aThis weekly column suggests five restaurants to try during the weekend. There are three rules: The restaurants must not be featured in either the

Eater London 38 Essential map

, or the monthly updated


, and the recommendations must be outside Zone 1. In need of more

London restaurant recommendations


Head for the latest


Friday 8 March 2019

Masa Restaurant

London is home to the biggest population of Pashtuns in the western hemisphere, although this has not yet led to any significant concentration of Afghani restaurants. The most likely area if it happens, is a single stretch of road on the Wealdstone side of Harrow and Wealdstone which currently boasts two Afghan restaurants and a parlour selling sheeryakh, an Afghan ice cream heady with saffron and rose. Of the two restaurants Masa is the larger, and the one with the most compelling offer. Mantoo are decent versions of the never-spelled-the-same-way, pan-central Asian dumplings; better are aashak filled with chopped leeks and topped with yoghurt and chilli oil. The true test is the simple bara, a lamb kebab, which Masa passes with flying colours, interspersing well grilled lean meat with crispy parcels of fat. For those not north-north west, combine it with Mazar across the road and make a whole day of it. —Jonathan Nunn

24 — 26 Headstone Drive, HA3 5QH

Sichuan Grand

The latest addition to London’s thriving Sichuan food scene, Sichuan Grand, is a palatial venue cresting Stratford’s cultural hub, Gerry Raffles Square. Alongside its water features, floor-to-ceiling paintings and carved furniture, the restaurant offers substance as well as style with excellent renditions of the regional classics, marking a real game-changer for Chinese food in the area. Water cooked beef is equal parts hot and numbing, layered with fragrant waves of barely-cooked garlic, while crispy chicken — fried with peanuts and chilli — shatters and tingles with electric Sichuan peppercorn. The beans with minced pork and preserved greens are another solid order on a menu that is deserving of further exploration. —Shekha Vyas

1 Gerry Raffles Square, E15 1BG

Chandni Chowk

Bollywood movies from the 1990s almost always feature a ‘foreign-returned’ son — a term used by Indian parents to make their offspring appear more marriageable when returning home after studying or working abroad. There’s usually a scene in which the mother can barely contain her excitement: she can’t wait to introduce the beautiful girl she’s chosen for him to marry. This might be followed by a scene in which the son runs into his mother’s arms in slow motion: he can’t wait to tell her about the beautiful girl he met while abroad. But before this domestic crisis stretches into a three-hour movie, there’s breakfast. And since many films of this genre are set in large Punjabi households, the breakfast is ‘garam garam paratha’ — hot flatbreads fresh off the tawa, casually whipped up by the mother in between cliché-ridden dialogue. The Punjabi parathas of Bollywood fantasies is what this two-storey, formica table-laden Southall stalwart does best. Oozing with ghee, they’re judiciously spiced, and variously flavoured: choose from fresh fenugreek leaves, cauliflower, paneer, potato, mooli radish and lamb mince. It’s best to arrive early and eat them for breakfast with pickles and hot drinks. The actual Chandni Chowk — the legendary Delhi market whose name translates as ‘moonlight plaza’ — is filled with mithai shops, jalebi makers, falooda stalls and chaat sellers. All these items can also be found here, but — just as the original is most famous for a nineteenth century street lined with shops selling parathas — here, too, it boils down to hefty, home-style flatbreads. —Sejal Sukhadwala

106 The Broadway, UB1 1QF

Moxon’s Next Door

Prior to opening his fishmongers, Robin Moxon ran an excellent fish restaurant in Clapham. Such consummate knowledge and experience show at this exceptionally delightful fish restaurant attached to that fishmongers in East Dulwich, serving up a greedy choice of small plates before the option of splurging on a whole fish presents itself.

And what small plates, which would happily scale up. Pickled herrings made with top notch vinegar, served with gently piquant roe and celeriac remoulade, and a mustard and dill sauce; mussel, red mullet, white bean, tomato and saffron broth of mesmerising depth, all English Riviera sunshine; grilled mackerel with sweet potato gnocchi and crab and sorrel risotto; all beautifully composed and presented. Don’t leave without ordering the properly tangy lemon tart with ultra-fine pastry and elegant caramelised “crust.” Service is notably warm and knowledgeable with good wine recommendations including a dry Tokaji by the glass. Book well ahead for weekends. —Sudi Pigott

151 Lordship Lane, SE22 8DX


In a prime location just off Portobello Road, the latest restaurant from Jackson Boxer and Andrew Clarke specialises in top notch seafood from the Outer Hebrides, alongside an impressive wine list focussed on carafes that are dispensed from wall-mounted taps and kegs. The room itself is small, with wooden floors and ceilings which can at times feel a little like a coffin, but the food and service are distractingly excellent and will keep any thoughts of mortality at bay. River oysters come with a shallots and elderflower champagne, adding texture and acidity to saline silkiness; sea bream crudo with yuzu and blood orange is a neon delight. The standout from the mains is the shallot tart, that comes drenched in melted Comté and dredged with grated truffle. None of this menu comes cheap, but nothing does round here. —Leila Latif

31 Kensington Park Road, W11 2EU

Friday 29 February 2019

Fung Sing

The discovery of a secret menu ranks just above writing about a restaurant without a Google review, and just below finding out an international embassy does subsidised lunches available to the general public. There can be a problematic ‘gameification’ aspect to this focus on discovery, but it’s nonetheless thrilling to get one of these ‘finds’ once in a while. Fung Sing is half a find — a Sichuan restaurant operating in the premises of a 2.8 star Google-rated standard Chinese takeaway on a stretch of Peckham Road simultaneously too far from both Peckham and Camberwell. There are three menus: the main one is to be avoided. There is also a Chinese one which has one plate meals, noodles, soups and dumplings, and a translated laminated menu of Sichuan starters and mains only available on the premises. Do not expect grand cooking — this is perfunctory Sichuan for locals and students — but do expect value and plenty of má là in abattoir red bowls of beef flank noodles; fried intestines, crisp on the outside and wobbling inside; and a mapo tofu that convinces once its peas have been removed. —J

onathan Nunn

40 Peckham Road, SE5 8PX

W12 Studios

White City, the former home of the BBC, is the latest to join in the food court trend with the opening of W12 studios. This large space, filled with requisite exposed brick & edison bulbs, hosts live music alongside its rotating culinary offerings. Currently the food comes courtesy of The Piadina Project and Cue Point. At Piadina there’s buttermilk-marinated fried chicken wrapped in paper thin Italian flatbreads — piadine — the best of which comes piled high with American cheese, pancetta, pickles, rocket and ‘nduja mayonnaise. Equally tempting are the offerings from barbecue joint Cue Point that comes from the former head chef of Smokestak. There, assuming arteries can handle it, a brioche filled with smoked ribs and pickles — called, appropriately, ‘the Ribwich’ — demands to be ordered, alongside cheesy croquettes stuffed with slow cooked brisket. The acclaimed Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is in residence from next week; this particular food court is off to a solid start. —

Leila Latif

195 Wood Lane, W12 7TU

Zzetta Pizza

Excellent food, and a charming interior which pays homage to a fading East End, give heart to the steel and concrete walls of this new restaurant. The venture from Rob Dewan and chef Richard Regalado is unmistakably Italian, with a focus on natural and directly imported ingredients. Even the soft drinks are organic and made in Italy, alongside a selection of Italian craft beer. Pizza with a sourdough base is outstanding: its perfectly ballooned and blistered crust crackles at the edges and holds fast in the middle, where a San Marzano tomato sauce oozes with cheese and garlic. A wobbling orb of smoked ricotta is also delicious and a fine starter: the delicate skin bursts to reveal creamy innards, mopped up with crisp triangles of sourdough and herbed tomatoes. As well as a new spring menu, a litany of upcoming community outreach initiatives is sure to make this restaurant a local favourite. —

Shekha Vyas

Rathbone Market, 110 Barking Road, E16 1EN

Head Room Café

It would be easy to walk past this Israeli café on Golders Green Road — it looks like any other in the area, with its bare brick walls, mismatched furniture and pendant lighting. The clues to something different are in the artwork splashed on the walls: “I’m fine!” insists one slogan; another says, “labels are for jars not people.” The venue is a social enterprise owned by Jewish mental health charity, Jami. It’s open to everyone, so locals of all ages and backgrounds can be seen chatting, laughing and enjoying the food — and no wonder, because it’s excellent. There’s some fish on the menu, but the fare is mostly vegetarian, and includes egg dishes, burgers, salads, small plates and toasties. Shakshuka comes in a heavy-bottomed copper pan to keep it warm, wearing a party dress of brick-red zhoug zigzagged with tahini. Sesame-topped bourekas are baked on-site, and comprise several layers of light, flaky filo pastry wrapped around a gently spiced spinach and three-cheese filling. There’s a large drinks list, from which salep must not be missed. Here, the Turkish drink is made by whisking the powder of dried wild orchid bulbs into coconut milk and a good glug of rosewater; the resulting drink is then topped with crushed mixed nuts, cinnamon and sweetened desiccated coconut. It’s beautifully perfumed, with a beguiling taste and a delicate, creamy consistency. Best drunk steaming hot, as soon as it’s served, this is one of the greatest dessert-drinks in the world, and not easily found in London. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

89 Golders Green Road, NE11 8EN

Kricket Brixton

Kricket started out in a shipping container at Pop Brixton, so it was fitting to see a permanent site open around the corner, replacing the large Brindisa under Atlantic Road’s thundering railway arches. The menu is typically short, which means it’s definitely possible for a group of three or four to try every one of the Indian-inspired dishes chef Will Bowlby’s kitchens have won acclaim for. Plates are small yet always potent in flavour, including the Keralan fried chicken served with a pickle of mooli and curry leaf mayo — a must-order — to the lighter raw bavette with mango and nigella seeds, or leeks with kasundi mustard. The Sunday roasts served here or at the White City restaurant are well worth trying as an alternative to the traditional beef with Yorkshire pudding, the likes of Goan roast pork always arriving with a crew of generously sized supporting dishes. In summary, the food stands up to the always-fun Soho site. —

Helen Graves

41-43 Atlantic Road, London SW9 8JL

Friday 22 February 2019


The first thing to unpack about this Temple Fortune cafe is the name. Balady is an Arabic word that can mean home, but also homeland — as in


a recent Palestinian cookbook by Joudie Kalla — and when applied to something like an aubergine, it can mean a local or heirloom variety. It’s not by chance that the name is written out first in Arabic and then in Hebrew at this northwest London café, nodding to the complex interaction of people that has created the food it serves. Falafel — Palestinians — sabich — Iraqi Jews — and all the influences that make up Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish cooking are represented here. The food, all made in house by two Israeli brothers — “we make everything except the Coca Cola, and only because they won’t tell us the recipe” — is a labour of love and generosity. Falafel, reminiscent of emeralds, with hot crusts that crack on teeth; sabich as hefty as cannon balls, fluffy pitta containing and soaking up freshly fried aubergine, hard boiled eggs, hummus, chilli sauce, mango pickle, and chips. This is before mentioning the shakshuka and cauliflower shawarma, both of which are better than anything in east London, or weekend specials, like Moroccan-influenced cigars filled with chopped fish, kuba soup, or fish kofta stews inspired by the duo’s grandmother’s recipes. —

Jonathan Nunn

750 Finchley Rd, London NW11 7TH

Park’s Edge Bar and Kitchen

Park Edge, overlooking Brockwell Park, is a neighbourhood restaurant with edge in Herne Hill, endearing and eccentric inside with a powder blue, bookshelf-lined interior. The menu has clear West Indian influences — plantain, hot pepper, roti — reflecting Claudia’s Jamaican heritage, which are introduced to a creative approach to classic British dishes. Best of all are calypso prawns in a rakishly piquant tomato and garlic sauce; wild boar, Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, and stout is creamy and tangy, with a crisp crust on the boar and a chilli aioli cutting through. Torched seabass with its generous helping of beluga lentils has a sour edge from white cabbage, lemon and chili, and a rarely seen chicken ballotine with pleasingly crisp skin is smartly partnered with Jerusalem artichoke purée, a hint of curry leaf, mustard, and soft herbs. There’s cheese from local mongers Mons, and rum baba, well doused in single plantation rum and impressively ethereal. —

Sudi Pigott

49 - 51 Norwood Road, SE24 9AA

Mr Ribs Restaurant

Nestled deep within the maze of shops and stalls that make up Stratford’s Market Village, this tiny café and butcher cooks some of the best homestyle Brazilian cuisine in London. Huge portions of hearty food come with fluffy rice, rosy carioca beans, and salad. The carne de panela, a robust meat stew, is rich with warming flavour, while a dish of braised beef shin melts in the mouth. As the day goes on, dishes deplete fast, so lunchtimes are the best time to visit, when snacks like pão de queijo — a Brazilian cheese bread — açai bowls and tropical juices are also in abundance.

—Shekha Vyas

Unit 10A, 70-73 The Mall, The Stratford Centre, London E15 1XQ


In Herne Hill — a pocketed village of a place, quaint but not isolated — is Llewelyn’s, a true gem of the capital’s dining scene, as contemporary as anyone would wish and yet gratifyingly understated. Llewelyn’s set up camp some time ago and deserves billing with some of south London’s best: Kudu in Peckham and Salon in Brixton. A daily changing menu brings soft jewel-pillows of tortellini bathing in herby oil; roast Tamworth pork with skin salty, thick and crunchy; and pickled mackerel, searing in acidity but relaxed by waxed potatoes. It is imperative diners make use of the wholesomeness of the place — Llewelyn’s is neighbourly, rather than “a neighbourhood restaurant.” Its broths and hearty dishes do it the most justice. But it also suits fuzzier spring evenings, where the wine list might be better surveyed and the lighter dishes sing.—

Josh Barrie

293-295 Railton Road, SE24 0JP

Thunderbird Fried Chicken

Thunderbird Fried Chicken has opened inside Brixton’s Market Row, and it poses a question: Does London need more buffalo wings? The answer here is yes: a variation on the classic butter and hot sauce buffalo combo — a rare feat — uses chipotle and coriander, and is served with what can only be described as a blue cheese paste, not sauce. The chicken is light and easy to eat, with a perfectly crisp coating and expectedly juicy meat. This, apparently, is thanks to a complicated multi-stage cooking process involving steaming and pressure frying. Other wings are available, and the salted caramel version will certainly polarise opinion. Give the buns a chance too, in particular, ‘the Meltdown,’ which features more of that excellent chicken with pickles, jalapeño, and an American style sloppy cheese made intensely savoury with miso. A well-judged short beer selection includes bottles from Brixton Brewery to fizz away the grease. —

Helen Graves

Brixton Village, London SW9 8PS

Friday 15 February 2019


Azou is a lovely warm hug of a restaurant, found in a resolutely mediocre part of Hammersmith. Classic Moroccan decor coats every square inch of this little candlelit restaurant, and the staff treat diners with the affection normally reserved for long-lost family members. From the starters, its best to go light; share some of dips and crisp filo pastries and save room for the stunning tagines. The tajine el ain pairs velvety lamb with sweet prunes, apricots and almonds, and uis served with giant piles of fluffy couscous. If that hasn’t induced a blissful coma, the baklava perfectly rounds things off, with bottomless sweet mint tea a fine pairing. This is honest and comforting cooking: enchantment is guaranteed. —

Leila Latif

375 King Street, W6 9NJ

Slow Richie’s

Slow Richie’s moved into Peckham’s Brick Brewery as a pop-up venture in 2015, but quickly established itself as a permanent fixture. British-inspired burger menus tend to suck, but here there is a winning formula: homegrown flavours matched with sloppily-generous American technique. The burgers are vast, with plenty of salt, fat and acidity to please both the sober and soused palate. The menu changes occasionally, but classics include the West Sussex lamb burger with a sparkling green slurry of cashew and parsley pesto, and ‘The Beef,’ with its signature tumble of pickled red chillies. The Haggis is fantastic too, its offaly crumbles doused in Slow Richie’s own brand ‘Blenheim Black’ hot sauce, for sale in bottle to take away. Those in the mood for a mere nibble should try one of the fat sausage rolls. Eating here is always a three-napkin job, rising to five or more post-pints. —

Helen Graves

Blenheim Grove, SE15 4QL

Woodlands Hampstead

Before it was eclipsed by bigger and better chains, Woodlands was an iconic brand in India, revered for top-notch South Indian food. Established in 1938, it was one of the first Tamil restaurants outside South India, and its massive popularity triggered copycat chains that also went on to expand internationally. In London, the Marylebone branch was the first to open in 1981, followed by Piccadilly — but by far the best was Wembley. It boasted the sort of old-school, super-talented Indian chef that nowadays is more likely to be found working in Dubai or Southeast Asia. When he retired, the branch closed; a smarter one opened in Chiswick, but was short-lived; swiftly followed by this elegant, minimalist venue in Hampstead. Its awkward location in a traffic-laden side road away from the glitzier high street means it’s often quiet and lacking in buzz. The menu has become more pan-Indian, and some of the old favourites have been removed as they were no longer selling. Newer dishes such as ragi — finger millet — masala dosa reflect current dining trends in India: the deep-red millet gives the pancake an attractive pink-brown colour and a dense, earthy flavour. It’s served with tasty potato bhaji, fiery coconut and coriander chutney and slightly sweet sambar with chow-chow and truffle-like back note of asafoetida. The chain may no longer be in its heyday but, in an area woefully lacking in good Indian restaurants, it deserves more love. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

102 Heath Street, NW3 1DR

Zizou Tagine

Zizou Tagine serves authentic, generous and, reassuringly, gently priced home-cooked Moroccan cuisine of marvellous quality and vibrancy. A starter of chicken pastilla has good flaky pastry dusted with cinnamon and crammed with juicy almond fragrant chicken. There are briouats too, filo pastry filled with chicken, lamb or spinach and goat’s cheese. The choice of tagines is vast enough to satisfy multiple visits. Chicken with preserved lemons and slow-cooked saffron onions has complex depth, as does a fruity lamb shank tagine redolent with pears, prunes, and almonds. There’s couscous bathed in vegetable broth served “royale” with seven vegetables, or with lamb shank and to accompany the feasting, there are good non-alcoholic cocktails including ‘Berber Cooler’ and fresh herbal teas besides a modestly marked up wine list. Joyous comfort food. —

Sudi Pigott

3 Fernlea Road, SW12 9RN

Han Restaurant

The number of Sichuan restaurants in London now no longer mean quality is a given. Such was the case when the completely excellent Sichuan Kitchen, which occupied a lonely stretch of East India Dock Road closed in favour of an inferior replacement. But after a shaky start, this second incarnation, Han Restaurant, has come into its own. Now, the specialty is hot and numbing crayfish, swimming in a fragrant sea of incendiary Sichuan peppercorns which bob around like miniature grenades. The vermillion armour, lacquered with a slick of chilli oil, hides a soft and sweet interior that reverberates with a tingling aftershock. Other drinking snacks, like sizzling cumin lamb skewers and fried chicken with peanuts and chilli are salty and flavoursome, making this bounce back worthwhile.

—Shekha Vyas

213 E India Dock Road, E14 0ED

Friday 8 February 2019


Somewhat hidden in a quiet, shadowed, less dynamic part of Wembley opposite a row of buzzier South Indian restaurants, this Gujarati vegetarian nonetheless draws attention with its brightly coloured interior. There’s a celestial blue ceiling painted with clouds and birds, striking murals, and large framed pictures of village scenes. This is in contrast to the crisp white napery and heavy cutlery found in more expensive venues. The place is owned by a family from Gujarati Charotar Patel community; the chef is from Vadodara — formerly Baroda — and, among the ubiquitous ‘Punjabi,’ ‘South Indian,’ ‘Indian-Chinese,’ and ‘chaat’ sections on the menu, there are a few Kathiyawadi staples. So expect dishes that are spicier and stronger with garlic than in other regions of Gujarat; a greater use of dairy products; more powdered spices than whole; a notable emphasis on snacks; and sev — chickpea flour vermicelli — used liberally. The snacks include dainty, fresh fenugreek leaf fritters that surprise with a powerful whack of garlic, and pastry shells filled with crushed fresh pigeon peas. The daily-changing thali might showcase vegetables rarely seen elsewhere, such as kankoda, which look like miniature green hedgehogs, or beans like black-eyed and pink aduki that are surprisingly under-utilised in Indian restaurants. There are also classics like sev-tameta, Gujarat’s answer to pasta with tomato sauce, to be scooped up with pearl millet flatbreads; curiosities including various cashew nut currie; and Rajasthani specialities at weekends. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

590 High Road, HA0 2AF

012 Bar and Grill

The generically named O12 Bar and Grill, in Stratford feels just like so many venues that were ubiquitous in the 1990s — complete with wall-to-wall water feature and neon lights. But it has a hidden side. A quick dissection of the menu reveals an inexplicable but delicious muddle of Nepalese and Lithuanian bar food. Classics like Lithuanian kepta duona, moreish fingers of fried bread, and uzkanda prie alaus, a laden platter of nibbles like smoked pig ear, cheese and peanuts, rub shoulders with Nepalese lamb tripe and chhoyola. Momos, filled with lamb, are juicy and well-seasoned, perfectly paired with chilli chicken that resounds with heat; the lamb sekuwa, dry-fried cubes of meat in soya sauce and spices, is a wonderful complement to cold beer. More substantial items, like the Nepalese chicken thali, are worth trying for the included vegetable dishes, but the standout orders here are the finger food. —

Shekha Vyas

108-110 The Grove, E15 1NS

Durak Tantuni

The restaurant scene in London has improved unimaginably over the last 20 years, but there’s still one major thing the city lacks: the superior late night snack. Durak, a tantuni salonu run by Dogan Yesil on West Green Road, is a template London needs to copy on a larger scale. One of just three tantuni specialists in the whole city — and the one open latest — it’s possible to get this Turkish street food until 2am, and it normally tastes better the later it gets. Tantuni is a remarkably simple thing, which means that it’s difficult to get right. Meat is chopped, boiled and fried in cotton oil, almost to the texture of coarse mince, then stuffed into lavash liberally coated in the fat and juice of the meat. Onions, sumac, and parsley cut through, and then a generous platter of lemons and tiny pickles chillis brings even more acidity. A single lavash is £3, a double £3.50; in fluffier bread it’s £6. There is nothing else on the menu. For those who want to try tantuni it’s worth the trek up, but this is really one for residents of Harringay, peckish but not hungry, looking for one last thing to fill them up at one in the morning. —

Jonathan Nunn

390 West Green Road, N15 3PX

Cravings La Carreta

This cheerful, family-owned pit-stop next to Peckham Rye Station serves food best described as Mexican-ish. The remit is actually broader, running into South American staples like cachapas — a type of Venezuelan pancake with fillings — and empanadas. Just think of it as a place that serves corn-based food items topped, stuffed or rolled. The super friendly staff will heap enormous tacos with shredded beef or cochinita pibil, a splodge of creamy guacamole and a tangle of shredded cabbage; it’s up to the customer to add a personalised garnish of pickled jalapeños and the excellent, properly fiery salsa verde. Portions are gigantic and prices low, which makes it extremely popular with local art students, faces locked onto hulking burritos. There is limited seating inside the small space tucked under the bridge, and people tend to drop in for a quick fix on the way to or from the station. Just look for the place with steamy windows.

