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Guide

The Best Things We Ate This Week

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

184 Spots
Launch Map
184 Spots
Launch Map
Updated October 22nd, 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

Planque

££££ 322 - 324 Acton Mews

Jerusalem artichokes, egg yolk and herbs

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

Copita

££££
Tapas  in  Soho
££££ 26-27 D'arblay St

King prawns

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

Chuku's

££££ 274 High Road

Honey suya prawns

“Well, it was clearly a huge week for me and the prawns. Sure, other people are out there having babies, making babies, and quite literally getting engaged to Travis Barker. But this girl had not one - but TWO - noteworthy interactions with crustaceans. Living it so large right now. Anyway, these sweet little lads tasted like some ginger got freaky in the ocean and then ran off with a hot chilli. In case that powerful analogy didn’t land with you, they’re sweet, salty, with a super addictive nutty aftertaste - evidence that Chuku’s suya should be at the top of your must-eat agenda right now.” - HLB

Bibi

££££ 42 N Audley Street

Sharmaji’s Lahori chicken

“There’s food you smile and nod politely while eating, and there’s food that makes you interrupt a friend mid-serious-catch-up to say “oh my god, this is amazing”. This chicken at new Indian restaurant Bibi is the latter. Perfectly presented chunks of unbelievably tender chicken, in a creamy, peppery sauce that I would’ve licked clean from the plate had it been socially acceptable. This is a wholesome, seriously excellent plate of food, that I immediately wanted to re-order.” - RS

PREVIOUSLY, ON THE BEST THINGS WE ATE THIS WEEK

Yadas

££££
Kurdish  in  Peckham
££££ 115a Rye Lne

Falafel beauty

“There’s a special kind of pleasure in returning from holiday after fawning over another nation’s culture and cuisine (in this case Italian gesticulation and a metric tonne of pasta alla norma) and finding blissful comfort in beans on toast and a passive aggressive bus driver. But of all the non-pasta, caprese or calamari-based meals I’ve been enjoying this week, it was a plate of dips and falafel and salad from Yadas that got me going the most. The Kurdish restaurant on Rye Lane has two big glistening shawarmas on the go and while the chicken qozi we ate was also fantastic - it glistened with honey and lemon with the potatoes cooked under the meat absorbing all the fats and flavours to evolve into an entirely new kind of carbohydrate - it was the vegan mezze I’m thinking about most. The falafel was crunchy and light, full of yellowness and a smattering of herbs, while the pistachio hummus and dalooja, a red pepper and pomegranate dip, combined sweetness and spice. Loaded up onto a pinch of soft hajari bread or with a spoonful of bean salad it made for a faultless mouthful. The kind that makes you feel on holiday from home.” -JM

Barrafina Soho

££££
Spanish  in  Soho
££££ 26-27 Dean St

Presa iberica

“If I’m being honest, I’m generally unmoved by Barrafina. Sure, their food is almost always faultless (and their croquetas as good as you can get anywhere), but there’s something a bit clinical about the place. It’s almost like they’re too relentlessly and ruthlessly efficient, and too spotlessly shiny for me to really love. This remains my position after a recent visit, however now I have to offer the caveat that their presa iberica - two gloriously cooked wedges of cartoonishly pink pork, swimming in their own juices and a thrillingly tangy, herby, and spicy mojo verde sauce - is completely unmissable. Hands down the best £18 you can spend at Barrafina Dean Street if you’re lucky enough to see it on the specials board.” - OJF

Rianne Shlebak

Ganapati

££££
Indian  in  Peckham
££££ 38 Holly Grove

Chicken thali meal

“Anyone who may have been walking past or sitting on a nearby table when I began working my way through this chicken thali, could very well have picked up on the chaotic energy as I jumped from the poppadoms, to the raita, to the chicken curry, to the mung bean salad, and then reached across to the kerala paratha I ordered on the side, in no particular or logical order. The truth is it was all so delicious that it got stressful. This is the type of meal that causes you to worry that if you take a breath between bites, your stomach might tell you you’re full and you’d have to stop dipping this excellent paratha in the creamy, sweet, and slightly spicy chicken curry sauce. The point is, this is an excellent lunch. One that is satisfying, exciting, and might end in a nap. Oh, and it’s £12.50.” - RS

