I would definitely opt for Clove Club - they are actually linked to some degree with the owners having worked together at the Ten Bells previously so the general ethos and approach is similar but the Clove Club is a little more ambitious and unusual.
I've eaten at the bar a few times and tend to get out, with modest wine, for around £40-45 a head inc service for plenty of food. I like the bar menu rather than tasting just for the flexibility and more casual atmosphere.
Similar experience whereby we paid for the carte blanche. We were a couple courses behind our neighbour at the bar so could, like you, see what was coming. And like you, we seemed to be dealt duff hands whenever they were low on ingredients so our duck was replaced with sweetbreads and our scallops with something inferior which I cant quite recall.
Together with quite snooty service, poor service from the sommelier and being ignored by Mikael we were let down badly. This was in contrast to my first meal there which i absolutely loved and was all the more disappointing for it..
I would highly recommend Clove Club - and the bar area is a good option.
Ten Bells is relatively similar to Clove Club so not sure I would do both in a short trip. Have you looked into Brawn? If in the East then it's very good.
Texture is good but a little corporate/sterile for me
Newman St is good. - more like a restaurant than a pub and not cheap but it enjoyed it
I really liked Shrimpys but you probably hit the nail on the head that it's as much about the drink and scene as the food.
Have you looked into caravan? Very close and potentially a nice balance between ambitious menu and fun atmosphere.
Very different places in most respects...for quality of food and service and pretty much every measure Medlar is the better choice. It's a very different beast though- white tablecloths and sommeliers rather than bare wood and barristas.
Not sure why kopapa is so up in your list so maybe there is something I am missing..and I would still rate any of the spots in my last email above it ;-)
Seconded for the Blind Pig
Technically a pub but the Smokehouse is excellent - takes meat very seriously and elevates it above the current burger/bbq trends.
Trullo also worth a look near Highbury & Islington station for Italian.
Have heard bad things about House of Wolf.
Prawn on the Lawn sounds good but have heard about long waits for seats.
I'd check out the Ledbury in Notting Hill - I prefer the atmosphere to Hibiscus (slightly less stuffy) and more central than Hedone
Bocca di Lupo - Italian in Soho - some interesting menu items on the menu and nice atmosphere
Berners Tavern - Central - food is good (jason atherton, one of Ramsays proteges) but main attraction is the room which is stunning
Social Eating House - Soho - Also Atherton owned, fun bistro. Good cocktails
Gymkhana - High end Indian in Mayfair, getting a lot of attention for its game items
Brawn - Shoreditch Really nice relaxed bistro - good charcuterie
Clove Club - British, Shoreditch - some of the scando foraging influences going on. Exciting food but also just very tasty.
The Ten Bells - Shoreditch Same kind of idea as Clove Club but more of a pub setting
Smokehouse - Islington- converted pub - emphasis on smoked/cured meats - very good
Quality Chophouse - Farringdon - St John influenced pub
Harwood Arms - Fulham - posh gastro pub, ambitious game led menu. Love this place
Blanchette- Buzzy small French bistro in Soho - small plates
Ba Shan - Soho - Schezuan focussed chinese - the most consistent place i've been to
Koya - Soho Udon specialist - good for lunch. Some interest specials as well using seasonal ingredients
There are also a host of new US style burger places / comfort food but I imagine thats probably not your focus for the trip...
I actually quite enjoyed Jackson and Rye, more for the atmosphere than the food admittedly. Kopapa is good but I see it as more of a brunch place for some reason.
My standard 'go-to' for pre matinee theatre is J Sheekey Oyster Bar - nice relaxed atmosphere, good food and feels a little special for a birthday type occasion.
Other good options for a fun buzzy lunch could be barrafina, bocca di lupo, quo vadis. In soho you're pretty spoilt really...if you let us know what kind of food you'd prefer I could be more specific.
Dinner - I really like Opera Tavern, probably more than Arbutus. Again - so many options around there - I would repeat my rec for Barrafina - one of my favourites for a fun up beat start to an evening
Covent Garden isn't the best for pubs. Ape & Bird is pretty good but I would recommend Great Queen Street over it - really good food and nice cosy atmosphere. They lack any kind of website but I think a few people have written it up on here. Same owners as Anchor and Hope which gets a bit more attention for some reason.
