Following its' opening in late 2014, Shikumen has taken the West London dining scene by storm. Translating to "stone gate", Shikumen emulates the colonial style of arched architecture unique to 1940's Shanghai, from which it takes its' name. From the paintings on the wall to the meticulous artistry of the dim sum chefs, every detail of the restaurant reveals commitment to authenticity. The menu showcases the training and skill of Shikumen's chefs, with exquisite and original dim sum joined by signature Cantonese Peking duck, carved at your table and served to your liking. Other enticing options include a luxurious baked black cod fillet with Champagne sauce, fillet of beef in a rich Merlot and black pepper sauce, and fried chicken in a Marmite-soy sauce with honey melon. Everything you know and love is on the menu, but Shikumen certainly does provide ample opportunity for anyone looking to try something new and experimental. The large, ornate dining room overlooking Shepherds Bush Green effortlessly blends contemporary cuisine with Chinese tradition and promises a top notch culinary experience with delicious cocktails, an expansive wine list, and completely adorable service. One for all of the family!
I would not ordinarily think to wander the Fulham Broadway vicinity in search of a top notch curry, but this family run restaurant is an unmissable destination for anybody hankering for refined North Indian cuisine. Featuring recipes passed down from generation to generation, the chef describes his food as "true to its' roots, yet married with a contemporary British sensibility". All it takes is a quickGoogle search to learn that ex-pats find a unique authenticity about his food, with descriptions of Kishmish as "a home away from home" with "heartwarmingly familiar spice blends". I am ashamed to admit that I barely recognised anything on the menu, realising quite how obtuse I was when my request for something butter chicken-esq was met by a polite reminder that what we Brits come to view as staple curries are in fact, entirely British. Whilst there is a lot to be said for the familiar, if you're up for trying something new, this needs to climb to the top of your list. It promises a host of pleasant surprises and nuanced flavours, forcing revision of any preconceptions of cuzza as heavy, e-numbery, or remotely predictable.
The Admiral Codrington is one of Chelsea's most beloved drinking spots, renowned for its' all weather beer garden and chunky communal table seating. Tucked away behind the boozy front room, the gastropub boasts an award winning restaurant in a modern dining conservatory with a retractable glass roof that is somewhat reserved for those in the know. The restaurant prides itself on using only the finest British ingredients in their seasonal menu, so whilst signature dishes such as the chilli squid and dry age steaks are guaranteed to feature, there is something new to try upon each visit. The "Ad Cod Burger" has gained the restaurant an absurd amount of attention (claimed by many to be the best burger in London) and has lead to a particularly enticing Wednesday Burger Night fixture, where one can find special creations from the chef such as lobster, foie gras and duck egg burgers (mmmmmmmmmmm). Lighter salad and fish options are available, a "Short and Sweet" menu enables workers in the area to fit in a scrumptious two-courser within an hour's lunch break, and the Ad Cod is known for its unrivalled Sunday Roasts. Lunch or dinner, light or heavy, banquette, outdoor, or private dining - this one has got it all.
Nestled in the network of cobbled streets that makes up the 18th arrondissement of Paris, Montmartre, Le Coq Rico is something really worth seeking out upon even the briefest of trips to the city. Le Coq Rico is open for lunch, dinner, and everything in between, and what is more, it is a stones throw away from Antoine Westermann's latest venture, Degustation, a champagne bar and delicatessen open from noon through to midnight. Atop the relatively steep Montmartre, the restaurant welcomes its breathless customers with a warm and cosy ambiance that is not dissimilar to an Alpine chalet. Le Coq Rico promises an intense culinary experience, uncharacteristically good service (in Paris terms), and an adventurous and unique menu that adapts classic poultry and wild game dishes that you might recognise. Everything is garnished with something fabulous and indulgent (truffles and foie gras feature prominently on the menu) and the relative expense of the food is not remotely askew; you are really getting bank for your buck in terms of quality and taste - haute cuisine at its most affordable.
Whilst the New York turned Italian restaurant is spread across the basement, ground floor, outside patio and first floor mezzanine, there is still more to Goat than meets the eye; your typical Fulham Road passer by is unaware that Goat boasts an expansive cocktail bar across two levels of the first floor and an exclusive speak easy tucked away behind a secret door. Enjoy a delicious and surprisingly affordable dinner in one of the three dining areas, and then move upstairs to one of the cosy banquettes or private alcoves of the bar, or reserve one of the larger tables at the bar if you are part of a big group. If you want something more intimate and unusual, reserve places at the Chelsea Prayer Room, the Goat's own private speak easy bar. To me, this is what really sets the venue apart from other Chelsea watering holes. It is more reminiscent of a Lower Manhattan prohibition speak easy institution, requiring a constantly changing secret passcode to unlock the hidden black door that blends into the background of the first floor wall behind a rack of coats. Goat offers the unique opportunity to tie dining and drinking into the early hours of the morning into one, removing the need for traipsing across London for different parts of your evening.
