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New Yorkers Honeymooning in London

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Two New Yorkers in London for three nights in late October (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights) before heading to Paris. What would your recommendations be for a perfect three night itinerary to sample the best in local cusine?

We're looking for energetic restaurants - casual but still upscale. We'd love to sample both traditional / classic and more contemporary fare.

We're in our early thirties and are self-described 'foodies'. We love trying new restaurants in our hometown of NYC, and look forward to your recommendations for dinners in London!

Thank you!

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  1. First off, I'd recommend scrolling down the recent posts here to see which restaurants people are talking about.

    Something (as a former NY Yorker) came to my mind. What is someone asked you about local cuisine in NYC. What would you recommend?? The food scene in London is diverse beyond belief.

    What's does 'energetic' mean to you - that might help folks here with their recommendations. Most restaurants in London seem fairly casual when it comes to dress, regardless of the prices.

    5 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      In terms of local NYC cuisine, restaurants we like include the Minetta Tavern, Public, Vinegar Hill House, ABC Kitchen, and many more. We are pretty adventurous eaters and like bold flavors. We’d be interested in exploring restaurants that are edgy with the their menus, but we’re also interested in new spins on traditional British cuisine. While there’s no doubt a huge variety and number of restaurants in the city, what would be recommended for a three night sample?

      In terms of energy – we definitely don’t want a nightclub but we also don’t want to eat somewhere extremely formal or stuffy. Somewhere locals who eat well frequent – a place we’ll really get a sense of the life of the city.

      We’re staying in Westminister. I know London is a big place, so it would be preferable to stay within a reasonable cab fare from the hotel for dinners.

      Thank you!

      1. re: bbnyc

        I haven't lived near NYC for a long time now, so I don't know the newer places... of course remember Minetta Tavern. For me, the biggest delight living here is the Indian food. I didn't know what good Indian food was till I moved here. Recently we ate at Cafe Spice Namaste, and it was terrific. Two of my other favorites are Loconda Locatelli - fantastic Italian.. upscale but not formal. I also like Bistrot Bruno Loubet. All have menus on line.

        As you wrote, London is a big city and there are so many choices. I think others here have, perhaps, a better handle on where locals eat as I live in the 'burbs and am up in years. :-) One of your nights could be a gastropub - modern British cuisine.

        1. re: bbnyc

          As an ex-NYer, that gives me a bit of an impression as to what you're looking for. Tho, when you say "London is a big place," please be aware that Zone 1 alone is essentially the travel distance of all of Manhattan if it were squished a bit. Something I didn't entirely appreciate until moving here. :)

          You'll see my St. John caveat below... but two of my first thoughts — also considering you're self-described big meat eaters — would be Harwood Arms and Brawn. I have had numerous excellent meals at HA, and recently had a very fun and very tasty meal at Brawn.

          Also, something maybe to consider for a lunch while exploring parts of centre/east London such as Hoxton, Shoreditch, etc. (very East Village-meets-Meatpacking feel, to me) might be Rochelle Canteen. You have to buzz in, it's tucked away in a courtyard, it's only open during the week, and the place is tiny. But I have had two very very tasty lunches there recently. I can also envision it verging on casually romantic. Alas, my partner slaves away as a corporate attorney... so no romantic long midweek lunches there for us. ;)

            1. re: zuriga1

              I had NO idea she was married to Fergus Henderson — thanks for posting that link!

              "Plus, the odd cocktail – because she and Fergus do love a drink." Makes the whole "... not what Fergus intended bit" THAT much more ridiculous to me. ;)

      2. If you like seafood, I would recommend a visit to J. Sheekey, which is about halfway between the Trafalgar Square & Covent Garden.

        Based on my prior visits,I would describe it as casual, upscale and energetic. It is a large place but is divided into a series of small dining areas so that you never feel overwhelmed by the size of the place.

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

        1. You tend to get more and better responses if you've done a bit of research first, maybe have a look through the first few pages of posts as there are always people asking about London itineraries, so loads of examples. Pick what you like the sound of and then we can happily critique the list/supplement it.

          1. Do you know what area you'll be staying in?

            For traditional, I'm always going to recommend that visitors to London go to Rules. It's old school London, and at the end of October it might start to get chilly, when the atmosphere of the place really comes into its own. Not nearly as stuffy as you might think. Dinner by Heston is a more contemporary option for "traditional" British.

