This chain of noodle restaurants is so much better than Wagamama, and quite a bit cheaper (and you get your own table). Get the jasmine green tea with free top-ups and tuck in to their hot and sour seafood noodles - delicious!
Duncan Street, N1 (Angel tube) and Southampton Row, WC1 (Holborn/Russell Square tube)
West Kensington isn't known for its wealth of gastropubs, but this is an absolute joy. Everything about it is understated but high-quality, from the general atmosphere to the service to the excellent food.
29 North End Rd, Hammersmith, London, W14 8SZ; Tel: 020 7371 6806; Tube: Olympia or West Kensington
This restaurant is set right in the centre of St James Park, basically, the Queen's back garden. Superb views in both winter and summer - patio heaters all round so you can still sit outside with a hot chocolate when there's frost on the ground. Great food! Book in advance as it can sometimes get really busy.
Serves up only home-grown UK produce, can thoroughly recommend the duck, lamb and pork, really cooked superbly and the waiting staff add to the experience. For two people eating three courses and wine, you can expect a £100 bill but if you've had a good week in the office, well worth entertaining a loved one.
Nearest tube is St James Park but you can still reach it from both Charing Cross & Embankment (short walk).
One of Paul Rankin's group of Belfast restaurants, this place had excellent food, really friendly staff and was very reasonably priced. Not much vegetarian food to choose from but a fine choice for carnivores.
Address: 7 Ascot House, Shaftesbury Square, Belfast
Telephone: 028 9033 1532
An ideal place to sample the famous London nightlife. A cavernous bar/club under brick railway arches in Shoreditch, an unpretentious, friendly bar with an amazingly diverse music policy. Cargo is the place to sample some of London's amazing musical creativity from algerian folk to house nights, hotly tipped indie bands, MC battles and world music festivals Cago has it all.
If that's not enough you can recover on Sunday afternoons with brunch (their sweet potato chips are the best hangover cure around) in their garden.
Old Street tube
One of my favourite walks by the Thames is from Southwark Cathedral. Famous Borough Market is nearby. I get the train to London Bridge, then walk down past Southwark Cathedral, round to the left past a replica of Sir Francis Drake's Tudor Galleon Golden Hind walking along Clink Street home of the Clink Gaol. Which gives us our colloquial term for prison: clink.
Moving along into Bankside we have the historic Anchor Pub, 34 Bankside, Southwark, LONDON SE1 9EF. Here in 1666 Samuel Pepys witnessed the Great Fire of London in 1666: "a little alehouse on bankside... and there watched the fire grow." The Anchor was rebuilt in 1676 after fire devastated the area.
One bar is named after Dr Johnson, (Samuel Johnson's Dictionary) who drank here regularly. A copy of his dictionary is on display. Then we wander past Sam Wanamaker's newly reconstructed Globe Theatre, a wonderful way to see Shakespeare in the round, plein air!
Then you come to the Tate Modern, stop for lunch or a coffee, then pop over to St Pauls Cathedral on the other side of the Thames linked by the wonderful Millennium Bridge, a footbridge. Come back over and wander on past the Oxo tower...
Eventually your walk ends by the wonderful London Eye, great at dusk with the lights twinkling into view, great view of the Houses of Parliament. Next door is Saatchi's Gallery (for the next two years anyway). By this time you will be knackered.
London Bridge Station
Everyone says that the best "frites" to be found in Brussels are at Maison Antoine on the Place Jourdan. I don't agree... they're overrated and you always have to queue for ages. Instead try the much less clichéd and much more tasty Frites Flagey at Place Flagey, just near to the hip Café Belga and the venue Flagey "factory of sound and images", a cinema and concert hall. Not only are the chips better, there is almost never a queue, there is service with a genuine smile (a rarity at Maison Antoine) and they are cheaper too!
Frites Flagey, Place Flagey
Tram 81, 82, stop Flagey
Great 'gastro-pub' - but not the usual dump done up with church chairs, this place is a preserved gem. The ceilings and details inside are worth the trip alone. Also has good beers, food and the crowd is decent too - the area itself has a few other good pubs/restaurants and a great theatre/cinema across the road, not the Kilburn of years ago!
