From the owners of Singh beer, Asian Street food a fusion of East meets West. A restaurant impossible to not want to try! Just when you thought London had every single type of restaurant you could ever imagine, something slightly different begs for you to try. This is the first of its kind in Europe. The original mother-ship is in Bangkok and more focused on street food. I like the authenticity of having a restaurant in London that has previously only existed in Thailand. Pacata is located right in the heartbeat of The city; theatre land and shopping central – Covent Garden. It is tucked down a glorious side street so far enough away from the crowds but still with plenty of vibes!
This should simply be described as a treasure trove, not least due to the delicious food but also the intricate interior. It is filled with interesting vintage pieces as if from someone’s home. The menu has been designed by the world’s first and only Michelin starred ramen chef, Yasuji Morizumi. He is a man who has a deep understanding of Asian food and is particularly passionate about the fusion of foods from different cultures and the actual moment when the fusion occurs during the cooking process.
To start, the popcorn chicken and chicken satays are mouthwatering, I can honestly say they are the most succulent, melt-in-mouth chicken satays I have ever tasted (and I have tasted quite a few.) Both of these dishes are so addictive, we had to order doubles! For the main event, after knowing who has designed the menu, you are drawn to try the ramen. An alternative is to make sure one person in your group chooses it so at least you can sample it. My friend did the honours! It did not disappoint, with the perfect balance of creaminess from the coconut and punch from the chilli. I chose the seabass. How western I hear you say! However, not at Pacata as it was served with a choice of massaman or green thai curry sauce. Again with this fusion dish, it is the balance of flavours and the lightness of the fish with the fragrant curry sauce that makes this dish a complete dream.
The dessert menu is largely based around green tea. Don’t be put off, embrace it! The green tea brownie served with green tea ice cream is a real treat. This is a dessert which doesn’t leave you feeling uber guilty. In fact, it almost felt nourishing but was still a glorious treat. How refreshing to have a different take on the queen of British desserts – the brownie.
I love the creativity of the whole menu and the new flavours that creative flair brings. I must also mention the cocktails. Like the food, they are super creative and most include a hint of Singh beer which may sound odd but makes for a refreshing crazy drink. Pacata is perfect a respite during retail therapy in Central London -ideal for pre/post theatre and also a great date option!
I had heard too many whispers about H and C not to be bursting at the seams excited. I had tried to get a reservation most weeks for about 3 months. With only 20 covers, you can understand why it is tricky. Six people, 6.30pm, Warren Street on a Thursday in March. An unlikely location, sort of no man’s land, which makes H and C stand out even more – a diamond amongst coal.
I was so overwhelmed by this restaurant that I feel anything I write will not do this gem enough justice. Owned by an Israeli couple, the wife ex Ottolengi. The menu is ever changing but a fusion of all the best Middle Eastern cuisine. To start, we chose the shared mezze which, in most cases, is fairly standard. It is always delicious but never an ongoing talking point. Not here, sure ok, the favourites all make an appearance, hummus, falafel and olives but punctuated by fresh salads with added fruit and nuts and perfectly heated pitta that tasted like it was fresh from the Middle East. For main, after much deliberation, I went for beef brisket dumplings served with pistachio and pomegranate; quite simply, this dish blew my mind. I wanted it to last forever, I wanted to eat it at every meal time. The meat was tender and perfectly placed in delicious dumplings that were not too heavy and the pistachios and pomegranate worked harmoniously to add the extra wow factor to the dish. I realise I am passionate about food but this was honestly one of the best dishes I have ever tasted. Other highlights were the lamb shawarma brick and the rabbit. Exquisite!
Dessert is also a must despite how satisfied you feel. Again, changing daily but there is always an interesting fruity, nutty creation which will complete your H&C experience in exactly the right way.The perfect place to go with anyone you want to impress or someone you cherish, or someone you don’t particularly cherish. Larger groups are tricky owing to the cosy size and better to savour every moment amongst a smaller group. This really is a special place where you can feel the high level of love that goes into every aspect of this restaurant and honey is the perfect name, so SWEET!
