A week in London


#1

I spent the last week of August in London. I had a number of meetings but had chunks of each day and evening free for meals. I ate reasonably well and have been posting reviews of the notable meals slowly on my blog. Though there’s not much London/England action here, I figured these might be of interest to some. Up so far are the following:

  • St. John Food and Wine in Spitalfields (the smaller offshoot of the Smithfield institution)
  • Trishna in Marylebourne (one of the single Michelin-starred Indians)
  • The Clove Club in Shoreditch (very hot; also single Michelin starred)
  • Hoppers in Soho (casual Sri Lankan/Tamil)
  • Noble Rot in Bloomsbury, roughly (wine bar and restaurant from the proprietors of Noble Rot magazine)
  • Hedone in Chiswick (also has one star but the food is a few levels above that at The Clove Club; the best restaurant meal of the year so far)

Still to come: dinner at the St. John mothership and lunch at Dishoom, another trendy Indian place.

The restaurant reviews can all be found here: https://myannoyingopinions.com/england/

For those with an interest in whisky, I also put up a writeup of some whisky stores.


#2

Nice!

Looking forward to the Dishoom review. They have bacon naan at breakfast that I think about a lot.

P.S. Really nice pictures on the reports.


#3

Hedonism looks like a fun shop. Have you tried ‘Dinner’?


#4

Hedonism has no local character and is very much the shop of a Russian oligarch on the run. At that point in the trip I was staying with old friends who send their son to a very posh boarding school and one of his classmates is the son of said oligarch. My friends’ kid was home for the weekend and he claimed that it’s open knowledge that the shop is a money laundering front! The wine selection in particular is apparently over the top: there’s a Chateau Mouton-Rothschild “museum” with every vintage from 1945 on…and there are some fantastically old/expensive whiskies too (though for the whisky geek there are not that many truly desirable bottles there).

At the same time, the shop carries lots of fairly priced regular bottles and the staff is as un-snobbish as can be. I can imagine some people feeling out of place at Berry Bros. & Rudd which has a particular kind of English poshness–there’s none of that at Hedonism.

‘Dinner’?

I enjoyed the Dishoom meal on the whole (we were at the Covent Garden original) but it’s nothing so very special.


#5

Nothing wrong with money laundering if one stands to benefit from the bargains :smile:

Dinner http://www.dinnerbyheston.co.uk !


#6

The writeup of the St. John mothership is now up. The Dishoom review will be up next week, probably.


#7

And here now is the Dishoom review: https://myannoyingopinions.com/2016/12/23/dishoom-london/

This is the last of my meal reports from my trip in August.

We are scheduled to be living in London for three weeks in the spring and so will have a lot more then. Am particularly interested in a restaurant called Ma La Sichuan, which is literally right around the corner from where we’ll likely be staying. The chef is from Bar Shu, usually reckoned to be London’s best Sichuan restaurant so I am hopeful.


#8

Did I say we’d be living in London for three weeks in the spring? I meant to say three months. We’ve mostly been eating Indian food out–the baseline quality is so much higher than in the US and the high-end places don’t really have equivalents in the US (well, there are places that charge a lot of money but their food doesn’t compare).

On the blog so far I have written up meals at Quilon (a Michelin one star that specializes in the food of the southwestern coast), Malabar Junction (a far less fancy place that specializes in the food of Kerala) and two meals at the Cinnamon Club (which doesn’t have the reputation of the other high-end places but which we think is really very good). This week I’ll have a write-up of an old-school curry house.

We’ve also been eating some Chinese food. Have had a couple of meals at the aforementioned Ma La Sichuan–will write them up at some point. Have also had dim sum at Joy King Lau in Chinatown–quite solid dim sum in the mold of old-school places in the SGV. We’ll probably eat some more mod dim sum at A.Wong in the near future, and we’ll be at Royal China Club with friends in a few weeks.

Quilon
Malabar Junction
The Cinnamon Club

Joy King Lau

And those interested in cheese might enjoy this look at Paxton & Whitfield, the oldest cheese shop in London–and if you’re interested in cheese and whisky see here.


#9

As always, really nice work. I’m hoping to pop over to London for a few days in May, your blog is proving invaluable.

So is the conclusion that Indian is THE cuisine to be eating in London, given that I’m coming from LA/NYC?