            In terms of energy, somewhere like Tayyabs - although that might be too energetic with their fast turn-over. Sometimes I find it too loud and crazy, but it's certainly an experience. Although maybe best experienced in a group rather than a twosome.

            Les trois garcons - hits the casual/upscale combo.

            Honey and Co is getting delightful reviews.

            London this year/last couple of years has been all about street food, fancy burgers, posh chicken shops and discovering ramen. We're doing ok at them (with a few clanging failures in between), but I'd be hesitant to recommend many of them over and above what you can source in New York. Example - Burger and Lobster is a fun night out, but the lobster rolls aren't a patch on what you can grab at Chelsea Market.

            is there any type of cuisine you're looking to try? Are you leaning towards seafood, meat, poultry, vegetarian? Nose to tail? Heston-esque food magic?

            14 Replies
            1. re: ultimatepotato

              "For traditional, I'm always going to recommend that visitors to London go to Rules. It's old school London..."

              We had a less-than-satisfactory experience at Rules on our late-August trip to London. I'm curious if our experience was an aberration or typical. I'm specifically talking about a disconnect between my definition of medium-rare and the restaurant's definition.

              I ordered the Chargrilled Leg of Lamb cooked medium-rare. The waiter repeated my order and said "medium." I corrected him and he said "medium-rare" although I don't know whether his written order also reflected the change. When our food was served my lamb was cooked medium-well. It had a very faint pink center about 1 cm in diameter. The rest of the meat was fully cooked. I didn't even take a bite of the food and sent the lamb back. When the second effort came back to the table, it was cooked to a level I'd call medium with a bigger and somewhat pinker center.

              So here are my issues: Even if the waiter never corrected the original mistake of medium, the first dish that came to the table was overcooked by my understanding of medium. (Corroborated by information I'm seeing on the internet.) The second dish was still overcooked by my understanding of medium-rare. The second try was a nicely cooked medium piece of meat.

              Does anyone have an idea how Rules defines doneness? Is getting food delivered to order an issue at Rules?

              The rest of the meal was very tasty, but this issue was such a basic misstep that I'd only eat at Rules again if someone else insisted and paid for it.

              1. re: Indy 67

                My (few) visits to Rules have been for game, so I'm afraid I can't comment on the 'doneness' of their lamb. Never had any service issues or requests not complied with - but like I said, I've only been a couple of times, so I'm no expert.

                *Edited from "can't comment on 'doneness'" to "can't comment on the 'doneness' of their lamb"

                1. re: Indy 67

                  Interesting story. I can't recall ever being asked how done I'd like lamb at any level of restaurant. I have, of course, often been told how the kitchen serves it - invariably "pink".

                  1. re: Indy 67

                    It's rare to specify how you want lamb cooked so that may be the reason for the issue. Most good restaurants will cook it pink, and often the waiter will say "the chef cooks the lamb pink is that OK".

                    By saying medium rare they may have assumed you didn't like it as rare ad the chef would normally cook it so interpreted your specification and cooked it slightly longer. I know that is often the case in France especially with Americans as the French prefer their meat very rare and assume most Americans like medium (probably based on the experience of serving lots of up adventurous tourists - it's amazing how may people say they are conservative eaters and don't eat lamb).

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Good point about the French, Phil.

                      Their normal style is generally too rare for me - much rarer than here. I'll order beef "a point" and get a nice medium rare steak but I've tried that with lamb and it still comes so rare that I reckon you could almost breath life back into it.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        "... "the chef cooks the lamb pink is that OK".

                        By saying medium rare they may have assumed you didn't like it as rare ad the chef would normally cook it so interpreted your specification and cooked it slightly longer."

                        That's exactly why I wrote what I wrote. Is there a British definition of medium rare that is different than what I'm pulling up on the internet?

                        For example, the Wiki definition writes "warm red center with a temperature of 55-60 degrees C." That degree of doneness would have pleased me, but please note that the meat is called red not pink. The color "pink" first shows up in the description of medium ("pink and firm with a 60-65 degree C temp")

                        As I wrote, the lamb that originally came to my place setting fits the description of medium-well ("small amount of pink in the center) although the pink was a pastel pink not the rosy pink of the photographs. According to the second URL, I was served a well done piece of meat.

