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Guide

The Best Things We Ate This Week

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

147 Spots
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147 Spots
Launch Map
Updated July 23rd, 2021

London restaurants are back, baby. And though the seemingly endless cycle of closing, reopening, and closing again has meant that every week there were more and more things to eat, all the dine-in, delivery, and meal kit options can feel pretty overwhelming. That’s why we’re continuing to highlight the best dishes we’ve had recently, to point you in the right direction.

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

Jake Missing

Shalamar Kebab House

££££
££££ 95 New Rd

Chicken tikka

“For all of London’s extortionate living expenses and heinous overpricing (I recently, fairly hungover, paid £6 for a smoothie that I was led to believe, admittedly by my own interior monologue, had healing properties, because... berries) there are still unbelievably delicious bargains to be had for a few quid. Take this chicken tikka from Shalamar, just off of the Whitechapel Road. The Pakistani canteen-style restaurant is lowkey in every way apart from flavour. Their £2.50 chicken tikka is sensational. The kebab is juicy to the point of the meat falling apart under half-arsed fork pressure, whilst being charred on the edges and purring with chilli powder and turmeric. Paired with a spoon of their simultaneously snappy and creamy mint sauce and an enormous bhaji frisbee, it’s nothing short of perfect. Next time, I’ll be getting it in a naan roll for an extra pound.” - JM

Rianne Shlebak

Cottons Rum Shack & Restaurant

££££ St George Wharf

Jerk half chicken

“London is, very understandably, a city that is more prepared to handle torrential rain than 26° weather. Which means that finding an outdoor seat at a restaurant in the sun can be tricky. And finding one with views of the Thames, nice cocktails, some pretty great food, and a free table on a Thursday night is even more rare. But this Caribbean spot in Vauxhall was doing just that this week. The stand-out dish was this jerk chicken. Juicy, tender, slow-cooked chicken that falls off the bone with a light poke, paired with some jerk sauce for generous dipping and some rice and peas, it was spicy, slightly sweet, and exactly what you should be eating next time you’re lost in Vauxhall.” - RS

Jake Missing

Argoe

££££

Clams, cider & sobrasada

“Good food on holiday just tastes better. It’s a fact. You’ve got the sun shining, the sea gently lapping below your harbourside table and, as in my case last week, dulcet Cornish tones in the air as you order another carafe of biodynamic wine in a shameful DFL (Down from London) accent. But the meal I had at Argoe in Newlyn, precisely one day after opening, wasn’t just enjoyed through the rosé-tinted hue of holiday sunglasses. It’s one of, if not the best meal from a new restaurant (there’s the caveat) I’ve eaten this year. And yes, the head chef is ex-Rochelle Canteen. Everything ordered and shared, like all great meals, worked in perfect harmony. From the tart mussels echabeche fizzing with all-spice and peppercorns, to a glorious, golden, shimmering whole deep-fried lemon sole with a fat dollop of wholly lickable aioli next to it. The vegetables - roasted beetroots with sour cream and white beans with grilled spring onions sitting in a thick pool of oil and salt and bean starch - were quiet stars, but the best thing I ate has to be something from the sea. Or rather, the seafloor. Clams cooked in cider and sobrasada. Fat and salty with chunks of spiced pork and caramelised onion. The sauce they sat in, one part sea and one part sausage, was singing a siren’s song for bread. It duly came. And then more was ordered. In fact, pretty much everything was ordered.” - JM

Jake Missing

Native @ Browns Courtyard

££££ 39 Brook Street

Sea-Lero

“I chose the only 20 minutes when it wasn’t sunny this week for my bicycle ride to Mayfair, turning up to what is - I think - a fairly elegant restaurant both monumentally underdressed and soaked to the bone. I’ll save my thoughts about Browns, the (delete as you think appropriate) ludicrous/upmarket clothes store Native is embedded in, for another time, but I was grateful that nobody in there made me feel any more like the idiot I clearly am as they led me, dripping, through the eye-watering sneaker section to my table. Of all the things I ate there, it was the £6 Sea-Lero that stood out, and not just because I love an ice lolly as much as I do a dodgy pun, but also because it was served besides a small pile of delightfully sour crumbs, giving me strong paper-bag-full-of-astrobelts-in-my-blazer-pocket flashbacks when I dipped the fruity lolly in them. Would I take this oat milk sorbet, sea buckthorn, and alexander seed creation over a newsagent Solero? Possibly not. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t swing by their charming courtyard to have it again.” - OJF

PREVIOUSLY, ON THE BEST THINGS WE ATE THIS WEEK

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Gelatorino

££££ 2 Russell St

Pistachio gelato

“There is a sacred ritual in our office that we like to call the ‘sweet treat run’. Framed elaborately as ‘research’, a sweet treat run is actually where we go on the hunt for something delicious whilst discussing the intricate details of the underboob presented on last night’s Love Island. This week our sweet treat run took us to Gelatorino, a proper little old school ice cream parlour in Covent Garden. I went for the pistachio (the best gelato flavour there is, I will not be taking questions) and this one was especially creamy and rich. The cone was also perfectly crisp. Long live the sweet treat run.” - HLB

Rianne Shlebak

Chakra

££££ 2 Riverside Walk, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1QN, UK

Goan prawn curry

“After Monday’s torrential rain, I was officially ready to leave this grey country. But this prawn curry made me stay. Only kidding. Travel restrictions and being an adult also played a part. Anyway, the outdoor terrace at this riverside restaurant in Kingston did soften the blow. Being near water, with the sun shining, and some of the best Indian food in the area on my table made me temporarily forget where I was. The star of the show - followed very closely by the butter chicken - was this Goan prawn curry. Now these were some hench king prawns, big juicy ones that look like they’ve been hitting the gym after a successful Love Island application. They were cooked to a perfect softness in a sauce of caramelised onion, roasted spices, and vinegar, with just a slight hint of sweetness from the coconut.” - RS

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Quaglino's

££££
FrenchBritish  in  Mayfair
££££ 16 Bury St

Côte de boeuf with lobster

“I find it confusing when someone says they ‘enjoy a challenge’. Personally, I like living easy and leaving the challenges to people better suited to effort, like athletes and Labradors. And yet, the combination of this obscenely large côte de boeuf and half a lobster is one of the best challenges I’ve ever faced. Sure, it was touch and go for a minute on whether I’d actually polish the whole thing off, but when the meat is this gloriously tender, you just keep eating. The lobster was sweet and had excellent bite. All in all, a frankly ridiculous plate of food I will reminisce over every single time I get a big old craving for steak.” - HLB

Jake Missing

Al Kahf

££££ 112-114 Vine Court

Lamb shank, bariis iskukaris, Somali flatbread

“When I was younger my dad went though a big lamb shank phase. It was probably something to do with the birth of gastropubs and the rising popularity of this off-cut. It was definitely something to do with his mate who worked in Smithfield market and would get him a very tidy price for an already very cheap bit of meat. All I know for sure is that between the 1999 to 2002 period, the lamb shank consumption in our household was off the charts. My sister coincidentally joined my mum in vegetarianism shortly afterwards. Anyway, because of that OTT consumption I swerved the shank for ages, but Al Kahf has reminded of how good it can be. The Somali restaurant is off of Whitechapel Road. Not obvious to the eye and nor to Google maps - it’s a zoom in and in place - but a quick search told me it’s very much known about. And you’ll be able to taste why. The lamb shank is so tenderly cooked that a cursory glance at it will cause the juicy meat to fall from its bone. It’s perfect. The best shank I’ve eaten in 20 years. Possibly the best lamb I’ve eaten in the same period. Paired with a sharp whack of basbaas (Somali green chilli sauce), a tear of smokily charred flatbread, and a scoop of sweet and lightly spiced bariis iskukaris, it’s a 10/10 mouthful. One that tasted as nostalgic as it did new to me.“- JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley

The Farrier

££££ Camden Stables Market, 87/88 North Yard

Tomahawk steak

“My favourite type of pub is the kind where the carpets are sticky, there’s a cat curled up near the bar, and some delightful old dude is sitting at the bar whinging about Holly Willoughby never replying to his fan mail. Absolute heaven. That’s why I’m always somewhat suspicious of new pubs, but when it comes to this huge modern boozer in the Camden Stables, I’m officially a convert. This is hands down the best steak I’ve had in ages. Tender, juicy, smoky but never burnt, it’s an actual meaty masterpiece. The chips on the side were also proper winners and once you add in their rich gravy, you’re onto the kind of meal that you definitely won’t forget in a hurry.” - HLB

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Wiltons

££££
££££ 55 Jermyn St

Oysters

“In my humble opinion, the saying ‘the world is your oyster’ is quite silly really because there’s actually a lot of truly terrible oysters out there. You know, the ones that make you feel like your taste buds have been attacked by Free Willy and there’s a strong likelihood you’re going to be seeing them again in two-to-four hours. But when oysters are good, there’s nothing better. These Jersey rock oysters from this classy old school restaurant reminded me why oysters and champagne is a combination that will never go out of style. They were meaty but not overwhelming, so fresh but not too salty, and delicate but not so boring that you have to smother them in tabasco. In fact, eat them with just a tiny spritz of lemon and they’ll be perfect.” - HLB

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Kanji

££££ Southbank Centre

Katsu teriyaki

“For all intents and purposes, I am a tiny little gecko. Stay with me people. What I’m saying is, if there is even an 8mm slither of sunshine in London I will track it down like Sherlock in lizard form, and ceremoniously plonk myself in it with a spritz and some solid SPF. That’s exactly what I did this week between the endless bursts of rain, and in the process of serious sun stalking, stumbled upon Kanji. It’s a little street food operation based in Southbank Centre Food Market, the katsu had perfect crunch without the chicken being too dry (IYKYK) and at £6.50 it makes for a perfect grab-and-go catch-up on the river. Combine with a cocktail from the bar opposite for peak sticky rice + sunshine feels.” - HLB

Jake Missing

Humble Chicken

££££
Japanese  in  Soho
££££ 54 Frith Street

Soft knee & cartilage yakitori

“Going to restaurants will never not be exciting to me. But after the past year, it’s fermented to a different level. Especially when it’s somewhere I haven’t been before. So sitting at the bar of Humble Chicken - a new yakitori restaurant in Soho - felt something close to thrilling. Not just because I’m something of a weeb, but because a yakitori counter, with its open flames, twirling skewers, and unceasing provision of food on stick - is a completely thrilling place to be. Of the many (and there were many) skewers, it’s the soft knee and cartilage that’s stuck in my head most. It reads like a footballer’s injury. The kind that would have the teenage version of myself hyperventilating and hopelessly looking to Uri Geller and a spoon for help. But the slightly more adult version of myself just gets excited. Excited for some perfectly juicy and charred chunks of chicken attached to the crunch of a joint. Anyone who’s especially committed to getting every last bit off a chicken wing will know what I’m talking about. It may not be the part of the bird that’s to everybody’s taste, but marinaded in spicy miso and still hot from the grill, it’s very much to mine.” - JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Sidechick

££££ 56 James Street

Everything.

“This is not the first time that Sidechick has been featured on The Best Things We Ate This Week. That’s right lads, this is an unprecedented chicken encore. Because although we featured this excellent chicken delivery operation from the people behind Patty and Bun circa lockdown 800, they’ve now opened a proper IRL bricks-and-mortar spot on James Street in Marylebone. The chicken was cooked to perfection. Honestly, somewhere out there my nan is weeping into an oven glove because I might actually prefer Sidechick’s zatar roasted chicken to her classic Sunday number. Although the chicken is very much the headliner here, everything from the mushroom and ricotta flatbread to the simple but sensational thyme roasted crispy potatoes should also be on your table. Case in point: The aubergine and labneh dish that is Exhibit A in my new life mantra, Always Eat Aubergine With Pecorino. Get it all.” - HLB

Rianne Shlebak

Hiden

££££
££££ Stable St

Mild chicken curry

“When the sun’s out, I like to eat things that are cold. Ice cream, sashimi, more ice cream. So the fact that it was hot outside and the smell of the curry sauce from this Japanese spot in King’s Cross still called to me is a pretty big deal. And me actually finishing a whole bowl of this piping hot curry in 20 degree weather is an even bigger deal. The chicken was tender, the curry sauce was thick and rich, and the rice was perfectly fluffy - and the whole thing was under a tenner.” - RS

Jake Missing

Homies On Donkeys

££££
££££ Unit 38 Wood Street Indoor Market

Cochinito in chipotle taco

“In this line of work (eating, digesting, staring into the middle distance, writing… something) you have good eating weeks and bad eating weeks. This has been a good week. It all started at Homies On Donkeys, a tiny taqueria in Walthamstow’s Wood Street Market that I’ve been trying to get in for a while. Twice I’ve made the journey up only to find it inexplicably closed. Once, a kind trader opposite (kaftan, crystals, could’ve convinced me to change my name to Buckthorn if I hadn’t been so hungry) told me that she thought they were on holiday. Mentioning this to Smokey the other day - owner and taco king - he assured me that was impossible. He never went on holiday because he loves working so much. And having finally watched him do his thing and eaten his tacos, I don’t doubt it for a second. These are big, messy, and juicy tacos. The camaron enchilado has king prawns so chunky that the corn tortilla can barely take their weight along with the tingly tomato and chilli sauce they’re cooked in. The cochinito (pork butt cooked low and slow) is the star though. It’s smoky in flavour cooked by someone Smokey in name. I’ll be back for the Saturday specials.”- JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Arabica King's Cross