Balthazar is ok but I would personally seek out something a bit more interesting unless you particularly want french bistro food. Have you thought about adding in some chinese/indian/south american perhaps?
Dehesa is really good and the owner has just opened up Ember Yard in Soho which is getting good reviews. If you wanted to try something a little different I rate Bocca di Lupo and Barrafina very highly (both in Soho)
I'd third this - love Pitt Cue Co, but yeah, get there 20mins before opening unless you want a long(er) wait
Good call on clove club.
Some good wine merchants in hackney are-
Noble fine liquors- Broadway market
They may not be that close to you though . Larger supermarkets normally have an ok selection - waitrose probably your best bet.
A&H could be tough in an hour though maybe ok if you get there early and let them know of your timing.
Viajante definitely shutting down- check out the chefs twitter feed
Some good places in there
Sager and Wilde is good - i'm not sure I'd say its mellow but its not packed and it would be a fine place to be solo. You could also easily combine with Brawn which I also love.
Beagle is pretty good, Clove Club is very very good. If I were you I would make a reservation in the bar area of the Clove Club where you can sit at the bar stools and order of the a la carte. You get the full breadth of the food there rather than a typical limited bar menu and its definitely suitable for a solo diner.
As mentioned, Viajante/Corner Room are closing at the end of Feb. Not sure if the standards will be on the wind down up until then or not...
Other good options in the area:
Mayfields - small neighbourhood place getting a lot of attention for ambitious cooking
Away from the East, I love the Anchor & Hope, try to get there if you can
If you haven't done so already I would put your name on the waiting list for those restaurants - that worked out for with Gymkhana last month.
In respect of valentines - I wouldn't necessarily settle for a place you don't particularly want to go to just because you cant find a reservation. There are plenty of excellent places which will still have tables or which dont take reservations so, with a slightly early start, you would be able to end up somewhere decent. Have a search for on the boards for no-reservation places. Many are in Soho within walking distance so you can always skip between a few if one doesnt work out.
I like it - lot for a quick meal with friends but not sure it's a 'destination' restaurant when you have limited time. Gymkhana would certainly tick your boxes for very good food and being a 'hot' new place- cant think of many other openings that have got such universal praise. Expensive though..
Good list but I think you are missing a gastropub on there - I love the harwood arms (1 Michelin star and hardly a casual pub but still very nice atmosphere and consistently excellent food). Bull and last / anchor and hope / drapers arms are other favourites
HKK is too corporate for me. Dabbous is good but not worth the booking hassle. I love the Clove Club - my favourite recent opening. sit in the bar area so you can order a la carte rather than fixed tasting menu
St. John is legendary but for me sometimes off the boil. If still keen I would go to St. John Bread and Wine which I find a little more fun
I like the one at the Delauney which I imagine will be much the same as that of the Wolseley.
I also enjoyed an interpretation of it at Koya Bar in soho which involved rice porridge with, smoked haddock a slow-poached egg and some crispy fish skin/bonito flakes
No problem at all- glad to feed back
I feel bad about the pearl and ash report as I imagine it could have been a one off night on their part..I wouldn't necessarily let it put you off entirely..Balthazar though..happy for people to take heed of my experience on that one!
Interested to hear of any one else's thoughts on the veal at Jean George if they have tried it too..
Thank you for all your advice and help In my two threads pre trip
We had a great trip with some good food and, (perhaps more importantly) some good snow!
I'll give a run down of our meals:
Minetta tavern- brunch having had a very quick turn around at and from Newark airport. I found the room itself just ok- buzzy enough those quite obviously a lot of out of towners though I guess that's to be expected. We ordered the black label burger and French dip to share. French dip was good though I would have liked the gravy to be thicker. The burger though was amazing- as described many times, a lovely thick crust and incredible almost gamey beef flavour. Very good service also- Bloody Mary's comped for being slightly late- stark contrast to service at Balthazar as described later..