                        I felt absolutely blindsided by my experience at Rules. As you say, good restaurants will serve pink -- as long as we agree that the pink is a rosy-pink color rather than a pale pink. But I don't see how my using the word "medium rare" could have resulted in medium-well or well done food unless Rules/British restaurants are operating on a radically different definition than my expectations -- confirmed by what I'm seeing on the internet.

                        Incidentally, I'm an American who loves her steak "au bleu." I'm happiest eating steak in France where I can get meat cooked the way I like it with much less effort than in America.

                        Wiki URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperat...

                        Angus Beef web site URL:
                        http://www.certifiedangusbeef.com/kit...

                        1. re: Indy 67

                          I don't understand cooking to a temperature - it's not generally in my culture for such things (we cook to time and touch).

                          But I would regard "pink" for lamb chops as being more cooked than "medium rare" for a beef steak. And that's how it's usually served.

                          Asking for "medium rare" for a lamb may well have thrown the server and, indeed, the kitchen with the phrase not being generally used for lamb.

                          1. re: Harters

                            "...But I would regard "pink" for lamb chops as being more cooked than "medium rare" for a beef steak. And that's how it's usually served."

                            Interesting. Good information to know since we'll be returning to London in 2014. I think I'll simply have to avoid ordering lamb at any restaurant unless I want a repeat of the Rules foul up.

                            In my experience, when a waiter in the US says, "the chef recommends medium rare" what appears on the plate is cooked the same whether the meat is lamb or beef.

                            1. re: Indy 67

                              Disappointing if you have to forego our lamb in future. In my part of the country, we grow some superb sheep - gets its flavour from running up and down hills. And being at a decent age when slaughtered.

                              As I say, in most British restaurants, you won't routinely be asked how you want lamb cooked, in the same way as you won't be asked how you want pork or chicken cooked. FWIW, "pink" is a description confined to lamb and duck. The descriptions for a beef steak will be familiar to Americans although I'd suggest that we cook it for slightly more than a American kitchen. I'd reckon American beef cooking is similar in timings to French, although I know they really only have three descriptions for doneness.

                              1. re: Harters

                                "... As I say, in most British restaurants, you won't routinely be asked how you want lamb cooked, in the same way as you won't be asked how you want pork or chicken cooked..."

                                I'd rather not forego lamb, but I don't see any other option. I don't like the taste of lamb when it is cooked to what I've now learned are typical British standards and I'm at a loss to find words to communicate how I like lamb cooked. "Medium-rare" which I thought was essentially an objective description was a miserable failure!

                                "..."pink" is a description confined to lamb and duck...."

                                Definitely a case of past experience leading to different expectations. My husband often orders duck in US restaurants. Most of the time, the waiter will volunteer that the breast meat will be cooked medium-rare which is a lot less cooked than "pink." If the waiter doesn't volunteer, my husband will ask for his portion cooked medium-rare and that's what shows up on the plate. It will be horrifying under-cooked by pink standards.

                                1. re: Indy 67

                                  As you suggest, it's all a matter of personal taste and what one is used to. We eat a lot of lamb at home - more than other meats - and often order it in restaurants, but would find it unpleasantly rare if presented as rare as a "medium rare" steak. And we have given up ordering lamb in France as even "bien cuit" can be undercooked to what we're used to (although as in Britain, it's unusual in France to be asked how you want the meat cooked)

                                  By the by, we were in a restaurant in Kinsale, Ireland a year or so back. Ordered lamb and was unpleasantly undercooked. Just assumed at the time that it was an error on the part of the kitchen. But, thinking back, the restaurant was catering heavily to American tourists, not to local people or, indeed, British tourists so perhaps they were bang-on for their customers' tastes.

                                  1. re: Indy 67

                                    How about trying kibbeh nayyeh - finely minced raw lamb with spices, herbs and bulgur wheat. Yalla Yalla in Soho makes a good version that balances the flavours of the lamb and seasonings well, and suitably tender.

                                    Haven't tried the version at Al-waha, any reports?

                                    1. re: Indy 67

                                      If it's on the menu, The Ledbury will cook lamb as you (and I, as well) like. If I'm unfamiliar with the chef, I usually ask for duck and lamb to be cooked on the rare side of medium rare and for beef to be cooked super rare. Sometimes it works.

