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London dining help sought, please.

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I am seeking advice on restaurant suggestions for our trip for late September, 2014, please.

I know this is a lot to read, so thank you for your patience.

We are a family group of four: myself, my husband, my aunt, and her (adult) son. We will be in London for eight days, coming from the States, and then in Paris for 11 days. My husband and I were in London about a decade ago; it will be the first visit for my aunt and my cousin, neither of whom have been to Europe before. We live in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio and Chicago.

We are renting a flat in SW1 near the Pimlico Tube station. Owing to schedule loaded with sightseeing, museums, and theatre, we will have limited time for proper meals.

My cousin is a semi-vegetarian who eats dairy and eggs but no seafood or shellfish. Otherwise, we have no dietary restrictions. My husband is our most adventurous eater and enjoys game. My aunt loves seafood. They have also requested, variously, fish and chips, Indian, Thai, gastropubs, Spanish/tapas, small plates, modern British, farm-to-table/market driven cuisine/whatever that’s called in the UK (enlighten me). There’s interest in Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner and any Ottolenghi restaurant. I’d prefer to avoid French as we are going on to Paris. I’m a huge fan of small plates but don’t insist on it. I think the city, and the food scene, has changed a great deal since my last visit and I’d like to get at least a taste.

Budget guess: for lunch below £25 per person, without alcohol and dinner below £45 per person, without alcohol. Cheaper is fine but I will pay for quality and experience. A couple of more expensive meals are fine. I’m open as to location but realistically we won’t travel out of Zones 1-2 much, if at all, in terms of sightseeing and theatre-going.

Fish and chips: I’ve turned up Masters Superfish, Poppies, Golden Hind, ?Geale’s, ?Rock and Sole Plaice. Any thoughts?

Thai: My cousin had a recommendation for the Churchill Arms but this looks to me like a pub with Thai food, perhaps good but probably not excellent. I would like excellent and if this is not something London excels at, please tell me. The Heron? 101 Thai Kitchen? I’m betting the best options are further afield.

London does, of course, do Indian well, and I’ve found so many options I don’t know what to think. I want Indian food I can’t get here at home, and we certainly don’t have Michelin-starred Indian. On the more causal end, I like the look of Dishoom. Gymkhana is also appealing, partly because my husband would like the game menu (am I correct that game will still be available in late September?) and partly because it just looks…interesting. But so do the seafood/coastal Indian restaurants (Trishna, Quilon) and so do places like Amaya and Benares. The Cinnamon Club breakfasts look interesting (I’ve never had kedgeree). I do have access to chaat. I am not sure how to narrow this down. Please help!

Spanish/tapas: I am considering Jose (heeding warnings that it’s small and crowded); Barrafina; and does anyone know about a place called Tozino? My husband and I have been to Barcelona and good Spanish/tapas is hard for us to find in the States.

Places I would like: 10 Greek Street looks good; any feedback? The Clove Club? Mayfields? I also am interested in St. John and St. John Bread and Wine. And Anchor & Hope, if I can fit it in.

Seafood: J. Sheekey is mentioned often and looks good to me. I must look up what potted shrimps are. I see they even have vegetarian options. Other ideas?

Finally: Thoughts on pre- and post-theatre dining? So far we’ve booked plays at the National, the Globe, and Richard III at Trafalgar Studios.

If you got this far, my thanks, and thanks in advance for any advice, comments, or suggestions. I appreciate your help.

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  1. I'll leave locals to make suggestions for restaurants - I only visit the capital as a tourist and, even then, rarely to the central "tourist area". Of your list, I've only visited Masters Superfish, which I liked, and Rock & Sole Plaice, which was vile.

    Farm-to-table doesnt really have a name as such, although you'll find the concept lurking in amongst Modern British based restaurants. "Local and seasonal" would be a major similar concept but I'd suggest that it may not be as strong in London as elsewhere, simply because that it's London. Near home, for example, I would expect a restaurant to make play that they were serving Cheshire pork or Herdwick lamb but that would have no serious meaning in the capital. The "seasonal" will apply and may be your better test - in September, game is very much the thing to look out for.

    By the by, potted shrimps are very much a regional thing from my part of the world in north west England. Potting is a traditional way of preserving food - it's put in pots and then sealed with a layer of butter. http://britishfood.about.com/od/gloss...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Harters

      Thanks for your thoughts on "local" and "seasonal" and I appreciate the reassurance about game in September. That will make my husband quite happy.

