East London's newest revamped postcode has become a bustling center of activity following the glory days of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. With newly built restaurants and bars amongst the traditional Stratford haunts, Westfield Stratford City, one of Europe's biggest shopping centres, and the former Olympic venues now open to the public, the area provides a fantastic range of shopping, drinking, dining and fitness activities. Stratford is becoming a new go-to destination in the capital.
What are your favourite Stratford hangout? Let us know.
Restaurants and pubs in Stratford
Ethos is a self-service restaurant moments from Oxford Circus, specialising in satisfying, deliciously different dishes. Come in for our signature aloo Scotch egg with spiced tomato ketchup, our finger-lickingly good BBQ seitan ribs, our vibrant healthy salads and of course our indulgent cake pops and other sweet treats! We are open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, drinks and dinner as well as brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Ethos is moments from Oxford Circus but our silver birch tree-filled interior will have you feeling like you're miles away. Catering available upon request, and we also take orders for our famous cake pops!
There are reasons why Ethos might make you wary. It’s near Oxford Circus, it’s vegetarian, it’s a self-serve buffet and you pay for your food by weight. (That’s the weight of the food, not your weight.) This ‘comida por quilo’ system is a popular economy-restaurant style in Brazil, but it’s been relatively unexplored in the UK. Adding to the gimmicky potential, on any given day the main menu might include more than a dozen dishes from the diverse cuisines of Japan, Southeast Asia, Italy, Korea, India, Mexico and Lebanon – and anywhere else that does brilliant vegetarian dishes – plus a few of their own creations. You can choose as few or as many as you like, building your own bespoke meal, before having your plate weighed and then paying at the counter. The concept may seem incoherent at first. Standing by the platters and bowls at the buffet – hot on one side, room temperature on the other – wondering whether the Korean kimchi might go with some nasu dengaku (Japanese miso-roasted aubergine), or the restaurant’s Indian-inflected ‘scotch egg’. But sitting in the spacious, box-fresh surroundings – the decor is predominantly Nordic white and blue, with some bucolic trunks of silver birch reaching skywards – you taste the food and think: ‘Hang on, this is really good.’ Rather than worrying about whether Thai sweetcorn fritters are complemented by a lovage-laced tomato and bread panzanella salad, the world tour of dishes becomes a mini-adventure in flavour, colour and textuRead more
Despite growing competition, the Opera Tavern remains one of Covent Garden's best dining options and among London’s top tapas restaurants. Formerly a pub,...
Despite growing competition, the Opera Tavern remains one of Covent Garden's best dining options and among London’s top tapas restaurants. Formerly a pub, it’s split into a slightly charmless upstairs restaurant and a cosy, mirror-backed bar at street level. The latter has been stylishly updated with chocolate leather bar stools, copper spotlights and an open grill; the main kitchen is in the beer cellar. The Spanish-Italian menu is kept fresh with regular specials. The signature burger of juicy ibérico pork and foie gras remains deservedly popular, though more inventive combinations better showcase the kitchen’s delicate touch and careful sourcing of ingredients. Char-coated venison was enlivened by jerusalem artichoke, pickled walnuts and truffle, while the natural sweetness of scallops (served in the shell) was balanced by a feather-light pea, fennel and mint purée. Watch out, though: portions are dainty and it’s easy to rack up a hefty bill. The Spanish and Italian wine list is well curated; smooth and nutty manzanilla pasada is the ideal aperitif for sherry sceptics. Little touches such as allowing diners a taste before committing to a glass exemplify the sophisticated, amiable service. Opera Tavern is part of the Salt Yard Group, along with Dehesa in Soho and Salt Yard in Fitzrovia.Read more
Celebrate a great holiday season - warm atmosphere, delicious food, perfect company!