—Helen Graves

18 Peckham Rye, SE15 4JR

The Apple Blue

Tucked unassumingly under the bridge that inspired the Monty Python “Gateway to the South” quip, Blue Apple is stylish in its decor and its individuality, attracting a more diverse and multi-generational crowd than some of its hip neighbours. Even for those only after sustenance with excellent coffee, there are many treats: almond-crammed croissants with a cheeky hit of good chocolate; a croissant/brioche hybrid. There’s also haute patisserie: Paris Brest, fruit tarts and chocolate delice that would pass muster in the smartest Paris arrondissement.

The main attraction, however, is a weekend brunch that eschews the cliché repertoire in altogether more satisfying dishes. Shakshuka is enlivened with chickpeas and lamb merguez; there’s deftly spiced and lightly fried chicken with a fried egg, maple syrup and Dutch baby pancake, rather like a giant Yorkshire pudding. Vegetarian dishes are possibly even more appealing, especially chickpea and tomato curry topped with amba — a complex, bitter mango pickle. The soundtrack is interesting, mellow yet unobtrusive, staff are well-informed, enthusiastic, gentle and calm even when the pace gets hectic around midday at weekends. It’s the kind of independent business worthy of anyone’s support.

—Sudi Pigott

212 Balham High Rd, London SW12 9BS

Friday 1 February 2019

Oses Cigkoftem

For over 50 years Dom deMarco confounded expert opinions about pizza and authenticity by somehow operating, through some alchemic process of intuition, the best pizza joint in New York using a gas oven and basic ingredients. Pilgrims flocked and still flock to Midwood for his pies. London has nothing like Di Fara, nothing even close, but it goes some way to explain why some of the best lahmacun in London is being made somewhere on the stretch of road north of Wood Green in a gas oven using dough not rolled by hand by a Turkish aunty. Oses, like Antepliler, are from Gaziantep, but there’s no wood firing here giving the bread a whisper of char — it’s all about the toppings. Aggressively spiced and generous lamb mince, absolutely honking of garlic and chilli, are then met with onions, parsley and more garlic/chilli sauce if desired (why say no?). Order the Antep Lahmacun and ignore their warnings about heat — a single one is £2 and it’s impossible not to order a second. Two actual warnings: there is an option with cheese — usually a sound choice — but this destroys the purity of the meat-garlic-chilli trifecta, and there is also vegan cigkofte which no one should ever order anyway. —

Jonathan Nunn

349 Wood Green High Road, N22 8JA

Curled Leaf

This small veggie café is part of a yoga studio owned by an acupuncturist and herbalist, and serves stuffed aubergines — but that’s where the vegetarian stereotype ends. It’s run by husband and wife Luli Mripa and Alketa Xhafa-Mripa, who escaped wars in Bosnia and Kosova to settle in West Hampstead, where they opened this cute venue a few years ago. The stuffed aubergines are part of their heritage — replacing the meat of traditional recipes, they might contain piquant fresh tomato sauce with tiny squares of halloumi, or other ingredients in season. Bureks, made to Luli’s mother’s recipe, feature exquisitely light, flaky filo pastry filled with a lively mix of fresh spinach and feta. There are vegetable side dishes served warm, and colourful salads topped with thick yoghurt and pomegranate seeds. Also on the display counter are sumptuous cakes such as light, crumbly apple and apricot; plus other sweets and pastries. But that’s not all — Luli is a tea master, so a wall of tea perks up an otherwise unremarkable interior; and a mini sand timer forms part of tea paraphernalia served to customers. There are dozens of varieties, including one heavily perfumed with dried rose petals, liquorice, fennel seeds and vanilla. Tucked away in a residential street, this hidden gem is both charmingly old-school and curiously inventive. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

Curled Leaf, 98 Mill Lane, West Hampstead, NW6 1NF.

Gold of Naples

Superb Neapolitan pizza is now easy to find in London but some restaurants seem to get all the attention while others of equal quality are forgotten. South Londoners — quite rightly — rave about Theo’s Pizzeria (in Camberwell and Elephant) and the outstanding Adomme and Bravi Ragazzi in Streatham, but what about The Gold of Naples in Catford? Owner Francesco Rapicano, from Castellammare di Stabia in Naples worked at restaurants along the Amalfi coast before joining Beach Blanket Babylon, Cecconi’s, and Shoreditch House en route to opening his own restaurant. He serves a menu of classic Neapolitan dishes as the name suggests but they’re all just preamble to the pillowy pizzas. Only Italian ingredients are allowed to grace the surface of long fermented dough which is unusually light and soft. Try the “Pompei” with Napoli salami which is easily as satisfying as its equivalent at those more lauded on the London circuit. —

Helen Graves

134 Hither Green Lane, SE13 6QA

Panda Dim Sum Cafe

Mr Yan Feng Zhou is a diamond. Arriving from Zhengzhou in Henan province 10 years ago, he began cooking in several Chinatown kitchens, before stints in several others elsewhere around town, including Thai and Indian restaurants, with a period assembling sushi and maki rolls at Wasabi’s central kitchen — an intriguing if slightly befuddling CV.

His first opening was the excellent Dim Sum Cafe on Leyton High Road, where he was making his own hand-pulled noodles in theatrical and mesmerising fashion in view of the restaurant, alongside an eclectic combination of dishes that jitterbugged across the Chinese provinces — catching the attention of local resident

Grace Dent

, with a mention in ES magazine.

Since opening in Leytonstone several years ago, he has quietly built up a loyal following: Dan Dan noodles and Sichuanese fish in chilli oil; stewed seafood balls with potato noodes; char siu pork buns; sour and spicy chicken noodles. The hand-pulled noodles are no longer a regular fixture — he may wheel them out now and again for trusted regulars — but the real draw are the fried dumplings he makes with his wife. Spicy curry chicken; pork and chive; egg and chive. The unmissable one remains the ‘Special Dumpling’, dense pucks of dough wrapped around minced prawns, pork, egg and chive.

BYO from across the road from the outstanding selection at Theatre of Wine and that’s a happy evening in Leytonstone — Yan’s the man.

—Zeren Wilson

767 High Road, E11 4QS

Zeit and Zaatar

Breakfasting or lunching on manakish lavishly smothered with deftly piquant spinach, sumac and lemon, the Levantine flatbread at Zeit and Zaatar in the heart of Uxbridge Road has to be one of the best thrifty deals in town — a mere £2.00. Seating is at formica tables with no cutlery, yet the welcome is warm, even for those of defying what seems to be an informal convention of men sitting out front and women and families in the similar space back room. House za’tar is a vivacious mix of thyme and roasted sesame seeds. More substantial choices include atari, a spiced minced lamb and a tangy fermented yoghurt mixed with finely ground wheat. The dough is prepped to-order through a mangle like contraption the owner brought over from Lebanon. Forget designer sourdough pizza, this is smoky and crisp but also pillowy — it packs a lot of flavour. Splurge with olives, pickled cucumbers, and turnips. More substantial items include ful medames, fruity with olive oil and pleasingly herbaceous. Accompany with a cup mint tea and finish with a pastry from the nut store next door.

—Sudi Pigott

354 Uxbridge Road, London W12 7LL

Friday 25 January 2019

Anteplioglu Pastanesi

There are three areas of London that have a concentrated number of quality Turkish restaurants — two of which are fairly widely known and one which is not, at least not yet. Green Lanes and the run between Dalston and Newington Green have traditionally been the first ports of call for London’s Turkish and Kurdish population, but like everyone else, they have been pushed further and further out, creating a significant third community in Edmonton/Ponders End. Here is Anteplioglu Pastanesi, a small bakery that specialises in the Gaziantep version of kunefe — a.k.a one of the best desserts known to mankind. There are three sizes, small, medium, and large — the medium will fill up four people — all served hot from the skillet oozing with white cheese and covered with mini hills of salted pistachios.

Real, thick kaymak

replaces the clotted cream that London’s Turkish restaurants most often deploy to balance the sweetness, and nostalgic shots of milk reset the palate. Its not worth the trip to Southbury alone, but combine it with an ocakbaşi and nearby tantuni and that’s a

restaurant crawl to rival Hackney Road

. —

Jonathan Nunn

4 Green Street, Enfield EN3 7HG


Southall at weekends is all the colours of the rainbow amplified, a bucketful of glitter, a blast of Bollywood wedding music. In contrast, this somewhat formal restaurant is ... Not. Located off the main drag of the Broadway, it’s part of a hotel with the same name. It boasts starched white tablecloths and swirly patterned carpets, and staff take working in a serious restaurant very seriously. Only the terracotta walls, with village scenes tastefully stencilled in white paint, and the odd glimmer of a diner’s sequinned shalwar kameez, hint at the restaurant’s Punjabi pedigree. Among the most popular dishes are charcoal-grilled malai chicken kabab marinated in concentrated yoghurt and finely crushed nuts, delicate malai kofta cooked in cashew paste, ‘meat masala’ made from hot, tender baby lamb on the bone, and slow-simmered, long-cooked dal bukhara. The musky flavour of dried fenugreek leaves lifts paneer jaipuri in creamy tomato-onion sauce with green peppers and green chillies; there’s soft, freshly baked naan. Mehfil may be too austere to live up to its name — a Hindi word for a convivial gathering with live music and merrymaking — but if the crowded cacophony of kerbside chaat vendors and Kashmiri tea stalls nearby gets too much, it’s the place to retreat to. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

45 The Green, Southall UB2 4AR

Smokey Jerkey

This New Cross takeaway cooks some of the best jerk chicken, pork and lamb in London. Owner Louie focuses more on smoke than spicing, which is what differentiates his style from so many others, and it’s also been rumoured that he doesn’t use scotch bonnets in his marinade. The pork tends to sell out early, but it’s all good piled onto a steaming mound of rice and peas. There are two hot sauces on the counter in unmarked bottles — a mild, yellow one and a seriously infernal red, the latter made with scorpion pepper, a chilli of Trinidadian origin that’s one of the hottest in the world. An ice-cold can of Old Jamaica ginger beer is recommended alongside the jerk, and while most customers take their food away it’s fun to sit at one of the few tables, chat with Louie, and watch the people of New Cross come and go. —

Helen Graves

158 New Cross Road, London SE14 5BA

Red Camel

Just nine months ago Farishta — which means ‘angel’ in Urdu — along with her husband Akbar, descended onto Leytonstone High Street, bringing with them an Afghan food paradise, masquerading as a takeaway kebab shop. Since then — despite having a single table — this tiny space has been a magnet for those who know and crave the complex flavours of this wondrous cuisine. An aromatic qabily pallow features slight, silky fronds of rice, interwoven with carrots, chunks of lamb and adorned with sultanas — a perfect rendition of this Afghan classic. Koobideh and lamb shish are nuanced and juicy, layered with a gentle heat. An unexpected highlight is the freshly-made lentil soup, a velvety mixture — sunset yellow and just as warming — with a moreish savoury tang. If the table and stools are taken, it is worth opting for a takeaway simply to try food made with such love and care.

—Shekha Vyas

552 High Rd Leytonstone, London E11 3DH

Foxlow Balham

Chicken and waffles is a late-night delicacy, popularised in late-night Harlem diners during the 1930s and by Californian icon Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles in the 1970s: a dish which combines light-as-air waffles and crispy strips of fried chicken with either gravy or maple syrup, or, preferably, both. There are several decent offerings across the capital — Bird and Dirty Bones both do a decent rendition. However, the best chicken and waffles in the city can currently be found at steak restaurant and Hawksmoor sibling, Foxlow in Balham. This irrepressibly jolly restaurant serves the waffles sweet and with a slightly caramelised crisp edge; the chicken is crunchy and juicy and the whole thing is topped with a fried egg and lashings of sausage gravy and maple syrup. The rest of the brunch menu is not easily dismissed — this being a steak restaurant, the rump cut with spiced, roasted tomato and eggs is a solid choice. As, too, are any of the burgers, or even the caponata and eggs. —

Leila Latif

15-19 Bedford Hill, SW12 9EX

Friday 18 January 2019

Somali Town

Streatham is tentatively announcing itself as a minor food destination. Bravi Ragazzi and Addome are two of London’s best pizzerias, but it’s the ‘Little Mogadishu’ that has built up around Streatham station that is the most intriguing. Close to Ambleside Avenue there are now no less than five Somali cafes — Somali Town is the least accessible and most interesting of them. Going in there is little that announces it as a restaurant, apart from the kitchen in the back. There’s an abundance of tables, and men having lively discussions in Somali, but get talking to the owner who will tell you what he has on the go: normally a choice between chopped meat, steaks and fish served with either rice or pasta — reminder of that Italian colonial influence. Maraq is provided gratis, a plain, brown cloudy broth of exceptional savouriness, with acidity provided by chunks of lemon. A chopped beef braise comes with onions and the right ratio of lean to fatty meat, with a half portion of rice cooked in meat stock and a half portion of red sauce spaghetti perfect foils. Three things to note: one, this is best eaten with hands; two, the green bottle on the table is a chilli sauce called basbaas and should be used liberally, and three, don’t be surprised to be served a banana with the meal — how to use it is entirely the diner’s prerogative. —

Jonathan Nunn

10 Gleneagle Road, SW16 6AB

San Giorgio

The food is decent rather than spectacular at this enormous venue in Whetstone — a superior version of the old-school high street Italian many Londoners grew up eating in. But it’s impossible to begrudge a restaurant so steeped in hospitality that staff make every diner feel like their new best friend, long after the meal has finished. First, they line up in the dining area as customers enter, ringing the air with cries of “buona sera”; then again with “grazie, grazie” as they leave. The father and son duo, owners of other nearby Italian venues over the years, come over to say goodbye to each and every person at the end of the evening, interrupting their own meal and letting their food get cold. Not that it plays second fiddle.

An otherwise standard menu, which includes the likes of aubergine parmigiana, veal escalopes, and spaghetti with prawns, gives some emphasis to dishes from Rimini, Rome and the regions in between. Roman-style rigatoni cacio e pepe, once popularised by a certain notorious American chef, comes in a large golden pool of butter. More butter adds lustre to pumpkin tortelli with almonds made from scratch, its sweetness tempered by the medicinal taste of sage leaves. A whole plump, shiny burrata sits atop thin, bubbled pizza bianca made from light sourdough, surrounded by what looks like half the contents of the salad drawer. Sumptuous retro desserts, notably a good tiramisu and cassata, also tug on the nostalgic heartstrings. There are nice touches like amuse bouches and complimentary digestivi designed to appeal to the well-heeled locals, and decked out in its beautiful framed black-and-white photos, this smart, multi-room venue is ideal for eating with family members of all ages. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

932-934 High Road, Whetstone, N12 9RT

Charlotte’s W5

Ealing has a vibrant Japanese restaurant scene, but for the most part its main drag between Ealing Broadway and West Ealing is stuck in a chain restaurant rut. Charlotte’s W5, however, is an all-day restaurant tucked away in a converted Victorian stable block, owner of a Michelin Bib Gourmand and worth checking out. The interior is cutting-edge 2015, with exposed brick, copper accents, and Edison bulbs, and the menu is proudly British in a way that almost makes Brexit less scary. Slightly smoky grilled mackerel comes perfectly balanced against a warm turnip and potato salad, punctuated with sharp citrus dressing and sweet little shallots, while a game sausage roll with a side of spiced apricot jam is a wonderful carnivorous treat. Best of all are the desserts, with a particularly special lemon and satsuma curd on offer. It comes topped with a crumbly shortbread and Italian meringue that has been lightly torched at the edges. If that tart little delight doesn’t inspire a little bit in love for Ealing, nothing will. —

Leila Latif

The Old Stable Block, Dickens Yard, Longfield Avenue, Ealing W5 2UQ


Apparently, there is a saying in Ukraine that to see a friend, no road is too long. This must be how people feel about Albina. This little restaurant near Canning Town is as classic as they come, from the themed decoration and huge portions, to the live music and late weekend opening time. Comforting classics sooth winter’s cold grip on the city; pelmeni are stuffed with flavourful pork, perfect chased with Obolon’ beer and accompanied by plucky pickles. Thin fingers of caraway-studded rye bread, affectionately called son-in-law’s dinner on the menu, sing with garlic and ooze with melted cheese, and smoky shashlik hugs a giant skewer — meaty chunks dripping with juices that mix wonderfully with a tangy tomato and pepper relish — in a warm welcome to traditional Ukrainian cooking.

—Shekha Vyas

239 Barking Rd, Plaistow, London E13 8EQ

Neden Urfa

Hot fresh lavash, hand-rolled and straight out of the oven, soaked in meat juices and coupled with a dressed onion salad — the like of which one expects to receive from every corner kebab merchant on the streets of Istanbul. To have the same in an unassuming — albeit bright yellow — kebab shop in Clapton is a great comfort. Owned by a husband and wife team, with the occasional shift manned by their son, a sense of generosity is built into the place. Watch, as the trio create drum-sized flatbreads with a few flicks of the wrist, before they are baked off in the oven just in time to be met by the meat skewer of choice. Watch the almost ceremonial pressing of the meat juices into the newly puffed dough, before the meat is cut into sensible chunks and met with words so stereotypical but still urgent enough to demand an answer: “Any sauce? Salad?” A bite covers the face with flour halfway to a Halloween costume inspired by Batman’s Joker, but the joyous marriage of the salad, meat and chilli sauce is most likely to prompt a cry of: “lahmacun please!” A lahmacun is often lazily referred to as a Turkish pizza, something to copy and charge £8 for in a trendy all-day restaurant, when in fact it’s always been a sketchy city stalwart, derided by many but enjoyed by many more. A simple, addictive marriage of thin dough, finely spiced lamb mince and chopped herbs. Baked, paired with a simple salad and eaten with a level of greed and inner shame to rival Mitterand’s songbird beneath a veil.

