Late Oct London Itinerary-Inspection please!
Hello UK hounds! LA hound here; it’ll be my first time visiting London for 3 days. I think I’ve come up with a decent sized list and would appreciate your help organizing/narrowing it down(i.e. which is better or comparable for lunch vs dinner, etc.). I’ll be solo this trip, but I don’t mind and actually love doing fine dining on my own so that’s not a problem. Price, distance are not issues either but probably would prefer not to have Italian(I'm heading to Italy afterward) nor Asian(cos...LA hound...) Please hack away or feel free to suggest any place not listed. In no particular order:
Bull & Last
Pollen Street Social
I would not go to Ottolenghi and instead go for Nopi. I find Ottolenghi's salads sort of blah after a few bites. Nopi's small plates are so much better and you can sit at the counter.
I really loved Bull & Last and probably would recommend it over Harwood Arms, but it seems like B&L would be quite a trek for you!
Just a word to warn you that reservations at some of the high-end restaurants in London need to be made weeks in advance... Dinner, Ledbury, Pollen Street etc. I'm still amazed that one has to book some places 6-8 weeks before.
Thanks for the replies thus far! I've noticed B&L is pretty much the furthest place from me, though I'd be willing to make said trek if it was worth it?
And unfortunately, I'm quite used to the process of waiting to book at the exact moment reservations are available, 1-2 months out. I've tentatively looked and noticed a few reservations still available for the days I am in town for Dinner, etc.; once I narrow down which meals go where, I will make the final reservations.
Although I like the B&L a lot and they are quite different, I find the Harwood Arms’ food to be better, although it is more of a restaurant than a pub. I would also only travel to the B&L from Ken if was doing something else in that area as well- e.g. checking out Hampstead or Camden.
Personally, I would not miss the Ledbury, lunch there would be as good. I think PSS has a good value lunch menu if you fancied saving some money. Agree Le Gavroche, as well as Alain Ducasse and Gauthier do very good value set lunch deals (with wine if you want). Also note that Hedone is only open for lunch a couple of days a week.
I know you said you are not interested in Asian food but my understanding from friends and a few visits is that (and I may be wrong), although great for many types of Asian cuisine, LA is not particularly good for food from the Indian sub-continent. London has many very good restaurants at all price levels for these types of foods.
That's right! I was foolish to just make the no Asian cuisine comment without thinking about Indian. I'd certainly be interested in that since I agree that we don't have any spectacular Indian in LA.
If price were no matter, is PSS better for dinner than lunch?
Can anyone elaborate on Ledbury's regular lunch vs Sunday lunch?
In my experience PSS it a bit more 'buzy' in the evening and slightly more 'business-y' (lots of suits etc.) at lunch, apart from that if you are ordering from the main menu there should be no difference.
I have not been to the Ledbury for Sunday lunch since they changed the menu structure. I would not expect any difference in food quality, I suppose it is just a matter of what menu you prefer and do you def want 3 courses (only option on Sun.).
Indian/ Pakistani recommendations:
Lahore Kebab House
OK, so I've got a few reservations made and the lineup is looking firmer but still some undecideds. Please let me know if I am making any terrible mistakes:
Sat L - (hopefully) quick bite at Masters Fish then head over to Borough Market
Sat D - reservations at Hedone
Sun Br - Flat White coffee then Nopi or Honey & Co
Sun L - Bull & Last? or Rules?
Sun D - late reservations at Ledbury
Mon Br - ?
Mon L - Trishna or Quilon?
* coffee break at Prufrock
Mon D - reservations at St John
Tues Br - is there anything good that's open really early? My flight is 10:30a so probably someplace open 7a or earlier would be nice. Otherwise, I'll just wait to eat in Rome...
Would agree with MIT re Rules. Also check out the cocktail bar upstairs b4 dinner.
For breakfast Hawksmoor Guilhall opens at 7. Had a very good breakfast there last week. Whether you'd want that after St. John the evening before I'm not sure but it would be handy if you happen to be flying out of City Airport.
When I'm not eating, I'll be moving so hopefully that'll help with the appetite! :) I know it's a pretty aggressive itinerary, but I've been doing this type of thing everywhere I travel for a while now so I have a pretty good idea what I can fit in.
It troubles me that there isn't a CLEAR consensus between Rules and Bull & Last though...Oh, and one other question, is either Trishna or Quilon better for a solo diner or about the same? I know that unfortunately, I won't be able to try as many dishes this way, but if there is one where the portions may be smaller, I could try more of a variety? Or heck, I'd be honored to share a meal with any local hounds if anyone is interested!
I've not been to the Bull & Last - it's a gastropub of which we're not short in the UK, so no need to sample when in the capital.
On the other hand, Rules is probably my favourite London restaurant - and you'll be visiting at the height of our game season - something at which Rules excels.
Good point about the game season Harters. I wouldn't say there is a lack of consensus about the two, they are quite different places and both good at what they do. It's really a choice of which best meets your preference and how they fit into the other selections. Rules is historic, it's central, and more of a formal restaurant. It's very British and will deliver great game dishes.
The B&L is a great pub, it's a very çasual pubby gastro pub with a wide range of beers. On Sunday lunch it will be busy with locals and no doubt there will be lots of kids and big parties. The foods great, it's big and hearty, and has the rough edges that makes it great pub food.
Either works - just a case of which one meets your needs.
Of places I've been to:
Iconic; don't miss. Excellent food all 'round. Surprisingly good value considering. Don't fixate on a specific item though or you may be disappointed.
About to go and will report. Depending upon when you're coming to London, you may or may not be able to get a booking though. How soon do you arrive?
VERY traditional but honestly go there more for the atmosphere than the food - which is merely slightly better than average.
You shouldn't miss good fish, though, and while in the same area you could go to J.Sheekey. Book early or sit at the bar; since you're single that should make things easier.
Pollen Street Social
Not worth it. I found the emphasis more to be on the concept of the dishes than the actual quality of the food. So you get a lot of things that are technically very difficult but in terms of flavour don't deliver much.
It will certainly be different from what you'll find anywhere else. Very unique and worth it perhaps for that reason alone. It's actually the cold dishes that are the best; focus on them. Go for lunch. While in the area also stop by Paul A Young for world-class chocolate.
Hard to find, difficult to get into, short hours, out of the way. The net result seems to be a lot of effort expended for quality that, while good, is equally to be had in other, more accessible gastropubs.
Also go to a chippy; my favourite is the Golden Hind.
Very nearby is Ginger Pig who have cracking lunch options; the sausage rolls are legendary, the scotch eggs are equally good, and they always have several hot things available. Nowhere to sit though, although Paddington Gardens has nice benches if it's sunny.
Agreed incidentally that Hawksmoor Guildhall is a decent choice for breakfast (not perhaps so stellar at dinner, ironically). However, I think it's unrealistic to try to get anything but a takeaway breakfast, and probably not worth the effort anyway, instead, eat when you land in Rome; lunch is the main meal of the day there anyway. As an "off-the-plane" choice I'd probably go for Armando al Pantheon. Iconically Roman, delicious food, relaxing atmosphere.
I would absolutely agree with the Paul A Young recommendation — his chocolates are very, very good. They're on par with the best I've had anywhere else.
I will say that Ottolenghi might be a bit of a disappointment only because of the build-up. It's a bit unusually veggie-centric for London; but as a Californian, the array of salads is very similar to the kind of stuff available in any number of LA or SF places. Just my take after many years of CA living...