London / Solo Diner

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RyanC
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London / Solo Diner

#1 Post by RyanC » April 1st, 2019, 8:23 pm

I'm going to have one or two nights free in London this month while traveling on business. I'd love to get a great meal or two and I'll probably be solo -- preferably dining at the bar or a counter. I have no real preference for type of food, fancy or not fancy, or neighborhood (within reason). Just looking for something distinctive and great (and where I will likely be able to get a seat with 2-3 weeks notice). Thoughts / recommendations? Thanks!
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#2 Post by Russell Faulkner » April 1st, 2019, 9:00 pm

Araki or Hedone.

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#3 Post by M.Kaplan » April 1st, 2019, 9:28 pm

Kitchen Table is my favorite (book well in advance)
Barrafina for tapas (no reservations, but well worth the wait)
Kiln Soho
Roka Fitzrovia

Countless good solo dining opportunities in London.
Last edited by M.Kaplan on April 1st, 2019, 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#4 Post by Russell Faulkner » April 1st, 2019, 9:46 pm

[highfive.gif] Closed at the moment Mark (until June) Have you been to Hedone?
Last edited by Russell Faulkner on April 1st, 2019, 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#5 Post by M.Kaplan » April 1st, 2019, 9:53 pm

Kitchen Table is closed (they are remodeling Bubbledogs and Sandia Chang and James Knappett had a baby girl yesterday). I overlooked Ryan’s time frame.

Yes, I like Hedone quite a lot. The owner/chef is a bit of a weird guy, but I like his cooking very much. Been twice.

Also, the communal table downstairs at Nopi is another good choice.
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#6 Post by dbailey » April 2nd, 2019, 7:51 pm

Atelier de Joel Robuchon is perfect for solo dining with most of the tables at the bar
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#7 Post by Rajesh P a r i k h » April 3rd, 2019, 4:41 am

Dishoom

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#8 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » April 3rd, 2019, 5:01 am

Hide upper

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#9 Post by Mark Golodetz » April 3rd, 2019, 5:27 am

My two favorite restaurants are very different, and both unique.

I love the really inspired Indian food at Cinammon Club. Incredibly creative and the the food is delicious. If you are into wine with spice, an interesting wine list.

St.John’s is a real English treasure, and brings a lot of the slightly off cuts of meat into sharp focus. My go to are marrow bones and a special last time, steak and kidney pie If you are an offal fan, this place is a must. Not sure about wine list, as I was a guest of some wine merchants last couple of times I was there. But there is a wine company attached, so probably good.
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#10 Post by Barry L i p t o n » April 3rd, 2019, 10:07 am

My absolute favorite is Pollen Street Social if you don't want a long meal, otherwise Kitchen Table is the best (but currently closed).

I prefer Dishoom to Cinnamon Club - I don't like modern Indian food (as defined by including mayonaisse in some of the dishes). Lot's of variety although casual and not refined. A big appeal is it's location, perfect for pre-theater. I was only at C.C. once so I might be able to avoid the mayo next time. Talli Joe is also right by the theater district and perhaps a hair better than Dishoom without as much variety.

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#11 Post by Robert Broder » April 3rd, 2019, 3:13 pm

Been to St. John's and Pollen Street Social. I thought Pollen Street was very good, but not worth the money. St. John's was special. Still remember. The roasted bone marrow and roast ox heart. My favorite meal, however, is at J. Sheekey. The last 2 visits to London I had the shellfish tower, and I still dream about it.

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#12 Post by RyanC » April 3rd, 2019, 3:38 pm

Thanks everyone. Great recs. I've been to St. John and loved it. I've also been to J. Sheekey and loved it as well.

I'm very intrigued by Araki, and it would have been a no-brainer, but I see that Araki has left the restaurant as of March and now his assistant is in charge. Unless I hear a great report from the past few weeks, I'm reticent to go that route with a new chef at the helm. Anyone have intel to give me confidence in the new guy?

Hedone, Kiln Dishoom, Atelier, and Cinnamon Club are great suggestions. As of now I'm thinking I'll go Hedone for at least one night.

Keep 'em coming.
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#13 Post by Russell Faulkner » April 3rd, 2019, 6:41 pm

It’s not really a new chef at Araki. It’s his assistant who has been there for the whole time he was in London. I wouldn’t hesitate.

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#14 Post by doug johnson » April 3rd, 2019, 7:06 pm

I'll be that guy....my one time at Hedone was garbage. Good ingredients, yes, but the cooking had no soul, no creativity, no style.