££££ 7 Lewis Cubitt Walk

Chicken and pistachio shish

“Are you sensing a pattern here? The pattern being ‘Heidi ate a lot of great chicken this week’. I’m not sure why I’ve gone peak poultry - please let me know if you’re aware of any full moon chicken consumption connection - but this dish from casual East Mediterranean-inspired restaurant Arabica laughs in the face of anyone who refers to chicken as boring. Tender thigh, a thick cardamom yoghurt, orange zest, and the glorious crunch of a generous pistachio crumb, I will inevitably try and make this at home and fail when I can’t get the chicken to be anywhere near as moist but crispy as this King’s Cross spot has. Pair with one of their crisp, zingy Portuguese wines for full factor 50 summer energy.” - HLB

Jake Missing

Norman's Cafe

££££ 167 Junction Road

Breakfast Set 2 (+ one sausage, followed by a chip butty)

“Nothing says perfect English summer to me quite like a fried breakfast in 26 degree heat before retreating indoors to watch some blokes from North Macedonia and Austria kick a ball around. Truly a perfect day and Norman’s was the perfect place to start it. As you can see from the glowing orange yolk on the egg and the artfully balanced banger, Norman’s isn’t a caf caf. Its identity feels more i-D magazine than a mug of tea and The Mirror, but that isn’t to be derogatory. Everything and everyone here was spot on. The Breakfast Set 2 - a multi-carb delight featuring crispy hash brown, soft bubble and squeak, white sliced, a runny orange egg, thickly reduced homemade baked beans (the best I’ve had of an often disappointing bracket), and an added on sausage for good measure - was extremely good. Nothing reinvented and everything done well. And that includes my chippy butty for dessert. Outside of homemade English breakfasts, jazzier attempts tend to fall short in my experience. Norman’s was close to perfection.”- JM

Truffle

££££ 22 Bateman street

Mac and cheese (with crispy chicken skin)

“Like Adam Sandler and oversized t-shirts, or headaches and Zoom calls, some combinations just work. And the combination of crispy chicken skin on mac and cheese is one I really wish I’d discovered sooner. This burger spot in Soho is true to its name and heavy on the truffle, and while the truffle-y stuff is great, it’s this side that stole the show. The mac and cheese is of the creamy variety, less oven crisped and more on the soft side. It uses three types of cheeses (yes, please) and, importantly, comes covered with crispy chicken skin (or crispy onions), adding a very welcome crunch and fried onion flavour to the cheesy base. And I wouldn’t mind some of that crispy chicken skin to-go.” - RS

Turul Project Hungarian Delicatessen & Cafe

££££
££££ 1 Turnpike Parade

“Our Garden”

“Mark my words, this is baby food in its final evolution. A fancy little plate of carrot puree, vegetables, and ‘edible soil’ (stay with me), this is the kind of thing you eat and think ‘huh, chewing is actually quite overrated’. In all seriousness, the flavours were great and all the textures made me very happy. That edible soil? It tastes vaguely like mushroom with the consistency of peanut powder, and it turns out the blitzed vegetables are the perfect thing to eat when it’s 30 degrees out and chewing would inevitably lead to heat stroke. Combine with a nice, crisp juhfark white for peak summer feels at this Hungarian wine bar and restaurant.” - HLB

Founder's Arms

££££ 52 Hopton St

Chips

“Sometimes you want ‘edible soil’ and sometimes you want a plate of fried potatoes. The good news is, we can have it all, just like Jonathan Van Ness promised. Sure, part of the appeal of these crispy, chunky chips comes down to location, but honestly, sitting in the sun eating Proper Fat Chips with a tangy wild garlic mayo is entirely glorious. Now, I could go on a rant about how I was raised with extra chunky chips in Dorset and find most of London’s chips anaemic and sad, but instead I’ll just say that the next time the sun graces us with her presence, get yourself to this pub overlooking the Thames and partake in the noble tradition of eating chunky chips in the sunshine.” - HLB

Eat Vietnam

££££
££££ 232-234 Evelyn Street

Cánh gà

“Freddonomics - the belief that a chocolate bar shaped like a frog is a worthy indicator of inflation in the UK - has been knocking around for years. But there is another London-wide food-based measurement that’s less spoken about: the Wing Index. Almost every street in London with a handful of food and drink options can be judged (with absolute validity) by the worthiness of its wing options. The Seven Sisters Road, for example, is a high performer on the Wingdex thanks to sheer volume. Anywhere with a mix of wing cuisines, the Kingsland Road say, also scores highly. Lamb’s Conduit Street on the other hand, for all of its beauty and quintessential dining options, is relegation fodder according to the Wingdex’s indisputable algorithm. All of which somehow brings me to this memorable plate of cánh gà sticky chicken wings from Eat Vietnam in Deptford. Beige and bubble-skinned, they were crisp to the point of being crackling-like - the colour matched and so did the crunch. The meat itself was steaming and juicy while the thinly glazed sauce - asking for more on the side is completely essential - mixes aromatic spices with a sweet BBQ tang. Only this finger-lickin’ take is more Ho Chi Minh City than, say, Houston, and it goes some way to getting Deptford a very high score on the Wingdex.”- JM

Sumi

££££
££££ 157 Westbourne Grove

All of the nigiri

“I visited Endo’s first restaurant, Endo at the Rotunda in White City, pre-pandemic, for some of the best sushi I’d ever eaten. So when I was headed to his new sushi spot I was expecting great things. And great things were exactly what I got. The nigiri at this more relaxed Notting Hill location was excellent, the fish was melt-in-your-mouth, the rice perfectly sticky and delicious, and the sushi is the kind you will want to double - no, triple up on. I will be back, next week in fact, and I will definitely be seeing this fatty tuna again.” - RS

The French House

££££
FrenchBritish  in  Soho
££££ 49 Dean St

Steak frites

“I don’t have great history on hallowed grounds. Years ago Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci briskly glided away from me as I tried to take a selfie with them and a portrait of Jesus inside the Basilica Papale e Sacro Convento di San Francesco d’Assisi. During a football match at Anfield a man told me he would “rip my fringe off and stuff it up my jacksy”. At the first bar mitzvah I was invited to I stood and applauded at the end. So, lunch at The French House this week. Inarguably one of the most hallowed drinking and eating establishments in London. Where there are ‘rules’, and famous faces, and years of drunken tradition. Thankfully, my luck (or rather, appalling judgement) was in. It was steak frites Thursday - which is something worth noting - and the beef rump cap, sitting in a shimmering puddle of garlic and bone marrow gravy, was simply perfect. And the fries. Fries just aren’t as good as chips but… these ones (crisp-like in their crunch, and well, chip-like in their fluff) were impeccable. Sure, I may have mistaken Neil Borthwick, the head chef, for a fresh-faced commis and he also may have drunk my drink. But who would deny a Scotsman a glass of champagne after a meal as faultless as this one? Or rather, who would ever deny a Scotsman a drink. Respect, after all, should always be paid on hallowed ground.” - JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Wolfox Avenue

££££
££££ 56 St James's Street

Fox pancakes

“Guess who went to Brighton last weekend? This girl. Some would call it a ‘mini-break’, but I’m going to go out on a limb and call it a ‘48-hour restaurant crawl’. And in case you were wondering: yes, this does mean we have some day-trip content coming soon. I kicked off my visit with these gloriously thick pancakes from brunch foliage heaven, Wolfox Avenue. They were fluffy, sweet, and revived from the horrors of having to get a train with the general public. Forever partial to some aesthetically pleasing plating, I’m also a fan of the little sprig of lavender, which is now how I’m going to start all mornings, thank you for asking.” - HLB

Rianne Shlebak

Apple Blue Patisserie

££££
££££ 212 Balham High Road

Dutch baby and fried chicken

“Fun story: I once (not too long ago) bought a 30 pack of frozen Yorkshire puddings and would heat three of them at a time and eat them with mash and gravy - as a meal. I did this until the bag finished. And if I’m being completely honest, my relationship with Yorkshire’s hasn’t been the same since. But say the words ‘Yorkshire pudding-styled pancake’ and I’m there. And to anyone who’s thinking ‘10am is too early to eat fried chicken on a huge pancake’, I say ‘live a little.’ The point is, this dish is doing everything right. The Yorkshire pudding is doughy and savoury, and the fried chicken has an unbelievably crispy exterior - even after being drenched in maple syrup. The fried egg is a welcome addition, and also helps it pass off as a brunch meal. If you’re ever around Balham, this is what you should start your day with.” - RS

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Wild Flor

££££
££££ Western Rd

Pappardelle, glazed pig cheek, peas, & thirty-month aged parmesan

“Do you believe in restaurant fate? I do. More specifically, my stomach does. And I can’t help but think it was written in the small plate stars that this Brighton restaurant just happened to have a single dinner reservation left when I was planning my trip. I could write actual poetry about the burrata, the combination of the XXL cod with delicate slices of apple, and the texture of the mushroom chou farci. But the al dente pappardelle was my absolute highlight. The glazed pig cheek meatballs were oh-so-tender, perfectly matched the natural bottle of Greek red our server suggested, and frankly, I’m now livid that all cheeses don’t spend 30 months chilling out so they can be this tasty. Wild Flor, I love you.” - HLB

Dimsum & Duck

££££
££££ 124 King's Cross Road

Pork dumpling in chilli oil sauce

“After months of staring at Dim Sum & Duck’s feed wishing, no willing, their delivery radius to extend to my bed, I have now been there twice in the space of five days. It’s funny what a change in the weather and the FOMO on perfectly packed and glistening cheung fun can do to someone’s, or rather my, state of mind. Anyway, while both the char siu pork and prawn cheung fun are exemplary - glistening and truly packed to the rafters - it’s these bathing pork dumplings that have continued to bob around in my head. The ratio of pork to dumpling wrapper (90/10) is truly outstanding, the mince spiced to perfection, and the sauce, with punches of ginger and vinegar and the hum of chilli oil, is welcome in my bedroom anytime.” - JM

Buns and Buns

££££
££££ 5 Covent Garden Piazza

Rib-eye sandwich

“Before I say anything about this, let me just say how excited I am for indoor dining to reopen. Not just because wearing a huge puffer jacket and gloves while eating doesn’t quite do it for me, but because then I could go back to being my unorganised self. Instead, to get a table at this outdoor Covent Garden restaurant, I had to wait. For an hour. The end result? By the time I sat down, I had pretty much memorised the whole menu. It was this ribeye sandwich that caught my eye though. Ciabatta filled with Uruguayan rib-eye steak, crispy shallots, and a delicious aji panca sauce - it was everything I needed after waiting in a queue for an hour: comforting, filling, and good enough that I forgot I was sitting outside.” - RS

Over Under Coffee

££££
££££ 181A Earls Court Road

Violet Spritz

“Controversially, I think being a child sucks. My childhood was, after all, the time period where I went through my most tragic and profound break-up. Geri leaving The Spice Girls. With that in mind, it’s incredibly impressive that I liked this cocktail from café-cum-bar Over Under, as it tastes like iconic poster child of youth, Palma Violets. In fact, I loved it. Despite containing sweeter-than-sweet honey syrup, the soda and lemon keep it super refreshing and it makes a great change for anyone who feels like they might be coming to the end of their negroni obsession. Sweet and pretty but still strong and grown-up, I highly recommend it for your next Friday night tipple.” - HLB

Café Deco

££££
££££ Store Street

Apple turnover & Jersey cream

“Months ago I wrote about bad, or, even better, non-existent photos being the sign of the best kind of meal. Not that you can’t have a stonking lunch or dinner and take nice pictures, but… you’re probably having an even better time if cutlery and not content is your first priority. So yeah, that’s the romantic (and therefore unquestionable) excuse for this awful blur, taken at a meal at Café Deco that flirted with perfection. Anyone who’s anyone knows that the final non-liquid consumption of any great meal should be deep-fried, and Café Deco certainly did. They also knew that Jersey cream is just the right step up from a dipping McFlurry and that unlike the world’s most famous bit of deep-fried apple pastry, the only hazard with this deep-fried apple turnover would be fighting for the last spoonful.” - JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Ebury by Fat Macy's

££££ 44 Gatliff Close

The cheese toastie

“In my flat, there is one object that demands respect above all other items. It is not the television, or the kettle, or even our lord and saviour the coffee machine. No, it is the toastie maker. A comrade to lazy cheese enthusiasts everywhere, I really believe that the common toastie deserves more credit. Case in point: the cheese and pickled onion toastie from Ebury. For a casual £5.50 this cheese fest taught me something truly inspirational. It turns out that adding a generous portion of green chilli butter takes a toastie from being decent to totally delicious. This knowledge will serve me well in the comfort of my own home, but realistically if you’re looking to eat a top toastie in a beautiful open garden that somehow no one seems to know about, Ebury has got you covered.” - HLB