      I will read up on potted shrimps and potting as a preservative method. I had certainly seen mention of this in novels before, but hadn't previously encountered it on a menu.

      I will take your comments on Masters Superfish and Rock & Sole Plaice under advisement!

    2. Of your fish and chip choices I've been to Masters,Golden Hind and Poppies. Out of these I'd go for Maters but I also like the North Sea near Euston station.
      I'm not sure London does Thai food all that well. I recently went to Thai 101 and the crab rice dish was pretty bland but the laab with chicken gizzards was very good. I think it depends on ordering the right dishes. I actually prefer Kaosarn in Brixton. As your in Pimlico it's only a 10 min ride on the Victoria line and also many other food options in the market, plenty of posts on this.

      For tapas I would definitely point you to Salt Yard and a Basque place Donostia.

      I've only been to Dishoom for breakfast but loved it and need to go back. All my other places for Indian food are cheaper places well outside central London.

      One cuisine I think London does do well is Malaysian and there are quite a few in Central London. I like Tukdin, Bonda and have recently been going to Roti King a lot.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Paprikaboy

        I appreciate the feedback. I'll look into North Sea although I'm getting a good feeling about Masters.

        Salt Yard had come up in my research so I will look again. I hadn't heard of Donostia, but will look into it.

        Malaysian is a cuisine I've eaten, but my family has not. I will investigate your suggestions.

        If Thai is not a strong point, I'd just as soon skip it but Brixton is worth investigating.

      2. I'm an American who lives near London now for quite a few years, and I find potted shrimp not that appetising. Go for some good seafood - J. Sheeky is a good choice.

        If you're pressed for time, the National has some good dining choices. We really enjoyed The Terrace there.. small plates of delicious food.

        Dishoom is a fun experience, and for something just a bit more formal, I really like Cafe Spice Namaste. The food is very good but Trishna, Quilon.. all good choices.

        2 Replies
        1. re: zuriga1

          Zuriga, I'm relieved to hear that the Terrace at the National is edible. That was on my list to enquire about, but I forgot. Of course something on the spot would be just the thing.

          Dishoom does look fun to me, which is why I'm considering it. My more formal choice of the moment is Gymkhana but I'm sure I will change my mind several times between now and the trip.

          If I do eat potted shrimp, I promise I will come back and let you know!

          1. re: kyra1

            I find the house black daal at Dishoom great comfort food; I've only eaten at the one near Leicester Square tube station on the walk towards 7 Dials.

        2. Banquette at the Savoy used to have a pretty good pre-dinner prix fixe menu.

          Geale's is an excellent restaurant for fish and chips. It is close to Notting Hill Gate tube station.

          2 Replies
          1. re: kagemusha49

            I hadn't run across Banquette, but of course I know the Savoy by reputation (and was considering afternoon tea there), so I will check it out.

            Thank you for the input on Geale's. My aunt is hoping for "the best fish and chips ever," which I'm not sure I can deliver, but I can try!

            1. Just across the river from Pimlico in Vauxhall is The Canton Arms, a good gastropub run by the Hope and Anchor team. It's no reservations.

              Brixton Village is not a bad suggestion as it's quite close to you although I would avoid weekends. You can get decent tapas at Brindisa Food Rooms.

              For Indian, I like Ragam on Cleveland St in Central London. Haven't been to any of the posher options you mention. If you like ottolenghi type food, have a look at Honey & Co on Warren St. It's easy to get to from Pimlico on the Victoria line.

              For market to table, I liked Elliot's in Borough Market.

              Hope this helps!

              5 Replies
              1. re: greedygirl

                Many thanks for the mention of The Canton Arms. I knew the Hope and Anchor people had other restaurants but haven't yet investigated them.

                Brindisa is a place that had popped up for tapas and I will look at that one also, thank you.

                As I mentioned above, I know nothing about Brixton, but can find out.

                I don't know that I do like Ottolenghi type food, but I do love the cookbooks and all the recipes I've cooked from them. My husband loves them even more and he's the one who mentioned an Ottolenghi place. I will put Honey & Co on the list.

                Borough Market is on my wish list but I don't know that I will get there. Again, I'll check out Elliot's.

                Thank you all!

                1. re: kyra1

                  Just so you're aware, Master's Superfish has absolutely NO ambiance whatsoever. But the fish and chips *are* good.

