Decisions, decisions. There are too many of them to make in one day. That’s why Mark Zuckerberg wears the same normcore reptilian disguise Monday to Sunday. And it’s also why you have a go-to order at London’s foremost peri-peri establishment. Because, sometimes, you just can’t be bothered to make a decision. As in, you fully can’t be arsed. That applies when you’re going out to eat too, and that’s when these 12 restaurants come into play. They’re all casual places making great food that, most importantly, do the work for you: whether that be a set menu or choice so limited there’s almost no choice.
Our nans used to tell us that you shouldn’t worry about things you can’t change. They also used to tell us not to pee in the bath, so as you can tell, they’re pretty wise. At Chinese spot Hunan in Victoria, you don’t need to worry about anything, because you won’t know what you’re getting until it arrives at the table. This place operates on a ‘trust us’ menu where you simply tell them your dietary requirements, preferred spice level, and, you know, that you hate coriander, and they’ll do the rest. The lunchtime menu is £45, whilst the evening menu will set you back £71, but it’s worth it as we’ve never had a bad meal here.
A pizzeria may seem like an odd choice on this list, but when the pizzeria in question only makes two styles, then it makes perfect sense. You’ll be getting one marinara and one margherita, won’t you? Vicoli Di Napoli is on Stoke Newington Church Street, and it’s been pulling these two classic Neapolitan numbers out of its hand-built pizza oven for a few years now. The space itself is bright and cosy and filled with people enjoying the simple things in life: dough, marinara sauce, cheese, and booze.
You wouldn’t walk into the dentists and ask for a haircut. We hope. And well, you shouldn’t walk into Beer and Burger and ask for anything other than exactly that. The cheeseburger and a pint. Their King’s Cross branch isn’t a complicated place doing complicated things, it’s just a chilled spot that’s perfect for catch-ups over a pale ale and people who could spend an eternity choosing between teal and turquoise. Oh, and if you’re wondering whether to get the gravy and chips, just get them. Decision made.
Andu is a homely Ethopian café in Dalston where the only decision to make is to go alone or with a friend. The reason being: the sampler platter is the only thing on the menu and you order it for one or for two. Large or larger, basically. Either way, you’ll be eating moreishly spiced yesimir wot (lentil stew), crunchy gomen (greens) and a load of other bits to be mopped up with perfectly tart injera bread or rice.
Sometimes the wine list is the only decision you really care about, and even then it’s only the first bottle that matters. Because after that you start doing your best ‘dog lost in the Sahara finds a puddle impression’. Before everything descends to that point, book a table at Salon. This wine bar and restaurant in Brixton does a five-course set menu for £39, or a bigger one for about tenner more. Expect homemade breads, a pasta course, plus some meat and fish, with tomatoes, celeriac, and those sorts of things.
Bubala’s 20-something-item, all-vegetarian menu may seem overwhelming at first. It stinks of anxious decision making and the terrifying possibility of food envy - especially as almost everything at this Mediterranean spot near Spitalfields is completely delicious. But at the bottom of the menu you’ll find an option entitled ‘Bubala knows’. And trust us, they do. This set menu costs £30 a head, and it’s the greatest hits of their menu. Stuff like their hummus and labneh and warm salted laffa flatbread, mushroom skewers, and obviously those crispy, crispy latkes.
If the decision was ours, we’d head to Old Street to eat at Tayer and Elementary’s four person kitchen counter every night of the week. Only, at £75 a head, you probably want to save this for a special occasion, like the end of the month. We can’t say precisely what to expect food-wise (because it changes weekly), but what we can say is that you’ll be sitting on one of four stools, slurping lethal cocktails, and eating things so full of flavour that even the French trip-hop playing sounds muffled.
It’s much easier to forgo decisions when you wouldn’t have a clue if you were given the choice anyway. That’s the beauty of Casa Fofó, a lowkey tasting menu restaurant in Hackney making an always changing menu of delicious and unusual food. £39 will get you seven courses of things like almond ravioli in chuggable mystery broth #1, or a bowl of plain looking pasta that turns out to taste like the very essence of oyster (and chilli). The only decision to make is who to come with, and we’d recommend a date, as this is one of E8’s most intimate and unique restaurants.
You’re sweating. Your brain is playing a supercut of every time your head ordered the pizza when your heart wanted the pasta. You can smell something in the air that might be garlic, or the early, creeping stink of regret. This, friends, is food envy. The cure is Persepolis, a part-deli, part-café situation in Peckham that serves excellent Persian meze. Here you can share their large £8.50 meze platter and get involved in falafel, salad, warm bread, the yoghurt and cucumber dip, and wotsits - yes, wotsits, without having to make a single decision. Heads up, this place is also BYOB.
Generally, a good rule in life is to never trust a drunken butler to make any of your decisions for you, but we’ll always make an exception for this seriously charming Clerkenwell restaurant. Serving a mix of French and Persian inspired food, it looks like the dreamy, artistic living room of someone who’s at least 60% cooler than us. The tasting menus range from five-courses for £49 to seven-courses for £69, to their seriously excellent Persian Sundays set menu, but whichever one you go for it’ll make for a great date, no decisions necessary.
Unless you’re doing an omakase situation, sushi restaurants can be full of big decisions. One minute you’re glancing over their maki selection and the next you feel like you’re picking between the entire cast of Finding Nemo. Let the signature evening tasting menu at Sake No Hana do all the work for you. This sophisticated Japanese restaurant in St. James’s is full of bamboo and orchids, and although their tasting menus don’t come cheap you’ll get a selection of things like king crab tempura, winter truffle iron pot rice, and the chef’s choice of sashimi and nigiri. Emphasis on ‘chef’s choice’.
Sure, it’s slightly alarming that it took you exactly fourteen minutes to choose the love heart you had permanently tattooed on your arm - forever - yet you’ve been known to spend close to an hour deciding between two flavours of Pot Noodle. We understand, food is important, and this is something tasting-menu-only spot, Perilla agrees on. This Newington Green spot is one of those casual fine dining places where you’ll find things like seaweed risotto, perfectly cooked lamb, and some damn good bread, as well as lots of delicate yellow candlelight.