LDNGuide

The Best Things We Ate This Week

A running list of the best dishes we’ve eaten recently.

The Best Things We Ate This Week guide image

We eat a lot while researching the various guides and reviews you see on our site. And we want to share that food with you. Digitally, not literally, of course. This guide is where you’ll find all of our favourite things we’ve eaten recently, from memorable main courses, to sensational sides, to all the snacks and whatever else in between.

If you’ve eaten something great recently that you want to share with our team, send us an email at london@theinfatuation.com. Now, onto the dishes.


THE BEST THINGS WE ATE THIS WEEK

photo credit: Jake Missing

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Planque

££££

Calf’s brain and pepper butter

“Carrots make you see in the dark, oysters are an aphrodisiac, and brains... well, I’m not sure what brains are meant to do. Shudder, maybe. But these ones from Planque in Haggerston really made me think. Soft and rich—not unlike the pepper butter they were bathing in—this poached offal barely stuck around on my tongue before it had melted away. If I closed my eyes I could’ve been eating a savoury île flottante. Or a soufflé round at Hannibal Lecter’s house. Unique and undoubtedly not for everyone, it was a dish where the brilliant flavour spoke of all the thought that had gone into it.” - Jake Missing, Senior Staff Writer


Banana bread

“I’ve heard things. I’ve seen pictures. I’ve salivated over Google reviews. And then I finally visited Milk in Balham to try their brunch for myself. And it did not disappoint. Everything from the silky-smooth latte, to the famous fish sando—and the many things I ate in between—were excellent. But the thing that I would make the 30-minute drive for time and time again, was the halva butter and tahini-topped banana bread. A thick wedge of banana bread topped with a whole lot of fluffy, sticky, blow-torched halva that had a marshmallow-like consistency, and a nutty, salty pumpkin seed tahini. This was less banana bread and more full-blown cake. One for the dessert-lovers out there, or for anyone looking to start their day on a sugar high.” - Rianne Shlebak, Staff Writer


Crab campanelle

“The first thing I saw when I walked into Chiltern Firehouse was Matt Smith. The actor, The Doctor, the man with Britain’s most generic name. It was around this point I panicked because celebrities have terrible taste in restaurants—please see The Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame. But between the exceptional service and the IRL filter of the warm amber lighting, I had a gorgeous, gorgeous meal. I looked fantastic, everyone looked fantastic, and this crab campanelle looked fantastic. Thanks to the smoky heat of the XO sauce and generous serving of rich sweet crab, it tasted fantastic too. My favourite bit was what we professionals call, the crunchy bits, courtesy of some kind of luxury breadcrumb. It costs £36 which is—’haha, what’—disgusting, but if your bank balance thinks that’s OK then, get involved and maybe take me too.” - Heidi Lauth Beasley, Staff Writer


Smoked eel cacio e pepe

“The plan was to share a bowl of pasta with my boyfriend at Bethnal Green’s Sager + Wilde. But after the smoked eel cacio e pepe arrived and we each had a forkful, our eyes locked—and not in a Lady and the Tramp kind of way. The rich, creamy sauce, spiked with nuggets of salty, smoky fish, was tossed through wonderfully al dente spaghetti. Forkfuls got bigger as we each tried to twirl more pasta in one go, and extra sauce was scooped with spoons. In short, if this dish is on and you’re thinking of sharing—just get two bowls.” - Daisy Meager, Senior Editor


PREVIOUSLY, ON THE BEST THINGS WE ATE THIS WEEK

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Hong Kong Restaurant

££££

King prawn cheung fun

“No one eats lunch at 4:15pm. Except me, and other fabulous individuals who believe it is socially acceptable to say good morning at 2pm. So there I was at Hong Kong Restaurant, solo and slurping up soy sauce in the middle of the afternoon to a soundtrack of healing flute noises, when it occurred to me that this was the best meal I’ve had in ages. All of the dim sum I tried at this new low-key restaurant on Upper Street was up there with London’s best, but the slippery, glistening cheung fun won out. Salty, loaded with prawn perfection, and potentially the most hypnotically chewy thing I have eaten since quitting the Year 6 Fruit Winders game. FYI most of the dim sum here is available until 9—late-risers rejoice—but the cheung fun is only available until 5pm.” - HLB


Maguro sashimi

“Out of an eight-course omakase that was probably one of the 20 best meals of my life, the dish I’ve picked—after long consideration—is this tuna sashimi number. Not because any of the other dishes lacked in the taste department, but because this bowl of creamy egg yolk sauce and lean tuna melted like butter in my mouth, was an incredible first dish, and an exciting, perfectly spot-on representation of the quality of food to come. An intimate 10-seat restaurant in Mayfair that is absolutely worth the £150 price tag.” - RS


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Banners

££££+44 20 8348 2930
Hours:WED
9AM-11PM

Banoffee pie

“Banoffee pie. A truly SNM plate of food. I went up to Banners in Crouch End having been tipped off about this pie, walking under the cover of darkness like Phillip Marlowe with a taste for caramel and banana. Was it the best banoffee pie I’ve ever eaten? No. Does it matter? Absolutely not. The cream was thick, and the banana and caramel cloyingly sweet in the best possible way. The biscuit base was a bit of a drilling job but it was still a delightful mouthful. That’s the thing with banoffee pie. It’s pretty much always good. In a restaurant as familial and friendly as Banners is, it was even better. And yes, that is a flake stuck on top.” - JM


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Tacos Mx

££££

Baja fish tacos

“I’m a busy gal. There are plenty of restaurants I can and should be visiting. But sometimes a dish is so good that despite it being a 20-minute drive away, and despite the fact I only ate it a few weeks ago, it’s worth a repeat visit. The baja fish taco at this takeaway spot in Fulham is one of those dishes. A perfectly crispy, golden battered fish fillet in a flour tortilla, topped with tangy coleslaw, red onion, guacamole, and chipotle. Plus generous amounts of hot habanero sauce. This is a dish you’ll try once, and then find any excuse to have again.”- RS


Channa bhatura

“Food that looks like it should float around the Turbine Hall isn’t often my kind of thing. But the channa bhatura from The Tamil Prince, a comically inflated dough ball that’s artful on the eye and in the mouth, very much is. The restaurant off Caledonian Road combines southern Indian cooking in a space that was formerly a pub. Two things that equate to two big fat ticks in my book. And this dish is a must. Initially I described it as “the big fried puffy thing” as I saw it gliding around the dining room on servers’ trays. I amend that initial description to: "delicious big fried puffy thing". It’s as light as air (because it’s full of it), crispy on the outside, but springy and chewy when ripped, and then dipped into a little bowl of tingly chickpea curry”. - JM


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All Kaps Pizza

££££
Hours:WEDClosed

Pepperoni pizza

“The alleyway next to The Shacklewell Arms in Dalston isn’t somewhere I’ve been before in daylight hours (and sober). And it’s not somewhere I’d expected to eat an incredible slice of pizza. But a visit to All Kaps Pizza—the Sunday-only, takeaway pie pop-up at Papo’s Bagels—turned out to be a revelatory one. The focaccia-like tomato pie was very good but it was a slice of the New York-style pepperoni pizza that had me ordering a second (and OK, a third). Wonderfully stringy cheese still bubbling from the oven, glistening droplets of oil pooling in the spicy pepperoni, and a glorious flop when handled. That’s amore.” - DM


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Kurisu Omakase

££££

18 times sliced scallop with Hokkaido yuzu and scallop salt

“Omakase meals are funny things. They turn diners into something close to obedient dogs, albeit credit card-holding ones, who hang off the every word, hand movement, and mention of the next bite. Kurisu Omakase in Brixton is a particularly special place for this kind of eating. You lean in for the story as much as you do the next course. That said, I would lean in, pant, and roll over for another piece of the 18 times sliced scallop. Otherworldly in look and otherworldly in taste, the buttery threads of scallop are there until they are quickly not. They dissolve in the most satisfying, flavoursome fashion, leaving you wanting more and more. Big woof.”  - JM


Samosa chaat 

“The first bite of these deconstructed samosas on a bed of chickpeas topped with yoghurt, tamarind, and mint chutney set my expectations for the rest of my meal at this Indian street food spot in Fulham. It was so excellent and full of flavour that nothing else I ate came close. It’s a crunchy, refreshing, and hearty starter that I low-key wish was a main.” - RS


Gratin potatoes

“Once again I stand before the humble potato and give thanks. In this case we have spud glam, or as some people call it, gratin potato. I spotted them on the menu at Jeru in Mayfair, a highly classy establishment that feels like the kind of place Edina Monsoon would go for mezze, and decided my black angus rib-eye would be lonely without them. Never in my young life have I experienced something so crispy and so soft. Although the prices at this Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant tend to lean, well, Edina Monsoon, these potatoes are six quid. If you find yourself in Mayfair, eat them solo beneath a chandelier with a glass of dry white wine for an absolutely fabulous—sorry, not sorry—evening.” - HLB


Salmon and avocado taki taki style

“On arrival at Sunda Kitchen, I already felt smug after missing a downpour by mere minutes. Then my first dish from Covent Garden’s new South East Asian spot arrived and I felt like the cat that got the cream—or the fish. Slices of meltingly tender salmon which had had the briefest of introductions to a hot pan, fresh, creamy avocado, and slivers of seaweed—bound together by the subtle heat from fresh chilli and a pool of soy-chilli oil. The ideal antidote to a humid, rainy day.” - DM


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Toconoco

££££+44 20 7249 8394
Hours:WED
10AM-5PM

Karaage with sweet and sour sauce 

“Apologies to anyone who saw me eating Toconoco’s karaage this week. Let’s just say, when I bit into the piece of crunchy fried chicken, the juiciness caught me by surprise. The top-tier karaage at the bright and breezy Japanese cafe in Dalston had just the right amount of time to soak up some of the sweet and sour sauce on which it sat. All the while retaining a crisp batter which cloaked that juicy meat. Alongside rice, miso soup, and cucumber salad, it made for a pretty much perfect working lunch.” - DM


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

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Gola Restaurant

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££££+44 20 7751 0141
Hours:WEDClosed