#10

I’d say Yes to that.


#11

Probably–there are a lot of contemporary, cosmopolitan, chef-driven restaurants that are very good as well (I’d say Hedone is a must-do), but as a genre Indian food in London is far superior to that in the US. Even a run of the mill curry house here–say, for example, Punjab (which I reviewed today)–would not be out of place in Delhi, and the high-end places are just a league beyond their equivalents in the US; and really the US equivalents are only equivalent in price. Probably only Rasika in DC is trying to do a little of what a place like Cinnamon Club effortlessly pulls off, and it’s just not in the same league.

Speaking of curry houses, today we had an excellent lunch at Lahore Kebab House–I’ll be writing that up in a week or two. We’ll probably hit the other Whitechapel icon, Tayyabs soon as well.


#12

Hedone over Clove Club?

Amazing that these spots rival those in Delhi… Will have to check them out.


#13

I have fond memories of Tayyabs. It was always a bit of a circus, which added to the experience. Make sure to wear clothing you’re fine with forever soaking up the smell of smoked meats.

Unrelated but for sharing the category of “fond memories,” I really enjoyed Mangal II in Dalston, especially when seeing Gilbert & George there for their nightly dinner. (Apparently they go every night.) It’s not necessarily a destination restaurant - especially since it’s a bit of trek out to Dalston -, but it seems like you’re spending quite a bit of time in London, so if you find yourself in the area in need of a meal, check it out.


#14

Oh yes, Hedone is on a whole other level from the Clove Club. And I liked my meal at the Clove Club a lot.


#15

Our meal at Lahore Kebab House yesterday was superior to my lunch at a popular North Indian place in Delhi on Tuesday (a place called Desi Vibes–no, sex toys are not their specialty), though not quite at the level of the better outposts of places like Punjabi by Nature or Punjab Grill.


#16

A couple more UK reviews have gone up on the blog since I last posted:

A. Wong in Victoria for mod’ish dim sum and snacks. This is a place that would probably be very divisive in the FTC community.

The Chilli Pickle in Brighton–this post also contains as a bonus some thoughts on developments in Indian restaurant culture/aesthetic in the West in recent years.

plus a view of the Borough Market, which is a tourist trap, yes, but also contains much that is good.

and a look at Berry Bros. & Rudd, London’s oldest wine merchants (my interest, predictably, is in their whisky selection).

and from my side-trip to Delhi, here’s a write-up of Sagar Ratna, a place that specializes in unpretentious South Indian food.


#17

So I’ll have three lunches in London. (Dinner will be with non-food interested friends so I won’t be making them trek across the city so I can eat some Pakistani curry.)

I think on this trip I’ll pass on Hedone b/c finances aren’t infinite and I already have reservations at Amass and Relae in Copenhagen for the following week. But anyway, I was thinking of doing lunch at Hoppers and The Cinnamon Club. Any recommendations on a third place? I wouldn’t mind stepping away from South Asian, but would prefer to not spend more than say 40 pounds a person…


#18

Gunpowder in Spitalfields was a great lunch–in the vein of Dishoom cuisine-wise, though executed much better; unfortunately, also no-reservations, but if you go right at 12, when they open for lunch or at 2, when the lunch crowd from the financial district clears out, you’ll be fine. 1 pm is a clusterfuck–it’s a tiny place. Probably best with at least two people but if you’re committed to over-eating you should be able to do well (it’s a small plates place).

For non-South Asian I’d recommend St. John Bread and Wine very close to Gunpowder.

C&R cafe/restaurant on Rupert Court in Chinatown is a pretty solid Malaysian place–just went there today with a born and bred Singaporean and he was very pleased with it too. Might be a good look coming from Los Angeles. And easy to get to. And very reasonably priced.


#19

Oh and Noble Rot too. It’s as close to being the London branch of The Sportsman as is possible without it actually being the case. And it’s more central than either Gunpowder or St. John Bread and Wine. They have a very attractive looking set lunch right now.


#20

Ahh man all these options look superb. Gunpowder sorta makes me want to triple up on South Asian…

Though Noble Rot looks pretty extraordinary. Anything that warrants a Sportsman comparison sounds good to me… Will keep you posted on where I end up. Thanks for the help