London Chefs Tip U.K. Food, Curries for Olympic Visitors

Francesco Mazzei
Italian chef Francesco Mazzei at L'Anima restaurant in London. Mazzei recommends neighboring restaurants the Ledbury, Bar Boulud and Juniper. Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Visitors from around the world and from across the U.K. will be in London for the 2012 Olympics from July 27 to Aug. 12. Where should they eat?

Here are the recommendations of chefs and restaurateurs:

Tom Aikens (Tom Aikens): “North Road and Viajante as they offer something different. The two chefs are talented and not based in central London, avoiding all the queues.”

Joel Antunes (Kitchen Joel Antunes): “Les Deux Salons. Anthony Demetre is a great chef and nice man, which is rare today.”

Jason Atherton (Pollen Street Social): “Burger & Lobster, the Ledbury and Pitt Cue. I love all three.”

Pascal Aussignac (Club Gascon): “The Delaunay or the Wolseley to get the London spirit and some Asian places like Yauatcha because they are worth it. And some proper pubs or gastropubs to get the inimitable London buzz and try English food.”

Will Beckett (Hawksmoor): “The Wolseley or the Delaunay, which are classic London restaurants, impressive for anyone; the Ledbury: One of London’s only world-class restaurants. Tourists should definitely go out and experience some of the different national foods in London and Tayyabs is one of the best examples; Anchor & Hope: really good gastropubs are a must for tourists.”

Vineet Bhatia (Rasoi): “Try the Brixton Village Market for sheer choice on budget eating. For good Middle Eastern and Lebanese food, do try Comptoir Libanais on Wigmore Street. Simple good Indian meals are always a comfort food: head for Tayyabs or Needoo Grill in East London for grill kababs, or Sagar in Hammersmith for simple vegetarian South Indian food. For people-watching, try Novikov in Mayfair, the food is simple but very good quality. For great views and food, your best bet is Galvin at Windows. Good British grub can be had at the Gilbert Scott, and my favorites are Nobu, Park Lane, and Locanda Locatelli.”

Claude Bosi (Hibiscus): “They should head for established areas of London, like Knightsbridge, Mayfair, St. James’s. These have history, diversity and loads of atmosphere: Parks, great shopping, good pubs, bars and restaurants. Places like Scott’s that have great seafood and give you a real sense of just being in London.”

Richard Corrigan (Corrigan’s Mayfair): “St John for sure, my good friend (Mark) Hix and, for a quintessentially English experience, it’s still hard to beat Sweetings in the City.”

Chris Galvin (Galvin Bistrot de Luxe): “They should visit as many places as possible, from pop-ups to the Square. They should get a feel for the young-gun restaurateurs, and of course explore the rich tapestry of our ethnic restaurants.”

Alexis Gauthier (Gauthier): “It may sound a bit odd, but having dinner on the terrace of Oxo Tower during the Olympics is probably something that will stick in visitors’ memories.”

Stuart Gillies (Gordon Ramsay): “To get a real energy of the city, I would try the street food at Maltby Street market and the South Bank, wander round and taste from the stalls at Borough and of course Brick Lane. For people who want to get a taste of British, St John Bread & Wine, Hix Soho, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and J Sheekey.”

Brett Graham (The Ledbury): “Petersham Nurseries, the River Cafe and a good English pub.”

Trevor Gulliver (St John): “Enjoy the big and shiny at one end: The Wolseley, Dinner, the Delaunay, maybe J Sheekey; the small, good and new(ish) at the other: 10 Greek Street, Ducksoup, Polpo, Barrafina, Vinoteca. And then all the other good places dotted around town: Visit Stoke Newington, Hoxton and Hix’s new Tramshed, Clapham, Southall, Notting Hill fringes, Vauxhall, back of Oxford Street and Edgware Road. Even Camden, God forbid. Lots of fun to be had.”

Anna Hansen (Modern Pantry): “Dabbous if they can get a reservation. I had an awesome meal there. For an Indian thing, I really enjoyed Trishna when I went there recently.”

Henry Harris (Racine): “There is such a remarkable cultural diversity in London, it would be a shame if people didn’t take advantage of that. Everyone should take a bottle of ice-cold Riesling and queue up at Tayyabs for some lamb chops.”