Margherita pizza

“In my experience pizzas are usually either just fine or immediately-order-another-pizza-after-one-slice kind of good. There seems to be no middle ground. And the classic margherita I got from this Fulham spot was the latter. With a thick doughy crust, rich tomato sauce with the perfect hint of basil, and a lot of mozzarella, this is the kind of pizza you should find the stomach space for. Trust me when I say you won’t want to split one.” - RS


Chicken katsu sando

“When I was merrily slurping up Hakata Ramen’s cold sesame chicken noodles, I thought to myself, oi oi, definite Best Things We Ate This Week status. And then the katsu sando from the Japanese spot in Bermondsey arrived. In case the image above—hand for scale, you’re welcome—doesn’t give it away, this breaded wonder has some serious weight. It’s huge, it’s obscenely meaty, and honestly, if I make it through this entry without sounding like I’ve forayed into 50 Shades fan fiction, it’ll be a good day. No major spoilers that the crunch of the chicken was deeply satisfying, but the sweet-meets-smoky charred bread really made my day.” - HLB


Lighthaus Cafe is permanently closed

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Lighthaus Cafe

££££+44 7919 272820
Hours:WED
9AM-3PM

Roasted aubergine with feta, pomegranate, and chilli butter

"For me, humid, end of summer days are spent mouth open, brow sweaty, staring at the inside of the fridge. Is there anything I want to eat? The answer is usually no, or a cucumber. But then something like this plate of roasted aubergine from Lighthaus Cafe in Walthamstow is put in front of me and before I know it there’s bread involved as well. It came with whipped feta, chilli butter, and sweet little pickled pomegranate. There were layers of flavour going on—smoky char, to pink piquancy, to a creamy and salty cheese blanket bathing in a tingly butter pool. Completely perfect to be picked at over the course of an hour, which is how I like to eat when I stupidly don’t think I’m hungry."  - JM


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Barrafina Borough Yards

££££0
Hours:WED
12PM-11PM

Butifarró and mahón sándwich, patatas paja

"Rich sausage patty, melted cheese, and fluffy toasted brioche—there was never much doubt that the butifarró and mahón sándwich from Barrafina’s new Borough Yards outpost was going to disappoint. But each three-bite soldier stack was greater than the sum of its parts. Each element brought pleasant sweetness to the party—the black pudding-like butifarró, fruity mahón cheese, and the enriched bread. Then the charred edges of the sausage and crispy, fried brioche exterior injected much-needed savoury richness. Greasy hands guaranteed." - DM


Coco beans, tomato, tagette

“The optimum temperature at which certain foods reach their peak is a weird obsession of mine. Lasagne, for instance, is best when blasted in the oven the next day: crispy bits still crispy, stodgy centre not entirely warm, flavour heightened after time in the fridge. Other food should be piping hot: things from the deep-fried family, fried rice and other beneficiaries of wok hei. Then there’s something like this bowl of coco beans from Newington Green wine bar and restaurant Cadet. Room temperature (or warm, given how the weather’s been recently), soft, sweet, and gloriously spoonable. All those sweet juices for mopping, mixing with the citric hit of tiny tagette leaves. Neither hot, neither cold, but so good a second bowl was ordered midway through the first.” - JM


Samneh challah

“Please enjoy this comprehensive list of the things I ate at Pascor, a new charming little Levantine restaurant: a zesty pickle-party duck breast salad, crispy anchovy falafel, a herb-tastic ‘reverse tabbouleh’ with pine nuts, some winning smoke-meet-spices lamb chops, and an intriguing charcoaled mushroom ‘hummus’. But throughout the meal the samneh challah was my official dinnertime mascot. I merrily tore pieces off the glistening loaf of sweet braided bread and used it to mop up tahini, buttermilk vinaigrette, and an oh-so-rich whipped za’atar butter as I got all excited for the next dish to arrive. Begin your meal with the samneh challah, end your meal with the samneh challah, and you’re set for one of the best dinners in Kensington.” - HLB


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Koji

££££
Hours:WED
5PM-10:30PM

Crispy rice, spicy avocado

“I’ve had crispy rice a handful of times, usually topped with tuna or salmon, and although in theory it spoke to me, in reality I was always a little disappointed. There was always something wrong. Either the rice to fish ratio was off, or it was over-fried and more of a Gobstopper challenge than a starter. But the crispy rice with spicy avocado from this sushi restaurant in Fulham hit all the right spots. Sesame-crusted fried crispy rice topped with citrusy avocado—these bites were crunchy, fun, and something I could very easily eat 10 pieces of.”- RS


Charred mackerel, salmorejo, and courgette

“On a night thick with anticipation of impending rain and heavy with humidity, I was seeking something refreshing. The crisp, hogweed-infused martini at new Islington pub The Baring first hit the spot as I settled into the relaxed but humming, whitewashed dining room. Then came along the starter of mackerel with salmorejo. Candlelight bounced off the lightly charred surface of the fish and the glossy, gazpacho-like chilled tomato soup. The mackerel was cooked to a fall-apart tee but it was the salmorejo that held my attention. Heady with garlic, olive oil, and peak-summer tomatoes, it was the kind of soup where the shallow bowl was scraped as clean as possible with cutlery and extra bread was ordered to soak up every last drop.” - DM


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Antepliler Künefe

££££+44 20 8802 5588
Hours:WED
12PM-11:30PM

Künefe with ice cream

“A hot day and a fuzzy brain calls for two things: shade and sugar. Antepliler Künefe offers both but the latter, particularly, in ladlefuls. I wandered into the dessert specialist on Green Lanes needing a pick-me-up and knew that the cheesy pastry bathing in sugar syrup would very much do the job. The crispy edges of wiry pastry—crunchy from the heat of the copper the pud is cooked in—are my favourite bites. Did I need a pot of no-churn clotted cream ice cream beside it? Probably not. But it’s a combination that is as tooth-achingly good as it sounds.” - JM


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Trivet

££££

‘Drunk lobster’ & Trivet noodles 

“A lobster and a food writer walk into a bar… not entirely sure where I’m going with this but the point is, this lobster comes in a little bath of sweet white miso, kombu, and sake. The noodles, al dente. The lobster tails, rich and surprisingly sophisticated given its drunk status. The £39 price tag, really quite obnoxious. But you know what, sometimes I like to eat eye-wateringly expensive tiny portions on a Bermondsey terrace because it makes me feel like a cast member of The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills. Basically, a fantastic way to consume seafood, carbs, and booze under the premise of lunch.” - HLB 


Omo Tuo & Nkatekwnan

“My perpetual issue with soup is that I’m often satisfied for all of the 60 seconds it takes to eat it, which is all fun and games until the hunger creeps in half an hour later. But this groundnut soup with mashed rice from new pan-African restaurant Tatale in Southwark, is the answer. The Ghanaian soup is creamy from the nuts, slightly sweet from the prekese, and incredibly wholesome and comforting thanks to the island of tightly compact white rice topped with sesame seeds. It’s got the warming factor of a soup and is still satisfying thanks to the carby rice, which when mixed into the soup makes for a savoury, spicy, and delightful dish that I already want to eat again.” - RS


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Frank's

££££

Anchovies, pain grillé à l’ail

“Look, there is nothing in my contract that says I can’t choose anchovy toast as the best thing I ate for two weeks in a row. Julia Fox has more-is-more black eyeshadow, Anna Wintour has her bob, and I am quietly leaving my mark on pop culture with a statement allure of smelling like the inside of an Ortiz can. Good for me. The real star of this particular anchovy toast from Frank's, the slick moody wine bar beneath Maison François in St James’s, was the glorious eye-watering intensity of the accompanying garlic sauce. I also dipped my onglet and saucisson in it and dutifully mopped any post-toast remnants up with my finger. It’s a solid 9.5 from this fish fan.” - HLB


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The Quarter Kitchen

££££

Barbacoa tacos

“It was a close call to pick a favourite this week. I had A Moment with The Quarter Kitchen’s breakfast burrito—a proper situation with tortilla-swaddled scrambled eggs, sausage, hash brown, American cheese, and salsa roja. But it was the barbacoa tacos, also from the Mexican kiosk in St John at Hackney’s churchyard, that nudged top spot. A heap of tender, juicy, shredded lamb, laced with tiny nuggets of fat, plus smoky ancho chile sauce, diced onion, wafer-thin radish, and coriander atop a beautifully rough-around-the-edges housemade corn tortilla. Devoured in a couple of minutes but remembered for much longer.” - DM


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Miznon

££££
Hours:WED
12PM-11PM

Bag of green beans

“With a menu that reads like it’s been written by E. L. James and enough comic sans to make Clippy twerk in the corner of your Word document, Miznon is already ‘winning’. The international Israeli pitta mini-chain has long been due a London location—it’s in Soho, of course—but it wasn’t the bread or the roasted cauliflower that got me going here. It was a bag of beans. Green ones, specifically. Cold and crunchy, covered in lemon juice and garlic. Summer food is all about picking and I could pick on these until the end of time.” - JM


photo credit: Daisy Meager

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Flor Bakery

££££

Mangalitsa sausage roll

“I hadn’t intended to have a sausage roll for breakfast. But after ordering a croissant at Spa Terminus bakery Flor, the burnished brown and fennel seed-flecked mangalitsa sausage roll caught my eye. It was love at first sight. Then came the first bite, what was meant to be a little taster before tearing into the morning-appropriate croissant. But before I knew it, I was head over heels—the thick, flaky pastry giving way to roughly minced, well-seasoned pork mixed with carrot and onion. The prized mangalitsa meat adding its unique fatty richness. WhatsApp messages were fired off declaring I’d found ‘the one’ and the croissant was relegated to afternoon snack. Mangalitsa sausage roll—you’re 100% my type.” - DM


photo credit: Rianne Shlebak

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Moksha

££££+44 20 8949 2211
Hours:WED
5:30PM-10PM

Paani puri

“A fun and refreshing street food dish from New Malden Indian restaurant Moksha, the paani puri arrives at your table as a DIY situation. Pick up the hollow puri, scoop in the cold chickpea filling, pour in the citrusy pani, pop it in your mouth whole, and repeat. So good that I very well could have eaten another portion of this light, cooling starter on my own—and probably will do, as I was already mentally planning my next visit before the mains arrived.” - RS