Yemeni falafel with crispy aubergine

“When I entered my own, personal, weather-inflicted lockdown this past week, Bubie, Bubala’s mini-spin-off-delivery-only kitchen in Kentish Town, came to the rescue. There’s plenty on the small, vegetable-only menu to entice (honourable mention to the caramelised onion rice which is crunchy, zingy, and - I can honestly attest - particularly good eaten with the fridge door wedged open in the middle of the night), but it’s the falafel wrap that’s the star of the show. With bright green herby sinews running through it, the falafel itself is some of the best I’ve eaten, and while technically you could wrap anything in Bubala’s laffa, deliver it to my door, and make me a happy human, the crispy aubergine, sumac onion, crunchy pickles, and kiss of garlic from the creamy toum set the whole thing off almost to perfection. My one gripe is that it lacked heat, so having a pot of spicy green zhug in the fridge to dollop all over it would be a smart move.” - OJF

Patogh

££££
££££ 8 Crawford Place

Boneless Chicken

“Sometimes taking risks pays off, like switching from Apple Music to Spotify. But a risk I wouldn’t recommend you take, is going to this tiny Persian spot off the Edgware Road and not ordering the boneless chicken. Not because the other meats on the menu aren’t great - they are - but because the boneless chicken is juicy, succulent, and beautifully marinated, and my favourite part of an excellent meal. With that being said, you should come here knowing that you need the ‘big special bread’ alongside all of the starters. As well as the minced chicken and minced lamb. Basically, it’s all pretty great, but whatever you do: boneless chicken.” - RS

Heidi Lauth Beasley

The Red Duck

££££
Chinese  in  Balham
££££ 1 Ramsden Road

Crispy Aromatic Duck (Half)

“Balham’s got a new Chinese restaurant that’s serving the classics. I’m talking Sichuan dumplings, char siu pork, and old faithful, crispy aromatic duck pancakes. And let me tell you, the duck here is fantastic. It arrives at your table like the ultimate party guest, smelling amazing and glistening, before being ceremoniously carved whilst you pretend you’re not dribbling in public. The pancakes are thick enough to hold a serious dose of duck, hoisin, spring onions, and cucumber, without a single tear. But it’s the duck that’s the real star of the show. The skin is gloriously crispy but the meat is still nice and juicy with that whole melt in the mouth thing going on. You can also opt for a quarter, but when it’s this good, going for a half is a no-brainer.” - HLB

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Sussex

££££ 63-64 Frith Street

Maldon Rock Oysters

“Oysters may technically be a mollusc, but in my humble opinion they’re actually a state of mind. Want to feel like you’re a grown-up who makes good decisions on your birthday? Oysters. Want a date night that says ‘sorry you had to see me wear Pokemon pyjamas for the entirety of February, I am, in fact, quite sexy’? Oysters. Want to feel alive after months of government-mandated isolation? Oysters baby, oysters. This Soho spot from ingredient-led family-operation, the Gladwin Brothers, is all about quality produce, and their oysters are no exception. These Maldon rock oysters have a particularly meaty taste and are perfect for anyone that likes a more subtle saltiness over feeling like your palate has been thrown into the Pacific. Plus, you get to watch them being shucked fresh from the terrace in Sussex’s little Noilly Prat oyster shack on the street. Combine with one of my all-time favourite sparkling wines, the Nutbourne ‘Nutty Wild’, direct from the Gladwin Brother’s Sussex Vineyard, for peak summer feels.” - HLB

Mr Ji

££££
Taiwanese  in  Soho
££££ 72 Old Compton Street

Poached soy chicken

“On the first Saturday night since restaurants and pubs partially reopened, Soho resembled something verging on dystopian. Every minute was marked by a different pitch of scream. Hunched figures sat in darkness under billowing canopies cooking meat on mini robata grills. Hare hare krishna, hare hare krishna. Soho is back and, depending on who you ask, it’s either brilliant or horrendous. The jury is still out for me. Especially in the fragile state I was in. But I had no doubts about how good the PSC (poached soy chicken) from Mr. Ji was. Having recently got into the poached bird game myself, this was just on another level: impossibly moist, soy-level perfect, and paired with a wonderfully pungent garlic and spring onion sauce. The absolute bedlam occurring around you might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no doubt that this Taiwanese spot will be.”- JM

Cue Point

££££
BritishBBQAfghan  in  Chiswick
££££ The Chiswick Pavilion

Big platter

“Ah, where to begin. I tried Cue Point’s naco meal kits towards the end of 2020 and they were outstandingly good, and most definitely made it onto this list. But the platter I got from Cue Point’s residency at The Chiswick Pavilion was on another level. It came with their 16-hour smoked brisket (which I’ve been eager to have again since the meal kit), lamb barbacoa, buffalo chicken wings, fries, coleslaw, hush puppies (a Cue Point take on an onion bhaji, and something I will not be hushing about any time soon), and their Afghan chutney and dips. The meats were tender and perfect, the buffalo wings crispy and tangy, and the portion so generous that a lot of it ended up as takeaway. That could have had something to do with the excellent smoked brisket burger I ate first, but who knows?”- RS

Heidi Lauth Beasley

The Palomar

££££
££££ 34 Rupert St

Beef tartare

“This morning I had to stand in my shower for approximately 30 minutes internally screaming the lyrics to Evarvescents ‘Bring Me To Life’. Yes, I had a hangover. A big, juicy, temple-crushing hangover which I am entirely blaming on this beef tartare from The Palomar. Sat on their new pavement terrace I was struck by Big Tartare Energy and preceded to order myself a bottle of champagne. I was powerless in the face of the harissa aioli and amba yoghurt which really made the beef sing but didn’t overwhelm it. A real ‘fuck it, I should live my best life’ kind of meal, this is what we all deserve after a long sad lockdown. Or as I will now be calling it The Great Tartare Void.” - HLB

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Jerk Munchies

££££ 189 Broad Ln

Jerk chicken

“There’s the green eyed monster, and then there’s me. Case in point: Whilst my beloved colleague went out on a stoic mission to discover The Best Jerk Chicken In East London I got hungry. And let me tell you, hunger and jealousy is not a good combination. That’s how wars are started people, so I did the wise thing and ordered myself some chicken from Jerk Munchies. Now, let’s just take a moment and look at it. Charred perfection, check. Dark pink meat, check. Glistening generous sauce factor, check. It also smells magnificent. So magnificent in fact that the poor chicken never made it out of this box because I ate it with my bare hands in my kitchen. Sexy, so sexy. And yes, I 100% encourage you to do the same.” - HLB

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The Scolt Head

££££ 107a Culford Rd

Slow cooked cod and Bull’s Heart tomatoes on toast

“Joni Mitchell was wrong. I’ve always known what I had with the pub. I didn’t it to be gone. That said, pubs are different right now. They’re organised and premeditated and full of carefully selected groups of Myspace top friends. Your boyfriend doesn’t like this. He probably wouldn’t like that Nuno Mendes has done the menu at The Scolt Head either. And he’d more than likely hate the fact that I paired a pint of the black stuff with some slow cooked cod and the sweetest of Bull’s Heart tomatoes. Nobody else minded though. Not the site workers lunching on bone marrow burgers, nor the families eating every variety of eggs benedict. That’s the thing with pubs. They’re on, and serve, a spectrum. And if like me you’re a pub person, then you probably didn’t need them gone to know how much you valued them. You just needed them back.” - JM

Birria Taco

££££ Ventures Hotel

Birria tacos

“As someone who often doesn’t wait for the kettle to finish boiling before pouring hot water on my teabag, I can say I am a certified impatient person. So, slow-cooking lamb for 6+ hours isn’t something I want to take part in. That’s where this Sussex Gardens spot comes in. A weekend-only takeaway situation (at the moment), they’re making a bunch of excellent stuff - all revolving around birria. This box of corn tacos filled with slow cooked marinated tender lamb, melted cheese, and served with consommé to dip them in was so good that I went back the next day for more.” - RS

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Milk

££££
££££ 20 Bedford Hill

Fish sando

“This, right here, is the fish finger butty in its ultimate form. Ronald McDonald sit the fuck down, I no longer have use for your filet-o-fish. I’m talking shokupan loaf. I’m talking crisp panko fried snapper. I’m talking fukujinzuke pickle. It’s a beast of a sando, but somehow none of the flavours get lost. It’s £12.75 and the portion is hefty, but, sadly, it’s one of the limited seasonal dishes from this Balham café so move quick. Trust me, if you stan the fish finger butty, you need this.”

- Heidi Lauth Beasley, Staff Writer

Ewarts Jerk

££££
££££ Gillett Street

Jerk pork belly

“We’ve entered that flirtatious period of double digit degrees and intermittent sunshine that has everyone buying up charcoal like Elon Musk has tweeted about it. Like every every reactionary chump suffering from SAD it had me wandering in the direction of Dalston and specifically Ewart’s drum barrel barbecue on Gillett Square. His jerk is dry rub and unlike a lot of east London jerk cooked fresh for maximum char and smokiness. The results are undeniable - particularly when it comes to the jerk pork belly. Perfect cubes of smoke and spice, I’ll more than likely be holding a carton of these all summer.”

- Jake Missing, Staff Writer

Souvlaki Guys

££££ 258 Grosvenor Terrace

Chicken box

“A chicken skewer is just a chicken skewer, right? Wrong. The barbecued chicken breast at this Greek-Cypriot BBQ spot in Southwark was next-level juicy, and made even better by the tzatziki that came with it. I ordered the chicken box, which comes with bulgar rice, salad, and your choice of sauce (yes there is a right choice, and yes it is tzatziki). I also added some ‘gooey’ halloumi as an extra which was a very welcome addition. Everything from the chicken to the greek salad was full of flavour, so filling that I couldn’t even touch the hummus I got on the side, and something I’ve been talking about since last Thursday.”

- Rianne Shlebak, Editorial Assistant

Heidi Lauth Beasley

The Riding House Café

££££
££££ 43-51 Great Titchfield St

Herb-crusted rack of new season lamb

“I am surrounded by feeders. This is no accident. Ever since the playground I have kept a look out for those kids that are willing to swap a DairyLea Lunchable for friendship. Anyway, one of my beloved feeders - or ‘friend’ as some might call them - cooked this up on their BBQ on Easter Friday and they did an excellent job. But the flavours? For these big herby fresh flavours the credit has to go to Riding House Café. They started Soul Ride, a Caribbean-inspired meal kit project, during the pandemic and this lamb was so good it rivalled my nan’s and that woman is Welsh. Juicy, tender, and seasoned to perfection, another of my feeders - sorry, ‘friends’ - labelled it ‘banging’. A high accolade indeed.”

- Heidi Lauth Beasley, Staff Writer

Pockets

££££
££££ Netil Market

Falafel pitta

“It’s great when people get it. What ‘it’ is always tends to be pretty nebulous, but hugely important. And in the case of Pockets - a little falafel stall in London Fields - they get it. They get that a pitta needs to be layered. A crisp still-hot falafel, cabbage salad, hummus, zhoug, a drizzle of amba, tahini. Repeat. No one thing is hidden, no one perfect bite combining the falafel, the sauces, the tart crunch of cabbage and the hit of (essential) pickled chilli is rationed. It’s the full shebang 100% of the time. But even before they started layering everything into their soft, pillow-y pockets, I asked “what’s that?” nodding towards a crispy wedge waiting to be slipped on top at the end. “It’s a deep-fried potato”. I had no doubts that they get it.”

- Jake Missing, Staff Writer

Lamb börek & tres leche

“Spasia Dinkovski set up Mystic Börek a few months into lockdown and after months of seeing friends excitedly tuck into her majestic Macedonian pies, I managed to secure one (you really need to set alarms with this DM to order stuff) as part of a collaboration menu with Four Legs. The börek was beautiful. Genuinely. Perfectly round and crisp and ginormous, you’ll never be so happy to open a pizza box and not find a pizza inside. The filling - lamb sausage with parmesan potatoes and a dusting of parmesan and chilli flakes on top plus pickled peppers - was delicious. Even better after a double reheating two days later. As for the rest? Well, if Four Legs have tres leche on their menu any time soon, we’ll fight you for it.”

- Jake Missing, Staff Writer

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Hideaway

££££
££££ 100 Mount St

Lobster Roll

“Hideaway is the equally bougie little sister of Hide, a glorious Mayfair restaurant that runs like clockwork. It’s also one of the best fine dining experiences I’ve ever had, so to say we were a bit excited to try this lobster roll would be like saying a dog is a bit excited when you shout WALK-IES! I was hyped, very hyped, and it did not disappoint. The roll is perfect - soft but with a good tear, and it’s just a hint sweet to really let the sweetness of the lobster take center stage. And that lobster is top-tier. It’s £18 but you get a hefty portion and for the experience of sitting in Green Park on a sunny day eating this lobster roll after months of metaphorical and literal darkness, I’d pay double that.”

