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A week in London...


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DW and I will be spending a week in London July 5-12. We plan on one, maybe two, big ticket dinners while we are there. We know we would like to get fish and chips and really good Indian, but other than that we are wide open. We may take a day trip out to Bath, but the itinerary is not set as of yet.

St John's was on my list, but from what I have read lately, there are now tons of places doing the same type of food and some are better. Thoughts?

What are some MUST try places. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

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I don't think anything is close to St. John - there are definitely imitators like Hereford Road, but they are simply neither as interesting or as good.

I dined at the new St. John near Leicester Square twice this week and both meals were astounding. An utterly simple dish called Carrots, Barley and Curd (had at both meals) - a salad of fresh young carrots, barley and a spoonful of sour cream - was one of freshest spring dishes I've had in years. A grilled Gloucester Old Spot pork chop was tender and packed with porky flavor missing even from heritage breeds in the US like Berkshire pig. Superb veal tongue. Potted pigeon with pickled prunes on the side - a sort of rillettes with a sweet and sour hit from the juice of the prunes. And more.

I'll reiterate my recommendations for fish restaurants in London, which I believe blow away any pretenders in NYC: J Sheekey, the incomparable Sweetings (lunch only), and Wiltons. There are more - I just ate at the relaunched Bentley's Oyster Bar where Richard Corrigan is chef. Wonderful oysters (Maldon Rocks and two other kinds I can't remember), and gull's eggs, which I'd never had before - only in season briefly apparently, they are tiny eggs with yolks that are nearly scarlet.

Hope these suggestions appeal!

Edited by patrickamory (log)
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For "really good" Indian, it'd have to be Moti Mahal, IMO.

It is a truism that fish & chips in the south is never as good as the north. However, and it saddens me as northerner to admit this, but Masters Superfish isnt too bad.

I'd also urge you to consider Rules which does our traditional food in exemplary fashion. I love it there.

John Hartley

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St JOhn is a must still, have cocktails and a snack at Hix (think oysters or the amazing trealey farm smoked meats) Scotts or the oyster bar at sheekeys are a definite hit as well happy eating, maybe try the gilbert scott in Kings Cross for some true "english" - i havent been but my family are raving about it

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

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would definately visit Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, I had an extraordinary meal there last year while I was there.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is one I'd probably give a miss when I go next, it's nice food, expertly prepared and almost technically flawless, but at the same time it's pretty boring.

The other pricey place I ate in London was L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, which was very impressive.

James.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've had duff meals at St John but never at Hereford Road - Hereford Road has definitely slipped a bit more "mainstream" recently, doing less of the nose-to-tail thing and keeping it a bit simpler but it's half the price of St John and I would say worth the trek. My last meal there about three weeks ago was terrific, anyway - a pigeon & game terrine followed by breast of veal (which had a broth that was just heavenly).

(I'm not saying don't go to St John - you absolutely should, it's definitely in its own league - but I've been disappointed there at least once!)

Other recent places I've gone that I would rush back to are Morito in Farringdon (book a lunch there). I enjoyed Wright Brothers Soho as well - more than the original location - get a mountain of seafood (and lots of oysters) or get the "fish for two" (which seems to usually be a sea bass, but it's always cooked very well and impeccably fresh.

Speaking of Morito, the original next-door place Moro is very good as well but it's been a while since I've been.

Bistrot Bruno Loubet in Clerkenwell is absolutely superb. Very lively room but some pretty clever sparks in the kitchen.

Chez Bruce (Wandsworth Common) and Lamberts (Balham) are both worth the hike out of Central London as well - although it's been a bit longer since I've been to Lamberts, was impressed with both, the latter being especially good value for money with simple, "modern British" cooking, and the former being a bit harder to get a booking at but worth the effort.

Polpo (or one of its siblings I suppose - da Polpa, new, haven't been or Polpetto (tiny, no resos, haven't been)) - can make a fun lunch stop. Wouldn't do dinner though. Bocca di Lupo as well (for either lunch or dinner). (Lots of small-plate stuff going on at the moment, isn't there?)

