The London Evening Standard has published its list of the top 20 London dishes to tick off of your bucket list and we are proud in this office to have tried 10 of them! Now for the next 10…
Article by Kate Lough
“London one-upmanship is now all about food. You can’t log on to Instagram without being bombarded with heavily filtered pictures of the queue at Barrafina (‘#worthit’) or anniversary selfies of couples tucking into duck and waffle at, er, Duck & Waffle. If you haven’t tried the crab doughnuts at Chiltern Firehouse you’ll be met with derisive laughter and semi-serious exclamations of “then you haven’t lived!”
But with trendy pop-ups popping up on a daily basis and ever-more ludicrous food trends hitting London’s menus (world’s most expensive burger, anyone?) it’s hard to sort the delicious wheat from the faddish chaff on London’s food scene. What’s really worth trying and what’s just a case of your friends showing off about going the latest hot restaurant?
To help with these first world problems, here are 20 London dishes (in no particular order) to tick off your bucket list, so the next time you’re asked if you’ve tried Heston’s Meat Fruit at Dinner, you can roll your eyes and say: obvs.”
- Kid goat methi at Gymkhana
WHY: Gymkhana has just won its first Michelin star and was voted national restaurant of the year at the National Restaurant Awards 2014. In fact no-one seems to have a bad word to say about it. The dish that everyone talks about? the kid goat methi keema, which Grace Dent says is ‘essentially a small serving of rich stew with bread rolls, but [it] is far greater than the sum of its parts’.
- Duck and Waffle at Duck & Waffle
WHY: It’s a case of ‘when in Rome’ with this signature dish. A warm chewy waffle topped with succulent crispy-skinned duck confit, a runny fried egg and mustard maple syrup hits all the right sweet and savoury buttons. It shouldn’t work but it really does.
- Jerusalem-style polenta at The Palomar
WHY: Grace Dent said this jar of truffle oil-laced polenta with mushroom, parmesan and asparagus was ‘death row-dinner good’ and she’s not wrong. You’ll need to order one each as it’s not something you’ll want to share.
- Eggs Benedict at The Wolseley
WHY: Because you won’t find better eggs Benedict in London — they toast the muffins just so, get the Hollandaise just right and you can order it until midnight. The ham is good, but swap it for saltier, crispy bacon — it’s a very swanky way to cure a hangover.
PRICE: £14.50 for the large
- Beef Wellington at Bob Bob Ricard
WHY: Ordering the pinker-than-pink Beef Wellington for Two is just what one does at BBR. Just like one dresses elegantly and presses the button at one’s table for more champagne. Splendid.
PRICE: £39.75 per person
- Crab doughnuts at Chiltern Firehouse
WHY: Is there any other London restaurant that has come close to matching Chiltern Firehouse’s column inches this year? here’s what to order when you got one of those over-hyped tables in six months’ time: a plate of warm crab-filled doughnuts which Fay Maschler declared the best of the snacks and ‘more like brioche buns with a dusting of crab coral’. One plate won’t be enough.
PRICE: £6 for 3
- Ari Gold at Patty Bun
WHY: When it comes to burgers, the ‘Ari Gold’ cheeseburger is a testament to the philosophy that good quality, simple ingredients work best. A perfect patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled onion, ketchup, Smoky Patty & Bun mayo, sandwiched in a brioche bun that people are prepared to queue for over an hour for. Amen.
PRICE: £9.50 (add bacon for 50p)
- Steak tartare at Bistrotheque
WHY: Finely chopped raw beef topped with a very yellow yolk isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (or Bovril), but a concierge at The Dorchester told me it was his go-to supper so I had to give it a whirl. I never order anything else despite multiple visits back. Comes with salty skinny fries and a green salad.
- Shepherd’s pie at The Ivy
WHY: This celebrity hotspot deals in comforting, unpretentious dishes and the Shepherd’s pie epitomises this ethos. A splash of red wine in the mince gives a nice boozy kick.
- Coddled hen’s egg at Dabbous
WHY: When Ollie Dabbous opened his eponymous restaurant in 2012, Fay Maschler gave it five stars and called it a game changer. The third course of the tasting menu is coddled egg with mushrooms and smoked butter and it’s indescribably delicious.
PRICE: Course three of the £64 tasting menu
- Meat Fruit at Dinner
WHY: A dish that continues to wow, Heston Blumenthal’s Meat Fruit takes its inspiration from c 1500 and combines mandarin, chicken liver and foie gras parfait and resembles a mandarin. Genius. Comes with a hunk of grilled bread.
- Soy chicken wings at Rita’s
WHY: The super-sticky sauce on these Rita’s wings is so damn tasty you’ll find it hard to wait for these puppies to cool down. You can ask, but chef and co-owner Gabriel Pryce will never tell you the secret recipe for this soy and ginger marinade.
PRICE: Five wings for £6
- Hawksmoor Breakfast at Hawksmoor Guildhall
- WHY: Our in-house breakfast pro Richard Godwin rates this as the best in London. Only available at the Guildhall outpost of Hawksmoor, this meal for two involves various bits of rare breed pig as well as roast bone marrow and short-rib bubble and squeak. Order the Corpse Reviver #2 if you need a hair of the dog.
PRICE: £35 for two
- Black Cod at Zuma
WHY: Yes it’s astronomically expensive, but when that kindly Russian oligarch invites you to dinner at Zuma you need to be prepared. The signature dish is a meaty yet delicate fillet of miso-marinated black cod and has a reassuringly expensive truffley taste.
- Santa Margherita at Santa Maria Pizzeria
WHY: Like our burgers, pizzas are best when they’re kept simple. When it’s the real Neopolitan deal, like in Ealing’s Santa Maria, it has to be a margherita. They use fresh mozzarella fior di latte (from cows’ milk), classic Caputo flour from Naples and tomatoes from the San Marzano area (ideal for tomato paste). All it takes is 45 seconds in the 500 degree oven. Bellissima.
- Buttermilk Fried Chicken at Clove Club
WHY: Isaac McHale’s version of posh chicken nuggets are plump and luscious, with the juiciness and flavour you only get from chicken that’s had a happy free-range life. This dish separates itself from the hordes of other posh fried chicken by being beautifully presented and having the brilliant addition of pine salt in the crunchy coating.
PRICE: £7.20 at the bar or part of £55 tasting menu
- Milk-fed lamb’s brain at Barrafina Adelaide Street
WHY: The second branch of Sam and Eddie Hart’s Spanish restaurant was recently awarded a Michelin star and has the queues to prove it. Go for an early sitting if you want to be in with a chance of ordering the milk-fed lamb’s brain: a dish filled with ‘lovable softness’, as Fay Maschler described it in her five star review.
- Chocolate Nemesis at River Café
WHY: Our food editor Victoria Stewart says this is glorious. ‘Fudgey, gooey, dark, rich and deeply, deeply naughty — and there’s no need for more than one slice.’
- Egg, Ham and Peas at Berners Tavern
WHY: A playful little dish at Jason Atherton’s restaurant at the sexy London EDITION hotel that combines smoked Dingley Dell ham hock and a lightly-breadcrumbed soft boiled egg on a bed of mushy peas, accessorised with watercress. The only snag is you’ll have to wait until spring when peas are back in season and it’s back on the menu…
- Grilled cheese sandwich at Sager + Wilde
WHY: Because there are few things more comforting in winter than a cheese toastie and this one is the bomb. It’s made from one day old bread from the nearby E5 Bakehouse and a generous amount of mixed cheddars. Add a couple of glasses of red and your evening is sorted.
Original article published in Evening Standard here
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