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A short stay and obligations limited dining possibilities/options, but we still had a few nice meals while in London. Cafe Phillies in Kensington was the perfect spot for a meet-up with a long-ago roommate and dear friend. Steps off the high street, but miles away from the hustle and bustle. The tarte tatin was delicious and they poured a respectable latte. The rest of the menu looked to be worth a try, if only we'd had another day to get back there. (For you Stones fans, it's directly across the street from Bill Wyman's Sticky Fingers.)

Staying near Edgeware Road provides nearly endless options for Middle Eastern food. The Maroush empire appears to be similar to Lebanese Taverna, with many outlets serving reasonably priced, good food, at late hours - (luckily for us). I'm not sure at this point if we wound up in Maroush, Ranoush, or Beirut Express (there are 8! outlets along Edgeware Rd), but the menus are very similar. Hommos Beiruty, shish taouk, and a few other mezze hit the spot and not the pocketbook.

Lunch at Bar Boulud in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park was a treat - with a 3-course menu for £20. Soupe de poisson, boudin blanc, and gâteau basque were all quite enjoyable, especially perched at the 'charcuterie' with a full view of all of the activity in the kitchen. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is also located in the hotel and has a 3-course, £28 lunch menu.

Costa Coffee was my new favorite - too bad they're not found in the U.S.

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Due to an early arrival (6:30 a.m) with alcohol induced sleep, my body clock is all jacked.  It’s 1 a.m. now but I just woke up up after a 4 hour nap.  I was soooo tired but why can’t I sleep thru the

We went to the original Ottolenghi, which was delicious.  It's kind of cramped so if you want luxury/space and a newer feel go to Nopi which we walked by and is nice in a white/gold theme.  I kind of

I was TOTALLY going to suggest Wagamama. If you get tired of yer fancy gourmet what-what, and you just want to sit at a long table covered with butcher paper and slurp awesome noodles, Wagamama's your

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This is a great post. I love Terroirs and it's nice to see that Mr. Henderson seems to as well.

Agreed, Terroirs is quite nice. I lived approximately 15 feet from L'atelier (another suggestion from the list) for about 4 months and only made it in a time or two unfortunately.

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Agreed, Terroirs is quite nice. I lived approximately 15 feet from L'atelier (another suggestion from the list) for about 4 months and only made it in a time or two unfortunately.

Looking for restaurants around Charlotte Street. Would like to avoid Japanese and Chinese places.

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Looking for restaurants around Charlotte Street. Would like to avoid Japanese and Chinese places.

Sorry for the delayed response. I worked just down the road from Charlotte St (at Rathbone Place), so do have a couple decent suggestions. Japanese and Chinese places in London in general should probably be avoided (there are a couple Chinese places in Chinatown that are passable and one or two non-sushi Japanese places that are quite good; sushi is fairly well-represented in London though).

1) Salt Yard - by far the best restaurant in the area that I know of. A small plates/charcuterie place, they tend to have a small, but good selection of charcuterie, tapas, and wine. Getting a table can be a problem, especially if your group is more than 4 (though 2 is much easier than 4 I believe). I always ate at the bar as I was dining alone and only couldn't get a seat at all once.

2) Newman Arms - One of the better pie pubs in town. Most of the pubs around London have pies, but not like these. With buttery, flaky crust and flavorful filling (that occasionally needs a bit of salt, but that's not unusual to English food), these are probably the best pies I found in London.

3) Nandos - South African peri-peri chicken. Yes, its a chain. Yes, you can find them about everywhere in London. However, they're pretty decent and there is one on Goodge St near Charlotte St

4) Gaucho - Argentinian steak house. Expensive (steaks are $30-$45 or so), though not off the charts considering its London. Not the best steaks I've ever eaten, but probably the best steaks I've eaten in London. Don't know if its worth it for you to go if you're only there for a bit (though it is a funky restaurant, with interesting decor), but if you have a hankering for a steak this is the place to go near Charlotte St.

5) Bam-bou - Only went here once, with a large group from work, and the food was quite good for such a large group setting (about 30 of us). Also wasn't sober... take the recommendation for what it's worth B) I'd probably try and get a secondary recommendation on this one to verify :D

6) There are a couple decent pubs nearby. Marquis de Gramby is fine, though there are a number of them throughout London. Our favorite tended to be the Bricklayers Arms. More laid back than alot of spots in this part of town. No food at either of those I don't believe (other than packages of crisps, etc)

There's also Oxford St a couple blocks away. I wouldn't even remotely try and get decent food there. It is, however, convenient. Pret and Eat are solid options for lunch as long as soup and sandwiches is what you're aiming for. As for Charlotte St itself, I never had alot of luck at the places. There's an Italian place that's fine (Bertorelli I believe it is), a Pizza Express (another chain, passable pizza), and a decent Thai place (Thai Metro).

If you're willing to go a bit further afield, Soho is just across Oxford St from the Charlotte St/Rathbone Pl area. Its a bit of a minefield as far as food goes, but L'Atelier is good (so I've heard, didn't make it there) and Bincho (yakitori Japanese, I know you said no Japanese) was definitely a favorite.

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Sorry for the delayed response. I worked just down the road from Charlotte St (at Rathbone Place), so do have a couple decent suggestions. Japanese and Chinese places in London in general should probably be avoided (there are a couple Chinese places in Chinatown that are passable and one or two non-sushi Japanese places that are quite good; sushi is fairly well-represented in London though).

1) Salt Yard - by far the best restaurant in the area that I know of. A small plates/charcuterie place, they tend to have a small, but good selection of charcuterie, tapas, and wine. Getting a table can be a problem, especially if your group is more than 4 (though 2 is much easier than 4 I believe). I always ate at the bar as I was dining alone and only couldn't get a seat at all once.

2) Newman Arms - One of the better pie pubs in town. Most of the pubs around London have pies, but not like these. With buttery, flaky crust and flavorful filling (that occasionally needs a bit of salt, but that's not unusual to English food), these are probably the best pies I found in London.

3) Nandos - South African peri-peri chicken. Yes, its a chain. Yes, you can find them about everywhere in London. However, they're pretty decent and there is one on Goodge St near Charlotte St

4) Gaucho - Argentinian steak house. Expensive (steaks are $30-$45 or so), though not off the charts considering its London. Not the best steaks I've ever eaten, but probably the best steaks I've eaten in London. Don't know if its worth it for you to go if you're only there for a bit (though it is a funky restaurant, with interesting decor), but if you have a hankering for a steak this is the place to go near Charlotte St.

5) Bam-bou - Only went here once, with a large group from work, and the food was quite good for such a large group setting (about 30 of us). Also wasn't sober... take the recommendation for what it's worth B) I'd probably try and get a secondary recommendation on this one to verify :D

6) There are a couple decent pubs nearby. Marquis de Gramby is fine, though there are a number of them throughout London. Our favorite tended to be the Bricklayers Arms. More laid back than alot of spots in this part of town. No food at either of those I don't believe (other than packages of crisps, etc)

There's also Oxford St a couple blocks away. I wouldn't even remotely try and get decent food there. It is, however, convenient. Pret and Eat are solid options for lunch as long as soup and sandwiches is what you're aiming for. As for Charlotte St itself, I never had alot of luck at the places. There's an Italian place that's fine (Bertorelli I believe it is), a Pizza Express (another chain, passable pizza), and a decent Thai place (Thai Metro).