Charlie Bird- pre drink at the Jane, nice and cosy for a snowy evening. Dinner at Charlie Bird probably our highlight of the trip. Loved the atmosphere at the bar- fun music and very friendly staff serving drinks. Very different to what I'd heard of it being sceney - maybe as a result of the weather it wasn't completely rammed. Highlights were the razor clams with Calabrian chili, rigatoni with ragu and the chicken which was very tender and flavoursome. Only dud was the raw scallop with brown butter- not sure if the fresh shellfish went with the heavy butter..-also not cheap at $15 for one scallop
Balthazar- biggest let down of the trip. Food was average (scrambled egg in puff pastry that was dry and almost stale in places and eggs Norwegian which were fine but nothing special). The whole place felt like a conveyer belt of tourists which I guess it was but with the prices charged I would expect better service. The table staff were fine but we found the maitre d and fromt of house non attentive and, when we did have heir attention, snooty and arrogant. An experience with the cloak room staff left an extremely bad taste in the mouth- I mentioned our thoughts to the staff but was greeted with a condescending arrogant glance rather than any interest or apology - a real shame.
Chez sardine- a few snacks here, some of the sushi, the Unagi/pork roll and the pancakes. Highlights were the beef and uni sushi and the pancakes. Service at the bar was warm and attentive and the atmosphere cosy- we really enjoyed this spot though the costs added up very quickly..
Pearl and Ash- another disappointment unfortunately. We ordered a wide range including the beef tartar, lamb belly and octopus - the common theme was gross over seasoning. I am not at all adverse to some robust levels of salt but this was simply too much. We would have sent the food back but jet lag was setting in and we just wanted to get out if there. A shame as some of the dishes would have been good otherwise. Some exploration of the winelist may have improved our experience but wasn't what we were after that might.
Buvette- slightly overdone scrambled eggs with the prosciutto but the charm of the place outweighed that- lovely experience overall
Burger joint- mis timing of lunch meant we missed out on ma peche and settled for a burger- good though perhaps not worth the 40min wait
Allswell/marlow and sons - loved the atmosphere at both. Had a few $1 oysters and clams in allswell then some chicken liver pate and homemade pancetta in marlow and sons. Pancetta was mostly fat and more akin to lardo than what I am used to as pancetta but silky smooth and absolutely delicious. Then mis advisedly moved to dram/extra fancy which were average- wish we had gone to The Diner next door but wasn't to be
Locanda verde- delicious honey butter scone and eggs modenese with contechino hash and tomato hollandaise- the best breakfast of the trip- loved it all. My wife had the ricotta and truffle honey which was tasty but too big - would be better at half the serving and half the price
Mission cantina - after the lower east side tenement museum(highly recommended) headed here. We were still pretty full so weren't quite ready for some of the more interesting dishes like the beef heart/scallops but had a few tacos which beat anything we get in london. Best probably the carnitas and the lamb belly. Nice service- staff interested in our thoughts
spotted pig- coffee in the snow at cluny and then a few afternoon drinks and oysters at spotted pig- perfect for a cosy few hours down at the bar-nice service, good beers (, tasty oysters-perfect for what we wanted
Perla - cocktails at wallflower (not a massive fan of the venue but good drinks). Mixed feelings on Perla. Loved the atmosphere at the bar as we walked in...loved the atmosphere as we walked through the main strip of tables...didn't love the atmosphere at the 'chefs counter' where we were sat...to be clear- this is not the kitchen, it's the back waters of the kitchen where a ham slicer and unused grill sat. We saw a chef there once, otherwise it was empty and devoid of any charm. I am mystified as to why they have put a bar here with zero energy or appeal. Anyway- on to the food. We ordered badly from the antipasti, sharing a pear/Gorgonzola/speck salad which was overdressed and not exciting in any way. Pastas were the highlight - linguine with mussels and uni / agnolotti with beef cheek. Both very good and generous servings. Secondi of lamb shoulder and belly with Calabrian chili and yogurt was overly sweet and not balanced - disappointing. Service was sweet and competent. Overall think I was hoping for a repeat of l'artusi which we loved and it just didn't quite hit the mark in terms of atmosphere or food.
