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Seeking Feedback on June London Dining Itinerary

t
teresaalee Jun 15, 2013 06:34 PM

Hello,

I plan to be in London (5 nights near Covent Garden; 2 nights near South Kensington) for 8 days later this month and have done research on some places to eat. For breakfast and lunch each day I will be dining solo so I'd like those to be "an experience"; evening dinners will be with my husband and we're up for trying all different types of places. Ideally, I'd like the itinerary to include a range of prices but right now I am heavy on the high end. I'd love suggestions for places with good value on the less-expensive-side to balance the list a bit. I'd also love feedback on the list overall (Are the spots I picked worth trying? Any suggestions for the "TBD" slots?).

Here's what I have so far:

Sunday -- arrive 10pm; we'll be hungry after the flight. Any late night spots to hit up near Covent Garden?

Monday -- breakfast or lunch or tea: TBD
dinner: Bubbledogs

Tuesday -- afternoon tea: Brown's
dinner: St John

Wednesday -- lunch: pre-fixe at Helene Darroze
dinner: TBD

Thursday -- breakfast: Wolseley
lunch: figure I'll skip since bfast will be relatively filling
dinner: TBD

Friday -- breakfast or lunch: TBD
dinner: Rules (I also have reservations at HIX, thinking of canceling those in favor of Rules)

Saturday -- breakfast or lunch: TBD
dinner: Ledbury

Sunday -- lunch: Dinner
(not planning on dinner that night, maybe just a snack somewhere)

Monday -- breakfast: TBD

Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions! I am always nervous when writing a post.

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  1. d
    DavidT Jun 15, 2013 08:18 PM

    Regarding the evening of your arrival, J. Sheekey is near Covent Garden and is open late. However, I don't know if seafood, oysters, etc. may be appropriate for you for late night dining.

    http://www.j-sheekey.co.uk/ .

    1. abby d Jun 15, 2013 09:47 PM

      what does "an experience" mean? do you have particular areas you want to focus on during your days?

      on the Saturday, it would be nice to explore one or more of London's markets - Broadway, Maltby Street or Borough are all worth the effort and would give you good food options en route. Brixton market is also good and you could go there on the Friday or Saturday - there is a huge thread about places to try.

      the Nordic Bakery in Golden Square would be a good breakfast or lunch slot one day, near Piccadilly circus so not to far from your hotel. Nopi is also near and it or an Ottolenghi (there are various branches) might also suit.

      do you want to try any of London's ethnic cuisines? if so, which ones?

      1. m
        marcusj Jun 15, 2013 11:42 PM

        On the Sunday you could try L'Atelier Joel Robuchon (2 star French), Hawksmoor (steak), Balthazar (trendy faux French brasserie), Delaunay (same-ish, but a bit more Austrian) or Bar Shu (Sichuan). All have 7 day openings with fairly long hours (I think).

        Of your gaps, my best meals of late have been at Pollen St Social, Trishna and Hedone. The latter is a way out at Chiswick, but well worth the effort, it's developed into one of the capital's best restaurants and seems set for further gastro greatness. Not that it's without support, but go now as I sense the bubble is about to well and truly burst on this one; it crashed in to the top 100 of the world's top 50 restaurants this year and it's trajectory seems assured.

        Similarly to Darroze, the set lunches at both Le Gavroche and Alain Ducasse offer phenomenal high-end value, although to be fair to their peers, you can find a competitive lunches at all the fine dining gaffs, so it's actually a case of take your pick.

        Hix vs Rules is interesting. Hix has slightly better food in a very trendy, contemporary setting, whilst Rules is obviously steeped in heritage with an old world feel. In the context of all else you're going to visit this week it will probably offer better variety. You could always do Rules on Sunday and book something else for the Friday of course...

        Are you doing the Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs? If not and you're out front, take note that although it's a really fun place, it's probably better described as more of a champagne bar that serves hotdogs, rather than a meal in the traditional sense. I'd treat it more as a snack option or a filler on those days where you're looking to take your foot off the gas a little.

        Finally, staying with lighter, cheaper alternatives, Tonkotsu (ramen) and Koya (Soba) in Soho are brilliant. Both make their own noodles and offer sensational cooking. It's just a shame about their ever-increasing, communal seating policy!

        Happy eating!

        3 Replies
        1. re: marcusj
          PhilD Jun 16, 2013 04:02 AM

          Marcus - I noted that Ducasse (according to Andy Hayler's blog) was at Hedone recently. Hayler is predicting a second star. I must say my best meal this year (which includes Alinea) - I am trying to work out how to get back to London this year for a second round!

