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Summer family English must tries in London?

lml3800 Jan 25, 2014 07:49 AM

Heading to uk this summer with dh and kids(9,7). Will go out of our way for good places to experience food we don't get in the states, but need to do as a family. Will have about 8-9 days in London, staying in south Kensington/notting hill/Chelsea area but will be exploring all over. Have one night with sitter, so maybe recommendations for good fare as fam and suggestion for a one-night special with dh? Have done high end us/French restaurants, but looking for great experience, not just hype. Any kinds of food will do!

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  1. h
    Harters RE: lml3800 Jan 25, 2014 09:35 AM

    Ledbury for your special night. One of the country's best restaurants and just near you in Notting Hill.

    As for the family nights, I note you want to be able to experience cuisines that you can't easily get at home. It might be helpful if you could give an idea what that might be (although "British" food is presumably a given in this).

    14 Replies
    1. re: Harters
      lml3800 RE: Harters Jan 25, 2014 02:21 PM

      British would be my first pref, although not sure what that means these days-pubs, fish & chips, etc. if there are must try sandwich/burger/street foods, that would be welcome too. We do sushi, tex/mex, Thai, Lebanese, and I get to drag them to Indian every once in a while (but one of my favs) also do fish/seafood, Italian...pretty varied but that's why I left it open. Didn't know if there were some more casual fare spots that we wouldn't know about that would be good experiences!

      1. re: lml3800
        Harters RE: lml3800 Jan 26, 2014 03:18 AM

        Please look beyond the stereotypical national food of stuff like fish and chips. Yes, of course we eat it. But it isnt what we regularly eat. It would be like me visitng America and asking about good burgers.

        Good pub food will be more representatiev of modern British food. Can't help with recommendations, I'm afraid - I like at the other end of the country and only visit the capital as a tourist, when I'm not looking for pub food. You'll need to check that a pub's dining arrangements are such that they will aloow the youngsters to be there - the alcohol licencsing laws are not straightforward in theis respect and it'll be much better to check with a place than turn up and have difficulties.

        1. re: Harters
          brokentelephone RE: Harters Feb 21, 2014 10:20 PM

          Americans basically eat burgers all the time though.

          1. re: brokentelephone
            klyeoh RE: brokentelephone Feb 22, 2014 03:28 AM

            I *was* about to say that, BT, but you beat me to it. In the US, Americans *will* ask other Americans where to get the best burgers when they are new in town :-D

            1. re: klyeoh
              zuriga1 RE: klyeoh Feb 22, 2014 04:14 AM

              I think a lot of Americans assume they'll get a good burger almost anywhere decent they decide to eat. :-)

              1. re: zuriga1
                lml3800 RE: zuriga1 Feb 22, 2014 10:53 AM

                Not necessarily true! I can only speak about our experiences, but you usually find the best variants in the smaller, independent, lesser known (not posh) places. (That's why you ask!)

            2. re: brokentelephone
              lml3800 RE: brokentelephone Feb 22, 2014 10:49 AM

              So I'm giving you the benefit if the doubt because I can't believe that you'd be so rude about someone who is making a genuine effort to have a good experience in UK. That would be not be so very polite or setting a very nice welcome, would it? Not all Americans are the same, nor do I hope are all the Brits!

              So then, if it's gauche to ask about burgers, what do fellow Brits ask about when they locate to a new town? What do they like to find a local favorite of?

              1. re: lml3800
                Harters RE: lml3800 Feb 22, 2014 11:06 AM

                I suspect Britons might well ask about the "best" Indian food. And then they'll be disappointed with the responses. Such a subjective subject.

                By way of illustration, the (urban) village where I live has three Indian restaurants. The local forum had a discussion about which was the best. It was pretty much a tie in votes between all three. I've eaten at all three and take the view that the food is pretty much the same and that it's not very good.

                1. re: lml3800
                  zuriga1 RE: lml3800 Feb 22, 2014 11:16 AM

                  When moving to a new town, Brits might ask about the best fish and chips or the best pub. I'm not sure. I'm an American, but I've lived in England a long time now. Maybe that's why I don't know much about hamburgers.

