel would be a good alternative, though not as central being in Chiswick.

                    1. re: Paprikaboy

                      Hedone is excellent and an appropriate substitution for Roganic, also excellent and sadly ending.

                2. Hi Abbey,

                  Just a couple of thoughts:

                  - If you are totally Alice in Wonderland obsessed, and money really is no object, try and book luch at the Fat Duck. It has (or at least had, check it's still on the menu) a course called the "Mad Hatter's Tea Party" which is as close as you'll ever come to the joyous insanity of the book. However, I'd only do it for the Alice in Wonderland kick, because I confess I actually preferred Dinner to the Fat Duck!

                  - Cartmel and STP. I don't know about Poppies but I do know that Cartmel STP is also sold at Waitrose (a posh UK supermarket with a couple of branches in Central London). So you can also take your fix home by buying it there. That said, I don't know what Canadian Customs regulations are like and whether you want to risk smuggling it back. You could always argue that STP is no less addictive but a lot less harmful than what your local mayor has been taking of late...

                  Gareth

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Gareth_UK

                    HA! I love you Gareth, thank you for the Rob Ford joke. Embarassed as I am for the city, it's hilarious, really.
                    Yes I wanted to consider Fat Duck but I figure we will do Dinner, and it would save us travelling to FD (since we will be driving a lot once we get to France).

                    Too bad about Roganic.
                    AH- I forgot about Rules! That is a must! silly me.

                    Okay now I am confused.

                    What about this:

                    Thurs Lunch – Poppys (try to order light and share)

                    Thurs Dinner – Pollin Street Social (later, 9 pm ish)

                    Fri Lunch – Rules (early)

                    Fri Dinner - Hedone (later)

                    Sat Brunch - Trishna (early)

                    Sat Dinner – Dinner (later)

                    Sun Breakfast: Caravans Kings Cross

                    Do you think my order is appropriate considering the size of meals etc?

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      That is a fantastic itinerary, I'm very envious. I think the balance is pretty good - Rules and Hedone could be a heavy day but if you go for the early/late reservations and are active in between it shouldn't be an issue.

                      Don't move Pollen Street Social, if money is no object you'll want to eat off the ALC not the prix fixe.

                      The only other factor may be reservations. Dinner books 90 days in advance so 31st August will be coming online this week. Saturdays book up quickly there so I would get on the phone to them and find out exactly which day the 31st comes up for reservation as 90 days falls this Sunday.

                      Pollen Street Social has the same 90-day period so again your reservation date will be coming up this Friday so I'd get your preferred time locked in asap. Ditto Hedone.

                      Otherwise you should be fine but you will want to get in early as a lot of popular London places do get booked up particularly at weekends and you're left with 1830 or 2230.

                      Definitely go to Trishna over Moti Mahal but MM would be a good backup if there are any issues with Trishna.

                      1. re: ManInTransit

                        Great choices! Those are among my favorite restaurants.

                        Moti Mahal has many fans here, but ambience and (in my opinion) food is better at Trishna. Marylebone beats out Covent Garden every time.

                        1. re: brokentelephone

                          Okay, so I managed to get a reservation at Pollin Street and Hedone already. I am worried about Dinner though.
                          For those who have done it before (for 2 ppl), is this the kind of thing where they book up in the first 5 min the reservaitons line are open? I am going to have to get up at 5 AM on a Sunday (ugh). Ha, I wish there was a service I could pay to do this for me. I am afterwards going to Paris so I am sure its going to be 2 weeks of me getting up at 4 or 5 to make reservations. My SO is going to kill me.

                          Should I try getting up to make Friday night as well just in case and then getting up again to adjust and change it to Saturday or should I be okay for Saturday? (its just that its my last day in London, so if i dont get Saturday, then I may have no chance at all). Thoughts?

                          1. re: hungryabbey

                            I would not want to put money on it but I suspect you will be able to get a reservation if you get up at 8am on Sunday and not 5am.

                            It used to be crazy for Dinner but it's a big restaurant so I'd be surprised if all the two-person tables went in the first three hours.

                            You could definitely try for the Friday at 8/9am your time and then if that works do it again Saturday (and if you fail then switch Hedone to the Saturday).

                            It sounds like you're very keen on Dinner so in your situation I would avoid taking chances.

                            1. re: ManInTransit

                              Thanks Manin. I think I will do that. book as soon as I get up NORMALLY for the Friday, then do it again Saturday.

                  2. Your itinerary sounds terrific, but if you are flexible I would suggest changing your tea to another day and booking Pollen Street Social for lunch on Saturday. It is prix fixe/set menu (with some options) and perhaps the best value in Central London. Roganic will be closed by the time you arrive, so I might suggest you revisit the Rules option mentioned in your original post. Moti Mahal is a good choice for Indian. I have never been knocked out by Master's Superfish and would probably just pass on the F&C. Finally, you asked about food markets. Make sure to visit Borough Market (it makes the St. Lawrence Market look a bit sad)... but avoid Saturday as it is too crowded. Thursday or Friday morning are much more managable. Late breakfast/brunch at St. John is also good.

