London Eating--great seafood? St. John?

Old Mar 30th, 2009, 02:11 PM
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London Eating--great seafood? St. John?

For a spring trip to London, I am planning 3 dinners. One will be at Tayyab's.

For the second, I am leaning toward St. John. I would love to read comments from those who have eaten there.

And for my third dinner, I hope to have wonderful local seafood. J. Sheekey is one place that seems to receive good reports but I am a bit leery about the fact that it appears to be part of a min-chain. What is the local opinion of this place and are there any other great seafood spots that also have a couple of non-meat offerings?

http://www.j-sheekey.co.uk/


Many thanks!!
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 02:17 PM
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For seafood, you might check out recent reviews for Zilli's and Livebait (the latter if you plan to be on the Southbank).

Some of my best eating experiences in London have been with the mini-chains. I've not found they have the kind of "chain" problems American chains have.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 02:26 PM
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Thanks, Zeppole!

Zilli's looks to be Italian, though, and I want to concentrate on British seafood preparations..

Livebait appears to have an outpost at Convent Garden..I will do further reading!
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 02:36 PM
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My husband works in the seafood business and travels regularly to London. He says J. Sheekey is his favourite place to go in London for seafood, and he knows they have very good quality standards there. Although there are a few other restaurants in the group, it's not like a "chain" place at all (the menu is completely different at J. Sheekey than at the others). We've also been to Livebait but it is more of a "chain" than J. Sheeky (there are a few Livebait restaurants, with identical menus) - and we've found that Livebait is good but sometimes hit and miss - he prefers J. Sheekey to Livebait.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 02:43 PM
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I think there is a Livebait in Picadilly.

My London friends constantly bemoan there is no longer any real British food in London -- although what they are nostalgic for, I'm not sure. J. Sheekey does get good notices, and I wouldn't be too put off by the mini-chain thing. I stick to non-British food in London -- but I'll be delighted to hear good reports of good food of any sort there!
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 02:48 PM
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OK..then it is settled! J Sheekey it will be for the seafood meal!


Thanks to both of you!!
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 02:53 PM
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I certainly wouldn't call JSheekey part of a "chain" -- mini or otherwise.

Sure, it is owned by a company that owns other restaurants - but the Ivy, le Caprice, Daphne's, JSheekey and the others are all totally different, long standing places that were independently owned at one time.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 06:12 PM
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I have eaten at St. John; it must have been about five years ago. My aunt, who lives in London, took me there for dinner with her second husband and children.

I thought everything was delicious--not spectacular--but really good and filling. The service was great because our waiter had a really wicked sense of humour.

I remember having bone marrow and pigeon and I think kidneys. The pigeon was very good and I usually have the pigeon at Le Bec Fin--the pigeon at St. John was better.

Thin
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 02:41 AM
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well the ultimate British seafood is fish n chips!. If you want something a bit more upmarket (and much more spendy) try Bentleys. There's an oyster bar downstairs and a restaurant upstairs both run by the brilliant Richard Corrigan. Highly recommended.
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 03:07 AM
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Cholley! Bentley's looks good as well...too many options for such a short visit!!

I have no intention of leaving London without trying fish and chips. I have all of the info on another thread here. Friends just returned and had good things to report about Rack and Sole but I suspect you will say that that is poncey! (You see, I am learning the lingo!)

Thin: Oh, dear--"good and filling" does not sound like a recipe for a fabulous meal! The marrow bones are one of their famous dishes so I was planning on having those, too..maybe I could stop in for a plate at lunch and then fit in another dinner someplace else!!
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 03:24 AM
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Friends just returned and had good things to report about Rack and Sole but I suspect you will say that that is poncey!>>>

Nope. Not at all poncey. A personal favourite and very highly recommended.
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 03:25 AM
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I ate at St. John's Bread & Wine (sister restaurant to St. John's) a few years ago and it was terrific. I've not been back but that's mostly because there are too many other places to try. If you check out the menus (and prices) you'll see that B&W seems to feature smaller dishes, and I didn't find it overwhelming (and I usually eat two starters rather than a starter and a main).

