First World Problem
March 2, 2010 3:27 AM   Subscribe

SO and I have been given £150 for a nice meal out. Where in London can we go for the kind of food we'd never normally splash out on?

We normally eat Japanese/noodles when out, so I'm wary of Nobu and the like in case it ruins the stuff we can afford forever. My boyfriend's allergic to pulses which rules out Indian and Lebanese cuisine too. Also, he's worried about going somewhere that will require wearing a shirt and tie (neither of us go to posh restaurants enough to know how likely this is). any recommendations welcome!
posted by mippy to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
How about a meal in pitch darkness? Unforgettable!
posted by Cantdosleepy at 3:30 AM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you have a preference for type of food?
posted by vacapinta at 3:40 AM on March 2, 2010


Erm, not too fussed other than it not being Oriental or Asian. Which makes it pretty hard to decide.

MrMippy isn't a fan of 'wanky' places. We just want somewhere where we can relax, but eat very very nice food that we wouldn't normally get to try.
posted by mippy at 3:55 AM on March 2, 2010


Ok. You can try St. Johns which I love. Definitely not wanky. Good british food. They have a menu online.
posted by vacapinta at 3:59 AM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Further down south, I'd recommend Magdalen. Their menu is also online.
posted by vacapinta at 4:03 AM on March 2, 2010


When we were in London last year, this place was on our must visit list; for a variety of reasons, we didn't make it and really regretted it. since then i've read fergus henderson's "nose-to-tail eating" cookbook and doubly regret not making the extra effort to get there. i'm not so familiar with what you'd generally pay for a 'special' meal in london, but looking at the menu, and from what i've read/heard about the quality, seems good value to me.
Probably NSFV* though (* not safe for vegetarians)
posted by beige at 4:03 AM on March 2, 2010


I highly highly highly recommend La Porte des Indes, the actual décor is absolutely amazing and the food is different and *tasty*. In fact it's so good I'd be tempted to say I'll give you your money back if you don't like it (but won't).
posted by gadha at 4:08 AM on March 2, 2010


Thanks gadha, but we can't do Indian because of the pulses - it wouldn't be fun if MrM had to leave for antihistamines before dessert! Shame as I love a curry.
posted by mippy at 4:17 AM on March 2, 2010


Firstly, unless you're having tea at Claridges, it's virtually unheard of to need a jacket and tie. I went to the Fat Duck last week and there were people there in jeans and polo shirts.

If you want bang for your buck, go for weekday lunch, not dinner. Worth a thought.

I don't know if Hakkasan gets ruled out under the "Nobu" rules, but it's supposed to be very good.

Zuma's nice. But pricy. You can come in at under £150 but you'll need to be careful. It might irk MrMippy if you go towards the end of the week as it does tend to be full of recruitment consultants pretending to be property barons.

Failing that, I'd recommend Yauatcha for its dim sum. Don't go for the service.

If you want to go a bit cheaper and be unusual, I'd recommend Bar Shu - but the food can be very spicy. It's roughly £50/head.

Busaba Eathai is a good, consistent thai choice that won't stretch your budget.

Also, this blog recommends a lot of cheaper ethnic places.

I would also recommend you go to Taste of London - a great way to find out about new restaurants. It's June 17-20 this year.

Finally, British cuisine is back in vogue. St John is pretty original and nice food. The bar is cheap and very good and a fraction of the price. The best Welsh Rarebit you'll ever eat. Gastropub alternatives with strong British menus are Anchor and Hope and Great Queen Street. The Anchor & Hope can be difficult to get a table at and is a bit crowded though.

Finally, finally, a leftfield choice: leave London and go to the awesome Sportsman at Seasalter - a Michelin-starred revelation hiding within a weatherbeaten coastal pub near Whitstable. You will need to book. It is within budget. Review here.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:22 AM on March 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


nthing St John's, but if I was going for a one-off meal, I'd pick a great fish restaurant, summat like J Sheekey's.

If you even vaguely like Italian, Murano is great. And if I could go to any restaurant in London I'd not be too before, I'd go to Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley. Like I say, I've never been, but every single aspect of every single review/recommendation has been 100% positive.
posted by Hartster at 4:58 AM on March 2, 2010


Roast is pretty good, and I really liked Skylon too. Both are located centrally and Skylon in particular has awesome views over the river.
posted by jonesor at 5:03 AM on March 2, 2010


I had an amazing meal at The River Cafe several years ago and would love to go again. London foodies - is The River Cafe still good?
posted by shothotbot at 5:05 AM on March 2, 2010


The River Cafe is undoubtedly the best food I've ever eaten in the United Kingdom. This was about a year ago. They had a fire and closed for renovations but I'm pretty sure they're back and no reason to believe they're not as good as ever.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:19 AM on March 2, 2010


You can try St. Johns which I love. Definitely not wanky. Good british food.