Cantabrian anchovies on toast 

“I started the week nibbling a dry piece of toast with chilli flakes while crying. It was the chilli flakes (narrator: it was not the chilli flakes). I ended my week eating an anchovy toast at Bottle + Rye that was sticky sweet, beautifully salty, with a touch of smoky charred flavour. This my friends, is growth. This is the power of a little Basque fishy on fluffy bread. We all know that anchovies are officially Very Sexy now and this new Brixton wine bar is not only a proper little charmer, it has also truly given the anchovy her moment. I also think it is deeply chic that the dish is presented in childhood nostalgia ‘soldiers’ form. In my humble opinion, a true power toast.” - HLB


Garlic bread

“In the mid-2000s Heinz had a product range called Toast Toppers. The toppers—a sort of gungeish mixture you spread onto toast before throwing it under a grill—were foul in sight and theory. Nonetheless they tasted alright. My dad and I loved it. This week at Chet’s (the Thai-American pop-up at Rondo La Cave) I had a Toast Toppers throwback in the best possible way. Their garlic bread is a viscous, gooey, delicious delight. A slab of milk bread slathered with a spicy mixture, fierce with bird’s-eye chilli, pungent from garlic and fish sauce, bubbling after time under the grill. A toast topper for the ages.” - JM


Feta and honey swirl

“Although I may have crumbled under the stress of crossing London in a heatwave, my precious cargo from The Dusty Knuckle Bakery in Dalston did not. The sweet, salty, and aniseedy swirled pastry kept it together: flaky on the outside, tight coiled formation, with chunks of feta and sticky honey layered throughout. Sesame and nigella seeds were a nice aesthetic touch but the generous scattering of fennel seeds really brought the flavour party. It might even rival the bakery’s morning bun for my number one must-order item…” - DM


Beef Tomatoes

“As someone who removes tomatoes from burgers and looks disapprovingly at anyone who eats cherry tomatoes like they’re Skittles, I’m not used to getting excited about eating tomatoes in their raw form. But the salad at this new Greek-inspired spot in Notting Hill made me feel things I didn’t think I could for a beef tomato. Imperfect chunks of red and yellow tomatoes with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing, and topped with spring onion—every bite of this excellent bowl was refreshing, citrusy, and addictive. The bonus? Using warm pitta to soak up the leftover sauce.” - RS


Roti and beef rendang

“Having ordered in from Hawker’s Kitchen a few times I made the momentous decision and effort to slither out of my cave and visit the little Malaysian spot in King’s Cross IRL. It’s a very good thing I did. The roti was already among the best I’d had (albeit via delivery) but here, freshly made and warm from the hot plate, it superseded all expectations—flaky and intricate, warm and nourishing. I got it with a highly fragrant beef rendang that sings with lemongrass. Rip and dip into sauce. Tear and share the bread with the beef. Food this good deserves pause. A second thought must be given to this artful bread. And possibly a third and a fourth.” - JM


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The Place

££££
Hours:WED
9AM-6PM

Honey bread

“Given honey bread’s four basic ingredients—bread, honey, cinnamon, and whipped cream—there was never much uncertainty that I wasn’t going to finish every last mouthful. But New Malden cafe The Place’s execution of the Korean dessert was particularly sublime. The thick doorstep square of white sandwich bread was toasted on top but soft and fluffy inside. Ideal for soaking up the generous dousing of honey and perfect peaks of whipped cream which slowly yielded and melted as the minutes ticked by. A heavy dusting of cinnamon meant I could smell the dish before I saw it being brought to my table. The whole thing was cut into precise fork-sized squares—skewer, scoop, eat, repeat.” - DM


Pa jeon

“Some pancakes are round. Some are fluffy. Some are thin and used as a vehicle to stuff as much shredded duck as you physically can in your mouth. However, this pancake at Korean restaurant Imone on New Malden High Street, might just be my favourite of all. An attractive, pan-fried creation, filled with green spring onions and calamari, and golden brown in the centre with dark, crispy edges. This is the best pajeon I’ve ever had… and I grew up in New Malden, so that’s saying something.” - RS


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Chick and Beers

££££

Half and half fried / glazed chicken 

“This week I discovered two things. One: a miniature of a rabbit tucked up in a little bed in a charity shop in New Malden. Two: some of London’s best fried chicken, also in New Malden. I have a feeling you’re here for intel on the latter so I will get right down to our Chick and Beers buzzword: skin. Yes, the skin on the Korean fried chicken here has the kind of crunch that would make for some truly hypnotic ASMR. The sweet chilli sauce on the glazed chicken was also deeply satisfying, but it’s the fried stuff I can’t stop thinking about, hearing those crunchy bites on a loop in my head. Combine with a pint of Asahi and a couple of friends for peak fried chicken fun.” - HLB


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Firebird

££££

Choux bun 

“I am currently on my second Coronavirus Comeback Tour. I’ve been playing the hits like Baby, I’m Leaving The House and I’m Tired (So Tired). This is important background intel because there’s a high likelihood that anything I ate this week that hadn’t been decimated by a microwave could have been considered a 10/10 dish. But I have it on good authority—from my mate who isn’t recovering from covid—that this pastry and pâté medley is just as sophisticated and rich as I thought it was. A lot of the dishes from Soho’s latest barbecue restaurant Firebird missed the mark but this creative little starter was an instant winner, especially thanks to the dose of hazelnut alongside all that smooth chicken liver pâté. I’ll be adding a song about choux buns to my discography, thank you for asking.” - HLB


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Lucky's Hot Chicken

££££

Nashville Sando

“This may look like any old chicken sando. But to call it that would be like calling Ekin-Su any old Love Island contestant. A barefaced lie. This flattened piece of deep-fried chicken thigh comes with tangy slaw, a spicy mayo sauce, and a generous amount of pickles all stuffed between two thick slices of buttered brioche toast. It’s a Nashville-style sando that’s worth going out of your way for. You can choose your heat level, from ‘country’ to an extra spicy ‘good luck’, but the medium (which I opted for) was smoky, spicy, and tasted so good I wasn't even tempted to dip it into any of their £1 sauces.” - RS


photo credit: Daisy Meager

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Mambow

££££

Ikan Assam Pedas

“Lunch at Mambow in Peckham consisted of many excellent Malaysian small plates that had my fork scooping and twirling between spicy noodles, creamy jackfruit curry, and sharp pickles. But it was this skate curry that I kept coming back to. Soft okra, courgette chunks, and the delicate fish—which slid off the bone at the most gentle touch—sat in a metal dish, bathing in an earthy and sour sauce thanks to fragrant laksa leaf and tamarind. Reader—the plate was scraped clean.” - DM


Beef stew with rice

“A half-arsed Google search of JSTOR led me to learn that the spoon predates both the knife and the fork. This makes sense because it is the CEO of cutlery. Spooning something delicious into your mouth adds an inexplicable layer of ergonomic satisfaction. The pointy one and the stabby one simply can’t compete. Spooning something as delicious as Viet Café’s viscous and fragrant beef stew into your gob proves the point. It’s the colour of the ground at wetter Glastonburys past and the beef is ludicrously feeble. Combined with a handful of gently cooked carrots and dolloped onto a bed of steamed rice, it’s a delicious and almost school-like plate of food. Made for shovelling and spooning.”  - JM


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Wowshee Egyptian Falafel Bar

££££07919 414941
Hours:WED
11:30AM-3PM

Falafel Pitta

“Discovering a new lunch spot might be the most exciting of discoveries. Because it’s the kind of meal you can convince yourself is acceptable to have three days in a row. And that’s exactly what happened when I stood in the queue at this Egyptian falafel stall in Berwick Street Market. Labelled on Google Maps as ‘Best Falafel In London’, and with a queue that made it awkward for passers-by to get through, expectations were set. But taking a bite into the glorious and huge pitta that was overfilled with three flattened falafels, fried aubergine, cubes of fried halloumi, pickles, tahini, and chilli sauce exceeded all expectations. Crispy, wholesome, and so generously filled that I was full three-quarters of the way through—yet so good that I obviously finished every last bite. If you’re around Soho at lunchtime: Get. This. Pitta.”  - RS


photo credit: Daisy Meager

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Dom’s Subs

££££

Doms Club

“This isn’t just any club sandwich. This is a Dom’s Subs club sub sandwich (try saying that after a couple of mouthfuls). Just as onions and green ogres have layers, this roll is stacked—with wafer-thin ham, sliced turkey, bacon, and Swiss cheese, plus cool, creamy guacamole, lashings of mayonnaise, and tomato. Piled in a soft, sweet sub roll and expertly swaddled in a sturdy foil wrapper, it’s frankly a marvel of construction—and just what a muggy-but-kinda-chilly Wednesday called for. An oldie but a goodie.” - DM


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Honey & Co Bloomsbury

££££

Taramosalata

“Forget everything you thought you knew about taramasalata (i.e. the lurid pink supermarket stuff) and try Honey & Co’s version asap. First of all, it’s outrageously pretty. The smooth, pale pink cod’s roe dip comes topped with slivers of delicately pickled radish and finely chopped red onion, chopped egg, and orange pearls of cod’s roe. And the dish isn’t just a looker. It’s light and smooth, salty and savoury. The sharp pickles cut through the creamy dip but it’s the chopped egg that’s the real game-changer—the yolks making it all the more rich. It came with toasted pitta on the side but in all honesty I abandoned the bread for scooping up as much as I could with a fork. My official Taramasalata Fan Club merch is in the post.” - DM


Nasi Lemak Beef Rendang

“Hi my name is Rianne and I’m addicted to rendang. That’s right, this is my third beef rendang entry in this guide. And I’m not even embarrassed. I have unofficially appointed myself the head researcher in London, which involves a lot of ups and very few downs. This lunch at Dapur was a particularly high moment in my investigation (and life). I ordered a nasi lemak with beef rendang from the canteen-like lunch section of the menu. Sat on one of their umbrella-covered tables opposite the small cafe, I had one of the most enjoyable lunches I’ve had in a while. And it wasn’t the 27 degree weather, or the warm and friendly service (although both of those helped), it was the tender slow-cooked beef in a rich nutty sauce, combined with spoonfuls of the coconut rice and boiled egg, that I can’t stop thinking about.” - RS