This gastro pub is from the EVER expanding Polpo empire. All of Russ’s restaurants so far have been very distinctive with small sharing plates as the main focus. The talk of London, how would this work in a pub? Located in arguably the centre of central London, Cambridge Circus where Covent Garden meets Soho. It is in the heart of shopping/theatre/officeland. When I think of Polpo, I think small and fighting for a table. At the A &B, bagging a table aspect hasn’t changed that much but size most definitely has. This is large, set over 3 floors with 4 different bars and 2 areas to eat. The menu really is gastro pub, with all your naughty faves; prawn cocktail, pies and burgers. Some polponess does shine through in the side orders – roasted beets with kale pesto (oh hi California) and the truffle chips are beyond divine. You have to leave space for some good olde English puds – apple and black current crumble, sticky date pudding and flourless choc cake (not so traditional English, more Cali!)
Imagine when a tourist comes to London and quickly want to tick traditional pub off their to do list, yet unknowingly wander into a weathersppons or brewers fayre. This is where they should end up, a pub for London to be proud of with good atmosphere in a central location and excellent food to match, landlords listen up! Oh and Londoners this is not just for tourists, no of course not, you will love it for after work just drinks that turns into the best meal you have had in a while.
My week in LA seemed at some points to centre around getting to RAW. We managed it on the last day.
Set in not the prettiest of locations right on the busy Santa Monica boulevard, at the front of a small shopping mall. Similar to Segal you can sit outside in the sunshine but you will only have views of the highway. Any thoughts about the view will vanish quickly when you are presented with the menu. Never have I seen so many healthy, nutritious, wheat free AND still enticingly delicious options in one single menu. Also with such a wide range of culinary inspirations – American, Mexican, Italian and Japanese which should be off putting but in this environment it somehow works. The choice was too much and we were too intrigued so we ordered quite a few dishes to share.
My main choice was one of the RAW sandwiches, delicious vegetables in between large flaxseed crackers, seasoned with Mexiacn spices – completely delicious and the best feeling knowing every aspect of your meal is nurturing your body in some way. the sushi was another highlight, different but tasty and purifying. Now to the drinks, this will blow your mind, it has to be one of the best in the world for ingredients, variety and health!
After much consideration focussing around taste but also health benefits the drink would give me, I went for instant detox potion (hibiscus, slippery elm bark, milk thistle seed, cascara sagrada, apple juice & lemon) The taste was completely unrecognisable for me, at first I didn’t enjoy it, but the detox potion quickly grew on me. For me planet raw sums up California – healthy, zaney and nutrious and trip to LA would not be complete without coming here
A Hollywood hangout, the cafe is part of a Cali based clothing retailer, at first I thought a random place for a brunch/lunch with the outside terrace over looking a not particularly picturesque parking lot. but hey it’s LA and this place is cool so there! As with most places in LA, Fred’s has lots of delicious healthy options yet not so healthy no taste! Perfect green juices and gluten free pasta if you so desire. So it is healthy but with a few naughty nuggets and in fitting with the US of A LARGE portions.
I ordered scrambled eggs on brioche you could decide if this came with salad and fresh fruit salad or salad and chips. I went with the former, a first to have eggs, fruit and salad but of course it went delightfully and now the only way I desire scrambled eggs to be served! The crowd here as with what seems like everywhere in LA is super cool, Biches and vibes all over the show, you will definitely bump into a movie star or some such like. Marvellous Melrose!
A catch up with friends I haven’t seen forever, somewhere new and fun in Soho, the classic age old question?
Chotto Matte. It opened late in 2013, from the owners of Nobu and ping pong and I guess this fits nicely in the middle. Soho restaurants more often than not – QUEUES and can only seat 12 people, refreshingly this is neither. You can make a reservation and the restaurant is set across 2 large, gapingly modern floors. It kind of has a nightclub feel inside, everything is glass, dark and conceptual with splashes of neon modern art.