If you're willing to go a bit further afield, Soho is just across Oxford St from the Charlotte St/Rathbone Pl area. Its a bit of a minefield as far as food goes, but L'Atelier is good (so I've heard, didn't make it there) and Bincho (yakitori Japanese, I know you said no Japanese) was definitely a favorite.

Thanks for your helpful reply. Plan to try Salt Yard and Menulla, and perhaps Oscar at the Charlotte Street Hotel. Considering lunch at Sardo's and Meals at Heal's.

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Thanks for your helpful reply. Plan to try Salt Yard and Menulla, and perhaps Oscar at the Charlotte Street Hotel. Considering lunch at Sardo's and Meals at Heal's.

We just returned from London and although we missed Salt Yard, we did enjoy Menulla, Pescatori, and Sardo very much. Also had dinner at Live Bait on the South Bank, and it was a major disappointment. Fodor's talked up Siam Central in Charlotte Street for Thai tapas, but although the chicken dumplings with tamarind were excellent, the seafood combo was greasy and overpriced.

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Roganic- not to be missed

Roganic: Simon Rogans new `pop up` in Marylebone with chef Ben Spalding (ex Enclume, PerSe, Fat Duck, Le Manior, Ramsay etc.). This restaurant got lots of attention on egullet since it opened a little over a month ago so we decided to give it a whirl as we were staying nearby. It was fantastic, well worthy of the hype. Some of the most creative cooking I have sampled anywhere, served up by a charming and passionate front of house staff. It’s 80 quid for a 10 course set menu. While we were there the other 2 adjoining tables were parties of chefs checking it out and this seems to be the norm at the moment.

Standouts were turnip baked in salt, smoked yolk, sea vegetables and wild mustard; Seawater cured Kentish Mackerel, orache, broccoli, and warm elderflower honey; Vintage potatoes in onion ashes, lovage and wood sorrel; Oxtongue with pickles and sour dough “paper”. the main meat dish was a Cumbrian Hogget (too old to be lamb, yet too young to be mutton). Dessert was Warm spiced bread, salted almonds, buckthorn curd, smoked clotted cream, a strange combination that somehow worked wonderfully well.

The food is very creative and flavorful but quite light and fresh, There is a well chosen selection of wines available by the bottle and by the glass. The sommelier’s recommendation was perfect for us This place should be on the “must do” list for anyone headed to London.

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in a boutique hotel in Bermondsey, we find him presiding over a sin so heinous that if the Dalai Lama himself were to eat here, he would tear up the Buddhist rule-book and convert to Catholicism purely in order to consign Wallace to the nethermost reaches of Hell.

The clearest sign of lunacy was a tomato and oregano salad in which our singularly vile dip made a shock comeback as a relish. Any proprietor who puts his name to such slushy, tasteless tomatoes is surely in danger of crossing the line between cynical profiteering and anguished confession.

Gregg's Table

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Just got back from London and Somerset, and we had a thoroughly tasty time. In order of visiting, not in order of preference:

1. Kerbisher and Malt This was a fantastic fish-and-chips place. The sauces are ordered separately; I very much enjoyed my lemon mayo, and Nick inhaled his tartare sauce. The pickled onion rings were tangy and crunchy and really the perfect conveyance for the lemon mayo. The chips were also fantastic, but I preferred the onion rings. Nick had cod; I had pollock, we were both happy.

2. Dim Sum (will expand on this later when my friend reminds me where he took us)

[here, we left London in a 69-horsepower Fiat 500 and ventured out to the Somerset countryside around Bath]

3. The Raven of Bath Free wifi-- most places offer free wifi, actually, which is quite handy-- cider, and tasty savory pies; I got mine with mashed and nick got his with chips. We asked for the sauces on the side and tried a little of each; otherwise your pie + potato will come out drenched in whichever gravy you order. This hit the spot.

4. The Stag Inn- High Street Hinton Charterhouse. Local pub; order your ciders and ales at the bar but table service for the food. We started out with some fried tiny fish, kind of like large anchovies. Very fishy, but rather addictive. We had some perfectly serviceable mains, but the standouts were the desserts. The toffee pudding was lovely, and came embellished with a sparkler for my birthday. Yay! Incendiaries on puddings! This is awesome! One of your many friendly local pubs, where they don't mind if the kids run around.

5. The Crockerton House - full disclosure, the owners are family friends, and we'd arranged to visit with them while we were in Somerset. They urged us to spend the night, and so we got the full-on B&B treatment, and it was lovely. The house was originally part of the Longleat estate, and you can get discounts on visiting Longleat if that's your thing. But, this is about food. Enid started off with a cheese souffle which was all the things a cheese souffle should be; veal with sage and potatoes that had a perfect crispy fry on them, and then dessert- a vanilla pannacotta with a delicate forced rhubarb. Nick was fairly certain he disliked rhubarb, but wasn't willing to admit it, and ended up inhaling the entire thing. Of course, normal guests likely don't get to cosy up to the giant aga in the kitchen, which is actually rather sad.

6. The Sheppey This may have been the finest meal of our trip. Located in Godney, about 40 minutes from anywhere along some amazingly windy b-grade roads, it's picturesque and amazing. The bar opens at 5:30; the kitchen doesn't start until half-six. We both ordered some of the local cider, and settled in with the free wifi to wait for the kitchen to open. Nick started with a french onion soup he thinks is the best he's ever had. (Nick does not say this lightly.) I had a spicy fish stew, and soaked up every bit of it with the fantastic breads. For the mains, I had a pork and apple burger, and nick had a trio of lamb chops. My pork and apple burger was good, but the lamb chops were fantastic. We then soldiered on and split a lovely rhubarb tart with ice cream, while the restaurant and pub filled up with locals and others. (The table next to us had their exceedingly well-behaved setter lying at their feet.) Sadly, we then had to drive home.

7. The Little Chef, Popham Services The Little Chef is, as a friend put it, somewhat like a tired Denny's. But michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal took on this location and redid the interior, the menu, and the sourcing. So my breakfast wrap had an organic local egg, and local bacon, and it showed. Nick bravely went for the fish and chips, and while it won't take home any awards, it was much much better than he was expecting. (And much better than the fish and chips at the Golden Hind. More on that later.) This is definitely the best meal I have ever gotten at a rest stop! It's just on the the A303 on the way to Stonehenge from London.

8. Norbiton & Dragon It's late, you're on the outskirts of a small college town (even while technically still being in London) solely for the wedding you will be attending the next day, and you need food. And you don't want to walk far. Enter the Norbiton and Dragon, the closest place that did not have abysmal reviews. The bar staff leave a bit to be desired: "Can you tell me about the cider?" "It's cider." Right. But the thai dishes we got were competent and hit the spot (if a trifle more expensive than I'd wanted), and I think the Tom Yum probably saved my cough from developing into a full-on cold. No idea about the english menu; they only serve that until 6. After 6 it's a full on thai menu. I'm told many pubs traditionally don't serve food much later than that, and so in the evenings they turn their kitchens over to thai, chinese, and indian cooks.

9. Pembroke Lodge A lovely Georgian house in Richmond Park, they catered one of the best non-restaurant wedding meals I've had. The tea rooms on the first floor are open to the public.

[back to London proper]

10. Lantana Cafe The only place we went to twice! This is an amazing brunch/lunch place. Incredible sourdough for the sandwiches, perfectly-cooked eggs, streaky bacon, a proper flat white. For dessert I had toasted banana bread with raspberry labneh. And then I promptly went back to the hotel and took a nap. Seriously good food, good coffee, and good-looking staff. Lantana is tiny, adorable, and in good taste.

