£8.95, 66-70 Brewer Street, W1F 9UP
Given that Mark Hix’s name has become synonymous with British cooking, it may seem odd to highlight, of all things, his interpretation of a German dish (‘Himmel und Erde’). But this mainstay of Hix’s smart Soho restaurant showcases everything that is great about his cooking: ’heaven’ is a soft, gently spiced black pudding, while ‘earth’ combines mashed potato with faintly sweet apple and a hint of onion. It’s thoughtful, yet simple: Hix at his best.
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£15, 168 Highgate Road, NW5 1QS
A perfect platter for the charcuterie-lover, Bull & Last’s own-made offerings range from deliciously umami-packed duck ‘prosciutto’ to chicken liver parfait with a bit of body. There’s fantastic chunky ham hock terrine too, great with the tiny gherkins, and the celeriac remoulade is a good foil for the rich rillettes. Tiny pepper radishes, watercress, chutneys and toast complete the deal at this smart spot.
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£3.70, 159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB
For decades, Brick Lane Beigel Bake has been serving up this signature Jewish snack: a big chunk of just-cooked juicy salt beef, sitting on a chewy fresh plain bagel, optionally spiked with some eye-wateringly strong mustard – all for less than £4. No pickles, tables, or standing on ceremony, just a pure, perfect salt beef bagel. Well worth queuing for.
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£19.75, 55 Aldwych, WC2B 4BB
Life is full of difficult dilemmas, such as: which is The Delaunay’s best dish? Torn between the excellent sachertorte and the perfect wiener schnitzel, we had to choose the latter. Wiener schnitzel is boneless veal beaten to a thin layer with a mallet, breadcrumbed and fried. It appeared in every mid-20th-century cookbook, then fell out of fashion. But it’s back, one of many Mitteleuropäisch dishes revived by the wonderful Delaunay - a dish that would put a smile on even Sigmund Freud’s stern face.
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£3.70, 12 Upper St Martin's Lane, WC2H 9FB
A bit of an in-joke of a dish, considering pig is rarely eaten by most of the population of India, but at the same time a perfect representation of British-Asian fusion. A take on a classic bacon buttie, the Dishoom version comprises freshly made naan encasing grilled back bacon, a slick of chilli-tomato chutney, yoghurt and sprigs of coriander. The Indian components add freshness to an otherwise heavy breakfast dish, the slightly charred naan a great pairing with the smoky slices of pork. To accompany this dish, a builder’s brew just won’t do – opt for a glass of masala chai instead.
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£8.95, 44 Northcote Road, SW11 1NZ
There’s no shortage of newcomers vying for the title of London’s best burger chain. But we have to pay our respects to the Kiwis and Gourmet Burger Kitchen for beginning London’s gourmet burger trend in 2001, and for offering a burger that looks and tastes so much better than it might sound. The Kiwiburger has it all: robust Aberdeen Angus beef patties and beetroot, egg, pineapple and aged Cheddar cheese – yes, all together – combining to create picture-perfect burgers housed in freshly baked sesame-seed sourdough buns with acres of lush lettuce. Vegetarians are kept happy too, with an aubergine and goat’s cheese version.
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£10, Hawksmoor Spitalfields, 157 Commercial Street, E1 6BJ
One of our top ten dishes
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There are many reasons for visiting any of Hawksmoor’s three branches, but if you’re in for cocktails rather than a three-course, beef-based blowout and merely need some sustenance, then go French. This is sandwich perfection – braised shortrib with Ogleshield Jersey cow’s milk cheese, layered in a slightly sweet finger roll, served with an order of mahogany marrow gravy, which is the delicious dip.
£14, 5 Warwick Place, W9 2PX
Kateh is comfortable without being overpriced, a good showcase for the rich, complex cooking of the Persians. If you’re looking for the essence of the cuisine, try the pheasant stew (fesenjân gharghavol). Walnuts were first cultivated in Persia, and when cooked with pomegranate paste (another Iranian signature flavour) give a characteristically rich and sour-sweet sauce. The pheasant meat is dark and strong enough not to be overpowered by the sauce, and the resulting dish is a masterpiece.
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£7.50, 5 William IV Street, WC2N 4DW
We’re not saying Terroirs makes the very best charcuterie in London; we reckon Bar Boulud would see off any competition in that regard. Nevertheless, if you eat at this delightful wine bar, do make sure you try the cooked meats. The pistachio and pork terrine in particular is first-class: unctuous and flavour-packed, with appealing textures. The tapas-style bar snacks (Marcona almonds, cheeses) and plats du jour are also appealing.
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£18, or from £25 when part of a set meal, 2 Station Parade, Balham High Road, SW12 9AZ
The trickiest thing about recommending a dish at Lamberts is the frequency with which the menu is changed. One perennial favourite, though, is the two-ways Herdwick lamb. Slices of pink-middled rump are served alongside a full-flavoured confit of belly, with a warm slice of buttery, thyme-spiked potato terrine, smoked, honey-glazed garlic, and a delicate thyme foam. It’s a heavenly composition, but don’t fret if it’s not on the menu: the cooking at this Balham star always shines.
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£7.10, 26 St John Street, EC1M 4AY
In ‘Nose To Tail Eating’, St John’s cookbook, chef-proprietor Fergus Henderson suggests you ask your butcher to hold back a calf’s leg for you if you’re in the mood for bone marrow. We think it’s better to let someone else do the legwork, and head for the dining room of St John instead. Here, against a cool, clinical backdrop, you’ll be served up the just-roasted marrow, still in the bone, and invited to scoop out the translucent contents, spread it on grilled toast and season it to taste. The relish-like parsley, capers and shallot salad cutting through the intensely meaty richness will refresh you enough to allow seconds. And thirds.
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