                        2. re: ultimatepotato

                          Thank you for your suggestions!

                          We're definitely big meat eaters. On a recent trip to Montreal, the highlight of our trip was our dinner at Joe Beef, if that helps... :)

                        3. If by "local cuisine" you mean characteristically English, here are a couple of recommendations - places I visit every time I'm in London.

                          Rules, for a real sense of occasion - more interesting if internationally less known than Simpson's in the Strand:

                          http://www.rules.co.uk/

                          J. Sheekey, for the best in fish and seafood - the fish pie is special - and convenient to the theatre district:

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

                          1. I can't believe no one's recommended the St. John yet - a London icon and a must-visit. Surprisingly affordable given the quality. Exactly as you have the profile. The menu leans towards the traditional, in some respects, but in unusual directions that equally make it contemporary and relevant.

                            My vote for the gastropub - another British "must" for the moment goes to the Anchor and Hope; classic atmosphere, satisfying food. "Energetic" is perhaps an understatement in its case!

                            Yauatcha is another one of my favourites; while it's not what you'd call "local cuisine" - i.e. not British (it's a Cantonese place), it's one of the London "usual suspects". Terrific desserts, incidentally; not to miss.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: AlexRast

                              St. John's looks great - made a reservation! We're staying in Westminister, how do you suggest we get to the restaurant? Is it far? Also, do you have any suggestions for some great places that are near where we are staying (Intercontinental Westminister)?

                              Looking into Anchor and Hope now!

                              1. re: bbnyc

                                You will be very close to The Cinnamon Club. I think it's an elegant place to eat but not 'fussy.' The surroundings are unusual and lovely, plus the Indian food is a modern take and interesting.

                                1. re: bbnyc

                                  Tube at St James' Park. Circle Line to Farringdon. (There are faster Tube journeys possible but none simpler) A short walk from there gets you to the St. John. East on Cowcross Street (turn right at the exit from Farringdon) to St. John Street. Turn left to go north on St. John Street. The restaurant is on the right-hand side of the road. It's a bit inconspicuous from the road; the entry takes you down a long hall.

                                  "Near" is a very relative term! Can you give some idea of the radius you're thinking of? As it happens, where you are is almost exactly in the Westminster "city centre" - a bit of a dead spot in terms of really interesting restaurants (most of them cater to local office workers) but travelling in almost any direction except south will bring you into areas with lots of interest. Do let me know on distance and I can come up with a list.

                                  1. re: AlexRast

                                    Thank you so much for the information. We made a reservation for St. John and are really looking forward to it!

                                    In terms of "near" - I suppose we mean reasonable traveling distance for dinner - ie not a super expensive cab ride across the entire city, or somewhere we'd have to switch a bunch of metro lines to get to. I suppose we're happy to go anywhere for dinner as long as it's easily accessible by the metro or a reasonable cab fair.

                                    I guess a five mile radius? Does that make sense?

                                    Thanks again - I look forward to your list!

                                    1. re: bbnyc

                                      I have to throw a red flag into the mix for St. John. I was just there a few weeks ago with two friends for a birthday celebration. While the food was absolutely fantastic, I truly cannot remember the last time that I have experienced worse service.

                                      After having been seated, handed menus, and left to our own devices for over 20 minutes... making eye contact with every server in the place... ours made finally made his way over to us. We wanted to start off the evening with a round of cocktails — and, after all, they DO have a bar — but our server said that he had to "ask" whether the bar could accommodate us. He then said to us that we should drink wine instead as cocktails, and I truly do quote here, were not "... what Fergus intended." That set the tone for the evening.

                                      Again, although the food was wonderful, my friend did encounter a roughly 4cm bone in the portion of rillettes we were served. We commented on this when the server made his next rare appearance. He was completely unphased. I noted that, of course it happens on occasion that small bones are missed during such preparations, but a bone of such size — an actual choking hazard — seemed a bit careless. He responded, "Would you like me to mention it to the kitchen?" After saying yes, please, a few minutes later he returned from the kitchen... a snide grin on his face... and said, "Chef sends his apologies."