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#15 Post by Stephen Pepe » April 3rd, 2019, 8:33 pm

Enoteca Turi at 87 Pimlico Rd. We had lunch there today. Excellent Italian wine list. Very creative Italian dishes.
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#16 Post by Rajesh P a r i k h » April 4th, 2019, 6:12 am

Mich@el Ch@ng wrote:
April 3rd, 2019, 5:01 am
Hide upper
Thanks for the rec! Just booked Hide for the next time I'm in London. Did you try the cocktail bar downstairs?

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#17 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » April 4th, 2019, 6:47 am

I haven’t personally but heard it’s really cool.

Detailed review from KJJ here

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=155178&p=2598639&hi ... n#p2598639

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#18 Post by Mark R » April 12th, 2019, 5:38 am

I focus on local/regional food when I travel, and there's nothing more "London" than a Sunday Roast (with yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings), the best example of which I had at Blacklock (24 Great Windmill Street), which was also the best meal I had in my 8 days in the city at this time last year. Blacklock also won the award for best roast from local publications (I recall including 'Time Out'), and they have a great deal on Mondays also. Reservations on OpenTable.

London is also known as one of the best places for Indian food, so keep that in mind. You will likely find yourself in Covent Garden at some point, and one of the best no-reservation places there is Dishoom (22 Kingly Street). For more upscale with an easy-to-secure lunch reservation is Gymkhana (expensive at dinner but affordable lunch deals at a Michelin-starred establishment).
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#19 Post by Paul McCourt » April 14th, 2019, 10:13 am

Mark R wrote:
April 12th, 2019, 5:38 am
I focus on local/regional food when I travel, and there's nothing more "London" than a Sunday Roast (with yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings), the best example of which I had at Blacklock (24 Great Windmill Street), which was also the best meal I had in my 8 days in the city at this time last year. Blacklock also won the award for best roast from local publications (I recall including 'Time Out'), and they have a great deal on Mondays also. Reservations on OpenTable.

London is also known as one of the best places for Indian food, so keep that in mind. You will likely find yourself in Covent Garden at some point, and one of the best no-reservation places there is Dishoom (22 Kingly Street). For more upscale with an easy-to-secure lunch reservation is Gymkhana (expensive at dinner but affordable lunch deals at a Michelin-starred establishment).
There are a couple of Dishoom's in London, correct?
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#20 Post by Mark R » April 15th, 2019, 5:47 am

Paul McCourt wrote:
April 14th, 2019, 10:13 am

There are a couple of Dishoom's in London, correct?
Evidently, there are 5 in London, and they've spread outside to Manchester and Edinburgh.
All addresses at http://www.dishoom.com/
Because they only take reservations for large groups, it's a good option for a solo diner, as described in the OP.
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#21 Post by David Kaufman » April 16th, 2019, 1:42 pm

+1 for Barrafina, especially as a solo diner

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#22 Post by Barry L i p t o n » April 16th, 2019, 7:57 pm

Dishoom takes reservations until 5:30. Perfect for pre theater.

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#23 Post by Keith A k e r s » April 17th, 2019, 1:30 pm

David Kaufman wrote:
April 16th, 2019, 1:42 pm
+1 for Barrafina, especially as a solo diner
^this.was.sooooooooooooooo friggin good when I went two weeks ago. So, yea, that champagne.gif


I would also fully rec a visit to the Clove Club. I was extremely happy with my meal there

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#24 Post by Jason T » April 22nd, 2019, 3:20 am

Dishoom is good but I would not give it “all that” status. I think a more interesting Indian restaurant nearby is Jamavar. Jamavar is just as inventive, but a bit more refined. Having dined at a bunch of Indian restaurants in London, it’s easily my favorite, with the exception of maybe Cinnamon Club/Cinnamon Kitchen.
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#25 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » April 22nd, 2019, 4:22 pm

David Kaufman wrote:
April 16th, 2019, 1:42 pm
+1 for Barrafina, especially as a solo diner
Any of the four locations ?

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#26 Post by David Kaufman » April 22nd, 2019, 4:54 pm

Tom G l a s g o w wrote:
April 22nd, 2019, 4:22 pm
David Kaufman wrote:
April 16th, 2019, 1:42 pm
+1 for Barrafina, especially as a solo diner
Any of the four locations ?
I ate at the Drury Lane location last Fall and it was killer. Great food and atmosphere. All seating is at the bar

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#27 Post by Dave Sankaran » May 4th, 2019, 1:24 am

I spent a week eating in London last week, my strongest recs would be for;

The Clove Club (bats way above its 1 star rating imho)
Kiln (awesome)
Tandoor Chop House
Roti King (the one in the basement near Euston station)

Avoid The Barbary - total joke.