- Heidi Lauth Beasley, Staff Writer

Kova Patisserie South Kensington

££££ 16 Old Brompton Road

Strawberry Sando

“Life is full of big questions. Am I adult enough to own a Dyson? Will they ever text me back? And the most profound of all, how the fuck do I eat this? As a woman who enjoys a challenge I decided to eat this cream sando beast in public, whilst it was pissing it down, entirely aware that I’d have to dislocate my own jaw to fit it in my mouth. But don’t worry, I soldiered on and the challenge paid off. The hakkaido bread is so fluffy, light, and just a hint milky, but the star of the show here is the monster strawberries. They are massive, huge, potentially bred by some kind of superior extraterrestrial fruit farmer. You 100% will end up with cream in your hair but honestly, this sando makes the common cream and jam scone look like a lazy snack from the dark ages. And the best part is Kova Patisserie are doing same-day delivery across most of London.”

- Heidi Lauth Beasley, Staff Writer

Poor Boys

££££ 5 Griffin Centre

Fried shrimp ‘Po Boy’

“PSA: anyone who likes shrimp and huge sandwiches should probably get acquainted with this beast of a roll. I repeat: Get. This. Sandwich. I stumbled across this Kingston spot’s Instagram page around 10am on Tuesday, and waited not-so-patiently for them to open at 12pm so I could order a bunch of stuff. I got a three-cheese cajun mac and cheese with fried mushrooms, buttermilk fried shrimp cajun fries, and a ‘Po boy’ - a brioche bread sandwich filled with buttermilk fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and honey mustard sauce. Everything was great, but the roll was exceptional. The shrimp was crispy, the mustard added a nice sweetness, and the brioche bun was the perfect vehicle to safely deliver it all to my mouth.”

- Rianne Shlebak, Editorial Assistant

Cafe Bao

££££
££££ 4 Pancras Square

Sausage Roll

“I have truly never felt as alive as I did last Saturday when I accidentally snorted this fiery mustard whilst laughing. The instant swell of my tear ducts, the visceral fear that I’d never be able to taste anything other than mustard seeds again, and the strange longing to submerge my whole head into the canal. Would I class it as a near-death experience? That simply isn’t for me to say, but what I can tell you is that if a mustard-related incident is how I leave this world then I hope it involves Bao’s sausage roll. Their latest creation from their new baked goods-focused café is certified genius. Steamed fluffy dough wrapped around some top-quality sausage, with a little lip to hold it by. Just don’t consume it around any comedians or risk the wrath of mustard nose.”

- Heidi Lauth Beasley, Staff Writer

Pophams Hackney

££££
££££ 197 Richmond Road

Porchetta focaccia sandwich

“Unforeseen, unexpected pleasures are the best. A tenner in an old coat pocket that goes towards, say, an unprompted, unbelievably delicious porchetta sandwich. I walked past Pophams with nothing but snooping in mind. My walks now are less park-based and more nostalgic. Bus stops where I’ve sat eating, pubs where I’ve sat drinking - that kind of thing. All of which is to say, I didn’t plan on eating Pophams’ porchetta focaccia but I’m glad I did. The bread was impossibly springy and light, with a perfectly brown crust full of just the right amount of bite. The pork filling: part meat, part melt-in-your-mouth fat, and part crackling was packed with flavour and feelings, but not at all overpowering. This, with the wild garlic mayo (yes, it’s that season again) alongside a smear of apple ketchup and a handful of fennel seeds, made both hefty halves of sandwich something to savour.”

- Jake Missing, Staff Writer

36 Streets

££££ 6 The Griffin Centre

King prawn curry

“As we’ve come to get used to, London weather likes to change based on the government guidelines. We’re instructed to ’stay at home’ the sun shines like it’s the middle of June, we’re allowed to meet a friend outdoors, the rain appears once more. This week, there was a fair amount of rain, and when it rains, I like comfort food. Thankfully this king prawn curry from 36 Streets Food, a Vietnamese restaurant on Kingston Market Place, was everything I needed. It was gloriously creamy, slightly sweet - thanks to the coconut - and the prawns were meaty and tender. It’s the ultimate warming meal, and one that I could happily have whenever it rains.”

- Rianne Shlebak, Editorial Assistant

Pasta Evangelists

££££ 83 Oxford Gardens

Pumpkin Ravioli

“At this point, I am one big walking penne. And you know what, I’m sick of it. I dreamed of more than this. I dreamed of a world of cavatelli, and king prawn linguine, and beef ragu pappardelle, and gnocchi, and just laughing and laughing, eating my beloved spirit pasta orecchiette, each perfect piece held aloft my shining fork until tears glisten in my eyes and I say ‘pass the parmesan, tonight - ragged sentimental weep - we dine like queens’... sorry, it’s been a long lockdown. Basically, I miss pasta. You know, the legit kind that doesn’t come in a bag from the shop downstairs. Luckily pasta salvation came to me in the form of an excellent handmade mafalde with fresh sundried tomato pesto and pumpkin ravioli from Pasta Evangelists. Once just a fresh pasta delivery and takeaway service, they’re now doing hot meals via your classic delivery apps too. Both were excellent, but it was the pumpkin ravioli in a rich sage butter that reminded me of all the pasta bars I miss so much. Perfect for date night or just people who miss fresh pasta as much as I do.”

- Heidi Lauth Beasley, Staff Writer

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Uncle John's Bakery

££££ 76 West Green Rd

This majestic lunchtime spread

“Everyone deserves to have a bakery as good as Uncle John’s on their road. Technically this Ghanaian bakery in South Tottenham is on everybody’s road thanks to the internet and their nationwide delivery, but I’m lucky enough to be within walking distance. Their chicken pie is my go-to lunch order - think tomato, chicken, crust with the perfect crunch - but there’s something about combining this jolly little slice with some Ghanaian Fanta and their sweet bad that makes me capital-h Happy. Nibble of fried coconut dough, bite of herby chicken, rolling the inside of the doughnuts into a delicious little squidgy ball, all washed down with a blast of extra fruity OJ. The perfect lunch.” - HLB

Yori

££££ 86 The Broadway

Pajeon

“If I had to describe this excellent pajeon in a sentence, I’d say it’s my favourite kind of dish. Because even though I ordered it as part of my lunch, I could eat this first thing in the morning. I could eat it as a mid-meeting snack at 3pm, I could happily finish a long day with this savoury, light, yet filling fried Korean pancake. The strips of fresh spring onion throughout keeps it both light and full of flavour, and I’ve got my eye on this Wimbledon spot’s kimchi jeon next.” - RS

Panadera

££££
££££ 83 Kentish Town Rd

Corned beef hash sando

“When I was about 25, I met a penniless artist in a café in Paris who asked me whether or not I was ‘visual’. I had no idea what he meant. As the years went by, I eventually worked it out. Maybe I’m a word person, I told him. I appreciate the looks of things, but they rarely move me the way a well-phrased sentence can. There are some exceptions. A brief moment of impossible-to-describe-in-words clarity while looking out across Tomales Bay in Northern California. Another time, at Tate Britain, when the world stopped spinning for a second or two when I saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night for the first time. And then a third and more relevant (here at least) exception, when I met this sandwich. Words failed me. And they still do. So, what did it feel like eating it? Kind of the same as it feels like looking at it. But about two inches off the ground.” - OJF

Yori

££££ 86 The Broadway

Veg bibimbap

“I would struggle to look at a photo of this bibimbap and not pat myself on the back for ordering it. The colours reminded me of summer, the smell made it difficult to get a picture without first taking a bite, and it tasted, more than anything, like a really really great decision. The vegetables were fresh, the mushrooms were seasoned like all of our lives depended on it, and the white rice underneath was fluffy and light.” - RS

Chuku’s

££££
££££ 274 High Rd

The Chop, Chat, Chill DIY Wrap

“I have put a lot of questionable things inside wraps in the past year. Chicken nuggets, hula hoops, Quorn mini sausages dipped in soy sauce, leftover cranberry Wensleydale from Christmas. You name it, if it once lived in the back of my fridge, I’ve put it in a wrap and had the audacity to call it dinner. But nothing about my year of wraps prepared me for Chuku’s ‘Chop, Chat, Chill’ DIY kit. Packed with their signature jollof quinoa, tender beef, and house salad, it’s the honey suya sauce that truly makes this wrap unmissable. Honestly, it’s like nibbling on honeycomb and a chilli at the same time, in perfect harmony. Seeing as they’ve just started delivering nationwide, no matter where you live, I cannot recommend you order one enough.” - HLB

Mangal II

££££
Turkish  in  Dalston
££££ 4 Stoke Newington Rd

Lamb’s heart lahmacun

“If you’ve got memories of playing pool at Efes in Dalston than you more than likely have memories of dinner in Mangal II as well. Part of the old school of N16 Turkish restaurants, ever since the Dirik brothers revamped their father’s restaurant last year, I’ve watched (and chewed) with interest. Both close-up, inside, chicken wing in hand. Or from afar, stuffing mackerel pide into my mouth. It can be hard sometimes, reconciling warm and fuzzy feelings of the old with new and bold approaches. At least that’s how I was feeling in the summer. Now, I get the sense that the new Mangal II has settled into its groove, as demonstrated by their drop dead delicious take on a lahmacun. Here, you haven’t got a rolled flatbread with spiced mince and salad, but instead a warm and puffy sourdough pide, delicately topped with chopped, juicy lamb hearts that turn to butter in your mouth. Amongst all this is a cumin-y yolk emulsion - or liquid velvet - and on top, an artful arrangement of flirtatiously pickled cucumbers. This isn’t the best thing I’ve eaten this week. This is the best thing I’ve eaten this year.”

- Jake Missing, Staff Writer

Pasta Evangelists

££££ 95 Lavender Hill

Porcini and wild mushroom lasagne

“A lasagne is one of those meals I just prefer at home. Mostly because I can make it as saucy as I want, as cheesy I want, and can eat as much of it as I want (the whole tray). But the vegetarian lasagne I ordered from the pasta subscription service’s delivery-only kitchen in Clapham has converted me. I’m pretty sure I could enjoy this rich, creamy, porcini and wild mushroom lasagne on the top of an uncovered double decker bus, in a storm. I could eat it, with rain water and thyme béchamel in my hair, and a smile on my face - because it is that good. Mushroom-y, creamy, heaven.” - RS

Sourdough Sophia

££££ 24 Middle Lane

Sausage roll

“For some it’s a sound, a smell, or a song. For Proust it was a madeleine dipped in tea. But all I needed for a long-forgotten past to nostalgically unfurl itself from my memory was this sausage roll from Sourdough Sophia in Crouch End. As any of my coworkers will tell you, I’m old. And the straightforward honesty of this sausage roll took me back to a time before massive out-of-town supermarkets were a thing, when every suburban parade had a greengrocer, a butcher, a baker, and when a sausage roll in a grease-stained brown paper bag was an essential and eagerly anticipated treat from any trip to the shops. I won’t go into how this sausage roll begged me to dismantle it like I used to when I was a kid, devouring first the flaky pastry wrapping before slowly, gleefully, nibbling at its innards. Suffice to say, in ten days’ time, when I’m allowed to meet a friend or family member for a park bench picnic, this perfectly formed little thing will be my snack of choice.” - OJF

With Milk

££££
££££ 124 Philip Lane

Croissant

“Somewhere inside my skull is a ravenous little French racoon that, every five minutes or so, whispers ‘we need a croissant’. And I’m not going to lie to you, most of the time I listen to the little fella. So there I was with a serious croissant craving, when I decided to finally check out With Milk. Before I continue, please take a glance at these croissants. They are majestic, they glisten, they are the size of my pet rabbit, and honestly, he’s gotten pretty large over lockdown. 10/10 pastry and their butternut squash pasty is a real winner too.” - HLB

Ramo Ramen

££££ 157 Kentish Town Road

Oxtail kare kare

“Over the past year I’ve amazed myself with how little I’ve achieved. With all this free time I’ve done… nothing. Literally nothing. Apart from buy multiple pairs of house clogs, and eat lots of food absolutely anywhere outside. The latest feather to my bow, or noodle to mouth, came in one of those weird square-cum-park things in Kentish Town alongside a bowl of ramen from Ramo. It’s a Filipino-influenced ramen spot and their oxtail kare kare - a championship winner as the menu notes - is an excellent park-not-park bench meal. The peanut-based broth, inspired by Filipino street food, is thick and luscious, and combined with soft oxtail, a fudgy orange egg, shiitake mushrooms, and some chewy wheat noodles, gave me a warm, contented feeling. That feels like an achievement at the moment.” - JM

Tendon (middle), Pumpkin Croquettes (right)

Nori

££££ 41 High St

Tendon & pumpkin croquette curry don

“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t pick just one of these bowls as the best thing I ate this week. It wouldn’t be true to myself, to you, or to those cute little pumpkin croquettes at the back. I’d been flirting with the menu at this Japanese restaurant in New Malden for a while now, always adding to basket, but not quite getting there. Until this week. I ordered some sushi rolls, their tendon, and a pumpkin croquette curry don. I couldn’t decide between them when ordering, and trying them hasn’t made it easier. The tendon was a bowl of fluffy rice with prawn and vegetable tempura on top, covered with a kimchi mayo and unagi sauce - a mix I would very much like in a squeezy bottle, always to hand. And the pumpkin curry was the bowl of rice, this time topped with perfectly shaped, and fried, pumpkin croquettes, and a pot of vegetable curry sauce on the side. Both were excellent, the tendon was punchy but light, and the croquette curry was comforting and warm. And I already want them both again.”- RS

