The ONE place to eat in London

Imagine a scenario where you, a lifelong resident of the United States, find yourself overseas for the first time ever. As part of your journey, you will be passing through London. But truly passing through. You’ve got, at most, two-and-a-half or three hours— starting at about 8:30 AM local time—to make your way from Gatwick to St. Pancras Station before boarding a train for a distant locale.

You have decided that’s enough time to have one dining experience that you hope will let you say that you have eaten a meal worthy of London. Because you’re paranoid about making that train, you’re likely going to want that meal to be as close to St. Pancras as possible.

Where. Do. You. Eat?

That isn’t a great time for the key restaurants but you might consider getting yourself a breakfast at Dishoom., very “London” and a branch is located just a 5 minute walk from St. Pancras. I’ve not eaten there myself but have had good reports.

Just poking around google there’s this, full English breakfast and they’re actually open.

The good news is that there’s a direct train every 15 minutes and it takes under an hour. The bad news is that 08:30 is still rush hour and it’s likely to be standing room only.

It’s been some years but upstairs from St Pancras station there were restaurants and hotels. I went into one of the posher ones (upstairs, on the left) and had a lovely Eggs Benedict. Plus tea. An hour and a half will give you just enough time for a leisurely breakfast. Perhaps a Full English plus the papers.

Judging by the decor, that might have been the one I visited. Recommended.

Ooh, well played, Dishoom is indeed very London - it’s based on Irani cafes in Bombay. It would be pretty unlike anything you’d get in any other city outside of India.

I’d also suggest Dishoom, but it can be very crowded. There’s a Wetherspoons at St Pancras, not gourmet cusine, but it’ll definitely show you a side of the modern day UK.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo :eek:

The train from Gatwick to St Pancras stops at London Bridge station. Across the street is Borough Market, so I’ll offer that as the one place to go. To provide more options, if you want a fancy sit-down breakfast in a restaurant, there’s Roast. If you’d like a liquid breakfast, the Market Porter pub is open 24 hours. For pastries, there’s Bread Ahead and a couple of other places. Plenty of greasy spoon cafes around as well. Or you could just wander around and buy whatever you want from the food stalls. Choice abounds – everything from a bacon sandwich and tea, to a vegetarian breakfast roll and a hipster coffee, to oysters and champagne.

Pub lunch.

My favorite was around the corner from the Lyceum. But almost any pub that does 'em traditional, good, and huge. With a pint of cider.

(Though now I may have to give Dishroom a try…)

Lol, I knew a mention of Spoons would get a reaction. I happen to like them despite their Brexit position. It’s not gourmet cuisine, but it is a nice glimpse into life in the UK.

X2. Sending the OP to a Spoons would simply confirm all those old stereotypes of British food.

The Burrough Market recommendation is a great one.

I appreciate all of the suggestions thus far, and will say that Dishoom was the one place I’d found on my own that I was targeting if I didn’t get any other suggestions (found it on the map, and I thought Indian food made sense).

Fancy is fine, but definitely not important, to be clear.

I might be the only American with the Spoons app on my phone. I do like them and think it’s far better than the old stereotypes of British food. I’d pick Dishoom 10 times out of 10, but I can also appreciate Spoons for what it is, as well as the prices.

I like Spoons for its (generally) well-kept and good variety of ales on tap, and of course their prices. If you want to eat out on a tight budget, it’s not terrible. But it’s not a destination I’d ever choose specifically for the food. Certainly not as the place for a one-time eat out in London opportunity. You can find somewhere similar at the other end of your train journey.

Quite aside from the owner, it may as well have the slogan 'Oh well, there’s always a ‘Spoons I suppose’.

It’s the beige of pubs.

Veeraswamy is the one restaurant I was determined to eat at the last time I went to London. It did not disappoint.

Oh, damn. As soon as I saw thread title I thought “He’s got to go to the Anchor and Hope.” Gastropub on the south side of the river which feeds you amazing new versions of trad Brit dishes.

But they don’t do breakfast.

Here’s the website (including menus) anyway, for idlers to drool over…

I would not recommend eating anywhere other than St Pancras itself. There are two main reasons: time and luggage. The OP does not actually have a lot of time once you factor in everything: a possible quarter-hour wait at Gatwick, another quarter-hour wait wherever you stop en route, transit times from the station to the restaurant and back, and so on. Then there’s luggage. I’d want as little struggle with luggage as possible. Going up and down stairs is not fun. And luggage makes you a target for thieves.

Does the “memorable experience” need to be about the food per se for you?

I was in London for rather longer than you’ll be, but I do recall once taking a 15 minute detour on foot from King’s Cross to Speedy’s Cafe - whose exterior is frequently seen from the TV show “Sherlock” - when I discovered it was within walking distance from the station, and that it served breakfast.

It was a completely unpretentious place to have a Full English breakfast, and it felt like I was hitting a very local eatery, except for all the Sherlock fan art and mini gift shop at the front.

Dishoom sounds like a grand place if you want to remember a meal, I would certainly look forward to hitting it. But I personally liked combining the “have a Full English breakfast in London” bit with “I’m a fan of Sherlock, so why not, because when the heck else am I ever going to be in this vicinity again?”