                  I await your opinion of potted shrimp. I'm not sure why, but the looks of them just puts me off. :-)

                  BTW.. I lived in Cincinnati for two years long ago. I have fond memories.

                  1. re: zuriga1

                    I care nothing for ambiance on the fish and chips; I imagine I can get fried fish at J. Sheekey if I want. My aunt asked specifically for fish and chips in London; she enjoys fried fish but never finds any she likes here at home. She has told me she is hoping for "the best fish ever" in London. As the chief researcher and restaurant locator, this makes me nervous, but I will do my best. Hence my asking advice on Chowhound. On my last visit to London, we ate forgettable-to-lousy fish and chips, but I don't recall where.

                    Now I will go and Google photos of potted shrimp, just to see. My husband will eat just about anything, so he can always be my guinea pig. I promise you a report if we do try it.

                    I am originally from Cincinnati, and still have family there. Since it's my hometown, I am, of course, biased, but I am pleased you have fond memories!

                    Yes: J. Sheekey lists "fried fillet of haddock, with chips and mushy peas." Maybe we should just eat it there.

                    1. re: kyra1

                      In addition to Geales which I mentioned earlier and which also has an ambience that your aunt might like, there is also Sweetings on Queen Victoria Street right by the Monument. Sweetings is ONLY open for lunch and only Monday to Friday. The front area is arranged as a set of mini-bars accommodating 5 to 6 people around a server. This area is likely to be dominated by city types. In the back there is an area with regular sit down tables that may be more to your taste. Sweetings also does great fish and chips along with just about everything else fishy that you might like - e.g. oysters, whitebait, smoked haddock - all highly recommended by me and my wife.

                  2. re: kyra1

                    The Brindisi in Borough Market sells an amazing sandwich in their stall. It is a crusty roll with grilled chorizo, poquillo peppers and arugula. I can make the sandwiches here but it seems like that is a must in the first day.

                    Also, Neal's Yard Dairy is very close to Brindisi. It has an amazing array of cheeses and some other tasty items too.

                2. A few ideas:
                  Tapas. There's a new Barrafina near Covent Garden (Adelaide Street). No idea if it's any easier to get into! My personal favourite for tapas is either Brindisa in Soho or Meson don Felipe in the Cut (10 mins brisk walk from the National theatre). I have been going there for about 30 years (in fact I had my leaving party from my first job there) The broad beans with ham is my favourite. It can be a bit noisy.

                  National Theatre. There's a Le Pain Quotidien in the South Bank complex which is reasonably priced, nice food and good service. If you want to spend a bit more, we ate in Skylon in the Festival Hall recently. Good seasonal ingredients imaginatively cooked. If you eat early you might get a seat overlooking the river. There are often prix fixe deals here on Opentable.

                  Pre and post theatre West End. I have been called out on this board before for recommending Terroirs to folks who are going on to Paris! Yes, the name and wine list are very French, but the food is again, very seasonal and local using a lot of British ingredients. If anyone reading can find me a restaurant in Paris currently serving Eton Mess and Welsh cheeses, I will be happy to retract! Terroirs is my go to restaurant for pre theatre as they ask you if you are going to the theatre and what time you show starts as soon as you get there, and the service is consequently excellent.

                  The cafe in the new Foyles bookshop is good, and merits a visit for the cookbook section. Also, amazingly, in a world where book shops are closing, Foyles has invested in a whole wonderful new shop!

                  Finally , I have only been to the Globe to eat once, and it was excellent. (the Swan bar). And Ottolenghi 's Nopi is definitely worth it, but you will have to book well in advance.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Londonlinda

                    I will reply/take in all your comments in due course, but am completely distracted by the news of a new Foyle's and must go look that up immediately. I love books, possibly more than food! I will add that of course I'm only interested in the cafe menu, to make sure this post stays within Chowhound guidelines...

