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Tom G

London: Solo dining @ the bar?

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I'm coming in from NY on business and while I'll have a few meals with friends, i'll probably also be flying solo a few nights. And would love some recommendations of places where eating at the bar is welcomed and encouraged (and where the experience is not a never-ended parade of wankers elbowing past you for a drink).

I'll be staying in Marylebone, but willing to travel wherever - especially for good food & good atmosphere.

My top choices for genre: modern brit, italian, french bistro, indian, gastropub.

I welcome all suggestions.

Thanks!

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A few years ago I was in London on business for a few weeks and dined alone several times. The Brits don't seem as into bar dining as New Yorkers. I went to both Amaya and Benares (both upscale Indian) and loved the food at both. Amaya is very much set up for solo diners with a communal table, and I met some lovely people that night. At Benares I sat alone at a table, which is not my preference at all.

I'm pretty sure St John has a bar that you can eat at.

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Hi,

There are a number of places which have bars where you can dine at:

Le Caprice - a classic restaurant with european food. It's famous for celebrities. but the food is good.

J Sheekey - a seafood specialist. It has 2 bars, one of which is a large round oyster bar, which I'd thoroughly recommend.

Arbutus - excellent value european/french cuisine. They also serve all their wines in 250ml carafes.

Greens - in St.James. An 'old school' british restaurant (with a dress code). It has a gentleman's club feel.

Enjoy your trip!

TC

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Hi,

There are a number of places which have bars where you can dine at:

Le Caprice - a classic restaurant with european food. It's famous for celebrities. but the food is good.

J Sheekey - a seafood specialist. It has 2 bars, one of which is a large round oyster bar, which I'd thoroughly recommend.

Arbutus - excellent value european/french cuisine. They also serve all their wines in 250ml carafes.

Greens - in St.James. An 'old school' british restaurant (with a dress code). It has a gentleman's club feel.

Enjoy your trip!

TC

There is also "Terroirs" a very French inspired wine bar, with great food, near Charing cross. It is one of the hot tables in town at the moment. Their bar is set up for eating and people watching.

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the Oyster Bar at Sheekeys, Scotts, Terroirs, Le Caprice. If you dont mind queueing you could try Barrafina or Brindisa both Tapas Bars in Soho (they dont take reservations) There is also Bocca di Lupo a great Italian in Soho with a lovely eating counter. You could also eat in the bar at a table at St John, and both Cafe Anglais and Hereford Road have little booths that seat 2 right by the kitchen where i have dined solo on countless occasions.


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Arbutus has bar space too

Complete with singularly charmless barman on the only occasion that I ate at the bar.

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Lots of great options.

Thanks all.

I will report back after my trip!

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Arbutus has bar space too

Complete with singularly charmless barman on the only occasion that I ate at the bar.

I had impeccable and very friendly service when i ate at the bar a couple of weeks ago - my first time at the bar as opposed to a table, complimented me on my wine matching to my menu etc etc i wouldn't let that stop you returning


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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At the top end, Maze and Maze Grill have bars you can eat at, but I must admit I prefer a table.

Bistro-wise, I regularly dine alone at Racine, and usually I won't be the only one.

I tend to dine alone in London more often than in company, perhaps about a couple of times per week. I must admit that at first I was quite self-conscious about it, but these days it doesn't bother me one iota. Very occasionally diners (usually slightly inebriated ones) at nearby tables ask me why I'm dining alone, but I find dining alone is one of the few truly hedonistic plesures left in life.

The only problem is that sometimes restaurants, when taking bookings, realise that it's for one and think they'll loose out on a valuable cover. That's easily rectified, just tell them it's for two.

Two tips: always take enough reading material (I usually take at least a quality newspaper), and always turn your phone ringer off, taking any calls outside. In fact, preferably turn the whole bl@@dy phone off!

Cheers, Howard

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A bit off topic, but I love when eating alone most of the times the staff things I am a food critic. It happened in San Francisco when I went in March for a conference, and it happened that 4 out of the 6 days to eat alone. never had better service!! I have to admit that staff and service in SF are impeccable in most places I ate, very friendly.

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I saw people eating at the bar at Bocca di Lupo the other night.

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So i had two nights...and made rookie mistakes both nights.

Ate at the bar at an old sentimental fave (The Enterprise in Knightsbridge)...the scene of my first overseas date with my now wife...

The food, the atmosphere, the service all seemed great then (this was 10+ years ago and amongst other memorable things it was ones of the first times we had South African wine - an eye-opening Hamilton Russell Chardonnay).

I walked in, sat at the bar, was ignored for five minutes (I should have left then, but wimbledon WAS on, so i cut them a little slack), and had a decidedly mediocre meal.

And they didn't even have the Bannofi (sp?) Pie we remember so fondly.

Night #2, i decided to go for the new & hip and went to Conran's new Albion/Boundary empire. I chose to eat downstairs when I think i was really in the mood for upstairs.

I orderedly oddly, so maybe it was my fault.

I had heritage (a.k.a. heirloom here in the USA) tomatoes. I figure they would have had something on them. Nope, just tomatoes on a plate.

OK, then I had the pint of prawns not understanding that they would just be boiled prawns served sauceless (but for mayo) and cold in a bowl with heads-on.

And on the side? An order of beef-dripping chips (i.e. fries cooked in beef tallow). What could be better, right? They were mostly tasteful...and hard.

Next time, I go with the experts.

Two Soho finds I did quite enjoy for lunch - Princi and Piada. Really delicious Italian at both. Very different, but both very good. At Princi i really felt like i could be in Milan. A nice feeling on a sweltering day in London.

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So i had two nights...and made rookie mistakes both nights.

Ate at the bar at an old sentimental fave (The Enterprise in Knightsbridge)...the scene of my first overseas date with my now wife...

The food, the atmosphere, the service all seemed great then (this was 10+ years ago and amongst other memorable things it was ones of the first times we had South African wine - an eye-opening Hamilton Russell Chardonnay).

I walked in, sat at the bar, was ignored for five minutes (I should have left then, but wimbledon WAS on, so i cut them a little slack), and had a decidedly mediocre meal.

And they didn't even have the Bannofi (sp?) Pie we remember so fondly.

Interesting: although I've lived within walking distance of the Enterprise for 17 years, I only first tried it about two months ago for Sunday lunch. I really liked it - I had a great red mullet main. The dessert wasn't bad either. My fellow diners decided to test my wine knowledge, and I pinned all three to the grape and the region to my own ultimate surprise, as well as the admiration of my cohorts. I know it's a Stateside thing, but I must admit that I just don't get the TV thing in a restaurant. I'd much rather sit down with the paper.

I rate Hamilton Russell chard as pretty darned good value, and is fairly common in London, even making an appearance in some up market boozers. Amazing what they manage to get out of such a short time in the bottle.

Cheers, H

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I can second the recommendation of Terroirs as a great place to eat alone - especially if you're into natural and/or biodynamic wines. Another wine bar with good food is Cellar Gascon, which is owned and run by the same people as Club Gascon.

Otherwise, tapas bars (any of the Brindisa ones, Barrafina, Salt Yard or Dehesa in particular) are good, and, if you like Japanese, you might want to try getting a seat at the bar at Roka.

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