Hakkasan, Hanway Place, has got to be the next whistestop for everyone and anyone in London looking for a Sunday lunch spot to take someone they love. From 12 midday until 6:45 pm, the renowned hub of Cantonese cuisine offers a range of dim sum winter menus to offer you bitesized samples of the restaurant's most popular dishes whilst accommodating all of your personal preferences. One November Sunday, my sister and I embarked on the magnificent journey that was the Signature Sunday menu: a 6 course dim sum menu including pre- and post- meal cocktail, as well as a bottle of Louis Roederer Premium NV Champagne at an astonishing £58 pp. Translated as "touching the heart", dim sum embodies the classic Chinese ritual of eating miniature dishes that have been meticulously prepared. Steamed, fried, grilled or baked, the dim sum featuring on Hakkasan's menu really do span all Westernised Cantonese cuisine. What is more, the restaurant embraces the darker days of winter and the crisp weather with a new seasonal food and cocktail menu; chef Ho Hip Wah celebrates Autumnal ingredients and recommends wintery drinks to accompany what is on your plate. The ambience is sleek and elegant, and the clientele includes glamorous trendies about to sample the menus and listen to the background music of the resident live DJ. Fun, fine dining at its best.
West London residents have been remarking on the appearance of Eelbrook for the very few months that it has been open. The sleek, glass and white wood paneled restaurant brings glamour to the previously dreary and desolate Eel Brook Common, more closely resembling the sort of thing you might expect to find in the South of France than SW6. The spacious conservatory is filled with light, the décor is minimalist and chic, there is seating on a heated terrace that facilitates all year round al fresco dining, and the location is prime. The only question on everybody’s lips – is the food any good? The plus one and I went for a three-courser on a Tuesday evening last week to decide for ourselves. Our answer is a resounding yes. From the quality of the food and its unique and innovative preparation to the affordability of the menu, Eelbrook offers you the ideal resolution to your weekday frustration at finding a new local feeding pond that is informal, relaxed and a reliable source of something delicious.
The, now iconic, Borough Market forms the south portico of Roast. In 2005, the restaurant was opened in the large Floral Hall that had previously been used for storage and ignored amidst the hustle bustle of the market. Now, you get a sense of the commotion from the double glazed glass box that hangs above the market, and the space is anything but ignored, constantly filled to capacity, with delicious food and unmissable cocktails and bringing the Floral Hall to life. Borough Market is an unmissable pilgrimage for food loving locals and tourists alike, people travel from far and wide whilst the residents of Southark stroll through its' stalls on a daily basis, feeling a sense of ownership, as it was the local residents who raised the money to save it from closure in the 1750's. So, looking over a gourmet wonderland, serving up unbeatable British roasts with every trimming imaginable, Roast really does give anyone looking for a quintessentially British culinary experience everything that they could hope for from a meal out. What is more, there are countless deals (two for one breakfasts on certain days, kids eating for free, 3 for 2 on weeknight cocktails and so on), daily specials and set menu for Sunday lunch with tonnes of options to choose from.
This truly unique restaurant and bar is nestled in the heart of Southwark, just a stones throw away from the station. Enclosed by a small entrance that signifies a sort of casual and unremarkable bistro, Baltic is a surprisingly big venue, with a glowing amber light installation lining the rear brick wall and a vast conservatory roof supporting its long white panelled walls. The gorgeous contemporary setting includes a large main dining room, a semi-sectioned private dining room and a long sleek bar studded with bar stools and faced by many more low rise leather banquettes. It is heaving. It is immediately visible that the bar at Baltic has been the subject so much fuss and attention, as every seat is occupied by enthused customers sipping magnificently colourful cocktails. The same may be said for the restaurant, the vast space is filled to the brim and what we could see of the food looked authentic and gorgeously presented. It did not disappoint. Baltic is a brilliant restaurant for those that are curious about foreign foods, yet there is something for even the most unadventurous eater - appetisers, blinis, potato pancakes, salads, dumplings, meat, fish - the list goes on. And as for the alcohol, whether you are after an evening of cocktails, wine, vodka or whisky - the selection is expansive and the quality is exquisite. Ambient, delicious and authentically Nordic: this one is a must.