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OPSO

££££+44 20 7487 5088
Hours:WED
12PM-10PM

Mousakas

“At the age of nine I became obsessed with mousakas. I’d never tried it, I’d never knowingly seen it. I had, however, watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding with my mum and was deeply intrigued by the reference to this mystical ‘mousakas’. Twenty years later and I might not be John Corbett’s wife but I have finally found a mousakas I am willing to be exclusive with. My friend has raved about this upmarket Greek restaurant’s version for years and the combination of the smoky slow-braised beef ragu and light béchamel sauce is definitely worthy of declaring it a must-eat on your WhatsApp group. Plus, those naughty little potato crisps on top add some exciting crunch factor to that soft and herby aubergine—26 quid but entirely worth it.” - HLB


Beef tongue in sauce

“The idea of a tongue may put some people off, but a slow-cooked and tender slab has me licking my lips. Blankita’s is covered in a fruity and mildly spiced yellow sauce, slowly cooked with starchy potatoes and sweet onions in there as well. But the star of this Columbian show is the meat. A careless whisper could break the pink strands of meat down and a mouthful alongside rice, plantain, and a dollop of Blankita’s sharp red chilli salsa had me humming with the happiness.” - JM


photo credit: Heidi Lauth Beasley

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Fallow

Smoked sausage, apple, sage

 “Now, a sausage can come in many forms. Alongside mash, inside bread, deep-fried on a stick—yes, I am also now a certified Bunsik fan. But the one at Fallow stole my heart. Because when a sausage is this herby and so gloriously rotund that you feel like the pork is trying to break out through the skin, all you need is a little pile of shining apple jam on the side. The sage said comfort, the apple said HELLO SUNSHINE, and that sausage was the ultimate pay-off for every barbecue me and my flatmate have had that has resulted in us trying to figure out how to get a chiminea to stop smelling of raw meat. Simple summer sharing perfection.” - HLB


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Kothu Sri Lankan Restaurant & Bar

££££020 3774 6492
Hours:WED
11AM-11PM

Mutton cheese rolls

“Mutton rolls are exciting enough: potatoes and spicy minced lamb, wrapped in a breadcrumb coating and deep-fried for good measure—what’s not to like? Finding a great mutton roll within 20 minutes of my house is a very dangerous thing. But finding an excellent mutton roll with melted cheese, at this Sri Lankan restaurant in Tooting, is absolutely lethal. It’s got all the great qualities of a regular roll, with the addition of my kryptonite: mozzarella. It’s fun, it’s addictive, and it goes surprisingly well with regular tomato ketchup. Order some, then order some more—because it’s genuinely that good.” - RS


Pulled pork plate, slaw, and Texas toast

“Any temperature above 20 degrees is oppressive in my book. So, it was a great relief when I briefly escaped Soho to sit down for lunch at Rita’s. People, myself included, tend to think certain foods thrive in certain temperatures. Ice cream in the summer, hot pot in the winter. That sort of thing. Well, now I can safely say that a plate of pig and bread hits the spot remarkably well on a roaster of a day. The pulled pork—so horribly bastardised by chain pubs and sugary sauces—was magnificent. Tender as you like and topped with a Cajun-leaning spice mix. A tear of buttery and golden Texas toast, topped with that spiced pork, and a few strands of vinegary slaw—that’s my kind of dish on a sweltering day.” - JM


photo credit: Daisy Meager

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Bunsik

££££

Potato corn dog

“Kebabs, yakitori, chicken satay. Some of the best meats are served on a stick—and that goes for Bunsik’s Korean-style potato corn dog too. The potato cube-encrusted batter came drizzled in ketchup, and in the Soho sunshine was reminiscent of a deep-fried cheese and pineapple hedgehog. It gets even better after a couple of bites. The crunchy, golden exterior gave way to a thick, fluffy, and surprisingly light doughy layer with a pork sausage at the centre. Think sausage and chips on a skewer, with extra deep-fried carbs. She’s beauty and she’s grace. What more could you want for lunch on a London summer’s day?” - DM


Pla plaa style lao, fish salad

“This week I had the pleasure of saying two incredibly sophisticated things. One: “No I haven’t started the new Love Island yet, I’ve just been too busy’. Two: “I had a salad for lunch’. Stop clapping, I’m a saint of adulthood, I know. But the truth is, the salad I had involved crispy fried red sea bream, toasted ground rice, dried chillis, and some chilli paste thrown in too. Is it a salad? There was also lemongrass and mint present, so maybe. Frankly, I don’t care. It was salty and spicy, with a perfectly sour aftertaste that kept returning to me throughout the afternoon like the memory of a delightful summer holiday in-joke. In all honesty, everything at this casual Thai restaurant in Hammersmith deserves a round of applause but for this fish salad, I’ll happily spend another hour on the District line to crunch my way through the thin crispy skin of that sea bream. It’s a 10 from me.” - HLB


Hotate nigiri

“There are plenty of restaurants to choose from on that strip between Hammersmith and Kensington High Street but at this particular one, you’ll find some excellent hotate nigiri. Warm vinegared rice is topped with a hefty slice of scallop and a piece of seaweed to aesthetically tie it all together. There wasn’t a single fault with this nigiri: the fish immediately melts in the mouth, the rice is sticky and delicious, and we’d be perfectly content if we ate a meal that consisted entirely of these delicious bites.” - RS


"Nothing says 'Sunday after a four-day British bank holiday' like grey skies and drizzle. So I walked to Bright in London Fields, musing about the weather, my hangover, and plans for a glass of fizzy red. But it was a plate of sunshine-yellow fried fish that put the world to rights again. The deep-fried morsels of skate, topped with vinegary anchovies and a generous squeeze of lemon, were hot, crunchy, salty, and sharp. I didn’t even care that the fresh-out-the-fryer batter burnt the roof of my greedy mouth—a sip of sparkling barbera (basically alcoholic Ribena) took care of that." - DM


KO Salad!

“You know when you come back from a trip and realise the only vegetable you’ve eaten over the last couple of weeks is that gherkin in your airport McDonald’s double cheeseburger? It’s why my tired eyes were drawn to the KO Salad! at Hackney’s Koya Ko, a refreshing, cold udon with pickled aubergine and crunchy salad. Carbs—yes. Tangy—affirmative. GREENS—give them to me now. When the deep bowl arrived with a bottle of cold Asahi (for balance), it was everything I needed. I inhaled the peppery leaves and thick noodles in the chilled, salty, thin broth, which had subtly taken on the pickle kick. With each mouthful, I felt more restored—this is the official cure for jet lag.” - DM


Beef Rendang

“After something bad happens, like my new white trainers getting scuffed or running into an ex and their new girlfriend (it’s always the ones they tell you not to worry about), I need comfort food. Stat. And that’s exactly what I found at this Malaysian spot in Chinatown. Particularly the beef rendang. Hearty with a slight sweetness, the six-hour slow-cooked beef comes in a spicy coconut heavy sauce. A hastily-teared piece of roti canai, a tender piece of beef, and plenty of that sauce all made for a delicious and satisfying meal with the potential to improve any bad day.” - RS


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Someday

££££

Honey Pie pizza 

“I am a New Yorker now. Well, technically we went on a work trip to see The Infatuation New York and I have decided that my one true calling in life is saying “I need a slice of pie”. London, I was not ready for slice life to end when I came back so off I went on a pizza pilgrimage to Someday, an all-day spot in the new City North development in Finsbury Park. It’s a big space with that whole cool band posters and low-slung ‘70s couches—sorry, that means sofa in New York—thing going on. Cooked up by street food brand Ace Pizza, it serves all of the pizzas by the slice and the Honey Pie was the instant winner here. Chillies, spicy salami, chewy crust just the way I like it. Oh, and it’s drizzled in a sticky chilli honey which ensures my other great love of America, sugar, was covered too. Just four quid for a hefty slice, I love to see it.” - HLB


Pierogi

“A flute of champagne and a plate of pierogis is a shamelessly decadent way to start a meal, but I’m not often in South Ken and it feels like the area for it. Also, Ognisko is full of white tablecloths and people wearing Chelsea boots—so one has to do their best to integrate. That said, the pierogis from this classic Polish restaurant weren’t just for performance. Four palm-sized pierogis, crisped to a perfect level of brownness, the pastry lovingly crimped. What’s going on inside matters as well, and the potato, cheese and onion filling hits all the right notes—specifically the ones marked gooey, comfortingly stodgy and caramelised. The perfect way to start a meal of Polish opulence.” - JM


Suffolk chicken roast with pork stuffing

“Behold, a roast that will make you say “Aunt Bessie, you’re just not trying hard enough hun”. I am generally a fan of this Tooting pub because there are always cute dogs on the prowl for scraps and the kitchen’s approach is more is more. The roasts here are huge and not a single bite feels like padding. The carrots are herby and the chicken skin tastes like it’s haunted by the memory of 40 litres of olive oil, in the best way possible. But it’s the carbohydrates where this pub really comes into its own. The crunch of the potatoes hits just on the right side of is-this-burnt and lovely crispy carb fluff and then there’s that XXL yorkshire. Does anyone really need a yorkshire pudding that’s this large? No. Should you order it anyway? Absolutely.” - HLB


Lamb hummus

“Can I ever justify spending £25.50 on a bowl of mashed chickpeas covered in meat? I’m not sure I can, but I will say that this overpriced dip that I ate in Harrod’s new fine dining Lebanese restaurant was excellent. Possibly the best version of this dish I’ve eaten outside Beirut, it was a thick, creamy, earthy bowl that was wiped clean with the bread that comes alongside it. Should you pay £25+ for it? That depends how much you think the best hummus in London is worth.” - RS


Original fried chicken

"If you know me, or have ever even seen me try and remove a baked camembert from the oven with a beach towel, you know that I should never be trusted with a hot plate. Alas, I put my own safety and the safety of others aside in the name of a much more noble cause—eating DIY BBQ food at Korean spot, Cedar. The hot plate table experience at this laid-back Hammersmith restaurant is great but it was their served-and-ready fried chicken that was my favourite thing here. The audible crunch of the crispy skin was frankly, intoxicating and I refused my own father the last piece. Zero regrets in the name of top fried chicken." - HLB