It is awesome, and another great recommendation, but I question the implication of the description "good British food" if that means typical or quintessential or something. St Johns is very much its own, unique kind of thing: read the reviews and make sure it sounds like your kind of thing...!
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:24 AM on March 2, 2010


read the reviews and make sure it sounds like your kind of thing

.. and don't do what the couple next to me did, and bring their pre-teen daughters, who sat miserably and poked £20 plates of food around wondering which of the duck hearts or oxtail they were supposed to find most appetizing.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:27 AM on March 2, 2010


I know our relations with Argentina are a bit tense right now but for good Argentine beef you could try Gaucho (www.gauchorestaurants.com). They have several restaurants scattered around town.
posted by Parsnip at 5:49 AM on March 2, 2010


The River Cafe is undoubtedly the best food I've ever eaten in the United Kingdom. This was about a year ago. They had a fire and closed for renovations but I'm pretty sure they're back and no reason to believe they're not as good as ever.

Rose Gray of the River Cafe died yesterday :(
posted by bifter at 5:52 AM on March 2, 2010


Hartster: I've been to Marcus Wareing a couple of years back, when it was Petrus. Very good. But sheesh, the price.

The tasting menu itself wasn't too expensive all things considered, but wine more than doubled the cost of the meal and we didn't go especially wild.

If I had a criticism about Wareing, his cooking is very refined and so forth but I felt it was a little conservative. Perhaps I'm spoilt. Some friends went last year and can't stop raving about it.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:06 AM on March 2, 2010


game warden: I just meant "good British food" as opposed to "good Italian food" You may be reading too much into it.

Agreed that St. Johns is its own thing and thats why I linked to the menu, but the last time I was there I had Welsh Rarebit, Middlewhite Pork and Queen of Puddings (a pudding invented for Queen Victoria) so I stand by: British.
posted by vacapinta at 6:14 AM on March 2, 2010


Finally, British cuisine is back in vogue. St John is pretty original and nice food. The bar is cheap and very good and a fraction of the price. The best Welsh Rarebit you'll ever eat. Gastropub alternatives with strong British menus are Anchor and Hope and Great Queen Street. The Anchor & Hope can be difficult to get a table at and is a bit crowded though.

There's also the Harwood Arms, a pub which just grabbed a Michelin star this year.
posted by vacapinta at 6:25 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love Quo Vadis in Soho. Their pork belly with jerusalem artichoke purée and apple sauce is insane, and their crème brûlée is the best I've ever had.

I've only been for lunch, but we wore jeans and t-shirts and didn't feel at all out of place.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:26 AM on March 2, 2010


Skylon is a beautiful restaurant and the view is lovely but I think the food is rather better in Almeida, their sister restaurant in Islington. Skylon does feel like more of a treat though.

This is a great thread. I've always wanted to go to St John but being married to a vegetarian it is never top of the list. This thread is bumping it back up there.
posted by ninebelow at 6:42 AM on March 2, 2010


St Johns is actually rather cheap though.

I had a rather nice meal at Salt Yard the other night. and Dehesa.

Or Autre-pied i've heard is good.

Would recommend Moro but pulses may be a problem.
posted by mary8nne at 6:50 AM on March 2, 2010


If you like a good steak, one of the Gaucho restaurants (I particularly like Gaucho Sloane) might suit you. Some people there will be in suits, but others won't be. And the steaks are outstanding.
posted by sueinnyc at 7:59 AM on March 2, 2010


If you like good Italian cooking and are near Victoria, I can highly recommend Olivo and I Due Amici. Hartster is right that J Sheekey is the best for seafood but it is always packed.
posted by TheRaven at 8:05 AM on March 2, 2010


If you don't fancy going to St John (which is a great choice) try Clos Maggiore in covent garden - get a table in the magical consevatory.
posted by patricio at 10:13 AM on March 2, 2010


Choose wisely. There are an unbelievably large number of London restaurants where you could spend £75 a head for mediocre service and worse food. This is my top 12 (Asian/Indian restaurants excluded) in no particular order:

St John
L' Atelier Robuchon
Wild Honey
Arbutus
Hibiscus
Autre Pied
Pied a Terre
Fino
Morgan M
J Sheekey
Momo
The Wolseley

If I had to pick one, then it would probably be Pied a Terre.
posted by roofus at 10:51 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been to Yauatcha - don't think it appeals to MrMippy much. Nice for a date, though. I've also been to the Wolseley for afternoon tea, which I'd recommend for anyone looking to do the same.

Wild Honey was recommended but the reviews on Time Out were very poor. Little intimidated by St John!
posted by mippy at 1:47 AM on March 3, 2010


Gaucho for steaks is great, but if you're going to do it properly then go to Hawksmore.

My suggestion would be to look on toptable and sort by rating. You could even throw in a 50% discount offer and then your money will stretch to a nice bottle of wine too.

I recommend Pattersons - which just so happens to be offering 50% off the food. Which is nice.
posted by mr_silver at 9:45 AM on March 3, 2010


The River Cafe is absolutly amazing food but likely to break your £150 budget - it is some of the best food I've eat in London but it also the most expensive meal I have ever paid for (worth it though!).

Moro is my favourite - great Spanish/North African food in a really nice atmosphere. I don't think pulses would be an issue (you can always check the menu on line). I also really enjoyed Fino and friends I know who have eaten at Morgan M have said it was amazing. Another restaurant near Moro is Ambassador - British/French bistro place which I really like, absolutly lovely staff.
posted by smudge at 1:08 PM on March 3, 2010


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