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BELGIUM: Simple, unpretentioius, inexpensive restaurant(s) sought in Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent

In Brussels, I would recommend Brasserie L'ultime Atom on Rue Saint Boniface. Lovely little area (worth discovering), definitely not touristy. Delicious Belgian food, amazing beer selection (I don't drink beer, and this is almost the only place in the world where I slightly regret that). ESSENTIAL to save room for their profiteroles for dessert; they are extraordinary, filled with ice-cream rather than whipped cream and with lashings of hot Belgian chocolate sauce.

Jan 29, 2014
Shivaun in Europe

Courthouse Metro

I agree with BookGuy, Ray's the Steaks is fabulous.
If you fancy Thai, we LOVE Sawatdee's (bit tricky to find - it is buried in the courtyard - but worth it for their Pad See Ew).
Sawatdee's is likely to work out cheaper than Ray's the Steaks.

knife to cut fresh/soft bagel

If you eat enough bagels to justify a specialised implement, then I would recommend a Bagel Guillotine. Not only does it cut without tearing, it eradicates the constant danger of taking off a digit.

Jan 15, 2014
Shivaun in Cookware

Lunch near Westminster Abbey/Parliament

PS Should have specifically mentioned Canteen in the Southbank Centre - great British food, including breakfast.

Jan 02, 2013
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Lunch near Westminster Abbey/Parliament

There are some options within a short walk:
If you head a couple of minutes up Downing Street, you get to the Red Lion, which does OK-ish food.
Or you could hop onto a bus up Victoria Street for 5 minutes - there are lots of restaurants (mainly chains) towards the Victoria Station end.
OR (and this would probably be my recommendation), you could walk across the scenic Westminster Bridge and turn left on the far side, past the London Eye and towards the concrete monolith of the South Bank Centre. There are lots of restaurants here, such as modern Mexican at Wahaca, dimsum at Ping Pong, or if you were after a special (slow) lunch, then the Skylon in the Royal Festival Hall.

There is also a cafe actually in Parliament (just to the right off Westminster Hall, the large stone hall just after security) - again, only OK-ish cafeteria food, but speedy, and no diversion from your planned route required at all. This would be the food-as-fuel option.

Jan 02, 2013
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Friend coming for a few days from London, England. What can't she get across the pond that we do well here?

Your schedule sounds fantastic - I may well have to drop everything & fly over to accompany you.

Given your very limited time, you could perhaps send her off with a BLT as a plane snack?

Friend coming for a few days from London, England. What can't she get across the pond that we do well here?

When we visit, we tend to make a beeline for a smoked meat sandwich on rye with a dill pickle. All 3 of these items are very difficult to obtain in London.
EDIT: forgot to mention blueberry pie. Food of the Gods. Not sure why not really available in London - do we not have blueberries? Do we not have pastry? What is our inability to put these two ingredients together??

We enjoy vigorous debates about the best bagel; we disagree with our Montreal relatives, we think we can get better ones in London (although admittedly the best are far less ubiquitous, and can only be sourced from a tiny handful of bakeries in North London). Similarly, a chocolate comparison can be an enjoyable source of heated debate.

Poutine is absolutely unheard of in London; I think it would be fun to introduce your friend to this. Perhaps not the Canadian version of a chicken sandwich, though - I am still traumatised by my experience of this culinary abomination.

English breakfast is very different (and in my opinion significantly inferior to yours). In particular, breakfast items that involve a liberal dousing of your magnificent maple syrup, such as French Toast, can only be a good thing.

I also agree with the other posters' statements that your Dim Sum is better than ours.

In summary, if your friend doesn't gain at least a kilo per day during her visit, you will have failed.

Shopping Mall Food Court Favourites

I'm from England, but in Toronto every couple of years to visit family. In your malls, I make an over-excited bee-line for two treats I can't get at home: a Tim Horton's BLT and a Yogen Fruz blueberry mixed frozen yoghurt.

I am surprised that native Canadians boycott Tim Horton's. Is there some dark secret I don't know about?

South Bank lunch? [London]

There are lots of reasonably priced options with efficient turnaround times in the SouthBank Centre. My personal faves are Wagamamas and Ping Pong. Although both are very close to the river, neither really have a view.

