|London Travel Tips
Restaurants and Pubs
England is not known for its native food, but you can often find good Indian or Pakistani restaurants. Pub food is also often pretty good, mostly sandwiches and meat pies—don’t eat the beef! If you want cold beer, ask for lager (pronounced “logger”). It comes in pints and half-pints. For cold drinks, ice may be hard to come by—look for an ice bucket on the counter.
For fast food, fish & chips is safe and cheap, and you can also get McDonald’s quite easily (still, don’t eat the beef!).
Note: Watch for menus displayed in the window, giving prices. “Prix fixe” means one fixed price for a meal (usually 3 courses, more common in France), instead of “a la carte,” which means you pay for each item separately. Also, “salad” almost never means greens.
Mary Beth did some restaurant shopping online and came up with a number of recommendations in the neighborhood where we’re staying. She says that Bloomsbury alone has 43 pubs!
Museum Tavern, 49 Great Russell St., across from the British Museum, was a favorite of Bloomsberries such as Woolf and Keynes, as well as such other notables as Oscar Wilde and Karl Marx.
Virginia Woolf’s Bar & Bistro (no relation), Hotel Russell, Russell Square (very close to us). Avg price £33 ($60)
Indian YMCA, 41 Fitzroy Square (Woolf once lived on this square). This had some great customer reviews online. Didn’t list average price, but cheap.
North Sea Fish Restaurant, 7-8 Leigh St, between Cartwright & Judd St., just north of the Brunswick Shopping Center. Easy walk from Russell Square down Marchmont.
Avg price £16 ($29)
Pescatori, 57 Charlotte St, close to Goodge St tube stop. From Tottenham Ct Rd, turn down Goodge St, and Charlotte is a left turn off Goodge St. Avg price £35 ($64)
Tandoori King, 25-27 Theobald’s Rd (from Russell Sq go down Southampton and turn left on Theobalds’s Rd)
Avg price £20 ($37)
Malabar Junction, 107 Great Russell St. This street runs in front of the British Museum, and the restaurant is southwest of the museum, near the Tottenham Court Rd tube stop. Got mixed reviews (“average,” “authentic,” “classy”) and gave no estimated price.
In Theatre District (West End)
Livebait’s Café Fish ,3640 Rupert St in Soho off Shaftsbury Ave. Avg price £31 ($56)
London is theatre heaven, and you will find theatres all over the place. The “West End” is the theatre district, and you can get cut-rate tickets at a booth in Leicester Square. The Royal National Theatre is a modern complex of several theatres on the south side of the Thames, near Waterloo station. This is a repertory company. The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), also repertory, has their primary theatre in Stratford upon Avon, but brings selected shows to London.
National is doing Measure for Measure and Cyrano de Bergerac, as well as a new Alan Bennett play called The History Boys, an adaptation of a French play called The False Servant, and a modern play called Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads. (Waterloo tube)
RSC is doing Othello at Trafalgar Studios at the Whitehall (Charing Cross tube)
The Black Rider, at Barbican, is a musical that has Marianne Faithfull in it.
Bombay Dreams is a musical, at the Apollo Victoria, based on an idea by Andrew Lloyd Webber; composer is Indian.
Hamlet is on at the Old Vic, a historic theatre on Waterloo Rd. (not far from the National theatre complex, same tube stop).
The Young Vic is nearby and often has interesting productions. They are doing Cruel and Tender, a new play based on Sophocles' Trachiniae, and also a night of 4 short plays by well-known playwrights (Brecht, Maeterlinck, Ionesco). For Cruel and Tender, all tickets are £20 ($37); for the other plays, prices start at £10 ($18).
Henry IV (not Shakespeare) is a Tom Stoppard adaptation of a Pirandello play, showing at Donmar Warehouse on Earlham St (Covent Garden tube stop). It just opened in April and looks really interesting!
Journey’s End, at the Playhouse, Northumberland St. (Charing Cross tube), about WWI. I saw a production of this on my first trip to London and liked it a lot.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is previewing at the Open Air in Regent’s Park (opens June 11). Baker St. tube.
The Mousetrap at St. Martin’s, by Agatha Christie, is the world’s longest running play. West St. (Leicester Sq tube)
Suddenly Last Summer at the Albery (St Martins Lane) features Diana Rigg in this Tennessee Williams classic. Leicester Sq tube.
The Barber of Seville at the Savoy. Mozart.
Jerry Springer, the Opera, at the Cambridge (Earlham St., Covent Garden tube). Won Best Musical at The Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2003.
Onegin, at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Tchaichovsky