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Moving to London - Good Food Neighbourhood?


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Aha. Indeed, it is partly cultural. But that just reinforces my point.

It's no coincidence that the most successful eateries in London's major babyzones -- Giraffe, Tootsies, Banners -- could all be transplanted effortlessly into any US strip mall. On both sides of the Atlantic, people who eat out with kids will routinely want cheap burgers, cheesy pasta and chicken gougons that arrive 90 seconds after ordering. And they want them served among people who won't light up Cohibas, tutt, or stare daggers when your two-year old decides to annex the neigbouring table to use as a fort.

The Americans, generally, are more tolerant of other people's children than the British. They're also much better at the kind of big, cheap, uncomplicated food that arrives in minutes and appeals to children's taste and parents' pockets. Hence, America has more eateries in the 'burbs than Britain, albeit with less variety.

Of course, the ideal solution would be to have good local restaurants doing simple but well sourced food in an atmosphere that's relaxed enough to cope with sprogs. But then, we'd all be living in Italy.

I think you underestimate parents and children. Yes, drawn out service and overly fussy food don't work. But at least in New York (can't speak for the rest of the country), I see plenty of kids eating things that are a darn sight better (or at least more interesting) than chicken fingers and macaroni cheese.

Over here we have low expectations and restaurants that rarely try to exceed them. I had to laugh at today's Observer--said London was still one of the best cities in the world in which to eat out because it had so many top-notch restaurants. Totally missed the point of what makes a city great for foodies.

As someone who doesn't have piles of money and can't afford to drop £50 a head every time I want a decent meal out, London can either make me cry or pull my hair out.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Apparently the Belsize Tavern has been taken over by the owner of the Great Eastern Dining Rooms  and is due to open in summer.  I recently ate there and thought that for a mid priced meal in Shoreditich it was quite good.

Yes, the hoardings are up in Belsize Lane, announcing that XO will be opening late 2006. Pan-asian; owned by Will Ricker, owner of e&o and 8 over 8 (he evidently takes the view that no one who lives in Belsize Park will ever have heard of Shoreditch :huh:).

clb

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Have really got to disagree with the postive comments about Sardo Canale and Melrose and Morgan. The former is the more over rated and expensive 'local' I have been to. I recently paid £10 less for one less course there than at Locanda Locatelli the previous night, which I rate as the best Italian in town. As for Melrose and Morgan, it's doing fantastically well as it appeals to the type of Primrose Hillers who are happy to fork out ridiculous amounts of money for a couple of chicken drumsticks and cupcakes, which incidentally are bought in.

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  • 6 months later...

Forgive me for a self-serving topic, but I'm in need of advice.

I've just (as of this morning) resigned from my job, and my husband and I will be moving to London in January. We both work, our respective offices will both be on the Northern Line (Moorgate/Bank).

My question is, based on the fact that we both like food and wine, and like having access to nice local shops, good pub food, etc etc, does anyone have any recommendation as to nice areas to live?

I'm somewhat familiar with Kentish town etc, and husband used to live in West Hampstead.

Anyone have any hotspots they'd like to share with me, or alternatively deserts that I should avoid?

Help very much appreciated...

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Forgive me for a self-serving topic, but I'm in need of advice.

I've just (as of this morning) resigned from my job, and my husband and I will be moving to London in January.  We both work, our respective offices will both be on the Northern Line (Moorgate/Bank).

My question is, based on the fact that we both like food and wine, and like having access to nice local shops, good pub food, etc etc, does anyone have any recommendation as to nice areas to live?

I'm somewhat familiar with Kentish town etc, and husband used to live in West Hampstead.

Anyone have any hotspots they'd like to share with me, or alternatively deserts that I should avoid?

Help very much appreciated...

Are you looking for a house in a leafy lane, or an apartment nearer the centre?

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Surprisingly enough, we've been down this road before.

Assuming you resigned after getting your megabucks City bonus, you'll probably be best served in Belsize Park or the posh side of Camden.

I wasn't aware we had a posh side :biggrin:

We're certainly a bit stuffed for restaurants. Still, between Sardo Canale, the revitalised Odettes, our splendid new Farmers market and Melrose and Morgan, I suppose we do OK.

Of course, it's not as good as the West End.

We have to walk a whole fifteen minutes through Regent's Park for that :wink:

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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You make it sound so horrible Tim! Perhaps I'll run into you at one of the above places. Or sprinting through Regent's park, depending on whose opinion I agree with in the end.

Clerkenwellian: not a huge fan of clerkenwell, to be honest. Need somewhere a little more villagey, rather than central. Greener. I might consider central if I was on my own, but husband values space more than a central location. We found a good compromise in Dublin, but in London I may have to bow to his superior knowledge!

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You make it sound so horrible Tim!  Perhaps I'll run into you at one of the above places.  Or sprinting through Regent's park, depending on whose opinion I agree with in the end.

Clerkenwellian: not a huge fan of clerkenwell, to be honest.  Need somewhere a little more villagey, rather than central. Greener.  I might consider central if I was on my own, but husband values space more than a central location. 

