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In London for 4 nights this weekend - pls review our food itinerary!

OK, first-time poster, but long-time chowhound user as my food guide! We are a couple visiting London for the 1st time, staying near Blackfriar’s stop but can travel anywhere. We'll be in London Saturday morning to the following Wednesday. Our plan is to walk around as much as possible on Saturday and Sunday, trying (as many as possible) different places. He has to work on Mon and Tue, so I will be on my own, and then we plan on spending evenings eating out—looking for a good mix of modern cuisine, gastro pubs, and good beer pubs. We have travelled around the world together and scouted out the best food everywhere, from hawker stalls in Singapore to Arzak and Mugaritz. We are returning to San Sebastian later this summer so spanish/tapas are not a must, unless Opera/Barramundi/Donostia are musts. He is also not an Indian food lover in NYC (I am), but obviously Indian may be a must in London, even during such a short trip. Would you please review my itinerary?

Sat Lunch –Borough market. I’ve read it is crazy crowded on Saturdays but it is our only full market day as we leave on Wednesday. Are there any specific places we should try or just eat what looks good?
Sat After lunch: I’ve read Dean Swift, Simon Tanner and The Rake are good beer pubs. Is it worth grabbing a cold one at one of these or should we check out another pub in another part of town?
Sat Afternoon: Check out the Tate Modern for a couple of hours?
Sat Dinner: He wants to leave it open to explore – I booked St John (restaurant) @ 9:30pm but now am thinking of just checking out St John B&W instead as we have a 2nd reservation at St John (restaurant) for Monday.
Sunday Lunch: Initial reservation at Bull & Last (then hoping to hit Southampton Arms). Is this reservation worth keeping given the distance? He was hoping to use the day walking in central London as National Gallery is also a must see for us. Any recs if we don’t keep Bull & Last?
Sunday Dinner: Viajante
Monday Lunch: need recommendation for solo diner (he’ll be in the office)
Monday Dinner: St John (restaurant)
Tuesday Lunch: Pollen St Social (dining solo probably at the bar)
Tuesday Dinner: Hedone
Wednesday Lunch: Harwood Arms (especially if we don’t hit Bull & Last)
Wednesday Afternoon: head to airport
I realize it is a very short trip and we will certainly be back, but is our food itinerary balanced? What other pubs are musts (The Harp, Blackfriars, Euston Tap)? Is Anchor overrated/slipping now? Also, if we decide to try afternoon tea on Sunday, where should we go? Sorry for post length and thank you all for all your wonderful posts – couldn’t have made it so far without CH!

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  1. I was very happy with a wonderful tea we had at the Montcalm Hotel near Marble Arch. It was definitely one of the best I've had in London and one can choose from different menus, depending on how much one wants to eat. The room was lovely, the service beautiful, too.

    1. If you're heading towards Borough Market, try roast (http://www.roast-restaurant.com).

      Their rendition of the traditional English breakfast fry-up. The Full Borough, is unforgettable. The lunch menu is studded with very interesting mod-British choices.

      6 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh

        Surely if wanting the "full English" at Borough, you'd want it at Maria's excellent greasy spoon?

        1. re: Harters

          Maria's a nice spot for a quick meal.

          roast is much newer, but nice for a sit-down and has a more upmarket feel.

          1. re: klyeoh

            Full fry up......"upmarket feel" ?

            Nah, doesnt compute :-0

            1. re: Harters

              LOL! Obviously, I just need to be more descriptive in my post - I was not referring to their breakfast for that "upmarket" thingy, but the lunch menu items:

              I mentioned about my memorable breakfast at roast to the OP, but she *did* mention that she was looking for lunch at Borough Market.

              1. re: klyeoh

                I think my most memorable breakfast in the London area is the Bridge Cafe, Brentford - bacon, black pudding & white pudding, a sausage, beans, mushrooms, tomato, fried bread, fried egg, bubble & squeak, toast and coffee. Cost - £4.95. Then an easy stroll to Kew Gardens or the National Archives.