                                      These were just two of the many highlights. We actually were shocked by how bad the service was throughout the evening. We even had a conversation with a lovely couple seated next to us... and even they had become aware of how bad things were at our table. Fortunately for those out-of-towners, in having a different server, their experience was better.

                                      The only service high point was that, in apparently overhearing our conversations about my friend celebrating her birthday, the server had mentioned it to the kitchen and they sent out one of the desserts with a candle in it. We hadn't specifically said anything to the restaurant about it, so it was a very sweet gesture. Unfortunately, it just couldn't make up for the rest of the evening.

                                      Perhaps our server was just having a very bad evening. Who knows? He disappeared at the end of the evening without a word, so we paid our bill with a different server. At that point, I had to say something... and she seemed truly shocked and was apologetic for the experience. Perhaps I should have said something earlier in the evening... but with a Michelin star, I really shouldn't have needed to do so. But having been to St. John before with completely different experiences, that night truly put me off to the point that I'm not sure I'd want to go back. I don't quite think ours was the experience "Fergus intended."

                                      With that in mind, I just say to proceed with caution. You might have a lovely time. But I can't say it's not without some risk.

                                      1. re: jrhsfcm

                                        I've been to St. John on four occasions now and each time the service has been really good. Last time they made custard especially as the sponge pudding came with cream.
                                        From your post it would seem you've had good service previously so hopefully this is a case of one waiter having a bad day.

                                        1. re: Paprikaboy

                                          What's the country coming to when a restaurant serves cream with sponge pudding? Sacrilige.

                                          Doomed, doomed, we're all doomed.

                                          In similar vein, we're having wimberry pie tonight. Herself asked if I wanted it with custard or ice cream. I just looked at her. And she said "I thought I'd given the option. Custard, then."

                                        2. re: jrhsfcm

                                          I sort of see the point about the cocktails issue.

                                          St John used to do great beer (Harvey's from Lewes IIRC) and have a decent wine list so it was never really a "cocktail" place. Remember in the UK, a cocktail to us, is a specialist/craft mixed drink with lots of ingredients and is often theatrically shaken,and if lucky, served with a sparkler and little paper umbrella.

                                          If you wanted an aperitif like a G&T or similar then that would have been easy - but asking for a cocktail may have been completely misinterpreted.

                                          As an aside I was talking to the old manager of a very high profile, very popular London restaurant and he said the chef adamant he would not change any dish at the whim of the customer. His stance was that if you don't like it order something else (they would allow for allergies). I have a certain sympathy with that so the Fergus comment makes sense.

                                          However, all that said, the bone incident is unforgivable and poor service is poor service and quite out of character. However, I don't go back to St John as I think the food should be better and I think it was in its early days.

                                          1. re: jrhsfcm

                                            Being very honest here - I don't see what was wrong with the service you received.

                                            The bone issue sounds like the server handled it professionally - he conveyed your concern to the chef, returned with the expressed apologies. What more was he supposed to do?

                                            And the only other specific instance you mention is the question about the bar. I've never patronised the bar area, so I don't know - but does the bar actually have cocktails? If the answer is no, then the response was merely a way of saying they don't have cocktails at the bar. Was this, in your opinion, a non-negotiable must - such that a restaurant that didn't serve cocktails would be essentially by definition one providing poor service?

                                            I'm sorry if this comes off with a very challenging tone, but I get the feeling that the issue here is not one so much of bad service as it was of diverging expectations, with regards to what a restaurant should provide, especially with respect to the service experience. I'd like to identify what was actually bad, in a definite sense, that for you ruined the evening.

                                            1. re: AlexRast

                                              Your response isn't challenging — it's rather quite snide, I must admit.

                                              First of all, re. the bone incident. We mentioned the LARGE bone in the rillettes... and he didn't say a word and acted in that very typical, "so what" kind of manner. I then mentioned the issue of small bones = occasionally happens/huge bone as a choking hazard = rather careless and a point of criticism that SHOULD be sent back to the kitchen. What more was he supposed to do? Oh, I don't know... not come back from the kitchen acting like a complete jerk, grinning from ear-to-ear as he says, "Chef sends his apologies?" His sarcastic, snide response was completely out of line. And, beg your pardon, I don't know what restaurants you frequent, but I'm not one to frequent Michelin starred restaurants fitted with servers who are complete a-holes. A simple, "I'm sorry about that — I will let the kitchen know" would have more than sufficed. Disinterest and then sarcasm are not part of the equation.