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#28 Post by Mike Cohen » May 4th, 2019, 9:17 am

Dave Sankaran wrote:
May 4th, 2019, 1:24 am
I spent a week eating in London last week, my strongest recs would be for;

The Clove Club (bats way above its 1 star rating imho)
Kiln (awesome)
Tandoor Chop House
Roti King (the one in the basement near Euston station)

Avoid The Barbary - total joke.
Whoa...was in London two weeks ago and absolutely loved The Barbary. Loved Palomar (sister restaurant) even more. Fun atmosphere, great flavors, loud and frenetic, but a ton of fun. Curious as to what you didn't like about the Barbary? I was with my family of four and both at the Barbary and Palomar we befriended the chef in front of us and they couldn't have been nicer, taking the time to answer questions, sending over tastes of dishes that we didn't order and they wanted us to try, etc.

As an aside, we have had some pretty fun meals in Israel and these places share that energy.

As a further aside, I put value on having a fun experience.

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#29 Post by Dave Sankaran » May 4th, 2019, 1:21 pm

Mike Cohen wrote:
May 4th, 2019, 9:17 am

Whoa...was in London two weeks ago and absolutely loved The Barbary. Loved Palomar (sister restaurant) even more. Fun atmosphere, great flavors, loud and frenetic, but a ton of fun. Curious as to what you didn't like about the Barbary? I was with my family of four and both at the Barbary and Palomar we befriended the chef in front of us and they couldn't have been nicer, taking the time to answer questions, sending over tastes of dishes that we didn't order and they wanted us to try, etc.

As an aside, we have had some pretty fun meals in Israel and these places share that energy.

As a further aside, I put value on having a fun experience.
I was excited to try the Barbary based on the various reviews out there. I went for lunch and it was literally empty except for me (well, one woman did come in and sit on the opposite side of the bar half-way thru my meal). So it was quiet and no energy. The staff was "fine". I didn't chat with them beyond ordering.

That said, I was there for the Food...

Here is my note that I posted on another website wherein I posted my quick reviews on 9 meals:

"The biggest disappointment (not to mention absurdly high priced) meal was at The Barbary. They claim to be a "northern african" restaurant. Whatever. I had some naan served with a bit of (bad) hummus and very good babaganoush. Then a whole grilled cauliflower and a very flavorful minced beef skewer and a grilled octopus. The food (except the hummus and octopus) was pretty good, but I'm someone that had never complained about meal costs - until this place. Total rip off and way over-rated."

So the meat stick was flavorful, but then so is the minced meat skewer at pretty much every restaurant representative of these regions...The cauliflower was also good, but no better than the similar cauliflower I had that week at Tandoor Chop House. Otoh, the hummus was awful. No flavor and dense (almost solid) like leftover from several days ago. The texture of the octopus was too soft and mushy (not what one expects from octopus and again it made me wonder if it was leftover from a prior day).

So, the food I had was 2 out of 5 were good (babaganoush and meat stick), 2 were bad (Hummus and octopus) and one was fair (Cauliflower).

The octopus and meat stick (which were very small portions, the meat stick embarrassingly so) were each ~17GBP iirc (so $25 for a small minced beef skewer of about 5 bites - ouch).

The bill for just me was $68 vs. the check for two of us at Kiln was $58. The food was at least as ambitious (if not more so) at Kiln, the service was great and the prices were half. $68 for lunch isn't expensive, it was just very poor value in light of what I was served and vs. a "similar" place we ate at the next day. (to illuminate my pov on cost, I referred to The Clove Club as a great bargain this week despite it being the my most expensive meal...fwiw, this now marks the first and most I've ever talked about food prices, but I was perplexed by the Barbary, especially in light of comparison to Kiln - which, btw, was packed beyond belief and had a 75-minute wait at 8pm on a rainy Wednesday).

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#30 Post by Mike Cohen » May 4th, 2019, 5:08 pm

Dave Sankaran wrote:
May 4th, 2019, 1:21 pm
Mike Cohen wrote:
May 4th, 2019, 9:17 am

Whoa...was in London two weeks ago and absolutely loved The Barbary. Loved Palomar (sister restaurant) even more. Fun atmosphere, great flavors, loud and frenetic, but a ton of fun. Curious as to what you didn't like about the Barbary? I was with my family of four and both at the Barbary and Palomar we befriended the chef in front of us and they couldn't have been nicer, taking the time to answer questions, sending over tastes of dishes that we didn't order and they wanted us to try, etc.