Kilburn High Road, 5 mins walk right out of Kilburn tube or 2 mins from Brondesbury Silverlink.
Possibly the best place in Madrid for breakfast or a midday snack: help yourself to consomme (including a selection of sherries to complement), delicious pastries and some of the best croquetas I've ever tasted. Find a place to perch around the edge of the shop (no tables). They will also pack food for a picnic. Not cheap, but managed on a student budget.
Metro Sol, c/ carrera san jeronimo 8
(note: there is also a restaurant attached)
Wonderful wine and tapas bar that is small enough to get to know the owners well and who may even treat you to a glass of cava gratis! The tapas are amazing and the design of the bar is intimate yet light and airy unlike many tapas bars. Very reasonably priced (for a student!).
Chueca, Calle Pelayo 24
Metro: Chueca. Turn left off Plaza Chueca and Pelayo runs parallel.
Traditional, lavish cream-and-coffee establishment in the heart of the Old Town (immediately opposite Old Town Hall off Old Town Square). Go upstairs to main cafe, inspect calorie-stuffed cream / chocolate / cake concoctions in chiller unit, order by number from the table (preferably with Viennese coffee). Don't eat the small bags of nuts on the table - they'll charge you!
Off Old Town Square, opposite Old Town Hall: can't miss it.
One of the world's finest Art Nouveau buildings: impressive outside, stunning within, right down to the light fittings and door handles. Includes bar, restaurant and cafe, as well as concert hall and other facilities (guided tours available). The ground floor cafe is an inexpensive place for morning coffee, lunch or afternoon tea in exquisite, stylish surroundings.
Metro : Namesti Republiky (straight across the square)
If the massive stores like TopShop and H & M leave you overwhelmed, under-impressed, and wearing the same thing as everyone else, then Old Spitalfields Market is the place to go. Built in 1887 as a former food market, the Spitalfields building is now home to over 300 covered stalls manned by artisans and designers themselves. Open 7 days a week but Sunday is the best!
105a Commerical Street; by tube Liverpool Street station; by bus 8, 242, 149 and 67; www.visitspitalfields.com/
A great Turkish restaurant with lots of atmosphere. Always busy and buzzing and perfect for a party or a date, or dinner with friends. The food is very reasonably priced and there are some delicious vegetarian dishes (don't miss the moussaka). If Gallipoli is full, try along the street at Cafe Gallipoli, or Gallipoli Again (yes, there's 3 of them!).
102 Upper Street, London N1 1QM
One of the hubs of nightlife in Venice. There's some great bars - Cafe Rosso, Duchamp, and the Orange bar on the square itself, and Cafe Noir and Cafe Blu just round the corner, the latter which has great live music. But it's not all about the nightlife, in the daytime Campo Santa Margherita is a lovely place to sit and relax, watch people go by, feed the sparrows, and grab a slice of delicious pizza from Pizza al Volo.
Campo Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro
The best tapas in central London - a little family-run restaurant at the Wardour St end of Old Compton St. Excellent value. You'll have to wait for a table in the evening - but you can usually walk right in at lunchtimes.
63 Old Compton St., Soho W1
OK, this place is full of Nathan Barleys and annoying haircuts, but for somewhere to sit and listen to (usually) decent music while eating cheap, massive slices of cake with your beer/coffee this can't really be beaten.
Cafe by day, club by night, there's a plethora of tables outside making for a very sociable vibe in summer. A good place to people-watch.
1 Dray Walk, London, E1 6QL (just off Brick Lane)
Take a leisurely stroll along one of the prettiest and most historic routes in London. Start in the village of Blackheath and then stroll over the heath to Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory, where you can cross GMT and get a wonderful view of London. Then down into Greenwich, through the covered market and the Naval College, past Cutty Sark, and then under the Thames to the Isle of Dogs via the century old Foot Tunnel.
From there it is only a short walk to Canary Wharf under the progressively larger shadow of the skyscrapers. On the Wharf there are restaurants, serious shopping in the indoor malls, and best of all the Jubilee Line and DLR to take you home again.
Blackheath, Greenwich, Canary Wharf
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