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Wine N Rind

££££
££££ Holcombe Market

Brie brûlée crumpet

“Keep your caviar and Raya profile, because I am a simple woman who just loves dog memes and crumpets. God, I love crumpets. Chewy, a blessing to the lazy among us, and importantly, you can freeze them. Anyway, so there I was loving dog memes and thinking I knew a thing or two about crumpets when Wine N Rind posted a picture of a brie brûlée crumpet on their Instagram. Ah, I thought. There it is, my crumpet Everest, at last. And you know what? It was. Melted rich brie, a layer of honey, and a perfectly soft crumpet that had definitely never spent any time in a freezer. Wine N Rind, you’re a crumpet genius.” - HLB

Oliver Feldman

The Cadogan Arms

££££ 298 King's Rd

Strawberry sherry trifle

“I’ve spent an entire lifetime avoiding trifle because of a weird aversion to conflicting textures, only to discover this week at The Cadogan Arms in Chelsea that sponge and jelly and whipped cream and tiny bits of strawberry make for a perfect dessert. Light, creamy, and very very pretty, I consumed all £11-worth of it in a reverie. I reflected on all the birthday parties I went to as a child and how I probably didn’t have as much fun as I should have because I wasn’t eating trifle. And I dreamed up reasons to come back to Chelsea to eat this entirely delightful bowl of food again and again.” - OJF

Jake Missing

Catalyst Coffee Roasters + Cafe

££££ 48 Gray's Inn Rd

Chicken flatbread

“My brain has an occasional, uncomfortable and wholly pathetic aversion to caffeine. It means that coffee shops aren’t really my thing. I don’t like the five-hour-stay-one-drink-one-pastry culture and nor is my innate social anxiety built for it. The only plug points I like to monopolise are at public libraries, where I can pitch up and procrastinate with tattered copies of Delia Smith’s back catalogue. This means I miss out on things though. Like the fact decaf can be delicious, and Catalyst’s new menu. It’s still breakfast and lunch fare, occasionally featuring their coffee sriracha, but the influences are being leant into even more and to truly perfect results with their chicken flatbread. Oregano-heavy Greek salad is paired with tyrokafteri, a silky smooth feta sauce, their elastic, chewy homemade flatbread, and flecks of impeccably grilled chicken, both bronzed, salted skin and olive oil-doused white meat. While some cafes are best known for coffee, Catalyst gives just as much attention to its food.” -JM

Kudu Grill

££££
££££ 57 Nunhead Ln

Dry-aged t-bone

“People use a lot of big words when describing great steak - moist, succulent, juicy, life-changing etc. But really, the dry-aged t-bone from Kudu Grill comes down to one word. Best. Hands-down one of the best steaks I’ve ever had, it comes perfectly rare, casually hanging out in a rich treacle bordelaise with beer pickled onions. I had it with the sexiest of baby foods, smoked pomme purée topped with crunchy little bites of crispy chicken skin. Insert list of glowing adjectives here. But more importantly, make a booking at this buzzing South African open-fire specialist spot and get involved.” - HLB

Sinuhe

££££ 4 Hereford Road

Mirza qasemi

“There are three things you should know about Sinuhe. Firstly, it’s tiny, (and adorable). Secondly, the servers are friendly and you should order what they tell you to. And thirdly, they have a mirza qasemi that will wholly improve your week. This dip is smokey from the grilled aubergine, rich from the garlic tomato, and light from the mashed egg. Order it. And definitely listen to your servers when they tell you you’ll need two bread baskets.” -RS