Mama Li

££££ 73-74 Vallance Rd

Roast duck

“There was a moment, as I stood crouched over my hob, chopsticks quivering in anticipation, eyes wide at the trio of roast meats I’d ordered from Mama Li, when a not insignificant drop - no, globule - of saliva fell from my mouth onto the floor. I looked down, slightly weak at the knees, and slid a Croc smoothly across it. My mouth was actually watering. And I think it was the roast duck that did it. The deep brown skin was crisp and rustled, like an ASMR soundtrack of autumnal leaves. The meat: just drippingly delicious, with the kind of liquid fat that ruptures on the hint of a bite and goes off grenade-like in your mouth. Briefly dunked in Mama Li’s excellent homemade BBQ sauce, it makes for a sincerely mouth-watering meal. Especially that first, vertical bite. That was something special.”- JM

Jake Missing

All Island Grill

££££
££££ 17 Bradbury St

Jerk chicken

“My granddad is a walker. My dad is a walker. And I, too, am a walker. Not just any walker - a fast walker. The kind who is unable to move effortlessly or comfortably in a group of ambling friends. Friends? Remember them? Anyway, my latest nocturnal wander took me to Dalston and specifically to All Island Grill. There are a few Caribbean spots on Bradbury Street but this, I think, is the one. The jerk chicken had the kind of char that flakes away, and the chicken was impossibly moist even after a gentle blast in my oven. 10/10 for sauce quantity and heat, plus the generous bag of fried plantain. It was a two-person portion that was naturally, after all that walking, effortlessly dispatched by one.”- JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley ft. her bad nail polish

Kalamaki

££££ 49 Bedford Street

My Big Fat Greek Sausage

“There is great power in holding a wrap. Cast your mind back to a time when you were walking down a street with a giant wrap in your hand. All those people staring, wishing they too were about to eat that beautiful, glistening carbohydrate vehicle packed full of chicken or beef or falafel. Basically made you feel like you were in this scene from 500 Days Of Summer. But the My Big Fat Greek Sausage pitta wrap by grab-and-go spot Kalamaki is potentially the most envy-inducing wrap I have ever come across. Packed full of skewered wild boar sausage, Aegean slaw, caramelised onion, and chunky chips, it’s a beast of a thing and each bite is packed full of flavour. A proper lunchtime feast, make sure you don’t skip on the feta sauce.”- HLB

Kyosen

££££ 76 Central Rd

Tempura udon

“Recently, whenever I’m thinking about what to order when I’m hungry, something deep inside of me whispers “get the tempura udon”. Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s just my inclination to eat fat noodles. But that pushy little voice led me to try the tempura udon at this Japanese spot in Worcester Park. And it was the best one I’ve had delivered. The tempura prawns and vegetables were crispy until dunked in the rich broth. It was warming, filling, and everything you want from a bowl of udon.” - RS

Song Sushi

££££ Blackstock Road

Chicken katsu uramaki

“I am generally a classicist. I love some simple salmon nigiri, a little soft-shell crab roll done right, and some spicy tuna maki if I’m feeling bold. But then, whilst perusing this little Highbury restaurant’s menu, I saw they did a chicken katsu roll. And I thought to myself, Heidi, live a little. You’re only young once babe. So I ordered it. I was scared it would appear like one of those over-sauced, giant rolls that leave you with a trail of rice down your pyjama top. Yes, pyjama top. But it didn’t. It was perfectly rolled, bite size, and packed full of serious crispy crunch that made an excellent change from my usual order.” - HLB

63 High Street

££££ 63 High Street, New Malden,

Cinnamon roll

“I’ve had a lot of cinnamon rolls in my time, and the ones I tend to prefer need to be covered in cream cheese icing for me to really get excited about them. But the one at this little cafe on the High Street in New Malden was different. It had a hard sugar glaze on top which made it just a little bit sticky, and the outside layer was rolled in cinnamon sugar. It felt like a cross between a soft pretzel and a very light doughnut. The deeper I got inside the layers, the more cinnamon-y it tasted and the softer the roll. I was actually grateful that there was no icing to cover up this perfect thing.” - RS

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Arrosto

££££
££££ 5 Clipstone St

The Full Arrosto

“Arrosto is a new roast chicken delivery service from the people behind Quality Wines. I have met their roast chicken before, tucked inside an excellent bun and smothered in aioli as part of their excellent daily lunchtime offerings in The Great Before Times. To say I was excited to be reunited with their chicken would be an understatement. I basically paced my flat for the majority of the day, channeling my poultry hype into Googling historical chicken facts and declaring ‘me and Richard the Lionheart have so much in common’. Anyway, Arrosto did not disappoint. The handmade chips were fluffy and had that signature whiff of oil and I could have eaten the entire tub of nduja mayonnaise with my bare hands. But the skin, oh the chicken skin. What a treat. Crispy, juicy, with a good hit of rosemary, I spent the evening picking at it long after I’d ‘finished dinner’. Recommended, even though it’s more of a special occasion situation at £40.” - HLB

Maison St Cassien

££££ 71 High St.

Chicken shawarma wrap

“Leaving the house for exercise without eating anything is a rookie mistake. And one that I make more regularly than not. This time it led me to this Lebanese café in Wimbledon Village, which then led to me eating a chicken shawarma wrap in the middle of the street, in running leggings that had never been running. It wasn’t your classic rotating spit shawarma, but the roasted marinated chicken was salty and spicy, with a not too garlic-y garlic sauce and some salad. A great on-the-go running (speed walking) snack.”- RS

Molto bene

Flock & Herd

££££ 155 Bellenden Road

Rib-eye steak

“Although I love to cook, I’ve never been that interested in cooking meat. I’ve always left it to excellent chefs in restaurants, or my dad and his Big Green Egg (n.b. I am open to a #gift here). Anyway - it turns out cravings and mind-numbing boredom can be a productive mixture when my stomach is involved. These days char siu, chicken kiev, and steak are coming out of my kitchen. Yes, I regret to inform the world: I’ve become a steak guy. Which feels a bit jeans and sheux and FHM, but I have no regrets. Especially not when this rib-eye from Flock & Herd is involved. The Peckham butchers know their meat, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it was thicc, with the kind of marbling that would make Michelangelo weep. In fact, I shed a small tear when I gave the other steak to my housemate.” - JM

From The Ashes BBQ

££££
BBQ  in  Hackney Wick
££££ Unit 19

Burnt end beans

“Baked beans are one of those foods that can inspire unadulterated passion in people. If you’ve ever seen someone suggest a full English without baked beans to a pro-beaner, than you’ll know what I’m talking about. Anyway these bean-heads (not the Second Summer Of Love kind) are a funny sort, and I’m one of them. So when I saw burnt end beans on the menu at From The Ashes, a BBQ spot in Hackney Wick, I was truly fizzing in anticipation. Suffice to say, these beans did not disappoint. A chunky mix of haricot and kidney, in a rich whisky-laced sauce with crispy and soft bits of beef brisket, they improved absolutely everything I dolloped them on: a pork bun, a fork of pink beef rib with chimmichurri and crispy potatoes, and my tongue, as I downed the bean sauce from the cup like I would the dregs of an ice-cold can of Coke.”

- JM

Rianne Shlebak

Babylon

££££ 76-78 Coombe Lane

Chunky chips

“You’re only lying to yourself if you say that chips are just a side. They’re a lot more than that. They can make a meal ten times better, or ten times more disappointing. And they can sometimes, on the rare occasion, steal the whole show. No shade to the halloumi burger these came with, but Babylon’s chips didn’t take just centre stage, they walked in and stole the entire production. Perfectly crunchy on the outside, with a centre that felt like it had been removed, mashed, and surgically placed back inside the delicately salted potato casing. These are the best chips I’ve had in a long time.”

- RS

The Gun

££££
British  in  Hackney
££££ 235 Well St

Crab katsu rice

“Exercising my right to exercise (my jaw) in the vicinity of my home, I DM ordered Satsu, who are popping up at The Gun on Well Street. Everything from the inordinate amount of food I got was good - a deep-fried tofu sandwich with pickled mustard greens and chilli oil, a perfect mess of a double smash patty cheeseburger, and a tub of parmesan and what I think were guanciale chunks did a fine impression of a salad - but the least aesthetically pleasing order of the lot was the most satisfying: the crab katsu rice. A sloppy and sweet curry sauce with flecks of rich crab meat, spring onion, and coconut hints. It’s far from the only thing I’ve eaten alone, on a bench, in a park, but it’s amongst the best.”

- JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Charco Charco 炭牛

££££ 83-93 Southampton Row

Wagyu aburi maki (and friends)

“I cannot express how good this sushi is without asking our editor whether I’m allowed to use the term ‘sushicalifragilisticeexpialidocious’. Instead I’ll give you a play-by-play of the events:

Grim Thursday that has the audacity not to be Friday. Evoke ‘I deserve this’ delivery clause I have instituted with myself whenever sad. Begin browsing the folder of apps on my phone entitled ‘Burgies et. al.’. Charco Charco? You’re new here. Hello. Japanese, you say. Okay. Order a rainbow roll, fatty tuna nigiri, and some wagyu aburi maki. It arrives and, my my, they’re quite the lookers. First bite and I say ‘sushi’ outloud to an empty room. I eat it all in one beautiful sitting. There’s soy sauce on my laptop. I am so happy that I put on some Metronomy, because actually, I quite fancy a little dance now. Thursday continues with slight post-dance indigestion and happy sushi mems.

This is the best sushi I’ve had since the pandemic began, but that slightly seared wagyu maki is the best I’ve had. Ever.”

- HLB

Rianne Shlebak

Atari Ya

££££ 44 Coombe Rd

Inside out rolls

“I’ve lived near this Japanese supermarket for years. Walked past it countless times. And every-time had the same thought of “I should really try their sushi”. And after finally ordering some of their inside out rolls this week, I am giving myself the silent treatment. Because it is my fault, and my fault only, that I have been deprived of these excellent rolls before now. I ordered five rolls: tempura prawn, salmon avocado, yellowtail with spring onion, soft shell crab, and spicy tuna. All of which were great, but my favourite was the tempura prawn, or maybe the yellowtail, but actually the crab was really good too. In conclusion, I will be trying them all.”

- RS

Nanny Bill's

££££ Homerton High Street

The Dalston Dip burger

“Let’s talk gravy. It’s the under-appreciated food spouse of our nation. For all the roast dinners and sausages it’s transformed from alright to seriously tasty, we just don’t appreciate it the way we should. Gravy has lost its sex appeal people, but I have decided that Nanny Bill’s are bringing it back. Their Dalston Dip burger comes with a pot of their thick signature gravy to smother your burger in. It was a mess, just ask my sofa cushions. But it was also such a stellar change from your average double cheeseburger and the soft, seeded buns are officially my favourite in London. Viva la gravy revolution.”

- HLB

Party Store Pizza

££££
AmericanPizza  in  Clapham
££££ 15 Lendal Terrace

OG margherita

“My love for deep dish pizza started with the Chicago Town frozen pizzas I ate as a child, followed by one glorious slice in New York that haunts me in my sleep. Fast forward to December 2020 where I finally found my favourite deep dish pizza in London, with this 10x14 inch deep pan margherita. It has two rivers of tomato sauce, spread on top of a lot of mozzarella cheese, a thick and chewy dough, and a crispy cheesy-frico crust that can, and should, be dipped in their OG tomato dip. And yes, 10x14 is huge, but leftover slices make an excellent breakfast the next morning.”

- RS

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Crumbs & Doilies

££££ 1 Kingly Court

Freshly baked New York cookies

“When my Christmas plans got cancelled due to the ongoing alien invasion - kidding, it was the pandemic but I refuse to give ‘the C word’ any more air time - my very cute colleagues sent me these cookies. They were so good that I sat alone in my flat in silence for an hour just nibbling each flavour in succession, like musical chairs but with double chocolate chips and raisins. They’re that rare kind of cookie that really deserve a better title than just ‘cookie’. XXL, with a melted centre, and soft enough that they break off without risking your molars, they are 10/10. Oh, and heat them up in the oven for peak cosiness.”

- HLB

A one man meal for two

Chishuru

££££
££££ Unit 9 Market Row

Beef ayamase

“A background hum of uncertainty has been one of the unsettling soundtracks of my year, so there was something quite comforting in the numbered, IKEA-like instructions from the meal kit I got from Chishuru. I moved around my kitchen like an obedient dog with better than average shallow frying abilities, making goat’s cheese pastries and warming through attasi rice, but it was the bosh-it-in-the-oven beef ayamase that really got me going. It had a wham of tingly pepper, the beef broke up into tender pink flecks, and there was a background hum that’s much more welcome: the scotch bonnet kind.”