Plaza Khao Gaeng

££££

Miang Phuket

"Above the bustling, somewhat overwhelming, mania of the Arcade Food Hall is Plaza Khao Gaeng. It’s a new Thai spot decked out to the nines in the everyday stuff you find in roadside spots all over Thailand. There’s officious light, lurid plastic table cloths and a cocktail so neon, so pumped full of energy drink, you might well suggest sprinting home from Tottenham Court Road. That’s what I was thinking. At least, it was until the food came and I realised I needed to stay put and eat much, much more. The first plate was one of many favourites. Miang Phuket, a starter of coconut and chestnuts mixed with palm sugar would’ve been Wonka-ish if it wasn’t for the unforgiving slaps of bird’s eye chilli, ginger and lime through out. You pile the mixture into Miang (Thai spinach leaves) before popping it into your gob. No polite bite. No dabbing with your napkin. No blinking, because you don’t want to miss this plate of excitement." - JM


Oak cocktail

“Everyone remain calm, but I am once again humbly standing before you and declaring that the best thing I ‘ate’ this week was a cocktail. Soma, a sleek, deeply civilised bar in Soho from the people behind Kricket, has quickly become one of my favourite bars in London. Partially because of the expert service and partially because it’s open until the early hours throughout the week and I have the self-control of a hyena, but mostly because of this cocktail. I generally find kooky takes on the negroni a bit of a let down but the Oak is certified genius. Cardamon, aged gin, Mondino Amaro, sherry, literal oak, and a stonking ice cube that keeps it at that perfect temperature where you don’t even notice that you’re shotting cascara vermouth. It’s smoky, sweet, bitter, and perilously gluggable. Right now, it’s my favourite cocktail in London and I have a feeling it will be for some time to come.” - HLB


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Mahdi Restaurant

££££+44 20 8563 7007
Hours:WED
12PM-11PM

Chelo jujeh

“Everyone has a go-to order. Mine, when eating at a Persian restaurant, is a jujeh skewer from the grill. And this particular one from Mahdi, a Hammersmith restaurant that has long been on my personal must-visit list, was excellent. Citrussy, moist on the inside, and nicely charred on the outside, it was pretty much the perfect version of my go-to. Combined with a mouthful of buttery saffron rice, it made the 15 minute wait for a table seem like no time.” - RS


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Patron

££££
Hours:WED
4PM-10PM

Duck confit and a dirty martini

"Arsenal fans tend to have a slightly precious and pretentious reputation. I’ve been a fan all my life and, quite frankly, I don’t know where it comes from. Anyway, before watching the ladies team beat Tottenham the other night, as a pre-match warmup, I treated myself to a gorgeously fatty duck confit and a dirty gin martini from Patron on Blackstock Road. It’s the second location of the wine bar that’s such a favourite with Kentish Town locals and it feels extremely comfortable in N5. There are nibbles to have with wine or bigger and more buttery plates such as duck confit and gratin. Regardless of who you support, you’re likely to be a fan." - JM


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Arcade Food Hall

££££

Sate marrangi 

“Feed me a miserable overpriced taco in a chaotic food hall once, shame on you. Feed me a miserable overpriced taco in a chaotic food hall over and over again, shame on me. What I’m trying to say is, food halls have burnt me before so I’m always anxious about trying a new one. That’s all changed now because I ate some very good things at the revamped Arcade Food Hall and no one stood on my foot or tried to elbow me off a table once. Fabulous, right? With everything from saucy Nepalese momos to hefty Margot Henderson sandwiches on offer, my stand-out favourite was the sate marrangi from Indonesian counter Bebek! Bebek!. Tender little pieces of beef rump served on skewers, I would merrily ghost Whole Earth crunchy peanut butter for this sauce any day. Highly, highly addictive." - HLB


Chicken liver pâté

"Almost everything about Caravel had me swooning. It’s a candlelit red barge in Angel called Poppy that serves cocktails as well as jelly and cream. What’s not to love? However one thing really captured the hearts of everyone around the table. It was this unfashionable-looking boulder of chicken liver pâté. Once you’ve had one memorable pâté you may think you’ve had them all, but this one was something else. Ludicrously smooth to the point of being silken, any visiting plasterers to Caravel will no doubt look on in admiration as this meaty spread glides across their slice of toasted brioche. It may look like an enormous serving of Bonne Maman chocolate mousse but, make no mistake, this is very savoury and completely seductive." - JM


Normah's roti beef rendang

"When it comes to the food at this Malaysian spot in Queensway market, it’s hard to pick a favourite dish. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that everything is made by Normah herself in the small kitchen at the back, but you know it’s special when between slurps of king prawn laksa and mouthfuls of mee goreng, you’re strategizing which dish to reach for next. And of all these delightful dishes, the one that sent the whole table into silent eating—and convinced me that it’s not the end of the world if the brown stew got on my white trousers— was the roti beef rendang. Arriving in a small bowl filled to the brim with a thick beef stew topped with crispy onion and fully covered by two pieces of flaky and lightly charred roti, this braised beef curry is wholesome and comforting, and scooped up with the thick, layered roti makes for perfect bites." - RS


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Paradise Soho

££££
Hours:WED
12PM-3PM5PM-11PM

Pan-roasted sea bass curry & hand-stretched paratha roti

“I eat a lot of solo meals. It’s pretty much part of the job description. But the best solo meals are like the one I had at this Sri Lankan spot in Soho. A bar stool facing the always-busy Rupert Street, and a menu of delicious tasting things I was grateful I didn’t have to share. Of all the dishes I tried, I refuse to pick just one. Instead I’ll start with the paratha. Does a paratha count as a dish? Because the one I ate here was buttery, flakey, and so good I could have eaten it plain, but instead I dipped it in my other favourite dish—the seabass curry. A pan-roasted seabass that fell apart at a light nudge from my fork, sat in a chilli tomato and lemongrass curry sauce, that clung onto the different layers of the paratha with every dip. An incredible combination of carby goodness, spice from the oily sauce, and delicate sea bass in each bite.” - RS


"A moment or two after I ordered the lamb shank at Brothers Restaurant, the man behind the counter paused. “Takeaway-only yeah? No eat-in during fasting”. I nodded. “Yeah, of course”. Duubi and bariis, or lamb shank and rice, on a bench? Not a problem. Denying myself a Somali feast this good due to a lack of utensils or, say, a table would be plain idiotic. As expected, the meat in a tinfoil sleeping bag didn’t need much help falling off the bone. Its proximity to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium means that collapsing is in its very DNA but, the vital point of difference between these two destinations in N17, is that Brothers is actually worth travelling for. The lamb and rice were both fragrantly spiced, mixing star anise with turmeric and cinnamon with melt-in-your-mouth fat. You might think that this isn’t the easiest thing to eat on a park bench, especially when you throw some basbaas—a sharp Somali chilli sauce that’s fast becoming my favourite—into the mix. But you’d be wrong. With food this perfect the only thing you need is an appetite." - JM


Nigiri selection

"Everyone has things that are hardwired shortcuts to excitement. Mine read reassuringly humdrum when written down. A win for The Arsenal, two seats to myself on the top deck of the bus, a beautifully laid table that I know I will ruin with multiple jars and bottles of condiments. These things get me going. But one thing that doesn’t fit into my down-to-earth thrills is sushi. Specifically, good sushi. It’s always been such a treat and always will be. That same invigorating feeling was present when I opened my box of nigiri from Sushi Show in Angel. Umami-rich cooked eel, uni so good it tasted like a luxurious bath in my mouth, scallop, sea bass and more. It’s still takeaway only but for a couple of tables outside, but with sushi this good the feeling is never fleeting." - JM


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Din Tai Fung

££££

Noodles in spicy sauce

“My only issue with this bowl of noodles is the fact that it wasn’t bigger. And that I’d agreed to share it with my eating companion—a mistake you shouldn’t make if you come here. But other than that, these £9 fresh noodles in Din Tai Fung’s special house sauce have all the markings of a really good bowl of food. An oil-heavy sauce that you’d be willing to ruin a nice white t-shirt for? Check. Spring onion hidden underneath the pile of noodles? Check. Makes you resent your friend for taking the last forkful? Check. Simple and satisfying, if you’re around Oxford Circus and looking for a light lunch for under a tenner, these noodles are a good bet.” - RS


Chicken sandwich

“A fun fact about me is that I have an overbite so there is a gap between my upper and lower teeth. This also means that I am a prolific ugly sandwich eater. Butter on my cheek bones, rocket in my hair, inevitably a small child will point and make a Monsters, Inc. reference. But, for the right sandwich, I will risk public ridicule. A sandwich exactly like the one from Trampoline. A new social enterprise café in Angel that somehow manages to help refugees, execute bold orange branding perfectly, and create a hefty £6 creamy chicken sandwich that comes with enough tarragon and pickles to induce actual smiles. I loved it. Did I end up with flour on my nose? Yes. Worth it? Yes.” - HLB


Empanada

"The other day I had a late lunch and an early dinner. Maybe it was two late lunches, or even two early dinners. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. The point is, I sat down in El Rancho De Lalo’s new bigger and shinier space off Brixton Hill and wasn’t entirely sure how hungry I was. So when the waiter asked us if we’d like an empanada each, we decided to share. It seemed like the right move as there was chicharrón and steak and a lovely selection of varying carbs to come, after all. We were wrong. Very very wrong. Their beef and potato empanadas are sensational. The corn pastry is fried to a chomping crisp, whilst ensuring the soft meat and potato hibernating inside is steamed and soft. It’s a homely-tasting thing that has aura of years of expertise about it. I imagine who ever made this empanada (and the electrifying chilli salsa it comes with) can make multiple with their eyes closed. Because, as I learned, you simply do not order just one empanada." - JM


Everything

"To say all of the food ordered and eaten at Singburi on Thursday night was the proverbial Best Thing I Ate This Week is a bit of a cop out. But I’m very much going ahead and doing it anyway. Singburi isn’t just the best restaurant in Leytonstone, nor the best Thai restaurant in London, it’s one of the best restaurants in the city full stop. Phones do not come first here. Which is why I only have a hasty photograph of their classic garlic, chilli and Thai basil infused clams and, more importantly, the specials board up front. Everything on that board is sensational. Their famous moo krob, made up of the most perfectly rendered cubes of pork belly, crisp and fat, coated in a fierce and pungent mixture of chilli and basil, is addictive and turned our table into hyenas. My friend put it best when he said “I think that it’s the ultimate bar food” with a chunk of fiery pig belly in one hand and a beer in the other. We ordered another plate.