Don’t forget to sample the chilli sauce, a potent creation made to excite reaction without blowing the head off, as the best sauces often are. And do go, because small spaces the size of a living room are by no means immune to the apathy of the food going public, and to have a place that is so generous with its time and food is becoming a rarity. —

Feroz FG

2 Southwold Road, E5 9PT

Friday 11 January 2019

Hand Café

Hand Café is as inconspicuous as they come, tucked away in the East Village, beyond the towering glass and steel temple of trade that is Westfield Stratford City. Without even a discernible name — it is there, just scrawled on the glass door like a trick of the light — to identify it from the other eateries around, its trademark red, plastic school-hall chairs and square white tables give the game away. Greek influence is seen in little flourishes, from the Kyknos tomato cans housing the cutlery and the Pythagorean tableware, to the food. A ham and cheese toastie is rendered extraordinary by a smoky, sweet tomato chutney, while chickpeas, black olives, feta and avocado dress eggs in myriad ways. Lemon verbena tea and Square Mile coffee are soothing additions to weekend brunch, while during the week, natural wines and craft beer are a pleasing compliment to the wealth of Mediterranean flavours which imbue the ever-changing specials. —

Shekha Vyas

10-11 Victory Parade, Stratford, E20

Diyarbakir Restaurant

First: there are two Diyarbakirs on

Green Lanes

. This one has a red sign, rather than a grey awning, and is further up the Lanes than its namesake, if heading towards Finsbury Park from Turnpike Lane. Logistics out of the way, Green Lanes’ restaurants are a study in presence: the Gökyüzüs and Anteplilers of this world flaunt renovated interiors and pristine frontage, and should not be discounted: there’s reliable quality at the former and especially good bakes at the latter. Diyarbakir is retiring and even austere by visual comparison, but Green Lanes is, primarily, a study in ocakbaşi, and the chefs’ outstanding hand with meat, fish, bread, and charcoal makes Diyarbakir a stand-out of a different, more important kind. Muhammara — a compelling slick of crimson, rich with pepper, a gentle thwack of chilli, and walnut — is a winning starter, if wishing to go beyond the complimentary, charry pomegranate-grilled onions and bread dripping with the sweet, spicy fat of whatever happened to be blistered before it, tasting gloriously of the grill. Moving forward, an adana kebab is flawless; so too is the brown butter-soaked chew of more of that bread, beneath quality iskender or yogurtlu. For those with more impulsive motives, perhaps after some fine pints at The Salisbury down the road, Diyarbakir’s lahmacun crowns any stagger home, a chilli sauce of bite and freshness mingling with earthy lamb juices to run down careless chins. —

James Hansen

69 Grand Parade, Green Lanes, N4 1DU


A case was made below for Camberwell Church Street being the single best stretch of road in London for food, and a new opening in the last week has done nothing but stoke the fire of the hot take. Camberwell favourite Theo’s is arguably one of

London’s best pizzerias

, but more crucial to a neighbourhood is the back-up pizza place, the fail-safe option, a comfort blanket that doesn’t need to be anything more than adequate. Francesco’s fills that slot, but is more than adequate, a Neapolitan pizzeria backed by Falafel and Shawarma, another local joint that has built up its whole business by being that little bit better than it needs to be. Francesco’s does nothing award-coveting — what it does do is a banging marinara with chewy, pliable bread and acidic tomatoes for £3.50. Put some anchovies on it at home and call it lunch. Other options are classic — margherita, capricciosa, or diavola riddled with chopped salami and homemade chilli oil — the only provenance is ‘San Marzano’ for those tomatoes. It’s not as special as Theo’s but at half the price, it is a game-changing option for an already blessed area. In short: “12’’ of happiness for just £5.50” is always a bargain, no matter what is being advertised. —

Jonathan Nunn

53 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR

Momo & Roti

Most Nepalese restaurants in London serve either an Indian menu with Nepalese dishes flagged up as ‘specialities,’ or a somewhat cautious Nepalese menu with a few Indian curry-house classics thrown into the mix. Not so here. This new, ambitious venue at the Alperton end of Wembley, just like the original branch in Hounslow, is focused entirely on Nepalese street food. The menu makes no concessions to those whose tastes might veer towards chicken tikka masala rather than chicken thukpa. Fast food features from Nepal and the surrounding Himalayan regions of Assam, Darjeeling, Sikkim, Meghalaya and Tibet. Momos come steamed, grilled, wok-fried, stir-fried with noodles, and in a soup — but they’re the only weak link here. Their wrapping is too chewy and the fillings meagre and indistinct. The five accompanying chutneys help perk up the proceedings, though, and the rest of the menu is delicious. Bhel puri-like puffed rice chatpate, somewhat soggy from chopped tomatoes and chilli sauce, is infused with a lively thwack of green chillies and lemon juice, and the crunch of savoury pastry curls. Sparkling with even more sizzle and spice, piro aloo — here presented as a snack rather than a curry — combines soy sauce-glazed potato cubes with red peppers, green chillies and sliced onions. Marinated, grilled sekuwa are bite-sized pieces of lamb, chicken or jackfruit that come with the traditional side of toasted puffed rice: they’re bright yellow with turmeric, studded with little rings of green chillies, and mouth-numbingly hot with timur, a Nepalese variant of Sichuan peppercorns. Dishes from the menu flash up on the TV screens hung on brightly coloured walls festooned with Nepalese knick-knacks, allowing diners to preview their order. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

Glenmore Parade, 2, 7C Ealing Road, Wembley HA0 4PJ.


In an ideal world, every neighbourhood would have a dependable local restaurant serving food that feels comforting and familiar, yet is interesting enough to warrant regular visits. The menu should change with the seasons, and there should always be something for everyone, no matter what the occasion. A perfect local restaurant is one that’s open for a bowl of chips and a pint on a Tuesday evening after work, a roast on a Sunday or a special occasion blow-out. It should be many things to many people and yes, Franklins is the textbook example. This East Dulwich restaurant turns 20 in November and remains as popular with locals as ever: bold flavours and quality ingredients simply prepared are what make it an enduring success. Everything is consistently on point, but highlights include the crisp, bronzed quails which make a regular appearance alongside wobbling spoonfuls of yellow aioli, simple sides of heavily buttered greens, and a top-drawer treacle tart.

—Helen Graves

157 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, SE22 8HX

Friday 4 January 2019


A new restaurant seems to open in Golders Green almost every week. The latest is this spacious Turkish place, created by knocking together what used to be an old internet café and a branch of Subway. There are large, strikingly painted murals; and an attractive turquoise and gold colour scheme that wouldn’t look out of place on cosmetics packaging. A shiny marble-topped bar, and an exposed brick wall covered in vintage wine bottles graces one side of the two-room venue. On the other is a long counter with a charcoal oven for making kebabs, and a stone oven for bread baking. Breads and other baked goods are very much a strong point here. A pile of warm, cushion-like barbari arrives at every table to dip into flavoursome meze like smoky halloumi with garlic mushrooms, and charcoal-roasted onions in a pool of pomegranate and turnip juice. Şalgam, a saltier, spicier version of turnip juice — commercially produced with fermented turnips, the brine of black carrot pickles, and bulgar wheat — is a perfect accompaniment to adana kebab. There’s just one variety of minced lamb-strewn lahmacun, but several pide, with crisp upturned edges and toppings as varied as beef sausage, shavings of döner meat, and grassy, herby spinach that looks like tennis lawn on a boat. Arranged in a pinwheel, stubby little red pepper-stuffed courgettes, vibrant with large handfuls of herbs, perch on a high quality tomato sauce and lush Turkish yoghurt. Balloon bread, too, is a must: a huffy-puffy thing with a pregnant belly that tastes even better than it looks. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

40-42 Golders Green Rd, NW11 8LL


Much can be solved with margaritas, jalapeños and lashings of melted cheese. That is why MexiCasa is such a joyful experience. A great stop for bona fide Mexican flavours as much as the too-long vilified Tex-Mex, the small, family-run space buzzes with energy from the open kitchen and vivid interiors. Mismatched furniture in pink, yellow and green rubs shoulders with a riot of Mexican paraphernalia, including old photo frames, colourful sombreros and eccentric, abstract sculptures. Vintage posters line the walls, alongside contemporary Mexican artwork which attempts to explore poignant issues facing a modern Mexico — according to the thought-provoking captions that accompany it. Food is consistent and bright, featuring well-balanced flavours, particularly in the guacamole and deliciously moreish shrimp tacos, with a citrusy, smoky finish. Go for this, but stay for the bowl-sized dirty margaritas, pugnaciously fiery with thick slices of that jalapeño. —

Shekha Vyas

377 Stratford High St, London E15 4QZ

Zeret Kitchen

London’s Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants don’t seem to get much attention, which is a shame. A few stand out from the crowd, and Tafe Belayneh’s Zeret Kitchen at the Camberwell end of Walworth Road is one of them. Belayneh founded the restaurant in the early 1990s as a greasy spoon, serving the usual bacon and egg breakfasts alongside a few Ethiopian favourites, which her customers eventually came to prefer. She cooks everything herself, including the sour, bubbly injera bread made with teff, which is also supplied to take away. Order a selection of dishes — the Zeret Surprise — and Belayneh will empty them all onto the injera, ready for scooping up with eager hands. A standout is the shiro wat chickpea stew flavoured with the hot, rust-coloured spice mix berbere, a foundation of Ethiopian cuisine. Service can be slow but the food is worth the wait, and a few frosty bottles of St George beer will always pass the time. —

Helen Graves

216-218 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell, London SE5 0ED

Fowlds Café

Fowlds is pure, undistilled, Camberwell: a coffee shop in the tiny front room of an old upholstery workshop, hidden behind the ornate Georgian frontage. Here local means partisan, a daytime home from home for south London’s freelancers. Inside — having navigated the counter-intuitive doorknob — the interior’s all sparse via cosily dilapidated: dark wooden pews, no upholstery, and a bar strung up with glasses that nod to late openings and stronger drinks on the terrace come summer. In the winter, it is daytime only, offering the best coffee on this stretch, from Redemption Roastery, and comely breakfasts and lunches heavy on the kind of nurture that only boiled eggs and soldiers, hot oatmeal, and curried parsnip soups can provide. Sandwiches made with Little Bread Pedlar sourdough nudge into inventive, plant-based terrain and cakes are particularly luscious, crossing over from the Brazilian-angled pastry section at Fowlds’ big sister, Walworth’s Louie Louie. Cassava cake, poppyseed doused with figs in syrup perhaps, often gluten free and/or vegan. Grab a loaf of that sourdough on the way out: Fowlds is part of the Camberwell furniture. —

Virginia Hartley

3 Addington Square, SE5 7JZ


Courtesan is a late night bar and dim sum restaurant that sports a wine and spirit list of female producers. Classic dim sum like char siu buns and sui mai dumplings are well-executed, but the kitchen’s not afraid of little twists. Try the black heart dumplings — steamed with salmon and prawn in a black squid-ink open envelope — and spiced rice lotus leaf parcels filled with jerk chicken breast. There’s a witty side of picca-lilly, a slightly sweet pickle of lily flowers, Chinese white tuber, carrots and cucumber that nods to the yellow English adaptation of south Asian achaar. Serving food till 11pm with quick service lets this restaurant fulfil the idea that dim sum was a traditional food of travellers: a perfect spot for a late dinner after London adventure-ing. —

Anna Sulan Masing

69 Atlantic Rd, SW9 8PU

Friday 21 December 2018


There’s an argument that the best single stretch of road for food in London is Camberwell Church Street. Some may say East Ham’s high street, some Dean Street in Soho or Green Lanes in Haringey, and they might be right — but for a road that caters to locals, CCS’ diversity of both cuisine and price could be matchless. FM Mangal for Turkish, Wuli Wuli and Silk Road for Chinese, Theo’s for pizza, I Go Chop for Nigerian, The Camberwell Arms for superior pub food, Maloko for vegan crepes, Nandine lurking round the corner for Kurdish, and Falafel and Shawarma for the mother of late-night cheap wraps. But the most useful? A good fish and chip shop. A good fish and chip shop has to understand what fish and chips is about, and Fladda gets it, while simultaneously trying to improve it. ‘Chip shop’ sausages and pert, scarlet saveloys sit alongside sausages from The Butchery; homemade steak and ale pies sit alongside Pukka, hand-assembled fish cakes alongside scampi. There is bread and butter. There is gravy. There is battered halloumi. There is a bargainous £4 fish bites and chips deal. Expertly fried with burnished, crunchy gold brown chips ... And are those scraps in the back? On hearing the words ‘anchovy mayo,’ it’s even possible to forgive the mint in the mushy peas.

—Jonathan Nunn

55 Camberwell Church St, Camberwell, London SE5 8TR


Delicatessen perches prettily on a parade of little shops that lines Hampstead’s Rosslyn Hill. Open for dinner on Saturday and all-day Sunday, the restaurant makes a bright addition to the neighbourhood. It’s run by the S Group — also behind Soyo, Head Room and Pizaza, among others — which is one of a few groups that are modernising the Kosher landscape and meeting the demand for contemporary iterations of the cuisine. The menu has been designed by chef Or Golan, formerly a head chef in the Ottolenghi group, and features now-familiar ingredients, vegan dishes, and an abundance of grilled meats. Creamy hummus with strips of grilled lamb and crackling is delicious with warm, fluffy bread; mezze, including aubergine with tahini, figs, and mixed nuts, or a pulled beef schnitzel, offer a cornucopia of flavours and textures. Finally, a seared duck breast with earthy celeriac puree, punctuated by a rich, meaty jus. —

Shekha Vyas

46 Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead, London NW3 1NH

The Good Earth

Whenever he’s asked about his favourite Chinese restaurants in London, celebrate chef and restaurateur Ken Hom often mentions The Good Earth. This is something of a surprise. The eight-strong chain was established around 40 years ago, and this Mill Hill branch has been open for almost as long. It serves Peking and Cantonese-style dishes with nods to Thai and Japanese ingredients and techniques, adapted to western tastes. There’s no shortage of retro classics: wonton soup, lemon chicken, chicken with cashew nuts, dried shredded beef, and sweet and sour pork. Many Londoners grew up eating in its conservatively plush surroundings of spotlit silk paintings, and circular tables laid with starched white tablecloths and lazy susans. So hasn’t the cuisine moved on since then? True, there are no culinary fireworks borrowed from ‘modern’ Chinese cookery, or the thrilling discoveries of regional venues. But as Hom has correctly pointed out, The Good Earth is old-school comfort food at its best, made from high-quality ingredients.

This is evident in a tangle of green beans strewn with sliced golden garlic, glistening wedges of pale-violet aubergines and bright-emerald baby pak choi with crinkled leaves. A somewhat austere mapo tofu comes sizzling and bubbling in a pleated white paper pot. Clay pots are a speciality here: heated to 300 degrees, with scallops, dover sole or fillet steak cooked tableside. More contemporary items show that the cooking has moved on in four decades, notably wasabi prawns with caramelised crispy skin, and tangerine kaarage chicken with sweet potato and mango. Service is outstanding — some of the best encountered this year. For many, this reliably feel-good chain is a taste of childhood — and what can be better than nostalgia at Christmas?

—Sejal Sukhadwala

143-145 The Broadway, Mill Hill NW7 4RN


The last weekend before Christmas can only mean one thing: a dash to the shopping centre of choice to pick up something for a forgotten sibling/dog/godchild. Once that unenviable task is done, salvation can be found moments away at the base of Shepherd’s Bush Green. Shikumen is an exceedingly attractive Chinese restaurant that will soothe even the most bedraggled of yuletide casualties. The menu has no true weak spot, but those in the know make it there for lunchtime dim sum, followed by the peking duck. The soup filled xiaolongbao gently explode in your mouth — this may hurt — the prawn and bean curd skin cheung fung are somehow simultaneously crisp and soft, and the char sui bao are as marshmallowy and light as they come. The “Legendary Roasted Peking” duck lives up to the self-imposed hype, and comes presented in two servings. First, sliced with pancakes, glistening skin the prize, and then shredded into a delicious soup or minced up in lettuce cups. This place is truly the gift that keeps on giving, whether it’s Christmas or not.

—Leila Latif

58 Shepherd’s Bush Green W12 8QE

Barge East

Somewhat surprisingly, a barge restaurant on the canal between Hackney Wick and the London Stadium serves one of the more interesting Sunday lunches in east London. Interesting, one because it is not often that what looks from the outside to be a party boat, serves decent food. But,


interestingly, in place of the standard roast meat-and-trimming assemblies that so often fall short, chef Ryan Craig — a very good cook — offers the likes of whole slow-roasted poussin with bread sauce, creamy leeks, and chicken jus, master stock beef rib, miso and honey roasted carrots, wasabi hollandaise, or a vegan grilled whole cauliflower, with sweet potato, wild mushroom, spinach, and chestnut. The kitchen serves those mains with communal goose-fat roast potatoes. To start, definitely get in one or two orders of the chickpea fries with Grana Padana and rosemary. To finish, the coconut tapioca, grapefruit, and toasted coconut. Two courses for £22 or three at £27 offers brilliant value for money. Service is excellent, too. Opening hours this weekend are: Saturday, 11am – 11pm, and Sunday 11.30am – 7.30pm (kitchen closes at 5.30pm). Open New Year’s Day for lunch as well.

—Adam Coghlan

On the actual canal, Barge East, Whitepost Lane, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN

Friday 14 December 2018

The Pie Crust

Travelling to The Pie Crust is slightly disconcerting. Set on a remote strip of Stratford High Street, it sits storeys shorter than the skyscrapers which tower over it. Amidst a glass and steel landscape which feels like it has come straight out of a TS Eliot poem, walking inside is like a warm hug from an old friend. An East End cafe by day (complete with pie menu), this little restaurant has been serving central Thai dishes by night since 1984. One of the best known “secrets” in these parts, it is packed with diners, bathed in the soft glow of the candles melting into old wine bottles — remnants of the £2.50 corkage charge. Asking for food to be extra spicy is recommended. Highlights are the stuffed chicken wings — rich with mince and vermicelli — and the prawn salad which is generously seasoned with red onion and lip smacking dressing.

—Shekha Vyas

273 High Street, E15 2TF

Casa Mofongo

There’s a scene in Seinfeld, one of many scenes which revolve around food, where Jerry asserts that ‘salsa’ is the number one condiment in America simply because everyone loves saying the word. Folding one’s mouth around the word “mofongo” is similarly delightful. Many food lovers’ introduction to this Puerto Rican dish is Guy Fieri’s

iconic review

of Benny’s Seafood, in which he repeats the word mofongo with various emotions and voices: incredulous, excitement, sotto voce conspiratorial whisper, and finally, acceptance (“mofongo is mofongo”) — declaring it “off the hook.” London’s Flavortown is located in Loughborough Junction, in between a fake Morley’s simply called MMM and a Jamaican cafe disguised as a vape shop — a metaphor for contemporary south London? Casa Mofongo makes this sandcastle of smashed unripe plantain and chicharron in the Dominican mode: dry, with salty cheese melted on top and pork on the side, as accompaniment to excellent platters of picadera mixta — fried chicken, chicharron, and bofes. Lungs.

—Jonathan Nunn

152 Loughborough Rd, Brixton, SW9 7LL

Punta Cana Caribbean Bar Club

Further north in Camberwell Road a newer Dominican restaurant called Punta Cana Caribbean Bar Club has opened — it’s currently as empty as

Babu Bhatt’s

. Locals should give it a try. Mondongo (tripe soup), like mofongo’s similarity to fufu, is a dish that can be traced back to the African slaves who were brought to the Caribbean. Here it is done remarkably well, darker and richer than the south American versions in Elephant and Castle, with the gelatinous beef tripe and shin turning it from a soup to a stew. Pica pollo — fried chicken — with tostones, fried unripe plantain, is deeply herbal, with light, adroit frying. The restaurant is still finding its feet but it’s a worthy addition to Walworth. Make sure to end on some aromatic, and possibly aphrodisiac, mamajuana — a spirit of rum, wine, and honey infused with the bitterness of tree bark.

—Jonathan Nunn

85 Camberwell Rd, SE5 0EZ


Before the Maroush group brought Lebanese cuisine into the mainstream, before hummus became a supermarket staple, before Londoners used to say things like “Middle Eastern food is delicious — why is it served cold?”... there was Fakhreldine. Located in the same spot as what is now Hide in Mayfair, it was London’s oldest and most glamorous Lebanese restaurant. In its heyday it attracted celebrities and diplomats, eventually closing in 2012 after 35 years. Its last head chef Youssef Harb, along with two of his colleagues, set up this bright, contemporary venue in Southgate. Warda — a girl’s name that means ‘rose’ in Arabic — is conservatively decorated in neutral browns, creams, and dark wood. Whereas restaurant cooking in Lebanon is focused on meze, here the emphasis is on slow-cooked dishes that are normally made by women at home.

Typical examples here include the popular five-spice lamb shanks with bukhari rice, and minced lamb-stuffed aubergines. Moussaka, cooked


tine-style as a stew, is a mass of silky aubergines and chickpeas studded with whole garlic cloves. The meze are also good though. There’s enough garlic in green chilli-spiked batata harra to scare off a passing vampire. More garlic, chillies, and mint leaves liven up hummus beiruti; and a tumble of pomegranate seeds on smoky baba ganoush accentuates its rustic texture. Makdous are walnut-stuffed pickled baby aubergines; but here they’re sliced and combined into a piquant salad of cherry tomatoes and spring onions. A large drinks list encompasses classic cocktails, superb Lebanese wines, traditional ayran and jallab, and herb and spice infusions that include the soporific charms of aniseed tea.

—Sejal Sukhadwala

22 The Bourne, N14 6PH

L’Antica Pizzeria

L’Antica Pizzeria — not to be be confused with L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele — is a Hampstead institution that will provide ample comfort in a tumultuous week for weather, politics, and Christmas shopping. The place seems to exist in a pleasing mid 1990s time warp, when balsamic vinegar was the height of sophistication and the melting of the polar ice caps was a less pressing concern; appropriately, there’s a Pizza Express two doors down. This is one of

London’s essential pizzerias

, and it shows: a large, brightly tiled wood oven takes pride of place, and it turns slow-fermented bases into truly fantastic pizzas. They are light and crisp to the edge and unafraid of the almost soupy texture that is the hallmark of a Neapolitan pizza’s middle. Topped with quality ingredients in thoughtful combinations — with historical/fabulist names, to really lord it over next door — and served by delightful staff, it’s a place of hospitable refuge. By the time an excellent little tiramisu arrives, troubles will seem very, very far away indeed.

—Leila Latif

66 Heath St, NW3 1DN

Friday 7 December 2018

Chapati Club

Menus in Indian restaurants are often about as long as the Mahabharata. Decorated with retro Air India adverts and a graffiti-splattered wall, what’s immediately striking about this small, contemporary venue in Acton is the brevity of its menu. It promises that the broadly pan-Indian dishes are likely to be cooked to order, in small quantities; not reliant on industrial vats of ready-made sauces and spice mixes. Spicy, tangy bhel poori is punctuated somewhat unconventionally with boondi (chickpea flour nuggets) and chana jor garam (spiced flattened chickpeas) that are normally eaten as namkeen (savoury snacks) in their own right. There are excellent renditions of two Indian restaurant classics: light, crisp okra fries in barely-there chickpea flour batter; and gunpowder potatoes beautifully spiced with toasted coriander and cumin. Cumin lends its fragrance to an unusually creamy matar paneer; and there’s spinach jazzed up with garlic and whole dried red chillies. The green leaves, blitzed into a purée, also crop up in a chicken curry that’s one of several popular chicken dishes here. The only dessert is own-made cardamom-scented mango kulfi that’s soft enough to eat without having to tap it repeatedly with a spoon. The best way to kick things off is with a G & T made from Bimber, an award-winning gin produced in a micro-distillery in nearby North Acton. It has floral, peppery notes and tastes quite extraordinary. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

117 The Vale, W3 7RQ


Many miss this excellent Kurdish café thanks to its out of the way location on Vestry Road. Everything is cooked by matriarch Pary Baban, including regularly changing vegetarian and meat-based mezze; her dolma are exceptional and vine leaves an antidote to every musty fridge-cold example on the high street. Dips and salads are spun through with herbs, homemade pickles, and whispers of fruit molasses.