                  1. re: zuriga1
                    Paprikaboy RE: zuriga1 Feb 22, 2014 12:15 PM

                    First priority (for me anyway) is always to find a good local pub. A decent chippy and Indian would be nice but if they're not available locally I just the eat at places that are good. No good fish and chips or regional Indian restaurants locally but very good Sardinian and Venuzualan places so I go there. and get my other cuisine "fixes" elsewhere.

                    1. re: Paprikaboy
                      Harters RE: Paprikaboy Feb 22, 2014 12:34 PM

                      Good pub is probably even more subjective than good Indian.

                      There's two pubs in the village. One is where I had my first legal pint (August 1968 FWIW). The other is the generally acknowledged "most popular" - but described by Mrs Harters as the place where "certain types of men go to belch and fart in public". She's not wrong, you know.

                      1. re: Harters
                        kagemusha49 RE: Harters Feb 22, 2014 02:41 PM

                        Sounds like heaven

                      2. re: Paprikaboy
                        PhilD RE: Paprikaboy Feb 22, 2014 05:25 PM

                        Totally agree - the pub is key. Not certain anyone in the UK would be too concerned about a good F&C shop these says. If there is one its a bonus but they are not on every street corner.

                        I think some maybe sensitive to have our national tastes characterised as F&C as that's probably more the result of the British Tourist Authorities efforts rather than reality......and yes curry is probably more accurate.

                        1. re: PhilD
                          Harters RE: PhilD Feb 23, 2014 01:31 AM

                          Good chippies are an absolute rarity, even here in the north where we invented them (Lancashire town of Mossley, 1865). The vast majority batch fry their fish, keeping them warm in the steamer. Means that much of the batter's crispness is lost and, if you press it, it will ooze oil. Similarly, chips are fried at too low a temperature and then held waiting for customers. And, again, that means you're going ot be buying an oily, floppy piece of potato. Don't get me wrong - a "proper" chip should have an element of floppiness to them. After all, they are chips, not fries.

                          This is what most of us eat as fish & chips. However, if you find a place that fries to order, then you can be on a winner. A good way is to establish whether cod or haddock is the norm in that part of the of the world - and then order the other one. Pretty much guarantees a fresh cooked fillet.

          2. Paprikaboy RE: lml3800 Jan 25, 2014 10:12 AM

            For family recs I would suggest Kopapa which is a fusion place and Dishoom , an Indian place based on the cafes of Bombay. Both would be fun places to go with kids , that have good food.



            4 Replies
            1. re: Paprikaboy
              lml3800 RE: Paprikaboy Jan 25, 2014 02:31 PM

              Thanks! Dishoom looks fun! Now I just have to convince them:-)

              1. re: lml3800
                missylrn RE: lml3800 Feb 21, 2014 10:05 PM

                Loved loved Dishoom. I would have no problem going there with kids. There might be a line to get in....it moves fairly quickly though.

                1. re: missylrn
                  lml3800 RE: missylrn Feb 22, 2014 10:50 AM

                  Thank you for the feedback-it's on our list for sure!

              2. re: Paprikaboy
                lemons RE: Paprikaboy Mar 3, 2014 05:01 PM

                Thanks for the reminder about Dishoom, where I haven't gotten to on my last two trips. This time I Will Get There. Looks better than ever. I wonder if I can just rent a room above the shop?

              3. limster RE: lml3800 Jan 25, 2014 11:38 AM

                One night special with dh:
                Japanese/kaiseki at The Shiori in Baywater (close to where you're staying)

                Good fare as family:
                If you're willing to travel a bit on the District Line, there are many excellent Indian places in East Ham, and all very casual, so should be able to accommodate your family easily. Chennai Dosa (Tamil), Hyderabadi Spice (Hyderabadi), Lahore Nihari (Pakistani) are some of the more recent places I've been to and enjoyed. But also check out the various chaat stalls.

                Been a long while since I've had the Brazilian at Barraco (Kilburn), but was great, plus they serve moqueca.

                Excellent Iranian kebabs at Mohsen in Kensington.

                No. 10 Chinese restaurant for Sichuan in Earl's Court.

                Tukdin near Paddington for Malaysian.

                Sedap near Old Street for Penang style Nyona.

                The kids might enjoy cooking at the table. Chinese hotpot at Royal Palace (near Canada Water) or Korean grill at Koba (Fitzrovia) are good options.

