Monday, 7 April 2014

London Bites: Part One

So, I’m quite a big foodie. If I could eat every meal in a restaurant, I would! Having worked in some of the best parts of London in the past, I grew quite a big belly by regularly sampling some of the best cuisine the capital had to offer. This post is the first in a series, which relates my personal recommendations of eateries in the city’s most popular districts. To begin, COVENT GARDEN. A part of London, which is well associated with old markets and piazza style architecture, is now renowned for many celebrated theatres, cobbled squares and a buzz of shoppers and tourists. In recent years, it has welcomed lavish fancies such as Ladurée and modern gastronomy with the grand opening of Shake Shack. But alas, none of my recommendations are these as they are all too obvious and quite frankly, slightly overrated.

1. Cast your minds over to Seven Dials, the part of Covent Garden that interests me the most! As the name insinuates, Seven Dials is a set of seven cobbled streets converging from a pillar which has six sun dials that stands in the center. It is one of these streets that plays host to Kopapa, a restaurant offering fusion food for morning, afternoon and evening. Having been in February, I instantly fell in love as soon the plate of food arrived to my table. They offer a variety of mouth-watering bites with an every changing menu which is filled with good wine, hearty breakfasts and small plates for that quick moment when you need to inhale some goodness in between meetings. Personal recommendation: For Sunday brunch, have a try of the Turkish eggs, any of the fry-ups and definitely the chocolate milkshake. Whatever you eat here, there’ll be a party in.  //

2. My second recommendation lies on Neal Street (and a few other locations in London) and was introduced to me by an old colleague who I will always thank dearly, because it’s one of the best hidden yet well known bars in London. Food is abundant and the wine lists are infamous at Pix which is inspired by Pintxos bars, which are commonly found in Barcelona and San Sebastian. Being a small and intimate space (my favorite of all the Pix bars), the bar is inevitably full nearly all of the time but if I remember correctly, reserving two seats in advance is still possible. Upon entering, you are greeted with an artisan table of tapas bites (lo and behold the Spanish influence) and you are welcome to help yourself to these small gulps of deliciousness at a ridiculously small price whilst drinking a bottle of exquisite wine or downing a dangerously good cocktail. The bar offers an informal atmosphere, coupled with a sense of sophistication and an appreciation for nibbling and drinking. It’s like dress down Fridays with lashings of champagne. Personal recommendation: a bottle of Condes de Abarei, Albarino with a plate of pintxos to share.  //

3. My third recommendation is Mishkin’s. A hidden gem parallel to Drury Lane, it is a brilliant eatery serving up Jewish classics (although oddly it is not kosher) with a treasure chest of gin cocktails. All I can really say about this restaurant is that it's so good you may not want to leave. Imagine yourself walking through London on a rainy day (this is really not difficult to imagine) and the wind is scratching your face and your belly is growling. Well, the remedy is a plate of comfort from good old Mishkin’s. If you haven’t been, get going. Personal recommendation: Macaroni and cheese topped with Colman’s and salt beef  and as I’m the gin queen I highly recommend Ezra’s Green Rose cocktail.  //

4. Number four is just so exciting. After countless failed attempts at visiting this amazing and fantabulously chic restaurant with my foodie partner in crime, I finally got there this weekend for my father’s 50th birthday celebration. And it really did make it a celebration. Balthazar blessed London with its presence in 2013 and it’s as if people have purposely forgotten the time before its existence. The service is impeccable, every waiter greets you as you walk in, your reservation is confirmed upon entering (it feels like a gentleman's food club) and you are shown to your table in the gloriously decadent décor that graces the walls of this magnificent eatery. The menu is simple French bistro food, but the taste is out of this world. There is something for everyone, and that something is trop classe, even down to the onion rings. Originally from New York, the restaurant has become the poised neighbor of the Royal Opera House. As my father said, ‘This place is where you would find Vito Corleone, Coco Chanel, Mr Gatsby… you know, those people who are just cool, suave and elegant.’ Personal recommendations: Moules marinières, pavlova, crème brulée, champagne. Basically the whole damn menu. And if you do happen to read that dastardly review on the restaurant by Guardian writer Jay Rayner, ignore it. //

5. My last recommendation is somewhat simpler and without all the decadent faff. But my oh my, the food lives up to all of that. Battersea Pie Station. I don’t even need to explain the food because 1. It’s obvious and 2. Anything you eat from here will satisfy your hunger and your taste buds. You’ll find it in the lower piazza and for goodness sake, get the mushy peas, mashed potato and gravy!  Personal recommendations: Beef and onion pie, mashed potato, peas and gravy. Perfection.  //

These of course, some of my favorites but Covent Garden has much more to offer than just these five picks. But if you ever feel lost in the terms of how to fill you stomach whilst in this part of London , why not give one of these devils a go? And for you coffee fiends out there don’t forget to try Monmouth Coffee on Monmouth Street (seven dials). 

If you have any food favorites around London let me know in the comments box below or tweet me, I’m always on the hunt for some new nosh!