Actually I live in Scunthorpe.

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Without touching on the ugly issue of money, it's difficult to recommend any specific area. Somewhere like Hampstead obviously has better quality options than somewhere like Finsbury Park, although (reasons the discussed in the aforementioned thread) for you may well be disappointed by the lack of choice in both.

London always forces a compromise: the areas around Regent's Park offer good choice but, unless you're the Prince of Wales, you'll probably end up living in a rabbit hutch; Camden requires having to clear goths and Irish drunks off your doorstep each morning; rents in NW3 mean you'll never be able to afford to eat out; and the rare spots offering both good local choice and okay value, such as Stoke Newington and Muswell Hill, are nowhere near a Tube station.

As Samuel Johnson said: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of estate agents."

Edited by naebody (log)
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Without touching on the ugly issue of money, it's difficult to recommend any specific area. Somewhere like Hampstead obviously has better quality options than somewhere like Finsbury Park, although (reasons the discussed in the aforementioned thread) for you may well be disappointed by the lack of choice in both.

London always forces a compromise: the areas around Regent's Park offer good choice but, unless you're the Prince of Wales, you'll probably end up living in a rabbit hutch; Camden requires having to clear goths and Irish drunks off your doorstep each morning; rents in NW3 mean you'll never be able to afford to eat out; and the rare spots offering both good local choice and okay value, such as Stoke Newington and Muswell Hill, are nowhere near a Tube station.

As Samuel Johnson said: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of estate agents."

This is probably the most intelligent appraisal of the London property scene I've read in years :)

I wouldn't knock Clerkenwell though.

If I had to point to where the UK food scene was hottest at the moment it would be around there.

Certainly, if you include the Exmouth Market axis (Moro, Ambassador, Eagle, Quality Chop and stretching to Konstam) and maybe loop in some of the stuff happening over towards Spitalfields (St John F+W and a couple of others that escape me) and Hoxton (The Bacchus) you have most of the stuff worth looking at in London.

Almost anything that opens in the West End is so heavily backed by large scale investors that there's no scope for adventure, no room for experiment. It's just too expensive a league to play in.

I may be biased (I used to live in Finsbury) but all the places mentioned above are independent, proprietor-run operations, with not a Sleb chef to be seen. I can't think of anywhere else where so many interesting things are being done in pleasant, friendly environments at prices that real people can afford.

Go east, young lady, go East.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Camden requires having to clear ... Irish drunks off your doorstep each morning;

Did I mention where we're moving from? ;)

Actually, I quite like it over there, sister used to live in Whitechapel... that's probably my second-choice area. However, it's just not as green as I'd like...

Argh.

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Bottom line is you want to be on either the Northern Line or the Central Line. Getting into the City from anywhere livable via District/Circle is a relatively traumatic experience.

Northern Line the obvious foodie spots are Clerkenwell, Angel etc etc. so you really should consider it.

Otherwise you are sort of stuffed until you get to the North London Jewish (am Habs boys so should no!) enclaves of North London. Think Golders Green or Finchley Central - ie very residential, very well served by Waitroses, M&S etc for food. The bonus is there is also a Japanese colony in that vicinity so you have local Jap restos and groceries (Cafe Japan, Atariya etc). Although variety of eateries esp. good restos never as good as somewhere central like Clerkenwell

Heading south down the Northern Line London Bridge/Borough has obvious attractions (Borough Mkt) though not green at all.

Then theres Clapham etc which is green has decent shops (big sainsburys, moen butcher, macaron, clapham common etc etc) and is a bus ride from the fleshpots of Northcote Road nr Clapham Junction.

On the Central Line consider Notting Hill area - well served by local restos shops etc and some of the royal parks quite close.

The other curveballs: 1) If you like greenery but don't mind newness do consider living out Docklands way and counter-commuting to the City via DLR. The Waitrose is worth it for the asking price along. 2) Baker St/Mayfair/St Johns Wood has lots to recommend from a food shop resto etc point of view (Marylebone High St) but is a pain to get to the City via tube.

have fun

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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I live in Finchley. Foodie haven it's not. Er, we have a good chippy (Two Brothers) and a good veg Indian (Rani). And lots of Waitroses, and you can buy real bagels in Golders Green (I'm a NY native).

As a place to live it's not bad, though; nice housing mix. Golders Green is best for transport, but be warned that there's no decent supermarket (not entirely a bad thing as the small shops do very well, but it's a shlep if you need to stock up). But you can't beat hot bagels from Carmelli's motzei Shabbat in winter! GG was temperance until the '50s so there's no pubs, though. (The Royal Oak in Temple Fortune has closed.)

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Might be it just for the bagels!

Thanks for your help, everyone.  I look forward to contributing to London discussions.

Don't know if will help your decision in any way, but I just saw Jude Law, Johnny Miller and Rhys Ifans buying milk in my corner shop :wink:

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Highbury / Canonbury for the ace combination of Steve Hatt fishmongers, Frank Godfrey butchers, La Fromagerie and a perfectly acceptable greengrocer or two.

Spares you the pain of the supermarket and the crowds at Borough market...

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