Zoilo

££££
££££ 9 Duke St

Bife ancho

“Design me a dream restaurant and it might look precisely like Zoilo. That’s why it was a relief to find this nine-year old Marylebone spot is not just a delightful mix of distant jazz, hubbub, cutlery clatter, and softly spoken, unshowy, super-confident service. It’s also home to one of the best steak experiences I’ve had in London. The 400g Argentinian rib-eye was cooked medium rare, which is kind of laughable from the looks of this picture, but was absolutely perfect because it allowed the natural beefy flavours to combine subtly (and with surprising complexity) with just the right amount of salt and flame. The chimichurri and a cauliflower and cheese side were almost unnecessary, but absolutely welcome.” - OJF

Over Under Clapham

££££ 25 The Pavement

American-style pancakes

“Over Under do the best pancakes in London. I am allowed to making sweeping, dramatic statements like that because I take pancakes very seriously and am continuing my heroic fight for Pancake Day to be a national day off. Anyway, this means it was my civic duty to go and check out Over Under’s latest spot in Clapham to see if their pancakes were up to scratch. Spoiler alert: they absolutely were and somehow these breakfast legends managed to make them even better by adding - dun dun dun - spiced mascarpone. Think brunch, but make it autumn. Super warming and super satisfying.” - HLB

Jake Missing

Mandarin Kitchen

££££
££££ 14 Queensway

Lobster noodles

“For all the many types of food influencer out there, there’s one that stands above all the writers, critics, and freak melted cheese obsessives online. It’s the Hollywood celebrity. Last month was a big one for them and London restaurants. Firstly there was everyone’s favourite ageless friendly guy Paul Rudd, angling to be adopted by Asma Khan with b2b meals at her restaurant Darjeeling Express. I ate and enjoyed a fiery vada pau here shortly afterwards. And then there was a triage of excellence further west, when Sandra Oh, Awkwafina and Michelle Yeoh pitched up at Mandarin Kitchen for their famous lobster noodles. The egg noodles in a glutinous ginger and spring onion sauce topped with lobster is celebrated for good reason. There’s the theatre as luminous orange lobster is mixed with noodles swiftly and precisely at your table, there’s the rich moreish-ness of the flavour and, there is of course, the special knowledge of A-list approval.” -JM

Bellefields

££££ 9 Stockwell Avenue

Steak frites, roast garlic butter, confit tomatoes

“I am a sucker for eating a steak al fresco. Given that I have the upper body strength of a baby bird and regularly cancel plans if it’s ‘too muggy’, eating a big hunk of meat outdoors is probably as close as I’ll ever get to connecting with my cave people ancestors. My latest carnivorous outing took me to Bellefields, a new Brixton spot that has a seriously charming hidden courtyard out back. Aside from their cobblestone outdoor seating, Matisse motifs on the menu, and generally being a lovely place to be, their steak frites felt like classic, simple, satisfying holiday dining. It’s not the best steak I’ve ever had but it was delightful in a way that felt close to eating a steak at your most grown-up mate’s place. You know, the one that has the good olive oil and can actually be bothered to roast the cherry tomatoes. Deeply delightful.” - HLB

Daebak

££££
Korean  in  Vauxhall
££££ Herbert House, 316-318 Kennington Lane

Pa Dak

“Trying to avoid fried food is pretty impossible in this job. You say you’re trying to be “healthy”, and then find yourself at this Korean spot in Vauxhall um-ing and ah-ing between a bibimbap or the Korean fried chicken, until the server tells you to go for the Pa Dak. This crispy fried chicken is in a honey mustard sauce and topped with a mountain of sliced spring onion, and is one of the best tasting fried chicken experiences I’ve had. Crispy, sweet, salty, with a slight kick from the onion, this is an all-round banger of a dish, and even the small portion (five pieces) is filling enough to be a light lunch, and worth breaking the no-fried-food rule for.” - RS