11. Salt Yard Very glad we made it here, thanks to the people who recommended it on this page. We walked in at 8 or so with no reservation and were seated immediately. I think we just got lucky on timing. The confit pork belly, and the pork + chorizo rilletes were the standouts. Great bread. The grilled tuna + blood orange was perfectly rare. Ricotta and truffle gnudi were little pungent pillows of bliss. The only dish that we didn't truly appreciate was the patatas bravas; they were more like old-bay french fries.

12. Nordic Bakery breakfast on Sunday was at this calming and austere spot; we had to wait 15 mins before the next batch of cinnamon buns would be ready, so we started off with crumbly butter buns (maybe a hint of cardamom in them?) and coffee while we waited. But those warm cinnamon buns were definitely worth the wait.

13. Relais de Venise L'Entrecôte also a rec from here, it was about a stones throw from our hotel, as well. Steak, perfectly rare. A sharp mustard salad dressing that insprired Nick to *eat all of his salad and some of mine*. Frites, and more frites. And then profriteroles and a creme brulee, all served with a french accent. We also hit this at around 8pm, and were seated within minutes; there was a line when we left. Now I have to figure out how to replicate that dressing, and maybe Nick will consume vegetables.

14. Golden Hind. This was probably the most disappointing meal of our trip... well, no. It was better than the plane food. The batter was beautiful, but the fish was frozen, sad, and uninspired. The chips were a nightmare. I was glad we had had a hearty breakfast.

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I got a chance to scewch off work for a few days and follow my Hubby to London (he was sent for work) for an extended Memorial Day Weekend. While culinary delights were not the main point of my trip, I did hit up a few places worth noting:

Day 1: Veggie sushi from pret was sustenance and find, but not recommended. Pie from Harrods food counter was pretty darn good, although I ordered one and got a different one by mistake and am not generally a big pie person. Had my first Wagamama experience and totally ok with one of these coming to DC. In fact I really liked it. I was alone so the Wifi was nice, the server was really nice and enthusiastic he talked to me and was just great. I had the terriyaki udon noodles which were really good and gyoza which was also good. Was nice for a fairly quick and affordable meal.

Day 2: I had lunch at The Kitchen a few blocks over the Tower Bridge. This restaurant was really good and very affordable and had really good wifi. I had a salmon cake with spinach and bleurre blanc that was delicious. I would highly recommend this if you are at Tower of London (although it's other side of the river) or Tower Bridge. That night I had dinner at Kennington Tandoori, which was really good. I had samosas that were possibly the best ones I have ever had, a really good interesting curry with macadamia nut and a chocolate cardamon mousse, oh and roasted asparagus. I liked the array of vegetable sides and they had so many good curries and stews. I brought Hubby back a braised lamb dish that was delicious, but I can't remember the name of now.

Day 3: Lunch at Fortnum and Mason- avoid this, their high tea up on the 4th or 5th floor looked very good, but lunch on the first floor was expensive and not good at all. Dinner was at Roti Chai (downstairs) which I would also highly recommend, especially if you want a good place among the bustle and touristy places at Oxford Street, it is back behind the M&S not easily seeable from the main street, but so good. I had amazingly delicious spicy lamb ribs, Chicken 56 or 65 which was ok, but skippable, the braised rabbit stew was really great, the "broth" was in a little pitcher although it was creamy and the braised rabbit with spices and etc was in a little bowl for you to combine with rice, this dish was so well balanced in terms of flavorful but not overwhelming. I also had the grilled vegetables, which take grilled vegetables to a whole new place for me, I couldn't stop eating these and need to figure out how to make them, they were spicy, but not too spicy and so flavorful, they were great. I also had rice and naan and a kismet kafi which was a very good drinkable dessert that I could get used to.

Day 4: Went to Borough Market, what a treat, although it was packed. We had a pie not from the Ginger Pig but a stall outside that I forget the name of, it was really good, definitely the best pie I had and made me really like pie. My Hubby loves pies and I am just not big on them, but this was venison and carrots with peas on top so good. We also had a chorizo sandwich, dumplings and some other snacks was very good. That night we were exhausted and went to the restaurant in our hotel the Jugged Hare. It turned out to be fantastic. We had blood croquettes and pigs head croquettes, braised rabbit and sausages. Everything here was really good it was some of the best British food we ate. We went back another evening for dessert which was good too. They have two locations.

Day 5: Wagamama lunch on the way to Kew Gardens. Dinner I did not particularly like at Fish! I just had fish and chips, but it wasn't very good.

Day 6: Breakfast at Cote Brasserie which was ok.

All in all we had some good meals, many were out of convenience. Some other tips: Crowne Plaza St. James and the Montcalm at the Brewary are both very nice, although the Brewary can be tricky to get to some of the rooms. Things closed early it seemed to me. I have the TripAdvisor City Guides App on my iphone and it is really good, I can pretty much get by without phone service it has great maps functioning offline and can still locate you by pinging from wifi spots, I used it for both Paris and London. Also if you are doing a lot of sight seeing the London Pass was actually a good deal, I loved the all day on off boat cruises you got with it too. I found there wasn't a lot of great free wi-fi, and even where it was advertised often it wouldn't work. Just info for someone like me who hadn't been before and was looking for good info.

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A few notes from a recent trip to London:

* If you find yourself near the British Museum/Bloomsbury Square in the morning, you can do a lot worse than breakfast from the little cafe attached to Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.  It's a bit hidden -- you have to go through a little pedestrian tunnel off the square to find it.  But they have a nice selection of well-made pastries, the staff are friendly, and the espresso drinks are excellent.

Two dinners worth mentioning:

* Nopi was a mixed bag.  I found the mix of offerings on the menu kind of bizarre.  It certainly had the sort of Middle Eastern influenced items I was expecting (zucchini and Manouri fritters with cardamom yoghurt, crushed beet, grains of paradise labneh, walnuts"¦) but pork belly with black bean ragu and yuzu puree? Truffled polenta chips? Quail cooked in an East Asian style caramel glaze?  Some of the things we tried were amazing (that quail, in fact), others merely ok, but when you're encouraged to order a whole bunch of things off the menu to share, you're left sitting in front of a table full of plates that don't go together and that don't really tie the diner to any particular place or time, if that makes any sense. 

* I enjoyed my meal the next night at Wright Bros., just around the corner from Nopi, a lot more.  Started with 6 of some of the best oysters I've ever had (medium large briny Dorset Rocks, from Brownsea Island), went on to grilled sardines with pickled onions and capers, and finished with a fish pie made with salmon and smoked (!) haddock.  Delicious.  All washed down with a Picpoul de Pinet, a beautiful white wine I'd never tried before that the waitress recommended when I told her I wanted something other than Muscadet to go with the oysters.  Oh, this place is not cheap.

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We are headed to London (and a side trip to Cardiff, Wales) with the now 14 year-old-and-much-taller-than-I-am Katie at the end of the week, so reading this thread has been a lot of fun and helpful.  We're not looking for fancy dining options necessarily, but if there are any tips you'd like to pass along, we'd love it. AGM and NQD have given us some great ideas for Cardiff, and my brother has given us a few ideas for London (Don, his notes included a reference to the views/drinks, not the food from the Shard), but in case someone has been holding back, additional information is most welcome.  I'll post our experiences upon our return.  

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I haven't been recently enough to give any recommendations, but I do (selfishly) hope you'll check out one of the Ottolenghi locations and report back! I've always found Wagamama (in any location) to be a fun and reasonable spot to have a casual meal.