                  2. Fish and chips - I would avoid Geales as it is overpriced and rather bland and the other options are cheaper and better. Other options include Kerbisher & Malt and Bonnie Gulls

                    Thai - Churchill Arms is pretty good for simple Thai food. Other authentic places include Addie's in Earls Court, or Charm in Ravenscourt Park. The Heron is meant to be very authentic but based on previous visits, the service is unintentionally terrible (they just don't seem professional and able to cope during busy periods) and I feel the quality of the ingredients are on the cheaper side

                    Indian - Dishoom is good - I have never tried the breakfast there but have been told that it is very good. Of the ones you mentioned, I think Benares is the best, and probably the most expensive. Went to Gymkhana recently (it was a real mission to get a reservation at a convenient time) and I feel that it was very good, but overrated and overhyped. Trishna is very good and so is Cinnamon Club. Quilon is nothing special in my view

                    Spanish - Barrafina is good but also a mission as you need to queue for a while. Tozino is a nice place to hang out during the day in Ropewalk / Maltby Street market, although the menu is limited and it is mostly for snacks and really good jamon. Alternatively, you could try their sister restaurant Fino. Alternatives include the Cambio de Tercio group

                    Seafood - Scotts - though it is pricey

                    Have a great trip!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Opium

                      Geales - bland? We are talking traditional fish and chips here. And that's why you have salt, vinegar and pepper on the table. Overpriced? Really?

                    2. I tend to think Thai is pretty average in London and if visiting its better to head to places that do outstanding food rather than average (it's different if you live in London and need a Thai fix).

                      I would add Opera Tavern to the Tapas list - its central in Covent Garden, you can book, its roomy and the food is very good.

                      For F&C it depends if your mum wants proper F7C from a take-away's or cafe type places or a good restaurant. London really isn't great for take-away so better for sit down in an old fish restauant - Sweetings is very London and a one of a kind.

                      You have Indian options covered - all pretty good - but I would try the newer ones like Gymkhana, Trishna or Dishoom.

                      1. You could always take a day trip to Brighton and eat Fish and chips on the beach from somewhere like this:

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Foxeyblue

                          I had some of the worst fish & chips of my life in Brighton. Truly vile - even worse than the London place I mentioned upthread. I know we northerners say that you can't get decent f & c in ths south but stereotypes are born of experiences like these.

                          1. re: Harters

                            I've had good fish and chips there also. So many places to buy them it is hardly surprising. The one I linked seems to get very good reviews for the most part.
                            The best fish and chips I have ever eaten were in Poole, where every second shop seems to have won an award or other, but that is a bit further from London.

                            1. re: Foxeyblue

                              The chippy on Brighton pier is supposed to be decent. I was staying for a couple of nights in Worthing and drove to Brighton specifically for that - only to find I'd gone on the one day of the week when they close. Instead, popped into this place almost directly opposite the pier and it was just awful.

                              1. re: Harters

                                I lived in Brighton for a number of years and I think it's fair to say the F&C get better the further you get away from the sea front. I think I know the one opposite the pier and it's squarely aimed at the day tripper not residents. Back in those days we had a laundrette next to a decent pub and bought a fish supper from the chippy next door when we headed home from doing our weekly wash.

                        2. Yes, the London food scene has certainly changed! My husband and I hadn't been for about 20 years, before returning to London several years ago. Since then, we've been back several times, and will be returning in October (so would love a post-trip report from you).

                          My husband's parents immigrated from Mumbai, so we lean toward Indian food in London. Re Indian, there is likely more variety in regional Indian cuisine than in Ohio, though I don't know the Ohio food scene at all (I used to live in Chicago, and am quite familiar with Devon St), though generally what you'll see is north Indian food, and many dishes that you will have seen in the States. Southern Indian restaurants will tend to have more dishes that are less familiar - choose fish dishes, and those with coconut milk. My favorite Southern Indian restaurant in London is Cafe Spice Namaste, though it's a bit out of the way (IMHO, worth it). We've only eaten at one Michelin-rated Indian place in London, Quillon, and liked it very much. It's Southwest-coastal food as well.

                          My other favorite, and that of the whole family, is Dishoom. I dragged them here the first time, because I love chaat dishes, and it was a good call. The place has a very good vibe, good service, lots of small dishes. It's also open late - one time we ate here for a late dinner post-theater. The dishes tend to be a little spicier than at the other central theatre district Indian restaurants, which could be good or bad for your group. We also had breakfast here once, which I thought would be great, but while still nice, was like regular English breakfast menu with spices. Oh, and the chai tea is quite spicy (as I am told it is in India). We've also eaten at Mela and the Masala Zone in Covent Garden; fine, but nothing unusual IMHO. Another better choice in that area was Punjab, northern food, but they have a nice pumpkin curry that I had not seen anywhere before.

                          An item that you'll seen on many English Indian restaurant menus, that I have never seen in the U.S., is Peshwari naan. It's a sweet naan, with coconut and drive fruit pieces. Still appropriate to have with the meal, but a nice item to try.

