There you are, minding your own business, when you step out of your house and realise—dramatic shudder—it’s cold. Yes, it’s that day of the year that every denim jacket fears and every soup aficionado loves. The official start of big coat season. And that means it’s also time to start eating those things that will make you feel all warm inside. You know what we mean, piping hot soups, steaming bowls of udon, and huge pies. Read on for twelve reasons why there are some serious positives to the cold weather after all.
“It’s like the bloody Arctic out here,” you say, as the weather hits 12 degrees. Don’t despair fellow cold-weather dramatists because Koya’s curry atsu-atsu will heat you up in no time. We’re talking about a piping hot bowl of mild but moreish curry with fresh, hand-pulled udon. Plus, if you hang your head over the steam for long enough it’s basically a facial too. You should know that this little udon bar in Soho is pretty popular, so you might have to do a little scheming or, if a potential queue is a big no-no, you can book ahead at their City restaurant.
A Massive Pie That Invariably Has A Piece Of Bone Marrow Stuck In The Middle Of It
All the best hearty dishes should have an asterisk next to them on the menu, saying something like *This is an endurance test. You will sleep well tonight. A pie at St. John definitely falls into this category. Whether it’s steak and kidney or pheasant and trotter, you’re guaranteed a rich and saucy creation, made crunchy thanks to the suet pastry edges, and complete with a prehistoric aesthetic thanks to the bone marrow in the middle. The menu writes that they’re for two people, and that’s perfect if you’re looking to be horizontal for the foreseeable. Otherwise share between more, and then double down on the madeleines and things with custards after.
King Prawn Curry
If an iced coffee is at the top of your to-do list when the sun shines, then a creamy seafood curry should be your first port of call when the chilly air kicks in. And the king prawn curry at this family-run Vietnamese spot in Kingston arrives in a sizzling hot plate, and is the edible equivalent of a long, warm hug. It’s comfort food at its finest. Mild and hearty, the curry sauce is filled with fried sweet potatoes, onion, and meaty, tender prawns. Oh, and you can swap the prawns out for tofu for a gloriously creamy vegetarian curry.
Maggie Jones’s Creamed Fish Pie
Goosebumps, present. Freezing your butt off on the bus, confirmed. Scarf, MIA. Short of entering a codependent relationship with a hot water bottle, the best thing you can do in this situation is make your way to Maggie Jones’s. This proper charmer of a restaurant in Kensington, is seriously old school in the best possible way. With cosy wooden church pews and candles on almost every available surface, it’s the perfect setting for some fish pie. But not just any fish pie. Maggie’s signature fish pie. It has a lovely crispy skin and those goosebumps will thank you for getting involved in the excellent hot fish filling.
Roti Joupa is permanently closed
Stopping in at Roti Joupa for some doubles is the kind of move that can turn a bleak day into a brilliant one. Whether you go to the Trinidadian spot’s location in Clapham, Shepherd’s Bush, or Finsbury Park, the hot doubles will be the same soft and chewy baras, while the channa—all chickpeas and cumin—is the warm and comforting you need on a daily basis throughout the whole of winter. A splash of hot sauce on top is essential as well.
Don’t be deceived, Big Coat Energy is real. Common symptoms include excessive use of coat pockets, dramatic twirling, and strutting down main roads like you’re Steve Buscemi in Fargo. And you know what, Big Cheese Energy is real too. La Petite Ferme is the kind of raclette-serving, cosy restaurant that will make you wonder if it’s normal to be a bit turned on by some Morbier. Well, according to us, it is. This place does a huge all-you-can-eat raclette situation for £27 per person and the decor will remind you of those family-run French spots you’ve loved on holiday. Let the hot melted cheese commence.
Sure, if you live in LA and/or own a convertible BMW, then Hot Girl Summer makes sense. But seeing as the closest we’ve ever got to a convertible was watching Transformers, we’re more Hot Chocolate Winter kind of people. Coincidentally, we’re also the kind of people who will happily eat a two-person lasagne solo. At Llewelyn’s, a seriously charming neighbourhood spot in Herne Hill, their menu changes often but this Hereford beef lasagne makes regular appearances. As you can see, it’s, err, huge—and is basically a hug in bechamel sauce form. Get involved in a glass of red too.
Rare Steak Phở
Whether you are cold, you’re suffering from a cold, or you just opened the fridge and thought ‘brrr’, the pho from Sông Quê will sort you out. A little corner seat and massive bowl of steaming hot broth and noodles is our go-to move for a majority of the year in London. The rare beef is essential and the tripe and tendon versions, combined with tofu, are also excellent. The broth is rich without being heavy or overly meaty, and the effect it has (whether placebo or not) feels always-restorative.
The Best Big Comforting Bowls Of Soup In London
Spaghetti Al Cartoccio
If you’ve ever eaten Ciao Bella’s signature seafood spaghetti—steamed and emptied from a greaseproof bag onto your plate—then you’ll know that there’s moment where you wonder if said bag has in fact been stolen from Mary Poppins, and repurposed at this old school Italian on Lamb’s Conduit Street. The reason being is that this is, for all intents and purposes, an IKEA bag of pasta. The spaghetti is mixed in a white wine sauce with squid, mussels, and a singular, token prawn. The whole lot then bathes together in a greaseproof bag before the steaming mountain is emptied, direct from the bag on to your plate, like a magician revealing your dinner.
Chicken Thali And A Keralan Paratha
It’s five degrees outside, so you’ve got two options. The first is to spend the entire day on your laptop in bed, venturing out from under the covers only to scavenge for snacks—even though you know you finished the Jaffa Cakes last night. The second option? Head to Ganapati in Peckham for a chicken thali. Only one of those scenarios ends with you feeling totally satisfied after consuming a tray of creamy chicken curry, rice, raita, poppadoms, and if you’re feeling really cheeky, a Keralan paratha on the side. We know which one we’d pick… and after this lunchtime special, you’ll probably be inclined to spend some more quality time with your pillow.
We consulted with a group of scientists and it turns out that just saying the word ‘schnitzel’ increases your body heat by two degrees. Okay, just kidding. The only scientist we’ve spoken to was a Hinge match that ghosted us when we didn’t understand their ‘The name’s Bond. Ionic Bond.’ joke. But either way, the important thing here is that one of the best places for schnitzel in London is Viennese brasserie, Fischer’s. Expect a truly humongous slab of moist, buttery breaded chicken, that should definitely be followed up with the topfenstrudel for peak cosy feelings.
The Sticky Toffee Pudding And Custard
The trench coat is the real star of the film Casablanca, discuss. Sorry Humphrey Bogart, but we think so. And honestly, there probably isn’t a better setting for a classic trench coat moment than old school City spot, Sweetings. This place is technically all about seafood, including lobster mash and fish pies, but it’s the sticky toffee pudding that we really crave when the bad weather sets in. There’s nothing fancy going on here, just a warming dessert that will give you serious school dinner flashbacks. We love.