You may want to check out Eating London Food Tours. I can't vouch for their London tour, but I thoroughly enjoyed the one I did in Rome with their sister company. Check out their blog for a lot of useful and current information on things to see, eat, and do in London.

I've never been disappointed with London Walks. They do numerous walks, every day, covering a variety of different topics/neighborhoods, including pubs and markets. The Jack the Ripper walk is a must-do (try to go when Donald is the guide). Check the 'special walks' on certain days; some are food-related tours.

Have a great trip!

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We are headed to London (and a side trip to Cardiff, Wales) with the now 14 year-old-and-much-taller-than-I-am Katie at the end of the week, so reading this thread has been a lot of fun and helpful.  We're not looking for fancy dining options necessarily, but if there are any tips you'd like to pass along, we'd love it. AGM and NQD have given us some great ideas for Cardiff, and my brother has given us a few ideas for London (Don, his notes included a reference to the views/drinks, not the food from the Shard), but in case someone has been holding back, additional information is most welcome.  I'll post our experiences upon our return.  

The Beefeater Tours of the Tower of London are fantastic for both adults and kids (the Crown Jewels Exhibition is included with your ticket).

From the Tower of London, it's a short, pleasant walk to the Tate Modern which is just incredible. Unfortunately, they lost funding for their Unilever Series in the Turbine Hall - when I was there, I got to see "Marsyas" by Anish Kapoor, and I'll never forget it. Other than Christo wraps or Michael Graves drapes (which rely on other, pre-built things), this might have been the largest standalone piece of art I've ever seen (150 meters long, 10 stories high), certainly the largest that was inside a building. The correct word to describe it was "awesome." If Katie can put up with it, there are several pieces of art in the Tate Modern that many people would fly to London just to see, the most significant, of course, being Roy Lichtenstein's "Whaam!" (and then there's also that girly Picasso piece, "Weeping Woman").

As for the London Eye: it's worth doing if you know what you're getting into. It's not a "ride" so much as a "viewing mechanism" - it goes around once, stopping at each car, and then you exit after one revolution. I went on it when I arrived 'to get a good perspective,' and if I had to do it again, I would have gone on it my *final* day in London, to pick out all the buildings I'd visited, and logically organize them in my mind - things like this are more interesting if you recognize what you're looking at, instead of staring at strange, foreign objects that have no meaning to you - it's the difference between flying a little airplane over some random neighborhood, and the neighborhood where your house is.

If you enjoy Indian cuisine, London's puts ours to shame. At the top end, there are six Michelin-starred Indian restaurants in London (when you go to that link, on the left side of the page, under "Type of Cuisine," enter "Indian/Pakistani," and check "Michelin-Starred Restaurants"), but even a little place like Malabar will introduce you to dishes you simply cannot find here in DC.

St. John is the original "head-to-tail" restaurant, and isn't formal. There are many imitators now, but this was the first to really advance the concept. I got to go before it was well-known (a friend of mine lived two blocks away from it), so it will always be special to me - observing this relatively obscure, noisy, neighborhood bistro, specializing in offal (and, by the way, taking its work very seriously), become world famous.

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Just a quick note - the Science Museum is cool (I visited with my niece in February and we had a blast), and I very much enjoyed Ottolenghi.  (The location in Islington.)  But then again, I'm a bit of an acolyte.

If you find yourself in need of a hot chocolate, Said in Soho was yummy.

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We spent a couple of weeks in London last summer with then-15-yo-and-taller-than-we-are-Julia (a vegetarian).

Her restaurant faves were Dishoom (we went to the one near the National Portrait Gallery, twice) which is a riff on Persian cafes in Mumbai, IIRC and Wahaca (the Southbank one is convenient if you are doing stuff at the National Theatre or BFI -- it's made out of shipping containers and was a good people watching spot as well as having tasty casual Mexican food).  We had a really mediocre experience at Wagamama (which, after years of "coming soon" to Penn Q, I couldn't resist trying).  And NOPI (the Ottolenghi restaurant in SoHo) had such good food that it overcame her teenagerly resistance to "schmantzy" places.  The pizza at Princi was good (we did the sitdown part rather than the cafeteria part).

RE museums -- Soane's and Hunterian (across the park from each other at Lincoln's Inn) were both amazing.  If you can avoid doing them in the same day, I'd recommend that.  For me it would have been sensory overload.  And if you have to decide between them, I'd choose Hunterian over Soanes, despite the fact that I'm more into architecture than medicine.

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My ladyfriend had a conference in London so I tagged along and ate/drank while sort-of-working.

First off, here's where I drank espresso: https://foursquare.com/beerandpork/list/espresso-in-london

Beer:

Craft Beer Co: I only went to one of the locations but it was easily the best beer bar I went to on the trip.  14 beers on cask, another 20 on tap.

The Rake: Jake was not messing about when he recommended Borough Market.  This is a fantastic beer bar in the middle of it.

The Harp: CAMRA's pub of the year, 2011.  Great beer list, but it can get super-crowded so go during off-hours.

Bree Louise: An outstanding provider of real ale.  Lots of real ciders too, if you're into that.

Euston Tap: Close to the Bree Louise.  Tiny beer bar in an arch over the road.  Lots of good american craft beer in bottles, if you're homesick.

BottleDog: The place to go for bottles to take home.

The Saturday-Only Brewery Walk:

Kernel, Brew By Numbers, Partizan

Food:

Foxlow: The 10hr shortrib with kimchi was fantastic.

Tramshed: STEAK. CHICKEN. BOTH PREPARED SURPRISINGLY WELL.

St John: Being a big fan of Fergus Henderson, this was a meal I looked forward to for a while.  Nothing mind-blowing, just a lovely set of offal dishes for lunch.

Burger & Lobster: The burger is ok.  The lobster roll is actually pretty great.

Sushi Samba: Crazy roof-top restaurant on a skyscraper.  Surprisingly good fushion-y sushi-type stuff.  Excellent views.

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Plans finalized except for the accommodations which are merely narrowed down.  We'll be in London Oct 25-28 (after a week in Paris).  Anything new and noteworthy or old and noteworthy that hasn't popped up on this thread yet?  My wife's birthday and our wedding anniversary coincide with one of the NFL's London game this year, but hopefully that won't add to the difficulty level of getting around or finding our way to some undiscovered gems.

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Plans finalized except for the accommodations which are merely narrowed down.  We'll be in London Oct 25-28 (after a week in Paris).  Anything new and noteworthy or old and noteworthy that hasn't popped up on this thread yet?  My wife's birthday and our wedding anniversary coincide with one of the NFL's London game this year, but hopefully that won't add to the difficulty level of getting around or finding our way to some undiscovered gems.

Yes! Try Quattro Passi.

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I have two lunches in London next week--a Sunday lunch and a Monday lunch--and am looking for any recommendations. I thought about going traditional for the Sunday Lunch--Hawksmoor at Seven Dials--any opinions on that would be appreciated. I'll be dining solo, and am most adventurous, with no limitations on location (anywhere in London).

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Seems i forgot to post after our trip to London...

Wild Honey  12 St George StreetLondon W1S 2FB  - No longer has tasting menu except for early evening but is still a wonderful meal, the staff really knows their stuff and makes great wine pairing recommendations.  I had the wood pigeon entree the Chocolate Soup dessert.  both were wonderful!