- JM

Justin De Souza

East London Liquor Company

££££
Bar FoodFrench  in  Bow
££££ 221 Grove Road

Royale’s rotisserie chicken

“At some point chicken got a so-so reputation. Not in a James Dean way - although yes, I would pay good money to see a couple of Levis-clad drumsticks in a high-speed motorbike chase - but in that it started being everywhere. Well, stand proud my fellow chicken lovers, here’s another one that stands out from the crowds. Proper, well-cooked rotisserie chicken from Royale. Not only is it tender, but it’s simply doing what chicken does best, being delicious. From the team behind Leroy, you can currently find Royale in the kitchen at very nice dates-and-mates spot, The East London Liquor Company. Poultry fans, please also know that the potatoes are 10/10 too.”

- HLB

Eyes right

Dom’s Subs

££££
££££ 262 Hackney Road

The Feliz Mala-Dad

“People debate their favourite cuisines but mine is pretty straightforward. It’s sandwiches. And yes, that is a cuisine. A sandwich is a liminal space for food. Its boundaries are non-existent, its potential fillings endless. I knew that Dom’s knew this the first time I ate one of their subs, but it went to a whole new level when I ate The Feliz Mama-Dad. It’s a vegan brussels sprout Christmas sub. Which reads like the kind of thing that sets some people’s alarm bells ringing. And it should do, for all the right reasons. The hot and numbing sprouts, seasoned with Sichuan pepper, dance along your tongue. The Xinxiang seasoned crisps are the best crisps in a sandwich I’ve ever had (and that’s a busy podium), while the vegan Chinkiang mayo delicately cuts through everything. Christmas or not, this is just an amazing sandwich.”

- JM

Rianne Shlebak

Jin Go Gae

££££ 272 Burlington Rd

Vegetable bokkeum udon

“For me, thick, chewy noodles make for one of the most comforting meals ever. And this week was one of those weeks. Luckily, the vegetable bokkeum udon that I had delivered from New Malden, was like a hug for the soul. It was a hefty portion stir fried in a vegetable sauce, and it was excellent.”

- RS

Maison François

££££ 34 Duke Street

Poulet rôti, fines herbes

“The quarter of poulet rôti I devoured at Maison Francois on Wednesday night was just about as pristinely presented a piece of chicken I’ve ever seen. I felt underdressed with it in front of me. It was almost like it had got all spruced up for a wedding unaware that it would be on the menu. Anyway, the dribbles of herby sauce on top and the puddle of richness below made the whole ensemble sing. It’s the kind of thing I might have slowly nodded my approval of in the direction of a dining companion except I was following the reopening restrictions to the letter and was eating all alone. Honestly, it felt kind of perfect.”

- OJF

Dumpling Shack

££££
££££ Old Spitalfields Market

Spring onion pancake

“It’s no secret that Dumpling Shack’s sheng jian bao are London’s most reliably tasty soup dumplings. Pan-fried for a crisp bite, packed with pork, and with a slurp of delicious broth - they tick all the boxes. (n.b. I personally prefer a soupier dumpling, like a xiao long bao, but that’s for another time). Anyway, they aren’t the best thing I ate this week. Nor the best thing I ate at Dumpling Shack. That, goes to their spring onion pancake. It’s a fantastic and flaky circle of textures and onion that, looks-wise, resembles something that’s been formed and fried to exacting standards before, at the very last minute, being viciously battered with the ugly stick. All of my favourite burgers ever have the same trait and this fried pancake has just joined the club. It marries your softest and flakiest sweet pastry memories into something deliciously savoury that should absolutely be dunked in DS’s chilli oil.”

- JM

Rianne Shlebak

Cue Point

££££ 195 Wood Ln

Lamb and brisket naco kit

“Don’t judge this meal off my shaky mid-bite photography, base it off the fact that this smelled so good that I couldn’t help taking a bite before I got a decent picture. And even though I would like some credit for the fact that these smoked lamb and beef brisket nacos (naan tacos) tasted so good, I was merely the heater/assembler. This meal kit was incredible, and it wasn’t just the best thing I ate this week, it’s one of the best things I’ve eaten this whole year.”

- RS

Napoli Gang

££££

‘The One and Only Lasagne’

“There I was, suffering from the kind of hangover that feels like God is tapping at your temples, saying ‘Tuesday margaritas? You idiot’. But in my pit of despair and entirely self-inflicted suffering I made what might be the best decision of my young life. I ordered from Napoli Gang - the Italian delivery service from the people behind feelgood spots Circolo Popolare and Gloria. Now, this might look like a lasagne, but it was actually my very own bechamel-packed redemption. I was alive once more. Creamy, meaty, and warming from the inside out - it’s officially the best thing I’ve eaten in months. It even came with a party playlist (for my mood) and silly, fun stickers (for my soul). A hero for hangovers everywhere.”

- HLB

Big Jo Bakery

££££ 318-326 Hornsey Rd

Cheese, salad, and pickle sandwich

“I’m an absolute sucker for a well wrapped piece of bread. Maybe it’s because I lived in Paris for over a decade where food purchases often look and feel far more beautiful and luxurious than they probably need to be. Maybe it’s because it’s coming up on Christmas and having something to unwrap feels festive. Either way, the perfect little parcels Big Jo make of their take-out sandwiches make me very, very happy. And the contents aren’t a let down either. This one tasted like it had a dollop of Heinz Sandwich Spread in it amongst the salad, pickle, and cheese shards. Just what I needed on a dreary Thursday afternoon.”

- OJF

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Wine N Rind

££££
££££ Holcombe Market

Cacio e pepe toastie

“I have come to realise - and I’ve given this a lot of thought - that eating cacio e pepe might be my calling. I’m really, really good at it and each time I go toe to toe with a plate of cheese and pepper, I feel the kind of fulfilment that other people reference when talking about being a painter or, like, pilates. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that Tottenham cheese shop, Wine N Rind are doing cacio e pepe toasties. My beloved, in bread form. It did not disappoint. In fact, the sheer hit of pepper and melted cheese between sourdough was the highlight of my week. You need to try this. I repeat, you need to try this.”

- HLB

Rianne Shlebak

Trap Kitchen

££££
Seafood  in  Balham
££££ 76 Bedford Hill

Bucket

“This second lockdown has taught me a lot about myself. It’s taught me I like going for walks. I can rewatch the same video of sizzling prawns 200 times in a row. And I am willing to drive further than I used to be willing to drive for some good-looking food. The bucket I got from this Balham spot was definitely worth the journey. It came with two lobster tails, bang bang prawns, mac and cheese, buttered corn, and a hard boiled egg. The lobster tails were buttery and slipped right off the shell, the prawns - coated in a tasty batter - were full of flavour, the mac and cheese was spicy - and when mixed with the buttery sauce from the lobster, tasted even better. After trying it I would even consider doing the journey by foot just to taste this bucket again.”

- RS

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Kin+Deum

££££ 2 Crucifix Lane

Coconut cake

“Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. For the past several years I’ve been walking around, making terrible statements like, ‘dunno, just not that into coconut’ and ‘what is the point of Bounty’. I realise now, that I was wrong. This epiphany came to me in the form of Kin and Deum’s coconut cake. As you can see the poor thing got a bit squished in transit, but this isn’t a beauty competition, it’s about the fluffy vanilla sponge and extra creamy coconut fondant. J’adore.”

- HLB

Peppers and Spice

££££
££££ 40 Balls Pond Rd

Jerk chicken and macaroni pie

“I am a man of few talents, but one I do have is passing, filling, and absolutely massacring time. Give me an entire free day and I will assassinate it, hour by hour, podcast by podcast, meal by meal. This ‘talent’, combined with my earnest passion for aimless walking, has come into its own in 2020, and the other day it led me towards Pepper & Spice. I’ve had many a patty from this Caribbean takeaway spot but this was my first time eating their jerk chicken, and it was on point. Probably the best I’ve eaten around Hackney and Dalston. The skin was charred, the leg bone blackened, and the meat soft. I got extra sauce on the side (this isn’t my first rodeo) to pour over the macaroni pie and let me tell you, the combination of fruity and fiery over a cheesy brick bangs. Needless to say, I’ll be spending some more time with the rest of the menu.”

- JM

The Bluecoats

££££ 614 High Rd

Umami chicken wings

“Tell me there’s a national lockdown and I’ll have a tender three minute cry. Tell me that my favourite local takeaway will be closed for the length of said lockdown and I will produce the kind of magnitude seven tantrum that few have witnessed since Nikki Grahame graced our screens. Alas, I have finally found a new local love for lockdown 2.0 in the form of The Bluecoats’ umami chicken wings. They arrived in a glorious little bath of homemade soya, white sesame, and sweet demerara, all of which are a big yes from me.”

- HLB

The Best Broasted

££££
Syrian  in  Willesden
££££ 18-F The High Road

Chicken broasted

Bedtime is the time for big philosophical questions. Years ago, I was wishing my nephew sweet dreams when he asked me “What makes the night so quiet? And why is water clear?“. Similarly, early this week, I was tucking myself in and wondered, “if broasting is like frying, then why is the chicken from The Best Broasted not even remotely greasy?“. And, “how can it be so juicy, so crunchy, and so sweet?“. Thinking about it now, the only question that really needs addressing is this: why don’t I live closer to this Syrian spot in Willesden Green so I can eat their incredible £10 portion of broasted chicken, potatoes, pickles, and creamy toum several times a week?”

- OJF

'A breakfast'

Bake Street

££££
££££ 58 Evering Rd

Chicken bun, lamb birria tacos, birria consommé

“My consumption in the past week has been pretty hideous. And by hideous I mean absolutely fantastic. Like a lot of people I was packing it in whilst restaurants were still open. The ‘it’ being meals, and the ‘in’ being every hour of the day, and my stomach. So there was competition. Those garlic porcini mushrooms from Quality Wines. A farewell grilled cheese (and side sausage sandwich) from Towpath Café. Big plate chicken from Karamay Uyghur. But in the interest of both decisiveness and dipping consommé, it’s the lamb birria taco and fried chicken bun from Bake Street that gets the nod. For a start, I ate both of these things at 10am and they went down a treat. Soz, granola. Secondly, they were both brilliant. The burger is from McDz lineage but made better from curtido slaw, sriracha mayo, and oh-so crispy chicken. It’s a four to five biter, with no breaths in between. While the tacos - so rich, so soft, and just a little cheesy - taste like they’ve been slow cooked to Jeremih. Throw in a pot of meaty birria consommé for dipping on the side, and you’ve got yourself the perfect pre-brunch snack.”

- JM

Akoko

££££
££££ 21 Berners St

Miyan taushe with lobster

“I work better under time pressure, so alongside second lunches, pre-dinners, and midnight snacks, I also managed to fit in some fine dining this week. Akoko was my final meal out pre-lockdown season two and though it is a fancy restaurant, my finger was very much makeshift cleaning my bowl by the second course. The bowl in question was filled with a take on miyan taushe, a West African soup that, here, was made with silky Nigerian pumpkin and tingled from uda and calabash nutmeg. I knew from the first polite spoon it was going to be one of those rationing, savouring situations. The kind where you eat every mouthful on 0.5x speed. But after the second impolite spoon, filled with chunks of lobster, crispy shallots, and fried puffed rice, I had to drop down to 0.25x speed. Restaurants wouldn’t be open for a while and food this good shouldn’t be rushed.”

- JM

La Fromagerie

££££
££££ 52 Lamb’s Conduit Street

Fondue savoyarde

“I discovered a few things at La Fromagerie on Tuesday night. Beaufort chalet d’alpage, emmental, comte d’estive, and a candle are the only party guests you need for a ‘last supper’ meal. Crispy baguette will always help you to crack a smile. And that the salt of your pre-lockdown tears really makes those cornichons pop. But seriously, this is the best fondue I’ve ever had. Did that have something to do with the knowledge that I knew it would be my last meal out for a while? Maybe. But I’m pretty sure it also had a lot to do with all that melted high-class cheese too.”

- HLB

Raw Deli

££££

Carrot cake

“This cute little deli opened down the road from me a few months ago (or was it years? days? Who knows?). I mostly just ran past on my way to catch the train, but then I saw a very good-looking little carrot cake staring at me through the window. And it had the personality to match. It was soft, moist, cinnamon-y, and had a very decent cake to cream cheese ratio. Big yes from me.”

- RS

Nautilus

££££ 27-29 Fortune Green Rd

Haddock and chips (plus a fish cake and mushy peas)

“I have developed a commitment to click and collect. For me it strikes the perfect balance between spontaneity and forward planning. Also, it gets me out of the house every now and again, something the latest lockdown rules do not entirely forbid. This week I drove over to West Hampstead for a piece of haddock and bag of chips from Nautilus, a legendary northwest London chippie. All the fish up here on Fortune Green, is fried in matzo meal, and I’m here to tell you it’s good. Very good. Perhaps not quite as good as the delicate, golden fish my grandma used to fry in this precise same style every week, but good enough to remind me of all the things that make me cosy, happy, and safe. Also, fish fried in matzo meal retains it’s fresh, crisp deliciousness when cool - so if you ever make it to NW6 to get some, do what I did and get a piece for tomorrow’s lunch too.”