An alternative with a view is Pizza Express by the Globe Theatre. Fantastic Thames views from upstairs: 24 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DS. Just inside your Southwark Bridge-Waterloo Bridge boundary.

Dec 14, 2011
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Very exciting burger at Monkey Nuts [London]

I am one of those people who optimistically eternally seek the perfect burger. I look for tasty, moist (but not a waterfall), in the perfect bun (i.e.NOT a ciabatta).

I got very excited when Byron's first opened, and I still think they have the thickest, decadentest & chocolatiest milkshakes, but IMO their burgers have gone decidedly downhill.

So I got disproportionately excited on Saturday night when I ended up in Monkey Nuts. Their burger was fantastic! I had the basic with mushroom. I'm going to go out on a limb here and tempt the haters - might possibly be the best in London?!?

Note: I have heard its a yummy mummy pushchair scrum most of the time, but we arrived very late, well after all good Henrys and Saskias should be in bed, so was quite civilised.

Also - weirdly, they don't do chocoloate milkshakes, but the Oreo one was really rather good - not quite Byrons, but well above average and massively better than grim old Gourmet Burger Kitchen's.

And finally - although I suspect the chips weren't created from potatoes in their kitchen, they were also completely ok. Onion rings were average, BBQ sauce accompaniment a disgusting abomination.

So - to those living in North London, I encourage a visit.

Monkey Nuts

2 Park Road

Crouch End

London N8 8TD

Nov 29, 2011
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Condensed milk caramel

I have done it many, many times, as has my other-in-law (although, to be honest, neither of us are famous for our respect for health and safety in the kitchen). I boil in water for 3 hours to get a maximally gloopy caramel. You could probably get away with 2.5 hours. If it comes out too gloopy for your use, you can soften up with a little single cream. It is runnier while its hot, unsurprisingly gets more gloopy as it cools.

Main safety consideration - DO NOT LET PAN BOIL DRY!!! Easy to do - who has the time/patience to minister to anything for 3 hours? So I set a digital timer at half hour intervals to remind me to check & top up with boiling water from the kettle.

Also - once you're done, run under cold water for a few minutes, and when you open the can be really careful, as hot caramel squeezes out under pressure. Caramel burns hurt quite a lot.

Good luck!!

Oct 30, 2011
Shivaun in Home Cooking

American hound in Newquay, Cornwall seeking lunch, tea and dinner recommendations.

Actually IN Newquay, I have 2 recommendations:
Pauline’s Creamery, 20 Bank Street, Newquay (pedestrian high street equivalent)
AMAZING chocolate fudge cake. Probably good cream teas too, but I have never made it past the chocolate fudge cake - did I mention that it is AMAZING?!

Lewinnick Lodge, Pentire headland, TR7 1NX
Staggering location, and excellent food. We've tried pretty much everything on the menu, it all seems to be made by someone who really cares if it tastes delicious. Particularly addicted to their spicy prawn pasta (sorry, can't remember exact name of this dish). Also lovely atmosphere; and you can either sit in the restaurant half or order the exact same food in pub half, depending on your preference. DH loves this place so much that I'm banned from mentioning it on CH (shhh!)

In Padstow, I think The Basement Cafe is overlooked because it isn't part of the Stein empire, but it does really delicious food in a friendly intimate atmosphere. Booking essential, as it is tiny (hence the intimate) and popular.

And in the other direction, St Ives, I really like:
Café Coast. Upstairs on The Wharf, TR26 1LG
Lovely food, amazing sundaes for dessert.

Never found a pasty that I felt justified the massive enthusiasm everyone else has for them - if you find one, please let me know!

Oct 26, 2011
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Help I need a recommendation for afternoon tea in london for solo traveler

Brown's Hotel, Albemarle Street. Fabulous tea, gorgeously traditional and intimate tea room.

Jan 31, 2011
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

any suggestions for restaurants near the Roundhouse Theatre in Camden area of London?

Just across the road, I'd second Belgo (although I must admit I haven't been there in a few years) for Moules Frites, and for dessert Marine Ices, which has been a North London destination for decades and still has delicious intense creamy gelato. Yum.