I had a nice meal along similar lines a few months ago at Hereford Rd: http://www.herefordroad.org/

If I had to choose between St. John's (either location) or Hereford Rd I'd still go for St. John's. I particularly like the St. John's esthetic (or some might say the lack of it).
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 03:33 AM
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Another place you might consider is The Harwood Arms:

http://www.harwoodarms.com/index.htm

I haven't eaten here yet (will do so next week) but it looks quite nice.
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 04:17 AM
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You caught my eye again !

Just to say I haven't eaten at St John yet but it is one of my ambitions. We love Fergus Henderson's books.

Also, although, I haven't been there either, I'd choose Bentley's for seafood as it's now run by the great Richard Corrigan. J Sheekey is a trendy place - nuff said.
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 04:43 AM
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We dined at three of the above mentioned places a few weeks ago (trip report coming soon, hopefully). All of them, I feel, require advanced booking.

St. John was excellent as always (I can never get enough bone marrow).

Hereford Road was good as well (very small restaurant). Had excellent black pudding.

The Harwood Arms was quite good, I would consider this a true gastro-pub. We actually ate here twice (the second time was kind of last minute, because we were nearby). Ate a wonderful trotters on toast & crispy pigs ear starter, both times.

If I had to pick one of the three it would be St. John, although with more nights the next two would be chosen as well. I can also provide more details, if you like, later this evening.

Will
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 05:24 AM
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Yes, please, Will..I would love to read more details about St. John.

I only have 3 dinners so have to plan carefully. And I will have 3 lunches, too, but do not want to have big meals at that hour, or else we will spend most of our visit inside restaurants!!

I had never heard of Richard Corrigan before--Bentley's looks wonderful!
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 02:54 PM
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Hi Ekscrunchy,

Here are some additional details about our meal at St. John.
I made reservations about a month in advance (we dined on a Friday). The restaurant it self is very minimalist, think white. Service was excellent, very nice wine list (primarily French).

Now on to the meal.

Since this was our last night in London, we started with glasses of Champagne. Our wine for the evening was a Crozes Hermitage from the Rhone.

We began with the Roasted bone marrow for myself & a pollock & potato starter for my wife (L). The pollock dish was quite interesting, L liked it. Bone marrow was incredible (like Bourdain, I believe this would be my "death-row meal").

For our mains, L had a pigeon & beetroot dish (I even liked it & I am not a beet fan). I had a special, snails & sausage, they were in a type of broth, amazing mix of tastes.
Both dishes went well with our wine.

For dessert we shared an apple crumble, that met with the approval of our waiter.

So that was our St. John meal...if you like any information about Hereford Road or The Harwood Arms, I can give that.

Will
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 11:02 PM
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North Sea Fish and Chips was mighty good last time I visited.

thereyet
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Old Apr 1st, 2009, 03:20 AM
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Will: Many thanks for the report about St. John. I will book ahead--they are on OpenTable which makes it easy! The only problem is finding something on the menu to please the travel partner!! (I am not sure if the braised squirrel or the goat's curd is going to do the trick!)

http://www.stjohnrestaurant.com/menus/



And I will check out North Sea Fish and Chips, too--thank you, Thereyet!
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Old Apr 1st, 2009, 03:22 AM
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I think you have been convinced on J Sheekey, but if not, think of them as one of several restaurants with common owners rather than as a chain.

On several trips we stayed at a friend's flat in The Cut, just a few doors down from Livebait. We would make a reservation, then take the day flight from Boston to LHR, go to the flat, drop our bags, and just beat the post theatre crowds from the Old Vic. After a delicious dinner and a couple of drinks, we were ready for bed and up without jetlag in the morning.

Across the street, should you stay in the area, is Konditor and Cook, a bakery-cafe-whatever with pretty good light food.
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