                3 Replies
                1. re: limster
                  Calam1ty RE: limster Jan 25, 2014 03:06 PM

                  Is it OK to say that East Ham might scare the family? :) Teasing...kinda. All I want to say is for fish and chips, please find out where the local chippy is. Pub and restaurant fish and chips are just not the same! Fun food experience for me - and fun for a family, I think - is to go to a street market where there's a lot of street food. For me, that's Brick Lane's Up Market on a Sunday, or Broadway Market on a Saturday. As well, picking up a bagel with salt beef or smoked salmon and cream cheese and eating it while strolling or sitting at the curb - from Brick Lane Beigel Bakery. But then I'm an East End girl!

                  1. re: Calam1ty
                    limster RE: Calam1ty Jan 25, 2014 03:41 PM

                    I see plenty of families eating in East Ham. I wouldn't hang out there late at night, but given children's bedtimes that shouldn't be an issue.

                    1. re: Calam1ty
                      Harters RE: Calam1ty Jan 26, 2014 03:25 AM

                      I'd echo the mention of the Brick Lane Sunday food market. We went on our last trip to the capital - I've never seen such a diversity of ethnic foods in one place before. Really, really good.

                  2. j
                    John Francis RE: lml3800 Jan 26, 2014 03:23 AM

                    Another suggestion for your special night: Rules. Quintessentially English, a great experience, and not just for the excellent food.


                    1. k
                      kagemusha49 RE: lml3800 Jan 26, 2014 09:36 AM

                      You say you like fish and chips. Notting Hill is home to Geales fish restaurant that has been a sit-down but casual and reasonably priced fish and chip place for more than 50 years. It is on Farmer Street just a short walk from Notting Hill Gate tube. It is always high on my list when I go back to London. http://www.geales.com/notting-hill/we...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kagemusha49
                        lml3800 RE: kagemusha49 Jan 26, 2014 10:31 AM

                        Thanks! That's precisely the kind of feedback I was looking for-what are the favored places to get those "traditional" foods.

                      2. k
                        kagemusha49 RE: lml3800 Jan 26, 2014 09:41 AM

                        Traditional fare? Ever had pie and mash? This is an old East London working man's tradition that is slowly disappearing (although Gordon Ramsay and David Beckham are trying to revive it). M Manze is pretty darn good and is on Tower Bridge Road about a mile South of Tower Bridge. http://www.manze.co.uk/

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kagemusha49
                          lml3800 RE: kagemusha49 Jan 26, 2014 10:31 AM

                          We'll try this too! Thanks!!

                        2. a
                          AlexRast RE: lml3800 Feb 22, 2014 03:42 PM

                          A quick list of favourites - not by any means comprehensive:

                          St. John. Perhaps the iconic British restaurant in London. Very good value considering what you get, too. Should have no probs bringing the kids.
                          Ottolenghi. Totally different and unique; it's a true London experience. The Islington location is the one to go to. Mediterranean food, extremely creative. Lovely in summertime; choose a sunny day. While in the area, stop by Paul Young for really good chocolate.
                          Golden Hind. Every time I want fish and chips, I go there. Consistently the best in London.
                          Nearby there's also the Ginger Pig, which you should go to for a takeaway lunch. They always have something good. The sausage rolls are legendary. Sit on a bench in Paddington gardens and enjoy a picnic.
                          Anchor and Hope. My vote for gastropub. Slightly more genuine than some of the others, although you have to be patient about long waits and no bookings. Very worth it.
                          Scoop: It's not Italy, but it's possibly the best ice cream in the city; a place to take the kids on a sunny day. You could also test the fish and chips across the way at Rock & Sole Plaice; in my view maybe not as good as Golden Hind but still worthy. For a more upscale fish experience in the Covent Garden area you could go to J. Sheekey. You'll need to book well ahead, though. However I wouldn't consider it a "one-night special" sort of place.
                          I personally liked Dinner by Heston Blumenthal a lot; the food was really first-rate. However for a "one-night special" you might find the atmosphere a bit unimaginative.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: AlexRast
                            lml3800 RE: AlexRast Feb 23, 2014 02:14 PM

                            Awesome list-thanks Alex!!!

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