If you can stagger slightly further, in Primrose Hill there are 2 lovely Greek restaurants: Lemonia and Limani. For some reason Lemonia is much more famous, but I actually prefer Limani (and they don't rush you out so fast - although if you're doing pre- post-theatre, that may not be an issue for you).

And if you're in a car, then a 3 minute drive up hill brings you to Belsize Park, and there are lots of quite nice (chain) restaurants there, such as GBK and Pizza Express.

Dec 06, 2010
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Critique my list please! Montreal chowhounds in London for a week

Gastropub plans look fab, as does Borough market! And the National Portrait Gallery restaurant does indeed have a lovely view (and yummy food). And Masters Superfish is truly wonderful.

If you want to fit in a Gordon Ramsey but your schedule is tight, then if you're flying home BA you could eat lunch at Gordon Ramsey's Plane Food in LHR T5 (airside past security)?

If you're looking for a view, then on Sunday perhaps you could head to the Southbank (south bank of the Thames, nearest tube: Waterloo). You could do a ride on the London Eye (so pretty after dark!) and then depending on how high-low end you want to go, dinner at Skylon (aMAZing view but quite formal and posh) or the Pizza Express just past the Globe Theatre (24 New Globe Walk - lovely view over the Thames, bit of a walk from the Eye)?

I'm really really sorry, I also love Jamie Oliver but really wan't at all impressed by Jamie's Italian.
I tried the Westfield branch twice, and it wasn't worth wasting one of your precious meals on - not at all a taste explosion, very mediocre. And I am not anti-chain (e.g. I love wagamama's & Pizza Express).

Tuesday: Hendon to Knightsbridge and then back to Hampstead Heath sounds like quite a schlep. Have you considered doing tea somewhere more central? How about Brown's Hotel on Albemarle Street (great tea - I take my Mother there for Mother's Day; she is fussy. Also fantastic traditional setting)? Then you could also see all the Christmas lights on Oxford & Regent Street.

Nov 26, 2010
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

American groceries sighting, Surrey Quays, London

Do they stock Hershey's Chocolate Syrup? There was a brief period when this was quite easy to buy at Tescos and Sainsburys, but recently I haven't been able to find it anywhere.

My nephew will be very excited about the Kraft mac & cheese!

Nov 15, 2010
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

One week in London, too many options, lots of questions.

When you arrive at Heathrow, you'll need to eat landside (i.e. outside security), because they funnel you out without letting you see the restaurants (to avoic mixing you with departing passengers).

I can recommend Carluccio's in Terminal 5 departures (check-in hall); it is open till the last departing flight, but I'm afraid I don't know exactly when that is.

Oct 07, 2010
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Uses for Ginger

I can suggest 2 savory recipes that are simple and quite fast.

The first is a salmon stir firy. Peel 2-3 inches of ginger and chop into half inch cubes. Grind up in the food processor with some chopped chillies and a couple of bits of peeled garlic. Then take some skinned salmon steaks and chop them into 1 inch cubes, and stir fry in a wok with the ground up chilli & ginger mixture and a few splashes of soya sauce. I don't tend to add any oil, as the salmon produces enough oil. Yummy with either rice or new potatoes and a vegetable.

The second is a chicken recipe. Saute chopped onions, then add minced garlic & again a few inches of ginger (peeled & finely minced). Add pieces of skinless cubed chicken breast and continue to stir fry till the chicken is cooked through. Then add yoghurt and heat through, and finally some ground almonds (to pull the separated yoghurt into a nice creamy sauce) just as you're turning off the heat. Serve with rice.

Jul 12, 2010
Shivaun in Home Cooking

If You Had to Leave, What Would You Miss?

Common British chocolate, available in all newsagents. Try minstrels, a bar of dairy milk chocolate, and a flake. Not the same as sophisticated belgian-style chocolate. There was a great NYT article about this a few years back:

Also, marmite on soldiers with a boiled egg. WARNING: marmite is an acquired taste, that is not widely shared by anyone not born in the UK. But worth trying a VERY THIN scrape on a small piece of toast while you're over here.

And finally, the British TV. Although currently by far the best dramas are from the US (The Wire, Sopranos, etc), I massively miss our Channel 4 7 o'clock news and Newsnight when I'm abroad, particularly if something important has happened that I want an in-depth analysis of.

