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Holly Moore

A Yank Eating London

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Looks like I'll be heading to London in about 10 days. Helping to film a documentary on Interrogation, but that's another story.

As some of you may be aware, I travel the U.S. and occasionally elsewhere, in search of joints, dives, greasey spoons, and such searching out really good low (as opposed to high) cuisine.

An obvious British example of what I seek would be fish and chips. I'd be interested in both some of the places serving the best fisn and chips and also the places with the oldest history and tradition.

I'd also like to do the same with the English Breakfast, Steak and Kidney Pie, Welsh Rarebit and other traditional British fare. Also, is there an English traditional equivelent to the Hot Dog and can one get a decent hamburger in London?

Beyond that, what other foods should I seek out that would be appropriate to my site.

And finally, I need to satisfy a multi-year hankering for prime rib with proper Yorkshire pudding.

Seems like I'm eating all the cliches. I'm open to other suggestions too.

Thanks.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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As some of you may be aware, I travel the U.S. and occasionally elsewhere, in search of joints, dives, greasey spoons, and such searching out really good low (as opposed to high) cuisine.

Have you heard of the Café Royal?

When I worked in London it appealed to my sense of humour to ask people if they would like to have a breakfast meeting with me at the Café Royal - not the one on Regent Street but the greasy spoon by the same name in the middle of the Park Royal industrial estate in Acton!

:laugh:

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Beyond that, what other foods should I seek out that would be appropriate to my site.

Faggots and mushy peas but I doubt you would get that in London - more Welsh!

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Hi there Holly

It's unseasonally hot here at the moment (i.e., it's early summer and the sun is shining in London :wink: ) -- so if the weather holds out, can I recommend that you consider that most English of pastimes, a picnic... I have two favourite ways of doing this and eating really well:

1) Central London: head to Neal's Yard Dairy in Covent Garden for cheese, crackers, olives and chutney; then go to Milroy's in Greek Street and pick up a bottle or two. Next, head for I Camisa in Old Compton Street in Soho for Italian bread, cold meats, marinated veg, pesto etc. Finally, take your wares to Soho Square either for a local picnic or walk five more minutes and head to St James's Park to sit on the grass. On your way back, you could have a look at Fortnum and Mason, which is great fun.

2) Cambridge: an hour's train ride from London and very pretty. There's a food market in the city centre where you can pick up fruit, veg and more. And then there's the the Cambridge Cheese Company in All Saint's Passage where you can pick up cheese along with everything else you might want. If there will be two or more of you, it's always fun to hire a punt and have your picnic while floating along the backs and enjoying the view.

Enjoy your stay!

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Hi again

Having had a better look at your post and a look at your website, I realised that you might think picnics don't quite fit the bill...

You could always go for a curry. London has loads of good and cheap curry houses, but they're outside the ususal tourist stomping ground. The Time Out guide to London had a comprehensive listing -- I haven't been for one in ages so I can't advise you more precisely. Sorry.

A warning: the British have never been very good at cheap food. Cheap usually means processed to buggery, especially when eating-out. For instance, IMO, if you go for a 'Great British Breakfast' you'll be eating crappy, industrial rubbish such as grey sausages filled with stuff you'd rather not think about (especially in London) unless you either go posh -- which pretty much defeats the object -- or eat at someone's house.

Others will probably disagree, of course...

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Sounds like you would be more interested in Eel Pie and Mash:

http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/home_feat_wher...cockneygrub.asp

This is the traditional london working class grub. Fish and Chips are best in the North of England at somewhere like Bryants in Headingley (Otley Rd. out of Leeds). There are some good ones in London but they weren't so much a part of the local food scene there, so the good ones tend to be a bit trendy.

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THE place for an English cooked breakfast is Simpson's-in-the-Strand. Go ravenous, order the Ten Deadly Sins, and don't plan on doing much or eating much for the rest of the day.

You can get good traditional fish and chips in London but away from the centre-Faulklands in Dalston, Nautilus in West Hampstead, Toffs in Muswell Hill, Olleys in Herne Hill are good examples. More central is the Seashell in Marylebone and Fish Central in the Barbican area. People like Geales in Notting Hill but I've never been there.

Joe Allen in Covent Garden is probably as good a place as anywhere for a burger. It used to be off menu and you had to ask for it (goodness knows why). I don't know if this is still the case. People like Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Battersea (and isn't there another branch somewhere), but I haven't been.

