Let’s be honest. One of the highlights of attending a conference is catching up with colleagues and exploring or rediscovering a city.
The establishments that are in this guide are the sort of places that I would happily bring friends, family and select first-dates to. They are deliberately informal and not Michelin-starred, but for variety I have included some which involve the use of cutlery.
The QEII centre is literally in the heart of London and the world is your oyster. See below for general suggestions.
- The Westminster Arms, 9&10 Storey’s Gate SW1P 3AT: Across the road from the QEII centre is Parliaments own local, full of civil servants, politicians and journalists trying to nab a story it even features a division bell so MPs can dash back to the House in time for the vote. (PS: it’s also Nigel Farage’s favourite Whitehall pub)
Alternatively take a left down Whitehall and past Downing Street and you’ll find Trafalgar Square and dozen other pubs along the way
- The Old Shades, 37 Whitehall, SW1A 2BX (a traditional local in Whithall)
- The Sherlock Holmes, 10 Northumberland St, London WC2N 5DB (with its own Holmes Museum)
- The Clarence, 53 Whitehall, SW1A 2HP, (a little more refined)
Keep walking on though and Leicester Square hoves in to view, with Covent Garden close by.
Eateries to recommend include:
Steaks –Covent Garden
- Flatiron, 17-18 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8QH (http://flatironsteak.co.uk)
- Hawksmoor, 11 Langley St, London WC2H 9JG (www.thehawksmoor.com)
Burgers - Leicester Square / Soho
- Burger and Lobster, 10 Wardour St, London W1D 6QF
- Byrons’ (www.byronhamburgers.com)
- Punjab, 80 Neal Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9PA (The oldest (and tastiest) Punjabi restaurant in London)
- Kiln, 58 Brewer Street, W1F 9TL (Excellent Thai BBQ, grill and curry)
- Dishoom (http://www.dishoom.com) (Indian, but Iranian-Bombay cafe style)
- Hoppers, 49 Frith Street, W1D 4SG (Beautiful Sri Lankan food)
- There are also numerous Indian, Pakistani and Bengali places around the East End of London but would recommend Tayyabs (www.tayyabs.co.uk closest tube – Whitechapel) or alternatively walk down Brick Lane and choose from dozens.
- Kanada-Ya, 3 Panton St, London SW1Y 4DL (Award winning Japanese ramen, now in the UK)
- Ippudo, 31A Villiers Street, WC2N 6ND (steadfastly ‘real’ Japanese ramen)
- Shoryu, 3 Denman St, Soho, W1D 7HA (A chain, but a good one)
- Eat Tokyo, 16 Old Compton St, Soho, W1D 4TL (Cheap and filling authentic Japanese food)
- Bone Daddies, 31 Peter St, W1F 0AR (Japanese bar food via the USA and Australia – loud, fun and tasty) Also check out the sister restaurants:
- Flesh and Buns, 41 Earlham St, WC2H 9LX
- 14a Old Compton St, W1D 4TJ
- Wong Kei, 41-43 Wardour St, W1D 6PY (Cheap, tasty and famous for the rude waiters, they’ve learnt to relax a little and no longer swear at you when you ask for a fork)
- XU, 30 Rupert Street, W1D 6DL (Beautiful Taiwanese restaurant and tea house)
- Golden Dragon, 28-29 Gerrard St, W1D 6JW (Popular lunchtime dim sum menu)
- Royal China Club, 40-42 Baker Street, W1U 7AJ (a little further away, but arguably one of the best Chinese restaurants in London)
- Shuang Shuan, 64 Shaftesbury Avenue W1D 6LU (Chinese hotpot and dipping menu)
- La Bodega Negra, 9 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JF (Loud, bright, fun, great food and a little bit naughty – a dance floor open until 1 am; I definitely would not bring the kids here)
- Boca di Lupo, 12 Archer St, Soho, W1D 7BB (multiple Italian restaurant of the year winner – and one of the best wine lists in London)
- Polpetto, 11 Berwick Street, W1F 0PL
- Polpo, 41 Beak Street, W1F 9SB (Venetian tapas)
Late-late night mentions
- Ain’t nothing but…, 20 Kingly Street, Soho, W1B 5PZ (late night blues bar with live music)
- Ronnie Scott’s, 47 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4HT (famous late night Jazz bar and venue)
- The Experimental Cocktail Club: Chinatown, 13a Gerrard Street, W1D 5PS (look for the ‘secret battered door’ to get in)
- Opium, 15-16 Gerrard Street W1D 6JE (another ‘secret’ Chinese cocktail bar – this one also serves late night dim sum)
- The Tea Room at Bun House, 23 Greek St, W1D 4DZ (fun Taiwanese restaurant that stays open late)
- Bar Iltalia, 22 Frith Street, W1D 4RF (now 70yrs old, this small café is happy to serve you a steaming, hot espresso at any time of the night)
- Beigel Shop and Beigal Bake, Brick Lane E1 6SB ( two neighboring rival bagel shops open 24hrs a day – bitter rivals they’ve been driving each other’s prices down for decades)
Finally special mentions:
If you get the midnight munchies (or 5am ones), I can recommend the Duck and Waffle (www.duckandwaffle.com , closest tube Liverpool Street Station). Its effectively open 24 hours and being at the top of Heron Tower, you get a fantastic view of the sun rising over London. I would recommend booking to avoid jostling with the after-clubbing crowd.
If you are visiting with a special someone, my top recommendation would be the Pollen Street Social (www.pollenstreetsocial.com). Good value taster menu, impeccable service and most importantly delicious food. Its smaller cousin, across the road, the Little Social is also highly recommended.
Just beyond Soho is Broad Street and the John Snow pub, named after Dr. John Snow the inventor of modern epidemiology and close by is a replica of the pump he disabled proving Cholera was water related: John Snow, 39 Broadwick Street, W1F 9QJ.
These are just a couple of suggestions to get you started. If you have any questions, comments or recommendations, please feel free to get in touch.
Adrian Wong & Tanj Sanghera