                                              Second, re. cocktails. If you don't want to serve cocktails, don't serve cocktails. That means, don't have a stocked bar in your restaurant. Don't staff a bartender. I didn't wildly insist that they run to the local shoppe and buy alcohol specifically for us lest they otherwise ruin our celebratory evening. There were no requests for items requiring blenders, specialty ingredients, or anything particularly outlandish and time consuming. If the bar can't produce something, that's absolutely fine and understandable. During my visit to SJ just prior to the one recounted above, I had asked whether the bartender could make a Vesper... the waitress simply said, "I'm not sure, but I'll ask." She returned and said, "Not a problem," and a few minutes later she returned with the drink. She then said that the bartender hadn't been entirely sure of the recipe and looked it up online on his iPhone. I was a bit dubious at that point, but I took a sip, and it was probably one of the better Vespers I've had out in London. All handled perfectly well and appreciated. And at the end of the evening, I bumped the standard 12.5% gratuity to 20%, a pesky Americanism for good service that I can't seem to shake.

                                              This time, the server was a condescending brat. If you serve something, you serve it... and you don't treat your customers poorly because of it. As an example, if I choose to drink a beer with a steak instead of a glass (or bottle ;) ) of red wine, that's completely my choice and mine alone. If a place serves beer, you serve it to me if I request it. If I seem unsure of a particular wine when I order, and the server makes a recommendation indicating that — based on past experience — that I might like a different wine with said steak even more, then I appreciate the recommendation. It is at that point MY prerogative to take or not take the recommendation. After waiting for 20 minutes for our server to even acknowledge us... and then to act in a manner as though we 1) were making some ridiculous request that they might or might not entertain (again, stocked bar + bartender = ability to serve basic cocktails... oh, again, I've had them there before), and 2) responding in a patronizing tone that we should really order wine instead because that's how Fergus intended the food to be eaten, well, is unacceptable. We had every intention to order wine to pair with our <food>... and we did. I'm well-accustomed with brusque service, which I more often than not don't find as rude, but rather as "efficient." And quite frankly can be quite charming. But under no circumstances, in ANY customer service field, should one ever be condescending or otherwise rude to a customer. We certainly WERE NOT to him. *In a definite sense,* if that's too much to ask, find another career.

                                              I was nothing but complimentary of the food. What we had was very, very good. I didn't overwhelmingly bash the restaurant. But the service, in this instance, was completely unacceptable at any establishment. There is no way possible for me to adequately express just how inappropriate our server was or how much the service marred the evening and our overall appreciation of the establishment. I've had other quality meals there, and as noted above, service included. The last one was incredibly memorable... and not for good reasons. I would also like to further note, since I forgot to mention this in my previous post, that when I mentioned all of this to the young lady who took over processing our payment when our server disappeared without a word [Note: we saw him eating dessert at the table next to the bar on our way out, btw], she removed the service charge from our bill without me even requesting it. She was legitimately apologetic and seemed quite shocked by it all.

                                              I also recognize that I'm not the only one whom has had a less-than-ok service experience at SJ based upon online feedback found elsewhere. I simply noted for the OP that, well, considering it's your honeymoon, perhaps take this into account. My friends and I have taken this in stride — we eat out far too often — and "... not as Fergus intended" has become a bit of a running joke. I might return again someday because of my previous experiences; the birthday gal shant. Obviously every individual's mileage will vary. If the OP and SO go there, I certainly hope they have a great time!

                                  2. Why has nobody thought breakfast? I mean a full blown loosen the belt extravaganza with black pudding, beans, eggs, toast with the grease soaked through.

                                    A FULL English breakfast.

                                    The chance of them getting a bagel and coffee like NYC is zero. So they may as well dive into the first culinary treat I discovered in London many years ago. Granted lunch is ruined for anything greater than a glass of wine and some weeds on a plate. But still.

                                    Just reread the original post and saw they are asking specifically for dinners.

                                    Never mind.

                                    21 Replies
                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                      Even so, I would always recommend a "full English" breakfast to visiting foreigners. Not forgetting the full Scottish, Welsh or the Ulster Fry if visiting other regions of the country. Most greasy spoon cafes are dire in terms of quality but that's part of the deal.