                          Of non-Indian, the only tapas place we've been to so far was Opera Tavern, which had excellent jamon bellota - like you, I'm looking for tapas that's better than what I've had in the States, and more like what we've had in Spain.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Lexma90

                            Great tapas at Tendido Cuatro in Fulham (New King's Road) and at their sister restaurant, Cambio de Tercio, which is pricier and more progressive. Both very Spanish in taste and ambience.

                          2. Hello Guys

                            A quick comment.

                            Don't bother with St John expensive and totally overated not worth a visit I have no idea how they got a star.
                            Sheekeys is old English Fish very good but you won't eat for £25 its on the top end of eating out cost, really worth a visit, nice room and great old style service.
                            Try Jason Athertons Social Eating House in Pollen St W.1 much recommended for modern cuisine but not cheap.
                            Eating out in London is expensive for Londoners so for visiting US tourists its extortionate.
                            Stay away fro all the chains all rubbish, Jamie Oliver Italian nonsense pathetic effort.
                            Most Indian restaurants are Bangledeshi ok but not outstanding.
                            Most Chinese Cantonese also ok, go into Chinatown and eat Dim Sum th big restuarant opp the Fire Station all red and gold frontage is really good, don't know the name.
                            Italian is also poor generally we cook UK style Italian, drab and poor.
                            WE have good French, in Mayfair Chavot is excellant much recommended and for a really outstanding meal you will remember for ever go to Nobu in Mayfair, Japanese , not all raw fish, lots of great dishes, best service in London, can be expensive watch what you order be guided by the waiter, who will know the menu inside out.

                            That's it enjoy diverse culture London have a good trip.

                            Lord Webb
                            Trip Advisor Reviewer (check out trip for Restaurants)

                            19 Replies
                            1. re: AdrianWebb

                              St john should remain if only for the doughnuts and Eccles cakes.
                              I think you are referring to New World in Chinatown:

                              1. re: Foxeyblue

                                Funny how the Eccles Cake has become fashionable down south, while the Chorley Cake has remained a regional favourite. I suspect it's because the Eccles Cake better lends itself to being ponced up, rather than just taken for what it is.

                                1. re: Harters

                                  I've never seen a Chorley cake down South, so not much opportunity for it to become popular! I actually prefer shortcrust to puff ;)

                                  1. re: Foxeyblue

                                    They're not that easy to come across in the north west. You need an old fashioned baker - ones with stalls at markets are usually a good bet. My favourite stall at Bury market has them as small and large - large being about the size of a side plate (i.e. just enough for one when you're back from taking the whippet for a walk round the mills.)

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      Nice to hear middle England still has Whippets and walks around the mills and indeed the fabled large Eccles Cake presumably good eating, made with local lard, would fatten up the Whippet nicely.....

                                      What is your experience of black pudding, very hard to get nice aromatic pudding its all bland and vile even with a nice Made in Yorkshire banding, supermarkets hav'nt got a clue.
                                      Can you suggest a good one and if it could be shipped to the smoke (London).
                                      Regards to the whippet.
                                      Lord Webb

                                      1. re: AdrianWebb

                                        Bury market is also home to two black pudding stalls. Both good. There's the well known one that gets all the publicity and then there's the better one, Chadwicks, that has all the queues of us locals buying. This is the link to the well known one (as the other possibly hasnt heard of computers, let alone have an online shop) - http://www.buryblackpuddings.co.uk/ . They offer two traditionally shaped ones - with or without fat. Needless to say, you want with fat. Should do you OK - let us know.

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          Many thanks for your advice I have checked out Chadwicks on Google it would seem various enterprising butchers stock this sausage and have facilities to buy on line and post to the smoke.
                                          I shall attempt to purchase, and look forward to a large plate with some eggs for breakfast.

                                          1. re: AdrianWebb

                                            Excellent. You should get something very savoury, quite fatty and peppery. Perfect, in fact.

                                      2. re: Harters

                                        Gobsmacked to come across Chorley Cakes in my local Marks & Sparks this morning. Might be worth looking there if "dahn sarf".

                                          1. re: Foxeyblue

                                            Should be worth a nosy. The packaging describes them as "Lancastrian pastries", so likely sold outside of the north west and we'd know where Chorley is.

                                2. re: AdrianWebb

                                  Not quite sure how we got onto Eccles Cakes or indeed Doughnuts come to that, personally I would't go to St John for Eccles cakes , a free meal or £20 a free meal and a free Eccles Cake its just dreadful !!