Even baklava is freshly made in-house, topped with rose petals sent from Baban’s home village in Kurdistan. Börek too benefit from her deft hand, the pastry a flaky type called galgali, which takes great skill to make. The rhythm changes as the day wears on, from a sleepy start through to bustling evenings where students gather to share kubbah (fried rice and minced meat patties). It’s stupendously good value for the quality of the cooking. Baban’s family also has a smaller restaurant in

Peckham Levels

but it’s the original branch that shines. —

Helen Graves

82 Vestry Road, SE5 8PQ

Falafel and Shawarma

Camberwell residents speak about Falafel and Shawarma in hushed tones. Totally unprepossessing — a large antechamber, a disconcerting long mirror (who needs that on a night out?) and a counter down at the far end. Yet — at the end of it, south London’s best falafel wraps served up at a golden ratio of cost to quality to quantity. A reverent foot long, stuffed to the gills and flattened somewhat under the grill, so you can fit your mouth around it. The falafel hovers on that wonderful, textural hinterland between dense and disintegrating — a fresh rubble bound by sauce and studded with shards of salad. Samosas, too, are inconceivably good and also £1.50 for four; get the admirable chicken shawarma next time. —

Virginia Hartley

27 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR

Sarap Supper Club at Coffee Is My Cup of Tea

First things first: Filipino food is

not a trend

. The strong Filipino community in London has been given more visibility lately with Jolibee’s queues demonstrating the pull of nostalgia and connection with the homeland a simple fried chicken joint can bring. A glut of new supperclubs, pop-ups, and stalls have generated more awareness, too. However, the restaurants have always been here: Lutong Pinoy and Kamayan sa in Earls Court, Romulo in Kensington, Josephines in Fitzrovia, Kabayan in Upton Park, even if none have reached cult status in London yet in the way other south-east Asian restaurants have.

Sarap is one of the newcomers, a supperclub run by Ferdinand “Budgie” Montoya who along with Omar Shah of Bintang, Guanabana, Ramo Ramen and Mamasons, and Tim de la Cruz, who cooks Anatolian food at Skewd, is one of a handful of Filipino chefs trying to promote and move the cuisine forward in their own way while exploring and paying respects to their roots. Sarap is currently nearing the end of a residency at Coffee is My Cup of Tea, a cafe on Dalston Lane. Skewers of pork come marinated in soy sauce, banana ketchup, and the acidic tang of calamansi juice, while ‘Dynamite


Rolls’ is a great example of pulutan (Filipino finger food): a whole chilli stuffed with chopped mushrooms and encased in a brittle spring roll. The star of the show though is Budgie’s lechon: slow, slow, sloooooow cooked pork belly with fat perfectly rendered and delineated, served with its crackling, the same taste and colour as caramel brittle, all cut through with a livery, vinegary sauce — a Filipino quadfecta of sugar and salt, fat and acid. After all this, the plainness of cassava pie for dessert is a necessary balm. For those who can’t get there in the next three weeks, Budgie already has plans for the next residency in a more central location so keep this on the one to watch for 2019.

—Jonathan Nunn

103B Dalston Lane, London E8 1NH

Flavourtown Bakery

‘Tis the season for self-infantilisation and there is no more joyful place to embrace the inner child than the Flavourtown Bakery in Parson’s Green. The site opened earlier this year having built a solid reputation at concessions in Harrods and Selfridges with its exuberantly designed cupcakes made to a superb standard. This garish but lovely cafe is the perfect place to pick up Christmas treats. Red-nosed Rudolph cupcakes with a Valrhona dark chocolate truffle centre, Madagascan vanilla santas with miniature marshmallow beards, and vegan coconut snowmen cupcakes are enchanting little goodies that are rich but never overly sweet. Larger cakes such as the neon-striped mint chocolate Grinch cake and the adorable funfetti Santa are a joy to behold. But the star of the show is

Biscoff The Red Nosed Reindeer Cake

with four layers of luscious chocolate sponge sandwiched together with layers of biscoff (speculoos) spread, cookie pieces, and Belgian chocolate buttercream. One’s inner five-year-old will be merry. —

Leila Latif

771 Fulham Road, SW6 5HA

Friday 30 November 2018


What is the single most appealing page of a food menu in London? Think about it. If they weren’t blackboards there might be a case for



40 Maltby Street

on any given day, or maybe one of the old Will Gleave P. Franco menus where it was possible to order the whole thing, or the bar menu at Lyle’s, or the one at

The Araki

which gnomically just says ‘omakase’, or the entire printed paper wall of dosa at Dosa Express or....or maybe it’s the back page at Gana.

At this Sri Lankan institution in Rayners Lane (Zone 5 — look it up) the menu reels through the island’s greatest hits: dense mutton and potato rolls and searing homemade chilli sauce, devilled mutton, brittle lamb samosas filled with nothing but mince, juice and onions, chopped kothu roti accessorised to order, plain hoppers, milk hoppers, egg hoppers, string hoppers, noodles, biryanis and omelettes. And then, when you’ve finally made a decision, that last page, the specials, almost as an afterthought: fried nethali (plump anchovies popped and crunched whole), garlic fry (absolutely worth the potential shunning of people for a week), chicken liver curry, egg squid devilled (squid stuffed with egg — together at last), muyal (rabbit), kudal (lamb intestines) and marai (venison), fried or curried. The venison fry comes dense and sticky, almost the texture of jerky and dark as molasses, riddled with crispy onions just before the point of burning and plenty of fennel seeds and chilli (do not order things spicy unless au fait with what Sri Lankan spicy means). Somehow some of the best subcontinental game cooking in London is going on here, and at a third of


’s prices. The question isn’t whether to go, it’s how much it’s possible to justify ordering before exhaustion sets in.

—Jonathan Nunn

5 Village Way E, Harrow, HA2 7LX

Chop Like A Ghanaian

Miniscule it may be, but this capsule space serves some of the boldest, biggest-flavoured West African food in London. It also stands out for its individuality and colour, in an otherwise mundane Finchley Road shopping centre. ‘Chop’ is a Ghanaian slang for ‘to eat,’ and this friendly business started life as a stall named Chop Pot. It had a branch in Liverpool Street, which eventually closed down. It then changed to its current name, but continued its around-the-counter seating format. Recently it got rid of the counter altogether, and has refurbished with a couple of small tables inside an enclosure. The menu has changed too, but the vibrant flavours and assertive spicing remain. There’s a notable choice for vegetarians and vegans centred on yams, cassava, plantains, peanuts, beans, greens and dumplings; plus hearty meaty fare that includes goat and oxtail. The classic ‘red red’ is an earthy black-eye bean stew in a hot tomato-onion sauce, with sweet caramelised plantains, a sidekick of umami-laden black chilli paste, and a little crunch from gari (toasted cassava flour). Its name, in part, is said to come from red palm oil — but here, none is used. All the cooking is done in their on-site kitchen; and the fresh, uncluttered flavours come from the use of good ingredients. Imaginative own-made drinks such as beetroot and black grape, and pineapple and plantain, are a refreshing counterpoint to the heat and spice. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

02 Centre, 255 Finchley Road, NW3 6LU

Salim Caterers

Perched on a relatively isolated stretch of road in Ilford, the first thing you notice when you enter Salim Caterers is the wonderful smell of baking naans and rotis. The culprit, a giant rumbling tandoor behind the takeaway counter, offers a rare glimpse into the mesmerising process by which these unleavened breads go from floppy pancakes to pillowy, semi-scorched clouds in seconds. The second, is the sheer array of Pakistani dishes out on display, slick with golden ghee and brimming with meats and vegetables. The masala fish is the signature dish, its delicately spiced flesh pops with flavour, juices perfect to mop up with fresh roti. The eatery is best known for catering for large private events, something it has done for more than 12 years. While the family dining room at the back never lacks for customers, for many, a quick takeaway (easily feeding three for £10) provides a staunch rebuttal to the new wave of mediocre grill-to-go places popping up in east London for, hopefully, many more years to come. —

Shekha Vyas

528 High Rd, Ilford IG3 8EG


Nothing to do with


or the

eastern Mediterranean

— its name comes instead from a

legendary New York DJ

— chef Nicholas Balfe’s follow up to


in Brixton nevertheless offers both an admirably global outlook and a heartening commitment to carbs. Excellent sourdough baguette and Comté-enhanced chickpea panisses make for a cosy welcome; neat touches like anchovy emulsion and the condiment


lend a contemporary outlook to classical bistro fare like steak tartare and boudin noir with endive and egg yolk. London’s new BFF celeriac turns up in ravioli, doused in dashi butter; in most 2018 restaurants this would easily be the most indulgent dish on the menu, but then again most 2018 restaurants won’t also serve a hefty slab of potato, black trumpet mushroom, and Vacherin pie. It shouldn’t, but it still feels like a treat to go somewhere that is so obviously, uncomplicatedly interested in giving its guests a good time: in stuffing their faces with delicious things and offering lots of wine — at whatever price point suits — to go with them. And yet this is far from

Route One

gastronomy: quality shines out through the little things — a simple vinaigrette; the caramel in a tarte tatin; the seasoning of that boudin — just as much as it does through the heavy hitters. London has long cried out for somewhere raised in the French tradition but happy to stray beyond it whenever that makes things more interesting, an Anglicised version of Paris’ Clown Bar or Wildair in New York. Is this it?

—George Reynolds

12-16 Blenheim Grove, Peckham, SE15 4QL

Walthamstow Saturday Market

Walthamstow’s main drag — Europe’s largest outdoor street market, dating back to 1885 — is one of a handful of London locations where it’s possible to find a range of better than decent food and enjoy it on the street. From about 10.30 on Saturday morning a collection of cooks in vans or mobile huts join the hundreds of traders lining the high street. The advice here is to start in the middle, walking back up towards Hoe Street (where, for those so inclined, it’s possible to finish in a hipster coffee shop and earwig on liberals talking about god-knows-what), and take a friend.

Number 1:


. Bernard is usually in charge of this Trinidadian hut. He’ll see you right so take his advice on what’s good that day. One idea is to begin with a couple of doubles — chickpea curry sandwiched between fried baras, seasoned with tamarind, pepper sauce, and a little green mango kuchela — and share a homemade roti with a portion of chana, pumpkin, or callaloo.

Number 2:

Seth’s Spice Hut

. The biggest queue anywhere on the street forms outside Seth’s and doesn’t really die down until the late afternoon when the market itself begins packing up. Soft, chewy naans are the perfect bed for a wildly generous serving of either grilled tikka chicken breast or a pair of seekh kebabs. Add salad, homemade tamarind ketchup, a touch of mayo, and some pickled chillies. £4.

Number 3:

The Rib Shack

. For those with any ability left to eat, head to this comparatively vast rotisserie van which bookends the northern edge of the market. As well as ribs, there’s whole chickens spinning to golden on the spits. There’s also therefore an ocean’s worth of jus collected beneath. Ask for a cup or two and grab some bread. —

Adam Coghlan

Walthamstow, Waltham Forest, E17

Friday 23 November 2018

Hyderabadi Spice

Somewhat of an unsung hero, this little restaurant has been churning out traditional North Indian classics in East Ham for almost a decade. The dum Hyderabadi biryani is the star of the show — silky layers of aromatic rice and moist lamb are decorated with sweet strands of crispy onion that meld together wonderfully. Equally worth the visit, however, is the mirchi ka salan, fat green chillies wallowing in a rich, nutty gravy and the achari gosht, an opulent lamb curry that hums with nuanced pickle. Also delicious, is the murgh malai kebab, tender cubes of gently blistered chicken, singing with citrus flavour, which fulfil the menu’s bold promise that they will, quote: “melt in ur mouth.”

—Shekha Vyas

309 High Street North, E12 6SL

Casa de Goa

Anyone who has flown out to literally any other airport in the world, knows how much the British are getting short-changed on their airport food.


, despite being the busiest airport in Europe, is unfortunately one of the main offenders, offering little beyond chef-approved franchises, caviar bars, and a Comptoir Libanais — not even the pre-flight balm of a ‘Spoons or Nandos. So take this advice: next time, get off three stops early at Hounslow East, walk over to Casa de Goa. This basement below a pub is ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ small and barely furnished, but it’s a hub for Hounslow’s Goan community who come here to eat real Goan street food while listening to Konkani pop music.

Ros omelette comes spiced with onions and peppers, soaking in a shallow bowl of coconut masala, to be mopped up with finger buns. The same masala crops up in chicken xacuti, one of Goa’s milder curries, while the more adventurous can try sorpotel — a thick diced pork and liver curry soured with tamarind and vinegar. All the curries and the snacks — which range from beef croquettes to fish cutlets — can be ordered as they come or in a bun, and cost no more than £3 or £4. As always in Hounslow, there is also a


menu where it’s possible to get a Indo-Chinese-Goan mash-up of fried rice spiked with fragrant, hot Goa sausage, a triple fusion of flavours and cultures that is arguably the best thing on the whole menu.

—Jonathan Nunn

113 High St, Hounslow TW3 1QT


This small, no-frills Hounslow venue is London’s oldest Gujarati restaurant, dating back to 1960s. But, hang on a minute...


it? And is it even Gujarati? ‘Thaker’ is a Gujarati surname. The website tells a compelling story of how Baba and Baa (old Gujarati terms for father and mother) emigrated from India to Uganda in the 1950s, from where they were kicked out in the ‘60s and eventually settled in London. Here they set up this venue that’s mysteriously barely-known, considering its historic status. The logo boasts about “serving vegetarian awesomeness since 1969,” except... the staff behind the counter say it’s only been open for three years.

So what’s the story? Apparently the owner once owned


restaurant in 1969. The details are vague, with no further information forthcoming. Even the official address of High Street is a little misleading; the actual location being Holland Street, just off the high street. Thank goodness, then, for the food. The menu isn’t Gujarati; more a nod to Punjab, Mumbai, and Kenya. Beautifully spiced black chickpeas come with soft pooris; and Punjabi mustard greens with sunflower-yellow maize flour flatbreads have a great balance of flavours. The £6.95 thali has a daily-changing pulse dish, such as kidney beans in a mellow onion-tomato gravy; plus a vegetable, like robustly spiced aloo gobi, attractively terracotta-hued with Kashmiri chilli powder. Everything is served on sturdy disposable plates. There are colourful murals, communal bench seating, and a sign that says: “don’t be shy, grab a seat and enjoy your meal.” The latter, at least, is true. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

162 A/B High Street, Hounslow TW3 1BQ

The Duke’s Head

A nearly perfect North London Sunday can be spent winding through the undulating hills of Waterlow Park on the way to Highgate’s

Duke’s Head

pub. Not only is the on-tap list full of exciting craft beer varieties — some coming from places as unexpected as Swansea — the kitchen is always serving up a surprise. Each month, the Duke’s Head kitchen changes hands allowing Highgate’s residents to enjoy some of London’s best pop-up offerings. Past favourites have been texture-rich okonomiyaki from Japanese pop-up


, booze-sopping quesadillas from Mexican-inspired


, and a truly satisfying jackfruit adobo from Filipino BBQ pop-up,


. Menus for each month are always listed on the pub website so diners can check for vegan and vegetarian-friendly offerings, but they are usually accommodating. And to make that Sunday completely perfect: walk back through Waterlow Park after lunch and join a tour of

Highgate Cemetery

, it’s only a little spooky. —

Chloe-Rose Crabtree

6 Highgate High St, Highgate, N6 5JG

The Harwood Arms

Set on the sleepiest of sleepy Fulham backstreets is London’s only Michelin-starred pub. The distressed-bourgeois interior and nearly tasteful taxidermy is a little dated, but one doesn’t come to SW6 to understand the latest trend. The food though is exceptional throughout. A signature venison scotch egg meets expectations with a perfectly crisp exterior coating a layer of lightly spiced venison before a runny egg yolk core. The rest of the game-heavy menu is unashamedly British and on Sundays the focus is on huge roasts, served on boards and piled high with gloriously puffed up Yorkshires, crunchy potatoes, cauliflower cheese croquettes, roasted root vegetables, greens and a bone marrow gravy, so delicious it could be sold by the pint. The puddings are each as English as Stephen Fry riding bulldog quoting Shakespeare. On a cold November weekend, nothing beats sticky toffee pudding, here fashioned as soufflé — light as a cloud in a cast iron pot with hot toffee sauce and a dainty quenelle of buttermilk ice cream. —

Leila Latif

Walham Grove, Fulham SW6 1QP

Friday 16 November 2018


There’s a big, beautiful metal tandoor in the window of this bright contemporary Persian restaurant in Harrow. A naan chef pinches out bits of dough, rolls them into rounds with a chubby rolling pin and slaps them onto the hot oven. What emerges are blistered, bruised, bubbled flatbreads the size of a small planet. They’re excellent for dipping into creamy, feisty yoghurt-based dips with spinach, cucumber or shallots. They’re a perfect vehicle for rolling up succulent chicken and lamb kebabs, or squeaky-fresh feta, radishes, and walnuts piled on top of long stalks of dill, mint, and rocket. There are aubergines here too, in many different guises: smoked and paired with eggs and tomatoes, fried and crushed with mint and whey, grilled with garlic, and chilli in a spicy, tangy boorani, crushed and mixed with tahini, and pan-fried into silky-smooth slices that hide a dried lime or two in gheymeh bademjan. Slow-cooked meat and vegetable khoreshes (stews), thickened with split peas and other pulses, come with buttery mounds of saffron-stained rice. To finish, the off-menu faloodeh is superb, speckled with tiny pieces of fine vermicelli and gently perfumed with saffron and rosewater. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

160 Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2RH

Londek Café

The solid Polish classics at this slick little cafe in Stratford couldn’t be more perfect for these dark winter days. Go early to catch the bigos — a cabbage and sausage hunter’s stew — before it sells out, or enjoy one of the ever-changing specials. Hunks of grilled pork, lathered with mushroom sauce and dill-flecked mash comes in a single portion, large enough for two. Bread baskets with smalec (lard and crispy bacon bits) are delicious alone or to dip into soups infused with spiced sausage and vegetables. Desserts of sugared pierogi, blueberry pancakes and brick-sized slices of cake provide a sweet ending to these hearty meals. —

Shekha Vyas

198 The Grove, Stratford, London E15 1NS

Pide Oven

The second site of Ersen Salih’s Pide Oven has stepped up its pide and lahmacun game, installing a huge stone oven as the centrepiece of its

Hammersmith opening

, with a menu inspired by the recipes of Turkey and Cyprus. Lahmacuns come rustling out of the oven on wooden paddles, crisp and charred in all the right places, to be wrapped up with salad and a drizzle of homemade chilli sauce made with Turkish peppers and fresh tomatoes. Huge boat shaped pide are shaped and baked to order, fillings sprawling across the classic various combinations with Turkish kaşar and tulum cheeses, whether it’s with chunks of lamb with peppers, the Turkish beef and garlic sausage suçuk, beef rump steak in a kapali (closed) kavurma pide, or chicken with honey and Cypriot hellim cheese. Brunches from 9am at weekends feature traditional eggs menemen, baked home style clay pot dishes, and gooey yolked baked eggs with beef sausage. Mevlana is a pide to stick on the ‘wanted’ list here, known as etli ekmek (meat bread) in its native region of Konya in Turkey, becoming mevlana with the addition of cheese — a torpedo of both lamb and beef topped with tulum and kaşar cheeses. Pro tip: level up to a large — 18” compared to 12” regular. —

Zeren Wilson


Fulham Palace Road

, Hammersmith,

W6 8JA

Henrietta Inman at Yardarm

London’s reputation as a place to ‘take tea’ is a misnomer: in this age of independent coffee shops and sourdough bakeries, how is it so difficult to find well-sourced brew or infusion served next to genuinely good savoury and sweet pastries and tarts? Step forward Henrietta Inman, an expert pâtissière, whose

bucolic background

clearly informs her dedication to finding the very best artisanal produce. Leytoners are certainly lucky to have her entrenched for a year in a bijou little room next to the deli and wine shop


, and are already taking full advantage of ancient grain porridges for breakfast,

first-class quiches and clever salads

for lunch, plus the

finest fruit tarts and sweet treats

from open ‘til close. It’s largely a day time operation, but look out for end-of-week, guest-cheffed supper nights too: tonight, the award-winning Pakistani cook and food writer

Sumayya Usmani

is in situ

, with many more good people to come. Local and low-key, but genuinely worth a trip. —

Ed Smith

395 Mentmore Terrace, Leyton, E8 3PH

Le Petit Citron

What’s the French for extra? Over in Brook Green by way of Provence, Le Petit Citron provides a charming worked example. From the plentiful aperitifs (lillet martinis, crémant de Loire, muscat spritzes) to the whipped pomme purée, this cosy, cosseting bistro is an exercise in abundance. As well as the obligatory croutons and rouille, the deep, terracotta-hued fish soup comes with a big slug of pastis, the bourride is pepped up with tapenade, and the crème brûlée is as golden and sunny as, well, the sun. ‘Le Brunch,’ served at the weekends, runs the gamut from café complet (baguette, croissant, fresh orange juice and a coffee) to onglet with garlic butter and frites.

