By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
With plenty of incredible restaurants popping up all across the Capital, it’s confirmed that there’s always something delicious to eat within just distance. It would be impossible to list every single great dish available in London, but we’ve compiled a selection of our absolute favourites, featuring big budget luxuries at high-end restaurants through to cheap eats from humble Bakeries.
Peas & Mint at Dabbous, W1T
One of the most exciting things about the food at Ollie Dabbous’ restaurant is the chef’s fantastic use of Vegetables. Not forgetting the range of dishes that use few, albeit bold, ingredients, and his evident love of foraged fare. The most delicious of which is Peas & Mint. Made up of four key components: an ice-cold Pea Mousse, a complimenting Mint Granita, fresh cooked and raw Peas and a Pea and Mint oil, topped with a handful of pretty foliage. The result is a combination of cold and warm flavours that work in absolute harmony, working as the perfect palate cleanser to begin an incredible meal at Dabbous. What’s more, if you struggle to get a table (it’s likely) the dish is available on the menu of Oskar’s Bar downstairs, which offers a taste of upstairs’ food in a more casual environment.
£8. dabbous.co.uk. Nearest Tube: Goodge Street.Photo: David Loftus
Eggs Benedict at The Wolseley, W1J
We’ve recently reported on The Wolseley and our love for their Eggs Benedict. Available as part of the restaurant’s famous breakfast menu, the dish is also served all the way until closure at midnight. The large portion features two toasted English Muffins topped with luscious Ham, Perfectly poached Eggs and a generous drizzle of creamy Hollandaise sauce that’s topped with chopped Chives and a smattering of Cayenne Pepper. £14.50 may sound expensive for a breakfast course or light Lunch, but trust us: the dish is worth every penny.
£7.50/£14.50 (small/large). thewolseley.com. Nearest Tube: Green Park.
Beef Wellington at Bob Bob Ricard, W1F
Be prepared to splash out if you’re visiting Bob Bob Ricard for dinner, especially if you plan on sampling the restaurant’s famous “press for Champagne” button in each booth, and if you’re keen on tasting one of the city’s finest Beef Wellingtons. Available for two to share and priced at £44.50 per head, the luxurious dish also takes 45 minutes to prepare, but it’s well worth the wait. A reasonably sized slab of 28-day aged fillet (be sure to order Medium-Rare, as recommended) is encased by perfectly cooked Puff Pastry, a smearing of Mushroom Duxelle and a thin Crepe that’s placed between the Pastry and its filling. The result is absolutely delicious. If only the restaurant could create a “press for Beef Wellington” button and install it into all of our homes.
£44.50 per head. bobbobricard.com. Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus.
Fresh Truffle Tagliolini with Cacio & Pepe at Tartufi & Friends, SW1X
Working as a supplement between starters and mains, the Tagliolini at Tartufi & Friends’ first London restaurant (in Harrods, of course) does seem expensive, but trust us on this one: it’s worth every penny. A mound of fresh Tagliolini is served dressed in a subtle Cheese and Pepper sauce and topped with a generous shaving of seasonal Truffles.
£29. harrods.com. Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge.
Breakfast ‘Number Two’ at ‘SMITHS’ of Smithfield, EC1M
Our favourite Full English Breakfast in London comes from ‘SMITHS’ of Smithfield. Set up by John Torode (best known as a MasterChef judge) a Spitalfields outpost has opened in recent years, although the original branch (just feet away from Smithfield Meat market) is the finest. Inside the four-floor restaurant, the ground floor Café is both stylish and casual, lending an enjoyable atmosphere for a Weekend Brunch. As for the food, their Breakfast that’s simply titled “Number Two” features Bacon, Beans, the most incredible Sausage we’ve ever tried, Tomatoes, Black Pudding, Bubble & Squeak, Mushrooms, Toast and your choice of Egg. We recommend the Buttery Scrambled Egg that’s served on top of the toast. What’s even more exciting, its available up until 5pm for late risers.
£9. smithsofsmithfield.co.uk. Nearest Tube: Barbican.
Roast Beef, Potatoes and Cheddar at Red Cow Carvery, SE10
Having been trading for almost eight years, the Red Cow Carvery is king of street food stalls at Greenwich Market. Having began by selling homemade Ice Cream, the stall’s on-the-go Beef roast dinners are brilliant. Options include a Roast Beef Sandwich, Steak Burger, and a Salt Beef special, while our personal favourite is the Roast Beef dinner that’s served in a box and ready to eat right away. Tender strips of Roast Beef (British or Irish Rump Steak) are cooked in Onions and mixed Spices, served with New Potatoes cooked in a generous amount of Thyme and Parsley, a Yorkshire Pudding, Rosemary Gravy and the optional topping of flame-melted Cheddar Cheese. The result is absolutely divine, not to mention being well worth the trip down to Greenwich.
£7. Nearest Tube: Cutty Sark DLR.
Banana Tart with Crème Fraiche and Macadamia at The Richmond, E8
Brett Redman opened his first Hackney restaurant earlier in the year, placed on the crossroads between Dalston, Hackney, Haggerston and London Fields. Renowned for their Oyster selection, the main menu focus is Fish, however if you manage to save room for dessert, the Banana Tart is an absolute must-try. A mixture of perfectly ripened Banana and Brown sugar fills the Buttery short-crust tart, resembling Pumpkin Pie in texture, while a dollop of Crème Fraiche topped with Macadamia nuts manages to balance the flavours while the nuts add another texture to the delightful pudding.