Salt Yard  Goodge StreetLondon w1t 4na - Tapas for the win.  Not sure I will ever be satisfied with tapas again, every bite was wonderful, the charcuterie was amazing.  We walked in without reservations so were told they had a table until xx:xx time so if we would be done by then we could have it,  

Food at the Excel Center -  The convention we went to was at the Excel center and we were pleased with the food - the center area is a collection of fast food, sandwiches, pasties, indian food, baked potatoe, there is even a 'changes every month pop-up'  there is even the familiar Subway if you miss the US.  for a sit down the Fox @ Excel was quite good (NOTE there are two Fox restaurants so make sure you know which one you are meeting people at - learn from our mistake)

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Are good restaurants in London -- not super high-end but still nice -- generally toddler-friendly (i.e., offer high chairs)?

We're going in two weeks and are considering places like St. John, Ottolenghi, and Trishna.

I think St. John would be as accommodating as possible, but it's a tight space and I wouldn't be certain that they have high chairs.

While there--I highly recommend the 'zebra' pastry in the patisserie section at Harrod's Food Hall. It's made by the Dum Dum Donuts guy based elsewhere in London, and is simply awesome.

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My daughter lives down in Brixton with a 2 year old - they explain that most pubs are kid friendly for lunch

We discovered that a 10-year old (our niece) in a pub for (even an early) dinner is a no-no. Who knew? Fortunately, a regular patron referred us to a good place down the street that was great.

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Thanks to all for the insights!

St. John Spitalfields is literally around the corner from where my wife will be having a work meeting, but the Smithfield flagship seems to have a much more extensive selection of the offal dishes that one can't easily find back home.  There are too many other places that we want to try to eat at both.

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Spending the next few months in London so so far had the chance to try a lot of places in this land of terrible food.  Of note in the past week or so -

Ottolenghi Islington - Wonderful salads, a very nice pork belly (why do Israelis cook such delicious pork products); great deserts.  Very nice meal.

Five Fields - Fabulous meal.  Shocked it didn't get a Michelin star this past year.  Easily the most perfect service at any restaurant in quite some time.  We did a tasting menu and it was superb.  No misses.  Of note, their wonderful baked to order buttermilk rolls (I would go back for these alone), a wonderful roasted scallop and an excellent lamb loin.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal - Nearly perfect food.  This man is a master of sous vide.  I had an exceptional octopus starter - most tender I have ever had.  Also a perfect rare salmon main.  The ice cream made to order was quite good as well.

Dishoom - As noted above.  Wonderful Indian.  Inventive drinks.  I've eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner a half dozen times this past month.  If I could move this to DC, I would.  Wonderful lamb sandwich and very enjoyable chicken tikka and chai.

Gymkhana - Hottest restaurant in town right now.  Game meat oriented Indian food.  Wonderful, unique indian food.  Very wonderful spicings and good service.  Of note, a kid goat curry with brains - very good.  Also we had an amazing deer biryani.  Of particular note was a super rich "Duck Egg Bhurji, Lobster, Malabar Paratha".  Basically indian spiced scrambled eggs with lobster.  So good.

I'll continue to update this.

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Decided to take a last minute reservation at the Fat Duck last week.  We were initially planning to go there on the way to our Christmas vacation during our 10 hour layover in London, but it's closed in mid-December for renovations while they move temporarily to Australia.

Here is the run down of the menu:

Dinner started with a beet macaron with a horseradish filling.  Quite delicious one bite.  There was also one other thing but I can't remember at this point.

- NITRO POACHED APERITIF - Three choices: Vodka and Lime Sour, Gin and Tonic, Tequila and Grapefruit.  We had the vodka one and the grapefruit.  Basically they take a foam of the two ingredients, freeze it in liquid nitrogen table side and you eat it quickly before it melts.  I had the tequila one which was quite tasty and refreshing.

 -RED CABBAGE GAZPACHO with Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream - Absolutely delicious beet soup; more or less tasted like borscht - with an amazing blood red vivid color.  Perfect smoothness to the soup.  Delicious.

- JELLY OF QUAIL, CRAYFISH CREAM with Chicken Liver Parfait, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast - One of my favorite dishes.  Absolutely amazing small bowl of crayfish soup with a piece of quail in a gelatin and some chicken liver.  Amazing.  I would eat several.  Served with a little piece of toast coated in truffles.  Quite nice.

- SNAIL PORRIDGE- served with Iberico Bellota Ham, Shaved Fennel - My wife had a very similar dish at Dinner a few nights before.  In many ways part of the menu is replicated in some fashion at dinner.  This was an amazing green colored fennel broth with a number of perfectly tender snails.  The most tender and flavorful snails I have eaten.  Very nice.

- ROAST FOIE GRAS - with Barberry, Confit Kombu and Crab Biscuit - Foie Gras - Delicious

- MAD HATTER'S TEA PARTY (c.1892) - Mock Turtle Soup, Pocket Watch and Toast Sandwich - This was an ok dish.  My wife did not like it at all.  I thought it was meh.  The concept is cool.  Basically you take a pocket watch off of a stand, they tell you a story about the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.  You drop the gold pocket watch into the "tea" which is a wonderful mushroom-like broth and the watch dissolves.  The both and watch was quite delicious. Four small tea sandwiches were served alongside.  They were ok.  Not sure what they were.

- "SOUND OF THE SEA" - Eh.  My wife hated it.  I thought it was eh.  They bring seashells with an ipod hidden in them.  You listen to the sound of the sea.  Then they bring a piece of granite and it has some sushi and a "sand" which is very strong fishy concoction that looks like sand.  The overall dish was extremely fishy.

- SALMON POACHED IN A LIQUORICE GEL - Artichoke, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe - Delicious.  Perfect sous vide salmon coated in a liquorice gel.  Wonderful.

- ANJOU PIGEON - Smoked Onion and Malt - Perfect pigeon breast.  Delicious, a tad gamy, with wonderful grilled smoked onions.  Served with a side of creamy mashed potatoes which were outstanding.  Amazing depth and cheesiness.

- HOT AND ICED TEA - Tea that is half hot and half cold. You drink it at once and it changes from hot to cold.  Quite sweet but tasty.

- EGGS IN VERJUS (c.1726), VERJUS IN EGG (c.2013) - Basically an egg served on a nest.  It is chocolate filled with some sort of pudding.  Quite tasty.

- BOTRYTIS CINEREA - A few grapes, some balls of wonderful gelato and sorbets, beautiful presentation.

- WHISK(E)Y WINE GUMS - This was one of my favorites. Basically they take a handful of whiskeys from around the US and the UK and turn them into gelatins.  They are stuck to a map and you try each one.  Jack Daniels, Glenlivet and a few others.  Quite interesting to see how different each was.

- "LIKE A KID IN A SWEET SHOP" - A few candies.  A caramel (decent, but not as good as the ones at Palena or Jacques Gegnin), a very cool white chocolate "Queen of Hearts Card" which was edible and a few other treats.

Overall meal - 4 hours.  It was quite tasty but had two serious misses, but a few amazing courses.  Overall, quite good.  I think his other restaurant, Dinner, is better though.

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Had dinner last night at The Typing Room.  It is located in a new fancy hotel in Bethnal Green, a hipster-esque transitional neighborhood in East London.  We did a 5 course meal with the additional cheese course.  The food was aesthetically beautiful but fell flat on taste. I can't remember all we ate but some of the items were:

We started with a profiterole with olives and mint which was good.

Another bite was provided which was super crispy fish skin with fish creams.  It was very fishy.  No my favorite.

They provided two nice rolls and butters (one was marmite butter).  The one roll was an IPA beer bread which was quite good.  The other was a Parker House-like roll, but nothing too interesting compared to City Zen.

