The French are upset, apparently.
London has been voted a better gastronomic city than Paris, and even English cheese has come out ahead of French cheese. Personally I think Paris wins for ambience, as London restaurants often involve sitting in gloomy interiors.
What I don’t like; restaurants for the Ladies Who Lunch (and don’t eat), Chelsea & Ken restaurants full of nannies, celebrity chefs who never cook in their restaurants, awful South Bank chain restaurants.
What I do like; funky East End, Brick Lane Ruby Murrays, Central gastros like the Eagle and The Pie Room (where they filmed ‘Peeping Tom’), everything in Exmouth Market. But here’s a recommendation list for the centre of the capital. I don’t need to drop in links, do I?
PS See ‘Nostalgia 2: Still Here’ post for my favourite wine bar with food, although the Boot & Flogger comes a close second.
1. The Fellow
Named after a horse, this busy King’s Cross bar/restaurant is my local default for consistently good dining in a cosy atmosphere perfect for wasting a winter afternoon. Free papers, free water, companionable staff, daily changing menus, good value.
2. The Dean Street Townhouse
When the rather glamorous DST opened it felt as if it had been there forever, but on the site before was a rubbish Pitcher & Piano. Now this New York-vibed restaurant offers Soho House food (hardly surprising as it’s owned by them) with comfort dishes – when was the last time you had a plate of mince?
3. Bob Bob Ricard
‘London’s Diner Deluxe’, an Anglo-Russian 13 hour-a-day comfort food menu and that 2lb lobster-and-chips brunch, plus funky decor – what’s not to love?
4. The Provodores
The Kiwi heart of Marylebone High St – no-book downstairs and shared tables, serious NZ dining in the upstairs parlour.
5. St John
Awesome nose-to-tail food in an ascetic setting in St John Street, where everything you order, including the veg, looks scarily meaty. Not for the squeamish or those who like tastefully presented ladyfood.
6. The Breakfast Club
You always have to queue but it’s London’s top breakfast joint, as much for the funky buzz as the huge, international and inexpensive breakfasts. I liked their mince pie coffee. Camden Passage (which is not in Camden, remember)
7. Randall & Auban
Probably Soho’s only disco-seafood restaurant. Long queues, shared tables, fresh seafood, mirrorballs, hot waiters. Try not to dance while going for the crab platter.
9. The London Chinatown
Man, it’s so not pretty, but this Gerrard Street institution is the only way to dim sum. Why pay Yauatcha prices when the food here will cost you a tenner a head? Any Chinese eating here? Oh yes!
Good luck finding this one. It’s down a cul-de-sac off Upper Street and seems to do a Brigadoon every time I look for it. New owners, great Italian food – have the rabbit and the chocolate sausage, then roll home.