My mind hasn’t been so focused on London recently. I’m still thinking about the New York trip and this Sunday I travel to Budapest. However, the other day I updated my London eating list (a draft email to myself that’s regularly edited) and went through my On The Frog to London iPhone app to see if there were any favourites to transfer to the list. I’ve chosen ten places from the app that will appeal to London visitors looking for good, traditional British food.
Scott’s, 20 Mount Street, W1K 2HE, London, Tel: +44 20 7495 7309
A glamorous seafood restaurant in Mayfair, and once a favourite haunt of Oscar Wilde and James Bond author Ian Fleming, Scott’s has been at its current location since 1968 but has been serving customers since 1851 when it started as an oyster warehouse.
It’s become a new favourite weekend lunch spot, and I go early to sit at the oyster bar. Try half a dozen oysters (I’ve had the Porthilly and West Mersea Natives No. 2), followed by the pan-fried slip soles with cockles and hedgerow garlic. The husband has ordered the deep fried haddock with mushy peas and chips, three times, and thinks very highly of it. The Scott’s dessert plate (three miniature versions of desserts from the menu) is recommended, as are the piping hot made-to-order madeleines, perfect with coffee to end the meal.
E. Pellicci, 332 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AG, London, Tel: +44 20 7739 4873
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 07.00-16.00
A small, Italian family-run traditional ‘caff’ or ‘greasy spoon’ that has been serving customers (including the notorious Kray gangster brothers) since 1900. In 2005, E Pellicci was awarded Grade II listed status by English Heritage for its unique interior design.
After a recent Saturday breakfast here with the husband, we’re still telling everyone we know about the overwhelmingly friendly service, ambience and delicious food. It’s so rare in London to find all three in one place, and in such abundance too. I had the full English breakfast (served all day), while he had the vegetarian version. What’s great is the option to add or swap ingredients or simply create your own full English breakfast from a long list of ingredients. Owner Nevio served us on the day, and his mother Maria kindly gave us some of her delicious homemade bread pudding to take home with us.
Next time we’re going for lunch as Maria still cooks all the pasta dishes. And a tip from Nevio – it gets very busy from around 11.00 on Saturdays (when the local hipsters roll out of bed).
The Golden Hind, 73 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2PN, London, Tel: +44 20 7486 3644
Opening hours: lunch Mon-Fri 12-15.00, dinner Mon-Sat 18.00-22.00
This is the place to enjoy some of the best fish and chips in London, and the husband and I have been regulars for many years. The Golden Hind has been serving customers since 1914 and is only on its fifth owner, so I dare say they have more than a little experience preparing this traditional dish!
The classic order is fried cod, chips and mushy peas. The fish is fresh, not frozen, and cooked to order (many places will simply serve you pre-fried fish that’s been sitting under a hot lamp for ages), the tartare sauce is homemade and the chips hand cut. You can also ask for your chips to be ‘well done’ as they tend to under-fry them here for some reason. But if ordered ‘well done’, they’ll come out golden brown.
Despite recently expanding into the space next door, the restaurant is still always packed, so do book in advance. They also do takeaway, but I think it’s best to eat your fish and chips piping hot. And it’s BYOB or Bring Your Own Bottle, which means you can take your own alcohol for a small corkage fee, as they don’t have a licence to sell alcohol.
High Tea of Highgate, 50 Highgate High Street, N6 5HX, London, Tel: +44 20 8348 3162
Opening hours: Tue-Thu & Sat 10.00-18.00, Fri 08.30-18.00, Sun 11.00-18.00, no bookings at weekends
A delightful tea room in Highgate Village that’s popular with locals and tourists alike for its warm service, cream teas and delicious cakes. Afternoon teas at luxury London hotels are booked up weeks if not months in advance, and are also expensive at around £40 a head. This is a charming and much cheaper alternative.
The cakes and scones are baked on the premises every morning by owner Georgina. Her lavender cake and lemon drizzle sponge cake are superb, as is the cream tea with light, fluffy scones, clotted cream and jam. I tried the London Afternoon Blend, but there are many special tea blends to choose from, and you can also buy boxes to take home. The shop also offers a selection of pretty homeware products including English fine china by Burleigh (the cow creamer is a bestseller), aprons and tea towels.
Regency Cafe, 17-19 Regency Street, SW1P 4BY, London, Tel: +44 20 7821 6596
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 07.00-14.30, 16.00-19.00, Sat 07.00-12.00
A traditional ‘caff’ or ‘greasy spoon’, the Regency Cafe has been serving customers from builders and politicians to tourists and schoolchildren since 1946. It was also recently voted as one of London’s best eateries – above many more famous and expensive restaurants.
There’s a method to eating here. Queue up at the counter, place your order, pay for it, find an empty table, then return to the counter to collect your food when Italian owner Marco (with an extraordinary memory for who ordered what) shouts out the orders. Follow this sequence and you won’t get into trouble.
Tea is proper builder’s strength and can be ordered as ‘strong’ or ‘normal’. I had the £5.50 English breakfast deal while the husband created his own breakfast, including homemade bubble and squeak. The food is cheap but good quality, the decor true vintage and it’s fun to eat here.