As an aside, we have had some pretty fun meals in Israel and these places share that energy.

As a further aside, I put value on having a fun experience.
I was excited to try the Barbary based on the various reviews out there. I went for lunch and it was literally empty except for me (well, one woman did come in and sit on the opposite side of the bar half-way thru my meal). So it was quiet and no energy. The staff was "fine". I didn't chat with them beyond ordering.

That said, I was there for the Food...

Here is my note that I posted on another website wherein I posted my quick reviews on 9 meals:

"The biggest disappointment (not to mention absurdly high priced) meal was at The Barbary. They claim to be a "northern african" restaurant. Whatever. I had some naan served with a bit of (bad) hummus and very good babaganoush. Then a whole grilled cauliflower and a very flavorful minced beef skewer and a grilled octopus. The food (except the hummus and octopus) was pretty good, but I'm someone that had never complained about meal costs - until this place. Total rip off and way over-rated."

So the meat stick was flavorful, but then so is the minced meat skewer at pretty much every restaurant representative of these regions...The cauliflower was also good, but no better than the similar cauliflower I had that week at Tandoor Chop House. Otoh, the hummus was awful. No flavor and dense (almost solid) like leftover from several days ago. The texture of the octopus was too soft and mushy (not what one expects from octopus and again it made me wonder if it was leftover from a prior day).

So, the food I had was 2 out of 5 were good (babaganoush and meat stick), 2 were bad (Hummus and octopus) and one was fair (Cauliflower).

The octopus and meat stick (which were very small portions, the meat stick embarrassingly so) were each ~17GBP iirc (so $25 for a small minced beef skewer of about 5 bites - ouch).

The bill for just me was $68 vs. the check for two of us at Kiln was $58. The food was at least as ambitious (if not more so) at Kiln, the service was great and the prices were half. $68 for lunch isn't expensive, it was just very poor value in light of what I was served and vs. a "similar" place we ate at the next day. (to illuminate my pov on cost, I referred to The Clove Club as a great bargain this week despite it being the my most expensive meal...fwiw, this now marks the first and most I've ever talked about food prices, but I was perplexed by the Barbary, especially in light of comparison to Kiln - which, btw, was packed beyond belief and had a 75-minute wait at 8pm on a rainy Wednesday).
Dave,

Thanks for the response. Wow...we literally had the complete opposite experience. Went for dinner. It was packed and we waited about an hour. Tons of energy. Wife and kids went roaming around the neighborhood while I enjoyed a glass of wine. Everything we ordered was delicious and super flavorful. We had the jerusalem bagel, the naan, the hummus, babaganoush, and halloumi. Mains were the chicken, steak, and cod. Added the cauliflower. There may have been a dish or two more in there. Everything was delicious. At the end of the meal, the maitre'd came over with seven shot glasses...poured some sort of fruity, gin based cocktail into shot glasses for the four of us, the chef, our server and the maitre'd. Celebrated Passover in style. With wine and some cocktails, tax and tip, all in bill was $218. Which I thought was very reasonable. Especially considering some other meals we had in London

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#31 Post by Dave Sankaran » May 5th, 2019, 12:37 am

Mike Cohen wrote:
May 4th, 2019, 5:08 pm

Wow...we literally had the complete opposite experience.
Yeah, it happens. Literally at every restaurant.

I mean, I've even seen people diss the Inn and Out Double-Double Animal style! rolleyes

And at the other extreme, I've seen several reviews of the French Laundry where the person says they left hungry (I've always left painfully stuffed), or found it a terrible rip-off (I've never thought that despite four figure meals there), or said they had better at their neighborhood diner. [wow.gif]

Every business has its off day or customer served.

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Re: London / Solo Diner

#32 Post by RyanC » May 8th, 2019, 11:47 am

Here's a quick trip report, which is oddly relevant given the discussion in the previous posts re Barbary and Clove Club. Other than the restaurants, I had a lovely stay at the Savoy, which oozes history while having pretty nice rooms and a great bar.

Clove Club: I hit Clove Club my first of three nights--solo at the bar after a long flight. It was *excellent* -- fun with delicious, well-executed, and moderately interesting food. Easily performing at a solid Michelin ** level, albeit in a relaxed atmosphere. I chatted with the very personable sommelier all night. Once he realized I like and know a bit about, he poured some interesting stuff for me in addition to what I ordered, including PYCM and Vega Sicilia Unico. Highly recommended.