—Emma Hughes

98-100 Shepherds Bush Road, W6 7PD

Friday 9 November 2018

Jishal Goan

‘Ghotala’ is a Gujarati word that means ‘muddle’ or ‘mayhem’ — a word that could easily describe the process of working out exactly what Jishal Goan does. For one thing: it’s not Goan. Sure there are fish fries and mackerel curry, but there’s also Desi Chinese, northern and southern dishes, and Bombay snacks. After some inquiry it turns out the chef is from Mangalore and just likes the name, whereas the dish everyone is eating is Gujarati: that same ‘Ghotala’. The three egg and cheese ghotala is a muddle and mayhem of eggs, a beast of a dish that is mostly omelette and partially a curry, that also contains hidden depths of melted cheese and soft egg yolks. If


served this it would instantly be one of London’s iconic dishes: it would be “


ghotala.” But alas it’s in Wembley. For those reluctant to make the journey, next door it’s possible to get some of the best Goan snacks and best dosa in the city — make a day of it, turn it into a crawl, and roll back home happy.

—Jonathan Nunn

535 High Road, Wembley HA0 2DJ

Kate’s Café and Restaurant

Kates Café, hidden in a little corner of Plaistow, is a bastion for passionately cooked Ghanaian cuisine. Weekdays thrum with a steady trickle of clientele ordering dishes to go while, for some, weekends are a homecoming. Families, resplendent in their Sunday best, flock to the 100-capacity venue which heaves with energising Afrobeats. A resident DJ looks like he is having his own private party and as the feast arrives, it is impossible not to share his excitement. Tables groan with supersized portions of elegantly spiced, akonfem, or roasted guinea fowl, grilled tilapia and caramelised fried plantain. And platters piled high with yam, kebabs, samosas and tsofi — rich, meaty turkey tails — are perfect for sharing. —

Shekha Vyas

174 Balaam Street, E13 8RD

Spice Deli

Spices are the starting point of every dish at this stylish new Asian and Middle Eastern café in Swiss Cottage. So cumin seeds turn up in delicious aloo gobi filling in a puff pastry roll topped with toasted coriander seeds. A tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves, garlic, and red chilli turns a salad of broccoli, green beans, and peas almost into a thoran. Za’atar enhances the citrus dressing in roasted aubergine, feta and pomegranate salad. It’s not just the salads and hot savouries though; cakes and bakes flavoured with cinnamon, cloves, and ginger are very much the stars here. Cardamom gives dolls’ handbag-sized pistachio and rosewater friands a distinct mithai flavour. Rose shines through in an outstanding falooda blinged up with rose syrup, own-made rose ice cream, and dried rose petals. The cosy two-floor venue is decked out in tasteful antiques, with colourful tiles, mosaics, and two-tone pistachio and cream walls giving it a Mediterranean vibe. It’s owned by former accountant Tarun Chandani and his psychotherapist-turned-chef wife Kim Wilshaw, who once taught cookery classes and ran supperclubs. Their aim is to celebrate spices, herbs, and aromatics in all their glory. If the


delis served Indian food, it would be like this. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

11 Goldhurst Terrace, NW6 3HY

Masala Wala Cafe

This warm, mustard-hued hug of a restaurant in Brockley, run by Pakistani mother-daughter duo Nabeela Muqadiss and Saima Arshad, does four seasonal-minded curries and does them very well. By eschewing milk or cream, the curries taste bright, letting the natural richness of meat, legumes, or starchy vegetables do the talking. The homemade rotis actually taste homemade, and could cradle the weight of chickpeas and pumpkin pieces without getting the slightest bit soggy. Food here is best washed down with the Masala Lager or Pakistani Pale Ale, bespoke brews from the nearby Brockley Brewery.

—Nikkitha Bakshani

5 Brockley Cross, London SE4 2AB


Emily Roux (yes, that Roux) and husband Diego Ferrari have added to Notting Hill’s growing fine dining credentials with Caractère on the corner of Ledbury (yes, that Ledbury) and Westbourne Park Road. The place is utterly gorgeous, filled with jewel-toned velvets and raw silks against brilliantly polished dark wood that screams special occasion dining. The menu is structured “choose your own tasting menu” with the offerings bemusingly categorised into “Curious”, “Subtle”, “Delicate”, “Robust”, “Strong” and “Greedy” (the latter be more commonly known as dessert). The plating is just as divine as the room, dishes come bejewelled with a myriad of precisely placed brightly cover stacks, swoops and swishes. Though the star of the show is the comparatively spartan celeriac cacio e pepe with long shavings of celeriac coated in pecorino and pepper, and the table side addition of a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar. —

Leila Latif

109 Westbourne Park Road, W11 1EA

Friday 2 November 2018


Sustainability, and the use of uber-seasonal, eco-friendly ingredients, are at the heart of this smart new vegetarian restaurant in Richmond. It’s owned by Brazilian-Portuguese chef Emerson Amelio De Oliveira (previously of Ozz in Marylebone) and his wife, who heads up front of house. The two-room venue is all cutesy homeliness, with potted plants everywhere and a display counter that looks like a kitchen dresser. Brazilian influences abound on an eclectic menu. Trumpet mushroom steak comes with a creamy gravy made from 17 root vegetables, the acidic sharpness of pickled green peppercorns cutting through its richness. Most interesting is a seaweed risotto with nori, algae and phytoplankton — plant-derived plankton that may well become the next big veggie trend. It has a deeply saline, savoury, mineral flavour of the sea. Oliveira, not a vegetarian himself, uses an array of techniques to create flavours and mouth-feel that would satisfy meat-eaters, including umami and fatty acids. So vegetables in a parsnip and celeriac soup are emulsified; breadfruit is roasted for a couple of hours to achieve the right texture; and spicy, woody dende oil, extracted from the fruit of a Brazilian palm, is drizzled over several dishes. Dazzlingly ambitious and original, this under-the-radar venue breathes new life into the capital’s rapidly evolving meat-free dining scene. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

469 Upper Richmond Road, SW14 7PU

Dosa Express

FOMO (fear of missing out) is the bane of every food obsessive’s life — the idea that whatever food is being eaten, there might be a better option somewhere else; perhaps on the same menu. But what if there were 100 options, and they all happened to end in eating a dosa? Life would not be so bad after all. The dream can be realised at Dosa Express, in the back of a mini mall in Wembley which also contains a Goan snack shop and a stall which carefully assembles paan (tobacco, betel nuts, and spices wrapped in betel leaf). Here it’s best to relax into chaos: queue to pay and get a number, try to grab a table before a family of six take three; everything here is self-service, except the cooking. The dosa options are arrayed on the wall in a grid of A4 sheets of paper, ranging from the trad (mysore masala, onion, chutney,) the frugal (butter, ghee) and the Desi Chinese (chilli paneer, Schezwan masala,) to the (?!) (


, chocolate and banana ice cream.) It doesn’t really matter what the order is: it’s all good dosa. Invite some friends, order 10 and attempt to eat a whole line on the wall in a game of dosa bingo. Most importantly, make sure to send it down with rich badam (almond) cashew milk, golden yellow and sweet as burfi.

—Jonathan Nunn

537 High Rd, Wembley HA0 2DJ

Grand Trunk Road

This latest venture from veteran restaurateur Rajesh Suri and head chef Dayashankar Sharma (both formerly of Michelin-starred


and Zaika) has swapped central London for leafy south Woodford. Inspired by Suri and Sharma’s travels along the Grand Trunk Road — an immense and ancient artery connecting Bangladesh to Afghanistan — menu items are correspondingly diverse, showcasing a wealth of culinary traditions and flavours. While this can lead to some uneven execution, the pair’s recognisable fine dining flourish is seen in elegantly charred tandoori squid, stuffed with tilapia, crab and king prawn and a show-stopping version of lamb rogan josh. This interpretation sees a roasted lamb chop, glistening with achingly tender bits of fat, as the crown to a spicy mashed potato medallion. The surrounding glossy moat of tangy rogan josh sauce coats the tongue like a decadent velouté. —

Shekha Vyas

219 High Road, South Woodford, E18 2PB


As Melbourne’s cafés start to run out of ideas

, London’s slavish devotion to Australian breakfast and brunch culture rumbles on. Kew’s Antipodea is yet another place to pay tribute to the city’s morning maestros, with brunch featuring intensely orange chorizo folded eggs, fluffy, syrup-soaked blueberry pancakes, poached Burford Brown eggs with hung chilli yoghurt and toasted pide, and a crisp stack of sweetcorn fritters with avocado, tomato jam, aioli and bacon. —

Leila Latif

9 Station Approach, TW9 3QB

Pineapple Pub

Pineapple Pub, nestled into a residential corner of Kentish Town, is a local favourite. This 150-year-old north-west London establishment is rumoured to once have been home to a giraffe but today, the true wonder rests in its remarkable Thai kitchen. Soothe the ‘winter is coming’ blues with a fiery hot plate of pad kee mao or bowl of the exceptional red curry, which balances chilli heat with deep flavour. If spice isn’t a priority, the pad thai, more tamarind-sour than sugar-sweet, is equally satisfying. Seating is plentiful but fills up quickly, so bring a friend to secure a spot in the gorgeous conservatory, or next to the fireplace upstairs; make sure to share an order of golden triangles, prawn on toast, or spring rolls. These crisp, fried appetisers are made for beer, and the tap list offers a range encompassing classic lagers and locally-brewed IPAs, like Hammerton’s N7. Order food from the bar with menu numbers ready: the queue behind quickly swells with hungry locals. —

Chloe-Rose Crabtree

51 Leverton Street, NW5 2NX

Friday 19 October 2018

Amar Gaon

In the midst of the anglicised curry clones that line Brick Lane, it is easy to walk past the inconspicuous Amar Gaon. That would be a mistake. Round off “National Curry Week” with a visit to this no-frills canteen, popular with the area’s Bangladeshi community (mainly hailing from Sylhet) for its authentic food. A vast array of curries, coloured like the autumn leaves, in shades of rust, gold and ochre, reveal delights such as quail and chickens’ eggs, liver and mutton. River fish like ilish, rohu and small prawns bejewel deep, complex gravies alongside a showcase of vegetables, including black chickpeas and bitter melon. Tiny wisps of translucent silver keski mas, or Ganges sprats, fragrant with shatkora (also known as citrus macroptera) and layered with garlic-perfumed dal — give life to mounds of fluffy, white rice. —

Shekha Vyas

50 Brick Ln, London E1 6RF


Television Centre

The third branch of the celebrated Indian small plates restaurant is a welcome addition to the former Television Centre development, whose prior openings have been rather beige. Kricket occupies a large premium spot, opening onto a large sculptural terrace; the interior is an exquisitely curated mishmash of marble counter tops, large exposed pipes, and antique brass. Old favourites Keralan fried chicken and samphire pakoras make an appearance on the menu; newcomers like the venison and beef fat kebab, and spiced cod’s roe with pickled mustard seeds, more than hold their own. —

Leila Latif

2 Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, W12 7FR

E5 Bakehouse

A trio of railway arches at the epicentre of a battle for their future

have harboured the epicentre of London bread for considerably longer. While Ben MacKinnon’s E5 Bakehouse might not be the capital’s original sourdough church, the Hackney Wild loaf, all heavily wheated, articulate sourness, captures the tenor of London’s shift towards the locavore more faithfully than its forbears. The spirit of the place comes across keenly in brunch assemblies of quality ingredients — smoked trout and rye particularly winning — squidgy apple cakes, slick financiers, and the wines, beers, grains, produce, ceramics, and ice creams that line shelves, fill tubs, and stack freezers. Sundays feature pizza made from dough fermented the day before, baked out back in a wood-fired oven; locals pass through to pick up loaves as starters are tended and doughs are proved; bread classes are taught in the midst of the weekend throng. None of this is new, but that’s not the point: E5’s specialness is in its longstanding, quiet, welcoming brilliance. It’s as steadyingly predictable as the rumble of trains above. —

James Hansen

395 Mentmore Terrace, E8 3PH

Bun Bun Bun

As of yet the forensic guide to Hoxton’s cluster of Vietnamese restaurants and their specialities has not been written, so for most people the way to choose has been something like ‘pick one that does a dish you like and go there forever’. Song Que,

Mien Tay

, Viet Grill, and Cay Tre are still the stalwarts of the road, but the newer wave of restaurants, run by younger, savvier operators are starting to overtake them. BunBunBun is possibly the best of this bunch. Unsurprisingly, there is a focus on the Hanoi speciality bun cha, correctly arriving with pork and meatballs bobbing in a slick of oily broth to dip cold noodles into. Fried seabass comes with mounds of chilli and only-just-cooked white onion, inner flesh scooped out and fried individually, leaving an addictively crispy exoskeleton to pick at. There is also a very solid range of set meals, arriving teishoku style on a tray with rice and a clear broth. Highlights include a rich stew of pork and dark, gamey sausage meat, or a beef stir fry with the tang of pickled cabbage and chillies.

—Jonathan Nunn

134B Kingsland Road, E2 8DY


This small, pristine Japanese patisserie and tea shop in Swiss Cottage was once a venue named Osaka. Despite its curious name, it had nothing to do with Japanese food. Back in the 1980s, it was a rare Indian grocer in London. People queued up for karela (bitter gourd,) packaged naans, Lijjat papads, or simply the owner Mr Singh’s service with a smile. Occasionally, during heavy snowfall, his son would deliver locally. The space has gone through various incarnations over the years. Mr Singh’s pickle jars have been replaced by sumptuous cakes, baked by a Japanese patissier in the basement kitchen throughout the day. Classical French techniques are combined with Asian ingredients such as yuzu and aduki beans. Whole pistachios are a surprise find within a conventional-looking chocolate fondant; and strawberry pieces are pretty mosaics in bright green matcha sponge roll. There are macarons, cheesecakes, rum baba, mont blanc, and assorted berry confections; plus super-soft cakes straight from the oven that are like a tumble of warm feathers. A tiny selection of Sri Lankan green and black teas, flavoured with flower petals and citrus peels, taste like liquid jams. A Japanese-French cake shop with Sri Lankan teas and Indian food history is at once highly unusual and quintessentially London. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

9 Goldhurst Terrace, NW6 3HX.

Friday 19 October 2018

Little Georgia

The charming Georgian restaurant, serving food from the Caucasus country not the U.S. state, has a spacious outpost in Islington, but its Hackney spot, with a jolly downstairs dining room crammed with wooden tables and knick-knacks, can’t be beaten on cosiness. Then there’s the padding-for-winter food. Begin the supra (a Georgian feast) with chopped roasted vegetables that sing with coriander, garlic, walnuts and — a common thread throughout dishes — a spice mix with blue fenugreek, dried coriander, marigold, dill, and parsley. Order a few khinkali — squat soup dumplings stuffed with minced pork and beef. It’s a skill to avoid burning the tongue on the soup while simultaneously avoiding wasting any of the rich broth as they burst. The poussin, drenched in a comforting garlicky walnut sauce is another must-order. But the one item that must not be missing is imeruli khachapuri, a traditional round cheese-stuffed bread, or adjaruli khachapuri, essentially a bread boat for bubbling cheese and a baked egg. It’s BYOB too, so source some Georgian wine (the country is also renowned for its grapes) and chacha, the lethal grape-based spirit, for a roaring good night. —

Daisy Meager

87 Goldsmiths Row, E2 8QR

Loving Hut

Fake meats divide vegans in the West, but in south east Asian cuisines they’re the norm. They were originally created by Buddhist monks centuries ago to save all-round awkwardness when meat eaters visited their temples. This immensely popular, no-frills Archway venue is the only remaining London branch of an international vegan chain, founded by Vietnamese spiritual leader Ching Hai. There’s a massive menu of Cantonese classics; plus a few Vietnamese and Taiwanese dishes cooked by women from a range of south east Asian backgrounds. A special of lamb and chicken with teriyaki sauce on a sizzling plate is bulked up with too many onions and peppers, but it’s the meat analogues that are of interest here. ‘


’ pieces are made from wheat gluten that has a pleasantly spongy, layered texture. Slices of ‘chicken’ derive from soya and absorb the strong, sweet flavours of the sauce particularly well. Elsewhere on the menu there’s ‘fish’ fashioned from yam flour and other ‘meats’ produced from mushrooms, but also straightforward tofu and vegetable dishes. For religious reasons, no alcohol is allowed, but there’s a range of fresh juices and Chinese teas. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

669 Holloway Road, N19 5SE



Awash with neither dairy nor sand, this new Queens Park opening is a shapeshifter. By day it’s a café serving coffee sourced and roasted in-house with an Australian-inflected brunch — banana bread with espresso cream cheese, coddled eggs and soldiers. By night, from Wednesday to Sunday, it’s a candlelit natural wine bar, with a menu by Chris Munnings (ex-Duck and Waffle Local) that had a little consultation from P. Franco’s last resident chef, George Tomlin. Like the wine list, it’s unfussily tempting: taramasalata with springy, lactic sourdough from

Little Bread Pedlar

, boquerones, a superior burrata with figs, Shaoxing poached bass, beef cheek pappardelle. The whole thing screams “date night” — and for those with a mind to continue the fun at home, every bottle is available to take away. —

Emma Hughes

19 Lonsdale Road, NW6 6RA

London Borough of Jam

London’s tiniest, but arguably most delectable, borough is tucked away behind a small café front on the Chatsworth road. No. 51D is the London Borough of Jam (LBJ) where rows on rows of gem-like preserves take over an entire wall and put Primrose Hill’s pastel facades to shame. Up until recently LBJ was only a shop, but a few months back owner Lillie O’Brien quietly transformed it into a café — her jars of jam now lace eat-in creations like Victoria plum and lemon verbena bostock and a daily changing fruit tart. Her pastry chef credentials — she’s a

St. John

alumna — show here in other changing confections that include biscotti studded with pine nuts and rosemary, viscous salted caramel brownies, and anzacs like Melbourne sunshine — all served alongside immaculate coffee from Coleman roasters. But it’s not just a sweet spot here, there are soft rolls filled with baked ricotta or ham with gremolata aioli; a breakfast plate of eggs and romesco — anytime Friday, Saturday and Sunday, LBJ can offer up some of London’s finest edible real estate. —

Virginia Hartley

51D Chatsworth Road, E5 0LH

Victory Mansion

Victory Mansion is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair, quietly serving excellent Asian-inspired tacos along a remote strip of Stoke Newington. The hand-cut art deco bar is a focal point, a microcosm of lost generation glamour, with emerald green and dark wood accents. Quirks of mid-century eccentricity shine: vintage palm tree wallpaper, a clock from the USSR, and old photos, superimposed with Star Wars characters, all blend to create a unique space. Literary themed cocktails like the Atticus Finch and Bloody Defoe are bolshy and playful, a perfect accompaniment to chef Tim Yates’ thrilling menu. Tacos thrum with inventive combinations — punchy mackerel paté lifts delicate sea bream; crispy cauliflower is balanced with creamy avocado and squishy black beans. A special revelation lies in the blackberry sriracha, splattered atop beef short rib and pickled watermelon. —

Shekha Vyas

18 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 7PL.

Friday 12 October 2018


Exposed brickwork in East Ham used to be synonymous with building sites, not cafés. Carpathia, with its cosy interior and lovely lattes, gives a truly wholesome offering: the star of this little place is its traditional Romanian menu. Friendly staff, a fully stocked Romanian deli and a roster of daily specials are a brilliant introduction to the cuisine. Try the beautifully seasoned grilled pork collar, served with homemade fries, or the ciroba de burta — a rich soup, speckled with tripe and peppers, galvanised with a side of pickled green tomatoes. —

Shekha Vyas

166 High Street, E6 2JA


‘Family-owned’ and ‘family-run’ can often devolve into meaningless cliché: chains and multinationals are often owned, and run, by families. This cosy Cricklewood venue is truly a family affair. One of the oldest Ethiopian restaurants in London, it has gone through seven changes of ownership in the past six years. Currently, the wife cooks: the husband works front of house, pops out to buy groceries, and also joins her in the kitchen. Their bright, energetic little daughter helps serve food in early evenings, occasionally sweeping the front entrance and handing out menus to passersby.

The food, which is all gluten-free as only grains like teff and brown rice are used, arrives on platters with rolls of fluffy, tangy injera bread. There are classics such as doro wot, a chicken and hard-boiled egg stew, and awaze tibs, diced beef in spicy red wine sauce, but also grills, special non-spicy dishes, and kids’ meals. Vegetarian items are also vegan, as niter kibbeh, the aged spiced butter that gives Ethiopian food its distinctive flavour, is not used. Vibrant spring greens cooked with garlic have a pleasing whack of minerality. Assorted split pea and lentil stews come in various shades of innocence, but pack a punch with fiery green chillies and hot berbere spices. Late on Saturdays, the restaurant swaps its slippers-and-cardigan homeliness for the sparkly stilettos of live music and a dressed-up crowd. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

9 Cricklewood Broadway, NW2 3JX


Notting Hill has been quietly upping its culinary game of late.

