London* Only-in-London dining destinations recommended to foreign visitors in response to their requests leading up to the Olympics:


Dear Daniel,

Can you recommend a Michelin-multistarred restaurant in tune with what’s exciting in the world of contemporary gastronomy? The cuisine must be ingenious to the extent it becomes impossible for the servers to recall and recite the elements of every dish. Food that’s also very enjoyable to eat isn’t essential but that would be a plus. Lastly, there must be a set lunch no higher than £35.

Howard H. Higginshauser Jr, Vancouver


The Ledbury‘s Brett Graham is a singular Australian chef flourishing in a British context.

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I love dried salted pig’s liver but most of what you’re served is dry and salty. Whatever. Our group of 16 carnivores wants to eat like a pig – to be specific, one suckling pig – at a British restaurant that does nose-to-tail cooking with guts and passion. Its house-baked sourdough must be as good as the bread we had at Moro the last time we visited London. Any ideas?

Wade, Miami


St John wrote the book on nose to tail eating.

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Help Young and Foodish,

If you think Howard H. Higginshauser Jr is demanding wait until you hear about Murray and Dorris. Murray likes nothing better than eating chargrilled beef and pan-roasted duck in vegetarian restaurants. Worldly Southern Mediterranean with Californian accents and chocolate hazelnut brownies is his preferred ethnic food. Doris won’t order anything without seeing it first. Presentation is paramount. Unable to made decisions she ends up ordering one of everything. She’s as flaky as a buttery croissant, lost in a make-believe world of Technicolor salad landscapes and meringue clouds.  Me, I prefer the simple life: Give me orange and fennel poached mackerel with beetroot and honey yoghurt salad and pistachio relish and I’ll marry you.

Desperate in Seattle


Ottolenghi is not so much a restaurant, deli or patisserie as a parallel fantasy universe of beautiful salads and pastries imagined by Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Everyone eats happy in Ottolenghiland.

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Re: visit to London
20 July 2012 15:31:50 GMT+01:00

I prefer casual restaurants that don’t take their food casually at all, like New York’s Union Square Cafe and San Francisco’s Zuni Cafe. Is there anything like that in London, maybe Spanish, with open-fire roasting and without any fetichism for meat slicers. Its house-baked sourdough must be as good as the bread we had at St John the last time we visited London.

Marty, Philadelphia


At one-of-kind Moro chefs Sam and Sam Clark draw inspiration from Spain under Muslim occupation. The wood-roasted meats, chargrilled fish and nearly everything that goes with them are Moorish and moreish.

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This will be my first time in London and having heard of your dining renaissance I desire nothing less than a knowing, world-class contemporary British concept restaurant with an outstanding chef, impeccable sourcing and a dessert bar. I expect to see dishes completed table-side, too, in the elegant manner of the Hotel de France in Nantua. Can you recommend five such restaurants?

Sebastien Sansepoir, Nantua


At Pollen Street Social the incomparable chef Jason Atherton wants the finishing touches of clever dishes revealed before your eyes. The man is a magician: Who else could charge £29.50 for roasted sea bass yet still call his restaurant a ‘bistro’?

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Dear Daniel Youngandfoodish,

We are oyster-and-caviar sophisticates who covet ‘traditional’ fish pie not made with ye olde fish scraps from a week ago Tuesday. Know of any timelessly stylish fish brasseries in London theatreland?

All the best,
Franz Pesky (no address)


The restaurant and oyster bar J Sheekey is never a bad first option.

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Dan the Man,

Gastropubs are all the rage back home but I suspect most if not all are operated by uninformed phonies exploiting the latest trend for financial gain. (I’m sure you don’t have profiteering restaurateurs like that in London.) Can you turn me on to two tried-and-true gastropubs – one near the Tate Modern; the other, close to Covent Garden. If the choice is between quantity and quality I’ll settle for both.

Thank you.
Elmer Tuttle, Los Angeles and San Francisco

Dear Elmer,

Anchor and Hope, near Tate Modern, and Great Queen Street, its West End sibling

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Mr. Foodish,

I won’t bother you with a long wish list. I have but two requirements:

  1. I’d like the restaurant be within walking distance of my hotel room at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge.
  2. I’d like my daughter Louise’s visage to be illuminated by porcelain wall sconces in the shape of antique jelly moulds.

Any chef with the stature of a Heston Blumenthal will do, providing his team can produce a great performance as much as a great dinner.  I only hope they don’t try to push salamugundy on us.

Mrs I. M. Undemanding, Geneva, Cayman and Dubai

Mrs Undemanding,

Would Dinner by Heston suit? Its executive chef is an equal to Heston Blumenthal by any measure. Yes, the set menu does feature salamugundy as a starter, but you can have a ragoo of pigs ears as an alternative.

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The only thing better than eating great cheap eats is waiting for great cheap eats with cool attractive people in a long line. Like I always say to Gino: Gino, why wait for 10 minutes and eat in an hour when you can do the reverse? Is there such a place in London? A BYOB maybe? With Punjabi food?

Mia Maso, Turin


At the wildly popular Tayyabs in the Whitechapel district of fashionable East London the queue moves in reverse, like an up escalator going down. You gradually edge further away from the front of the queue the longer you stand in it. Every 17 seconds you are tortured by a server parading yet another sizzling platter of incredibly succulent grilled lamb chops past your nose. The fragrant fumes are so intense it will make your eyes water. And just when they’ve handed you a menu and you’re convinced you finally will be the next to get a table the host admits and seats a group of 40 ahead of you.