The other thing that is synonymous with the London food scene is of course fish and chips. There is much tongue wagging about who is the best, the original, the oldest, and on and on. One afternoon Dayne and I sought out The Golden Hind in Marlybone, open since 1914 and heavily touted as the best. You chose your fish (cod, hake, plaice, or haddock) and sides (mushy peas and/or chips) are ordered separately. The fish portion was quite large but just ok, the tartare sauce lacks zip and the chips were a bit sad. Ah well, can't win them all.
Dayne and I had an impromptu dinner at Hix on Brewer Street one night, on the recommendation of some good bartenders. This particular location also has the very nice Mark's Bar downstairs. My understanding is that, although there are various locations throughout the city, the menus are mostly similar. The restaurants use a lot of ingredients, proteins and cuts that we had never heard of. Things like herring milts, sea beet, and Bannockburn rib on the bone make up the menu. Dayne had a nice set of lamb chops while I tried this incredibly crazy looking game bird (name I am now forgetting). This bird absolutely was living up to its gamey-nature.
The top dog of chop houses in London is Hawksmoor. Dayne treated his workmates and me to a big, meaty dinner at their Seven Dials location (lobster for the pescatarian). Order up a boozy tiki drink while you peruse the menu and daily board of offerings. The steaks are listed by cut and weight and they are big, gorgeous cuts like Porterhouse and Chateaubriand. You can then decide if you want a sauce for your meat like Bearnaise, bone marrow gravy, Stilton hollandaise... Holy hell, these folks are not messing around. It was amazing.
The opposite of having decadent steaks is to head to St. John's where the focus is on "poor man" cuts and offal. We chose to eat in the bar one evening, which was quite lively and much easier to get into than the connected restaurant. We had a fantastic meal of small plates including their famed bone marrow with parsley salad, a lovely dish of duck hearts and white beans, welsh rarebit, and goat cheese, roasted shallot and mint which you spread on grilled bread.
And out in Chiswick, Hedone just received its Michelin star. When we went we thought it was good but not great. It felt like a very friendly neighborhood restaurant vs a destination restaurant. Chiswick is also about as far as you can get from our apartment in the Docklands so the hour + commute on the train might have influenced our opinions. If someone has been there since their star awarding comment below and let me know how it is.
Of course you can't go to London without eating at a proper pub. And you should absolutely make a point to have Sunday roast in one. Even Gorden Ramsay is in the pub business with his place on the banks of the Thames, The Narrow. The Sunday roast was fantastic but the banana sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream stole the show.
Another really good pub was The Charles Lamb in Islington. Around since 1839, it serves excellent food, beer and is right down the street from 69 Colebrook Row. Bonus!
The Gun was close to our apartment in the Docklands, and recommended highly. There's a very nice restaurant on one side and the pub on the other. We chose to eat in the pub with friends one evening and had delicious pies (savory), burgers and well-pulled pints.
All London photos here!