Core by Clare Smyth


108 Garage


Southam Street

and Andina have all been extremely welcome & exciting additions. Most recently the team behind Dalston’s

Salvation in Noodles

have opened Mam, a modern Vietnamese restaurant styled as a minimalist jungle with copper accents and a menu inspired by barbecue street food stalls. The starters feature robata-grilled skewers that come with steamed rice noodle pancakes, salad, pickles, and a nuoc cham ready to assemble into a heavenly spicy wrap. Next the shortrib demands to be ordered, a gargantuan bowl of rice topped with herbs, pickles, crispy onions, an egg, and a slow braised beef that seductively slides from the bone into the sweet, sticky sauce. —

Leila Latif

16 All Saint Road, W11 1HH

The Dairy

This is a restaurant that said a lot about the industry in the period between 2016 and 2017. Chefs loved it, critics eulogised over it, and locals filled it day and night. Ostensibly, chef Robin Gill’s flagship is a neo-classical neighbourhood joint. And although the big chunky ceramics, whipped butter, and house-made bread may no longer be as novel, it still represents many of the commendable modern inclinations of the most competent British and Irish chefs. Not over the top tasting menus (£48 per person) show off local ingredients, with flashes of New Nordic best practice — dishes like bone marrow agnolotti with runner beans as a snack; pollack, leek, and sorrel as a fish course; and fallow deer, potato, damson, and rainbow chard as a bold, central meat course. To finish: Pumpkin sorbet, marigold, and praline. One could do worse in south London this weekend. —

Adam Coghlan

15 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town, SW4 0HY

Pizza Union

London’s best pizzerias

might sneer at this fast-casual Roman upstart, but when a quality margherita — base shattering, mozzarella pooling, tomato also there — rings in at £3.95, it’s churlish to walk on by down Kingsland Road in search of a slightly more blistered cornicione. That same formula anointed with ‘nduja lava flows and a votive thicket of peppery rocket is an excellent deviation; the £2.95 garlic, mozzarella, and parmesan white flatbread will succour the greedy as a side or the peckish as a main. There’s still a cutesy excitement to those obnoxiously buzzing digi-pests that announce the readiness of the pizza, and with briny olives punched up with garlic and a gianduja dough ring noble bookends, Pizza Union is a fine place to gather friends, sink cold beers or frosty cans of San Pellegrino, and forget about D.O.P. classifications for an evening. —

James Hansen

14 Kingsland High St, E8 2JP

Friday 5 October 2018


While it is no secret that compelling Cantonese cuisine can be found in London’s Docklands, travelling to Yi-Ban is still a wonderfully atmospheric experience. With the DLR as a vantage point, derelict factories, vestiges of the city’s maritime heritage, can be seen juxtaposed with the emerging offices along the Thames Gateway. The restaurant is perched at the top of the London Regatta Centre, floor-to-ceiling-windows offering a view of City Airport, where the airplanes, having replaced the ships of the past, launch off into a vast, uncompromising sky, like the margin of a dystopian planet. Weekends here fill up way before 1pm with predominantly Chinese families enjoying solid dim sum classics, but highlights are on the a la carte menu which specialises — fittingly — in seafood. —

Shekha Vyas

London Regatta Centre, 1010 Dockside Rd, London E16 2QT

I Will Kill Again

Whimsical name: check. Location within a pre-existing enterprise that also happens to be housed in an abandoned railway arch: check. All-day menu heavy on vegan fare: check. I Will Kill Again has all the ingredients of a

sub-Nathan Barley hipster-apocalypse thirst-trap

, but as its deserved position on

Eater London’s list of best brunch spots

indicates, it somehow skirts all the obvious pitfalls. For a start, the coffee roasted in-house at Dark Arts is fabulous — so deep and caramel-hued that actual witchcraft may have been involved in its making. The food, too, is magic: maximalist, but never excessive in its inventiveness or whimsy. It’s not even all that vegan: ‘plant-based’ options are frequently available (especially among the counter-top cakes and pastries), but ingredients like tempeh and jackfruit amicably share menu space with eggs, salmon and ‘nduja. Presentation might be a little lacking in finesse on occasion, but it’s quietly delightful (and fittingly subversive, given the countercultural design accents here) to sit down to the weekend’s most basic meal and simply eat stuff, rather than farting around photographing it. All killer, no filter? —

George Reynolds

Arch 216, 27a Ponsford Street, E9 6JU

Atari Ya

Sushi in London tends to fall into two categories, barely edible or excruciatingly expensive. Thankfully, this Ealing institution offers a worthy alternative. A spartan sushi bar attached to a widely respected Japanese fishmonger that offers top-notch sashimi and sushi sets for under £30. Sit at the counter and watch the chefs work, indulging in the freshest of mackerel and the fattiest tuna. —

Leila Latif


Station Parade

, Uxbridge Road, Ealing, W5 3LD

The Rosemary

Organic Hungarian in New Cross with decent vegetarian and vegan options — what are the chances? This extravagantly pretty venue seems to have been dreamt up by writers of fairy tales. “Let’s cover it in climbing plants and flowers! Let’s light it up with little twinkling lights! And we should build an entire wall of wine bottles. And have ballroom dancing on Sundays.” The hearty, meaty soups, stews, roasts and breadcrumbed dishes don’t come in fairy-tale portions though. Garlicky, tarragon-scented mushroom stew is served with a tumble of homely, buttery nokedli noodles. Large, unevenly shaped sweet dumplings are gritty with finely ground walnuts. Other than delicious palinka in assorted fruit flavours (plum is particularly good,) there’s natural tokaji grape juice, Hungarian beers and a large selection of Hungarian wines — including organic, biodynamic and orange varieties. The best time to visit is on a Sunday evening, when the back of the restaurant is converted into a dance floor. Turn up early to bag a ringside table to see enthusiastic amateurs and professionals practising their sultry tango moves. More exciting than watching the


results show. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

178 New Cross Road, SE14 5AA.


Balham’s restaurant scene is ever-evolving — maybe there wasn’t room for Cattle Grid, the small mid-market sticky ribs and steak chain, any longer. It was competing with the fabulous

Arlo’s, as well as Foxlow

— which has scale on its side — just round the corner. The restaurant’s owners (which still have original brand sites in Windsor and Streatham) have instead created a good looking wine bar, where the bricks are bare and wines available by the glass. There are more than 60 to choose from, each one best enjoyed alongside uncomplicated, satisfying nibbles. Tempura pork belly bites, crisp, fatty, and moreish, will cut through that floral organic sauvignon blanc perfectly; house-made pickles and Iberico ham are mainstays of buzzy wine bars for a reason. The sourdough and Marmite butter may not be original but is absolutely a must (at least for anyone who isn’t a ‘hater’,) as are the Sicilian olives. And don’t miss the bavette steak, which is pumped by a decent chimichurri and provides ample footing for sampling heavier wines. —

Josh Barrie

1 Balham Station Rd, SW12 9SG

Friday 28 September, 2018


Nestled along Green Street, some way from the myriad sari and jewellery shops, sits Pakhtoonkhwa, a cosy little restaurant which specialises in Afghan cuisine. Forego the tables for a traditional dining experience; the restaurant offers Bedouin-style booths where patrons can enjoy their meal sat cross-legged on opulently decorated cushions. Specialties here include the chapli kebab, a mega-patty of minced lamb and spices, garnished with a large grilled tomato slice and the mata kare, an abundantly spiced lamb curry. The mancha pilao, a carrot and raisin-studded mound of rice — dramatically crowned with a shank of lamb — is also not to be missed. —

Shekha Vyas

76 Green St, London E7 8JG


There was a time when every new

Chinese restaurant

in London seemed to be a big-hitter Sichuan opening. Instagram would run red with pools of chilli oil; critics would boast their macho credentials over how brutal this new food was on the palate (and, less appealingly, the digestive system,) gamifying a cuisine with centuries of tradition. Now that Sichuan is part of every food lover’s lexicon, and many of the original restaurants are closed or in decline, excitement can be harder to come by. Kaki is an exception. Located off Cally Road by the canal, it’s clear that it’s different just in name: it oddly takes the Japanese pronunciation of ‘persimmon,’ rather than the Mandarin. Sichuan peppercorns (high grade green tops rather than red tops) in an excellent, face-numbing seabass in chilli oil offer a dictionary perfect definition of ma la, but the more subtle dishes are the most intriguing. A dish of cold, sliced tofu comes with the sour hot heat of pickled chilli, an umami rich soy dressing and then fresh, briny oysters, creamy and barely steamed from the sauce — a simple dish turned into something riotous. The chef is from coastal Dalian in Liaoning, rather than Sichuan, and there is clearly an affinity with fish and seafood here. Future visits will bear out whether this is merely a good Sichuan restaurant or in London’s top tier, but for now the old excitement of trying something new is back. —



125 Caledonian Rd, London N1 9RG


Morso is stylish small plates Italian, specialising in fresh pasta and thoughtfully crafted grappa cocktails — of an unprecedented calibre for south Hampstead. The seared tuna comes atop a peppery fennel, cannelloni bean & courgette salad, and a venison carpaccio is rich with generous dollops of truffle mayonnaise. Their desserts are similarly impeccable: a potted tiramisu perfectly sweetened with marsala and topped with an almost savoury dark chocolate crumb. Unsuprisingly, the real stars of the show are the

exceptional fresh pastas

, all made in-house each morning. Be warned, popping the deep yellow yolk delicately nestled in the centre of their signature spinach & ricotta raviolo is so satisfying that it may provoke an involuntary squeal of joy. —

Leila Latif

130 Boundary Rd, South Hampstead, NW8 0RH

Bonoo Indian Tapas

This swish modern Indian looks out of place in Childs Hill, a dull (but rapidly developing) stretch between Finchley Road and Golders Green. The cosy, family-owned venue’s dimmed lighting, exposed brick walls, comfy grey leather banquettes and smart cocktail bar are more Shoreditch or Soho than north-west London. So much care and attention to detail has gone into the food that the tapas-style small plates don’t feel gimmicky; rather, an enthusiastic attempt to show off the chef’s varied range (including numerous chutneys.) The western Indian-style coastal spicing of chargrilled broccoli and the depth of flavour of paneer tikka’s marinade lift them above the clichés of other Indian restaurants. Crispy aubergine is dazzling: ‘sandwiches’ of light batter-coated slices strewn with finely chopped salad vegetables. Sweet potato chaat is a deconstructed assembly of robustly spiced tubers, yoghurty chickpeas, pomegranate seeds and tamarind chutney. There are pan-Indian curries too, such as Delhi butter chicken and Anglo-Bengali railway lamb. Effusively mixed cocktails and juices, veritable forests of mint leaves and fresh fruit, are a strong point. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

675 Finchley Rd, NW2 2JP


A beautiful restaurant is a rare thing. Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell have opened three beautiful restaurants. Jolene follows



Westerns Laundry

, and its paean to lightly-worn continental hospitality is as seductive — and, again, as beautiful — as the song that it recalls. A

scrawly blackboard menu

is long on assemblies of lovely things and sideways glances between friends: pork and green sauce, buttermilk and plums, ravioli and sage butter. Europe stakes a more assertive claim up top: salame, jamon, and pickled anchovies at dinner; that same jamon blanketing eggs and potatoes fried for breakfast: class on comfort. In the morning, find honeyed financiers and rustling palmiers. To drink? It has to be wine, but forget the natural/conventional dichotomy: ask for a wine, try it, drink it if it’s delicious and try something else if not to taste. This is a room and an atmosphere to feel at home in: as much as it is an assertion of London restaurant culture right now, it is also an accretion of fugitive whispers from times past and places across the sea. —

James Hansen

21 Newington Green, N16 9PU

Friday 21 September, 2018

D Namaste

Somewhat of an institution for London’s Nepalese community, D Nameste boasts an extensive menu of authentic classics, which bear little resemblance to the ‘twists’ on North Indian curries one tends to find more centrally in the city. Initially unassuming, the small, takeaway-style space on the ground floor nevertheless teems with diners on weekends; upstairs, the clientele eats on the floor in a traditional setting. The menu excels in beer snacks (hyakula, crispy lamb ribs with onion, are fantastic) and heartily spiced momos. But the highlight is the thukpa, a thick, rich noodle soup, redolent with chicken and grilled meats — nourishment for the soul as the days grow colder. —

Shekha Vyas

158 Plumstead Road, Plumstead, SE18 7DY


It is the perfect time of year for a stroll around Little Venice, bright but not warm enough to transform the waterways into neon green sludge. Afterwards, end up at Kateh, a local modern Persian restaurant, tucked away on a picturesque mews to the edge of the Regents Canal. The space is stylish and bright, if a little crowded, but service is extremely attentive and warm. Go heavy on the starters including the salad laboo, a generous heap of burrata and basil on warm roasted beetroot: a perfect autumn tricolore. Then share the kabah torsh, chargrilled lamb breast with pomegranate, walnuts, and young grapes on a sunny heap of saffron rice. —

Leila Latif

5 Warwick Place, W9 2PX

Buster Mantis

Sprawled across two arches under Deptford railway station, this contemporary Jamaican restaurant and music bar has

recently gone vegan for three months

. The family-run venue’s cool vibes hit you the moment you walk in. Maybe it’s the trendy waiter with a tiny man bun who wants you to hit him up with your order, darling; or the retro reggae background music. Crisp, fluffy, very light “saltfish” fritters are made from jackfruit, and pepped up with fresh red chilli with a faint marine flavour from seaweed. They come with what look like squiggles of mayonnaise and brown sauce, but are in fact ackee crema and smoky onions. Thyme-scented brown stew, served with brown rice and brown gungo peas, lives up to its name: it’s all very brown. It’s flavourful though, with good textural contrast from braised aubergines cut into lengths combined with finely chopped okra and mushrooms. Rum-based cocktails like blood orange mai tai are sweetly refreshing. Get there early for DJs on Fridays and Saturdays and live jazz on Wednesdays. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

3-4 Resolution Way, Deptford, SE8 4NT


With its cosy room and intimate lighting, Vins comes off like a beloved neighbourhood restaurant of ten years’ standing, not the tearaway


newcomer that it is. Service betrays no just-opened nervousness; the modishly natural wine list is an opinionated, engagingly written document full of interesting picks, rather than the usual terse list of the same few regions and producers. The menu, too, feels confident in itself and what it’s trying to do: snacks flit from the outrageous (Jerusalem artichoke crisps; a Taleggio grilled cheese) to the judicious (a clever salad of julienned beetroot and smoked almonds; grilled radicchio with capers). Heartier main-course fare may not feel quite right in the current late-summer conditions, but on a blustery night it’s hard to imagine anything more comforting than a giant bowl of fregola in an intense (and intensely delicious) pig’s cheek ragu. A perfect local all round, then — but also one well worth a detour from further afield. —

George Reynolds

93 Grosvenor Avenue, Canonbury, N5 2NL

Little Ochi Seafood

Time and space tend to behave themselves in London, but around a small room in Herne Hill, things warp unexpectedly. For one, there’s no menu on walking in to this Jamaican seafood restaurant, except the one stuck up on the far wall near a fridge. Actually, there’s no real indication of what to do. So here it is: walk directly to that fridge, and pick a fish — red snapper, bream, and sea bass among others. Tell the chef how to cook it: steamed in a sauce made of tomato, thyme and okra, fried with a side of bammy, or in brown stew with rice and peas. The price will depend on the size of the fish; there are sides: prawns and lobster. Take a seat, and wait. This is a place where whiling away an hour drinking Red Stripes is to partake in the community of a place, not to wait anxiously for a meal; by the time that meal arrives, there is nothing in London that could hit the spot more. This is not a restaurant everyone will enjoy: it deviates too much from the expectation of what a restaurant will be. For those who do get it, this is the kind of unaffected simplicity people spend money travelling to Italy and France for, right on Brockwell Park’s doorstep.

—Jonathan Nunn

113 Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, SE24 0NG

Friday 14 September, 2018



The cooking at this East Ham Keralan institution has oscillated like a sine wave over the last decade, depending on the chef and which combination of the three owners is currently running things. It’s possible to catch them right now at a peak, with Pritti, the wife of Biju (now the sole owner involved in the quotidian operations of the restaurant) back as their new chef. Curries and roasts have a depth of flavour and spicing that belies their simple descriptions, and (unless biriyani is involved) should be mopped up with fluffy parottas or snow white appam, crisp around the edges and soft as skin. Even their legendary fries are some how improved — half a chicken cut into segments then aggressively, skilfully fried with chilli and crispy onions, addictive netholi (anchovy) cooked and eaten whole, or battered mussels that thrillingly squelch and pop in the mouth. Vegetarians are well catered for with curries, sambars and chutneys, especially during Onam when the sadhya meal is cooked in 25 mini portions arranged on a single banana leaf. It’s not always this good, and won’t always be, but when on song it’s hard to argue there’s any better Indian food in London at this price point. —

Jonathan Nunn

229 High Street N, London, E6 1JG

The Walpole

As “neighbourhood restaurant” increasingly signifies encroaching coolness over and above grounding community, it’s worth celebrating that rare thing: a neighbourhood restaurant that is exactly that. The Walpole — only open for dinner Fridays and Saturdays — is run by wife and husband Wendy and Louis, with a set


that shares

the winking inside jokes of its blackboard cousins

. This one’s on paper, creakingly old school, and happily straightforward. Eggs mayonnaise and brown anchovies will be just that, eggs, the yolks a votive ooze, slathered in mayonnaise and criss-crossed with salty fillets; plump Barbary duck confit complying with a fork’s soft command. A rice pudding arancino on Victoria plum jam is the extent of any — needless, very tasty — flirtation with innovation, while a raspberry martini is no technicolour potion. It’s a ball of raspberry sorbet dropped in a glass full of straight vodka. Surprising, direct, and steadying: much like this restaurant. —

James Hansen

35 St. Mary’s Road, W5 5RG

Pandan Bakery

This weekend, Pandan Bakery — a resident every other Saturday — is at Putney Market. This is a family run bakery that specialises in Malaysian sweet treats, with pandan at the heart of the cooking. Pandan is a palm-like plant with a flavour akin to coconut and makes everything bright green. Must tries are the cloud-like pandan sponge with buttercream filling, ang ku kuih, which is ‘cake’ with a casing made from glutinous rice and sweet filling (red mung bean ones are excellent), and the nine-layered pandan, tapioca and coconut kuih lapis.

—Anna Sulan Masing

St Mary’s Church Square, 5 Putney High Street, SW15 1RB

Boulangerie Bon Matin

More like a patisserie, salad bar and café, this tiny venue is located in a stunningly pretty side street near Hampstead tube station. Its glossy Parisian looks match the smart neighbourhood of boutiques, florists and antique shops, the perfect backdrop to a table outside. A pristine white counter overflows with gorgeous chocolate croissants, apricot danishes, blueberry financiers, mini carrot cakes and a few pescatarian savouries. These are made in their kitchen offsite (there’s a larger branch in Finsbury Park) and finished here. All the salads, cooked in the kitchen at the back, are vegan. Current offerings include garlic and chilli-spiked broccoli that somehow looks greener-than-green despite being chargrilled, and thick, meaty slices of roasted aubergines with peppers and pomegranates. Chunky wedges of roasted butternut squash with chickpeas are a must-try, the flavours lifted by a dukkah-like sprinkling of toasted coriander and cumin seeds and finely chopped nuts. Impossibly fluffy pancakes and avocado smash on rye make up the breakfast menu, and there’s good coffee and fennel tea to drink. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

9 Flask Walk, NW3 1HJ

Tsiakkos & Charcoal

Those in the city unfamiliar with the

Greek and Cypriot restaurants of Palmer’s Green

tend to lament the city’s — at least in Zone 1 — lack of Greek restaurants. Not in W9, and especially not those residents of the streets that occupy the patch of between stations Warwick Avenue, Maida Vale, and Westbourne Park. Tsiakkos is an institution, a neighbourhood constant, which opens only in the evening, from 7pm, Monday to Saturday. From the short menu, there are a few must-orders: Slow roasted, “burnt” pork shoulder; Sheftalia, a homemade pork and parsley sausage wrapped in caul fat; and the Kleftico — “secret-marinaded”, slow-cooked lamb on the bone. Go with a group, and bag a table outside beneath the tarpaulin. Cash only. —

Adam Coghlan

5 Marylands Road, London W9 2DU

Friday 7 September, 2018


There are lunch places, and there are dinner places, and there is Camberwell’s Maloko — where Cameroonian crepes keep no set hours (and also make sense at all hours.) Step in off Church Street, and you’re suddenly awash in primary colours: canary yellows, turquoise — every surface is a kind of canvas. But from the back: the hiss of batter on the pans — drawing you through the mismatched front room, to an alcove where Evagle, the owner, is spinning crepes like vinyl and speaking energetic French into his phone. Here, northern France meets west Africa via a colonial past in a crepe that’s both buckwheat and gram: with spring and elastic sponge that’s closer to say, Eritrean injera than a Breton galette de sarrasin. Savoury fillings are earthy, sedimentary layers of sweet potato, beetroot, goat’s cheese, and spice (get the jerk goat); sweet crepes stay closer to the French mould, but in amongst the grand marnier and sugar there’s coconut cream and dulce de leche. One for gluten and dairy intolerances, vegans, vegetarians, and anyone with six pounds in cash to spend on a crepe.

—Virginia Hartley

60 Camberwell Church St, SE5 8PU

Mamak Don

For some, 2018 will be remembered as the moment when laksa asserted its position atop the pantheon of London’s noodle soups. Up in Camden, Mamak Don has been quietly going about its business of satisfying Malaysian expats and appreciative locals with a dependable stable of classics. Flaky, paper-thin roti come with a rich, lip-smacking lamb curry; kangkun belacan (stir-fried water spinach with shrimp paste) is delicious with rice. For noodle aficionados, however, the main draw is the Penang assam laksa, a comforting bowl of tart tamarind, lemongrass, chilli and poached mackerel, full of piscine flavour and the playful slurp of slippery rice noodles. It hits the spot. Enjoy with a hot glass of sweet teh tarik, the region’s ubiquitous hot milk tea.