                                      I can think of three very decent offerings in the London area. Maria's Cafe at Borough Market. Diana's Diner on Endell Street. And, a bit further out, near Kew Gardens, the Bridge Cafe. Latter is a personal favourite, as that's the area I'm usually visiting when I come to the capital. One of the greasiest of greasy spoons but one of the fullest of the "full English".

                                      Lots more London breakfast recommendations here: http://londonreviewofbreakfasts.blogs...

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        The Hawksmoor breakfast for two is an awesome meal

                                      2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                        Toast, what is this abomination? It's probably OK on the side with a decent marmalade. But if bread is part of the full English is must be a fried slice. And ideally it should be fried in lard or the bacon fat.

                                        Thankfully Indian recognised that the foreign invader called "hash brown" also has no place on the plate. If potatoes are to be served then they are sliced into rounds and fried, or made into potato cakes, or if in Ireland made into a potato bread.

                                        1. re: PhilD

                                          Agreed. Hash browns have no place in the Full English. Nor, IMO, do baked beans which now seem to appear instead of the more traditional tomato.

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            Both a grilled small half tomato and baked beans have been part of the full English breakfast at the bed & breakfast places I stay in, for as long as I can remember which is decades. Has the grilled tomato been dropped?

                                            1. re: John Francis

                                              We always seem to get tomatoes for breakfast when we stay at a B&B.

                                              1. re: zuriga1

                                                Ah, that's B & Bs. I was talking the greasy spoon. Rare to see a tomato on a greasy spoon breakfast, unless it's out of a tin, in my experience.

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  I don't get it. Why would a visitor to London eat breakfast in such a place? Well, whatever.

                                                  Out of curiosity I checked the menu at the Ritz Hotel, whose full English breakfast was featured in an episode of Globe Trekker, and they do without the baked beans but not the tomato.

                                                  1. re: John Francis

                                                    "Why would a visitor to London eat breakfast in such a place? "

                                                    Only by way of better understanding our general culture. Certainly not for "good food". The British greasy spoon is iconic, along with fish & chips, bought from a takeaway and eaten straight from the paper.

                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                      To understand your general culture, one would have to drop in on people at home and share their breakfasts. :-) For visitors to London to skip the breakfasts they have already paid for at their B&Bs, or the breakfasts provided at the hotels where they've spent the night, and instead seek out a greasy spoon for breakfast, seems to me not just extremely unlikely but foolish. Unless they are conducting some kind of sociological survey.

                                                      1. re: John Francis

                                                        You completely miss the point. It is the greasy spoon, not the actual food, that is the iconic contribution to British society. Much in the same way as the pub does. Whether foreigners want to sample that is a matter for them - but I agree with you, most American visitors are going to either have the B & B breakfast or pay through the nose for their nice, sanitised hotel breakfast.

                                                        By way of contrast, we have just returned from over three. weeks in America. We stayed in 12 hotels. Most provided an identikit "free" breakfast included in the room rate. We ate it some days, other days we sought out the equivalent of our greasy spoons. I know which breakfast experience I found most enjoyable. But then, it wouldnt be the first time someone suggested my decisions were foolish.

                                                        Should you ever wish to drop by and have breakfast in North Cheshire, you'll find a choice of toast or muesli waiting.

                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                          I beg your pardon, but it's you who miss the point - the point of this thread, which is all about the food and places where New Yorkers honeymooning in London can have it, not at all about the "iconic connection to British society" of this or that eatery.

                                                          1. re: John Francis

                                                            That would be your interpretation, John. An opinion to which you are, of course, entitled.

                                                            For myself, I'm content to have added some detail to Indianriverfl's idea for the OP. As he has pointed out the "full English" is an iconic dish and can be eaten in iconic locations. As such, it's entirely something that the OP may wish to include in their brief stay in our capital (although I know they originally just asked for dinners). I'm sure they'll also have welcomed your contribution to the discussion, as much as I have.

                                                            1. re: John Francis

                                                              I am with Harters - food experience, and good food often go hand in hand.

                                                              In the US I will hunt for a good greasy "dirty" burger from a hole in the wall place rather than a quality burger in a restaurant. I will look for taco carts for a Mexican experience as well as try the more innovative New Mexican places. And for breakfast I will search out an old fashioned diner with short order cooks producing all sorts of artery clogging goodness in preference to my bland (all inclusive) hotel breakfast.