Sam Hart (Barrafina): “St John -- for my favorite take on British cuisine.”

Angela Hartnett (Murano): “Head East and check out all the fantastic restaurants that are within striking distance of Victoria Park, which is going to be amazing, with a large screen. So many great options but don’t miss St John Bread & Wine, the Modern Pantry, Jose and Zucca.

Pierre Koffmann (Koffmann’s): “They should go to a good Chinese like New Fortune Cookie in Bayswater. And I like Texture. It’s Icelandic food with French technique.”

Atul Kochhar (Benares): “I would recommend places like Nobu, Hakkasan, Busaba Eathai, Arbutus, Wild Honey, Texture and many more to showcase the diversity of London.”

Jeremy Lee (Quo Vadis): “Rochelle Canteen is a first off for proximity to the sporty doings, then St John Hotel for a respite in the center of town and the River Cafe for lunch on the terrace for a gentle and bonny moment.”

Francesco Mazzei (L’Anima): “If they are lucky enough to get a table, the Ledbury is a must. Also Bar Boulud is high in the rankings for an excellent burger. If anyone is venturing into the Highbury & Islington area, I can highly recommend the family-run restaurant Juniper.”

Nuno Mendes (Viajante): “Olympic visitors should definitely go to St John: The place is an amazing English institution. They must also visit the Fat Duck and the River Cafe. They are gastronomic landmarks that are recognized across the world. If they feel adventurous, they should explore East London for its beautiful hidden gems and also go into Soho. Both these areas feature some of the most fun and delicious dining experiences around town.”

Russell Norman (Polpo Soho): “Olympics visitors should try the excellent E. Pellicci and G. Kelly on Bethnal Green Road: The first is a greasy spoon and the second is an eel, pie & mash shop. They represent a real flavor of London.”

Simon Rogan (Roganic): “People should go to Goodman for the best steaks in London, Meatliquor for trendy burgers and probably for the best of British: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.”

Michel Roux Jr. (Le Gavroche): “Get out of central London and try some of the new little bistros and bars such as Soif, in Clapham.”

Dave Strauss (Goodman City): “Avoid the chains and do a little bit of research. If you were here for a week and fitted in Jose, Opera Tavern, Polpo, Meatliquor, 10 Greek St., Pitt Cue and squeezed in a bit of women’s beach volleyball, I think you would go home happy.”

Aggi Sverrisson (Texture): “For anyone looking to understand British seasonal cooking, go to Quo Vadis, in Soho. Or for that other British favorite of Indian, try Tayyabs, in Whitechapel. You can book ahead to beat the queues. If you need to escape, I would also recommend taking a drive in the British countryside and heading to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.”

Ben Tish (Salt Yard): “Quo Vadis for a slice of British cooking at its best. Dabbous or the Ledbury to see how cutting edge London is. Nopi is another favorite of mine. The food is fresh, health, interesting and delicious.”

Ewan Venters (formerly of Selfridges): There are two key restaurants: The Tramshed as Mark Hix and what he does there is a fantastic representation of food served in a simple way with fantastic ingredients. Jason Atherton at Pollen Street Social because Jason (Atherton) represents the transformation in British cooking in the past decade and produces wonderfully skilled food that represents modern Britain.”

Marcus Wareing (Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley): “I’m sure I’m not the only person to recommend the Delaunay: Great location, great food and great service.”

Bryn Williams (Odette’s): “It’s a great time to showcase Great British and Irish talent so on the one-hand I want to say places like Bentley’s, even the Camden Bar & Kitchen for a good old-fashioned breakfast. London is a great place for eating out because of its diversity and the fact that visitors can try a different cuisine every night of the week to suit all tastes and budgets. It would be a shame, for instance, for anyone to visit London without a trip down Brick Lane, a must for curry fans.”

Jad Youssef (Yalla Yalla): “Visitors should go to small authentic restaurants and enjoy the cozy atmosphere and tasty home-made food, such as Alounak, on Westbourne Grove.”

Muse highlights include Farah Nayeri on the arts.

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