—David Paw

9 Parkway, Camden Town, London NW1 7PG

Bob’s Café

A bright and airy bistro style restaurant with Mediterranean flavours, and touting a ‘Tel Aviv Breeze’ cocktail to keep the summer spirit alive (for just a little longer!), Bob’s café is a perfect place for all the family, dog included, to weekend brunch. The menu includes classics like eggs benedict, offers a great twist with a soft challah roll instead of a muffin; tasty vegetarian and gluten free options include such as red shakshouka (a baked tomato dish). It’s good to see a club sandwich make the breakfast menu — with turkey bacon and Brooklyn pickle, it would go well with a hangover and a bloody mary. Bob’s Cafe also serves lunch and dinner, seven days a week.

—Anna Sulan Masing

43 The Broadway, NW7 3TB



boon was an iconic, decades-old falafel joint in Golders Green, particularly renowned for its three extraordinarily delicious hot sauces. The vibrant red chilli, green chilli and tomato-flavoured condiments were lined up on the counter along with salads and tahini sauce, to dollop into freshly made, falafel-stuffed pitas. It wasn’t unusual to see the local Orthodox Jewish community queuing up on


mornings, ordering eight or ten portions to takeaway. Sadly, a chip pan fire caused it to burn down last year. There’s good news though — a new Taboon has arisen from the ashes, under new management. The serving counter has been moved to the left. Canary-yellow banquettes have been installed to create extra seating. The falafels have been given extra colour and oomph with the addition of fresh herbs. The pita is as pillowy as it used to be; but light, substantial lafa bread — another name for the eponymous taboon bread, recently making its debut in Golders Green’s falafel joints — is now also an option. There’s a bigger variety of colourful, crunchy salads; hearty fried, breadcrumbed vegetables, latkes and sabich are still available; other Israeli classics like shakshuka, jachnun pastry, and fish and chips have also joined the menu. And those hot sauces? They’re still very much there, thankfully tasting exactly the same. —

Sejal Sukhadwala

17 Russell Parade, Golders Green Road, NW11 9NN


The stretch of Uxbridge Road that bisects west Ealing and Hanwell before alighting in Southall maps a community through restaurants: Lebanese and Persian play Turkish and Cypriot mangal and ocakbasi, before

Punjabi, Afghan, Pakistani, and Somalian cuisines

take up the mantle. Molana is one of three Persian restaurants within the feeblest of throws of a stone, all of which are permanently thronged; all of which are very good indeed. It takes the title not for its gnarly, generously blackened chops and kebabs, nor its sultry stews of ghorme sabzi and kashk-o-bademjan — kidney beans boxing with dried lime in the former, aubergine, walnut and buttermilk getting cosy in the latter. The locus of it all is the taftoon bread, worked and turned out at prodigious speed in the front of the restaurant, emerging blistered and pliant to be piled with those meats, stews, and salads crackling with sumac and chilli. —

James Hansen

78 Uxbridge Rd, W13 8RA

Friday 31 August, 2018

Rita’s at

Redchurch Brewery

Rita’s — aka the powerhouse duo Gabe Pryce and Missy Flynn — is back with a bang, taking over the kitchen at Redchurch Brewery in Cambridge Heath. Grab a locally brewed pint and pore over the tick-box menu of punchy drinking food. The tangy, crunchy, salaciously sour beer pickles are an ideal appetiser, chased by the ‘everything cheese puffs’ (basically Brazilian pão de queijo) and hot bean devilled eggs (yes, the retro snack is back). Speaking from experience, one can devour the burrata with salsa negra, scraping and slurping any remaining sauce with a spoon. Get in another round of drinks then order the green chile mac and cheese (forks and sharp elbows at the ready) and lamb ribs with piquant pickled chile and anchovy. This is a place to have fun — Rita’s strikes again.

—Daisy Meager

275-276 Poyser Street, E2 9RF

Baba Boom

Islington’s new wave of occupants is a mixed bunch — some

mired in controversy

, some promising what feels like

a lot

for what is still an occasionally leery local market. But to write off

Upper Street

’s Baba Boom as just another cynical chain expansion would be to do it a disservice. Yes, there’s a sister restaurant in parallel leafy paradise Battersea; and no, we’re not a million miles away from

Fanny’s territory

. But right now, Baba Boom finds itself in the Goldilocks sweet spot between thrusting ambition and assured operational competence: even in its early days, there’s a breezy confidence on show. Sticky sumac wings in date molasses tiptoe into copyright infringement territory with their finger lickin’ goodness; a garlic, parsley and kashaval cheese flatbread has one foot in the Bosphorus, the other in Pizza Express (for clarity: this is a good thing). Among the vast and deeply fulfilling kebabs, the lamb and sour cherry adana is especially notable: properly charred, properly succulent, served with properly fresh, properly crunchy garnishes on a genuinely excellent flatbread. It’s precisely the sort of respectful homage to Green Lanes or Dalston’s

Mangal 2

that you wouldn’t expect to see in a glossy high street corporate, which makes it all the more thrilling to discover it a few hundred metres up the road from Five Guys, Wahaca, and Byron. Of course, those in search of the


real deal have

plenty of options relatively nearby

, but in a part of town until recently characterised by will-this-do rollout indifference, the quality and attention to detail on show here feels encouragingly like progress.

—George Reynolds

189 Upper Street, N1 1RQ

Ramo Ramen

On the lower half of Kentish Town Road, from the canal to

Prince of Wales

, Omar Shah reigns supreme. No stretch of London road is so defined by one restauranteur. Not content with two pan-Asian restaurants, Guanabana and Bintang, the last year has seen the addition of his ice cream parlour Mamasons and a new casual ramen joint Ramo Ramen. Although ‘fusion’, as a restaurant this is the clearest articulation of Shah’s Filipino roots with traditional dishes filtered through a Japanese lens and reimagined as bowls of noodle broths. Chicken sopas, a Filipino creamy soup, has each component prepared separately as ramen toppings, including addictive husks of chicken skin. Even better is the kare kare, a peanut-based stew transformed into a thick ‘tonkotsu’ with shredded oxtail meat in place of pork. Sides range from the traditional (karaage) to the outré (yuca with edamame hummus), but if short on room its best to finish with a scoop of ube (purple yam) ice cream from Mamasons down the road. Along with

Nanban, Kauboi and Menya

, Ramo is proving that the most interesting London ramen right now are cultural mash ups that could not exist anywhere else.

—Jonathan Nunn

157 Kentish Town Road, NW1 8PD

Roti Joupa

Trinidadian culinary culture is as much, if not more, a derivative and evolution of Indian as African cuisine, with curries, dhals, bhajis, and rotis staples in the diet. “Doubles” — a curried chickpea roti “sandwich,” one of the most delicious and fortifying customs (for breakfast) — can be found here, a specialist in Trinidadian roti breads. Elsewhere there’s curry goat, stew chicken, buss-up shot (broken roti), and pholourie (fried doughballs) served with tamarind chutney. To drink? Mauby Fizz and Solo sodas, or sorrel (a sweet-spiced hibiscus flower concoction.) Choose from the original site next to Clapham North station or the newer, second site, which opened in Finsbury Park, a little over a year ago.

—Adam Coghlan

20 Stroud Green Road, N4 3EA (Finsbury Park) or 12 Clapham High Street, SW4 7UT (Clapham North)

The Brown Dog

It’s been a bad week for dogs and pubs. JD Wetherspoon banned canines from all 936 of its establishments, while Brewdog


casual sexism

to its

litany of ill-advised publicity spunks

. Make things right with a visit to south west London’s riverside procession of pastel terraces, bougie delis, and a gastropub that loves dogs so much that it built nominative determinism into its marketing from day dot. Knick knacks and paddy whacks line the walls — bones in the kitchen — with British charcuterie platters, briniest Maldon oysters and sticky poussin with green sauce on heavy-set tables. Settle in with a bottle of wine from a concise, conventional list or an assertive cask ale, and mind out for four-legged customers snaffling any scraps.

—James Hansen

28 Cross Street, SW13 0AP

Friday 24 August, 2018

RD Dabeli

Certainly not a restaurant and barely even a cafe, this Gujarati snack shop is tucked into a newsagents-like space on Upton Park’s Plashet Road where it slings out some of the best street food in London, armed with little more than a sandwich toaster. Pani puri, bhel, samosa chaat, ragda pattice, and puff are done to various degrees of accomplishment here, but it’s really all about the buns — vada pav and dabeli. In contrast to the stereotypical view of Indian food, the joy of these carb-on-carb snacks relies on blandness and a textural counterpoint. Mashed potato spiced with masala and pomegranate is smeared into soft pao for dabeli, with flavour coming from three types of chutney and crunch from raw onion and roasted peanuts. Vada pav’s texture comes from a deep fried potato dumpling, almost too big for the bun to hold. Toasted to crispiness on the grill the effect in the mouth is riotous, with a side of ketchup for dipping a welcome accompaniment. Best of all, at £1.50 each it’s the same price as a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger and exactly as good.

—Jonathan Nunn

239 Plashet Road, E13 0QU

Club Mexicana at

The Spread Eagle

It’s calm in The Spread Eagle, which is surprising as it’s on a high street by a fire and ambulance station. The pub has a carefully thought out drinks list, from cask ales and beer, to its wine and cocktails — all vegan, as is its food, which is served from Wednesday to Sunday by Club Mexicana. The baja tofish taco, beer-battered tofu with pickled cabbage and chiles, is delightful; so is the carnitas taco made with jackfruit in mojo de ajo, and there’s a great snack list to be paired with beer. For something more hearty definitely try the belly-filler tortas. It’s all tasty and satisfying, with lovely staff and cozy sofas — exactly as a pub should be.

—Anna Sulan Masing

224 Homerton High St, E9 6AS


Jashan sits a little way across the road from Turnpike Lane station, just two doors down from the excellent Mauritian Le Chamarel (see below.) This is not an Indian restaurant dedicated to one region, but it’s the opposite of amorphous: Keralan, Gujarati, and Maharashtra specialities are all named and cooked with keen definition. Chicken 65 is in

Desi-Chinese territory

with its pleasingly infernal chilli and spring onion croak; paneer tikka kastori harbours a thrum of fenugreek, placated by the cheese’s inert comfort. Charcoal-grilled meats are also a particular strength, charred to a deep crust that hides tender spicing, with aloo tikki chaat and aloo papadi chaat both present and much more than correct. A note not for this weekend, but perhaps another: 48 hours notice can bring a leg of lamb to the table, pot-roasted and reeking of herbs and cardamom, ready to be fallen upon with little thought for manners.

—James Hansen

19 Turnpike Lane, N8 0EP


It might be in Zone 3, but it barely takes 15 minutes to reach East Finchley from King’s Cross. Why is this important? It’s home to Bufi, which in turn is home to some of the most expertly-made (and under-the-radar) pizzas in London. A bold claim, indeed, but it’s hard not to be singing the praises of dough so tasty and chewy that it almost doesn’t need toppings. Nevertheless, tempting combinations await, including classics like the burrata-laden pugliese and newcomer ‘nduja, with aubergine, ricotta and pancetta. Owned and run by a Neapolitan family with over 30 years’ experience, this buzzing neighbourhood restaurant is a slice of their city in this increasingly food-obsessed one. —

Seetal Savla

82 High Road, N2 9PN

The Coach and Horses

This Leyton boozer has been pulled up smartly by its boot straps, re-emerging with some solid pub cooking without losing its essential pub DNA. Chef Steven Wilson is already proving his mettle (a Leyton local who knows his audience) with menu staples of suet pudding filled with rich beef short rib, mash and liquor; Cumberland sausage rolls with Clonakilty black pudding, warm from the oven; excellent Scotch eggs; crisp potato cakes on the bar snack menu, rivalling many of the current vogue-ish examples; a Sunday Roast that nails all the details, from the roast potatoes and cauliflower cheese through to the huge fluffy Yorkshires and properly made gravy. The Guinness is good, the handsome horseshoe bar has been retained, and the formerly dark and dowdy back room has been transformed into a large dining area — Leyton’s ascent continues apace.

—Zeren Wilson

391 High Road Leyton, E10 5NA

Friday 17 August, 2018

Carte Blanche

Is there technically better food to be found

within a five-to-ten minute walk

of Carte Blanche, let alone in the

general east London area

, let alone let alone in

the whole of the capital

? As one of the totes-casual staff here might well remark: hells yeah, bro. But: uniform excellence was never part of the charm of

former site-occupier Rita’s

, and it ain’t part of the charm now, either. This is somewhere to get a little sloppy, with close friends or on an adventurous first date, leaning into the strong booze selection and the best bits of an appropriately booze-adjacent menu. Nashville chicken wings are a riot, fries are thin, hot, and crispy, and both the “classic” burger and tarte tatin hot pocket are cheeky, goofy riffs on McDonalds classics. Music is an especially strong suit: eating this stuff to a soundtrack of ODB, Q-Tip and The Pharcyde just feels right. Many of the restaurants in this part of the world occasionally get lost in ideology, so it’s a genuine relief — sometimes — to find a place that actively encourages cutting loose, zoning out, and having fun. Don’t overthink it.

—George Reynolds

175 Mare Street, E8 3RG


On Saturdays at Bermondsey’s

Spa Terminus

market, Giuseppe Cimmino can be found inside a railway arch slicing London’s best salumi. But weekdays, he moonlights as the conductor of a small Italian pop-up on the summit of Telegraph Hill. Here, time goes slow, but it’s worth it for cooking with a deep sense of measure, and an impeccable instinct for how something is meant to taste. Much here is dug deep from Neapolitan archives, made simply to be shared. Dough work is particularly strong: sourdough pizza fritta tasting like it got washed by the sea then fried in the sun; a ripe crostata like something out of

Call Me By Your Name

; homemade brioche and rare, seasonal sightings like the fried lard dough and pastry cream of zeppole di San Giuseppe. Fish, served crudo, is cut in thick gobbets that express the texture of the flesh; all pasta is homemade. This is rural Italy transposed to quasi-rural London, serving up a dose of idyll that’s re-humanising on hump day. Wednesdays only, and book early: most weeks are sold out in advance.

—Virginia Hartley

The Hill Station Cafe, 32 Kitto Rd, SE14 5TW

Camden Arts Centre Café

The Camden Arts Centre is a Finchley Road anomaly, otherwise lined with clapped-out old shops and younger, more enthusiastic businesses. It’s an oasis of stillness, serenity and shiny surfaces. Entering through the bright, spacious bookshop, the right side leads up to pristine, intimidatingly white-walled galleries; the café is a functional-looking glass cube, situated to the left. It serves a straightforward but well-executed menu of hot soups, sprightly salads, generously filled sandwiches (brown bread is the default here), paninis, toasties, quiches in flavours like spinach and garlic or roasted vegetables, and tempting cakes and pastries. Don’t miss pacoquinhas: displayed inside a bell jar on the counter, they look like wine corks but are in fact Brazilian candy made from peanuts, cassava flour and sugarcane. They’re crumbly, crunchy, super-sweet and slightly salty. Enjoy the fading days of summer with a refreshing coffee frappe in the charmingly ramshackle garden at the back, while the first crumpled leaves fall and ladybirds circle around secluded tables. There’s a fairy light-bedecked tree, overgrown shrubs, and a grassy raised picnic area, where both café food and customer’s own is permitted.

—Sejal Sukhadwala

Arkwright Rd, NW3 6DG


Insincere waiters, ostentatious dishes, and the perpetual Instagram vanity contest can leave Londoners vying for dining experiences that are warm, uncomplicated, and free of embellishments. Just off Caledonian Road, sandwiched between two off-licenses, is Kokeb, a neighbourhood restaurant where the charismatic Getenesh — “wife, mother and successful businesswoman” — feeds Londoners homemade Ethiopian cuisine. The injera — a large, spongy sourdough flatbread an “ugly delicious” shade of brown — is served directly on a metal tray, topped with juicy stews and sweat-inducing curries, and eaten by hand. Doro wot — tender chicken soaked in berbere sauce, served with a hard-boiled egg — is a good place to start, but Getenesh will know better. —

Daria Kyrilova

45 Roman Way, N7 8XF

Le Chamarel

No cuisine wears the influences of colonialism as much as Mauritian, a fascinating collision of Chinese, Indian and French cuisine built on waves of slavery, indentured labour and migration. North London’s Turnpike Lane was the original focal point for the Mauritian community, and Le Chamerel, a small cafe/restaurant on the lane itself, is the only business remaining. It covers much of the island’s diverse culinary ground, tending towards Indian influences. Fried snacks are ideal for takeaway or for starters — meat samossas, gateau piment (irregular spheres of yellow split peas spiked with cumin and chilli) and gateau arouille, fragrant and sweet with taro root. Rice shows two of its many faces as riz frit (a fried Chinese preparation) and biriyani, but better still are the array of pre-made curries to be mopped up with roti. Choose king prawn rougaille, with its Provençal origins, or the spicier octopus vindaille, a cousin of vindaloo derived from the Portuguese-Goan dish of vinha d’alho. This is still the only place in London where it makes perfect sense to order bouillabaisse for starters, fried noodles for mains, and gulab jamun for dessert.

—Jonathan Nunn

27 Turnpike Lane, N8 0EP

Friday 10 August, 2018

Mae and Harvey

East of Bethnal Green, Roman Road feels out of time — a loose collection of communities in which



remain unironic neighbourhood staples

, and where locals choose fishmongers on the quality of gossip proffered. Among this urban terroir sits Mae and Harvey, almost certainly the area’s best cafe and arguably one of the East End’s finest. Owner Tash Sayliss and her team conjure brilliance from the ether — steadying breakfasts of waffles anointed with luxurious crème fraîche and Secret Smokehouse salmon, or a sandwich of roast chicken harmonised with the crunch of pickles and the sweetness of apricots and chilli jam. Coffee is from Allpress; Tuesday nights mean tacos of seared tuna or shrimp slathered in paprika butter, along with a small selection of thoughtfully chosen wines and plenty of neighbourhood cheer.

—David Paw

414 Roman Rd, E3 5LU

A Portuguese Love Affair

It’s all in the name at this paean to all things Portuguese, found

halfway through a crawl down Hackney Road

. Head inside to be confronted with a counter spilling tiny chaos, breathing the aroma of suckling pig, salt cod and


(smoked fermented game sausage) from bowls of croquetas, rissois and empanadas. The sharp, spoonable natas here are London’s post-

Taberna do Mercado

best; be curious, though, and try the Bolas de Berlim if it’s there: a Jewish doughnut cut in two and sandwiched with more rich egg custard. Everything is baked in house, and part of the daytime pleasure of being here is tracking the phases of the counter as fresh reserves come out of the oven. Homemade brioche, eggs, ham and cheese for breakfast and brunch; or addictive tinned fish, octopus and roes that live on the deli shelves to go. At the evening and the weekend, when a grill is set up in the backyard, there are fish and chicken hearts to be had. Pair with wine, beer or — best — one of the gins. If only all affairs ended so well.

—Virginia Hartley

326 Hackney Rd, E2 7AX

Brick House Bakery

If the answer to the question “what makes a

good weekend breakfast-brunch-lunch

” is “

great baked goods

” (it is), then it follows that some of the best informal weekend eating can be had via London’s top bakeries. E5 and Dusty Knuckle put on a strong show, but East Dulwich’s bright and airy Brick House is right up there. All the classics are offered on or next to sourdough toast (avo-egg-shakshuka-french-nutella-etc), but chorizo-fried migas and pork patty buns really catch the eye. It’s proper cooking — head chef James Mossman comes via

10 Greek Street


Chez Bruce

before that — and an all round class act. Be sure to neck a Square Mile coffee, and to try something sweet, such as an exceptional take on Tartine’s morning bun. Oh, and pick up a loaf of Peckham Rye loaf to go too.

—Ed Smith

1 Zenoria St, SE22 8HP

Abbotshill Wine Bar and Deli

If lucky enough to snag a coveted outside table at neighbourhood legend and

London pizza benchmark

Santa Maria, this coy wine bar and deli will catch the eye. Or: if lucky enough to snag a coveted outside table at this neighbourhood hidden gem, a Neapolitan waft of dough and crushed tomato will scent the air. Wines are sourced directly by Suzy and her team, showcasing the idiosyncrasies of vineyard, producer or vintage. A seasonal list offers 32, mostly organic and biodynamic options; all available by the glass, bottles stood to attention on the counter in the fashion of (east)

London’s more storied caves and cellars

. A sample: a pebbly, coastal Verdicchio with gooseberry snap; a hand-bottled, hand-painted, hand-sealed Czech orange blend saturated with apricot and hoarse tannin; a gamay all silk and summer raspberry. British cheeses and charcuterie dominate groaning platters, bread is baked right next door and every elegantly considered bruschetta, board and bottle can be bought to take away for a lazy picnic in Walpole Park. Pizza can wait. —

James Hansen

20 St Mary’s Rd, W5 5ES

Sariyer Balik

Before it reaches its apotheosis in Harringay, it’s easy to forget Green Lanes has another Turkish community down at its source in Newington Green, tucked away from the noisy drag of Kingsland Road. Sariyer Balik is a cosy space of around 20 covers where diners eat cheek by jowl with each other and the kitchen. Rather than copy the successful template of the ocakbasi with mounds of grilled meat, the family chose the meyhane — a restaurant ethos based on generosity and abundant booze —

where cold meze and grilled fish are perfect foils to cloud white tumblers of liquoriced raki


Cold starters are a small labour of love: mücver, fritters of courgette pungent with dill, and char-kissed paltlican ezme are among highlights. The menu has absolutely no trace of meat, so progress to vodka-battered kalamari, deep fried mussels and prawns before some grilled fish and salad. Prices will be more expensive than a mixed grill, but so what? Talking to the charismatic owners — who, twenty years down the line, still wait the tables — it’s clear that doing anything easier or more commercial would be of absolutely no interest. Rightly so.