What about the food, I hear your cry? Well it is a fusion (course it is) Japanese and Peruvian, which is new to new to me and I am pleased to say is one of the most glorious of mixes. The menu is built for sharing, they recommend 3 dishes per person, I would say you may need 4. The menu ranges from standard sushi and terreyaki dishes to far more interesting concoctions. I had the most delicious vegetable tartar, is that even possible, YES! Dishes I had never heard of , nehi? Try them it’s fun, a new fusion to London where I guarantee you will learn something, eat beyond delicious food and be surrounded by a super buzzy atmosphere AND you can make a reservation.
The fusion fashion is ON!
The plane ride to Corfu is the baseball hat crew vs. the panama hat possey, in other words Cavos Crusaders vs. Agni Adorers . My first trip to Corfu and I was somewhere in the middle, albeit further towards the panama hats. I think most would agree when they think of the restaurant scene in Greece they immediately picture traditional tavernas serving taramasalata, Greek salad and moussaka, nothing better. Or is there? Soon after landing in Corfu i became aware of the ‘foodie’ village – AGNI, more a beach side than a village, consisting of 3 tavernas, all similar vibes. We chose Taverna Agni and soon realise that boat was the best way to arrive here, the restaurant has its own jetty as well as a taxi boat service from the nearby towns. The menu was very similar to any standard Greek taverna but the food was far from standard, rivaling some of my best meals. If you don’t order fish here, you won’t order it anywhere. The seafood platter is a dream or just order a large bass or bream for the table and all dig in! The starters cannot be glossed over, lightly fried courgettes and sardines stuffed with feta cheese were highlights oh and the chalked up dessert board is too alluring to turn a blind eye. the restaurant was over spilling in late September, compared to most of the other restaurants at this time of year, that boarder on boring due to being so empty. Taverna Agni was full of fun and buzzing even in low season. At first glance this may look like your typical Greek seaside taverna, well it is definitely one of the best I have been to!
Do not be scared by the name, Flesh and Buns is the mastermind of Japanese restaurant royalty Ross Shonhan (ex Head chef of Nobu and Zuma) This is his second London restaurant, the first Bone Daddies a ramen bar in Soho.
Flesh and buns is dedicated to the HIRATA BUN – a Taiwanese steamed bun that is served DIY with different meat and fish. This is different to any other restaurant in London right now and is something new and fresh if you think you have had enough of the London scene or simply want to remind yourself what a treat the London scene truly is.
To start you can choose from your standard sushi – ish options, all wonderful but not Nobu. For the main event you can choose a range of different meats and fishes, all of which are served with the most tantalisingly sounding sauces you ever did hear – chicken with yuzu kosho rub or seabass with coriander miso. Each of these comes with a Japanese salad and you need to order the hallowed buns separately. They are delicious, packed with flavours and new sensations.
The restaurant is filled with a fun vibe and was overflowing on a cold Tuesday night. Where isn’t in London? One more thing you HAVE to order the S’MORE for dessert. Based on the popular American desert the Japanese twist here is green tea flavoured Chocolate and it comes with your very own table top fire to roast the marshmallows. I need one NOW. The perfect place for a catch up with friends, a fun date or even a large party.
Sunday night blues? Want to eat something homely, slightly naughty but not Saturday night naughty?
Chicken Shop is nestled in a corner of North West London otherwise known as trendy Kentish Town. Chicken shop is an offspring of the Soho House group, hidden away in the basement below Pizza East. A restaurant where food envy is not a problem, this place only serves chicken and cooks every piece in the same way, roasted on a spit.
Your first decision would you like a whole, half or quarter chicken and secondly what would you like with it? Chips, corn on the cob and avocado salad are all good options. we ordered a whole chicken between 3 of us, it is served one one plate broken down into all the different joints, ready for you to dig in. The chicken is delicious, it tastes fresh tender and lovingly cooked! Of course being part of Soho House the look of the restaurant is perfect and an excited vibe as people try a new concept of the most simple of menus.
