I'm in town from San Francisco, and have spent some time browsing the boards, but haven't hit on the right spot for dinner tonight. (I know it's last minute.) We are going for drinks first at a friend's flat, and he's somewhere near Clerkenwell/Hoxton (I understand), so East End, right? Over time, I've collected different restaurants in a list I have on my Palm, but the concierge here was steering me to Zetter Hotel (despite my telling him I wasn't that excited about hotel dining). (He was described by the guest services person as a foodie, so maybe he's right.) I told him no Gordon Ramsey/Alain Ducasse fanciness, and I'd prefer something fun but not too posh. I don't mind a bit trendy, but as Gary Danko says in San Francisco, I'd prefer somewhere where they cook with love.
There are four of us, and I'd prefer a reservation. Places on my list (that I've gathered over time from various reviews or recommendations, though the sources are now lost to me) include the following:
St Johns (but I heard it's offal, and, well, two of the four of us are Americans) (I at least eat liver, but not beyond that) (and f.g.)
The Eagle (I've read here that the Fox is better but the concierge said, no, the Eagle) (except they don't take reservations tonight except for parties of 6 or more) (I hear the last night of the month is a busy night out?)
Bleeding Heart Tavern (though the concierge said it's fancy?)
Le Comptoir (he said it's posh, and a club too) (I prefer "fun Saturday night" not way dressy)
Smithfield at Smithfields
The Real Greek Mezedopolio
And that's what I've got. In San Francisco, I tend to go out in the Mission, SoMi, and Potrero, and in New York, I tend toward Nolita and lower East Side, if that helps at all. I guess that can be described as sort of young chefs in nice spaces, but not at all pretentious. Locally-sourced products within a 100 mile radius, a bit local rather than for tourons, that sort of thing. And if you wonder why my friends here haven't picked for us, well, my friends end up relying on me to pick restaurants. Even if I'm from out of town.
Thanks very much for your help. I'll continue to try to poke around the boards, but I've spent hours.