6 Days, 6 Nights in London
I am travelling to London with my girlfriend in October and am hoping for some restaurant advice. We are both in our mid-20s and love food, and are looking for a mix of the highbrow and lowbrow. I already have reservations at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and St. John, and am trying to get into The Fat Duck (I woke up twice at 5AM EDT but am only on the waiting list).
To make this somewhat easier on everyone here - and provide a change from blind recommendations - I'll sort of map out categories and you can make suggestions. Also, any advice for improving our chances at The Fat Duck is greatly appreciated...
Cutting Edge (Expensive) - Trying for The Fat Duck, have The Square booked as a backup but other ideas welcome
Cutting Edge (Inexpensive)
Fish and Chips
Indian/Pakistani Food (Inexpensive)
Steak - Would like to try British beef; have heard Hawksmoor is a safe bet
Can't Miss (somewhere I *have* to go, for whatever reason - historical, unique, quintessentially "British", etc...)
Indian/Pakistani Food (Inexpensive)
Tayyabs or its clone, Needoo Grill
For a slightly more "central" location, Raavi Kebab
Here are some other options for central London, all of which we have been to a lot of times ( perhaps that is why the scales keep going up!). You are right to ask advise as there are some appalling tourist traps, especially in London. Personally, I dont like the Fat Duck but Hawksmoor is very good.
Another expensive option is a small restaurant that opened a cople of months ago and is fabuluous. It is the five fields in chelsea http://www.fivefieldsrestaurant.com - proper fine dining and still under the main London restaurant radar. Tipped to get a michelin star so the prices will probably rocket then,unfortunately.
Other less expensive options are
Bedford and strand, proper wine bar with good food.
Terroirs - very french and informal with a lot of meat on the menu! http://terroirswinebar.com
The Opera Tavern is also informal Tapas and excellent http://www.operatavern.co.uk/
Clos Maggiore is a bit more upmarket and seriously romantic (if that is what you want) http://www.closmaggiore.com/
The Delaunay is probably mid range price wise and has a great menu http://www.thedelaunay.com/
I would stress that you will need to book all of these in advance!
I book through toptable.com for deals. The Chancery usually has good deals. I like Gilbert Scott at the St Pancras Grand. The Corner Room or Viajante - Michel Bib and star respectively at the Town Hall Hotel, Bethnal Green tube. See my other answer re curry if you want inexpensive. Borough Market - check the hours at http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk and eat at the roadside. Coffee at Monmouth just outside the Market on Park St. and explore the whole area between here and The TateModern. Hawksmoor - expensive but supposedly great. Lots of steak in London, lots of bad steak in London ;) Agreed re Simpsons on the Strand for a traditional roast but expect to PAY! www.afternoontea.co.uk and quite honestly Fortnum & Mason tea isn't as good as many of these places.
Viajante great for cheapish michelin star, though I'd go there rather than Corner Room, solely due to the relatively minimal price disparity, but huge enjoyment gap (same chef, same building, one kind of a living room the other, Viajante, the main restaurant).
Simpson's on the Strand isn't crazy expensive at all, or even that great, though historic. If it were me I'd head to Rules for very old British, or Wiltons, though these can actually get rather £££. Rules top choice of 3.
Fish Chips - Fish Central, or Golden Hind depending on where you'll be (Fish Central being in East Endish, Golden Hind in lovely Marylebone Village and very central).
Did you only try for dinner at The Fat Duck? If so, see if lunch has any availability, it's the exact same menu and you can get back to London and have the evening free.