One course was a scallop with pickles.  The scallop was smoked and grilled and served cold.  It was served with a pickle reminiscent of the canned non-refrigerated pickles you can buy.  It was a nice course.

One course was cauliflower several ways - raw, grilled, fried, etc.  It tasted like cauliflower.  Not particularly interesting other than that.

One course was a tenderloin of deer.  England loves their game meat - it is on every menu.  This was quite good.  Quite tender and tasty.

Dessert was mint gelato and some chocolate - basically to make mint chocolate chip ice cream.  This was probably the best course and was quite good.

Overall, I wouldn't go back to this restaurant.  There is a lot better in town at this price point.

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Been editing photos from Adam23 and my "workcation" over the past couple months in London. Since our plans to go to Fat Duck on Christmas eve had to be scrapped due to their impending renovation, after eating at all the places below, we'll be going back to Dinner Heston Blumenthal's London outpost instead. Although quite honestly Gymkhana would be a good option as well... tough decisions...

Photos from Fat Duck

Photos from Ledbury

Highlights from Seasonal Pantry, Five Fields, Gymkhana, Ottolenghi, Dinner, Typing Room & Clove Club here

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Report from a week in London (and few days outside of London...) which includes nothing overly fancy or high end.

 

The Cotswolds

Stow on the Wold

We popped into The Kings Arms pub for a quick lunchtime pint, but I did see that they had a limited pub fare menu. 

 

Bourton on the Water

We had a late lunch at The Croft, which was the hotel restaurant for the Chester House Hotel 

Our table had: the burger and a ham and gruyere sandwich. The food was okay, but nothing to go out of your way for (which was also kind of how I felt about the town.) The burger was good, hitting the spot as breakfast was only a snack picked up from an M&S at a service area on the M4. (It bears mentioning that most of the service areas I saw along the M4 put anything I've ever seen in the States to shame.) The only thing worth mentioning about the ham and gruyere was that although there was cheese inside the sandwich, gruyere was also melted on the top, making it a little hard to actually eat like a sandwich.

 

Chipping Campden

We stayed and ate at the Noel Arms Hotel. We both ordered curries: the Sri Lankan Black Lamb and the Daily, which was a chicken jalfrezi (if I remember correctly...) I'm guessing the black lamb curry was named as such because it had black lentils thickening the sauce. It had a good flavor and texture; the spice came up on you slowly, allowing you to also taste other spices and flavors in the sauce before getting hit with the heat. The jalfrezi was also good, with familiar taste and texture. The sauce also included peppers, onions and zucchini.

 

We also stopped in at The Red Lion for a pint and The Volunteer Inn, which seemed have a very popular Indian buffet. We also saw several locals place takeaway orders and have a pint or two while waiting for their food.

 

Bristol


The restaurant bills their menu as "dirty American food." I'm not really sure that the word dirty and food should go together, but I think it's just a Britishism for this kind of food, as I later heard it again describing a similar menu. The restaurant is located on a boat in the Welsh Back area of the city.

 

We were able to grab a just cleared two top on a busy Saturday night, although we had first been offered to sit at a larger table with another party of two. Our table had: the Smokey Bro; a bacon cheeseburger, adding crispy onions; and an order of fried pickles. We had had a long day (after a long night) and were quite hungry by the time we got our food. So I'm not sure if it was just the hunger speaking, but everything was really good and satisfying. The burgers, for me, were perfectly sized, probably a little over 1/3 pound and cooked to the requested temperature. Burgers don't come with a side, but the pre-food beers and side of fried pickles, with a homemade dill ranch, left me full.

 

An observation: EVERYONE else was ordering the chili cheese fries.

 


Diner-like cafe along the water. We waited a few minutes for a frantic hostess (who also looked like a frantic server) to clear a table. (There is also an outside seating area in the back.) We had: the large traditional breakfast and BLT. The full English breakfast was everything you wanted it to be, and maybe even not quite greasy enough. The BLT was on a wonderful multigrain bread. The lettuce was mixed greens and was dressed with a mustard vinaigrette even though there was also mayo on the sandwich, but I liked it. In warmer weather the large back deck is probably very popular, although, there were a few tables being used that morning.

 

London

Three Johns | Islington

This pub was convenient to the flat where I was staying with a friend. When he was new to the neighborhood he said it quickly became a favorite for the interesting beer list and high ceilings. He had never tried the pizzas before, so we decided to check it out. We both ordered the chorizo. For some reason I was expecting ground chorizo on the pizza, similar to getting sausage on a pizza in the US, but it was cured sliced chorizo, so more similar to pepperoni. It was good, but if I had known, I probably would have ordered something else. They also deliver. He ate the whole pizza, I took three slices home...and ate them for breakfast the next morning.

 

Masala Brick Lane | Brick Lane

I had never been, so we went"¦ On a slow Monday night, there were men outside, willing to negotiate price, trying to attract customers into their respective restaurants. We negotiated a drink, starter and main with shared poppadom for £12 per person, so we had:

A large pour of a serviceable sauvignon blanc, poppadom, pakoras, mixed platter (starter), some sort of spicy curry and chicken karahi. If nothing else, it was a good value. There was some confusion about getting the pakoras since the mixed platter had already been delivered to the table. (I think the waiter made a comment to the effect of, "Usually people don't get another starter with the mixed platter...you fat Americans." Not really. But you could tell that's what he was thinking...)

 

The Freemasons Arms | Hampstead (Near the southwest edge of Hampstead Heath)

I had the ribeye steak sandwich with side salad. Small ribeye, cooked to temperature, on a ciabatta-like roll, dressed with mustard, mayonnaise, horseradish and fried onion. There was not enough mayonnaise and horseradish for my taste and it was hard to get waitstaff attention, so I never got any more. The sandwich was satisfying and only just bordering on too heavy a meal before wandering around Hampstead Heath. I enjoyed the unseasonably warm and sunny weather on the outdoor patio, which I would imagine gets crowded in the spring and summer.

 

Thai Aubergine | Kings Cross

We had prawn toasts (a mix of shrimp and chicken, which has been pureed and fried into toast points); rendang beef curry, a spicy red curry; and gai makeau, chicken with eggplant in a spicy brown garlic sauce. This was not the best Thai food I've ever had, but solid. I would be a regular if it were nearby. Seemed to be popular with students.

 

Com Viet | Leicester Square/Covent Garden

Rainy. Disappointing outing to the TKTS booth. Feeling like I was getting sick. Pho was the only solution. It wasn't the best, and I had to ask for sriracha and hoisin but it was exactly what I wanted. (And I never got sick.) The restaurant looks tiny from the street, but most of the restaurant is downstairs. I was presented only with the set lunch menu (which didn't really matter to me) and selected the spring roll and beef pho. Although the cuisines aren't really comparable, I would consider this a good alternative to most of the Chinese options in Soho. I didn't go, but from my bus ride down Kingsland Road in East London, it seems like that would be a better option for Vietnamese if you're looking for something more authentic.

 

Bombay Burrito | Islington

Like Chipotle, except they put Indian ingredients in the tortilla. Or on the salad. Or, and this is where it is better than Chipotle, on the french fries. If you don't like your food here, it's kind of your fault. The individual ingredients are all good, but it's how you combine them that makes it awesome, or kind of weird. I made two mistakes: First, I got a large, which was deceptively a LOT of food, and I did the salad, which was iceberg, so kind of flavorless, and got kind of soggy under the warm curry filling. Other than that, I had and enjoyed: tikka masala, chana masala, grilled onions, grated paneer, coriander and crispy onions with raita and coriander chutneys. We also had some poppadom with the spicy garlic chutney. They are open fairly late (by English standards) on weekends, and this would be amazing drunk food. But my friend who lives in the neighborhood has let me know he's already been back several times (sober) since our initial visit.

