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Kim Shook

London recommendations May 2011

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Our trip to England that I’ve posted about is finally SET! We have all of our transportation and accommodations and now I need to know where to eat. I have done lots of searching here and have gotten some good information, but our trip has gotten pretty specific by now and so I thought I’d post those questions. I am going to put a few different posts in with the same 1st paragraph to explain, but if I’ve made a mistake in doing that I’m sure that someone will tell me!

We are going to be doing a lot of rambling – and will have a car (except in London), so we’d prefer places that are more casual (we’ll likely be wearing jeans or khakis/chinos – I don’t know what you all call them – tan trousers), that don’t need reservations. We’d love information on anything that we shouldn’t miss including pubs, pub meals, afternoon tea, fish and chips, etc. - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thank you all so much for your help!

We’ll be in London 3 days (including a Sunday) and 4 nights, staying with a friend between Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. Our sightseeing will take us all over, of course – Windsor Castle, Covent Garden, Portobello Market, British Museum, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral.

We do need one nice evening meal – a ‘thank you’ to the friend we are staying with who is saving us from having to pay the incredible hotel rates in London! He doesn’t eat red meat at all.

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A casual place in central London is PRINCI at 135 Wardour Street in Soho, simple Italian food, but specialises in baked food, savoury and sweet, a branch of a Milano establishment, open all day, just walk in.

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If it's a special occasion and you're on holiday, then consider the OXO tower. You have the choice of a cheaper brasserie or a more expensive fine dining restaurant, but they share the same incredible view. Ignore the grumpy online reviews from people who think it is overpriced and simply sit back and enjoy the scenery. I've been there a few times (brasserie only), the food was much better than I expected and I've definitely paid the same or more for decidedly more average food without the breathtaking view. You'll also get live jazz.

You should make a reservation to request a window table, or at least a table near the windows, and you won't need to wear anything formal for the brasserie- can't comment on the restaurant.

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There are several Ottolenghi restaurants (Islington, Notting Hill, Kensington, Belgravia). Delicious, fresh, stunningly beautiful Mediterranean-based food. I worked with Yotam Ottolenghi (owner) briefly when we were at Baker & Spice (which you might want to try as well however they are now owned by the Patisserie Valerie group and I can't imagine the quality is as good as with the original owner).

Gail's Artisan Breads has a slew of locations around London so if ever you see one and are in need of a sandwich or coffee and cake, pop in and give it a try. Disclosure: I worked with them a few years ago and I understand the carrot cake I developed for them won an award last year! Their breads are very good and the sandwiches are fresh and quite original.

You say you'll be going to Portobello Road? After a long morning of antiquing, I will walk to the far north end of Portobello Road, past all the antiques (be sure to stop at Books for Cooks on Blenheim Crescent, and The Spice Shop across the road), pass the fruit and veg stands and the clothing stalls, under the overpass and make a right on Golborne Road until you find Lisboa Patisserie. Order a nice milky coffee and several pasteis de nata (custard tarts) and enjoy!

Where will you be going outside of London? I might be able to help there too!

Oh to be in England now that April's there!

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Eat breakfast at one of the 'Sofra' restaurants. I tried it at the covent garden branch. Halloumi, sauteed spinach, mushrooms, deliciously rich shots of hot choc, feta, pide, plus a range of meaty things including spicy sauseages, tonnes of eggy dishes, an enormous selection of teas...these are all available!

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It's usually a truism that you can't get decent fish & chips in southern England. I say that, not just with regional northern pride (the first documented fish & chip shop is in a town 20 minutes drive from here) - but with experience of eating it "down south".

However, I will make an exception for Masters Superfish

http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/venue/2:1175/masters-super-fish

London obviously abounds with restaurants at all levels and from all cuisines and without more information about your needs it's difficult to make recommendations. I really only visit the capital as a tourist so am looking to eat stuff difficult to find nearer home - the "big name" places, of course but also, say, high end Middle Eastern food which is a favourite cuisine but only done casually near me.

If your touristing of St Pauls co-incides with lunch, their cafe or restaurant is a worthwhile stop-off, rather than going out of your way for somewhere else.

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St Paul's is in the City no? If you are there on a Friday or a Saturday, I would definitely hit up Borough Market. It's wonderful. Lots of yummy things to eat. Lots of fun.there are also a couple of good seafood restaurants there.

what kind of food will you be looking to have?

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Another vote for Ottolenghi.

Don't miss Borough Market-- chorizo sandwiches at Brindisa!

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Thank you everyone for all the information! We haven't completely figured out what days we are doing what, but as soon as I do, I'll plug in all of these ideas.

As far as what type of food we want, for the more casual meals like I said pub meals, 'traditional British' (thanks for the fish and chips advice, John). Also, Mr. Kim loves Indian food and we are pretty adventuresome eaters. For the special 'thank you' meal the menu should include lots of non-red meat choices for our friend. He's not really super 'into' food, but loves French food and classic preparations.

Jenni - I have a question about your recommendation for one of the Sofra restaurants. You said to go for breakfast, but the website only mentions a breakfast menu at the St. Christopher's Place location. Do you know if that is the case? Also - they look and sound nice enough for our 'thank you' dinner. Do you think so?

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Curries-- yum! Also a great strip of little Vietnamese places on Dalston Road.