Ikoyi: This is a stylish, new-ish, small West African restaurant near St. James Square that has a Michelin star. It was very good and very interesting, with bold flavors and high quality ingredients. It's not trying to be authentically African and strikes me as a Momofuku-style take on African cuisine. I learned after my visit that Ikoyi has garnered some controversy due to alleged cultural appropriation, lack of authenticity, etc., which of course are conversations that are happening now in the food and wider worlds. But ignoring the noise, I found the restaurant compelling and unique--almost thrilling. https://www.finedininglovers.com/storie ... han-ikoyi/

The Barbary: Although I see the disagreement above, I thought this was great. Tucked into the charming Neal's Yard (which in about 10 square feet also has good coffee, pastries, bread, and salads), this is all about bold-flavored food cooked over flame. The pata negra with date syrup was awesome, albeit extremely rich. In fact, the whole lunch was very rich but quite satisfying. I suppose it's a touch pricey for what it is, but not out of line w/ the London norm.

Little Social: On my third of three nights I had a dinner with old friends at this small, bistro-ish spot in Mayfair. Friendly and convivial but forgettable. Food was fine but unexciting. We did drink a Henri Germain Chassagne Rouge, which was quite nice and not something I'd had (or even seen) before.
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#33 Post by MandyC » May 14th, 2019, 5:19 am

Clove Club: I hit Clove Club my first of three nights--solo at the bar after a long flight. It was *excellent* -- fun with delicious, well-executed, and moderately interesting food. Easily performing at a solid Michelin ** level, albeit in a relaxed atmosphere. I chatted with the very personable sommelier all night. Once he realized I like and know a bit about, he poured some interesting stuff for me in addition to what I ordered, including PYCM and Vega Sicilia Unico. Highly recommended.

[/quote]

Did you do the full tasting menu? Any insight on the wine pairing? I'm contemplating a lunch there next week, but I have concerns about getting my money's worth with pairings since they cost as much as the meal. Thanks!
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#34 Post by RyanC » May 14th, 2019, 6:01 am

MandyC wrote:
May 14th, 2019, 5:19 am
Clove Club: I hit Clove Club my first of three nights--solo at the bar after a long flight. It was *excellent* -- fun with delicious, well-executed, and moderately interesting food. Easily performing at a solid Michelin ** level, albeit in a relaxed atmosphere. I chatted with the very personable sommelier all night. Once he realized I like and know a bit about, he poured some interesting stuff for me in addition to what I ordered, including PYCM and Vega Sicilia Unico. Highly recommended.
Did you do the full tasting menu? Any insight on the wine pairing? I'm contemplating a lunch there next week, but I have concerns about getting my money's worth with pairings since they cost as much as the meal. Thanks!
[/quote]

I did the extended tasting menu. There were two options: the tasting menu, and one with an additional 2-3 courses. I went with the longer one, which wasn't all that much more expensive. I did not do the pairings, and as usual I don't think there's much need to do so, as the wine selection is good (both by glass and bottle, albeit pricey). The pairings included nice wines, but nothing that would blow you away.
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Re: London / Solo Diner

#35 Post by Colin Carpenter » May 14th, 2019, 7:36 pm

Going to London next month and came here looking for suggestions. Thanks for the recommendations. Some favorites mentioned. I'll add to the list of those who had a great meal at the Barbary. It's a little hard to find in the Seven Dials--I walked past it several times before realizing the front door was up off the ground and actually an entrance (building codes?). Tiny restaurant but that lent itself to a very lively atmosphere and the food was interesting and tasty. I've enjoyed trying the Tapas restaurants in London. Barrafina is solid. Depending on where you find yourself, I would recommend Los Lobos (next to the Borough Market) and Jose --small, hopping place a walk into the neighborhood southwest of the Tower Bridge. I know i should be trying some of the upscale Indian restaurants, but Dishoom has never disappointed (other than the long queue!). As was mentioned above, if you are in London on a Sunday you are doing yourself a disservice if you do not book a Sunday Roast. I would agree with Mark that Blacklock in Soho is highly recommended. Reserve well in advance (we just made a booking a month away and had to choose a 5:30 booking, there was nothing around regular dinner hours). For one that is a little more upscale but still reasonable, the Harwood Arms is very good and the only pub in London with a Michelin star.

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