One is currently residing in the United States in Florida on “vacation”. One finds the weather more agreeable than in the UK where the damp air at this time of the year tends to play havoc with one’s lumbago.
As a connoisseur of fine dining, many of one’s American chums who ask where they should eat in London. Naturally one points them to one’s blog. However, one thinks a summary of recommendations on various budgets might be useful. So here is a briefing for one’s American chums and any others that might find it useful. With all that London has to offer it seems that one’s chums from across the pond do not usually linger too long in London. They want to go to the theatre and see the big attractions such as Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace etc. which is commendable. So if one only has three days and does not want to be disappointed, here are some recommendations.
THREE DAYS IN LONDON – recommended eateries
LUNCH – reasonable cost
THE GORING HOTEL – near Buckingham Palace – Victoria Tube station
When visiting Buckingham Palace, then The GORING Hotel is the only place to go for lunch. This is where Kate’s family stayed the night before she married William! Arrive early (say 12.15) and a table may easily be had IN THE BAR where one should order the club sandwich which is not for the faint-hearted and is delicious. This naturally should be accompanied by a glass or two of red wine. Ask for a table outside on the terrace if it is a fine day and one will be amazed at the tranquillity of the garden in the centre of town. One can eat in the excellent restaurant but this is only recommended if one fancies a really fine meal.
Oh, yes and it does do a rather marvellous afternoon tea if one is so inclined. Forget the Ritz or Savoy, this is the place to be!
Website – www.thegoring.com
BRASSERIE ZEDEL – Piccadilly Circus
Brasserie Zedel is a large, rumbustious French style Brasserie just off Piccadilly Circus. The restaurant with its art deco features is a visual delight. It has all the classic French dishes. The food is not Michelin quality and can sometimes be hit and miss but if one fancies a memorable and reasonably priced lunch then this is a good place to start. Eat duck confit with beans.
Website – www.brasseriezedel.com
CHAMPAGNE CHARLIES – Near Embankment tube just off The Strand. Perfect if one has been to Trafalgar Square which hosts the National Gallery.
Not a one off, this is part of the Davy’s chain of bar/restaurants that serve OLD Wallop bitter in pewter tankards. Try it, you may take a liking to it. The restaurants evoke old time London and they are usually to be found in basements. Dark wood and floorboards abound. Their menu is good value brasserie type fair. Liver and bacon is usually wonderful as are the bangers and mash. (Sausages with mashed potato for one’s dear US chums.) The good news is that they are all quite fun. Another one to visit if one is in Covent Garden is The Crusting Pipe which is downstairs in the main piazza and often has some entertainment going on outside. Another which is a lot of fun and is cavernous inside is to be found just near Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly is the Davy’s St James’s
Davy’s website – www.davy.co.uk/winebars/
LUNCH – More pricey!
LE GAVROCHE – Mayfair, near Marble Arch – Review here
This restaurant is near Mayfair and if one fancies a Michelin starred restaurant then one should make an early booking for Le Gavroche which will serve one of the finest lunches and best value for the quality. The set menu at £54.80 is renowned as the best value in town. It includes half a bottle of wine, half a bottle of mineral water, amuse bouches, petits fours and coffee. The atmosphere in the restaurants is classic, timeless high class French and the owner Michel Roux is usually there and is one of the finest chaps that one could meet. Book well in advance mes amis as this is a popular venue and Mr. Roux now attracts more visitors due to his TV persona which has taken off in recent years.
Website – www.le-gavroche.co.uk
See the recommendations below aswell as although they are best for dinner, there are some wonderful lunches to be had at the restaurants below. Bellamy’s or Cecconi are good for lunch.
LE GAVROCHE – see above
Once again Le Gavroche is the place to go if one has a hankering for a fine Michelin star meal but this is very expensive in the evenings. Try the Suissesse soufflé if one dare
THE GREENHOUSE – near Hyde Park Corner or north of Green Park
If one has already been to lunch at Le Gavroche then one could go to The Greenhouse for dinner but not on the same day! It is another very upscale Michelin star French restaurant which serves wonderfully prepared and presented dishes. Once again it is not cheap for dinner. One can also try their excellent set lunch. Here is one’s review.
