casual eating in England

(32 Posts)
Culdesac7 Wed 15-Jun-16 00:45:40

We just moved here from the states about 4 days ago. We are still jet lagged, living in a hotel, and feel like fish out of water.

We need to eat meals out right now but have a baby. I am looking for causal spots--ones you can order up at the counter and they will bring you your food. In the states we have chipotle, panera, noodles and co, pei wei. If you are familiar with these, can you give me ideas for something comparable? please and thank you.

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ChipsandGuac Wed 15-Jun-16 00:51:57

They're not all counter ordering but look for Nando's, Wagamamas, Pizza Express and Zizzi's. I would compare those to Chipotle, Panera and Noodles and Co.

Whereabouts are you? If you're in London, there are a million and one places that fit that bill. I have never had a good burrito in the UK....and I'm a Brit!

ChipsandGuac Wed 15-Jun-16 00:54:25

If you're looking for Drive Thru Panera, Chipotle, etc. afaik, that doesn't exist in the UK. There is less reliance on the car in England than there is here.

catsofa Wed 15-Jun-16 01:00:27

Try your local Weatherspoons pub - it's a massive chain you will have at least one near you. They do cheap food, and are family friendly with high chairs etc. We take our 13mo often and have done since he was about 2 months old.

georgetteheyersbonnet Wed 15-Jun-16 01:02:20

For cafe-style / counter service, try coffee shops, sushi and sandwich places like Pret a Manger, Eat, Itsu, Costa Coffee, Jamaica Blue, Caffe Nero, and so on - if you're in London there will be loads of others. The cafes in the big chain shops are often good too and very baby-friendly (with all changing facilities) - John Lewis, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer. When DD was small I never bothered with most cafes - just went to the John Lewis cafe as it has fab baby facilities with a nice changing room!

As pp say above, if you want baby-friendly restaurant dining which is a bit more upscale (table service), Pizza Express, Wagamama, Zizzi, Giraffe, Strada and similar are all reliable chains.

Culdesac7 Wed 15-Jun-16 01:05:10

Thanks chipsandguac! We are currently in Huntingdon, but may settle in Cambridge or anywhere in-between. We ate at the Pizza Express. The food was good, but the baby was kind of squirrelly. There is also a Nando's here we will try. We don't want drive thru. Just decent food, fast--not fast food, but maybe not a waiter and tablecloth type place either. Thank you for the recommendations.

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georgetteheyersbonnet Wed 15-Jun-16 01:06:29

(You don't really get the same kind of fast food counter service places here by the way - counter service places divide into McDonalds type fast food and cafe-style food. Pubs do hot food normally, but there are lots of independent places that also do lunch-type meals both sandwiches and salads but also hot food.) Good luck!

ChipsandGuac Wed 15-Jun-16 01:10:31

FYI, as a Brit who lives in the US. I think a franchise of Chipotle or Moe's or Panera could totally clean up if opened over there.

Just in case you're looking for a business opportunity grin

georgetteheyersbonnet Wed 15-Jun-16 01:11:28

Huntingdon's quite small, but there are still a fair few pubs and cafes about. Cambridge has loads of places to eat - both chain and independent cafes, big chain shops like John Lewis and M&S, and loads of casual dining options. Places like Pizza Express often have good value lunch deals.

Culdesac7 Wed 15-Jun-16 01:11:37

Coffee shops. That's a great idea! I have seen Costas.

And I did not know there were cafes at the grocery stores. I will look out for these. Thanks, George!

I will also add weatherspoons pub to the list of others.

Pizza Express

Coffee shops and big chain shops

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pizzanchips Wed 15-Jun-16 01:15:41

I quite like subway for lunch times. Feels a little healthier in terms of fast food

Leisure centre cafes can be decent too - ours does nice salads and jacket potatoes

Culdesac7 Wed 15-Jun-16 01:16:38

Of all the american restaurants, you have seem to adopted Subway, Micky-Ds, Dominoes, and KFC? Thats what I've seen so far. The UK is missing out!

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Culdesac7 Wed 15-Jun-16 01:18:37

We have been going to Subway a lot. There is one very close to us. Is a leisure center a gym--a place you go to work out?

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georgetteheyersbonnet Wed 15-Jun-16 01:21:34

Big branches of the supermarkets also normally have cafes - Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose, etc. - but not small branches. John Lewis and Marks and Spencer are department stores - don't think there are branches in Huntingdon.

But also worth trying the odd pub or two - many are now very family friendly and serve hot food like burgers, fish and chips, and so on - just pop into a few and take a look around, some will be more old-fashioned and others will be more updated "gastropub"/family pub style places which are normally a good bet for hot lunches.

georgetteheyersbonnet Wed 15-Jun-16 01:22:23

Leisure centre = swimming pool and fitness and so on.

Culdesac7 Wed 15-Jun-16 01:25:51

Thanks for clearing that up for me. Yeah. It looks like there is a John Lewis in Peterborough and Cambridge. There is not much going on in Huntingdon, huh?

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georgetteheyersbonnet Wed 15-Jun-16 01:31:45

Yes, Huntingdon's a bit sleepy! But Cambridge is a great place to live (though expensive!) - lots going on, very baby-friendly, and loads of US expats too.

WitchyPoos Wed 15-Jun-16 01:39:29

Is this any good?

Cambridge centre has loads too.

OpposableThumbs2 Wed 15-Jun-16 02:09:52

There are a couple of places near the cinema at the top of St Peters Road. I think Chiquito's, Frankie & Benny's, Bella Italia and Nando's.

If you can afford to live in Cambridge, I would do so over Huntingdon but if one of you has to be in Huntingdon for work then be advised the A14 is a nightmare in rush hour.

Want2bSupermum Wed 15-Jun-16 02:23:54

You are looking for what is termed 'fast casual'. Gastric pubs and nice coffee shops are your answer. I love giraffe and it's my fav.

guac I am working on chipotle opening up locations in the UK. The high cost of rents and business rates has put them off along with the difficulty of getting raw material. When chipotle say anti biotic free they mean the animal has never had antibiotics. In the UK antibiotic free means none administered in the 30 days prior to slaughter. DH is working on the pork supply and I'm threatening English cooking to the head of development!

Want2bSupermum Wed 15-Jun-16 02:26:20

Gastro not gastric!

MildlyattractiveBetty Wed 15-Jun-16 03:23:46

Ooh want2be very interesting.....any chance you could work on Buffalo Wild Wings too? grin

Want2bSupermum Wed 15-Jun-16 05:19:03

DH supplies them too. Checking his calendar and making notes!

sashh Wed 15-Jun-16 06:03:58

Where are you staying? The George has decent food, and dogs. It allows dogs in, depending on how old your baby is dogs can be a bonus.

A few miles away is the 'Raptor centre' it is basically a bird sanctuary but has rooms. All the rooms have a table and chairs and kitchen sink and a microwave (and cutlery and plates) so options for microwave meals and take away deliveries but it is a bit out in the sticks. They do have one room with a full kitchen too and is under £100 a night.

Check out pubs, the afore mentioned wetherspoons but look for local ones too and ask for recommendations, the hotel staff will know some places.

noramum Wed 15-Jun-16 16:29:03

All of the ones you mentioned are baby-friendly. I have been lots of times with DD since she is born and I know they do a lot of them regularly have babies as customers.

I know that Zizzis and Pizza Express happily box food up for you to take away as well.

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