 


Small space in Soho with an ever-changing, seasonal menu. We ordered a handful of small plates and a large plate to share and had: pumpkin soup with goat cheese, poached egg on chorizo hash, shrimp with chorizo and faro (and some other stuff) and a few other dishes (which I don't remember and are not on the online menu anymore.) Most were really good. I think the lowlight was a sardine dish, but otherwise, all of the dishes were really well balanced.

 

Other food things worth mentioning:

Pret is infinitely better in the UK than in the US. And with more hot foods and other non-sandwich options than when I was relying on it for lunch ten years ago.

 

Sainsbury, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer offer really good options for grab and go lunch and snacks. I found myself enjoying the Waitrose Spanish Tapas snack (chorizo, marcona almonds and what seemed like actually spicy pepper jack although I think they were trying to tell me it was manchego cheese) on more than one occasion.

 

Camden Lock food stalls

Insanely crowded, mainly due to the limited space, but also the school holidays that were happening when I was there. A wide variety of cuisines and dishes represented.

 


Basically, food heaven. A market of some sort has existed in this location for a thousand years. Go, look, smell, taste, enjoy. Of the food vendors, I can vouch for: Bread Ahead, Cannon and Cannon, L'Ubriaco (Drunk Cheese) and Borough Cheese Company. In terms of prepared foods, I had an empanada (beef) from a place near the edge and a roast beef sandwich from Roast. The piece of beef on my sandwich was huge, and a little fatty, but I think they tried to give me more since it was getting to the end, but some of it was a bit fatty. Again, I could have used a little more horseradish, but I think that's just me"¦

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I'm thinking of taking my mother to London for her birthday next year, but I don't know where to start. She is very picky but would like doing the touristy things like double-decker bus, harry potter studio, gordon ramsay restaurant, etc. She hasn't been overseas before so I was leaning towards a pre-planned tour with a bit of free time but they seem either too jam packed (most time spent on buses shuttling between locations) or too expensive. Has anyone had a good experience with any arrangements? I could always plan it from scratch, especially if it's a shorter trip, but I've never been to Europe and would be completely overwhelmed.

TIA

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I'm thinking of taking my mother to London for her birthday next year, but I don't know where to start. She is very picky but would like doing the touristy things like double-decker bus, harry potter studio, gordon ramsay restaurant, etc. She hasn't been overseas before so I was leaning towards a pre-planned tour with a bit of free time but they seem either too jam packed (most time spent on buses shuttling between locations) or too expensive. Has anyone had a good experience with any arrangements? I could always plan it from scratch, especially if it's a shorter trip, but I've never been to Europe and would be completely overwhelmed.

TIA

I went about twelve years ago, entirely on my own, and wasn't overwhelmed at all - it isn't that "foreign" of a country, and there are things that are so obviously "must-do's" that if you plan ahead, you can arrange your own tickets and tours - I'm talking about the Tate Modern, the British Library (it sounds boring, but it is anything but), the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, a ride on the Giant Eye, the Tower of London Beefeater's Tour (plenty touristy on its own, but you have to do it once), maybe an overnight trip out to Oxford and Stonehenge (neither of which I've ever seen). I'm a very "non-tour" person, but I promise you this isn't much different than going to Canada in terms of difficulty - all the places have websites, there are *lots* of good tour books out there (I like Rick Steves, but you have to accept that he's an aging hippie), and planning is easy and *fun*, especially if you stay within walking distance of a tube (you don't want to drive a car in London). I hope others will chime in, both for tours and not for tours. The best Indian food I've ever eaten has been in London, but I've never been to India.

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I looked at Rick Steves but it seems a bit too intense for my mother. She can't be lugging her bags up several flights of stairs or going on hikes. She doesn't like Indian food, so I might need to just get her some fish and chips and then sneak some Indian food into the hotel!

I was looking at Disney tours because the hotels are nice and they do a nice job of the educational "fun" things and have the outing to Stonehenge, but $7k (not including airfare) is a little rich for my blood!

It is a lot of work to plan when you're the only planner. I'm going to Vegas this weekend with a jaunt out to the Grand Canyon. I've never been to Vegas and we're only going for a week but it was difficult to plan with picky eaters! I was able to make a list of about 50 places that I would be happy going to (4+ stars, not too expensive) so we won't be forced into the I'm-starving-lets-eat-this-horrible-$13-freezer-pizza-from-the-hotel regrets. That's basically my family every time we go to Florida (Cracker Barrel, Panera, Chik-fil-a, and freezer meals from Walmart). If I try to force my family (read:mom) to eat something more adventurous, they'll starve and complain.

I'll be interested to know if anyone has had any good tour experiences. I've only heard negative things except from my Grandparents but they go on old peoples' tours. I think I'd freak out not being in control, but who knows?

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I looked at Rick Steves but it seems a bit too intense for my mother. She can't be lugging her bags up several flights of stairs or going on hikes. She doesn't like Indian food, so I might need to just get her some fish and chips and then sneak some Indian food into the hotel!

I was looking at Disney tours because the hotels are nice and they do a nice job of the educational "fun" things and have the outing to Stonehenge, but $7k (not including airfare) is a little rich for my blood!

It is a lot of work to plan when you're the only planner. I'm going to Vegas this weekend with a jaunt out to the Grand Canyon. I've never been to Vegas and we're only going for a week but it was difficult to plan with picky eaters! I was able to make a list of about 50 places that I would be happy going to (4+ stars, not too expensive) so we won't be forced into the I'm-starving-lets-eat-this-horrible-$13-freezer-pizza-from-the-hotel regrets. That's basically my family every time we go to Florida (Cracker Barrel, Panera, Chik-fil-a, and freezer meals from Walmart). If I try to force my family (read:mom) to eat something more adventurous, they'll starve and complain.

I'll be interested to know if anyone has had any good tour experiences. I've only heard negative things except from my Grandparents but they go on old peoples' tours. I think I'd freak out not being in control, but who knows?

My guess is that your mom will be more comfortable on a tour, where she can dabble each day into the heart of London, but also have her creature comforts awaiting her anytime she needs them. I would personally not spring for the Disney tour, and go with a London-based tour group (although I have no idea where to even start). I would, however, urge you to see every tourist attraction that I mentioned (with the possible exceptions of Stonehenge and Oxford - I researched my trip for a couple months, and those are the things that I decided were non-negotiable), so even if your tour company doesn't see one of them, break away for a day, and see it on your own (everything is very close together - all within the downtown confines). Above all, do not get a Ploughman's Lunch - regardless of how appealing the name might be: I believe it was Rick Steves who said, "Everybody gets them ... once." :)

Here are a couple threads which you've probably already found, but they may be of use - at least in theory, they're objective (however, if they're anything like the "objective" restaurant guides I've seen, from publications you'd think are knowledgeable, e.g. Forbes, NY Times, Kiplinger, etc., they're amateurish, and culled from other websites on the internet: the writers are generally inexperienced journalists compiling information about things which they know nothing about - you'll get a mix of the good, and the not-so-good, but at least they tend to be "safe" - as an example, if you use one of these for DC dining, you're likely to find yourself at Farmers & Fishers):

"Can You Recommend London-Based Tour Operator For Europe Tour?" on tripadvisor.com

"Britain's Best Tour Operators" on telegraph.co.uk

"Best London Day Trips and Tour Companies?" on tripadvisor.com

"London - United Kingdom" on travel.nationalgeographic.com

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Borough Market
Basically, food heaven. A market of some sort has existed in this location for a thousand years. Go, look, smell, taste, enjoy. Of the food vendors, I can vouch for: Bread Ahead, Cannon and Cannon, L'Ubriaco (Drunk Cheese) and Borough Cheese Company. In terms of prepared foods, I had an empanada (beef) from a place near the edge and a roast beef sandwich from Roast. The piece of beef on my sandwich was huge, and a little fatty, but I think they tried to give me more since it was getting to the end, but some of it was a bit fatty. Again, I could have used a little more horseradish, but I think that's just me"¦

Food heaven sounds about right.  We loved the chorizo sandwich from Brindisa, the grilled cheese sandwich and raclette from Kappacasein, and everything from Neal's Yard Dairy.  Great thing about London is that it's a walkable city (i.e., easy to burn all the calories).