—Jonathan Nunn

56 Green Lanes, N16 9NH

Friday 3 August, 2018

Southampton Arms

Ale, Cider, Meat

are painted up high on the brickwork of Gospel Oak’s Southampton Arms. But step inside and it’s like dropping down into a pool: a high-ceilinged, deep and dim interior that the pendant lights don’t penetrate much. Arguably, this stellar real ale and cider house — 18 handpumps and UK microbreweries only — is best enjoyed in the still small hours and elderly quiet of a weekend afternoon, sitting at the end of a long mahogany table with a roast pork bap like something time forgot. Crust, crackling and thick cut wedges of pork that come apart in one’s hands, with mustard (ask for more) and apple sauce (ask for less). This is plainspeak food thought out around a pint and built to soak up a real thirst, a cask beer (most are) or a lissom cider (most are). There’s a changing guest keg and a sheet for suggestions. Eat and drink here for under a fiver, get a 4 pint keg for home, but remember cards haven’t been invented here yet so it’s just cash.

—Virginia Hartley

139 Highgate Road, Highgate, NW5 1LE

Kaipiras by Barraco

The reason why tapas and small plates have taken off in London (apart from restaurants being able to charge more) is that deep down people know the starter/main course/dessert paradigm is clapped and what everyone secretly wants from a menu is a succession of snacks. Enter Kaipiras by Barraco, a Brazilian boteco bar tucked away on a back street in Kilburn which has no business hosting a restaurant this good. All the best things are in the starter section: mandioca frita, fat chips of cassava that make a mockery of every fried potato pretender; torresmo, undersold on the menu as pork scratchings but in reality crisped hunks of fried pork belly, fat fluffed up and creamy; and calabreza acebolada, Brazilian sausages and onions that arrive shaking and sizzling in the pan. The key word here is ‘fried’. This is perfect drinking food to be washed down with the three C’s: ice cold Chopp, caipiranhas or cachaça. Mains do exist for those who don’t want to graze the whole night. Eschew the steaks and go for moqueca, a coconut milk and palm oil enriched fish stew to be soaked up with farofa (ground cassava powder) and homemade chilli oil.

—Jonathan Nunn

Priory House, 10 Kingsgate Place, NW6 4TA

Nonna’s Gelato

Nonna’s Gelato, founded by Sophia Brothers, granddaughter of the eponymous nonna, doesn’t have its own bricks and mortar shop but that shouldn’t stop you from trying it this weekend. While London is still riding the heatwave, cool down with a thick and creamy ice cream, churned with fresh ingredients, from one of the capital’s finest. Catch the cute gelato stand on wheels at

Broadway Market

on Saturday or at a number of restaurants across London including

Yard Sale Pizza


Mason & Company

, EAT17 and Frank’s Canteen. Flavours change with the seasons and in recent weeks they’ve had an abundance of summer fruit-inspired scoops: white peach and rose sorbet, cherry and almond, apricot and yogurt. PSA: Mason & Company are

now stocking Neapolitan choc ices

. Grab a cone, cup or ice cream bar and chill out.

—Daisy Meager


La Grotta Ices

A sweltering weekend demands a frosty recommendation with a warm welcome. At London Fields’

E5 Bakehouse

, Peckham’s General Store and in person at Spa Terminus, the welcome goes without saying; it’s Kitty Travers’ La Grotta ices that will provide the freeze. High-quality ice cream is

available across the city


in its restaurants

, so finding the best can lead to brain freeze. Skip it: Travers’ fruit-forward scoops are remarkable. Carrying intense perfume and hyper-articulate flavour in a product all-too susceptible to glacial indifference, her ice cream is London’s most transportative: charentais melon folds itself around jasmine tea from Postcard; hedgerow blackberries dally with rose and geranium; sweet-sharp Tulameen raspberries are surprised by fig leaves. Flavours whose memories linger, as August unfurls and heatwaves break. —

James Hansen

395 Mentmore Terrace, E8 3PH




174 Bellenden Rd, SE15 4BW

Dockley Road Industrial Estate, SE16 3SF (Saturday 9am — 2pm)

Maru’s Bhajia House

‘Maru’s bhajia’ are one of the most iconic Indian dishes you may not have heard of, unless you’re firmly rooted in UK or East Africa’s Gujarati community. They’re essentially fritters made from very thinly sliced potatoes, coated in a spiced chickpea flour and cornflour batter spiked with fresh coriander and secret spices including — importantly — dried garlic powder. The cornflour gives them the sought-after crispy coating, and the much-imitated dish was invented by an enterprising Gujarati in Kenya decades ago. Enjoy a large single portion (enough for two) for less than a fiver at this cosy, family-run, formica table-laden café, along with equally wonderful chutney made from finely chopped vegetables. Other Indian nashta (teatime snacks) are also available, and the Indian filter coffee — made by boiling coffee and milk together — is marvellous.

—Sejal Sukhadwala

230 Ealing Rd, HA0 4QL

Friday 27 July, 2018

Tata Eatery (at Borough Wines, Kensal Rise)

There are only two weeks left to try

Zijun Meng


Ana Gonçalves’

cooking at Borough Wines in Kensal Rise. What this means is there remain 10 dinner services, and four lunch slots to try what is currently some of the most thrilling, clever, and delicious food in the city. The use of the most meltingly tender Iberico pork, panko-crusted and katsu-sandwiched between lightly toasted brioche, with sliced cabbage, raspberry brown sauce, and a base note of umami-rich chilli, shallots, fermented red pepper paste is not confrontational fusion, but the immaculate amelioration of ingredients from at least two culinary traditions. That dish, such is its suitability to Instagram, is one reason for the plaudits (and the crowds). But to focus only on it would be to ignore brilliance elsewhere: In a buttery, soothing yuzu kosho and curried prawn rice pot; an anchovy flatbread with seaweed; and a salad of spinach, sugar cane, sesame, and tomato. News of Tata’s move to permanence has not yet been mooted, so Londoners will have to take any and every opportunity to try it when they can. —

Adam Coghlan

Until 12.08.2018 at Borough Wines, 30 Station Terrace, NW10 5RP

Soane’s Kitchen

A restaurant in a walled kitchen garden on the grounds of a Georgian/Greek revival estate, Soane’s Kitchen is hidden inside Ealing’s bucolic Walpole Park. This is a sunny evening’s restaurant: no wheels reinvented, good wines poured and produce on the plate. Palest, coolest burrata is paired with a consciously clever zero-waste chimichurri, tempura prawn is sandwiched between fluffy black sesame buns, and charred peaches emerge from the oven ready for a lick of thyme yoghurt and a tumble of toasted almonds. It’s uncomplicated and genuine, as well as keenly priced for the surrounds: rows of young vegetables through the windows, ivy climbing brick walls. It hardly seems like London at all. —

James Hansen

Pitzhanger Manor, Walpole Park W5 5EQ


Joining a proud tradition of excellent restaurants plonked down in unassuming locales (looking at

Santa Maria

and Heron), Mailinda’s location in a drab Canary Wharf housing estate belies the excellent Chinese cooking that lies within. The menu runs a broad swathe of regional styles, including excellent renditions of Hunanese hand-torn cabbage, Jiu Cai He Zi (pan-fried chive pancakes with scrambled egg) and stir-fried crayfish from Sichuan; or smokey, fatty skewers of lamb and chicken offcuts, vegetables and seafood expertly grilled over hot coals. For those looking for real deal hotpot, it’s advisable to make like the restaurant’s regular clientele (predominantly young and Chinese) who gather around huge charcoal burning stoves to dip endless plates of skewers into broths that range from soothingly herbal to ferociously spicy.

—David Paw

62 Mellish Street, Isle of Dogs, E14 8NS


It’s an image of the polpetti pizza that first attracts attention to this Neapolitan pizza spot, tucked away towards the top of Kilburn High Road: Five fat meatballs doused in tomato sauce, nestled amongst fior di latte cheese, showered with a generous grating of Parmesan; it sure is a


. Not only does the pizza live up to expectations, sourcing is impeccable: beef for the meatballs is sourced from HG Walter, a butcher that supplies many of the top restaurants in town, fior di Latte is brought in weekly from Agerola on the Amalfi Coast — regarded as


ancient heartland of this Neapolitan cheese — and San Marzano DOP tomatoes are from esteemed producer Casa Marrazzo.

The red tiled wood burning oven flings out the classic margheritas and marinaras, but it’s perhaps the ‘something different’ list of pizzas that are the draw for repeated visits; lasagne with prosciutto cotto and ricotta di bufala; pistachio pesto and smoked provola; black truffle salsa and mozzarella di bufala. The details will keep pizza obsessives satisfied, with a suitably leopard spotted ‘cornicione’ crust bearing the char of the oven, and a light and bouncy dough that is deceptively digestible. Amongst the slew of Neapolitan imports now blessing London with their presence, Quartieri is the kind of neighbourhood joint that quietly, confidently, just does its thing.

—Zeren Wilson

300 Kilburn High Road, NW6 2DB



Giant Steps

Honey Spencer

(sommelier of


, in Old Street) is launching her new pop-up project


this weekend — in Hackney Wick at

Giant Steps

. With chef

Anaïs Van Manen —



, and Nuala, and creator of the perfectly balanced grilled lamb betel which won Taste of London’s ‘Best Dish’ — expectations are right to be high. Van Manen describes her food as ‘Vietflow’: This weekend there’ll also be Viet crack pizza (akin to Japanese okonomiyaki), grilled watermelon salad, cheesy chard bing and ‘PP’ fried chicken


Spencer’s wine list at Nuala is celebrated for its unorthodoxy and this weekend it will be no different, including special releases from Gut Oggau and Christian Tschida in Austria, De Moor from Burgundy and Bastarda from Spain. Food will be served from 12—6pm. —

Anna Sulan Masing


The ‘live fire’ restaurant list keeps growing,


surely the existence of a burning log is


a boring kitchen inventory side note, in the same vein as ‘gas hob’, ‘tap’ and ‘fridge’. The fact, for example, that Alex Jackson’s food at Sardine (open since 2016) is licked by flames is acknowledged, but with a nonchalant Gallic shrug rather than Vatican-style smoke rings. More important


the Provencal-style food is timeless, honest, properly seasoned and, well, just damn tasty. This weekend venture to the otherwise charmless backstreets between Angel and Old Street, and sink into things like


oup au pistou

or asparagus with piquant Mimosa dressing. Be sure, however, to go with a pal who’ll share the half

Pekin duck

as a main, but won’t steal any of your crisp and

gloriously floral elderflower fritters

that follow.

Ed Smith

15 Micawber Street, London, N1 7TB

Istanbul Restaurant

Banish any bad thoughts about a breakfast buffet (yes, those rubbery fried eggs and stale sliced white) and drag


hangover to Stoke Newington’s Istanbul. Be soothed by the panoramic murals of the Turkish city on the walls




courtesy of their weekend breakfast buffet (gratefully on until 2pm

and not breaking a tenner


One table is beige food heaven: piles of still-warm



(flatbread) stuffed with cheese, small round brioche-like buns,

sigara borek

(filo pastry cigar) and frequently-replenished


(scrambled eggs with peppers, onion, tomato and herbs). The other table groans under the weight of the rest of


food groups: cheeses, vivid tabbouleh, vats of tahini, and bowls of bright quince and cherry jams. An elegant curved glass of Turkish tea, sweetened with a little honey

or a


, unapologetically bitter

coffee rounds off the meal.

Daisy Meager

9 Stoke Newington Rd, Stoke Newington, London N16 8BH

Les Nenettes

This Clapton restaurant is a real beauty. Airy with beautifully big windows, white walls and wooden floors, and with sunshine catching the large pavement where they have tables set up. The menu is achingly French (as are the staff — an equal balance of charming and aloof). For brunch it’s hard to go past the simple but delicious

deux oeufs à la coque

(soft boiled egg) and


with anchovy butter soldiers. Lunch and dinner nod enthusiastically at french classics, with a wonderful range spanning a hearty ‘Basque des Nenettes’ burger and globe artichokes with savora vinaigrette to

moules marinière et frites

. The perfect summer weekend spot. —

Anna Sulan Masing

19 Lower Clapton Rd, E5 0NS


Packed with students from nearby Goldsmiths college during term-time, Paranhodu is a tiny Korean cafe in New Cross. Its frontage displays a bright mosaic of houses rather than anything as useful as the name of the place, which makes it very easy to miss, but Paranhodu is worth hunting down for its


, a stone bowl of rice topped with an assortment of sautéed vegetables, beef or tofu, and drizzled with Korean chilli and soy paste. The chef also knows their way round a fryer: Korean Fried Chicken is particularly good, as is the


, the Japanese fried cutlet which somehow features on all Korean menus. Also of note is its

soondubu jjigae

or soft tofu stew, a fiery broth studded with seafood into which a raw egg has been slipped to gently coddle in the heat. Paranhodu also serves a range of Korean beers and wines including two different plum liqueurs. —

MiMi Aye

125 Lewisham Way, SE14 6QJ



The team at MÃOS politely request that diners do not share any images that might spoil the experience for future guests. It’s a noble position to take, if a slightly self-defeating one, leaving as it does the restaurant’s


as the sole reference point for the curious. It’s a shame, as the version of MÃOS it presents

spare, modern, a little self-serious

doesn’t really match with the experience of actually eating there at all. It’s modern, certainly, but there is warmth and lightness of touch to spare here


not to mention some of the most creative and (more importantly) delicious food in the city. Unlike other multi-course

tasting menus


there’s a real attempt to break down the formal strictures of kitchen and dining table; conservative Brits may squirm at the idea, but by the end of the meal there’s a sense that everyone has experienced something singular and (gasp) emotional together. To say any more would be to spoil the surprise. It may be slightly late notice to get a table this weekend, but start staking out future reservation slots ASAP; the buzz around this place will only grow and grow. It’s easily London’s best new opening since Brat, it’s comfortably the most assured fancy one since


. In terms of a groundbreaking, envelope-pushing, expectation resetting disruptor, though? London hasn’t seen anywhere like this in what feels like forever.

George Reynolds

41 Redchurch Steet, E2 7DJ

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St. John

26 Saint John Street, , England EC1M 4AY

020 7251 0848

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Mason & Company

7 Canalside, London, Greater London E20 3BS

+44 20 8533 7746

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199 Tooley Street, , England SE1 2JX

020 7183 2117

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Broadway Market

Broadway Market, , England E8 4QJ


197A Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02115


Redchurch Brewery

276 Poyser St, Hackney, Greater London E2 9RF

+44 20 3487 0255

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169 Hemingford Road, , England N1 1

020 7607 3868

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103B Dalston Lane, , England E8 1NH

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1 Zenoria Street, , England SE22 8HP

020 8693 2031

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(312) 217-8041

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020 7792 2665

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178 Tollington Park, , England N4 3AJ

020 7263 8633

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18-20 Bedford Hill, , England SW12 9RG

020 8772 9085

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156 Canonbury Road, , England N1 2UP


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157 Kentish Town Road, , England NW1 8PD

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15 The Pavement, , England SW4 0HY

020 7622 4165

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18 Market Row, , England SW9 8LD

020 7501 9152

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Westerns Laundry

34 Drayton Park, , England N5 1PB

020 7700 3700

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42 Albemarle Street, , England W1S 4JH

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020 3011 0115

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Walham Grove, , England SW6 1QP

020 7386 1847

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12 Denman Street, , W1D 7HH


Mangal 2

4 Stoke Newington Rd, London, Greater London N16 7XN

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14 - 15 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8QH, UK, London,

+44 20 3794 5314

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34 Portman Street, London, W1H 7BY


Battersea Power Station, London, SW11 8AB


Wallace Road, , England N1 2PG

0343 222 1234

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20 Stroud Green Road, , England N4 3EA

07466 761972

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4 Duchess Walk, London, SE1 2SD



93 Grosvenor Avenue, London, Greater London N5 2NL

Spa Terminus

Dockley Road, , England SE16 3SF


The Coach and Horses

391 High Road Leyton, London, E10 5NA

+44 20 8988 0567

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Henrietta Inman at Yardarm

240 Francis Road, , England E10 6NJ

020 8556 0541

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122 Balls Pond, , England N1 4AE

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172 King's Road, , England SW3 4UP

020 3750 0172

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82 Vestry Road, , England SE5 8PQ

020 8001 8322

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Rochelle Canteen

16 Playground Gardens, , England E2 7FA

020 3928 8328

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Little Bread Pedlar

34 Moreton Street, , England SW1V 2PD

020 3941 6298

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E5 Bakehouse

396 Mentmore Terrace, , England E8 3PH

020 8525 2890

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Peckham Levels

95A Rye Lane, , England SE15 4ST



5 Warwick Place, , England W9 2PX

020 7289 3393

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426 Coldharbour Lane, , England SW9 8LF

020 7346 0098

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Saint Paul's Road, , England N1 2LH

020 7226 2733

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P Franco

107 Lower Clapton Road, , England E5 0NP

020 8533 4660

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20 Queen St, London W1J 5PR, London,

440207 629 3561

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Brixton Station Rd., Brixton, Greater London, London,

44 0207 998 3309

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Mien Tay

180 Lavender Hill, , England SW11 5TQ

020 7350 0721

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Station Parade

12 Uxbridge Road, , England W5 3LD

Cacio e Pepe

46 Churton Street, , England SW1V 2LP

020 7630 7588

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Happy Endings

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84 High Rd, London, Greater London N2 9PN



241B High Street North, East Ham, Greater London E12 6SJ

+44 20 8548 8239



125 Caledonian Road, , England N1 9RG

020 7278 0004

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35 Saint Mary's Road, , England W5 5RG

020 8567 7918

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Masala Wala Cafe

5 Brockley Cross, , England SE4 2AB

020 3659 4055

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12-16 Blenheim Grove, , England SE15 4QL

020 7732 2256

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10 Greek Street, , England W1D 4DH

020 7734 4677

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40 Maltby Street, , England SE1 3PA

020 8076 9517

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108 Garage

108 Golborne Road, , England W10 5PS

020 8969 3769

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Taberna do Mercado

107b Commercial St, London, Greater London E1 6BG

Southam Street

36 Golborne Road, London, W10 5PR


56 Westow Hill, , England SE19 1RX

020 8670 4052

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77 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 1QE

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12 New Burlington Street, , England W1S 3BF

020 7287 2481

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30 Hill Street, Richmond , London , TW9 1TW

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19 Turnpike Lane, London, Greater London N8 0EP

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Little Ochi Seafood

113 Dulwich Road herne Hill, London, Greater London SE24 ONG

+44 20 7737 7329


Buster Mantis

3-4 Resolution Way, , England SE8 4NT

020 8691 5191

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5 Marylands Road, , England W9 2DU

020 7286 7896

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12 Jerusalem Passage, , England EC1V 4JP

020 3217 0090


85 Piccadilly, , England W1J 7NB

020 3146 8666

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42 De Beauvoir Crescent, , England N1 5SB


116 Petherton Road, , England N5 2RT

020 7226 5271

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Yard Sale Pizza

184 Hackney Road, , England E2 7QL

020 7739 1095

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72-76 Western Road, Southall , Middlesex , UB2 5DZ

Prince of Wales

202 Western Road, , England UB2 5ED

020 8813 9354

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94 Lamb's Conduit Street, , England WC1N 3LZ

020 7405 0713

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63-65 Parkway, London, Greater London NW1 7PP

+44 7742 812794

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W6 8JA

Fulham Palace Road, , England W6 8JA

The Spread Eagle

224 Homerton High Street, , England E9 6AS

020 8985 0400

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287 Upper Street, , England N1 2TZ

020 7288 1454

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11 White's Row, , England E1 7NF

020 7426 0542

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RD Dabeli

239 Plashet Road, London , E13 0QU


Baba Boom

189 Upper Street, London, Greater London N1 1RQ


32 Kitto Road, , England SE14 5TW


12 Upper St Martin's Lane, , England WC2H 9FB

020 7420 9320

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The Brown Dog, Barnes

28 Cross Street, , England SW13 0AP

020 8392 2200

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Beirut Express

65 Old Brompton Road, , England SW7 3JS

020 7591 0123

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Chez Bruce

2 Bellevue Road, , England SW17 7EG

020 8672 0114

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238 Francis Road, , England E10 6NQ

020 8556 2444

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229 High Street North, , England E6 1JG

020 8548 8239

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6 Southwark Street, , England SE1 1TQ

Core by Clare Smyth

92 Kensington Park Road, , England W11 2PN

020 3937 5086

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593 High Road Leytonstone, , England E11 4PA

020 8281 4801


19 Ganton Street, , England W1F 9BN

020 3019 8680

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54 Great Jones Street, Manhattan, NY 10012

(646) 429-8383

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Santa Maria

11 Bond Street, , England W5 5AP

020 8840 4998

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1 Westgate Street, , England E8 3RL

020 3095 9407

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