                1. re: Harters

                  I'll *have* to check that out the next time I'm in London. Thanks for the heads-up, Harters.

      2. Good work there - some really nice places you're checking out!

        Borough Market - the Chorizo roll from Brindisa is great. Rather than going to the Roast Restaurant I would get one of their baguettes from their stall though to be honest, its meant to be seriously hot at the weekend and so not sure you'll fancy some heavy roast meat! The fish stall has some decent enough currys/paella though to be honest i find BM better for its produce to buy than the food on offer. Make sure you pop around the corner to Neals Yard for some British Cheese and Monmouth coffee (if you can stand the queue)

        I would advise finding an alternative to St John/St John B&W as once is probably enough for such a short trip and there are plenty of other places which will add some more variety to the trip.

        I would perhaps try somewhere in Soho as it's a fairly key area of London you have missed out and is one of the real hot spots for restauratns at the moment. Since tapas isn't on your hit list I won't press Barrafina (probably my favourite all rounder restaurant in London) but there are lots of others worth checking out like:

        - Bocca di Lupo (my favourite Italian)
        - Polpo (venetian cichetti)
        - Spuntino (NYC style so maybe not what youre after)
        - Duck Soup - european, small plates, hipster
        - 10 Greek Street - european, more of a traditional menu format
        - Koya - Udon noodle specialist (not a long meal but could go for drinks at Dean St Townhouse beforehand/after

        If you go for that then you could have some drinks on South Bank (towards the London Eye outside royal festival hall) down from the Tate Modern and then walk across the river at sunset in to the West End - can be magical (if crowded) on a sunny day.

        Sunday lunch - Bull and Last is good but it depends if you want to go that far out of town. Since its meant to be a (rare) lovely day, if you are keen, I would get the tube to Hampstead (northern line) and then walk through Hampstead Village (very idylic part of the city), across Hampstead Heath (vast wild parkland - very scenic with views across the city from Parliament Hill) to the east side where B&L is.

        If you don't keep B&L I would have said Harwood Arms but you already have that covered so excellent choice! Other options, since its going to be sunny, could be to head over to Colombia Road flower market in East London which is great for people watching and a wander with a coffee (go early as gets rammed) and then lunch at Brawn which is one of my favourite French/British bistros that does a good set sunday lunch. Could combine with a wander down Brick Lane if you can face the crowds. Don't be tempted to get a curry on Brick Lane - if you end up wanting something then walk 10mins to New Tayyabs near Whitechapel Station

        Monday Lunch - any preference on area? You could go explore some of West london or wander around Marylebone which is central and picturesque - on the high street is Providores for some good brunch or Trishna for some mid/high level Indian (others on this board are way more qualified for Asian recommendations however). If in the area check out La Fromagerie for some of the city's best cheese.

        Tuesday - Pollen St/Hedone both great - good choices.

        Wednesday - Harwood Arms also great, was there on Sunday, one of my favourite spots.

        Sunday afternoon tea - the big hitters like Claridges/The Ritz will be booked up a long time ago. They are surprisingly filling so I would personally give it a miss and save your appetite for Hedone in the evening.

        1. Yes, yes... don't have an afternoon tea and then a large dinner. Well, maybe you have a large appetite. :-)

          1. In terms of your food choices not much to add. as you obviously researched.
            For pubs I don't drink in central London pubs that much, preferring my local. However:

            Harp- very small pub that gets packed but has a great beer selection.

            Euston Tap- Wide range of beers though like the Harp it is small and the last two times the service has been woeful. Not much of an atmosphere as is the case with places near stations. Worth going if the weather's good and you can sit outside.

            Blackfriars- service can be hit and miss but usually has some good beers on. It has a fantastic arts and crafts interior and if you're staying nearby it would be a shame not to go.

            Two pubs that I do like are the King and Queen in Fitzrovia and The Bree Louise near Euston Station which might be a good alternative if the Euston Tap is packed.



            1. Thanks everyone for the good recco's. This is coming together nicely. here's what it looks like now with a couple of more questions such as a good place for afternoon drinks near tate Modern, any good bars (not clubs) in Soho?