AVOID CURRY HOUSES. If you want to eat Indian food buy the Time Out Guide and follow their recs. They're very strong on Indian food and include most of the best places to eat it at a range of price levels.

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Fish and chips: I have been a few times recently to Geales in Notting Hill and it is very good, but not completely reliable -- once my batter was a little soggy.

Roast beef and yorkshire pudding: I haven't done an exhaustive survey but the best by far of what I have eaten is the Dorchester grill. Big beautiful room, beautifully tender and flavoursome rib (not sirloin which is more trad. but not as good). Not cheap, but I think like sushi, roast beef is one thing where you have to pay your money to get the good stuff

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I agree with Tony that Simpsons is the place for breakfast.

Fish and Chips. I used to like the Upper St Fish Shop in Islington, but I think its moved or closed - I've seen reports on The Fish Shop, 360-362 St John Street, EC1 . 020-7837 1199

History and tradition: Eel pie and mash shops, SImpsons, Fortnums, etc

Hamburgers, Sheperds Pie: Ivy, but not downmarket.

Other: Sabra's in Willesden Green for Gujerati Indian food. Blooms in Golders Green for Kosher, or the Bagel Factory in Brick Lane.

If you follow Shilly's suggestion and come to Cambridge, PM me, and I'd be happy to show you around and/or cook roast beef and yorkshire (especially if its a Sunday lunchtime) from my neighbor's locally grown rare breed. Be warned however, that starting next week is May Week (which lasts for a fortnight), the period after the examinations when the students let their hair down a bit. Lots of outdoor events, concerts, plays, parties. The colleges each give a ball (18th/19th/20th), These are lavish black tie all night affairs. Tickets around £250 (including food and drink) Examples: First and Third Trinity Boat Club May Ball Clare May Ball

On the 21st (Midsummer) the Midsummer Fair starts, which is a large traditional gypsy fair (carny) - over 900 years old - on Midsummer Common. Lots of rather poor quality but traditional food hamburgers, hot dogs etc. Fish and chips cooked on a coal range. You could conveniently eat at Midsummer House, before riding on the steam roundabouts, or the dodgems

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If you find yourself in Hampstead then go to La Cage Imaginaire (16 Flask Walk, NW3; tel 020 77946674). It's intimate, cosy and the food is pretty good too. You won't be disappointed.

Here's the streetmap.

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I'd say if you want a taste of british 'Low' cuisine, DO go to a curry house. No, the food isn't really indian, it's Brit-indian, but no less valid for that.

For the 'Full English' breakfast, try one of the Pubs/cafe's around one of the markets, The Cock Tavern near Smithfield Market is a good place for a fry up and pint of Guinness.

For a higher class of british fare try St John's .You should be able to get a good welsh rarebit as well, as a savoury, and you must have the eccles cake and lancashire cheese (Although I am from lancashire, and hence biased!)

Other things to try? Bangers and Mash, Whitebait, Cockles (Try nipping down to the coast - The cockle sheds at Southend on Sea for a start), Oysters (Real ones, not those Pacific monsters!), Black Pudding, Faggots (No really!), british cheeses (There is more than just Stilton, but not a bad place to start), proper puddings - Not dessert, a pudding, think spotted dick and custard. And don't forget mushy peas with your fish and chips.

Carl

P.S

You can also catch the end of the Asparagus season if you are lucky!


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Holly,

Good for you, an appreciation of good low-end dining is an underrated thing.

Fish and chips is a fine starting point. There is some debate about where fish and chips originated, but I recently read a very good potted history of the dish. From what I remember the two prime ingredients developed seperately, with chip shops predominant in the North and fried fish sellers in the South (as slight generalisation, but I think that's the right way round). History tells us that the first time these were combined was in Mossley, an area of Stalybridge (in the Eastern burbs of Manchester).

There are many outstanding examples still around (there's a fantastic chippy just behind my office actually), but beware of some of the big names. Good food regulars such as the Magpie Cafe in Whitby could be accused of resting on their laurels...

British breakfasts are a winner too. It is probably the British dish that I have cravings for (hangover-induced) the most. That said, I am struggling to think of a place that does it well. The best places (in terms of quality ingredients) tend to be the hotels, or possibly gastropubs/bars, but I think that kind of defeats the purpose. The ingredients and components of the dish are almost less important than the whole, and eating it in a greasy spoon cafe, (robust service, formica, ecelectic clientele) is part of the experience...