Hawksmoor Guildhall, 10 Basinghall Street, EC2V 5BQ, London, Tel: +44 20 7397 8120
Opening hours: Mon-Fri breakfast 07.00-10.00, lunch 12.00-15.00, dinner 17.00-22.30
British steakhouse Hawksmoor serves some of the best steaks in London, and the Guildhall branch in the City also serves breakfast from 07.00 to 10.00 on Monday to Friday.
Their full English breakfast at £15 is pretty spectacular and consists of plum pudding bacon, sausage (made of pork, beef & mutton), black pudding, fried eggs, hash brown, grilled mushrooms, roast tomatoes, trotter baked beans and toast. It’s a hearty meal that will easily see you through to lunch or beyond. I certainly skipped lunch after eating my full English!
Even more spectacular is their Hawksmoor Breakfast (£35 for two to share), with all of the above plus smoked bacon chop, short-rib bubble & squeak and grilled bone marrow. This is next on my list once I find someone to eat it with! There are plenty of other breakfast choices too, including fillet and rib-eye.
And while you’re there, why not start the day with a delicious cocktail or two…
Simpson’s Tavern, Ball Court, 38 1/2 Cornhill, EC3V 9DR, London, Tel: +44 20 7626 9985
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 08.30-15.30 (last orders), breakfast orders Tue-Fri 08.00-10.30
Open since 1757 and located in the heart of the City of London (the financial district), Simpson’s is one of the city’s oldest chop houses, a traditional establishment specialising in thick cut chops, steaks and other meaty British dishes. Given its location, its customers were (and still are) bankers and stockbrokers who needed a good hearty lunch. Interestingly, women were not allowed to dine in chop houses and at Simpson’s it was only in 1916 that they were admitted.
These days, pork and chump (lamb) chops are still served, along with roasts, meat pies and stews. Have a look at the daily specials, which are heavily meat-based (although there is fried fish on Fridays). Breakfast is also available, including a full English breakfast.
I had an excellent solo lunch here in the upstairs dining room (better than downstairs, according to my friendly waiter). Everyone sits in shared booths, which makes it all the more entertaining. The pork chop was recommended over the chump chop, and I discovered that all customers are asked whether they want a pork sausage, whatever their order! So I lunched on a delicious pork chop with a large sausage and side of bubble and squeak. I also recommend the delightful ‘stewed cheese’ for dessert. It’s much more delicious than it sounds!
The Goring Hotel, Beeston Place, SW1W oJW, London, Tel: +44 20 7396 9000
Traditional afternoon tea has been served at this family owned hotel since it opened in 1910, and Kate Middleton made it even more famous by choosing to spend the night there before her wedding. This year The Goring won the UK Tea Guild’s Top London Afternoon Tea Award (the tea equivalent of the Oscars).
In my opinion, the service and the ambience of the room are just as important as the quality of the sandwiches, scones and cakes when it comes to enjoying afternoon tea. I have to say, the service at The Goring was faultless and the food near on perfect. When we couldn’t finish everything, the remainder of our tea was beautifully packed up for us to enjoy at home. In warm weather, guests can sit on the sunny terrace overlooking the private garden.
Tea (£39 per person) is served daily from 15.00 to 16.30 and booking in advance is essential.
The Harwood Arms, Walham Grove, SW6 1QP, London, Tel: +44 20 7386 1847
Opening hours: Mon 18.30-21.30, Tue-Sat 12.00-15.00, 18.30-21.30, Sun 12.30-16.00, 19.00-21.00
You’ll find top quality, carefully sourced British produce at this Fulham pub (one of the owners is The Ledbury’s Brett Graham). There’s an emphasis on wild game, including venison, rabbit and pigeon, and the venison Scotch egg (£3) is a must try snack, regardless of what else you order.
For Sunday lunch, order the sirloin of aged Belted Galloway beef with roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, field mushrooms and smoked bone marrow (£45.00 for two people). And don’t forget to leave some room for pudding or a selection of British cheeses.
Booking is recommended and bear in mind that Tuesday night is quiz night, with a special menu!
The Quality Chop House, 92-94 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3EA, London, Tel: +44 20 7278 1452
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 12.00-15.00, 18.00-22.30 Dining Room), Mon-Sat 12.00-00.00 (reduced menu 15.00-18.00) Wine Bar & Shop, (bookings accepted)
The Quality Chop House has been serving customers since 1869 (under different owners) and the charming Grade II listed dining room is full of atmosphere. Perch on a creaky Victorian oak bench (if there are two of you, you’ll have to share the table with two other diners). The service is extremely friendly and efficient, and the set dinner menu superb. I can’t wait to go back!
Examples from my recent dinner include a starter of mackerel, asparagus, lardo & brown butter, followed by Denham lamb with courgettes, broad beans & Jersey Royals. Pudding was a delightful gooseberries, buttermilk cream, meringue & sorrel. At lunch the same menu is offered in the bar and dining room, but in the evening, there is a 4 course set menu (£35) in the dining room.
Enjoy eating in London and if you need more, the iPhone app is free to download!
Helen Yuet Ling Pang