          1. re: PhilD
            m
            marcusj Jun 16, 2013 04:14 AM

            Yes, I have to admit I wasn't at all convinced when I first went not long after it opened, but it was light years better. Twice as many chefs in the kitchen now with execution to match (I think I read they've all come from 2 / 3 stars). Highlight was probably the best - and biggest - scallop I've ever eaten with a purée of Italian spinach, but it was all spectacular. It was 2 stars all day long in my book.

            I happily stand corrected from my first visit.

            1. re: marcusj
              PhilD Jun 16, 2013 04:26 AM

              I was a cynic - how could it be that good - and so many rave reviews on blogs just made me suspicious. But it is really good - I loved the feisty sommelier who wouldn't let me order a wine because she had a better one. It's definitely in the Sportsman league of perfect ingredients.

        2. Paprikaboy Jun 16, 2013 01:48 AM

          If you're going to be lunching solo and you like wine I would suggest sitting at the bar at Terroirs. The staff are very knowledgeable and happy to chat about wine. Good charcuterie and cheeses. I has their beef heart with chilli the other day, it was very good.
          For breakfast you may want to consider Kopapa which is very handy for Covent Garden. I also like the Riding House Cafe up Great Titchfield St. , a good place to while away the morning.
          If you're in South Kensington and want something lighter then there's Madsen, a Scandinavian place. I can highly recommend the pickled herring.

          If you're up for Spanish then both Salt Yard and Donostia are very good. These are not ruinously expensive (unless your eyes are bigger than your belly like me) and would help balance out some of the heavy hitters you have on your list

          http://terroirswinebar.com/
          http://www.kopapa.co.uk/
          http://www.ridinghousecafe.co.uk/
          http://www.madsenrestaurant.com/
          http://www.saltyard.co.uk/
          http://www.donostia.co.uk/

          1. t
            teresaalee Jun 16, 2013 07:11 AM

            This is excellent, helpful feedback. Thank you.

            Sorry. The "an experience" comment was vague, wasn't it?! I think what I mean to say is that I don't want to look out of place dining alone! Usually, a talkative bartender, a lively atmosphere, a nice view, help take the "sting" out of that. (Not that I mind dining alone, mind you, it's just nice when there is something to "occupy" in a sense.)

            Thanks in particular for the Sunday night suggestions. It turns out our flight lands at 10:00 p.m. so Balthazar might be our only bet (looks like they take diners until about 11:30 p.m. as best as I can tell from the website.).

            In terms of ethnic cuisines .... yes! My husband is Korean-American and we always enjoy Korean food. I haven't seen much on these boards about Korean food in London but I might be missing it. Any suggestions there?

            We also enjoy Indian cuisine.

            Any additional feedback is welcome. I appreciate the insight!

            5 Replies
            1. re: teresaalee
              zuriga1 Jun 16, 2013 08:49 AM

              Asadal is a pretty good Korean restaurant in London and conveniently located just at the Holburn Tube stop. The real place for good Korean is a small town a short train ride out of London. New Maldon has many, good small restaurants, family-run. It's got the largest Korean population in England.If you search the box for New Maldon, I think quite a few names will come up.

              1. re: teresaalee
                p
                Palladium Jun 16, 2013 09:10 AM

                I second Asadal. On weekdays during lunchtimes, it's full of Korean businessmen. Veggies very fresh, good service.

                If you're around Centre Point, and fancy a cheap Korean lunch, there is Woo Jung. It is not the best Korean I've ever had, but is always packed. Also- a special talent: they nearly always get part of our order wrong. Yet, if we're in the area, we always get sucked in...

                1. re: teresaalee
                  d
                  dcfly1 Jun 16, 2013 04:26 PM

                  Fellow Korean-American here. Skip the Korean food in London - nothing here compares to the Korean food in any decent-sized city in the US (assuming you're coming from there). If you must, Asadal and Nara in central London are OK, but in my opinion, overpriced with small portions (unfairly comparing to Korean restaurants in the US or Korea). They charge for side dishes. It adds up.

                  Better is Seoul on Finchley Rd in Zone 2, but the menu is a little sparse. Spicy Grill is better, but a bit aways in Golders Green. The best Korean food in the city is, as mentioned before, in New Malden, but it's a hassle to get to and, although the food is decent, I personally don't think it's worth a trip on its own.

                  I could write a long post about the shortcomings of Korean restaurants here (e.g. cuts of meat being slightly off, wrong lettuce for ssam, the quantity and quality of side dishes). You can find decent to good ones. But why go there when there are much better places in other cuisines, and when you can have much better Korean at home?

                  Not everyone agrees with me, but one Asian place I like is Yauatcha in Soho. Very overpriced, and terribly inauthentic "dim sum", but I find the food unique and tasty. Surprisingly good desserts too.