Similar superlatives can be applied to everything. Stir-fried pad cha razor clams seduce before hitting you with heat. The fire comes first via the wok before the leisurely power of the chilli takes over. The gang know wan nua, a meltingly smooth beef green curry was hoovered and slurped, but then so was the gang goong bai cha plu, a southern prawn curry full of buzzing green chilli and lush pink crustaceans. Even the pineapple fried rice was memorable as a sweet respite for the happy beads of sweat around the table. Everything is an assault of flavours and fire. Plates and bowls full of care and, moreover, unrelenting energy. Go to Singburi and you’ll eat the best thing you’ve eaten that week. And, possibly ever." - JM


Msemen

“I get serious FOMO when the weather is nice out. Meaning I will find the time for a 2pm brunch on a Tuesday, if the sun decides to make an appearance. And my need to spend as much time out of the house as possible led me to this all-day spot in Balham that’s serving north African and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes, including this Moroccan msemen. This flakey pancake meets flatbread was warm, dusted with icing sugar, and served with honey, Nutella, jam, and labneh. Memories of homemade versions still come out on top in my head, but this was pretty delicious.” - Rianne Shlebak, Staff Writer


Buttered crumpets

"I’m just a girl, standing (writing?) in front of some food-loving Londoners, once again telling you about a crumpet. Technically, this time it’s three miniature bite-sized crumpets so it’s actually completely different to all of my other crumpet entries. Anyway, yes, I have a crumpet problem. But these little two-bite cuties, from The Langham Hotel’s fancy schmancy pub, The Wigmore, had the perfect chew. They landed on my table warm, topped with some super zesty crab. Deeply satisfying, all three were demolished in approximately 20 seconds. The starter of champs." - Heidi Lauth Beasley, Staff Writer


Jerk chicken

"After one bite of Smokey Jerkey’s jerk chicken, there was no doubt in my mind that south London was well on top in the jerk stakes. I’ve read and salivated over this takeaway spot for a while. It features in Belly Full, Riaz Phillip’s excellent book on Caribbean food in the UK, and Helen Graves (of the legendary Food Stories blog and now Pit magazine) has long sung its praises. Two years of relative inertia and the onset of spring caused me to finally, finally, get on the train New Cross, hit Smokey Jerkey for some jerk chicken and happily sit in a nearby park with it and a pot of their lovely, enlivening homemade pepper sauce. It really lived up to the high expectations. The depth of char in this jerk isn’t the kind you find north of the river. It’s blackened and sunk in, while the meat stays as tender as it should be. Peering into Smokey Jerkey you’ll see their smoker in the kitchen; a kind of Robot Wars, garden shed creation that helps make some of London’s finest Caribbean cooking. Open fire cooking paired with fiery sauce this good is, quite simply, unbeatable." - JM


Margherita

For all of our innate stubbornness, Londoners are very flexible when it comes to matters of food and drink. It did, for example, only take the small matter of a pandemic for large swathes of the city to realise that eating outside is actually quite doable and enjoyable if the setup is right. Fast-forward to me, mid-March, sitting outside Saponara, enjoying maybe London’s best Romana-style pizza. The little deli and restaurant is in a quiet bit of Islington between the Essex Road and Upper Street, but nothing about this old-school restaurant is particularly quiet . The staff are joyful, there are bright Fellini posters and Ferrari flags on the wall, and the pizza is something to shout about. Yes, the pie topped with speck and shavings of grana padano is crisp and salty and all the things you want a pizza to be. But sometimes you just can’t beat gooey, expertly formed, blink and it’s gone, margherita. Perfect. - JM


"Everybody knows that going to the shop or, better, a restaurant on an empty stomach is an extremely good idea. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I tend to do this more often than most thanks to my weird, objectively unhealthy, meal-ignoring, all or nothing style of eating. Breakfast? No way. Lunch? Not if I’ve got lots of work on. Dinner? Multiple please—and of borderline horrendous proportions if possible, thank you. Which brings me to my first (but not last) meal of the day the other night, circa 7pm, at El Rincon on Holloway Road. The South American restaurant has bits and bobs from Italy and all over Britain on the menu, but it’s big old plates like their bandeja paisa—a Colombian dish of crispy pork belly, black bean stew, chorizo sausage, avocado, rice, slow-cooked beef, cornbread and a fried egg—that you want to focus on. My stomach certainly did by this time and, boy oh boy, did it do the trick. Ample carbs, soft meat, crispy meat, spiced meat, plus a punchy homemade chilli sauce and Estrella on tap to wash it all down. Did I also need a plantain topped with melted cheese on the side? Without doubt." - JM


Ohn-no kauk swé

"My weekly coconut consumption absolutely rockets around this time of year. The sun starts shining, the decrepit magpie that likes to hang out on my balcony starts singing, and the vitamin D deprived part of my brain starts whispering, Heidi, we need a new pair of sunglasses babe. And alas, I turn to places like Lahpet for those coconut holiday feels. The second location from this Burmese restaurant, their coconut noodle dish is rich, creamy, and provides a tasty ray of warmth in the form of paprika oil. You’re going to want to use the crispy wonton to scoop up a mouthful of sticky egg noodles and some of that tender chicken, and then pray that you don’t end up with spring onion down your top. But if you do, it's fine, it’ll be worth it." - HLB


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Tierra Peru

££££+44 20 7354 5586
Hours:WED
5PM-11PM

Alfajores

"My enthusiasm for Tierra Peru is not not related to their sensational pisco sours. Nor should the fuzzy feeling I got from seeing a local restaurant on the Essex Road heaving on a Wednesday night be ignored either. Also, those tender ox heart skewers with a lively chimichurri played their part but, more than anything, it was a biscuit. I am my mother’s son after all. This biscuit wasn’t of the dunking-in-tea variety though. It was an alfajores. A small, dinky thing, and short in every sense of the word. Perfectly crumbly and filled with a centimetre of sweet, luscious dulce de leche. You know what? It would probably make a pretty delicious dunker as well." - JM


Muhammara

“I love a dip. So much so that it can often be the highlight of a meal for me. Which is why I knew, as soon as I had my first taste of the muhammara at this new Istanbulite restaurant in Soho, that this dip was going to be hard to beat. It’s made with roasted peppers, leblebi (roasted chickpeas), and pomegranate molasses. And paired with their warm, pillowy pide, it might be the best double act since Ant and Dec.” - RS


Kuzu kaburga

"I have a thing for busy roads. The people scurrying, the car horns beeping, the chicken shop strip lighting—the whole lot, I love it. I especially love it when I’m eating alone. The opportunity to intently observe both food—in this case perfectly crisp lamb ribs, with crisp fat and soft meat ready to pulled off via my teeth from the bone—and also my surroundings—the buzzing, bustling interior of Diyarbakir on Green Lanes at 8pm or so on a midweek evening. There are many excellent ocakbasis on this famous road, and Diyarbakir is one where you should ignore their mezzo and focus completely on their meat." - JM


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Marsha Soho

££££

Buttermilk gochujang wings, kimchi slaw

“Whether it’s a Love Is Blind love triangle or Tom Holland being adorable, I love a recurring theme. And the theme at this new Kingly Court restaurant is Really Good Chicken. Namely, these fried gochujang wings. They're crispy from the buttermilk coating and covered in a deliciously sweet, yet slightly spicy gochujang sauce. A sauce so good that I decided to dip the chicken tenders in there as well and, once those were finished, the fries were used to soak up the rest. Basically, I’d like this sauce bottled so I can pour it on everything. So if you’re near Soho and in the mood for chicken wings, Marsha is serving some excellent ones.” - RS


Dip trio & pitta bread

"Sitting in old pubs is my version of mindfulness. I like to find a quiet corner, pretend I’ve never even heard of Twitter, and wrap my hand around a cold pint. It’s a very British form of meditation and one that is made exponentially better by the presence of a creamy hummus, babaganoush, and a shamelessly garlic-packed tzatziki. It’s The Norfolk Arms' tzatziki that really won me over. Gloriously thick, refreshing, a touch minty. Most importantly, it passed my personal tzatziki litmus test which involves asking myself the question: 'Do I now reek of garlic?'. I ordered a second round of pitta bread just so I could mop up the tiny remaining amount of tzatziki I had left and you know what, I don’t regret it. It was the perfect excuse to order another pint and stay in this King's Cross pub a little while longer." - HLB


Buta skewers

“Eating nice stuff on sticks is like, so hot right now. Yakitori and robatayaki spots have existed in London for a while, but there has been a wave of great skewer options over the past couple of years. You’ve got cool long-runner Peg over in Hackney, the lovely Humble Chicken in Soho, and now, Yatay in Chinatown. This loud and proud Japanese restaurant has 12 skewers to choose from and I tried almost all of them because I am a professional (read as: indecisive and always hungry) but the clear winner was the £7.50 buta skewers. Hot pork still sizzling from the robata with a brush of zingy yuzu miso, they were capital-t Tender. Some of the other skewers here were a little one-note, one-flavour, teeny tiny bit boring but the ‘shimichurri’ sauce jazzed the pork up and kept things interesting. Combine with a pint of Asahi for peak Yatay enjoyment.” - HLB 


Mushroom shish barak

"Between jiaozi, momos, pierogis, manti, knedle, ravioli and, well, who knows how many more, I’m rarely left wanting when it comes to a dumpling in London. The latest addition to my personal list was the mushroom barak from Sohaila. The Lebanese-inspired restaurant in Shoreditch is good for many reasons, but these chewy dumplings were the standout. Filled with earthy, spiced and umami-packed mushrooms and topped with a sour yoghurt and a smoky chilli butter, they did what all excellent dumplings do to me: which is provide me with a second stomach just for them" - JM


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Detroit Pizza London

££££07943 927508

Red stripe

“This Detroit-style pizza spot started out as a delivery and takeaway-only situation in Battersea during the pandemic. Since then I have vehemently stalked their Instagram page from my sofa, imagining the moment I get to be face to face with their chunky-looking slices. So when I finally got down to their new eat-in spot on Commercial Street, the expectations were high. And this cheese-covered, thick-based, marinara-heavy pizza did not disappoint. Chewy, fluffy dough, topped with a layer of cheese, a river of rich marinara, and parmesan, a single £3.99 slice of this is enough to fill you up, but it’s so good that we’re willing to bet you’ll want a whole pizza.” - RS