Mele e Pere

££££
Italian  in  Soho
££££ 46 Brewer St

Pappardelle with duck leg and truffle

“Alright, let’s first address the fact that this is a terrible picture. Hideous. Awful. Somewhat reminiscent of a dog food label I once saw in Lidl. I was hired for my deep, meaningful words lads, not my photography. Give a girl a break. Anyway, before I launch into a long winded dissection of iPhone aperture vs. sexy basement dining, I would like to state for the record that this is officially my Pasta Of The Month. I don’t have employees, so instead I am putting forward this incredibly indulgent yet surprisingly simple pappardelle number from Mele E Pere forward as an inspiration to all other London pastas. A Soho trattoria that has somehow managed to fly under my radar despite the fact it’s been open for almost a decade and has a vermouth menu, their handmade pasta is served perfectly al dente and unlike a lot of other truffle pastas, you could still taste the olive oil and duck. Oh, and trust me, in person it’s actually really quite the looker. Sorry. Very sorry.” - HLB

Clipstone Restaurant

££££
££££ 5 Clipstone Street

Roasted Cylindra beetroot, redcurrents, horseradish & young Comté

“Where do you even start with a plate of food that looks as good this? Sure, I could talk about how the soft and subtly fruity cheese sets off the zingy but earthy beetroot to perfection. Or how the tart redcurrants, balance out the delicate pungency of the horseradish. But honestly, just look at it. Then get yourself to Clipstone and order it.” -OJF

Café Cecilia

££££
££££ 32 Andrews Rd

Chocolate cake and hokey pokey ice cream

“Sometimes when you’re writing you just have to throw everything out the window. Give up on elegance and go for deranged stream of consciousness. Sure, I could go on about eating an impromptu breakfast before returning for an impromptu lunch at Cafe Cecilia, and I could also talk about my double dessert during a solo lunch. But I think I might just talk about the fact I felt like I was levitating when I left. Or that the peppercorn sauce, like an electric blanket in my mouth, is the finest steak sauce I’ve ever had. But there’s also the chips, the softly affectionate service, and the slab of black pudding I’d eaten five hours earlier. To maintain a degree of professionalism I’ll focus on something. Or rather, some things: two desserts I asked to be put on one plate. A slice of chocolate cake and a scoop of hokey pokey: a honeycomb and walnut flavour ice cream that is intrinsic to New Zealand’s heritage. Which is, as a fact in itself, a great thing. I’ve settled on the chocolate cake and ice cream because it made my whole body feel like jelly. Incidentally, jelly would’ve been a wonderful addition to the party. The cake isn’t a cake. The cake is a love child of the nemesis from the River Cafe and the mousse from The French House. It’s lighter than something made by Müller and caused me to start muttering sweet nothings to my spoon. I expect I’ll be writing sweet nothings about this restaurant for some time.” - JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Bibo Dani García

££££
SpanishTapas  in  Shoreditch
££££ 45 Curtain Road

Chorizo brioche and quail egg

“Call it a sandwich, call it a dressed-up breakfast bun, but one bite of this chorizo-loaded situation, and you’ll be calling it delicious. There are a lot of things at this new buzzy tapas restaurant inside the Mondrian hotel in Shoreditch that will make you close your eyes and do that entirely self-satisfied ‘mmm’ noise - your ears must be burning, lobster paella - but this starter dish provides one of those perfect mouthfuls. A chewy but light dough, rich chorizo, and that comforting hit of yolk mixed with smoky spices, I was more sad when this ended than when Ben and Jennifer broke up. But just like their iconic reunion, believe me when I say I have a date set with this bun in the very-near future.” - HLB

Brunswick House Cafe

££££
££££ 30 Wandsworth Rd.