- OJF

Seabird

££££
££££ 40 Blackfriars Road, 14th Floor, South Bank, Southwark

Louët Feisser oysters

“Much like their scandalous ‘down-it’ cousin, the tequila shot, oysters have a lot of high-life associations, but I like them for the ritual of eating them. A sprinkling of Tabasco. The squeeze of the lemon. All topped off by necking something that merrily lived in the ocean not so long ago. But it’s only when you come across an oyster like the Louët Feisser oysters at Seabird that take a moment to remember how truly fantastic they can taste. Leaning closer to creamy with a side of surf spray, rather than full-on salt show, it’s perfect for people that aren’t 100% sold on the whole molluscs thing just yet. Pair with fizz if you’re feeling peak bougie.”

- HLB

She is beauty, she is great

Trullo Shop

££££ 304 St. Pauls Road

Carbonara swirl

“An admission: Trullo is one of my favourite restaurants in the world. So when they opened a deli a few months back, I was always leaning towards loving what came out of it. But biases from memories of glorious ragus gone by aside, this pastry is the nuts. For a start, it’s so flaky and so buttery. I could’ve happily enjoyed the pastry on its own. Could’ve. Instead I enjoyed it with a quite beautiful confit egg yolk, a handful of grated parmesan, and little chunky bits of pancetta hidden inside the pastry. In a year that feels a little wasted, this pastry feels, or rather tastes, like progress to me.”

- JM

Oi oi

Lucky Dog

££££ 81 East Street

Salt and pepper chips

“On a day where I ate three portions of chips, technically for work, but mainly for pleasure, it’s the ones from Lucky Dog that I’ve found myself having hazy, chilli oil-laden daydreams about. They’re salt and pepper chips. Salt and pepper chips are, like the parmo, a gastronomic gift from the north of England that decreases your life expectancy but increases your enjoyment of life exponentially. They’re chips, deep-fried, then pan-fried with chilli oil, dried Sichuan chillis, white onion, pepper, shredded carrot, and MSG. Best enjoyed on a Brick Lane doorstep, but just as good inhaled whilst walking, on the bus, or at home.”

- JM

Rianne Shlebak

Chicken Kitchen

££££
££££ 120 Goldhawk Rd

Jerk chicken dumpling burger

“This isn’t random. I didn’t just happen to pass this spot on Goldhawk Road and decide to walk in. Because you don’t just try a jerk chicken dumpling burger by chance. I heard about it, stared at Google images for a week in advance, and left my house on a grey Tuesday to get this. It’s basically jerk chicken strips served inside a fluffy fried dumpling. The jerk chicken was saucy and smoky and if I could replace all burger buns with dumplings, I would. You can choose to add things like cheese, which I did because, cheese. And it made an already excellent dish, even better.”

- RS

It banged

Bright

££££
££££ 1 Westgate Street

Cheeseburger with curly fries

“It was my birthday on Monday and I hate birthdays. So to counteract that I took Tuesday off to eat a burger and be on my own, because I like doing that. The burger was from Bright who had Rosita’s Deluxe in the kitchen. It’s a pop-up run by Jeff Claudio, a guy who cooked at a load of restaurants that get put on lists sponsored by Veuve Clicquot, before deciding that he wanted to flip burgers instead. Which I guess is like training at NASA to fly to Mars, only to decide you prefer things down here on Earth. Anyway, this burger was buff. No lettuce or tomatoes or any of that crap. Just a pink patty, shitload of gherkins, caramelised onion and raw white onion so fine it was transparent, melted American cheddar, and deluxe (AKA burger) sauce. Woi. And on the side: curly fries. Homemade, mother fucking, curly fries. Along with a glass of sparkling rosé, ’cos it was a ‘celebration’ after all.”

- JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Chishuru

££££
££££ Unit 9 Market Row

Groundnut soup with chargrilled cauliflower

“If you’re against licking plates clean in public, then this groundnut soup might be one to skip. A spiced peanut butter sauce situation that has honestly not left my brain since trying it at Brixton Village’s Chishuru, I could merrily eat this every single day. Every. Single. Day. And I’m not even a massive fan of cauliflower. FYI: the caramelised baobab dessert at this West African restaurant is also definite plate-licking territory too.”

- HLB

Rianne Shlebak

Flesh & Buns

££££ 41 Earlham St

Japanese fried chicken bao bun

“I’ve come across many sad, deflated bao in my time. And let me tell you something, it gets better. I’m not going to say this is the best bao in London, but this Japanese fried chicken bao is very very good. It’s a DIY situation here, which basically means you order the buns and fillings separately and assemble them yourself. The buttermilk fried chicken was crispy, and the BBQ mayonnaise and red chilli sauce was excellent. And I know it looks professional, but yes, I did assemble it myself.”

- RS

Noodle & Beer

££££
££££ 31 Bell Ln

Tian-shui mian

“The chips or the noodles? Chips, or noodles? Those crispy but soggy chilli-soaked chips… or those fat, dockline-worthy, noodles? Hilariously, depressingly, and ridiculously that has been my big question this week. And the noodles have won out. The ones in question are tian-shu mian - thick, square, cold udon that sit in a pool of sauce featuring soy, peanut, Sichuan pepper and sesame - from Noodle & Beer, a Chongqing noodle and Sichuan spot in Spitalfields. You could describe them as chewy, but I like to think of them as more than that. They possess more clout than your standard udon. In an alternative (and better) reality, people at Barry’s Bootcamp wouldn’t train using those weird massive ropes, they’d pick up this chunky udon, and go about mixing it in a sauce that’s equal parts sweet, salty, and tingly. Coincidentally, there’s plenty of sauce at the bottom of the bowl. So much so that we had some left over. And you know what goes well with leftover sauce? Lang-ya tu dou. AKA, the chips.”

- JM

Balady

££££
££££ 450 Finchley Road

Cauliflower starter

“I’ve become a regular at Balady. Since sometime this summer I’ve been going most Thursday nights, and while I tend to try something different each time, the one constant in my order is this cauliflower. Part of me has been worried about telling anyone about it. If word gets out about how good this thing is - I catastrophised - maybe it’ll prompt some kind of London-wide cauliflower shortage and then what will I do on Thursday nights? The reason I’ve written about it now is that the London team have talked me down. Since at least half of London bought at least one Ottolenghi book, they argued, the cauliflower supply chain has been shored up and can easily keep pace with any temporary surge in demand. Here it is then. Balady’s cauliflower starter. It’s relatively simple. Just a puddle of tahini, a shower of amba, lemon juice, salt, sumac, parsley, and a couple of handfuls of deep-fried cauliflower. I promise you though, even if cauliflower is your go-to veg, this will still have enough crunch and zing to surprise you every time you eat it.”

- OJF

Takahashi

££££ 228 Merton Road

Shrimp tempura maki

“I’m a planner. And so when people say things about last-minute, unplanned, spontaneous things being the best, I think they’re lying. Until I had the equivalent in the form of food, with this meal from Takahashi. My dinner was already made, and sushi wasn’t part of the plan, but after staring at their Instagram for about an hour, I decided to head down and collect some maki rolls. They have a great takeaway service going on where you can call and collect so it couldn’t have been easier. I got four maki rolls: spicy tuna, salmon avocado, shrimp tempura, and crab and avocado. They were all very good, but the one that really stood out was the tempura. It had perfect sticky rice to shrimp ratio, and it’s not only one of the best things I ate this week, but one of the best tempura rolls I’ve had. Ever.”

- RS

An ill-timed photograph

Noble Rot Soho

££££
££££ 2 Greek St

Chocolate mousse, brandy prune & hazelnut biscuit

“Like all first-rate new media food writers - sorry, bloggers - I judge how good the food I’ve eaten is by the pictures I’ve taken, rather than by my tongue. Only in most cases, it’s not the images like a perfectly captured tarte tatin, so glistening, so bronzed, that a teenager might blu-tac it to their wall. It’s the ones where there’s a blur of hands. Or a clean plate in memorandum. It’s the ones like above, where I’ve had to shoddily zoom in on another picture of dessert to look for evidence. It’s Gregg Wallace presents Watchdog. The scene of this criminally crap photo was the new Noble Rot on Greek Street. A place that you should ideally be sitting in right now. The victim: their chocolate mousse. It was described to us as a mousse and ganache hybrid, but a better description would be ‘a non-sharer’. The mousse is sweet and not too rich - a milk and dark mashup - and the texture is temptingly spreadable. Yes, I have been thinking about it on toast. Alongside there’s a shot of brandy masquerading as a prune, plus some cream and a perfectly crisp biscuit. The details are unimportant though. What’s important is that you’re holding a spoon, not your phone, when it’s put on the table”.

- JM

Dilara

££££ 27 Blackstock Road

Large plate chicken

“The magnificent, glistening plate of food you see before you has left a strange imprint on me. It’s all I can think of. And it’s all I talk about. I’ve caught myself whispering to people about it in secretive tones, as if I’m inviting them to join me in some kind of a conspiracy. “Have you ever had the large plate chicken at Dilara?” I ask, “It’s only on Blackstock Road. Shall we go get it now?”. All you really need to know is that this huge stew of braised chicken, pepper, velvety sauce-sodden potatoes, ever-so-slightly-mouth-numbing dry chilli, and flat chewy noodles is an absolute must order.”

- OJF

Rianne Shlebak

Seoul Bird

££££

Kimchi mac & cheese

“My pun-filled mind would probably call this mac and kimcheese, but this Korean street food spot in Westfield shouldn’t change anything about this dish. The kimchi is mixed into the four cheese sauce, so it’s cheesy, with a hint of spice, and the breadcrumbs add a nice crispy texture. The Korean fried chicken was also great, but this side, that we’d easily eat as a main, needed a spot on the list because it was one of the best mac and cheeses I’ve had in a while.”

- RS

Chisou

££££
££££ 31 Beauchamp Pl

Horenso salad

“Would I usually order a salad at a restaurant? No. And it’s not because there’s anything wrong with salads, but because more often than not, there are obstacles in the form of fried things on the menu. But this baby spinach salad with spicy prawns is tangy, spicy, refreshing, and has given me a newfound love for yuzu dressing and perfectly plated leaves.”

- RS

Nic Crilly-Hargrave

Kibou Japanese Kitchen and Bar

££££
Sushi  in  Battersea
££££ 175-177 Northcote Road

Steamed bao bun

“I had an excellent sushi platter at Kibou, but my employment contract states that when bao is on the menu I am obliged to order it. Now, before I tell you about it, look at it. Stare it directly in the eye. Show it the respect it deserves, because it’s very, very tasty. I went for the karaage filling, so although I can’t vouch for the soft shell crab tempura option, I can tell you this is a great bao. On the seriously hefty side of huge, it’s got the perfect combination of softness, crunch, and their signature mayo.”

- HLB

LDN

Feature:

The Definitive Ranking Of London’s Best Bao

Read
Jake Missing

Zamzam

££££
££££ 250 Seven Sisters Rd

Bariis iskukaris

“Lunch at Zamzam was my first time eating bariis iskukaris and it will not be the last. The plates of rice coming from the kitchen of this Somali restaurant on the Seven Sisters Road are so deep with flavour that every spoon of rice mixed the sweetness of raisins with salty, turmeric and cinnamon-tasting flecks of onion, carrot and potato, along with what tasted like a million other things. All of which caused me to write a seductive sounding note in my phone that reads ‘fragrant, bit sensual’. Make of that what you will. On top of the mountain of rice was a load of chopped beef and goat some bits slightly caramelised, some bits not, and all of it going together so deliciously that I only came up for air to sip on the almost-as-moreish soup I had on the side.”

- JM

Abraço

££££ 60 Grand Parade

The fluffy pancakes

“If you’ve ever known me, loved me, or simply been within two miles of me on Shrove Tuesday, then you’ll know that I’m really into pancakes. Like, really into pancakes. As you can see from the picture, I ate this sweet pancake stack in bed, and they passed both the toppings and fluffiness test with flying colours. The mascarpone is always a nice touch too.”

- HLB

Rianne Shlebak

Beam

££££ 103 Westbourne Grove

Full English breakfast

“You might think that it’s impossible to go wrong with a full English breakfast, but my ghosts of greasy-English-breakfasts-past would suggest otherwise. The full English at this new cafe on Westbourne grove, however, is great. It comes with a single egg, bacon (that I swapped for bubble and squeak), a sausage, portobello mushrooms, hash browns, and a very generous portion of beans. Just an all-round great breakfast.”

- RS

Autograf

££££ 488 West Green Rd

Mix of traditional pierogies

“I do not take the change of seasons well. In summer I am Malibu Barbie, all free-love and carpe diem. Come Autumn, I am Wednesday Addams bitterly whispering “where is my stupid, stupid umbrella?’. But rejoice my fellow sunshine-grievers because I have found the cure. Autograf’s assorted traditional pierogies, that are basically slippers for the soul in XL dumpling form. Topped with caramelised onion, the chicken was my personal favourite, but the potato and cottage cheese deserve a special shout out too. They’re super comforting and an excellent way to spend six quid.”

