An Inside Look
The past decade has brought London liberation from its longtime status as a world-class city with second-class food. Long gone are the days of overcooked roasts and soggy fish-and-chips. Now London is filled with fun, lively places to eat. Here are a handful of gems.
By Greg Katz
No place matches the Wolseley for breakfast. This big, beautiful, high-ceilinged room is home to one of the city's most popular restaurants, and it is particularly nice to eat here in the morning. The grilled kippers are excellent, and simpler dishes such as poached eggs and Greek yogurt are fine as well.
Lunch of the Day
Every neighborhood has its curry house, but there is only one Veeraswamy. Billed as London's oldest Indian restaurant, this 1926 landmark has been completely redone but still hints at imperial glory. The menu adds a slightly modern twist to classic dishes, and the result is unlike any other Indian food I've tasted before. The sense of ceremony and pleasure will linger long after you've finished the meal.
99 Regent Street
FIFTH FLOOR CAFÉ AT HARVEY NICHOLS
It's a bit of a guilty pleasure, but I like lunch at the Fifth Floor Café at Harvey Nichols, or Harvey Nicks, as it's known to Londoners. Situated on the top floor of the high-priced fashion emporium, the café offers a nice view of the city and an even better view of the trendy types who worship here. It's fun to browse for an hour or so and then plop down at the café for a dry white Burgundy and a salade niçoise.
For a truly pleasurable sit-down lunch, Racine is a treat. On a scale, this quiet hideaway in Knightsbridge is midway between the ersatz French brasseries proliferating in London and the over-the-top French restaurants with Michelin-star pretensions. The menu is varied, the flavors are subtle, and I've never had a mediocre meal here.
239 Brompton Road
Dinner Is Served
SAM'S BRASSERIE & BAR
Always fun, Sam's is set on a side street just off Chiswick High Road in West London. With a wide variety of good food at various prices, a terrific wine list, and a sense of style, it exemplifies the best of the city's new restaurants. Sam's is the opposite of stuffy, and the range of foods offered would have been unimaginable in London just 10 years ago.
11 Barley Mow Passage
CAFÉ BAR AND RIVER TERRACE, RIVERSIDE STUDIOS
London's weather is far better than its reputation indicates, and during the long, mild evenings of spring and summer, there are few nicer places than the café and bar at the Riverside Studios, a repertory movie theater with a popular restaurant attached. The food is simple and moderately priced; the cocktails, wines, and desserts are excellent; and the crowd is colorful and fun to watch. But the main selling point is the beautiful outdoor terrace with an unmatched view of the River Thames and the Hammersmith Bridge.
Crisp Road, Hammersmith
A final tip: Avoid the wildly expensive fancy hotel teas. Buy theater tickets instead.