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Restaurants & Bars 5

Reporting back on London...

loratliff | May 6, 2015 05:27 AM

So many here were so helpful when I was planning my trip, so I wanted to report back and perhaps be a resource for others in the planning whirlwind!

First of all, we had a truly fantastic time overall. Londoners, it seemed, really love New Yorkers (or maybe just us?); we made so many friends.

Our first night, we had dinner at Lyle's. Great value, warm service. The server was very knowledgeable of their tight wine list. We were exhausted but this was a great start. I know that James Lowe gets a lot of influence from both Fergus Henderson and Heston Blumenthal and Lyle's is a perfect blend of both styles. Reminds me a lot of Contra here in New York.

Afterward, we popped into the Ace Hotel and had a cocktail. We've spent so much time at the Ace here in NYC, so we were looking forward to seeing London's. (I think we liked it better, particularly the bar area.)

The second day, we started off at Old Spitalfield's Market. We didn't eat anything there (we were there for antiques), but all of the sellers looked deliciously and I certainly would want to return and eat. In the late afternoon, I was a bit hungry so we had a drink and a light app at Hubbard & Bell (the restaurant in our hotel, The Hoxton Holborn). Shrimp cocktail was delicious, as was the actual cocktail.

That night, we had dinner at Gymkhana. Beautiful restaurant, and once again, great service. We were seated downstairs and loved the feel of the place. I picked it as our Indian food meal, as my partner isn't a huge fan of the spicy curries here at home so it seemed like a compromise. He said it was one of his favorite meals of the trip! (Success.) Server recommended a great Riesling, and we had the duck dosa and tandoori scallop to start and the chicken butter masala and the wild rabbit nihari as our mains, with a rose kulfi for dessert. Obviously pricy for Indian food, but I can see why it's rated as highly as it is.

After dinner, we went to Dukes Bar. One of a kind, and a must for anyone who remotely enjoys martinis. We stayed until the closed and loved talking to Alessandro, their head barman. What a gentleman he is. If you can only splurge on one drink in London, let it be at Dukes.

The next day, we woke up—brutally hungover—but just in time for lunch at Bob Bob Ricard. (If I'm diagnosed with gout after this trip, I think you will all know why.) We "pushed for champagne" of course, and loved the cottage pie and the lobster mac & cheese. It was a bit of a recovery lunch, but the room at was soothing at lunchtime and I'm really glad we went. Some of the other dishes we saw coming out of the kitchen—lobster "burger", etc.—looked wild!

That night was St. John, obviously a classic. My partner worked for April Bloomfield for years so we were looking forward to seeing Fergus again in his natural habitat but he wasn't in the kitchen that night. Food was still excellent. Bone marrow was everything it's been hyped to be, as was the great nettle soup, and rabbit offal with radish. To drink, the St. John house claret is a great value. Drinks afterward at Callooh Callay.

Saturday brought the best breakfast ever at E. Pellicci! My partner doesn't eat eggs, and they gladly subbed in blood sausage for his eggs, which he was very grateful for. Man, this was delicious! Possibly the best breakfast I've ever eaten, and just warm and friendly service too. Make a great Saturday out of it: breakfast, pop into the Hackney City Farm, and then walk up to the Broadway Market. Fun start to the day!

We had fish and chips from Golden Union for dinner. Service was uneven (but apologetic), though the fish was great... So fresh. Drinks followed at the American Bar at the Savoy where I drank the best Sidecars of my life in a wonderful room in a stunning hotel. This is obviously another "must" for cocktail people.

Sunday was busy because we had to get up to White Hart Lane to watch Tottenham vs. Man City. We ended up doing fish and chips again at Poppies in Spitalfields before getting on the train. A more touristy spot perhaps, but it was quick and good—no complaints!

That night was Berners Tavern. Beautiful room, maybe a bit too cavernous? Had a great bottle of wine from a burgundy producer they're working with. Ate a rib eye and thrice-cooked chips and an excellent quail started with foie gras toast (get it!). Partner had a beef tartare (sans egg, graciously) and the Dover sole. Dessert was a rhubarb trifle for me and English cheese plate for R. Mine was great, as were the cheeses, but they set it down without explaining what any of them were—we had to ask. This was our most expensive meal, but it worth it. Afterward, we went to Bar Italia.

Monday was, sadly, our last full day. We had afternoon tea at The Goring which was so special. I don't have any other tea experiences to compare it to, but I imagine it's one of the best. I could go for a few of the sandwiches right now. (We appreciated the generous offers to keep refilling plates—it's certainly filling!) The Goring has a beautiful back garden, so even after tea, we sat out there with a drink for a bit. It's a great place to linger. I'm very glad we did tea there and it would be tough for me to try somewhere else!

Our last night, we had drinks at Nightjar—what a cool place. Not a place where you can sit at the bar and chat up your bartender, but the drinks have their own incredible theatrics with a very high level of quality.

.....And that's all! Thanks to everyone for their help here. We already can't wait to go back!

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