Rhubarb & custard tart

“The foods I longingly think back about varies by mood, but this tart from Brawn will be remembered for the rest of time. In fact, I’m welling up just typing this. Rhubarb and custard is a flavour combination straight from the Captain Tom cookbook but the Hackney restaurant’s take on it makes me think of artistry rather than anything war-related. The pastry, so crisp and so delicate, has been taken to the precipice. It’s the pastry case equivalent of Kramer pushing Jerry’s gas tank to the edge. The filling—a luminous layer of rhubarb, perfectly tart and sweet, below a silky, lightly mottled layer of custard—is the perfect balance of fruit and creaminess. Looking back I only have one regret: not ordering a second slice.” - JM


Chicken mousakhan

“I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to try the food at this Palestinian spot on Golborne Road. Namely, this chicken mousakhan. Fresh za'atar dusted taboon bread filled with pulled chicken breast, caramelised onions, and a generous amount of sumac, it’s tangy, bready, and refreshing with the dipping yoghurt that comes on the side. So if you’re in the area, and even if you’re not, you should eat this. Oh, and make sure you end with the knefeh Naboulsia.” - RS


Delica pumpkin, burrata, sage

"Burrata burrata burrata. This soft creamy cheese pops up on so many London menus, and 99% of the time I order it because I am a greedy creature who refuses to accept that my stomach and dairy do not get on. Denial is beautiful. So is this medley of pumpkin, sage, black trumpet mushrooms, and yes, burrata, from Fitzrovia’s Carousel. A cool but charming restaurant on Charlotte Street that hosts a rotation of impressive guest-chefs, you’ll find this small plate on the seasonal menu of their wine bar up front. Combined with their excellent selection of interesting wines, this dish achieved the rare accolade of being a cheesy highlight of my meal rather than another background burrata. Comforting, creamy, very delicious. Get involved." - HLB 


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Turpan Uyghur Restaurant

Tugur dumplings

“This week was my first time trying Uyghur food. And to be honest, I could easily put most of my meal at this little Uyghur restaurant as the best thing I ate this week if it didn’t feel like a cop out. Instead, I’m having to pick between some excellent leghmen noodles, a meaty, flakey goshnan, and these tugur dumplings. And after some serious deliberation (day-dreams-where-I’m-floating-in-a-sea-of-dumplings), I landed on these. These meaty, doughy morsels arrived piping hot, and with a vinegar and chilli sauce you’ll immediately want to double dip in. So if you head to this Uyghur spot on Great Russell Street, make sure to order these. Plus everything else I mentioned above.” - RS


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The Greenery Natural Kitchen

££££

Hotdog brioche

“Hot dogs are for life, not just for fireworks night. That is my message to the people of London. Profound, I know. But I just don’t understand why there aren't more hot dogs on London menus? That’s why when I saw that brand new cafe The Greenery on Turnpike Lane is doing an ‘organic hotdog brioche’ I made it my personal mission to go and try it. What you’re looking at here is quality ham and thinly-sliced cheddar wrapped around a hot dog and then stuffed inside some of the softest brioche I’ve ever tried. A truly exquisite snack that I dipped in a jar of mustard, quite sure that this breaded creation might be the start of London’s hot dog revolution. Fingers crossed.” - HLB


Hornado ‘Ecuadorian roast’

“London feels like it’s returned to a state of relative normality to me. Two years of manners and militant mask-wearing had me wondering whether, perhaps, the city could have changed irreversibly. Thankfully, I once again feel like any stranger on any mode of public transport could, with seemingly no good reason (nor any justification needed) turn around and tell me to shove something up my arse. Order has been restored. With that in mind, I’ve returned to happily and regularly eating alone. Early this week it was at El Inca Plebeyo on Essex Road for a plate of food that was equal parts hearty and happiness-inducing. Generously salted hunks of slow-cooked pork that pulled away into juicy strands of pink meat, combined with a zingy lime-heavy salad of onion, coriander, and tomato. A satisfying mouthful, but it was the oozingly sweet plantain that made it perfect. Salty, sour, and sweet. London is capable of being all three.” - JM

Miso aubergine doughnuts

“February is the ultimate gateway month. One minute it’s the first and the next it’s the 28th and spring is here and I start saying profound things like ‘everything feels brand new’ because I see one lone dandelion. Basically, what I’m saying is, the best time to enjoy winter is when you know that it’s almost over. Enter Good Neighbour’s miso and aubergine doughnut, the ultimate comforting bite of warming shiitake jus and sweet, crispy pastry. It’s the kind of mouthful that just hits different when your hands are cold and you haven’t seen daylight in three weeks. My recommendation? Head to this charming little Tooting small plates spot to get it before the sunshine returns and all you fancy is their octopus and prawn croquettes. Which FYI are also great.” - HLB


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Hafez

££££+44 20 7221 3167
Hours:WED
12PM-12AM

Salad e olivieh

“I usually have a very tried and tested routine when it comes to Persian restaurants. I know I want some butter on my rice, I know to ask for extra bread, and I know that the dips are sometimes the most important part of the meal. But when I overheard another diner telling his friend that the salad e olivieh was unmissable, I decided to take a risk and try it too. Finely diced chicken blended with eggs, potato, gherkins, olive oil, and mayonnaise, this salad, which was served cold, was excellent. It was creamy, with soft chunks of potato, and a nice tang from the gherkins. So to the stranger with good taste, thank you for introducing me to one of my favourite new dips.” - RS


Borscht shots

"The best thing I ate this week was something that was predominantly drank. I returned to BAM or, rather, the restaurant Formerly Known As Black Axe Mangal as it’s now referring to itself after a few years apart. It’s as loud and thrilling and cramped as it’s always been, to the extent that the flavours it serves up feel like they’ve out grown their rowdy home in Highbury. But that’s just an exciting hypothetical. For now, it’s still big flavours from small things. The first of which should always be FKABAM’s borscht shots. Supernatural shots of purple (spiced beet stew) to be had after knocking back a vodka before cleansing one's palate with a chunk of frankfurter and pickled walnut on a cocktail stick. That’s my kind of eating." - JM


Lamb shank massaman

“Just before Christmas, Covid finally got me. That bitch. So there I was, trapped in my bedroom with no sense of smell and a feral rabbit—not a Covid symptom, just a questionable lifestyle choice—when I realised that the only thing I wanted to eat was little sips of massaman curry. Since then, I have been a certified massaman addict and this one from Patara is currently ranking as my favourite. A lamb shank version from the Soho branch of this Thai mini-chain, it's warming, nutty, and importantly makes you feel like some kind of king who can just, like, demand a shank of lamb. A proper winter warmer, it’s 100% worth the £22 price tag and is perfect for sharing alongside some classic rice and a round of their sweet, sticky chor muang dumplings.” - HLB


Sticky sesame vegetables

“Fatt Pundit knows how to make vegetables hot. Not just in the Paris Hilton sense, but also in the genuine szechuan pepper sense. These crispy little bite-size vegetable fritters are covered in a sticky, spicy glaze, and will have you gasping for air/water/redemption from the hellfire it will release on your tongue, while you simultaneously reach for more so you don’t miss out on those last extra crispy pieces.” - RS


Bánh mì chao

“Having picked up a couple of bánh mìs from Ant House in Dalston over the past year (the one featuring pickled egg yolks is an acquired taste but is seductively viscid if that’s your thing) it had been in my mind to stop by for a sit-down meal. I’m glad I did. The on-hold-to-British-Gas piano soundtrack and the server wearing a bootleg Mesut Özil mask were pluses, as was the purple mojito topped with a giant teddy bear ice cube. Best of all, though, was the bánh mì chao. A sizzling deconstructed bánh mì of ribeye, meatballs, pork roll, razor-sliced red onion, an egg and, delightfully, chips. All with sliced Vietnamese baguette on the side. It was the first bánh mì chao I’ve ever had. Full of caramelisation and Maggi-ish meaty depth. Sure, the beef could’ve been rarer and the baguette a little fresher, but the moppability of the whole thing wooed me. Not bad for an impromptu plate.” - JM


Tagliatelle In pink sauce

“It’s no surprise that I—someone with a history of adding butter to absolutely everything—am a fan of a cream-based pasta sauce, although as much as I love it, it does always feel a little heavy, and finishing a decent sized bowl of the stuff is a challenge. Enter this ‘pink sauce’ hand-made tagliatelle number. It’s simply a mix of red marinara and white cream sauce topped with a mountain of parmesan cheese. It’s the perfect balance. Ask for it and thank me later.” - RS


Omakase

“Look, I don’t want to be out here shaming London’s sushi. After all, I am much too busy processing what just happened on the SATC reboot. But let us just for one brief fleeting moment, remember that it’s really pretty tricky trying to find good sushi in this city. You know, the proper stuff. Yashin off of High Street Kensington is doing sushi right, where the quality fish is the headliner and the little blobs of yuzu, truffle, and roe are the classy back-up singers. A boujie but straightforward experience that I definitely won’t forget in a hurry, the tuna with a supreme hit of spicy mustard easily ranks in my personal top-five nigiri in London.” - HLB


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Little Mercies

££££

Duck fat roast potatoes, redcurrant bread sauce

“Cold nights like the ones we’ve been having recently demand spirit-forward cocktails. Little Mercies, a delightful neighbourhood cocktail spot in Crouch End understands that. Another thing cold night essential Little Mercies understands is bar food and the sauces they’re served with. There’s the pool of mint yoghurt that comes with the curry fried chicken. There’s the smoked ratte potato that isn’t really a sauce, but also kind of is, that comes with the salt-baked beetroot. Both had flavours big enough to cut through the smooth-edged whisky and cognac notes of my Sazerac. Best of all though was the little ramekin of redcurrant bread sauce that came with these magnificently crispy duck fat roast potatoes. A 10/10 order on a cold night.” - OJF


Ayrshire sirloin

“People say that love happens when you least expect it. I think the same applies to steak. Stay with me now, but many of the best steaks I’ve eaten haven’t been served in steakhouses. They like to come to me unbidden in nice pubs, slick little modern European restaurants, and in this case, at the downstair wine bar at Salon in Brixton. This sirloin was perfect. Perfect for a chilly night, perfect with the truffle potatoes, and the perfect excuse to order another glass of red wine.” - HLB


