Mr. Harper's Travel Guide
England is disproportionately the most populous country in the United Kingdom, with approximately 54.3 million inhabitants. Much of the land is extremely fertile, notably the wheatlands of East Anglia. Elsewhere, the countryside is divided into a characteristic patchwork of fields separated by stone walls ...
England is disproportionately the most populous country in the United Kingdom, with approximately 54.3 million inhabitants. Much of the land is extremely fertile, notably the wheatlands of East Anglia. Elsewhere, the countryside is divided into a characteristic patchwork of fields separated by stone walls or hedgerows. American visitors will want to explore smaller cities such as Bath, Winchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Chester and York, as well as the medieval cathedrals, country houses and justly celebrated gardens. Getting around is relatively simple: The roads are good and well-signed, though often crowded in the south. And the mainline trains are fast, frequent and comfortable. Excellent food has spread from the expensive restaurants of the capital and can be found throughout the land. Some gastropubs even boast Michelin stars.
WHEN TO VISIT
The weather is changeable and generally mild. Summers may be warm and sunny, but there is no guarantee of fine weather. On balance, the best months for a visit are June, July and September.
Recommended Luxury Hotels in England
Best Restaurants in England
Chef Mark Hix’s place in Soho is perfect for a pre- or post-theater meal. The kitchen works exclusively with British-sourced produce, as seen in dishes such as grilled Bantry Bay razor clams with Trealy Farm chorizo and sea purslane, followed by seared Isle of Mull scallops with Peter Hannan’s sugar pit bacon and butternut squash, grilled lemon sole with Hollandaise, or hanger steak with baked bone marrow.66-70 Brewer Street W1 London US$75 http://www.hixsoho.co.uk/
This sumptuously decorated establishment sets the bar for Cantonese food in London, and has maintained a Michelin star since 2003. Terrific dim sum are always available, plus the imaginative menu includes the likes of stir-fried spicy venison, jasmine tea-smoked chicken and Alaskan king crab in a black bean sauce.17 Bruton Street W1 London US$130 http://www.hakkasan.com/
Chef Alexis Gauthier has opened a terrific restaurant in a handsomely renovated Georgian townhouse in Soho. His menus change with the season, but run to dishes such as Scottish scallop with mushy Jerusalem artichoke, crunchy almonds and an acidic apple marmalade; and Welsh lamb two ways — pink-roasted loin and thyme-braised shoulder with Parmesan and herb celeriac, all with lamb jus. Closed Sunday and Monday21 Romilly Street W1 London Prix Fixe, US$65-95 http://www.gauthiersoho.co.uk/
The latest upscale Indian place is Karam Sethi’s clubby establishment in Mayfair. The décor may be British Raj but the menu is extremely imaginative. For example, delicious game dishes feature ingredients such as grouse, quail, pigeon, rabbit, roe deer and muntjac (wild Indian barking deer). The wild boar vindaloo is outstanding. Closed Sunday.42 Albemarle Street W1 London US$75. Seven-course tasting menu, US$85 http://www.gymkhanalondon.com/
Though it is located in fashionable Fitzrovia, Dabbous has a post-industrial style more in keeping with evolving East London neighborhoods. A committed locavore, chef Ollie Dabbous strives to make the natural tastes of his produce as eloquent as possible. Dishes you might find on the changing set menu could include grilled octopus with taramasalata, potatoes and fennel; and glazed Iberico pork with turnips and apple vinegar. Closed Sunday.39 Whitfield Street W1 London Four-course menu, US$85 http://www.dabbous.co.uk/
The Adam Tihany-designed restaurant of chef Daniel Boulud on the ground floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is ideal for lunch after shopping in Knightsbridge (Sloane Street, Harrods and Harvey Nichols). Diners enjoy delicious charcuterie, coq au vin, salads, grills and hamburgers.66 Knightsbridge London US$75 http://www.mandarinoriental.com/london/dining/bar_boulud/
A legendary seafood restaurant since 1851, this was a particular favorite of 007 creator Ian Fleming and allegedly is the place where he discovered that martinis were better “shaken, not stirred.” A 10-foot-long display of crustacea includes a wonderful selection of oysters. The smoked fish is marvelous, and for main courses, watch for delicious dishes such as smoked haddock with Colcannon potatoes, poached egg and mustard; or slip sole with potted brown shrimp butter.20 Mount Street W1 London US$95 http://www.scotts-restaurant.com/
The best Indian food outside of the subcontinent is generally reckoned to be in London. Once, the restaurants were mostly simple and the menus restricted. No longer. Elegant Amaya draws a well-dressed crowd, and chefs working in the attractive open kitchen prepare wonderful dishes that might include lobster in masala sauce, chicken biryani and a sublime pomegranate sorbet for dessert.Halkin Arcade Motcomb Street, SW1 London US$70 http://www.amaya.biz/
This intimate place in Mayfair was the pioneer of upscale Indian cooking in London, and it won a Michelin star in 2001. Try delicious dishes such as potato cakes with a sago crust (a flour made from tropical palms) and spinach filling, and slow-cooked lamb shank with turmeric, yogurt and a mix of freshly ground spices.20 Queen Street W1 London US$75 http://www.tamarindrestaurant.com/
This restaurant set in a Georgian townhouse is the vision of chef Agnar Sverrisson. Using British produce as well as that from his native Iceland, Sverrisson has created a menu featuring the likes of yellowfin tuna with ginger, soy, bonito and coriander; and wild organic Icelandic lamb with red cabbage, Brussels sprouts and lamb jus. The restaurant has a Champagne bar and a well-considered wine list. Closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday lunch.34 Portman Street W1 London US$90. Tasting menu, US$125 http://texture-restaurant.co.uk/
It is always a pleasure to feast on a first-rate catch of the day at this Victorian-style seafood house in Covent Garden (which also makes it ideal for pre- or post-theater dining), with its softly lit, wood-paneled décor. Look for English classics such as potted shrimp and fish pie.28-34 St. Martin's Court WC2 London US$95 http://www.j-sheekey.co.uk/
Conveniently located in St. James’s, this traditional English seafood house is just the place to sample indigenous pleasures such as native Maldon oysters, smoked Scottish salmon with scrambled eggs and brown-bread toast, Dorset crab and Dover sole meunière. It has a nice selection of wines by the glass. Closed Sunday.36 Duke Street SW1 London US$75 http://www.greens.org.uk/
Off the beaten track near the Smithfield meat market in East London, chef Fergus Henderson’s restaurant serves sustaining traditional English food. You might start with the roasted marrow bones and parsley salad, a house classic; then try one of the superb beef dishes, or maybe the skate. Don’t miss the currant-filled Eccles cake or the bread pudding and butterscotch sauce. Closed Sunday dinner.26 St. John Street EC1 London US$100 https://www.stjohngroup.uk.com/smithfield/