                                  With comment on overall London dining , it's time foodies voted with their wallets and actively bycotted expensive , small portion , fashionable restaurants,that don't deliver, its all about eating guys, and its only a bit of food.Stop being conned into thinking these silly morsels on decorated plates is worth the money, send it back and ask for a proper plate of food, or simply pay for your drinks and get up and walk out, post a review on trip and make your stance eventually the penny might drop and things improve.

                                  Its not every restuarant of course, be wary of Michelin Starred, the whole thing has gone tits up, and the guide is generally best used to avoid a pathetic expensive meal, time for the Chow Book Guide to real eating in the UK etc etc.

                                  Good Luck out there and good eating.

                                  Lord Webb

                                  1. re: AdrianWebb

                                    This is why..and lots of other blogs of course. I don't have photos.

                                    There are places in London I like far better of course, but fair is fair.

                                    1. re: Foxeyblue

                                      I have to say the donuts look wonderful, shame St John is such a tip and the restaurant food vile.

                                      Great pictures well done.

                                      1. re: AdrianWebb

                                        (not my blog...but indeed well done to the photographer)

                                      2. re: Foxeyblue

                                        Those donuts looked positively decadent.

                                    2. re: AdrianWebb

                                      I happen to like St John and compared to a lot of places I don't think it's that expensive (most starters under a tenner and mains in the mid teens). Especially compared to somewhere like Little Social. Whether it's deserves a star or not may be debatable but you could say that about other places in London. It has a particular approach that I appreciate that might not be everyone's cup of tea but wonder why you found it overrated?

                                      It's true that the majority of Indian restaurants are run by people originally from Bangladesh. It doesn't follow that there aren't any good Indian places in London though. As for Italian, I usually go to my local Sardinian place but I enjoyed the food at Locanda Locatelli and Zucca, though I haven't been to either for quite some time.

                                      1. re: Paprikaboy

                                        I too have a fond spot for St John, but that said you do need to order carefully, and agree it's really not that expensive for London. It's also it's 20th anniversary this year which says something for its longevity. It's a little odd Adrian pour scorn on the place yet argues for proper plates of food - isn't that what St a John is all about?

                                        I am also slightly mystified by his dislike of small morsels on plates and his recommendation of Pollen Street Social. I was disappointed with my meal at Pollen Street which didn't seem to live up to the hype.

                                        Agree with Adrian regarding chains but query Nobu - not really the best London has to offer especially when it's such an international brand.

                                        1. re: PhilD

                                          It's good that we all have our opinion on what's good for us and so on.
                                          I can only speak as I find.

                                          I found St John scruffy and grubby , with food served appallingly on the plate with no thought to any presentation, on to our meal The Guinea Fowl Half bird was poorly cooked tough as old boots, no attempt to remove any of the bones,and with a dull knife impossible to dissect.
                                          Sarters were duck tongues which were chewy and just awful,I had some tastless ox tongue also chewy ,the best part of the meal was a good bottle of wine, served in cafe glasses !!! uugh ! and the coffee was good.
                                          The tables and chairs were third rate also.
                                          Michelin star ...why....cooking strange cuts does not make a good restuarant or warrant the Michelin however as I have already said the Michelin leaves a lot to be desired.
                                          Whilst we are talking forget the Berkley Hotel Marcus
                                          Waering a rip off, tiny menu, all cheap cuts and very expensive, I don't want to eat mackeral at £9 for a starter please aaoh I nearly forgot dont waste the trip and the cash on another London icon Pierre Kaufman living on old reputations ...awful the famous stuffed pigs trotter signature dish should be inserted in his chefs rear, a disgrace at £28
                                          On a positive note I am not a fan of telly chef Heston Blumenthal but his Knightbridge Mandarin is unusual and very good and recommended.
                                          Lots of good eating in London a bit expensive but diverse.
                                          I must go and eat a wonderful Prawn Curry now from Rick Steins fabulous book, buy it guys, great recipies.

                                    3. London has such a wide variety of restaurants, you will love it. As a soon-to-be expat in London, I have travelled to London about 3 or 4 per month over the past 5 months. All all the places I have tried, these are the ones that I go back to and why:

                                      Salt Yard-Their small portions are perfect for sharing. I like the small, intimate space. I would do this place for both lunch or dinner. For dinner you probably need to book. This restaurant is located on a quieter street than Oxford so, if you do shop on Oxford but want to escape the craziness, head over to Salt Yard, start off with one of their speciality cocktails and then enjoy many of their bite sized creations.

