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Researched first chow-hound request for reccommendations London/Oxford/Reading

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I have loved this site for years for recommendations when I travel, but haven't ever needed specific advice that I couldn't find searching. I think I do now (for Oxford/Reading) but I am also keen to see if you can add to/advise on what I have planned for London.

I am part of a group of Australian and NZ academics who have begun meeting up together (around 'suitably important' conferences in other parts of the world) and who love (in varying degrees) eating excellent food. A couple of us are up for splurging on a unique experience and several others will forgo the splurge in favour of one or two less haute but still great eating outings.

So my thoughts for London are:
The Ledbury (for dinner, for those of us who want to splurge)
Pollen Street Social: either for group set lunch or dinner w. whoever wants
Quilon: either for group set lunch or dinner w. whoever wants
Barrafina - just cos I've loved it the last 2 years but if you have different recommendations, bring them!
?? Whatever you suggest.

We will also be in the Reading/Oxford area for a good six days for a conference at the University of Reading. My only inspiration so far has been the idea of a set lunch at Hinds Head pub in Bray on the Friday after the conference. We will probably be rushed and anxious during the actual conference, so recommendations for quick good food would be appreciated.

Hope this is specific enough - I know you guys don't look kindly on the lazy interloper!

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  1. No point coming into Oxford just for the food, although there are some decent places if you're in town for other reasons.

    Oxfordshire and around, though, has some good places. Two places that spring immediately to mind are The Hand and Flowers and Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons. Both are high end places, though- definitely splurges.

    I don't have much knowledge of Reading itself- The Good Food Guide should turn up a few places to try, though.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Palladium

      Le Manoir was one of the best meals we had last year - and we had a lot of bloody good meals last year.
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863275

      Not too far from Reading is the Royal Oak at Paley Street - Michelin starred gastropub (by which I mean it's a restaurant in a building that was once a proper pub serving beer to darts players
      )http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863262

      1. re: Harters

        John - they play darts in Paley Street? Thought it was more Boules territory.

    2. hey trashpanda - thanks for doing some research, though its not surprising as you ARE an academic, is it? (grin)

      i'd say hit up quilon for lunch - dinner is so much more expensive and the lunch thalis are great. you can always order a few more dishes a la carte if you want to.

      one place i always take my visiting perfesser friends to is launceston place. i think it happens to offer very good value and the room/neighbourhood is exceptional, something you'd never see on the tourist trail. certainly my friends (and i ) have loved it. its where you should go for new season lamb, jersey potatoes etc.

      http://www.launcestonplace-restaurant...

      1. One place we like in Oxford is the Magdalen Arms. The pub food there is very good.

        I'm not sure when your conference and London stay are, but one has to book way ahead for The Ledbury and Pollen Street Social.. i.e. months.

        1. For a London meal, you might consider La Trompette, in Chiswick. It shared a founder with Ledbury (I believe), and still is highly rated, but more of a neighborhood rather than destination restaurant. It does have a superb wine list and knowledgeable sommelier. It might be a good spot for your set lunch. A bit west of center, so not such a good match if you also want to hit the tourist spots.

          1. Thank you for these great replies, especially to zuriga1 who warned about booking well in advance and to Harters whose review of lunch at Le Manoir made me want to immediately taste the blackberries.

            The good news: I was able to book our post conference celebration/debrief at the Hinds Head for Friday lunch
            and I was able to book a table for our "working" lunch before the conference at Pollen Street Social, also on a Friday.

            Less successfully: probably no surprise but we can't get in to The Ledbury so I'm looking for an alternative and I know I could go back and do the research on this site again, but at this stage I'm knackered and thinking Rules, unless you advice me otherwise. Happy to be advised otherwise.

            I still want to do Quilon, now for lunch thanks to howler's suggestion, and Barrafina, if we can drag our jetlagged bodies out to sit on a stool our first night in. There are a few nights/days not yet accounted for (I am planning only one food experience per day) so if you have more suggestions, let me know.

            Thank you for the Oxford/Reading suggestions. Am still working on this itinerary. Mostly our eating here will have to be perfunctory, due to our work commitments, but I am sure we will earn an escape at some stage.

            2 Replies
            1. re: trashpanda

              I would always take the opportunity to recommend Rules. Almost certainly, it's the best place in the capital to experience classic British cooking. There's also the sense of history - it being London's oldest restaurant.

              1. re: trashpanda

                I sound like a broken record recommending Locanda Locatelli a lot these days, but we had such a wonderful lunch there awhile back. If you feel like some Italian dishes, you won't go wrong there, and you can see the menu online. It's an elegant place but not over the top, and the service was excellent.

                I'm glad you'll be getting to the Hinds Head.. one of my first experiences when I moved over here, and it holds good memories for me.