One word to describe London’s vibrant food scene – ‘multicultural’. In the aftermath of Brexit, I processed that ‘leave’ vote by comfort eating. My guide to what to eat, where, for London, continues (clearly, part 1 wasn’t enough).
Yotam Ottolenghi‘s newest place is swankier than his usual delis, with a clean canvas of white textured walls for the colours of his Israeli/North African/Mediterranean flavours to pop. For breakfast or brunch try the ‘shakshuka’ – a wholesome cast iron skillet with a slightly tangy tomato and cumin sauce, peppers, braised eggs (with perfectly runny yolks) and topped with smooth smoked labneh to cut through the spice. Served with two slices of house-made sourdough to soak up all that fragrant, saucy goodness.
21-22 Warwick Street, W1B 5NE
Monday – Friday 8am-12pm; 12pm-2:45pm; 5:30pm-10:30pm; Saturday 10am-11:30am; 12pm-5:30pm; 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sunday 10am-12pm; 12p-4pm
Good Wine Shop
Tucked away in little Kew (which is a quaint, green, picturesque part of London), is the Good Wine Shop, and they sell…wine! Sommelier, Derek Morrison, has an impressive array of international wines, and has been on a mission to highlight Canada’s best wine region, The Okanagan (which is where I live, and yes, Canada produces wine). Super knowledgeable, friendly service, and they offer tasting events too.
2 Royal Parade, Station Approach, Kew, TW9 3QD
Sunday – Monday 11am-8pm; Tuesday – Saturday 10am-9pm
Located by Spitalfields Market, Som Saa is the newest Thai baby on the block. Unlike the other ‘watered down’ chain Thai restaurants in the city, Som Saa specializes in regional Northern Thai and Isaan cuisine. Their dishes pack a punch with uncompromising flavours, and ‘Pad Thai’ is nowhere to be seen! Som Saa opened thanks to a crowd-funding campaign, and the two chefs aren’t even Thai! Having trained under legendary chef, David Thompson of Nahm, their approach is reminiscent of Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker, and it’s legit. Order the ‘mu yaang’ – grilled pork neck with sour fruit ‘nahm jim’ dipping sauce. Think tender smoky pork that you dip into a fresh, savoury, tangy, spicy dressing made with fish sauce, lime juice, chilli and cilantro – everything you expect from Northern Thai cuisine and more.
43A Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BD
Tuesday – Friday 12pm-2:30pm; Monday – Sunday 5pm-late
Everybody Love Love Jhal Muri Express
Whilst filming in Kolkata, Angus Denoon stumbled across ‘Jhal Muri’ – a street snack that is sweet, savoury, spicy, tangy and crunchy. It’s the ultimate ‘fast food’, that is even nutritiously good for you. And so ‘Everybody Love Love Jhal Muri Express’ was born, and Angus has been wheeling his trolley across London to share its magic.
“It’s got a magic to it, Jhal Muri has a magic. It very well balanced, and ultimately at the end of the day, like anything with good care and love, people respond to that. All the flavours here are very simple, but they work as one. When you come and look after all the different flavours, the tastes, the textures, something happens. It’s a game of how to make food alive and this really makes food alive, very fresh. The way you chop it and make it to order, there’s a certain spell and space. And the spell is you get hypnotized by the sounds, and you know you have your little tricks, you make a little noise and add some music and incense, so you create this magic and space. So, they come into your own little world, then people watch you make it and eat, and for 5 minutes they’re taken to somewhere else. That’s what you’re trying to do when you’re a chef – make food that takes people higher. For me, food should take you somewhere. Often you work in a restaurant or wherever and that’s very hard.”
Angus Denoon [owner, Everybody Love Love Jhal Muri Express]
Social Eating House/The Blind Pig
Jason Atherton is one of my favourite UK-based chefs. The once protégé of Gordon Ramsay, has built an empire of high quality, Michelin Star, British produce supporting restaurants, with quirky cocktails by mixologist, Gareth Evans. If you’re looking for a Michelin Star experience, lunchtime is the way to go. Social Eating House is home to one of the best value lunches, with a set 2 course menu for £22. In terms of the cocktails, try ‘Dill or No Dill’ with Tanqueray gin, smashed cucumber, elderflower syrup, lemon juice, fresh dill, smoked salt, or ‘The Buck Stops Here’ with Bulleit Rye, Fernet Branca, lemon, maple ale reduction, ginger ale, and dollar dollar bills.
58 Poland Street, Soho, W1F 7NR
Monday – Saturday 12pm-2:30pm; 6pm-10:30pm
Firstly, Neal’s Yard, with its cobbled streets and brightly coloured buildings, is a cool area to explore and hang out. And now there is another excuse, The Barbary – 24-seats wrap around the open plan kitchen at the heart of the restaurant. There is no hiding. But, The Barbary doesn’t need to hide. The boundary-pushing Israeli restaurant delivered with solid service and tapas style eats, even at a premature 6 weeks old. I love bread, so their ‘naan-e-beber’ got me excited. You may say ‘it’s just bread’, but it effortlessly lifts everything on their menu. Made with simply 4 ingredients – flour, sugar, salt and yeast, it’s cooked to order and charred in a tandoor, then smothered with a lashing of butter.
16 Neal’s Yard, WC2H 9DP
Monday – Friday 12pm–3pm; 5-10pm; Saturday 12pm-10pm; Sunday 12pm-9.30pm
[All meals were paid for in full]