Jollof rice and chicken

“Some days a Boots meal deal will suffice. But when the sky is grey, and I skipped breakfast, I need something more... substantial for lunch. And the jollof rice and chicken at this Nigerian restaurant on Coldharbour Lane (and four other locations around London) is delivering exactly that. Smoky, spicy rice served with chicken in a sweet tomato sauce and some fried plantain on the side, this is a meal that not only tastes like it was made to be enjoyed, but like it was made to fill you up so you won’t think about eating anything else until at least 9pm that evening.“- RS


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Balady

££££
Hours:WED
11AM-5PM

Falafel pita

“There many things to like about Balady’s new location on Leather Lane, not least the fact I find it markedly easier to get to than the kosher spot’s original location in Temple Fortune. Of course my favourite thing about it is their falafel: crisp and fresh out the fryer, it’s fluffy inside, steaming with green herbiness and spices, all of which cry out for the combination of fruity amba, punchy zhug and cooling tahini that lines their soft pitas. That will always be the #1 appeal, closely followed by their fantastic hand cut chips. Here, there was another contender: the member of staff giving out free samples whilst trying to entice none-the-wiser lunch workers in by proudly, confidently and also nonchalantly proclaiming it “the best falafel in London”. A big statement we certainly have an opinion on. Is it true? Well, it’s a tight call. The only way to be sure is, of course, to eat some more.” - JM


Sarap BAon is permanently closed

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Sarap BAon

££££

Lechon with rice and atchara

“Sometimes you have a terrible week. Like, the kind of week that makes you feel like you’ve been drop-kicked by The Rock whilst Anne Hegerty whispers ‘you look awful in denim’ in your ear. I have had one of those weeks, which I’m partly telling you because sympathy is delicious, but also because it’s important background information for the following. Sarap’s signature slow-roasted pork put a huge beaming smile on my face. Packed full of lemongrass, chilli, garlic, and ginger, the crispy pork belly is served with a side of spiced coconut vinegar and iconic noughties tunes. A teeny tiny restaurant inside Brixton Market, it feels like the perfect private kitchen to turn any pity party into a night of affordable, excellent Filipino food, big laughs, and plenty of zingy atchara. Because, when in doubt, fermented papaya will get you far.” - HLB


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The Plimsoll

££££

Friseé, caesar, gouda

“While I recently sang the praises of a salad which I would describe as a ‘grown-up salad’ (bitter leaves with bits of fruit zest and altogether the kind of thing that would have the cast of Gogglebox, quite justifiably, up in arms) I can’t help but prefer a salad that isn’t really a salad. Especially one that’s essentially cheese masquerading as some fuzzy leaves, as per The Plimsoll’s friseé take on a caesar. It was, as my dining companion put it, “the best kind of salad”. Creamy and salty, driving the slightest hint of lemon, all with the background moreishness of anchovies and a blanket of gouda shavings on top. Healthy? Probably not. A salad? Technically yes.” - JM


Lobster tempura

“My love of all things deep fried means I am generally a fan of tempura. Which means when I see it on a menu, it’s getting ordered. The one at Sachi was up there with the best I’ve had. Crispy, free of any greasiness, with beautifully soft and tender lobster meat inside, this tempura is a winner. It comes with some vegetables and uma dashi, and is incredibly pricey at £32, but has also been on my mind ever since I ate it.”- RS


Panisse, lemon thyme & sea salt

“My editor is pretty wise. He is able to keep plants alive, whereas my poor planters might as well be called In Memoriam Of The Snake Plant That Flourished Here For All Of Three Days. So, when we were all at lunch together at Sessions Art Club and he said “we should order the panisses, they’re fun” we listened. And aren’t they fun? Look at them. Effectively what we have here is something that resembles a giant chip with a mild, comforting chickpea flavour, and the fluff factor of those rescue dogs I spend every waking second thinking I should adopt. Also they’re the perfect vehicle for mopping up the salted butter and all the other genius sauces this exceptional Clerkenwell spot is dishing out like it’s no big deal. Casually and undeniably fantastic.” - HLB


Radicchio and hazelnut salad

“According to Jerry Seinfeld, a big salad comprises of big lettuce, big carrots, and tomatoes like volleyballs. This has always aligned, or probably more accurately informed, my own worldview of what constitutes a big salad. But every now and again I meet a plate of leaves that goes against this. My latest big-but-not-Seinfeld-big salad was at Toklas, a beautiful arty restaurant by the Strand serving the occasional plate of NFT (Nice For Tonight) as well some masterpieces. This salad was the latter. It was made up of enormous cup-like radicchio leaves, bitter and vibrant, green and purple, the kind of nature that makes you want to paint a landscape, or marry a rock. There were slithers of onion and chunks of hazelnut too, all of it covered with the most primo of EVOO and, wait for it, the finest gratings of orange zest. A delightful plate of crunching foliage.“- JM


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Danclair's

££££

Famous cod fish fritters

“I was going to rewrite the lyrics to Cry Me A River as Fry Me A River (Of Cod) as an ode to these fried little legends, but honestly I don’t want ‘Justin Timberlake, again Heidi?’ to come up in my impending performance review. Anyway, the point is we’ve always been a fan of these deeply addictive fish bites from Fish, Wings and Tings, and the good news is they’re just as good from their new spot Danclair’s. Serving suggestion: dip generously in the extra runny ginger aioli and eat in two glorious large bites. Crunchy fluffy fishy goodness.” - HLB


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Manthan

££££

Mango lassi

“Okay, so yes this is a drink, which means it’s technically the best thing I drank this week, but that just goes to show how incredible it was. Thick and unbelievably creamy, while at the same time refreshing, this tasted like a liquid Solero - in the best way possible. While the food was great at this new Indian spot in Mayfair, the lassi was the highlight of the meal. It was the best one I’ve had in any restaurant to date, which meant I obviously ordered a second one as “dessert”.”- RS


Clams and creamed celery with Idaho scones

“A dish that makes you think and feel and remember many things at once is invariably a very good one, or a very bad one. Memories are not what mediocrity maketh. Within a sniff, a slurp, and a bite of clams and scones at Rita’s new gaff in Soho, lots of good things happened in my brain all at once. Happy memories of clam chowder in Grand Central Station, those soft steaming hot sugary doughnuts from Thorpe Park, and M.F.K. Fisher’s eternal words about the recipe for a creamy soup, albeit one featuring a different mollusc, as being ‘actively abhorrent’. This was quite the opposite though. Missy Flynn and Gabe Pryce’s take on American-influenced cuisine has been around for almost a decade now, but the new Rita’s feels and tastes like something better. Having never had fried Idaho scones before, I can’t vouch for where Rita’s version sits on the scale. But I can say that it was delicious, their airy dough mopping up the cream concoction of everyone’s last-to-be-picked-in-the-playground vegetable, and acting as a doughy alternative for chewy chive-flecked clams soaking in creamed celery-ness. It’s an excellent taste of Americana, bang opposite Andrew Edmunds.” - JM


Chongqing spicy noodles

“Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimised by chilli peppers. Because, same. my relationship with spice is… complicated. Which means I’m a strictly lemon and herb kind of girl when it comes to peri peri chicken, I pick jalapenos off pizza, and ordering a spicy noodle soup is out of character. And yet I did it. And yes, it was numbingly spicy. But it also tasted so good that I kept going, with mouthfuls of veggie spring roll in between, a feeble attempt not to overwhelm my taste buds, until I finished the whole bowl. Spicy, with delicious fresh noodles, spring onions, and roasted peanuts, this is a great bowl of noodles, and the perfect thing to turn to when the cold gets too much.”- RS


Carnitas

“I found passing my driving test easier than getting a reservation at Kol. And that’s coming from someone who is 99% sure their driving instructor went into witness protection after I almost hit a pensioner during my tragic attempt at parallel parking. But holy guac, was all the faff worth it. A Mexican tasting menu situation that is so far from boring, I could name drop the lobster taco, the exquisite little crab chalupa, or anything else on this menu as the best thing I ate this week, but I’m going with the carnitas because that’s the thing I’m most excited to run back to Marble Arch to try again. A bowl of gloriously tender, shredded confit pork cheek loaded onto soft tortillas with a generous helping of black bean purée and gooseberry salsa. Honestly, this just might be the best thing I’ve eaten this year. Go on, try to make a booking, I dare you.” - HLB


Jerusalem artichokes, egg yolk and herbs

“The restaurant menu is a sacred thing, but it’s forever in an unavoidable catch-22. Say too little about a dish - ‘jerusalem artichokes, egg yolk and herbs’ for example - and you have a list of composite ingredients that tells the diner very little about what lies ahead. Say too much - ‘roasted jerusalem artichokes, viscous egg yolk and a Titchmarsh array of herbs’ for instance - and you have description so far up its own arse it makes you pine for a double cheeseburger and nuggets. I thought this as I eyed the menu at Planque, East London’s latest must-visit wine bar and restaurant, headed up P. Franco alumnus Seb Myers. Because I don’t often eat them, I ordered the jerusalem artichokes safe in the knowledge that I had almost no knowledge of what form of food would end up in front of me. What did arrive was a sort of gooey and woody-smelling flowerbed that tasted completely and totally luscious. Yolk as a marinade is a masterstroke. How many yolks do you think have gone into this, I asked my friend. Two or three? We didn’t know. All we did know is that it was completely brilliant. The artichokes were soft and earthy covered in this lavish orange liquid topped with herbs and nuts. A certified £9 plate licker. Thankfully they didn’t say all that on the menu, otherwise I wouldn’t have a job.” - JM


King prawns

“Garlic is my passion. Give me any recipe and I’ll translate one clove as three, and three as ‘fuck it, just use up the whole bulb’. That’s why I am powerless in the face of anything that comes with garlic butter, and so I had no choice but to order these chilli-topped prawns from Soho tapas bar Copita. As always, my gal garlic did me a solid because they were fantastic. Look at them! Look! At! Them! They’re huge and they were oh-so juicy. n.b. I have added a grape for scale because I didn’t want to spend the first ten minutes of our next work meeting repeatedly saying ‘no seriously, these prawns were massive’. A further n.b. get to Soho for some proper prawn time immediately.” - HLB


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