Grilled potato bread, green garlic butter

“A combination of two of the best foods there are - potato and bread - this delicious roll is, as Lizzie McGuire once sang, what dreams are made of. Glistening with butter, fluffy, and warm from the grill, this isn’t just the best bread I’ve had this month, it’s some of the best bread I’ve had in London. Delicious on its own, and even better paired with the green garlic butter, you’ll be tempted to order two more as soon as you’re done with the first.” - RS

Darjeeling Express

££££ 2A Garrick Street

Prawn malai curry

“This isn’t the first prawn curry that’s made its way onto this guide. But this one has earned its spot based on creaminess alone. That’s not to say that the prawns, or the flavour of the curry sauce, is lacking - in fact it’s a delicious balance of savoury and sweet thanks to the coconut milk base. But the sauce these tender prawns comes in is something different. Creamy and perfectly moppable with their aloo paratha, it’s a winner that you’ll keep eating even when your high-waisted jeans are begging you to stop.” - RS

Dapur

££££ 13 Lambs Conduit Passage

Nasi lemak with ayam masak merah & beef rendang

“Mondays are dreary with the potential to be depressing, so eating lunch out, or making a bit of an effort, has always been a must to me. As far as antidotes to dreariness go, a plate of fragrant coconut rice and all the trimmings - ayam masak merah and beef rendang - is up there. There are six or seven Malay curries to choose from at Dapur, but it was the appeal of the familiar (the rendang) and the fiery (chicken in a tomato chilli sauce) that got me going. The chicken was cooked to an almost deep-fried crispness on the edge, and its sauce had the slap-on-the-back I needed along with the homemade sambal. The rendang was the necessary hug everyone craves on a Monday. All in all, it set me up perfectly for the rest of the day (a second lunch).” -JM

Tarim

££££ 35 Theobalds Rd

Big plate chicken

“Mondays are dreary with the potential to be depressing, so eating a second lunch out, or making sure you consume something completely unnecessary, has always been a must to me. My round two was a light one: a modest serving of Uyghur-style big plate chicken. Tarim, has opened recently-ish smack bang on the busy bit of Theobald’s Road, near The Fryer’s Delight. The owner, who also runs Dilara in Finsbury Park, was looking for somewhere with a little less hustle and bustle and while this is certainly that, but the food is no less lively in flavour. Belt noodles with perfect bite, caramelised chicken chunks, and a fragrantly spiced tomato sauce of fennel, cumin and chilli. Admittedly I should have asked for a bigger oomph of chilli than I did, but now I’ll know exactly what to do next Monday.” -JM

Tongdak

££££ 95A Kingston Rd

Fried original chicken

“There are few things in life that can fix every situation. Money, an apology written on the notes app, and fried chicken that is actually crunchy. And of those three, the chicken with the high crunch level is probably the hardest one to find. Which is why this Korean fried chicken spot in New Malden is such a winner. They’ve got a bunch of different flavours like honey butter, and garlic soya, but the fried original is where the extreme crunch is at. Salty, slightly spicy, and unbelievably crispy, this may be my new favourite fried chicken spot in London.” - RS

Stanley’s

££££ 151 Sydney Street

Cornish crab and potted shrimp crumpet

“As I’m sure every day of your life you wake up and are once again haunted by the question, ‘What does that wonderful Heidi of Infatuation fame deign to eat when she’s not at restaurants?’. Fine, I’ll tell you. I eat crumpets. So many crumpets. Crumpets smothered in marmite and cheese. Crumpets with ham and eggs (please do try The Lazy Man’s Eggs Benedict). And yet, my rosta of crumpets has never come close to this crab and shrimp number from new-ish Chelsea spot, Stanley’s. An extra doughy crumpet loaded with rich crab and little hints of shrimpies, I urge you to make your way to their charming courtyard and try it immediately.” - HLB

Chew Fun

££££
££££ 3 Bell Ln

Niurou fun

“Getting ill in the current climate is bleak. Not like, the socio-environmental climate, but the actual climate. My summer 2k21 look has become ‘morgue-chic’. I’m in a perma-state of looking like a disgraced low-level LA celebrity, hood up, sunglasses always on, clutching £10 worth of juice in the hope it will make me feel something. So when I took my sniffling, shivering body outside recently it was only going to be for a different kind of restorative liquid. This time the savoury and beef-infused broth of niurou fun (beef shin rice noodles) from Chew Fun. The rhythmic action of slurping and chewing got me hot and bothered in a way this summer hasn’t. And it turns out a combination of salt and electric Szechuan chilli oil is exactly what the pathetic and self-pitying need. In fact, it’s just what everyone needs.” - JM