Edited by whitecat (log)
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agree on hereford road, used to be my local and its greta for lunch, did da polpa last week for lunch and would second there for either lunch or a cocktail/glass of wine and snacks

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

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For a Big Ticket Dinner, I don't think anything touches the Ledbury at the moment. Go. If it's a nice day, have lunch outside.

Otherwise, my firm view is that 'fine dining' in London is not the way to go. I have had so many mediocre meals at this level that I don't think it is worth it eg Ramsay, Wareing, Ducasse, le Gavroche.

Much better are the mid level restaurants that do what they do very well. Hawksmoor is a brilliant restaurant. Great cocktails, great atmosphere, and great steak. Also the mid-level Italians - Trullo or Zucca are both brilliant, and provide much more joy than posh Italians like, say, Aspleys. Soho is a fun place to do a tapas crawl these days - Wright Brothers for seafood, Fernandez & Wells for hams, Brindisa/Barrafina/Dehesa for more Spanish tapas, Polpo/Polpetto/da Polpo/Bocca di Lupo for Italian tapas. Perhaps Hix for dessert and a cocktail. Start early on a weeknight and you could do 4 or 5 without booking (and some you can't book anyway).

I agree that Moro is a great place, and I like Sheekeys and Bentleys too. St John is hit and miss in my experience, but I can see why people would want to go to the mothership. I hear that St John Bread & Wine and the new hotel are more consistent, but that is hearsay.

Tayyabs is always great for Pakistani food.

I'm also a huge fan of Sushi of Shiori near Euston station. It's a VERY basic space. The best way to do it is to call the day before and ask for omakase - £40 per head is about right. Lots of care goes into the preparations, and the fish is top notch.

What about Hakkasan or Yauatcha for dim sum lunch one day? Not much is written about them these days, but the standard is still high, and better (although a different experience) than the trolly dim sum you find elsewhere in London and in other cities.

That little lot should give you a sense of what London has to offer.

If you do a day trip just for food, do the Sportsman in Whitstable and make sure you pre-order the tasting menu. For me, the most exciting place to eat in the South.

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Thank you for all of the replies. This is fantastic information. For what it is worth our friends were already planning on taking us to Polpo. They too feel that St John's is hit or miss, but will probably make reservations. I will bring up Hereford Road.

Wright Brothers is also on the list to bring us to and for "old school Brasserie" they love the Wolseley.

As for day trips, I think we will be heading out to Bath, are there places in Bristol to try?

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Just returned from eleven days in London....we ate at le Gavroche (rather boring at best), Scott's (wonderful seafood and great fun vibe), L'Oranger (one of the best meals we had, every single dish was better than the last), Marcus Wearing at the Berkley (great service, in spite of what others have said on here...we found the new chef and all service people we met, everything one would expect. Again good food.), and last but certainly not least Gordon Ramsey at Royal Hospital road....absolutely the opposite of what we have read on these forums. It was one of the best meals we have had, EVER! The service, the beauty of the room, the food, everything was done in great taste. The food was wonderful, again, each dish surpassing the last, and nothing in the least boring. If we could we would have returned for another before returning to the states. It was NOT stuffy, pretentious, but every single item was considered for the diner's pleasure, truly a wonderful evening.

We also had teas at three different top hotels, and although tasty, sorry to see the old "traditional" sandwiches, etc. has changed. we missed having the old fashioned cucumber sandwiches, etc.

To sum it all: It SHOULD be about the food,as isn't that what we all are after, GOOD food? Plus, of course, service, etc., following; but good taste foremost! :wub:

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  • 1 month later...

For the big meal, go to the Ledbury, it is without doubt the best restaurant in London overall. Otherwise, the newly opened Hedone will be well worth the money. That will probably be the best two meals in London.

Wareing, Ramsay, etc are all very nice, but not overly inspiring. You can do much better.

For cheaper meals, try the Harwood Arms, the burgers at Hawksmoor, the pizza at Franco Manca, some dim sum at Royal China or Pearl Liang and perhaps a meal at Andrew Edmunds (if you're into wine).

There's much more, but those are essential to a visit to London.

For Indian, the best in town, according to Andy Hayler at least, is the Brilliant, although it isn't really in central London. For some great sushi, you should give Sushi of Shiori a go. They do a great job and are priced very fairly!

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