                    1. For many of the places you mentioned - Quilon, Viajante, Ledbury, Pollen Street Social - remember to book ahead!!

                      1. I would suggest that you get a copy of Harden's dining guide for restaurants. You can order a copy from their website. They are up dated every year and on their website.

                        The guide is very through and they will tell you what to expect good and bad. I have never been led astray using one.Another feature I find handy are the maps. The maps are of sections of London and they show where restaurants are and what others are near by.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Candy

                          To be honest I think the OP has nailed down their choices well enough that Hardens isn't going to add anything.

                          We've debated the merits of the various guides on here before but I certainly wouldn't base my decisions solely on Hardens, there are some weird anomalies in there.

                          1. re: ManInTransit

                            Every guide has anomolies, MiT. As does every poster on an internet food board :-)

                            I use both Hardens and the Good Food Guide when I'm travelling. They're both sources of information about places that, otherwise, you'd have to take pot luck on, or rely on Trip Advisor (which has more anomolies thanI've had hot dinners). What I like about Hardens is that it will include more casual places than the GFG (and slag them off when appropriate)

                            1. re: Harters

                              Of course Harters, that is the exact reason I would never recommend someone using one single guide. I certainly don't think that for a poster who has clearly done as extensive research as the OP here that a copy of Hardens alone would add much.

                              I contribute and enjoy Hardens, the GFG is also excellent and when you add them together with what Michelin recommends, and Chowhound, good bloggers and the SP Top 50 where appropriate you get the best holistic view on where to go.

                        2. Noticed you were arriving in France from UK, so decided to check this Board too (we were also in UK earlier this year).

                          I substantially endorse everything so far with one (glaring) exception, already mentioned in the thread. The Fat Duck is definitely far more in the spirit of Alice (I’m a freak too – I’m betting my collection exceeds yours). Dinner by Heston is traditional cuisine which claims to be updated – but that’s the ingredients, not the style. I already know that you’re not a fan of ‘traditional’ French (a la Bocuse) but, for me, Dinner by Heston is the English equivalent of that. Just boring (for me) – there’s a reason those dishes are no longer served! Whereas Fat Duck is exciting and whimsical. They also turn the tables at Dinner by Heston, so you’re rushed in and out in about 2 hours – only a la carte, no tasting menu. The two restaurants are entirely different. Other than ownership they have nothing in common.

                          Strongly endorse Viajante (which you may have dropped – it was my all-time favourite meal in UK, but is admittedly a bit difficult to get to) and Trishnaa (check on their seasonal tasting menu). Couldn’t get in to Hedone for dinner, but clearly recommended by many.

                          And check on Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs (NOT Bubbledogs itself). The most creative food I had on my last trip (and I sense that is more your style). It also sells out quickly. Two seatings but the later one is harder to get into.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: estufarian

                            They are all good suggestions and Estufarian's post has prompted me to say that I suggest that you get your dinner booking but it probably is worth trying for the Fat Duck (two months to the day). Yes it's a small train ride out of Paddington but it is also one of the greatest food experiences going and infinitely better than Dinner.

                            In terms of your other choices if I had to pick two out of Viajante, Kitchen Table, PSS and Hedone then my selection would change by the hour - the short answer is I think you will have a fantastic time at any of them and I don't think you'll be disappointed with the two you've chosen. If you would like any further info do let us know.

                            I shy away from recommending Viajante because I've had meals there that range from the incredible and sublime to the downright unpleasant and while the highs are very high on the three-day trip you don't necessarily want to be trying to rid your brain of the memory of a cauliflower dessert foam.

                            1. re: estufarian

                              Thank you so much!!
                              I see what you're saying re Fat Duck. Damnit. Okay, how can I get home from Fat Duck to London? I am trying to find a train, but does anyone have experience with this driving at night? We won't have a car (nor do we want to drive after drinking).

                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                Couple of points re Fat Duck. Firstly have a backup - sometimes you get lucky and get your first reservation but I've tried previously and ended up way down the waiting list. You could do lunch there (but warning you won't need more than a tiny dinner) and the more flexibility you have on service and time when you get through the better your chances of a table.

                                The last train from Maidenhead to Paddington is on a Saturday night is at 00.18 (i.e. on Sunday morning). This is plenty of time as the Fat Duck takes about 4 hours so just make sure your reservation is 7-730 and you will be fine (also tell the staff you need to make that train).

                                The restaurant is a 10-minute taxi from Maidenhead station and you'll need a taxi from Paddington to your hotel at that time.

                                1. re: ManInTransit

                                  I've been twice to Fat Duck. The second time by train - and indeed Paddington late night is a daunting prospect - take a cab!

                                  The first visit, though, I went for Lunch. And that was because I had a 12-hour layover at Heathrow. On a whim I contacted Fat Duck and got the reservation so took the bus from Heathrow to Maidenhead (takes about an hour and runs every 30 minutes - no changes required). So this option might work when you arrive or depart from London (assuming Heathrow is your connection). Of course you could also take the train for lunch.

                                  Edited to Add:
                                  Another strategy might be to combine Fat Duck with a visit to Eton & Windsor e.g make it a day trip with a vist to Windsor (don't miss St George's Chapel), continuing on to Maidenhead and Fat Duck for dinner. You'd have to connect through Slough (on the main route to Maidenhead), but it's a short bus ride from there.