By Lori Campbell
For burgers – Black Bear Burger, Boxpark Shoreditch or Streetfeast Canary Wharf)
Well well well I only went and had my favourite burger EVER! I had seen and heard so much about their burgers from all my foodie friends but this really was so much better than I expected, and as my mum would say; I inhaled it. So juicy, so tasty, so satisfying, I went for ‘The Black Bear’ (doubled obviously) with American cheese, onion jam, pancetta and garlic mayo which felt like it was melting in my mouth. I am even writing this with a smile on my face as I reminisce. Since I posted Black Bear on my Instagram there has been a lot of debate that their Brisket Burger is even better so watch out for next month’s review, I am excited!
For Pancakes – Sunday, Barnsbury
This little café in North London had been on my radar for months but I had been somewhat put off by the talk of an hour or so wait at the weekend (damn you no reservation restaurants). With a day off mid-week I visited post gym to devour the pancakes that everyone has been talking about. On this occasion, solo dining had its benefits and I got seated straight away at the window counter (natural lighting – check). As I came for one thing and one thing only, I didn’t need to take a look at the menu but I did find myself staring for an uncomfortable amount of time at the table next to me’s French toast so I can confirm that is what I will order when I next visit. This time it was the buttermilk pancakes served with berry compote, bacon, honeycomb butter and thankfully for me an abundance of maple syrup. It might not sound like it works but I can confirm these are the best pancakes I have had in London.
For Breakfast – Crispin, Spitalfields
If you have wandered round Spitalfields recently you may have noticed this peculiar geometric shaped building that houses Crispin, an all day and night destination that offers simple and seasonal dining. I ventured there for an early breakfast one morning before heading in to the office as they are open from a brilliantly early 7.30am. I have been told by numerous people now that their scrambled eggs are the best they have had (including the friend I was dining with) but I had my eye on their cheese and ham toastie topped with a Berkswell fried egg and finely grated parmesan. This is a super cute spot that had an abundance of takeaways coming in and out while I was there but has limited seating so be prepared for a queue at the weekend. I have heard really good reviews for their evening menu so I will be reporting back again soon.
For five star dining –The Gore Hotel, South Kensington
After dining at The Franklin last month, the Star Collezione group of hotels are quickly becoming my favourite in town. This quintessentially British hotel in the heart of Kensington has a cosy restaurant run by Daniel Galmiche; the Michelin starred French chef. The menu, in keeping with the theme of the hotel, is predominately British fare with a French twist. Every course I had (scallops, beef short rib and chocolate mousse) were so mouth-wateringly brilliant I was smiling for days. This spot is aesthetically perfect for anyone seeking a taste of traditional Britain, with five star food and service to match.
For a weekend brunch – Amber, Aldgate
Positioned in the heart of Piazza Walk, a shiny new development in Aldgate, I had brunch one Saturday with the girls at this relatively new spot. Their menu focuses on combining their eastern Mediterranean roots with modern London favourites to produce some forward-thinking dishes that I haven’t tried anywhere else in town. Think burnt aubergine and chilli butter poached egg pittas or challah toast; their brioche topped with whipped mascarpone yoghurt with fruit, honey, thyme, seeds and pistachios (up there with the best French toast I have tried). It is a lovely, bright open space with simple aesthetics and a counter completely covered in cakes, salads and most importantly; baklava! Great for a leisurely weekend brunch, even more so if you want to sign up to their offer of unlimited prosecco (or bloody Mary’s if you are feeling slightly ropey from the night before).
For French fare – Frenchie, Covent Garden
When a restaurant originates in Paris, and dominates their food scene continually since opening, a sister restaurant in London means getting to try out Greg Marchland’s cooking without having to be a magician to get a table. I took my mum to Frenchie recently for a really reasonable pre theatre meal and it is the sort of place mum’s love (charming waiters, beautiful interiors, extensive white wine list etc). We sat downstairs in front of the kitchen which I do love, but I find it quite distracting as I end up staring at the chefs and not engaging with the person I am out with so my suggestion would be to make sure you get a table upstairs if you are planning to visit.
For Korean food – Lime Orange, Victoria
I was invited for dinner at this cosy Korean spot which is a couple of minutes from Victoria Station. Having not heard of it before and spending some time googling and instagramming what I could, I was quite sceptical of whether this was a place for me. How wrong was I! I am not au fait with the Korean cuisine having ventured no further than ‘On The Bab’ before so I put my faith in the restaurant and asked them to bring us their favourite dishes. Everything we had was excellent and has highlighted a desire in me to spend more time travelling around London spots to eat Bibimbap and Bulgogi. The real stand out for me though was how god damn good their chicken wings are. We tried both varieties (sweet and sticky) and I haven’t stopped telling people since just how good they are. An absolute must if you love fried chicken! It seems that the secret is out and there was a constant queue down the street for the time I was there so booking a table is a must.
For Tapas – Barullo, Aldgate
Victor Garvey, of Rambla in Soho, has just opened his second Spanish spot in between Aldgate and Liverpool Street. With no signage yet it is quite hard to spot, but once inside the Spanish flare is evident with their plush blue booths, themed counter dining and Spanish accents omitting from all corners. It has been a while since I have been out for tapas, so I was pleasantly surprised to find such authenticity so far from Spain. With a table of five we made our way through a good portion of the menu so my top tips would be to order the duck (or maybe order two….) and one of the large paella’s to share.