By far, the best meal we had was our dinner at The Harwood Arms. Every dish was a winner (indeed my wife said the lamb was the best she'd ever had, period; the Berkshire pork was delicious!), the wines perfect, and the trek from our hotel in Bloomsbury blissfuly easy (as this was pre-Underground strike). http://www.harwoodarms.com/
A close runner-up was our lunch at St. John Bread and Wine. The food was so fresh, at once simply prepared and with such bright intensity of flavor. https://www.stjohngroup.uk.com/spital...
Both of these restaurants are places which we are already looking forward to having our next meal upon our return to London -- which might be next year, might be in five years, who knows?
Wright Brothers @ Spitalfields was exactly what you want from a raw bar: great oysters, a bit of bubbly and/or crisp white wine . . . perfect for a quick dozen before we were off to St. John. http://www.thewrightbrothers.co.uk/re...
sketch for tea was completely unexpected (as we'd never heard of it prior to our trip) and completely wonderful! Highly recommended!
The Museum Tavern is a delightful Victorian pub on Great Russell Street across from the British Museum. In the perfect location for a tourist trap, this was anything but! The fish & chips were perfect -- the world's largest cod fillet was tender, moist, flakey, and not at all greasy; chips and mushy peas were charmingly delicious. The steak & kidney pie was a comfort food classic! The Theakston's Old Peculiar cask ale was a throwback to my days at college in Cambridge . . . some British classics are worth keeping, and, aside from the crowded room of (fellow) tourists, this was neigh on a perfect moment: just what a pub should be.
Two more places to comment upon for dinner:
28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen in Marylebone was delicious and fine in every way . . . so, too, was Antidote Wine Bar and Restaurant. HOWEVER, two thoughts:
1) Compared to prices in San Francisco, Antidote was over twice what we'd pay for a meal of comparable food quality and service¹. 28-50, too, was priced a bit steeper than we thought it should be, but had one of the more intriguing wine lists with choices not often seen *and* with a knowledgable wine steward/sommelier at hand.
2) Neither place had that certain "spark" that would make it a "must eat" destination, a la Harwood Arms or St. John.
We'd go back to 28-50 if we were in the neighborhood, but probably to pop in for a glass or two of wine and some hors d'oeuvres rather than a full meal. Antidote . . . probably not.
¹ Now, having said that, maybe the price thing is just what is normal for London, or maybe it's because the dollar is weak against the pound, I don't know. I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, so to speak. The price would have been right if it was $XX, but when it's £XX, it's just plain expensive for what you get.