                  1. re: dcfly1
                    h
                    Harters Jun 17, 2013 05:39 AM

                    I'm sure dcfly makes a valid point. Cuisine follows population movement and the UK is home to very few people of Korean birth - only just over 12k in our 2001 census. It is a tiny percentage of our population - and most apparently live in the New Malden area of London.

                    1. re: dcfly1
                      b
                      brokentelephone Jun 17, 2013 09:02 AM

                      Super in-agreement.

                      Charging for side-dishes is always frustrating, as is the low-quality meat on offer at most places. Never been to New Malden, but have heard similar criticisms as dcfly1 brought up repeatedly.

                      I usually get stew/soup and/or bibimbap type dishes and save up my BBQ cravings for when I head home to Vancouver.

                  2. t
                    teresaalee Jun 17, 2013 09:09 AM

                    It sounds unanimous! I will very likely avoid Korean since we have a plethora of good options here in the Washington, DC area (particularly in Annandale, VA -- of David Chang hometown fame).

                    If there are other ideas for filling the gaps in my itinerary, I am open.

                    Thank you for all the helpful feedback thus far.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: teresaalee
                      c
                      curiouseater Jun 17, 2013 10:29 AM

                      Hello, we are going to London at the end of July and the places that we have down for breakfast are
                      bacon sandwich at St. John bread and wine, had this before and it is right up there with the best bacon sandwich I have had.
                      doughnuts again St John
                      Caravan Kings Cross
                      Ottolenghi

                      would you want to have a Sunday Roast?Places we have to try are John Salt and Pig and Butcher, both in Islington. I don't know if these places are too far for you to travel, maybe a couple of stops on the underground.

                    2. t
                      teresaalee Jun 19, 2013 02:01 PM

                      Thanks to your helpful feedback, I have updated and refined the itinerary a bit. If I may impose, I still have a couple of areas on which I could use guidance (they are noted below). Many thanks for all of your insight!

                      Sunday
                      --plane lands at 10pm; afraid we will be out of luck in terms of things being open by the time we get to our hotel (near Covent Garden) which probably won’t be until midnight

                      Monday
                      --Friend is taking me on a walking tour in an area between Regent Park/Marylebone Road and Hyde Park/Oxford Street. We’d like to do lunch in that area and she’d like to keep it under 15 pounds. Are there any good options for that?
                      --dinner at either Nopi (for the 20 pound pre-theatre, pre-fixe menu) OR Salt Yard (I picked Nopi to try to add some less expensive places to the roster and hope that the pre-theatre menu helps with that. Picked Salt Yard just based on the good reviews but this may be the place in the itinerary to shave costs. Thoughts?)

                      Tuesday
                      --Kopapa for breakfast
                      --Brown’s for afternoon tea
                      --dinner at St John (I booked at St John, not St John Bread and Wine; open to changing that if the latter is preferable)

                      Wednesday
                      --Nordic Bakery for coffee/pastry
                      --Helene Darroze for lunch
                      –friend planning dinner

                      Thursday
                      --breakfast at Wolseley
                      --light lunch/wine break at Terroirs
                      --Trishna at 6:00 p.m. for their early evening menu

                      Friday
                      --Riding House Café for breakfast
                      --snack/light lunch at Borough Market
                      --dinner at Rules

                      Saturday
                      --could be in Oxford that day; I keep reading good things about Magdalen Arms?
                      --dinner at The Ledbury

                      Sunday
                      --lunch at Dinner
                      --is it even worth looking at dinner spots after Dinner? Maybe just a "snack" somewhere?

                      Monday
                      --Looking for a breakfast spot somewhere in South Kensington

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: teresaalee
                        Paprikaboy Jun 20, 2013 01:16 PM

                        "Monday
                        --Friend is taking me on a walking tour in an area between Regent Park/Marylebone Road and Hyde Park/Oxford Street. We’d like to do lunch in that area and she’d like to keep it under 15 pounds. Are there any good options for that? "

                        For this walk <£15 you could try Bricole near Edgware Rd Tube (Circle Line) or Roti Chai near Marble Arch Tube. There's also loads of Lebanese places on Edgware Road which isn't far from the Marble Arch end of Hyde Park.
                        Alternatively if the weather's good you could get some food from Selfridges food hall or Green Valley and have a picnic in Hyde Park.

                        http://briciole.co.uk/
                        http://www.rotichai.com/street_kitchen.html
                        http://green-valley.co/

                        1. re: Paprikaboy
                          h
                          Harters Jun 20, 2013 01:48 PM

                          I'm a big fan of the various Maroush places on (or just off) Edgware Road. Think I've eaten at just about all of them on various trips "dahn sarf".

                          Lebanese food is a favourite cuisine and there just arent enough in my part of the world - I always try to persuade Mrs H that we just squeeze a visit in on every trip. Works sometimes, not others.

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