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rshorens

Eating in Central London

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We live in Santa Cruz, CA near San Francisco, and enjoy moderately priced restaurants with excellent food and service(often frequented mainly by locals, such as Antica Trattoria in SF). My family and I are spending Thanksgiving week in London this November, and have found restaurants there to be either over-priced with good food or moderately priced with bad food. Does anyone have ideas for small, wonderful restaurant "gems" near Bloomsbury, the West End,or other neighborhoods of Central London? I'd be most appreciative for local recommendations for lunch, tea, or dinner.

Thanks!

Roz

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We're pretty flexible- I guess the only type of food we wouldn't want is someplace that serves fried shellfish exclusively- my husband is allergic to that. Ethnic is fine- we're seeking interesting, high quality food in a convenient location. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

Roz

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you should check out http://www.toptable.co.uk/index.cfm (similar to opentable.com here) for restaurant deals. a lot of restaurants will have great deals--some special promotions, other regular lunch prix fixe menus that are good (even great) bargains. some promotions i've seen will let you pay what you believe is fair for the meal (food only), e.g. Mju.

i'm not sure what you are looking for but the best way to try high-end restaurants is to do it at lunch. i liked foliage in the mandarin oriental, their 3-course lunch prix fixe was about 20 pounds in Dec. gordon ramsey at the claridges has a lunch prix fixe for 35 pounds (3 courses), both wonderful. the cinnamon club is a fantastic indian restaurant (fusion-y), upscale but not outrageous. also saw deals at pied a terre, nahm (out-of-this-world thai). for more traditional and even less expensive indian, try vama. london is not a cheap town to eat in, pubs and ethnic restaurants are better bets for inexpensive dinners.

good luck and let us know where you go!


Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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anyone have ideas for small, wonderful restaurant "gems" near Bloomsbury, the West End,or other neighborhoods of Central London? I'd be most appreciative for local recommendations for lunch, tea, or dinner.

I was in London some time ago.... some places I really enjoyed there:

enjoyed a delightful dinner at Brown's on St. Martin's Lane in the heart of the theatre district (tube: Leicester Square)... good food and reasonable priced ...

near the British Museum is the famous Wagamama (tube:Tottenham Ct. Rd.)kind of high tech noodle shop ...

there are the delights of Chinatown, namely Lok Ho Fook on Gerrard Street, and Wong Kei on Wardour Street (tube:Leicester Square) but there are many great, not too expensive meals, to be found in that very small concentrated area.

High tea at either Harrod's (tube: Knightsbridge) in one of their many restaurants, or, my favorite, Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly Street (tube:Green Park or Piccadilly Circus). I never miss high tea if possible!

Coming from the small city serenity of Santa Cruz where everything is quite convenient (mostly on Pacific!), London may seem quite enormous and difficult at first sight, however, their Tube makes everything quite manageable and one can see how simple it is to move about with relative ease. Mind the gap and have a great visit!


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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For a memorable and incredibly cheap lunch, there's Diwana Bhel Poori on Drummond Street near Euston Station. It was the first of the South Indian vegetarian restaurants in London and has hardly changed in the almost twenty years I've known it. They do a buffet lunch for around ten dollars.

Upmarket, I'll also vouch for Foliage. My wife and I are going there again for lunch on Sunday, our 35th wedding anniversary, so obviously we think highly of it.

Edit: I have fond memories of Santa Cruz, Aptos and the Cabrillo Music Festival.


Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Abeno on Museum Street, just south of the British Museum - they cook a sort of "everything but the kitchen sink" Japanese omelette called okonomi-yaki on a hot plate in front of you. Cheap at lunchtime, and I would guess also reasonable in the evening.

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[i was in London some time ago....  some places I really enjoyed there:

enjoyed a delightful dinner at Brown's on St. Martin's Lane in the heart of the theatre district (tube: Leicester Square)... good food and reasonable priced ...

near the British Museum is the famous Wagamama (tube:Tottenham Ct. Rd.)kind of high tech noodle shop ...

there are the delights of Chinatown, namely Lok Ho Fook on Gerrard Street, and Wong Kei on Wardour Street (tube:Leicester Square) but there are many great, not too expensive meals, to be found in that very small concentrated area.

High tea at either Harrod's !

Oh, god. NO!!

I'm not sure what you call "moderate", but you should at least get some good food for your money. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Try some of the better gastropubs around. The Perseverance is in Bloomsbury and is pretty good. You can find a list of those on the Square Meal website. The Havelock Tavern, The Anglesea Arms, The Stutton Arms are some of the better known joints.

2. Hunan. Without wine, you will spend about 35 pounds per person. It will be your best meal in London.

3. Made in Italy/Pizza Metro. Either will do. Best pizza outside of Italy.

4. Avoid Harrods. If you must do tea, pony up and go to Brown's Hotel.

5. Wong Kei is good, but make sure you go with someone who speaks Chinese!

6. Hakkasan is very good, but also trendy and loud. Go for early dim sum.

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2.  Hunan.  Without wine, you will spend about 35 pounds per person.  It will be your best meal in London.