The rustic shabby chic feel works well and I Love the open plan kitchen so you can see, smell, inhale the chicken roasting in the very same room. In this place more than any other you are so thankful for the Cowshed handsoap and lotion because you haven’t eaten properly unless your hands are DIRTY! Low key and fun, perfect for a Sunday or early week supper.
So apart from the burger ribs trend that has taken London by storm again this year, what else? PERUVIAN.
Ceviche was something that ashamedly I had not really tried before and what better place for my first time. Ceviche is buzzy and vibey, as soon as you walk in you can tell you are in for a good night. The food menu is divine, the sea bass in wasabi tiger’s milk and scallops with pomegranate were personal favourites along with the quinoa salad and the octopus and chorizo skewers.
You have to wash down your food with pisco sours, they are truly the perfect accompaniment. There is such a fun atmosphere in the restaurant as people excitedly try these seafood concoctions but also the service is flawless, upbeat and perfectly attentive, they wanted me to leave with a spring in my step, which I certainly did. It is the freshness of the fish mixed with a variety of fruits that re-sets your taste buds. The restaurant is small, so best for small groups or couples who fancy letting their hair down and trying something new.
I am obsessed and so is Giles Coren, welcome to Peruvian paradise!
There are Pizza restaurants and then there are pizza restaurants, this is the latter. In one of my favourite London neighbourhoods – De Beauvoir.
This is not your normal neighbourhood pizza restaurant; it is clear the owner who also owns the now legendary De Beauvoir Deli opposite has done a lot of research on the authentic, dream pizzas. The decor is eclectic and works although the lino floor reminds me of my school canteen, in my case not such a bad thing! The piece de resistance at the back of the restaurant is the wood burning pizza oven. Interior quirkiness comes in the olive oil on tables decantered into old glass coca cola bottles.
The pizza menu is both true to Italia as well as some nouveau trendy toppings. I struggle to take pizza restaurants seriously unless they serve a MARINARA; a true Italian classic of tomatoes, oregano and enough garlic to make you single for life. Of course for Sweet Thursday this is top of the menu at the other end of the spectrum is ‘ LAD’ pizza which comprises mainly meat; prosciutto, sausage, porchetta and pancetta to be precise (So laddish!).
Sweet Thursday is doing something special with pizzas, even if this isn’t your local neighbourhood pay a visit for real, interesting, different and DIVINE pizza. Visit alone, in pairs or for a party it suits nearly all occasions and they do takeaway too! De Beauvoir you don’t know how lucky you are.
The Hut on the Isle of Wight, what are you thinking? A small wooden shack serving plain sandwiches and walls ice creams? Think again.
The Hut is located in Colwell bay near Freshwater and a stones throw from The Needles, the best part about the hut, the best way to arrive is by boat, weather Simon Cowell style super boat or smallest floating device you can find. I arrived courtesy of a friend’s valiant rib. We let down the anchor and were escorted ashore by one of the owners (YOU HAVE TO MAKE A RESERVATION) this is a small beach which you can imagine used to be low key and fairly undisturbed with a hut providing cold drinks and ice creams. That hut has been turned into something special; I kept making comparisons to Mediterranean equivalents. Most of the seating is outside, everything is whitewashed with glimpses of blue in the logo, water glasses and plates. The actual hut has been kept perfectly simple but with wonderful attention to detail, the door handles are large knots of robe the pull cord light switches have a beach hut on the end, the cutlery is served in a perfectly sized brown paper bag with the blue hut label stamped on.
The menu is similar to the decor, simple yet exactly what you fancy. It is dominated with seafood, mussels, crab, prawns and lobster, alongside meaty favourites ham hock for starters and a classic burger or pork belly for main. I went for gazpacho to start and half a lobster for main but as usual tried tasted a few others from either side. You cannot wrong with the lobster served with garlic mayonnaise and real chips. Washed down with a supreme Italian prossecco, take me BACK. The desserts didn’t blow me away; I had raspberries in white chocolate sauce. We arrived at the restaurant at 1:30pm and didn’t leave until 5pm that has to be the sign of a fantastic dining experience. Even if you have to row from the mainland this place is worth it.