As previously mentioned pie and mash/jellied ells and all that East-end malarky is another angle. The other thing is definitely pies and pastry. I always think the Cornish pasty story is interesting. I like the fact that pasties sometimes had savoury in one end, and sweet (pudding) in the other. I also love the idea that when the tin miners of Cornwall moved to the mines of South America (and Mexico) they took the pasty with them, and Mexican miners still eat spicy pasties to this day.

Still pondering the 'hotdog' question. We do sausages fantastically, but the best nowadays tend to be at the mid-high end restaurants such as the White Hart in Saddleworth (home of the truly fantastic Saddleworth Sausage company). The 'grilled sausage in a bun' style places you see about now are a recent American influenced innovation.

Will keep racking my brains, it's an interesting subject.

Cheers

Thom


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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There's a great van on Chelsea Bridge that stays open all night (serving the cab drivers). It does good, greasy "low" food.

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And don't forget, the proper accompaniment to a Fry up (Unless you are going with the Guiness option) is a large mug of over sweet, over milky tea (Tea bags, not 'proper' tea as well) drank piping hot.

Hotel breakfasts can be very variable - Some of the ones doing 'Self service' style are o.k - if they regularly bring out fresh supplies - Sausages, mushrooms, bacon etc is fine this way - but then the eggs are terrible. If you get it plated, it tends to be better - but You don't tend to get the full pig out you desire. They are also scandalously expensive, especially in London.

Oh, and can I tempt you with the delights of the Kebab? OK, not really British - but what gets served in your average british Kebab shop has very little to do with Greece/Turkey. Especially if like an old friend of mine you have Kebab meat, chips, Garlic sauce AND Gravy!.


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Holly,

The journalist whose fish and chips article I read obviously cribbed the whole thing from this website: http://www.federationoffishfriers.co.uk/history.htm

Tells you all you could ever need to know.

Cheers

Thom


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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Ok, having taken the time to have a look at your website maybe a better suggestion from me is The Chelsea Bun Diner on Limerston Street, SW10. They are famous for their breakfasts.

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Holly, I just had a look at your website too, Now I see where you are coming from (A girl after my own heart!)

We just don't have that many tuck your napkin in your shirt, stuff your face and make a mess type places in the uk - well not that aren't horrible themed monstrosities.

Traditionally in the UK, restaurants were for the rich, and even more recently were seen to be only for special occasions, where you needed to be on your best behaviour. It was only with the influx of 'Foreign' restaurants that affordable, fun dining took off.

Something I think you might like is the authentic Balti experience - But You probably need to go up to Birmingham for the genuine article. The basic idea is a fairly scruffy indian restaurant (More like a transport cafe in fact), unlicensed so bring your own booze (No Corkage!), and eat out of the Balti pan scooping the food out with Nan bread (Preferably a shared table naan - about the size of a duvet!)

have a look at Birmingham Balti Guide

Some of the concoctions are getting over the top though - Fancy a chicken, lamb, keema, prawn, chickpea, lentil and vegetable balti? Yes, that is all in one dish!

Or as I mentioned before, there are a few seafood/shelfish places along the coast where you can just sit down with a pint of cockles or a boiled crab.


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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These recommends are all great, though I've needed to consult my English to American dictionary on a couple of occasions. Please, keep them coming. I am beginning to muster my courage to attack a plate of jellied eel and mash.

This trip I don't think I'm going to have enough time to get outside of the greater London area.

One tiny bit of clarification:

(A girl after my own heart!)

Holly is short for Hollister, and except for an unfortunate incident at a fraternity party long, long ago and I blame that on the grain alcohol, I am a guy.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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For burgers, the afformentioned Gourmet Burger Kitchen on the Northcote Rd in Battersea, is excellent. Kiwi owned I highly recommend the Kiwi burger - beetroot, fried egg, pinapple and 100% Angus steak burgers. FYI the other GBK is in West Hampstead somewhere - not entirely sure of the exact address. It is not particularly British though?

What about trying one of the S&M cafes (Sausage and Mash cafes). Essex Rd Islington is a very cool cafe, definitivily British and very cheap. They are soon to open a fourth cafe on Acton High Street ...


Edited by olly s (log)

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As much I love the Chelsea Bun, I would say it's more Americanized than Mona Lisa, across the street on King's Road - there they serve a very good fry up....

