There are some people in the world who just don’t really like going out for meals. It’s bizarre, but it’s true. Some of them can’t deal with the experience: the service, the noise, the questions. We call these ‘Twitchers’. Others aren’t so good with the food: the choices, the variation, the prices. We call these ‘Spag Bols’. And then there are some who aren’t happy wherever you go: the bathroom soap is cheap-smelling, the music ‘a disgrace’. We call these ‘Tripadvisors’.
Whichever your friend or family member is, don’t worry. You don’t have to cut off all contact with them yet. We’ve made a guide to help them (and you) enjoy a meal out:
For people who don’t like: being sober, hearing what everyone round the table has to say
Some people see food as fuel and would rather spend their time having fun, instead of refuelling themselves. Well, at Tayaabs you can do both. It’s a Punjabi institution that’s been giving the people what they want for almost 50 years. What the people want of course is their famous sizzling lamb chops, gallons of booze (it’s BYOB), and mountains of delicious homemade breads to soak it all up.
For people who don’t like: being polite, eating polite
Some people don’t think they like ‘weird’ food (see: sweetbreads, artichokes, and any meat that isn’t chicken). We’ve found that by and large these people are wrong. As a result you need to treat them like an adult-baby and Black Axe Mangal is the perfect place to do this. With its loud music, tiny room, and plastic baskets, you could be mistaken for thinking this place was going to serve you some sloppy sliders, but that’s part of its schtick. Things are not as they seem here, and the party atmosphere extends to your mouth. Before anyone knows it, they’re eating squid ink flatbread with cod’s roe because it has glitter on it. It’s like giving candy to a baby.
For people who don’t like: fry-ups on a chopping board, ketchup limitations
Unfortunately, some people know what they like and like what they know and that is that. In that case, you might as well go to Pellicci’s and have a laugh and be laughed at. Have a fry up, have a chat about your family history, get a cup of tea, get mugged off. This isn’t one for the vegans and vegetarians of this world, but if you do want to try, we wouldn’t mention it.
For people who don’t like: having their water refilled, suspicious contactless technology
If the whole restaurant ‘experience’ is a problem, then Xi’an Impression is the place to go. These guys will simply say hello, take your order, and leave you in peace. It feels a bit like a proper caf, but it serves Northern Chinese food. The hand pulled noodles with beef are a go-to, as are the cold ones with cucumber, and the potsticker dumplings are a winner for all ages, sizes, and temperaments.
For people who don’t like: aloof service, sober service
Stick some guinea fowl, chicory, anchovy mayo, and pickled grapes on a plate and your difficult other would probably run a mile. Stick it in between two slices of bread and they’ll wolf it down. This is where Max’s comes in. The sandwiches here are not of your meal deal variety by any means. The ham, egg, and chips (ham hock, fried egg, homemade piccalilli, and shoestring fries) is the stuff of legend and things are made better by the man whose name is on the door. We’ll let you find out for yourselves.
For people who don’t like: 2018 portions, having to speak in a hushed tone
When you’re stuck for a place to feed a very difficult mate, there’s Ciao Bella. It’s a London institution and is about as comfortable and homely as they come. This is a place for anyone and everyone. The seafood linguine is a must, not least because it’s mysteriously cooked in a greaseproof bag that you dollop onto your plate yourself. Needless to say, the portions are big. The bill isn’t.
For people who don’t like: leaving the pub, limited drink options
‘If you can’t be comfortable in the pub, then you can’t be comfortable anywhere.’ Someone great wrote this once. We’re not sure who, but we’re pretty sure they worked for us. And you know what? They’re right. The Drapers is for anyone who loves the familiarity of the pub, paired with distinctly un-bog-standard grub. It’s a proper establishment, in that it serves brilliant food and welcomes everyone in. So next time somebody suggests the pub for lunch or dinner, you know where to go.
For people who don’t like: paying a lot to be fed, waiting to be fed.
There’s a reason pizza for breakfast is a thing and there’s a reason why people on the internet say grammatically incorrect things like “because pizza”. This is because pizza is delicious. It doesn’t matter how difficult someone is, they can’t not like pizza and Theo’s is one of London’s best - hands down. Their pizzas are doughy, crispy, saucy, and the fresh mozzarella is the real deal. They even do gluten-free for crying out loud. If that wasn’t enough, their homemade chilli sauce is drinkable and the atmosphere is as calm as you like, despite things running like clockwork. It’s popular place with locals and those all over London, so we reckon this is a place that everyone can get into.
For people who don’t like: cutlery, vegetarian options
Is there a less offensive phrase in the world than “shall we just get a burger“? We think probably not, and when the burgers are from B&B, then you’ll be thankful of your unambitious friend for the suggestion. These are not to be messed about with, and nor are the tater tot sides. It will satisfy ambitious and unambitious eaters equally, and they’re in a few places - Camden, Shoreditch and Canary Wharf - which means they’re a useful option if you’re in and around these bits.
For people who don’t like: interior design, food without flavour
This list wouldn’t be complete without a Vietnamese because, who doesn’t like going for a Vietnamese? If you have a sincere answer to this question, we’d recommend ending communication with said person. Song Que is the king of Kingsland Road and anyone who doesn’t have fun and something delicious to eat here is a wrong’un. Nothing more to it.