                                                              So in the UK a good greasy spoon is a cultural food experience and good for it. Breakfast at the Wolsley is just as good but different. Likewise F&C is best from paper on cold night walking back from the pub not at some linen clothed restaurant table. A good curry needs to be tried at a basic Pakistani or India sweet centre/cafe as much as one of the top spots. Andalusia good pub isn't a gussied up gastro pub but somewhere basic with good beer, a warm welcome and hopefully a good pork high quality pie or sausage roll.

                                                              To me these are essential food experiences and the whilst the quality of the ingredients and cooking matters it's often as much about time and place. If other boards can discuss the merits of food carts why is the great British fry up off limits?

                                                            2. re: Harters

                                                              No need for lumping and assuming re. Americans and our "preferences" for sanitised this and that.

                                                              I can assure you that the greasy spoon concept is not exclusively British. Such places are found in abundance in the US and, as such, wouldn't exactly qualify as a novelty to many, many Americans.

                                                              A greasy spoon may or may not be the best place for a fry-up. If it's anything like the diners where I grew up (NOTHING like what you Brits have presumed to be our diner culture, btw. More presumptions! ;) ), the food probably is very, very good.

                                                              And that's what this is all about, right? ;)

                                                              1. re: jrhsfcm

                                                                Hey, jrhsfcm - some interesting American commentary about finding Europe "unsatisfactory" on the sanitised theme on this current thread.

                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/917857

                                                              2. re: Harters

                                                                Can't blame you for skipping breakfasts included with American hotels. With few exceptions (luxury resorts perhaps), they are passable at best, pathetic at worst. I stayed at a motel in Nevada once that had a box of Trix, a loaf of white bread and a unrefrigerated jug of milk sitting next to the front desk as the included breakfast. Yeah, in many situations over here a diner is your best bet.

                                                                On the other hand, I just recently took a trip to England and Scotland. Included breakfasts ranged from passable to glorious. The low point for B&B breakfasts was actually in London...your money just doesn't go as far there I suppose. I stayed at a youth hostel for one leg of the journey where breakfast was on your own, and I did enjoy the breakfasts available at nearby cafes as a cultural experience as well as for their deliciousness.

                                                                A ten item breakfast is really something to behold...something you would never see in America, especially with fruit pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, two types of sausage and blood pudding. I skipped lunch afterwards, it was so good.

                                                        2. re: Harters

                                                          We have no greasy spoons in Surrey. :-)

                                                          1. re: zuriga1

                                                            My "greasy spoon" was the Crown & something or the something & Anchor directly across from the Smithfield meat market. It was one off the very few pubs that could serve alcohol in the early morning. Time was called at 0700hrs.

                                                            Broke a lot of speed limits getting from the Dover ferry terminal to that pub. Full of men in their bloody long coats enjoying a pint after working all night. So we were not warmly received. Until I ordered a Full English Breakfast with my bitter and finished it all. She Who No Longer Must be Obeyed ordered a Black Velvet with her half breakfast.

                                                            The last couple of times we were remembered and our drinks seemed to jump the line. Other than the lady behind the bar, SWNLMBO was the only female we ever saw in there. And we were the only tourists we ever saw in there. Be just like before, the locals made room for the over paid cousins from across the pond.

                                                            Far more enjoyable than a poached egg on toast at the Savoy. Or any other hotel breakfast.

                                                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                              Maybe B&B should stand for Booze with Breakfast.

                                                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                Exactly the point about the Full English, Indian.

                                                                It's something I enjoy when travelling (even when it takes on the guise of the Full American). I rarely eat it near home, although every few weeks I take myself off to the village cafe, where they do a very decent version, including a slice of well buttered toast on the side and a coffee for £4.25.

                                                2. We get to London about once or twice a year (give or take) and try to eat as well as we can. My two recent favorites have been River Cafe - just as good as I had hoped it would be; and the Ottolenghi upscale place, Nopi. I've also very much enjoyed the Spanish restaurant Barrafina, but they don't take reservations if that is a problem for you. We got there just as it was opening on a wet Sunday night and there was already a line forming. I agree with others that a great gastropub should be part of your visit.