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I go on a trip with my Mom about every two years.  I like to plan them myself, but I really enjoy planning trips.  We always have a good time, but my Mom is fairly adventurous in terms of eating.  I have only been to London once, but I think you would be just fine without a tour, as so many of the tourist stops have their own tours.  I wouldn't worry about the food as much, when you are sightseeing many meals happen because you are close to somewhere and hungry. And the food hall and restaurants at Harrids and other places like that are definitely fun and when you aren't that adventurous being able to look and see and have some options isn't so bad.  We ate at two restaurants, The Kitchen (near Tower Bridge) and Jugged Hare (not far from St. Paul's) she would probably like and you would like, as well. How long were you thinking of going for?

Honestly, just seeing the main sights at a leisurely pace, and not at my see everything in a day and walk over 10 miles per day pace, I think your time will be filled up.  Here is my trip report:  http://katelintaylor.com/2013/06/26/travel-report-london/  Definitely get the London Pass.  I would be more than happy to give you other ideas.

Oh here is my google map too, it has so many of the tourist sites, shopping places, etc on it.  It has some restaurants that might not fit the bill, but some of it may be usable.  https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?hl=en&authuser=0&mid=z_Or3KSoERVk.krInUOIsyAcE

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I recommend The Palomar, which is the London outpost of Jerusalem's great Machneyuda.  My suggestion is to go for a late lunch and sit at the counter and watch the chefs cook.  Yemini baked bread, octo-hummus (roasted octopus over hummus), polenta with mushrooms and asparagus, beetroot carpaccio...really the whole menu is good.  The-world-is-so small co-incidences:  The head chef at The Palomar was the chef cooking for us when we did the chef's table at Machneyuda four years ago.  The waiter working behind the counter has a brother living in America who lives two blocks from me.
 
Honey & Co. - The small, cramped, tables-on-top-of-tables dining room is a disservice to the homey Middle eastern cooking.  Peach and goat cheese salad with roasted almonds was excellent and everything you wanted in simple summer dish.  A very nice bread selection of 4 different types of bread and excellent olive oil.  The cured mackerel salad was also very good.  But the star of the night was the Imam Bayildi, a whole eggplant split in two and roasted with tomato sauce and topped with a pile of herbs and roasted nuts.  All washed down with an agreeable bottle of Languedoc rose.  
 
If you are a fan of Yotam Ottolenghi, his restaurant did not disappoint.  We went to the Islington branch, but he has two locations that are more central.  Great lunch of salads and bread and wine.  The Anzac biscuits are amazing.
 
Burrough Market is wonderful, if a bit crowded (we went on a Friday afternoon).  Full market days are Wednesday-Saturday.  We enjoyed some really good cheese and charcuterie.  The open air section has tons of food stands selling just about anything you might want to eat.  Roast pork sandwich with rocket and cracklin and a glass of cider.  Done.
 
If you have time and nice weather, I really recommend putting together a picnic and having dinner in either Hyde Park or Regents Park.  Regents is a little more manicured and the gardens are lovely (the roses were in peak bloom).  Plus no open container restrictions, so get a bottle of wine, champagne, or a pitcher of Pimms and enjoy.  Smoked salmon, pork pies, bread, cheese, tomatoes, blackberries, and champagne...seriously good time.  
 
Cornish pasties: Perhaps the best travel food.  West Cornwall Pasty Co., although a chain, does a solid job and conveniently located at Gatwick Airport and Victoria Station.  The Pasty Shop has locations at Kings Cross and Paddington Stations.  If you are flying in and out of London, you really have no excuse.  
 
And then of course, do what Londoners do, get a pint at a pub and hang out on the sidewalk.  The Cock, a Sam Smith owned bar in Fitzrovia and The Footman in Mayfair were two of my favorites (the smoked salmon plate at The Footman was amazing). 
 
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On 7/29/2016 at 0:43 PM, Tweaked said:
And then of course, do what Londoners do, get a pint at a pub and hang out on the sidewalk.  The Cock, a Sam Smith owned bar in Fitzrovia and The Footman in Mayfair were two of my favorites (the smoked salmon plate at The Footman was amazing). 
 

Totally agree with this as well.  For those in the Notting Hill neighborhood, I always suggest the Churchill Arms for a few reasons.  First, it helped lead the gastro-pub revolution by introducing high-quality Thai food to replace the fare that was typical in British pubs back when.  The Thai food still doesn't disappoint here.  Second, you can get a glass of Pol Roger NV for 7 or 8 pounds.  That's near US retail prices and far below UK retail.   The pub is just a couple blocks from the Tube stop.

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On ‎1‎/‎24‎/‎2009 at 5:24 AM, dcs said:

Had a wonderful meal at La Genova in Mayfair. It is an Northern Italian resturant that features cuisine from the Liguria region, known for its emphasis on pesto sauce and seafood.

http://www.lagenovarestaurant.com/

It has an unassuming storefront, a well-appointed dining room, and perhaps the most engaging staff of any restaurant I have ever been in. The owner, Rinaldo Pierini, is a fixture on the floor and stopped by our table several times to chat, as did the floor manager, all of the waiters, and ultimately, the chef.

They have a printed menu, but you want to focus on the cart they wheel around that has all of the specials for the evening on display. You choose what you want that they go off to cook it. We basically asked them to prepare a sampling of everything and they were happy to oblige.

One of the highlights was a seafood salad, served cold, which featured squid which was almost buttery soft. The pasta course featured salmon stuffed ravioli, as well as plain homemade pasta with pesto. For the main course, we had the oven cooked seabream with a light lemon sauce, tomatoes, sprinkled with pine nuts, and a braised veal dish in a rich brown sauce with mushrooms that they had wheeled by earlier in a large serving dish. The owner was particularly proud of this dish and insisted we try it.

La Genova is not far from the Marble Arch in Hyde Park. Stop by and say hi to Rinaldo. Don't forget to ask him what restaurant is Tony Bennett's favorite in all of London, and then let him show you the pictures. :P

Closed per Zagat.  The restaurant website is kaput.  Google Maps shows it as Closed.  I could find no additional corroboration on the Internet.

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Anyone been to Nopi or Ottolenghi Islington lately?  I am an admitted Ottolenghi fan, and have enjoyed meals at the Islington location near my friend's house.  Have not been to Nopi.  In an upcoming trip after christmas, should I stick with my tried and true Ottolenghi, or is it worth it to "experience" Nopi, even though it seems more expensive and not necessarily "better"?

Thanks!!

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