Website – www.greenhouserestaurant.co.uk
BELLAMY’S – An excellent restaurant with French influence just off Bond Street/Barclay Square. Take the tube to Green Park.
This is a hidden gem. A restaurant that evokes the same style as Sheekey’s or The Ivy but without the hassle of trying to get a booking. Both of the latter are good but go here for a good meal at a sensible price with some uber classy clientele. Shh don’t tell anyone, this one is privee! They mix a mean Manhattan here at their small but stylish cocktail bar. It is also great for a lunch if one is so inclined.
Website – www.bellamysrestaurant.co.uk
DAQUISE – near South Kensington tube not far from Sloane Square, the Natural History museum.
This is a classy but reasonably priced, Polish restaurant. It serves some wondrous food and the manager has a great sense of humour. Just look at his feet fosr his choice of footwear! This will serve some of the best steak tartare in town as a starter. It is prepare from scratch more or less at your table. As an entrée the breaded pork chop with “dumplings” is wondrous.
Website – www.daquise.co.uk
COTE BRASSERIE(S)– All over London but most notably just off Trafalgar square in St Martin’s Lane and also there is one in Sloane Square near the trendy King’s Road.
A chain of French restaurants that aims to deliver good quality French style food at reasonable prices. There is one in St. Martin’s Lane. Try their fillet steak with chips. Always a winner and they offer an excellent pre-theatre menu.
Web site – www.cote-restaurants.co.uk
CECCONI – Very popular stylish Italian just off Piccadilly behind the Royal Academy of Arts. Not he cheapest but great for dinner or lunch. Book well in advance. One either loves or hates the trendy crowd, the noise and the green leather bar stools. Great for a cocktail. Naturally here it should be a negroni or a bellini for the ladies!
Website – www.cecconis.co.uk
ANYONE FOR CURRY?
One should not miss having a curry when in London as it is almost a national dish. Now there are many Indian curry houses in London and many are excellent and good value. Forget anything that you might have eaten in the US as these are very spicy, full-flavoured dishes. It is difficult to recommend as there are so many but if one fancy’s something classy then go to the Cinnamon club or Veeraswamy. Amaya near Knightsbridge is always worth a visit and they can mix a mean martini.
Veeraswamy – just off Piccadilly Circus
Amaya – Michelin-starred indian restaurant near Harrods in Knightsbridge
Cinnamon Club – Near Westminster Abbey – good value lunch can be had too!
For something less expensive and also worth a visit for lunch then go to:
Dishoom near Covent Garden/Trafalgar Square – try a cup of their excellent chai – As recommended by one’s dear chum Pettigrew.
Naturally for a really authentic indian curry one should head to the east of London near the City in near Brick Lane such as Aladin. But that is for another day.
AND FINALLY …FISH AND CHIPS..
A good place for high quality fish is Wiltons in Jermyn Street from behind Piccadilly and near Fortnum and Mason. Expect to pay an arm and a leg. Greens restaurant is also good for fish, just off Jermyn Street, just a stone’s throw from Fortnum & Mason once again. Finding just a fish and chip shop in the centre of town is less easy if one would like to sit down. One tends to find the better fish and chip restaurants further out from the town centre.
However for more simple fare which is also easier on the pocket and in the true tradition of fish and chips one has been recommended The Golden Union fish Bar which is near Oxford Street and near to Soho. One has not tried it but one really must it looks scrummy and it’s not expensive at all, just a basic fish and chip shop.
One can also suggest a couple of places not to go as in one’s humble opinion they are somewhat overrated and one should not waste one’s time. They are:
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – near Hyde Park Corner. Despite it’s reputation this restaurant is lacking in atmosphere and is overpriced despite the high accolades that it gets. If you only have three days in town they do not bother with this one.
The Wolseley – sadly one is getting reports that The Wolseley is trading on its reputation. It is near the Ritz in Piccadilly, a short walk from Green Park tube station. It can nervertheless be interesting if one eats after theatre as it attracts the odd celebrity or two. Not bad for an early evening cocktail if one can get into the tiny bar.