Jean George's- lunch here. Slightly disorganised front of house (stranded at bar in nougatine for too long) gave way to warm, attentive and well informed staff in The restaurant itself. We ordered from the amazing value lunch menu- highlights were the tuna ribbons, hamachi with avocado, shrimp and salmon with black truffle crust- all were incredibly tasty with delicate flavours and perfect seasoning. Also worth mentioning the excellent value wine list where I think we saw the cheapest price by the glass of any bar and restaurant we went to on our trip ($9) which was a nice surprise. Only dud was my 'main' dish- the veal scallopine with ham and mushrooms. This jarred incredibly badly with the rest of our meal - whereas everything else was delicate and fresh, this lacked any subtlety and was overpowered by the strongly salted ham. This looked and tasted like an average bistro course, not a 3* main. I really did not understand this at all and it brought the meal away from being potentially the best food we have had. On reflection I think EMP last time was overall a better experience and felt more like a 'New York' meal than JJ which felt slightly anonymous.
Anyway- hate to end on a downer as overall we loved the meal and our trip as a whole- I still think NYC beats london convincingly on relaxed but warm service and offers more ambitious and polished neighbourhood restaurants then most of what we get. I'm already planning out next trip for next summer where we will use Williamsburg as our base- can't wait!
Thanks again for everyone's help
Thanks for all your help so far in putting together our itinerary for our trip next week. I just have a couple more bits of advice to ask for... our plan is looking like this:
Sat Late Lunch (if we make it in time from airport) – Minetta Tavern for burger/French dip (booked) if not then probably head to Pastis or Spotted Pig as nearby. Any other good suggestions for leisurely late lunch somewhere cosy?
Sun Brunch – Balthazar (booked)
Mon Brunch – Locanda Verde (booked)
Tuesday breakfast – Buvette
Wed lunch – Jean Georges
Sat - Personally I have never been to Brockley Mkt so can't comment but is there any reason in particular why you have chosen to go there rather than one of the more central markets?
Casse Croute is good for low key traditional French - you could maybe combine with a snack at Jose across the road for some tapas and a drink which is really good fun.
Sunday - Depending on your plans for the day maybe you could do a Sunday Lunch at the B&L rather than dinner? It's definitely worth a visit and you could combine with a walk across Hampstead Heath from Hampstead Village. I love A&H but if youve been there plenty then good to branch out. In a similar vein, the Harwood Arms in Fulham is my favourite posh-pub. Slightly more refined than B&L.
Monday - So many choices in Soho/CG - is there a particular food type you wanted to try? Koya do very good Udon noodles or Bone Daddies is my favourite for Ramen though maybe not a priority for you being from NYC.
Thurs - I haven't been to Honey & Co so will leave someone else to comment
Friday - Market on Parkway is pretty good or Made in Camden in the Roundhouse also a good option. I'm not sure if they will be open that late though and I'd say most gigs around there finish more like 10 30/11 than 10. Perhaps food before the gig and then drinks after would be easier?
Conversely to Harters I would say there are actually now loads of places with bar seating- my other half and I are also big fans of this style of seating.
Off the top of my head, some places I'd unreservedly recommend with such seating are:
Barrafina- soho tapas
To be honest there are many options - if you can narrow down with what food/area/price range you are after then I can offer some better tips
Thanks Elizabeth - good to be realistic with these things! Nothing is too fixed on that day so will just have to play it by ear and keep our fingers crossed.
Thanks zeeEats - Perla is definitely an option. We enjoyed Babbo/L'Artusi last time and the menu looks similar so good be a good call
Thanks UES Mayor - that's useful to know. We went to Kin Shop last summer at the board's recommendation and absolutely loved it but will probably want to try something new this time. We may keep that Sat night flexible and see where we end up out of some of the local options (there seem to be quite a few).
General question that may not be possible to answer but are places (such as Chez Sardine/Charlie Bird et al) generally ok to walk into late at night (11ish) or can you still expect long waits?
Thanks Kathryn - incredibly helpful as always!
> Late Lunch – Minetta Tavern for French Dip / Black Label burger before heading up to Central Park for ice skating on the Wollman Rink. Then factoring in some nap time with the jet lag before...