- HLB

Alaesh

££££ 756 Finchley Road

Merguez lafa

Back in March, my co-workers (for reasons I won’t go into here, but mainly because they’re awesome) sent me a huge package of falafel, salad, and sauces from Balady, a kosher falafel spot in Temple Fortune. Ever since lockdown eased I’ve been meaning to stop by to try their sabich, which I’d heard great things about. However, when I finally got there late on Wednesday, I impulsively changed my plan. You see, there’s just no way I can walk past merguez without eating merguez, and so I ended up to their sister restaurant a couple of doors down. I got the merguez in lafa, stuffed with hummus, salad, aubergine, pickles, beets, carrots, cauliflower, fiery chilli sauce (both red and green), tahina and amba, and ate the entire huge, pillowy wrap in about ten minutes flat, stopping just now and then to lick the oily, flame red meat juice from back of my hand, shake my head at the gloriousness of the thing, and gasp for air.

- OJF

Sticks'n'Sushi

££££
££££ 11 Henrietta St

Kani Korokke

There are fish cakes. There are croquettes. There are clouds. And then there’s the Kani Korokke at this Covent Garden spot. Creamy, light, and unbelievably smooth - these cute little crab croquettes are a must order. And even though they come as a starter you’re going to want to end on them.

- RS

Jake Missing

La Barra

££££
££££ 147, Eagle Yard Arch, Walworth

Dominican fried chicken

“The fried chicken at La Barra comes in three sizes, the smallest of which caused O Fortuna from Carmina Burana to play, max volume, in my head as I saw it approaching my table. What the largest would do, I do not know. What I do know is that this is the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten. The batter is otherworldly-looking, swirled, jagged, golden brown crunch that’s come from another dimension, while the chicken inside remains improbably and perfectly moist. A squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of homemade chilli sauce is preferable, but you don’t even need that. The fact it comes with green plantain chips and a pile of chicharrones and bofes bigger than every portion at every London small plates restaurant put together is almost laughable. Almost. But laughter is a filling activity. And you want to save all the room you can for chicken”.

- JM

Rianne Shlebak

Beit El Zaytoun

££££
££££ 15 Barretts Green Rd

Lamb and cheese mana’esh

“Some food is so good that you crave it whilst you’re still asleep. You know what I’m talking about. You wake up planning and calculating your route. All so you can get your fix. Yes it might be an hour travel, and yes you will do it anyway. Why? Because the lamb and cheese mana’esh at this Lebanese restaurant in Acton are just that good. They’re the perfect brunch for a lazy day. Doughy, meaty, cheesy. Some might say it’s too much so early on in the day. And to those people I say: (in the nicest way possible): grow up.”

- RS

il Pampero

££££ 20 Chesham Pl

The complimentary bread

“Free bread is like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, dangerous and irresistible. I will consume almost any free food item that you put down in front of me, but when the complimentary bread from Italian spot Il Pampero was especially good. It was soft on the inside, crisp and flaky on the outside, with just the right amount of dough bounce. Thank you for lining my stomach in style.”

- HLB

Jake Missing

St Mawes Bakery

££££ 9 Marine Parade

Steak pasty

“Like any true abrasive Londoner, I spent the bank holiday weekend in another county, eating local food, drinking local ales, being given the stink eye. The lucky destination this time was St. Mawes, a Sylvanian Families-sized village with a pasty shop right on the harbour, conveniently opposite the pub. I’ve had the steak pasty from the St. Mawes Bakery quite a few times over quite a few years, and it’s an always welcome paperweight for my stomach. The pastry sweats butter, the steak is chunky and pink, and the heavily peppered mix of mushy potatoes and onions (along with occasional rogue carrot) is the ideal partner to a pint of Tribute”.

- JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley

One Love Kitchen

££££ 9A Crouch Hill

Jerk chicken wrap

“Lockdown has been an absolute dream for snacking. Lunch? Not so much. There’s minimal incentive to leave the office (your bed) and in the WFH time warp, 12pm quickly becomes 4pm. But this wrap is the best lunch I’ve had since March. You get a serious portion of tender jerk chicken, but the real revelation here is the wrap itself. Despite being packed full of salad, hot jerk chicken, and garlic mayo, it wasn’t soggy in the slightest. A serious winner that will keep you full until dinner. Or your next snack.”

- HLB

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Pastaio

££££
PastaItalian  in  Soho
££££ 19 Ganton St

Watermelon, yellow tomato, feta, chilli, and mint salad

“People might tell you that watermelon is a fruit. I’m no pomologist - yes, that’s a real job - but I disagree. Primarily, watermelon is a state of mind. I’m talking flip-flops and sangria and shamefully napping on lilos. And despite being smack bang in the centre of Soho, Pastaio’s watermelon, feta, and chilli dish put me straight into that pass-me-another-cocktail state of mind. Combine with the prosecco slushie for peak vacation feels.”

- HLB

Rianne Shlebak

Hoppers - St. Christopher's Place

££££
££££ 77 Wigmore Street

Lamb kothu roti

“I’ve always known that I have a weakness for carb-y dishes. Specifically carbs from the bread side of the family. So it’s no surprise that I love roti. And it’s even less of a surprise that I’m still thinking about this lamb kothu roti I had on Tuesday. It’s cooked in some sort of delicious gravy, and mixed with pieces of lamb and onions, and after a single taste the mood changed very quickly from: “sure everyone, take a spoonful, sharing is caring”, to me caring only about how much of it I can fit in my mouth. All worth it.”

- RS

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Tavolino Bar & Kitchen

££££
££££ 2 More London Riverside

Bucatini ‘cacio e pepe’’

“Those three little words that every human longs to hear. Cacio e Pepe. The people behind handmade pasta spot Bancone have just opened a new all-day Italian restaurant called Tavolino. Or as I like to call it, My New Home. The sauce was super thick, just the way I like it, and there was a proper al dente bite to the bucatini. My breath stank of pepper and it was glorious.”

- HLB

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Tavolino Bar & Kitchen

££££
££££ 2 More London Riverside

Tagliatelle, spicy nduja, and pork ragu

“If you think I went to Tavolino and just had one pasta, you are sadly mistaken. I have two hands and easy access to two forks. The result: Shoveling this tagliatelle in my mouth between bites of bucatini. The spicy nduja in the pork ragu sneaks up on you and then shouts ‘SURPRISE, I AM BETTER THAN 99% OF LONDON’S OTHER RAGU PASTAS’. Honestly, some of the best multi-tasking I’ve ever done.”

- HLB

Oliver Feldman

The Queen of Sheba

££££ 12 Fortess Rd

Awaze ti’bs

“The awaze ti’bs at Queen of Sheba isn’t just one of the best things I’ve eaten this week, it’s immediately become a go-to in my personal repertoire of favourite things to eat in London. Full stop. In the years to come, I won’t sit around, joylessly wondering where to go to satisfy one of my indistinct cravings for spice and flavour. I’ll just head directly to this friendly neighbourhood Ethiopian restaurant in Kentish Town. Once there, I’ll slowly, deliberately, scoop away at this gloriously generous portion of rich and tangy pan-fried lamb, onions, and peppers with spongy injera until I can’t eat any more. Then I’ll eat a little more. And then, finally, I’ll accept their offer to pack it all up for later.”

- OJF

Jake Missing

The Drapers Arms

££££
Pub  in  Islington
££££ 44 Barnsbury St

Tea smoked salmon, pickled cucumber, dill, crème fraiche & soda bread

“I come from a family of sharers. More food than feelings, but often both around the dinner table. Entrées with a side of empathy. When we go out to eat it’s a bite for a bite. Each course is treated like a Strictly Come Dancing contestant awaiting its score from the judges, and the other night, at The Drapers Arms, it was my Mum’s salmon that did the sexiest dance. As a natural-born martyr, she made everyone up a bite before having one herself - a rip of soda bread, a dollop of crème fraiche, a wedge of silky smoked salmon, and a dilly pickle for good measure. It waltzed into my mouth. The judges were unanimous: a perfect 10 for the tea smoked salmon.”

- JM

Oliver Feldman

Bright

££££
££££ 1 Westgate Street

Mortadella sandwich

“As of 11am on the morning of Friday, 14 August, there are no official FCO advisories that prohibit going to Italy. However I don’t feel all that great about unnecessary travel this year. Maybe that’s why the mortadella sandwich at Bright was such a revelation. Paired with an Americano or two, this springy, ham-filled focaccia is a wholly transportive experience. If I’d closed my eyes, I could easily have been in Bologna. Probably. Either way, along with the rest of Bright’s bar menu, it makes their London Fields terrace one of the best spots in town for an aperitivo.”

- OJF

Oliver Feldman

Kiss The Koala

££££ priory

Friarielli hash

“A pile of bite-sized potato chunks, mixed with sautéed friarielli, and topped off with a fried duck egg. It’s something I could probably - on a very, very good day - muster a passable version of at home. However, this was the first proper plate of food I’ve had in (or just outside) a restaurant since early March. And it was glorious. Don’t let that sound like I’m downplaying it though. Kiss The Koala is a newish café and brunch spot near Alexandra Palace and they hit the sweet-spot of salty, soft, and crunchy Sunday morning eating for me with this. (n.b. the portion of buttermilk fried chicken in the picture above is totally optional, though also advisable.)”

- OJF

Jake Missing

Quo Vadis

££££
British  in  Soho
££££ 26-29 Dean St

Tomato salad

“The phrase ‘too hot to eat’ isn’t one I really understand. Nobody is ever too hot to eat, you’re just too hot to eat certain things. Maybe it’s because of our climate. We know the cold months better than the hot. So when a 30-odd degree-er comes around, everyone panics. What do we eat? Chilled baked beans? An ice cube dipped in gravy? Sod it, let’s just drink instead. Or, alternatively, eat and drink. Outside. On Frith Street. At Quo Vadis. With a cold beer or a glass of something crispy. All you need then is a plate of sweet tomatoes bathing in oil, topped with finely chopped red onion, and a healthy turn of salt and pepper. It, with bread, is all I want this summer.”

- JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Madame Pigg

££££ 480 Kingsland Road

Tempura courgette flower, ricotta, and blackberries

“What you have here is what I, a seasoned professional, like to call a shit tonne of textures. Am I this generation’s AA Gill? Definitely. But in all seriousness, this dish is summer on a plate. There’s plenty of crunch and creaminess, and the sharpness from the blackberries will remind you that, yes, you absolutely should have another glass of wine.”

- HLB

MAP Maison

££££ 321 Kingsland Road

Quetzacoalt cocktail

We ran (walked) in from the rain (it wasn’t raining), desperately in search of sanctuary, safety and maybe, like, a cosmo or something. In a classic game of ‘guess where might still be open’ I came across Map Maison on the Kingsland Road and had a series of excellent cocktails. The gin-heavy Columbia Road cocktail is super fresh, but this tequila number was my favourite. Newsflash: fig liqueur is excellent with fresh lemon and pomegranate.”

- HLB

Monmouth Coffee The Borough

££££
££££ 2 Park Street, London SE1 9AB, Southwark

Iced filter coffee

“I’m an aspiring coffee nerd. There. I’ve said it. And I really don’t care if you’re not okay with it. I’ve got all the gear: a grinder, scales, one of those gooseneck kettles, elaborate glassware that I spend half my life trying to keep clean… and I have all of this because last autumn I got hooked on the iced coffee at Walden Woods in Kyoto. It was an instant top five* and I’ve been trying to recreate it ever since. Sadly, even the life-changing ice-making technique of Infatuation NYC Senior Staff Writer and resident cocktail expert, Bryan Kim, plus the unusual abundance of time 2020 has offered up hasn’t helped me get it right. Monmouth’s iced filter coffee however nails it. It might just be the best tasting, most nuanced cup of coffee I’ve ever had in London, and I’m not just saying that because Thursday was my first coffee outing since early March.”

- OJF

*”in case you’re interested, the others include an iced almond-macadamia milk latte from Go Get ’Em Tiger in LA, a very hot petrol station coffee somewhere in Oregon on a very cold morning in October 2016, and, a little closer to home, the nitro at Climpson’s.”

Jake Missing

Pollo Feliz

££££ 13-23 Westgate St

Quesadillas

“The other day I was feeling a bit blue, and that tends to lead me to eating something beige. Walking home and maybe subconsciously, but probably not, my brain took me to Pollo Feliz in Netil Market. Having just eaten a bagel (note: beige), I wasn’t that hungry but also, I can always eat. Their quesadillas are just beans and cheese. Gooey and soft, packed between handmade wheat-flour, pork-fat tortillas. They’re simultaneously rich and light, and I’d eaten both before I crossed the road”.

- JM

Mac And Wild

££££
British  in  City
££££ 9A Devonshire Square

Deep-fried Mars Bar sundae

“I have a confession - I don’t know why Hot Priest never magically appears when I say this - I had never eaten a deep-fried Mars bar before my recent trip to Mac and Wild. There, I said it. But happily for me, but not my arteries, I am going to be eating a lot more if they all taste this good. I have a suspicion the sheer glory of this dessert was also down to the ice cream and whisky-infused toffee sauce. All in all, a sweet treat for the ages.”

- HLB