£6. therichmondhackney.com. Nearest Tube: Haggerston/Dalston Junction Overground.
Big Daddy Pizza at NY Fold, WC2H
With his own Pizza Empire running within his hometown of New York, Bruno DiFabio has recently opened his first London restaurant – NY Fold – with plans to expand further into the city. As expected, the menu is mainly based around good old NY Pizza, our favourite of which is the Big Daddy. Available by the slice or you can go crazy and order the whole 16-inch Vegetarian Pizza that’s topped with fresh Spinach, Artichoke hearts, White Onion, Mozzarella, a touch of Lemon and plenty of Garlic, completely forfeiting the need for a Tomato base.
£4.20/£23. Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Road/Leicester Square.Photo: Nadia Yates
BBQ Pork Buns at Kowloon Bakery, W1D
Perched on the corner of Chinatown’s famous Gerrard Street, Kowloon Bakery offers some of the best BBQ Pork Buns that we’ve ever tasted. The service is outrageously sharp and often rude, and you’re bound to become involved in a mad scramble for the kitchen’s tasty gems, but it’s all worth it. Priced at a reasonable £1.30, the sweet glazed Buns are filled with a rich BBQ/Hoisin Sauce that coats the delicious Pork filling. The bakery also serves a range of delicious cakes, including Sesame Donuts and a cloud-like slab of steamed Sponge Cake.
£1.30. chinatownlondon.org. Nearest Tube: Leicester Square.
Madeleines at St. John, EC1M
Available from St. John’s Smithfield mother ship, opened in 1994, as well as their Spitalfields Bread & Wine restaurant, St. John’s Madeleines are nothing short of sensational. Best eaten straight from the oven and dipped into a glass of Vielle Prune Brandy. They’re available in batches of either half a dozen or twelve, but you’ll regret ordering any less than the full dozen.
£4.50/£9 (half dozen/dozen). stjohngroup.uk.com. Nearest Tube: Barbican.
Cheese Fries at Shake Shack, WC2E & E20
Shake Shack first arrived in London a couple of years ago, opening their first UK outpost in the city’s vibrant Covent Garden. Since then, the chain has gone from strength to strength and opened another restaurant, this time in Stratford’s Westfield Shopping Centre. As the name suggests, Shake Shack’s Milkshakes are good, although it’s their Cheese Fries that are the most exciting. Crinkle Cut and seasoned to perfection, then covered in Shake Shack’s delicious gloopy Cheddar Cheese sauce. The result is unbelievably rich and calorific, but everyone deserves a treat every now and then.
£3.95. shakeshack.com. Nearest Tube: Covent Garden & Stratford.
Salt Beef Bagel at Beigel Bake, E1
There’s a reason why Beigel Bake at the Bethnal Green end of Brick Lane is constantly busy. It’s not the fact that it’s literally open 24/7, nor is it because you’re able to buy a meal for two and receive change from a £10 note. It’s their absolute delicious Bagels. The Salmon and Cream Cheese filling is great, although it’s the Salt Beef that all of the fuss is about. Deliciously moist and tender, the Beef is carved in front of a queue of hungry customers, piled into a freshly made Bagel with Mustard and Pickles.
£3.70. Nearest Tube: Shoreditch High Street Overground.Photo: Dominic Rowntree
Apple and Cinnamon Sesame-Seed Dumplings at Hutong, SE1
Available as part of the dessert menu from London’s Hutong, located within The Shard, these crisp-shelled Dumplings are Sesame Seed-coated, offering a umami taste, while the Apple and Cinnamon paste filling delivers on contrasting sweetness. These Golf ball-sized treats are so good, in fact, that a portion of three is nowhere near enough: they’re also the perfect palate cleanser to follow the restaurant’s signature Sichuanese cooking with some exhilarating spices.
£5.80. hutong.co.uk. Nearest Tube: London Bridge.
Onion Rings at MEATliquor, W1G
As the queues would suggest, just about everything on the menu at MEATliquor is delicious. Some of London’s best Burgers, Chili Cheese Fries topped with Beef Chili, Jalapenos, Cheese and Mustard, and then there’s the Onion Rings. Simply labeled as “big & fluffy”, there are few more words to use in conjunction with describing the dish. Arriving on a metal tray, the Onion Rings are absolutely huge; the inside is great, as is the crispy Batter. A perfect side that’s well worth the wait for a table.
£3.50. meatliquor.com. Nearest Tube: Bond Street.
Green Tea Chocolate Fondant at Chai Wu, SW1X
The Green Tea Fondant is the perfect way to end a luxurious Chinese meal at Chai Wu, on the fifth floor of Harrods. The dessert takes 15 minutes to prepare, but it’s well worth the wait. Upon diving in, a rich green puddle of Green Tea Chocolate floods from the middle of the Fondant and oozes across the plate, served with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream as well as a delightfully refreshing Passion Fruit half.
£8. chaiwu.co.uk. Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge.