Just got back from a week with my wife in London, mostly shopping (including a bunch of good deals on wine/spirits). Here are some thumbnails on restaurants we visited:
Le Metro, Knightsbridge: Underground and easy to miss, but once there, we had a nice, calming lunch after all the craziness of traveling. Salade nicoise for me and pasta carbonara for my wife, a couple of glasses of Soave and we were out. Good for lunch, though not all that serious.
Cigala, Russell Square/Holborn: (Just me) Roast partridge, blood sausage and greens, with a glass of a 1995 Valdepenas, nicely done if a bit disjointed.
Fox and Anchor, Smithfield: Everything it's cracked up to be for a full English breakfast and real ale. High-quality meats.
Rules, Covent Garden: After great starters of smoked bird salad and wild duck terrine, we dug into a succulent, beautiful jugged hare and a roast grouse whose breast was very nice and whose legs were inedibly gamy. Very nice sticky toffee pudding and the 1999 Marechal Savigny VV (32 quid) finished off a most enjoyable late lunch/early dinner.
McDonald's, Leicester Square: A tradition of ours on overseas trips. The "Steak Premiere" sandwich is just strange--are Londoners' teeth sharper than mine?
RSJ, Waterloo: A stunning list of Loire wines, including several older vintages of the Luneau-Papin "L d'Or" Muscadet for no money. And wonderful food, including a lithe, white-wine-friendly duck confit and stellar roast cod with pasta. We drank a 1997 Montlouis demi-sec that was outstanding at only about 14 pounds.
Bierodrome, Charing Cross: Packed, but good brews (if a bit cold) and good mussels and good fried plaice and good chips.
Andrew Edmunds, Soho: Go now before he raises the prices. Another fantastic, eclectic wine list (we drank 2000 Domaine de la Soumade Rasteau at 16 quid, fabulously plummy, peppery and lithe, with succulent acidity). Cassoulet of goose and pork was fabulous, and our server, Dorothy, was as knowledgeable a server as I've ever had. Like the best ones at Gramercy Tavern.
Shampers, Oxford Circus: Fabulous gravlax and roast cod and 1989 Max Ferd. Richter Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese at 19 quid! Too bad it needed 4 more hours of air, but still quite a treat. We went here after we found out that the Club Gascon folks decided to close Cellar Gascon on Saturday nights and not tell anyone. Boo on them.
Marques of Granby Leicester Square: Nice real ales, good pie and chips.
Randall & Aubin, Soho: Great seafood, especially the roast langoustines. Overpriced champagnes, but reasonably priced whites. Casual.
Il Convivio, Victoria: Very nice, excellent service. Food not quite GT-level, but the black pasta with lobster and the veal are wonderful. Good cheeses, good wine list, excellent dessert wines.
Balls Brothers, St. James's: Man I wish there were places like this in the US (and that going to one for lunch during the workday wasn't considered a mortal sin). Good list, good sandwiches, casual service.
Some general comments:
1. I like how pubs work--no waiting for a waitress, etc. I like the prices, too. Even the one in Harrod's was cheaper than a lot of places in the US, and everywhere else was even cheaper. Some didn't have the freshest casks, but the real ales were still very nice.
2. I love shopping for wine in London. Here's the book, make your choices, we'll answer your questions thoughtfully and truthfully. And the prices are mighty fine. I got a bunch of cool stuff, I'll list them if anyone wants to know, here or on the wine board.
3. 11PM pub closing is just silly.
4. Take the tour of Lord's. Our guide was just precious, told a ton of stories, seemed to know everyone who's anyone in the game today.
5. Highbury is REALLY a Library when it's half-full. Worthless Cup?
6. Nothing like a full Premiership ground. We were at Upton Park on Sunday, a wild game for sure, but great atmosphere. Nothing like it in America except for college basketball at a few places.
7. Thanks to everyone who posted here or elsewhere on London restaurants. We didn't have a single bad meal.
8. I want to go back. Anyone want to pay for it? :-)