Rather an extreme claim, but actually, not unreasonable. Dinner there is an annual event I share with an American friend when he comes over. With their superb tea, wine is quite superfluous.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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2.  Hunan.  Without wine, you will spend about 35 pounds per person.  It will be your best meal in London.

Rather an extreme claim, but actually, not unreasonable. Dinner there is an annual event I share with an American friend when he comes over. With their superb tea, wine is quite superfluous.

Do you think that 35 pounds isn't accurante? :biggrin:

Seriously, for the price I can't think of a better restaurant in London than Hunan.

BTW, John I owe you big time for the Chez Gramond recommendation on your site. We've been several times now -- truly one of the last of a dying breed.

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2.  Hunan.  Without wine, you will spend about 35 pounds per person.  It will be your best meal in London.

5.  Wong Kei is good, but make sure you go with someone who speaks Chinese!

I have to try and grit my teeth as Mogsob constantly sings the praises of Hunan as I realize I am in a minority of one in disliking this restaurant. But WONG KEI? :huh: I'm sorry. The place is crap. It serves relentlessly perfunctory food on plastic plates delivered by bad tempered and downright rude waiters in cramped and uncomfortable surroundings.

The only good thing you can say about it is its cheap. If you're a student, or the sort of person who enjoys queuing up to be told to piss off by bouncers at nightclubs you might enjoy it.

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2.  Hunan.  Without wine, you will spend about 35 pounds per person.  It will be your best meal in London.

5.  Wong Kei is good, but make sure you go with someone who speaks Chinese!

I have to try and grit my teeth as Mogsob constantly sings the praises of Hunan as I realize I am in a minority of one in disliking this restaurant. But WONG KEI? :huh: I'm sorry. The place is crap. It serves relentlessly perfunctory food on plastic plates delivered by bad tempered and downright rude waiters in cramped and uncomfortable surroundings.

The only good thing you can say about it is its cheap. If you're a student, or the sort of person who enjoys queuing up to be told to piss off by bouncers at nightclubs you might enjoy it.

Went to Wong Kei once with a Chinese friend . . . we got a different menu and good food. Not great, but very good value for the money. Went back myself, and it was crap.

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Tony, you are in a minority of two. Have been to Hunan twice and am not inclined to go back. While the food was good, I don't go out to eat to be bullied by the owner. Last time we went there we asked if we could have duck included in our meal. He said that we didn't want duck. We said we did. He then proceeded to have a succession of dishes brought to the table until we told the waiter we were full and couldn't eat another thing. At that point he came back to the table and smirked "You still want duck? See, I told you you didn't want duck".

On a more positive note (and in a similar part of town), Noura, near Victoria, is good and can be quite reasonable. I like the mezze and we have been known to have two courses, both comprising a selection of mezze.

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BTW, John I owe you big time for the Chez Gramond recommendation on your site.  We've been several times now -- truly one of the last of a dying breed.

I'm relieved to hear it. Yours is the second recent enthusiastic response. I have not dared to return because my first and only experience was so time-warp magical that I didn't want to risk an anticlimax. My next Paris trip I'll return and take my wife.

Sorry this is geographically off-topic, but I couldn't resist. :smile:


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Tony, you are in a minority of two.  Have been to Hunan twice and am not inclined to go back.  While the food was good, I don't go out to eat to be bullied by the owner.  Last time we went there we asked if we could have duck included in our meal.  He said that we didn't want duck.  We said we did.  He then proceeded to have a succession of dishes brought to the table until we told the waiter we were full and couldn't eat another thing.  At that point he came back to the table and smirked "You still want duck?  See, I told you you didn't want duck".

On a more positive note (and in a similar part of town), Noura, near Victoria, is good and can be quite reasonable.  I like the mezze and we have been known to have two courses, both comprising a selection of mezze.

Ah, Mr. Peng. He must like me; last time, we got a whole duck and a whole fish on top of the usual 10-15 course parade. :raz:

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Have been to Hunan twice and am not inclined to go back.  While the food was good, I don't go out to eat to be bullied by the owner. 

Those of us who are particularly fond of Hunan and Mr. Peng are solidly backed by Fuchsia Dunlop (_Sichuan Cookery_), who first sent me there with a glowing recommendation.

Perhaps my fondness for Mr. Peng stems from affectionate memories of Edsel Ford Fong, the head waiter at Sam Wo's in San Francisco. Fong habitually and notoriously abused his guests. I went regularly with a girl friend who was the only caucasian member of the local Chinese orchestra. She would often play her bamboo flute for the entertainment of the other diners.

Time went by, we split up, and after a certain number of months I returned to Sam Wo's with my next girl friend. Fong looked at her, looked at me and asked loudly, "What happen to other one?"


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Have been to Hunan twice and am not inclined to go back.  While the food was good, I don't go out to eat to be bullied by the owner. 

Those of us who are particularly fond of Hunan and Mr. Peng are solidly backed by Fuchsia Dunlop (_Sichuan Cookery_), who first sent me there with a glowing recommendation.