Hannah Japanese Restaurant

££££
££££ Belvedere Road

Wagyu sukiyaki rice with seasonal mushrooms

“Tasting menus are a marathon, not a sprint. By the time I made it to the final savoury course of the exceptional £98 9-course tasting menu at Waterloo’s Hannah Japanese, I was so stuffed with cold udon, sake, and top sashimi that I did a monumental exhale as this sukiyaki appeared on the table. As one of their lovely servers started mixing all that meaty rice into action in the hot pot, I found my ‘inner strength’ to carry on (I undid the side zip on my shorts and committed to the fact I’d need a cab to carry my stuffed-self home. Admirable, I know). The payoff? A near-sweet rice dish that was so rich and packed with wagyu so tender that it’s worth any and all stomach space logistics. Truly excellent.” - HLB

Christina’s

££££ Curtain Rd

Caramel miso-filled chocolate croissant

“Chocolate is not a summer food. For all intents and purposes it is a grade-10 melter. No, chocolate is at its best when consumed in bed with rain tapping at the window and an overpriced candle burning at your bedside. Alas, it appears that summer has decided to take 2021 off, so I broke my own sweet treat sanctions with this entirely OTT croissant. Arguably one of the messiest things I have ever eaten in public - sincere apologies to anyone who saw me panic-blotting milk chocolate ganache from my hair - but importantly, was ridiculously rich, delicious, and felt like a glorious test of sweet tooth stamina, the likes of which I rarely experience unless faced with a whole pack of Hobnobs. The miso stopped the caramel from being too eye-wateringly sweet and although some of the sandos at this hotel café were a little hit and miss, their pastries, fresh from Chestnut Bakery, should be at the top of your agenda.” - HLB

Jake Missing

Orient London

££££
££££ 15 Wardour St

Fried turnip cake with XO sauce

“Growing up on Shooting Stars, the deranged late-90s Vic & Bob game show, means that it is physically impossible for me to read, think, or taste umami without saying it, uvavu-style. It’s a dreadful affliction for anyone who has the bad luck to be eating a meal with me. Fortunately I was alone when Orient’s steaming hot plate of fried turnip cake in XO sauce arrived at my table - so I kept my guttural stage whisper of ‘OO-MA-MEE’ to myself. In fact, I didn’t even say it out loud, because as soon as the turnip cake hit the table, it was in my mouth, singing the roof, and didn’t leave until the plate was empty. It’s got everything, really. Crispness and carb-like softness from the turnip cake. The crunch of beansprouts and carrots and spring onion mixed with gloops of egg. And everything coated in the seafood-laden, sausage-flecked, savoury-slickness of XO sauce. Moreish, yes. But, moreover, maybe the perfect plate of food.” - JM

St John's Tavern

££££ 91 Junction Rd.

Roast rump of beef with roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding, and gravy

“Oysters, pickled cockles, and potted shrimp were all on the menu in the spacious and woody dining room at the back of the St John’s Tavern in Archway on Sunday, but it’s been well over a year and half since I’ve eaten in a pub and so it was impossible to ignore the roast at the top of the blackboard. It didn’t disappoint. The beef was perfectly, melt-in-your mouth pink, just to my liking, the potatoes massive, crusty, and fluffy inside, and the yorkshire - seen here obscuring both potatoes - more than capable of holding the two (yes, two!) boats of gravy I emptied in it. The whole thing was as close to the platonic ideal of a roast I think I’ve ever managed to find in this part of town. Just as good were the croquetas to start, the excellent 2018 UBE Miraflores me and my pals were lucky to get the last bottle of, and the massive banoffee pie which I will definitely be going back for another go at.” - OJF

