Posted 27 June 2013 - 06:22 AM
To third that view, Hedone solo is fine. Ask to sit at the bar, strike up some internet food-nerd chat with Mikael and you will be all set.
It's a tricky task as much of the improvements in London's inexpensive/mid-range restaurants over the last 5+ years have been in areas where you are already well served in NYC. We now have good steak, sushi, ramen, udon, Szeuchan, burgers, hot dogs and BBQ. If you are interested in trying any of these in London then let me know and I will let you have some recommendations.
At the high end, The Ledbury is the best restaurant in town in my view. Depending on how much time you have, The Sportsman and The Hand and Flowers are both excellent and within striking distance.
As regards solo dining, good choices include Roka (at the robata bar, order the king crab hot pot and the lamb chops), Arbutus (sit at the bar, very consistent 1*, order the rabbit) and Sushi Tetsu (impossible to book but it has 7 seats so sometimes there's a solo spot, e-mail Harumi and let her know the dates you will be in town). Dabbous is one of the hottest restaurants in town, I wasn't blown away but it has a bar underneath with a good cocktail programme and a bar menu which generally contains a couple of dishes from the main menu.
London does Indian well obviously. I presume you've been to Tayyabs but if not its a must go. Quilon is my pick of the high end places though I haven't been in a while.
There is great Chinese food. I thought HKK was 2* standard and, after quite a bit of research, Bar Shu is a notch above the rest for fantastic Szeuchan.
If you are into beer, I could recommend a beer/food crawl around Clerkenwell. Lots of great beer pubs (Brown Cow, Craft, Dovetail, Jerusalem Tavern), Welsh rarebit and bone marrow at the bar at St John, scotch egg at Coach & Horses, salt beef at Long Room etc.
One thing that hasn't made it onto many peoples radar is the redevelopment north of Kings Cross. An old grain store has been converted into the new Central St Martins art/fashion school. They did a beautiful job and there are a couple of good restaurants in the development in Caravan (excellent brunch and coffee) and Grain Store (Bruno Loubet's new place, very good on a first visit last week, Bruno was at the pass. His other place in The Zetter is worth consideration, with a cocktail at The Zetter Townhouse before dinner). It's on the canal and a very pleasant canal walk East brings you to Clerkenwell/Islington (30 minutes) or West brings you to Regents Park (45 minutes).