                                      Ducksoup- in Soho. Their food, service and unique wine selection are surprisingly great. Because of their location in Soho, it's an easy walk to Trafalgar Sq and the theaters. I like the pint-sized intimacy of the place and the unique dishes they present. You should probably reserve for dinner.

                                      Mildred's in Soho. I visit this vegetarian cafe for lunch several times during each of my trips. Your cousin will have lots of vegetarian options but so will the rest of your family. Their halloui burger is a fav as is their detox salad. Their food is freshly prepared and this restaurant is the best of all the other vegetarian places I have tried in Soho.

                                      Nopi in Soho. I wasn't too impressed with Nopi. I gave it a try because so many people raved about it. But I thought the food was average at best and the service hurried and very rush, rush, rush. There was no charm, no uniqueness, and nothing original.

                                      Polpetto in Soho. It reminds me of a grungier Ducksoup. I prefer Ducksoup to Polpetto. But this place is very packed in the evenings.

                                      Bone Daddies. You didn't mention Japanese but there are several Japanese ramen shops in Soho. This is my favorite thus far for their addictive broth, chewy noodles, and their fun, chaotic atmosphere. Expect long lines out the door, but it moves relatively fast.

                                      Dishoom in Shoreditch. It's Indian food modernized with eye-catching cocktails. I've only been to the one in Shoreditch and the long wait in the evening was sobering. But their food was solid and tasty. I would probably go back with friends who enjoyed drinking cocktails and eating Indian food. But there are so many great Indian restaurants in London, it's easy to explore some others too.

                                      Lima, not far from Salt Yard and Oxford's shopping madness. I LOVE this Peruvian restaurant. Whenever I go there, I am always surprised by the food and learn something new about a South American grain or ingredient that I have never had before. Lovely place. Reservations recommended for dinner.

                                      Story in Shad Thames, just at the southern end of Tower Bridge. For a special occasion or just for a different lunch experience, I would recommend this restaurant. I will be going back next month. To really enjoy it, you need to have nothing else to do afterward your meal. You need the time to enjoy every single course they bring you; so don't be in a hurry.

                                      Have fun on your trip!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: lecker

                                        An excellent Thai in the West End (near Selfridges) is Chaopraya Eat Thai.... Only drawback being it is expensive! Grab a great coffee around the corner at Workshop coffee afterwards...

                                      2. If you have not purchased your flight tickets I heartily recommend flying out of Chicago. AA flight 90 leaves about 8:00 AM and is a direct flight. It gets you in to Heathrow at around 10:00 PM London time. Get a bite to eat and a drink. Go to sleep and wake up with no jet lag.

                                        I know that was not about food. It has been about 4-5 years since our last trip to London but I have relied on Harden's restaurant guide. It has not let us down once. It also has maps in the back of the book that show where the restaurants are in each neighborhood. You can check them out on line too and order a guide in advance.

                                        1. I'm sorry I haven't been back more recently to thank everyone for their input. We are getting closer to departure and I'm very excited. I will carefully consider all your suggestions and comments.

                                          A couple of new queries:

                                          Chocolate: My aunt has asked about both chocolate shops in London and also places likely to have a good selection of chocolate bars. So far I've identified Paul A. Young, William Curly, of course Charbonnel et Walker, and I'm told Selfridge's has a good selection. Any thoughts here are welcome.

                                          Peri-peri, or piri-piri as I sometimes see it, chicken: a friend has suggested we seek this out. Again, your thoughts are welcome.

                                          Thank you very much!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: kyra1

                                            Piri-piri is an African chilli and seems to crop up most in food related to South Africa and Mozambique. I suppose it's recent popularity in the UK is due to the expansion of the South African owned chicken chain, Nando's. It wouldn't be something I'd be in a rush to eat here. Or there, for that matter.

                                            1. re: kyra1

                                              If you want a wide selection of different makes, then Selfridges is the place. Personally, I would just head straight to William Curley, or to Rococco, in Marylebone High Street. The latter especially if you like dark chocolate.

                                            2. I have been reading this thread with much interest in anticipation of an upcoming family visit to London. We are two adults and four college students. Kyra-I'm wondering if you have submitted a trip report. Your feedback on the various suggestions would be much appreciated.