Jake Missing

Joy King Lau

££££
££££ 3 Leicester St

Hong Kong style cheung fun

“Cheung fun is the most slippery and most satisfying of dim sum for me. Done and filled correctly, the rice noodle roll can be equal parts meaty, crispy and slurpy. All the important ys, basically. But sometimes I think it’s important to double down when choosing your foods. To pair carb with carb, surf with turf or, in this case, slippery with slimy. Joy King Lau’s dim sum menu is not insignificant at 50+ dishes, but it was their HK style cheung fun that immediately caught my eye. The rice noodle rolls come bobbing in a bath of peanut and hoisin sauce. It’s savoury, it’s sweet, it’s dessert-like, and it’s completely delicious. Textures? Who needs ’em.” - JM

Gymkhana

££££
Indian  in  Mayfair
££££ 42 Albemarle St

Venison keema naan

“The last time I attempted to go to Gymkhana, a huge fire broke out in the restaurant and then there was a global pandemic. I’m not saying I’m cursed, but I’m also not not saying that. Anyway, this visit was 100% better than my prior attempts because, importantly, I actually got in through their heavy-duty townhouse door, sat down in their sophisticated basement, and got to eat this winning naan. Fluffy with the perfect tear, it’s stuffed with a generous portion of smoky, hot hot hot venison that I merrily dolloped in their cucumber and cumin raita.” - HLB

Jake Missing

Notting Hill Fish Shop

££££ 287-289 Westbourne Grove

Bluefin tuna

“In a one-upmanship world that’s always hungry for an experience, the line between unique and deranged often becomes blurred. I thought it the other night, as I nonchalantly scraped tuna flesh straight from a 260kg bluefin tuna’s spine using a silver spoon. That isn’t a sentence I expected to write in my life. But then no one ever thinks they’ll get to eat for work. Let alone eat a five foot fish. Tuna Fight Club is a pop-up that’s two parts Hunger Games and one part Nero. It’s staged, very literally, at the Notting Hill Fish + Meat Shop, where a whole tuna is delivered before being prepared by some highly-skilled sushi chefs from restaurants like Endo at the Rotunda and Kurisu Omakase. The tuna - in akami, chuturo and otoro form - was completely sensational. The entire thing was broken down from nose to tail, and pretty much every part was tried, from spine to spoon. The tastefulness of the whole thing isn’t something that everyone will get on with. That said, everyone there seemed comfortable and feral enough to eat straight from a carcass as long as the environment was right (W11, champagne, 200bpm Latino dance blaring). But while there may a question mark hanging over tastefulness, the same cannot be said about the taste of that tuna.”- JM

Heidi Lauth Beasley

Cin Cin

££££
££££ 21 Foley Street London W1W 6DS

Bigoli Venetian duck ragu

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Arguably, this picture is worth about 15. Those words are ‘this pasta smelt so good that I just took a shaky picture and started eating’. I regret nothing, because eating a rich, near-sweet Venetian duck ragu should always come before ensuring you have perfect pasta content. A simple yet deeply satisfying dish from this equally simple yet satisfying newcomer Italian restaurant, it reminded me that sometimes there is nothing better than an al dente, capital-T Thick bigoli in a classic sauce.” - HLB

Rianne Shlebak

Italo

££££
Italian  in  Vauxhall
££££ 13 Bonnington Sq

Goat’s curd, braised leeks, and roasted tomato sandwich

“After being scarred by a goats cheese pizza I ate on holiday when I was 12, I have walked around these past 13 years like some sort of anti-goats-cheese-ambassador. Warning friends off it and steering clear of any menu items with a mention of goats milk in the description. So when I took the tube to this little Italian deli in Vauxhall only to find that my only option was a goat’s curd sandwich, I took a leap of faith and went against everything I’d been preaching for the last decade. Because something I hate more than my memory of goats cheese is unnecessarily getting on the Victoria line in 25° heat. Good news though, this hefty sandwich has officially made a convert of me. I am now a fan of goat’s curd. Generously filled with light, fresh curd, braised leeks, and roasted tomatoes, this is a messy and delicious sandwich, and worth getting on the tube for.” - RS

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

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 At Browns

££££
British  in  Mayfair
££££ 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

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

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

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