Perhaps my fondness for Mr. Peng stems from affectionate memories of Edsel Ford Fong, the head waiter at Sam Wo's in San Francisco. Fong habitually and notoriously abused his guests. I went regularly with a girl friend who was the only caucasian member of the local Chinese orchestra. She would often play her bamboo flute for the entertainment of the other diners.

Time went by, we split up, and after a certain number of months I returned to Sam Wo's with my next girl friend. Fong looked at her, looked at me and asked loudly, "What happen to other one?"

Sorry for being off topic, but I had to respond to John's post:

Ahhhhhh.........Edsel Ford Fong at Sam Wo's..............late 60's...........whew!!!!

"You sit THERE, not there!"................."You serve this! I'm busy" "You want something to drink, you go next door!"

$.60 for the noodle soup.

What a place, what a time!

BTW, just secured a copy of your "Through Darkest Gaul........" GREAT!! Thanks!

Flocko


Bill Benge

Moab, Utah

"I like eggs", Leon Spinks

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Yes, Chinese restauranteurs are not the most diplomatic.

A few years ago my live-in girl-friend of four years left me (my fault - messing around as usual) and I was in an almost-suicidal depression. So I went to my local Szechuan (I was living in Clearwater Florida at the time) and the owner, seeing my extremely depressed state, laughed and said "Ha, Ha, Ha, Your gil-fliend left you, Ha, Ha". :sad:


Edited by peterpumkino (log)

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My Chinese friends say Mr. Peng reminds them of their mothers. That can only be a good thing -- I suspect it is a cultural difference that rubs some the wrong way (different notions of hospitality).

A good Hunan story: I love to tell the story about the second time I went to Hunan. The first time I went, the table next to me had this amazing (looking and smelling) noodle dish (no puns, Simon :wink: ). So the next time we went back, I asked Mr. Peng for a noodle dish. "Spaghetti?" he asked. "No, noodles." I replied. "OK, spaghetti!" he said as he walked off. Halfway through our meal, he stops by and says: "Don't worry. Spaghetti on its way. Tomato sauce, right?" Needless to say, we got neither the spaghetti nor the noodle dish. Well, I told that story to some friends, who decided to have a bit of fun with Mr. Peng, and asked him for "spaghetti." They got the noodle dish. And they said it was fantastic.

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I suspect it is a cultural difference that rubs some the wrong way (different notions of hospitality).

It is nothing of the sort. It was downright poor treatment. I suspect it stemmed from when we asked to be moved from next to a group of six Chinese men ALL of whom were chainsmoking. We were told that we could not move and that all the tables were reserved, despite the fact that at that time half the restaurant was empty. I politely pointed out that there was another table for two vacant and we would be leaving one free and was told that this was "our" table and we couldn't be moved.

I would have walked out then and there but we wanted to eat there. Our food was relentlessly mediocre, had no balance, no discernible order, was plonked down slapdashly by a po faced waitress. But what was worse was that this group of chainsmokers were getting completely different food. We were literally feet from them and I saw everything they had. they could have been dining in another restaurant. They had interesting and unusual dishes served steaming hot (ours were lukewarm) by a solicitous and charming waitress.

Eventually I pointed out to the very unlovely Mr Peng that they were getting completely different food, and so were other people I had begun to notice. To which he said; "You had enough now. You go" I nearly punched the bastard.

Don't give me cultural differences, Mog. He decided he didn't like me so treated us both like shit, while not forgetting to relieve me of money that would have been better spent down my local takeaway.

So there!

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Dear e.gulleteers,

I just got out of the hospital after an appendectomy and have caught up with your responses to my topic. By the way, nothing tasted as good as those first packages of saltines and Graham crackers after the surgery! I am glad to have shed my appendix before my trip to London.

Thanks for all your suggestions about restaurants, other websites to consult, and entertaining asides. If anyone has any brainstorms on central London over the next 2 months, don't hesitate to chime in!

Best regards,

Roz

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Tony Finch, you are not alone in your loathing of the Hunan; I hate the place. God knows why people fall for Mr Peng's circus ringmaster/ salesman schtick, but they do. Basically he is selling second rate and quite ordinary Chinese food but pretending that customers are getting personalised, special treatment and a tailor made menu. Ha! Unless you are one of his special Chinese business friends, you are all getting the same stuff, suckers. And that is whatever was bought at market that morning/week and is easy for the kitchen to cook in bulk. Its such a con. Its such an obvious con, despite what Fuschia Dunlop or anyone else says.

PS I saw Mr Peng the night eating in a very good new Chinese restaurant, Made In China in the Fulham Road, diagonally opposite the cinema. I wouldn't trek over town to get there, but an excellent local with very good prices. Good scallops in the shell - four beauties for £10 - salt and pepper squid, etc. I will post the telephone no when I find it. Even Mr Peng looked happy.

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Its such an obvious con, despite what Fuschia Dunlop or anyone else says.

Fuchsia [sic] Dunlop is not a fool, nor is she a dupe. Several times I have eaten excellently at Hunan and been thanked by discerning visitors for taking them there. Perhaps Mr. Peng responds negatively to diners whose egos equal his own.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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