I can’t even begin to describe how much I love this restaurant. The Bone Marrow Varuval haunts my dreams. Roasted bone marrow smothered in a ridiculously tasty curry just waiting to be mopped up with shreds of flaky paratha. Perfection. The Lamb Kottu Roti is a crazy mashup of vegetables, torn up roti, eggs and spicy lamb curry – so good! And don’t forget to split one of the intimidatingly large, crispy, ghee slicked dosas as well. They don’t take reservations (sigh) but they will take down your name so you can have a drink elsewhere until your table is ready. Very civilised.
Keeping on the subcontinent small plates theme, we have Kricket. The Soho outpost of the original Brixton spot has a very tasty menu full of delicious treats. The Bhel Puri is a mishmash of flavours and textures – chewy green mango, crunchy sev and puffed rice smothered in a tangy tamarind sauce. I’d advise you to split this though – it’s bigger than you think and there’s a lot of chewing involved. Also amazing is the garlic crab with the seaweed papads – deliciously pungent and probably not date night food but definitely a must order!
I’ll say it right now - Perth has some of the most amazing Singaporean and Malaysian food in Australia. London on the other hand, struggles. But this place, with its tiny communal tables, cheap food and abundance of students definitely makes me feel a little more at home. The service is quick and friendly and the food is very generously portioned. Queuing for this little basement restaurant can be a little daunting but just know that at the end of it lies delicious handmade roti canai with tasty chicken curry and smoky char kway teow. Worth it. Maybe not when it’s raining though.
There isn’t anything I could write about Hawksmoor that hasn’t already been said. It’s known as the place to get steak in London. Have your steak with a side of roasted beef marrow and definitely get the creamed spinach – it’ll change your life. Might be a good idea to get some sort of vinegary, peppery salad too – the richness on top of excess with a side of gluttony can be a little overwhelming. That being said, the anchovy hollandaise sauce is perfection – try it! Now a word to the wise - the portion sizes are huge so clear your schedule and remember to have a light lunch!
Tapas. The grown up way to eat fried food with alcohol. Gintonica – the upper level of The Distillery on Portobello Road – does it with even more style. The room is small but beautifully decorated. There’s a bar in the corner, ready to sling you a huge Copa de Balon brimming with gin (and maybe a little tonic) and on the other side of the room is the open kitchen, serving all manner of grilled, fried and pickled deliciousness. The cheese croquetas are terrifyingly easy to consume, as are the Josper grilled gambas. Also worth a try is the smoky duck breast with celeriac remoulade!
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68 & Boston
Imagine a wine bar where you don’t have to pretend to peruse the wine list before picking the second cheapest bottle. Amazing, I know. All of the bottles (with the exception of their premium listed wines) at this cosy little place come in at a sweet £20. And whoever curated the wine list certainly knows what they’re doing because every bottle is a winner. Also great are the bar snacks to accompany the vino – crispy whole baby squid, salty charred padron peppers and cheesy crab croquetas. Best of all… you can book a table!
Ohhh, puddin’. This is where you go for your ultimate dirty burger fix. It’s the kind of food that makes you feel the need to confess afterwards. Get the Bleecker Black – two, juicy medium rare patties of dry aged beef hugging a layer of crispy black pudding, blanketed in oozy cheese. Yeah, that’s some pornographic shit right there. The fries you could easily pass on (though if you can convince someone to split the Angry Fries, I wouldn’t be mad at you) but you absolutely MUST get the Black and White shake. Made with Valrhona chocolate and what I assume to be the tears of angels, it’s a milkshake that’ll bring everyone to the yard.
The Ivy Café, St John’s Wood
If you feel the urge to dine amongst the well-heeled and fancy folk, head here. It’s a prime place for people watching (play my favourite game – Daddy or Daddy) and the food is pretty incredible as well. The menu is full of comfort food classics (shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and roast chicken etc.) but with enough special touches to make it special. I’d also definitely recommend getting a serve of the truffle arancini with your cocktails while you peruse the menu properly. The service is impeccable, the silverware is heavy and the lighting is super flattering – what more could you ask for? All of the Ivies are lovely but the St John’s Wood venue is a great spot to unwind after a Sunday afternoon stroll around Regent’s Park.