Leon (several locations) is a good place for breakfast or lunch.

I haven't lived there in three years, but it's all coming back to me...

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^^

Kim, we stumbled upon the Covent Garden branch by chance when we were out on the prowl looking for breakfast! You may want to ring in advance to check, but they certainly had a printed breakfast menu, so it wasn't just a one-off.

I would definitely like to go back again for a meal at lunch or dinner. It was quite a nice restaurant, looked rather posh without being overly stiff and formal. I guess it would depend on whether you and the people who will be with you like Turkish food, but if you do, then I think it will be an elagent setting to enjoy such food in!

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I always recoommend them in London, but their pre-theatre menus are fabulous - I am talking about Arbutus, Wild Honey and the latest Les Deux Salons (the latter has a £15.50 pre-theatre menu - really good food; stunning value).

I also second Sofra and Leon for good value eats. The Sofra in Shepherd Market has a lot of character - the whole area has now it's been, ahem, cleaned up.

Kim take a look at the menu of the Wolesley - some dishes are pricy but not all, but it's so beautiful, and has such a buzz, it might be worth pushing the boat out a bit. The food is good IME - afternoon tea is served till quite late and I have eaten that instead of dinner before now.

Finally I love the Parlour at Sketch - it's part of a really lovely smart restaurant, but is more casual - great for people watching - and their viennoiserie are utterly utterly delicious, and not that expensive. Make sure you visit the loos.

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Take a stroll at the great Borough Food Market in Southwark at early Saturday:

http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/

Fine sightseeing options close by are Tate Modern, Vinopolis, Shakespeare's Globe and more.

For some exciting dishes for dinner go for Champor Champor in the same area. I have been there a couple of times, and it was a success on both occasions. A place with character and a inspired menu.

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Kim - you should do a pre theatre dinner at Quo Vadis in soho 3 courses for £20 (can be expnsive otherwise) also would second st john - you can get a seat in the bar easily enough without reservations and casual dress is no problem at all ( if you do, the bone marrow is a must, as are the madeleines they bake to order and you MUST have an eccles cake with cheese) Any of Russel Normans places - polpetto, polpo and spuntino, all in soho, all no reservations (polpetto is above the french house one of the only pubs in central london worth visiting)The Toucan is also worth having a guiness in if you have any guiness drinkers with you. Terroirs off the strand is great for some good charcuterie and nice wine by the glass. Borough market is a must - do ensure you are there no later than 11am to avoid most of the crowds, th walk along the thames that takes in borough, the tate modern and waterloo is one of my favourites in london. Vinopolis could be worth a visit if you like wine and want to do a tasting.... If you like chinese try bar shu (szechaun and frighteningly hot) in soho as well (its not cheap but wow is it good) Pop into yauatcha in soho and have a cake and tea (or a cocktail) from the amazing chinese inspired patisserie selection. Have a great time!!!

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Beware of walking into just "any pub." Do your research. It's hard to tell who is going to be serving the frozen stuff vs who is serving delicious food because they are all so darn cute. (Advice from a British Friend. )

I second St. Johns.I really enjoyed the food at Tom's Kitchen, But I hear it's not as good as it used to be. It was good to me!

For pubs, I enjoyed my steak sandwich at The Cadogan Arms (I know it's part of a group, but it was good anyway.) I was told that there is a good gastro pub called the Pig's Ear also in that neighborhood which is Chelsea. are you going to be interested in Hereford Rd or that other famous Gastropub? I didn't make it to either but really wanted to try them. They both have threads at egullet from what I recall.

I had wanted to try that pub up near Notting hill that is famous for Thai food: the one that is COVERED in flowers. But it didn't seem so toddler friendly so I didn't go. Is it called the Churchill Arms?

I really like the food in Chinatown as well and I really loved a very upscale Chinese/Dimsum restaurant in Soho called Yauatcha. It was fantastic. In my opinion, British Chinese food is MUCH less greasy/oily than NYC Chinese. I even loved the Pork buns you can get off the street.

Edit: add pub name.


Edited by ambra (log)

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Well, I am MUCH farther along in my planning thanks to all of YOU :wub: ! I've created a Google map with just about every location of Ottolenghi, Sofra, Leon, Gail's, Lisboa Patisserie and polpo! We have 8pm reservations for Quo Vadis for Saturday night and The Wolesley for Sunday night. And we are going to Master's Super Fish on Monday night after a whirlwind bus tour (I know, I know, but we only have 2 1/2 days in London and my mother and English stepdad would KILL me if I didn't see EVERYTHING). The tour ends up at Victoria Coach station and I'm hoping that we can figure out how to get there with a combination of the tube and walking!

My most recent question is re: dress at The Wolesley and Quo Vadis - does Mr. Kim need a coat and tie?

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You may dress as you wish at The Wolseley, but you'll probably be most comfortable in what the British like to call "smart casual."

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Kim,

Very few British restaurants have a dress code today. Most just like "smart casual". A few of the Michelin two and three star places insist on a jacket, but no one to my knowledge "insists" on a tie.

Mr Kim will be just fine at Quo Vadis as well as the Wolseley without jacket and tie.

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Thanks for the clothing advice. He's thinking chinos and a button up shirt with a sweater, if it's chilly. That sounds alright?

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