Kebab Kid on Fulham Road if you're going to try a kebab - no sitting, just take away, but there is Parson's Green a few steps away and you can eat in the park... It's out of the way, but will never have a better kebab - the idea is sort of like a gyro, rotating marinated lamb or chicken fillets stacked up which they slice off for you into a pita, ask for everything, including hummus and tzatziki and all the sauces -

Cherry Top Cafe on Paddington Street or Blandford's Cafe on Blandford Street, both very good breakfasts...

The Golden Hind on Marylebone Lane for fish and chips, the owners are now greek and they also do a mean deep fried feta appetizer...

The burgers at the Red Lion pub in Mayfair are quite good, and you can do a pub lunch and burger at the same time....


www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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I highly recommend the Kiwi burger - beetroot, fried egg, pinapple and 100% Angus steak burgers.

Now this is exactly the kind of disgusting post that should be banned at eGullet :angry: I won't be able to eat anything for five days after reading that !!!!

Actually, beetroot, fried egg and pineapple might constitute an excellent emetic ... hmmm .... there could be money in this ...

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Whoops!

Sorry Holly!

Thought your tastes sounded a bit 'Butch' (Oh dear, Women's Lib Flaming imminent...)


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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if you like cheap eats what about having a look on the Time Out website at their recent Cheap Eats Award. Not sure what the weblink is? Also Mandalay on Edgware Rd, London's only Burmese restaurant, is fun. Very basic but good curries and great papaya salad, and cheap as chips.

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I second the many recommendations that you go for a kebab, whether traditionally english or not, it is probably the most typical "street" food in London presently. Perhaps even surpassing the curry house.

Burgers: the best Ive had are: Sophies Steakhouse (on the Kings Road, or Fulham Road, can never remember) which is not a downmarket place; Arkansas BBQ in Spitalfields market, which you might like, you can sit outside and watch people wander through the market while you get Bubba's take on life; the burgers at Borough Market, which is similar to Spitalfields for people watching but a bit more of a young professionals with first baby over-earner crowd; and the ground floor of Smiths of Smithfields, which is a semi-trendy bar restaurant across from the Smithfield meat market (note: they only do burgers on the weekend for some god only knows reason. I learned this today when I asked for one at lunch. The waitress had the audacity to suggest a chicken burger instead. I politely informed her that a chicken burger had nothing in common with a burger other than the shape and the name. I ended up with a portion of the roast chicken and chips and a double side order of bacon. God the Brits can do bacon).

For pies in a typical setting, you might check out the Newman Arms on Rathbone Place in Fitzrovia. They have a pie room upstairs which does pretty good pies. They are one of the few independent, landlord-on-premises pubs in this area. They also serve Bass on tap.

Breakfasts: Check out the Fox and Anchor pub over by Smithfields.

Fish and Chips: Fryers Delight on Theobalds Road has been the best ive tried so far, and certainly fits the bill for greasy and a dive. Always a pack of taxis outside with their drivers munching away. Im glad Ive never gotten into the taxi of a driver who had just visited though, that fish fried in beef lard scent can get rancid pretty quickly.

"Ethnic": you should definitely check out Al Dar II on the Kings Road and the Edgeware Road generally. You're gonna get Lebanese food to knock your socks off. There is also an area north of the Portobello Road Market that has some good Moroccan places. And Kingsland Road for Vietnamese.

All in all, however, I have to say that in my experience, London is not the place for dives/street food/greasy spoons. I have always loved these types of places, but in London it has generally meant bad food. And not interestingly bad food, just bad food. The same to a large extent with divey pubs/bars. Usually just shitty lagers, one real ale thats gone off and a slew of alcohpops (although there are obviously a ton of very special historic pubs and working class pubs) London has a lot of strengths but this is not one of them. I think your best bet is to stick to "ethnic" restaurants. London is awash with very good and low-rent vietnamese, thai, indian, pakistani, malaysian, turkish and arguably chinese restaurants with a few peruvian and North African places thrown in.


Thomas Secor

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since no one has mentioned The Borough Cafe on Park Street just across from Neal's Yard Dairy, I assume they finally did close after all. A breakfast of bubble & squeak, egg, bacon, sausage, beans, toast and a fantastic hot, milky tea could keep you going for several days. so sad. since I've lost them for the future, this thread will become very useful.

Brady's in Wandsworth was doing terrific fish & chips when I was there a year ago. anyone been there lately? oh, for a big bowl of mushy peas!


kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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