              Sat Lunch: Borough market – Roast stall (bacon sandwich), Neil’s Yard, Roast for mod-British lunch
              Saturday afternoon: Tate Modern/South bank area – any recommended places for drinks here??
              Saturday afternoon/evening: cross to Soho, try Barrafina, Duck Soup
              Saturday night: Any good bar recco’s (no clubbing for us) in Soho area??
              Sunday Day: Option 1- Hampstead /B&L/Southampton Arms. Option 2- Colombia Road flower market, lunch @ Brawn
              Monday Lunch: Marylebone, lunch at Providores or Trishna
              Monday Dinner: St John
              Tuesday Lunch: PSS
              Tuesday Dinner: Hedone. Any bars/pubs in this area for before or after dinner?
              Wednesday lunch: Harwood Arms
              Pubs to check out walking around: Euston Tap, Bree Louise , Blackfriar’s, King and Queen in Fitzrovia

              5 Replies
              1. re: nycfoodie81

                For bars in Soho I like LAB on Old Compton St. Haven't been for a while but the cocktails have always been excellent.
                For Hedone can't really help as I don't know Chiswick very well but there's bound to be some nice pubs nearby.
                Just a thought on Roast, their bacon sandwiches from the stall are great. I have though eaten twice at the restaurant and been a bit underwhelmed both times, considering the price. You might want to have a look at Wrights Oyster Bar which is right by Borough Market.
                For drinks on the Southbank it's a bit short of decent places to drink imo. I normally drink at the BFI bar or there;s the Southbank Terrace bar. I'd avoid the Ship Inn on the river near Tate Modern if I were you.

                1. re: Paprikaboy

                  The bar at the Tate Modern restaurant is great. Not sure about bartender skill or whatever, but a fantastic view.

                  Trishna over Providores (Providores is good, but Trishna is v good).

                  In Chiswick there is a not that great pub called the City Barge, about 20 min walk from Hedone. If it is a sunny day, its a nice place to have a pint because it's overlooking the Thames.

                2. re: nycfoodie81

                  southbank drinks - the bar at skylon at the royal festival hall has a good coktail list and nice views across the river. there is also a bar at tate modern itself, with river views.

                  soho drinks - i like mark's bar at hix (busy, buzzy great cocktails), the criterion bar on piccadilly circus (wonderfully opulent mosiac decor) and having heard good things from friends, am interested to try the bar americain at brasserie zedel (art deco setting).

                  1. re: abby d

                    I know you're going to PSS, but their newly opened Soho outpost of Social Eating House has an upstairs bar doing some VERY innovative cocktails. Def worth considering for Sat evening. I believe there's some interesting bar food if you fancy a nibble too. I'd also suggest popping round the corner to Yauatcha, where not many know you can sit at the bar and sample their ace concoctions; all are on that Asian influenced tip so can make a nice alternative when you're mixing-up the mix-up if you get my drift.

                    I'd echo brokentelephone and def do Trishna over Providores, especially at lunch where they do a fantastic multi-course offering at a very, very reasonable price. I've been on a bit of an Indian jaunt lately and this is one of, possibly, the best in London. I really like the interior too, it's a bit like an Asian Noma.

                    Oh, and it's prob worth adding that Borough is also at the base of The Shard. I've not been but both Hutong and Obelix have bars that are open all day and - assuming you don't want to eat there - worthy of itinerary consideration. It also gets you half-way up The Shard for free!

                    1. re: abby d

                      I'd second the recomemndation for Skylon - good cocktails and view. If the weather is looking good and you want to be outside then the bars outside the royal festival hall (elevated above the main southbank walk way near the london eye) are not flash but offer great views and are usually buzzy.

                      Also a big of fan of Marks Bar in Soho. Bob Bob Ricard also has a decent bar in the basement.

                      Dean Street Townhouse in Soho also offers good cocktails and a few tables outside or, just across the street, Quo Vadis is also worth a look.

                  2. Hey - what did you end up going for? Hope you had a good trip!