Jul 10, 2010
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Taste of London 2010

I've been for the last three years, & I'm going again on Thursday. Queues are pretty minimal during the week. Great fun in a group, trying all the different dishes, and there are lots of alcohol stands (eg Pimms) and various freebie samples too. But maybe not for a visitor, as part of the fun is mentally logging which restaurants you'd actually like to visit over the next few months.

Mmmm, cupcakes. I will keep an eye out!

Jun 13, 2010
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Ice cream and ___________ = a winning combination

I like heated up (microwaved) chocolate fudge cake with a really good vanilla ice cream.
Also crushed maltesers (with rolling pin in plastic bag) on vanilla ice cream.

May 26, 2010
Shivaun in General Topics

Cornwall Eats

I would third Rick Stein's fish and chips, and also his cafe.

Another good spot just past Newquay is the Lewinnick Lodge, out on the Pentire Headland. Amazing views and also really delicious food. Their fish has always been gorgeously cooked. Their breakfasts are also rather wonderful. Nicely casual, and in warm weather a deck to die for.

Apr 20, 2010
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Is there a way to get rid of this spammer?

I'm afraid he seems to have managed to reactivate himself at the bottom of this thread:

Dec 18, 2009
Shivaun in Site Talk

Side dishes for Christmas Ham?

Because I hail from the UK, I would be TRAGICISED if I was presented with ham without Parsley Sauce! It is the perfect complement, and also goes fantastically well with all forms of potato/sweet potato side.

Your gratin sounds totally yummy, I am extremely jealous of your dining companions.

Dec 14, 2009
Shivaun in Home Cooking

Best Crispy Aromatic Duck in London?

It is surprising that crispy aromatic duck doesn't seem to have made it over to the US. Mushu pork doesn't really substitute.

CAD is also in our top 3 favourite foods, and from gratuitously extensive testing we now swear by the China Garden Restaurant, 5-6 New College Parade,Finchley Road, London, NW3 5EP.

Warning: the Finchley Road is VERY UNGLAMOROUS. Not really a honeymoon destination. But the excellent WonTon soup and duck should allow you to rise above the dirty urban grit. We also think their sizzling chicken with black bean sauce and sizzling prawns with spicy sauce are pretty much the UK's best (another advantage over the US: portions are small enough that 2 people can order a more interesting combination of dishes).

Warning 2: as honeymooners, you probably won't be staying anywhere near Swiss Cottage, for the aforementioned reason. Jubilee line is closed all weekend for foreseeable future, so you might want to schedule this meal for mid-week.

End of warnings. Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials!

Nov 20, 2009
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

London: Lunch time near museums

For the National Gallery, I would suggest the Portrait restaurant: "The National Portrait Gallery's newly-refurbished roof-top restaurant boasts spectacular views over London" and yummy modern British food. They expect you to be leisurely (lots of ladies who lunch), so don't plan it if you're after a quick bite.

Nov 20, 2009
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

London restaurants with a view?

This might not be special enough for your last night, but the Pizza Express next to The Globe also has an amazing view over the river. And very nice pizzas.

Nov 18, 2009
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Has anyone ever had a Turducken.????

Not quite a Turducken, but in England you can get a goose stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with I think a pheasant (all deboned), and then seasoned stuffing inside of that. My mother isn't keen on Turkey, so we have had this for Christmas for the last few years.

The origins of this dish are apparently Elizabethan (noble fare rather than the peasants). My husband calls it "The Abomination" (not in front of my mother) and can't really bring himself to eat it.

Oct 19, 2009
Shivaun in General Topics

Did you know that this week is national cupcake week?

Apparently its the 14th to 19th of September. Can't believe I've already wasted 2 days of cupcake celebrating!

Sep 16, 2009
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland

Food festivals in London

Do you mean something like the Taste festivals (e.g. Taste of London, which I'm afraid has just finished)? I don't think they're very pricey, if you buy a ticket bundled with crowns.

I'm afraid this is the only one I've heard of. We've been for a few years running, its really good although more crowded every year (this year we went on Thursday instead of on the weekend, which helped a lot).

Jun 25, 2009
Shivaun in U.K./Ireland