Recommend a great, relatively casual restaurant in London
June 15, 2015 12:25 PM   Subscribe

I want to go out for a good meal with my family* for my 30th birthday, so I'm looking for a really good (but not too fancy) restaurant in London. Make me some recommendations!

As it's a 'big' birthday, I want to go somewhere kind of special, but I can't be bothered with anywhere really fancy where I'll find it hard to relax - so nowhere white table cloth / silver service, if you know what I mean. If you're thinking of a place where the staff want to set a crisp linen napkin on my lap themselves, then I'm afraid you're on the wrong track!

So, do you know an amazing french bistro that sells brilliant, but not-snooty food? Or some casually excellent mexican place? A steak-house - Argentinian, maybe? Fantastic, but relaxed, Moroccan or Lebanese? Any cuisine goes, but I'd probably say no chain restaurants unless you can back up your recommendation with a good argument. Given the quality of food options in London, I'm sure there must be somewhere that fits the bill!

To give you an idea of the kind of place I'm talking about, I really enjoyed a meal I had in The Eagle in Farringdon. No fuss, great food. The only reason I'm not considering it is that a) it's a pain to try and book there, b) all the food comes at different times (sometimes radically so) and c) it's a little too chaotic for conversations etc.

Good wine/beer options are a bonus, and ideally the place will be relatively easy to access from Walthamstow/Blackhorse Road.

Relatively relaxed about cost, but if we'd be paying through the roof for a "rustic" atmosphere or something, I'd probably pass...

* By the way, when I say family above, I don't mean children. There's no need for kid-friendly options, and actively child-hostile places are perfectly welcome.
posted by knapah to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Would you consider something like Goodman? The one in Mayfair is near Oxford Circus, which I believe is on the Victoria line. I've been there a few times, and it felt relaxed to me -- I seem to recall having a meal in smart jeans at least once. The other option, which is top of my list for seafood restaurants is J Sheekey, in Covent Garden. Very busy restaurant, excellent food, not cheap -- although the last time I was there, it was a few years ago.
posted by apcmwh at 12:34 PM on June 15, 2015

Wahaca in Covent Garden is a casually excellent Mexican place. Probably the only one in England, actually.
Great food, and a serious tequila list.
posted by Kreiger at 12:43 PM on June 15, 2015

Or some casually excellent mexican place?

We went to Wahaca in Covent Garden a couple of years ago and really liked it. The food was really tasty, the service was good, the atmosphere was fun but not too dingy or too stuffy. There were some larger groups there and we were a couple, and both seemed to be fine.
posted by shelleycat at 12:47 PM on June 15, 2015

Vrisaki - amazing family-run Greek restaurant in Bounds Green. Come hungry and get the meze!
posted by Lotto at 12:59 PM on June 15, 2015

Wahaca is a chain so there's more than one location for it - it's in Brixton too for instance. I wouldn't say it's 'special' it's just fine for grabbing a quick dinner.
My 'special' recommendations, all fuss-free but stylish and brilliant brilliant food: Trullo the Italian place at Highbury Corner.
This place in Haggerston, Berber and Q, which I went to last week for my birthday and was blown away by. It's the head chef from Ottolenghi who's left and set up his own new place, so delicious I've thought about it all week. And recommended it to a lot of people too
If it has to be central London what about Barrafina in Soho?
If you can handle a trek to the (far) east my favourite restuarant in all of London is Tayyabs. It's in Whitechapel might be a bit of a wham bam thank you ma'am experience for parents tho.
Hope you find somewhere great
posted by stevedawg at 1:02 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I had one of the best steaks of my life at Buen Ayre on Broadway Market recently. Tiny place, very casual but amazing food and wine.
posted by symphonicknot at 1:03 PM on June 15, 2015

Noura is a French-based Lebanese chain with decent food.
posted by brujita at 1:31 PM on June 15, 2015

Opera Tavern
posted by bifter at 1:41 PM on June 15, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far, keep them coming everyone!

Just on this comment :
If you can handle a trek to the (far) east my favourite restuarant in all of London is Tayyabs. It's in Whitechapel...

I'm in Walthamstow, so Whitechapel is only a brief jaunt south on the overground and a short walk. I've heard a few other people recommend tayyabs, intriguing!
posted by knapah at 1:55 PM on June 15, 2015

Tayyab's is great, but it's generally crazy busy, so book ahead. I'm not sure if they serve alcohol either...I think they allow you to bring your own in, though.
posted by Kreiger at 2:44 PM on June 15, 2015

I feel like apologising in case this is extraordinarily obvious and you've discounted it for some reason, but Moro is relaxed, a little pricey, but justifiably famous for its excellent Spanish/North African/Mediterranean food.
posted by calico at 2:46 PM on June 15, 2015

Ooh! How about The Palomar on Rupert St in Soho? It's a sort of Middle Eastern/Eastern Mediterranean place. I had the tasting menu there a few weeks ago and it was DELICIOUS. I'll second Moro, and first The Delaunay, which is fairly fancy but not intimidatingly so.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 3:38 PM on June 15, 2015

If you're in Walthamstow then I say Berber and Q. It's more parent friendly.
Other option would be little Ivy in Clapton but Berber and Q is more 'wow'.
Tayyabs is brilliant and you should go at some point but it's a big rush job, there's no lingering, you're in and out in a half hour.
posted by stevedawg at 6:19 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe Comptoir Gascon
posted by Erberus at 2:57 AM on June 16, 2015

This is kind of dated as it was some time ago, but when I lived in Stoke Newington, Rasa was the place to go for amazing Indian food, and was pretty laid back. It's Keralan cuisine, so not the bog-standard Indian menu.
posted by penguin pie at 7:15 AM on June 16, 2015

I'm horrendously biased as we've celebrated many a family event there, but Lemonia in Primrose Hill is marvelous.
posted by evoque at 8:46 AM on June 16, 2015

The Little French Restaurant sounds like it's right up your alley - it offers fantastic food and price - just need to call to book.

I also quite enjoyed the Wellington at Strand.

The Bill's chain of pubs have decent fare too - I particularly like their duck pie.

You also can't really go wrong with dimsum in Chinatown - Imperial China and Super Star are two options.
posted by appleses at 9:14 AM on June 16, 2015

Not sure if this would be fall into your "paying through the roof for a rustic atmosphere" but I love this:
posted by guy72277 at 5:48 AM on June 18, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for all of your suggestions. Decided on Buen Ayre, it was already on my radar, and the extra recommendation nudged it to victory. I'll probably check out a lot of these at some point though!
posted by knapah at 2:43 PM on June 27, 2015

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