THank you for your extensive suggestions. My trip was very brief (3 days) but I had a great time. My husband and I are in our late 20's. We got to try out a couple of places...some good, some not so good. Not trying to beat a dead horse but the conversion rate (US to pound) is indeed awful. I cover some of the major cities in the US for work, NYC, San Fran, LA, Boston, on my expense account and i'm convinced that London is more expensive than all. I think it's not that there aren't expensive places in NYC, but there is a lot of more affordable options. For example, i can go to chinatown or flushings in NYC, have a full, awesome lunch for 2 people $16 US. I can have a great (not per se, but same level of dining as the restaurants I ate below) dinner for 2 in murray hill/chelsea/LES for $80.
I think the same is achievable in London, but it's the same in pounds. The lowest we got out of any meal was breakfast for about 18 pounds total. This is not a gripe, just a reality.
As a result of the exchange rate, i had problems with "bang for my buck" justifying meals. We didn't go anywhere fancy, but i think it's on par with standard "going out for a night" meals. Feel free to flame or argue...but this is just my opinion.
As far as alcoho, beer was on par to a large city, cocktail drinks were somewhat, but still a bit more pricey, $14-16 for a fancy cocktail in a hip NYC bar was 10-13 pounds in a hip London bar.
Noura - Pretty good, the kafta was really good. We ended up eating early because i had flown in early and got the "light lunch" 6 mezes + kafta for 18 pounds a person. It was good. with 3 beers each, it came to 60 pounds. Not bad, london price, but once again...at conversion it was $120.00 and not a lot of food...teeny portions!. It wasn't bad by any means and I would recommend this restaurant as it's very centrally located to picadilly circus. B
Moti Mahal - We went for dinner. Originally, I made the reservation on Top table where you can get 50% off the set menu (which is normally 30 a person). We went and decided to order off of the regular menu. We also had the scallop appetizer (underwhelming, too many conflicting flavors). My husband got the chicken tikka and I had the lamb curry. Delicious, loved it. Was again around 60 pounds (3 drinks) but worth every penny. Even though we didn't use the toptable discount in the end, I think the 50% discount on toptable is a great deal. A
Borough Market - I love this place! I would go again every day. THis was our favorite. We went to the raclette/grilled cheese sandwich stand. Delicious. How can you go wrong with potatoes, cheese melted with onions and leeks? ($4.50 i think?) to die for! Grilled cheese was incredible as well. We also bought some cheese at the CHeshire stand and a nice baguette. On the way out, I had some Paella with Chorizo (great chorizo) (I think $5.50). We had gone to the Tower of London that morning and walked across to Borough market, a perfect combo day. A+
we were supposed to go to the Only Running Footman that night, but my husband had a horrible cold and felt awful, so I picked up a nice bordeaux from the wine shop and had my wine with my baguette and cheese. Very enjoyable!
Yauatcha - We went here our last night. I read alot about crappy service online. It appears taht you don't have one waiter/waitress. We were waited on by at least 6 different people. While the service was a bit indifferent, it certainly wasn't awful. NIce decor, fun part of town, good ambience. Dim sum was really quite good. Fresh, nice ingredients. We had the chive dumplings (husbands favorite), shanghai XLB (We are really into shanghainese food) which was really quite good, although i should have asked for a spoon as it was hard to eat it without poking the hole first. Also had the sticky rice, duck wraped in beancurd (Very good), fun roll with prawn and beancurd (really good) and a couple of other dim sum. We were very full. THe cocktails looked great, but we are both flying out early the next day so just tea for us. Lots of dim sum to be full + 1 pot of tea = 37 pounds. I would call this our cheapest dinner with the most ambience. With drinks, price would start escalating, but that's something totally in our control. A+
Wagamama - I don't know what the hype is all about. I thought it was completely overpriced noodles for what we got. It's like the PF changs of noodles. We're staying across from Harvey nicks so thought we would throw it in as a lunch. It's not awful, but it's not worth going out of the way for. husband had the udon noodles and I had the chili chicken noodles. 2 iced teas, bill was about 25 pounds. B-
I didn't get to try as many places as I hoped, but our bodies were off and we just weren't hungry at all which is very unlike us. We had some horrible breakfasts just off the street that aren't even worth talking about...bleh! We also stopped by M&S for some quick snacks adn tried some of their prepared food, Not bad!
Once again, thanks for all the suggestions and happy eating everyone!