That's kind of a heavy lunch so I definitely see the need for nap time! Also note that MT might be a bit crowded during brunch if you get there on the later side -- you might end up waiting for a bar seat. Though I do understand not wanting to make a reservation given that you'll be coming in from the airport that day (and I guess you're also going through customs?).
----- Thanks, would that be overkill if we had both the French Dip and the burger? Best to share one or the other? Happy to wait for a bar seat or may try to make a 2 30 reservation and play it by ear.
> Dinner – Chez Sardine – I see some mixed reviews but the casual vibe and proximity to our apartment (50 yards down the road) make this appealing for day 1 whilst probably tired.
The wait might be long here, you might also want to try Fedora (sister restaurant literally around the corner). The cocktails at Fedora are pretty good.
----- Thanks, we went to Fedora last time and loved it for drinks. Wallflower also looks cool. Are waits for places like Sardine bad at weekends even when late, like 11pm or so?
Also it seems like a LOT of going uptown and then back down again. The 5th Avenue shopping area (E 50s) is really not that far from the MoMA or where Wollman Rink is located in Central Park.
----- We are staying downtown so my general ‘strategy’ is a brunch or breakfast downtown before heading uptown for the Christmas shopping etc and then back downtown in the evening
> Dinner – Acme / Pearl & Ash / Charlie Bird or something with similar vibe –any preferences from anyone?
I really like Pearl & Ash but it's more of a wine destination in terms of drinks. They don't have a hard liquor license, I don't think.
------- Thanks – so would P&A be your choice out of those?
> We are flying out of Newark at 10pm so was thinking of an early (4/5pm) dinner at the NoMad – do you think this could work? Would there be much atmosphere?
The NoMad doesn't serve dinner that early. I think they only start dinner service at 5:30pm. Maybe grab a drink at the bar beforehand until your dinner reservation? The bar at the NoMad gets a healthy after-work crowd.
------ Yup, you’re right, thanks. Could be a tricky one for timing as will probably have to set off for the airport around 6pm. I think maybe a late 2pm lunch could be the best bet...
Thanks Riverman500, looks like some good options there - will check them out
Further to my last thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/910223) in which I somewhat over enthusiastically planned my eating a good 5 months before travelling, it is now a couple weeks before reservations open for the time I am in NYC so time to finalise my eating... my thoughts are below – any comments/different suggestions would be great.
We are from London and did a fair bit of grazing in NYC last summer so some of the classic spots like Katz/R&D/Shake Shack/EMP/Babbo/Keste are already covered. Our budget in general is mid range so, apart from Ko, we are not looking for any blow-out 3* meals.
Our itinerary is looking like....
- Saturday (land in Newark 12pm so hoping to be in West Village by 2pm)
Late Lunch – Minetta Tavern for French Dip / Black Label burger before heading up to Central Park for ice skating on the Wollman Rink. Then factoring in some nap time with the jet lag before...
Dinner – Chez Sardine – I see some mixed reviews but the casual vibe and proximity to our apartment (50 yards down the road) make this appealing for day 1 whilst probably tired.
Brunch – Balthazar before heading up to 5th Ave etc for Christmas shopping.
Dinner – Momofuku Ko / NoMad – this is dependent on whether Ko is open as I hear its going to be moving location around then- pretty gutting as this is my number one place to go on this trip!
Breakfast – Locanda Verde before heading to museums
Lunch – Ma Peche if needed
Dinner – Williamsburg – Brooklyn Brewery tour before dinner. Struggling to decide on somewhere for this. Was thinking of Traif/Diner/Gwynett Street/Fette Sau. Any suggestions for something quite fun, quite hipster (may as well get stuck into the Williamsburg cliché whilst there for one night)
Shopping downtown in the morning
Lunch – Mission Chinese before heading to the LES Tenement Museum
Dinner – Acme / Pearl & Ash / Charlie Bird or something with similar vibe –any preferences from anyone?
Breakfast – undecided– any suggestions? Have been to the Dutch / Breslin before so less keen on those
We are flying out of Newark at 10pm so was thinking of an early (4/5pm) dinner at the NoMad – do you think this could work? Would there be much atmosphere?
- Where are the best Christmas markets to go to – Bryant Park?
Real helpful there mate..