Still London’s most glamorous Moroccan restaurant, Momo attracts a fair smattering of beautiful people alongside couples on special dates, hen parties and business types. The soundtrack of classic Maghrebi beats and attractive young francophone waiting staff create a seductive buzz. Sexy Marrakech-style interiors, sparkling with light from intricately latticed mashrabiya-style windows and ornate metalwork lanterns, add to the allure. Tables are small and tightly packed, but somehow this rarely seems an imposition. Enjoy deliciously light, carefully crafted starters such as juicy prawns wrapped in crispy shredded kataifi pastry with a sour-sweet mango and tomato salsa, or scrumptious pan-fried scallops with a piquant salsa verde, before moving on to Moroccan classics such as lamb tagine with pears and prunes. But the main attraction has to be the near-perfect couscous: silky fine grains served with vegetables in a light cumin-scented broth, with tender, juicy chicken, plump golden raisins, chickpeas and harissa – all served separately so you can mix them as you please. Such delights coupled with a pricey wine list result in a hefty bill, so Momo needs to iron out the galling little niggles such as the shabby dark toilets and the occasionally inattentive service.Read more
Italian tapas and a cocktail only £10! from 5.30pm every day,
It’s just as well portions are large here, as we enjoyed every last flavoursome bite of our meal. Mimmo La Bufala specialises in southern Italian food, with a bias towards mozzarella (of course) and fish. Daily specials might include classics such as osso buco. A starter of sautéed king prawns was deliciously fresh and juicy. Then followed a memorable pasta dish of orecchiette with fresh spinach, creamy ricotta and tangy sun-dried tomatoes – a perfect mix of complementary flavours. The long pizza list includes all the classics as well as seasonal variations such as tomato-free ‘biancis’. We opted for ‘Mimmo’s pizza’, named after the ebullient proprietor. In true southern Italian style, its thin base was topped with juicy tomatoes, smoky provolone and melt-in-your-mouth buffalo mozzarella before being baked in a wood-fired oven. This oven links the restaurant’s two dining areas: a small but airy front room in white with shopfront-style windows, mirrors and chandeliers; and a larger, cosier space at the back with less natural light and a grand piano for occasional entertainment. Our main gripe is the lack of wines by the glass (only house red or white), but it’s the food that is the draw.Read more
Brunch menu every weekend from 10am until mid afternoon with fresh juice, coffee and a Bloody Mary if you need it!
There’s a vast bar-restaurant in Helsinki called Zetor (‘Tractor’), where Finns go to sit on hay bales, admire each other’s checked shirts, then indulge in wildly drunken barn dancing. It’s also a place to witness the infamous Finnish capacity for booze. Heavy drinking is something that Londoners do well too. Getting in touch with our inner bumpkin, however, is still a niche interest in London, and it’s one that Barnyard is now here to satisfy – particularly those with a more sober desire for rus in urbe than the Finns. Barnyard’s walls are corrugated iron, the tables stripped planks; plates are enamelled, some seats are oil drums. But wait a minute, isn’t this the latest venture from Ollie Dabbous, a chef so cutting edge he could probably chop down a wild elderberry shrub with his bare hands while out foraging. Of the modernist restaurant Dabbous, the one that’s fully booked until the northern hemisphere runs out of chilled pine infusions and fig leaf broth? Ollie Dabbous doesn’t just do hifalutin’ cookin’, that’s clear; he can also do casual, family-friendly, and affordable. Barnyard’s menu at first glance can read like motorway service station caff – cauliflower cheese, sausage roll, chicken in a bun – until you delve a bit deeper. ‘Lard on toast’ and ‘mince and dumpling’ are just that, in small-plates portions – but both dishes were full-flavoured and beautiful in their simplicity. More complex was the crispy chicken wings, rubbed with smoked paprika, garlic and lRead more
Turning up at a smart destination restaurant with a large suitcase is always going to be awkward. What’s more awkward is not being able to find the front...
Turning up at a smart destination restaurant with a large suitcase is always going to be awkward. What’s more awkward is not being able to find the front door. I’m not sure who was more surprised, us or the kitchen porters, when we marched, suitcase in tow, through the kitchen door of Central, currently the hottest restaurant in Lima, Peru. Central is so discreet it doesn’t even bother with a sign. But its dishes are the opposite, with plate after plate dazzling its mixed clientele of tourists and wealthy Lima residents. There’s no such problem finding the new London outpost – its sign is clearly visible. And considering the near-impossibility of transposing chef Virgilio Martinez’s uniquely Peruvian style of cooking more than 6,000 miles, they’ve done a pretty good job. This is Martinez’s second London restaurant, following on from the success of Lima in Rathbone Place, an elaborate affair that has already bagged him a Michelin star. Lima Floral, on Covent Garden’s Floral Street, is not a copy but an extension of this gambit, and showcases more Peruvian classics. This time there’s a little less fuss, a more reasonable price tag, and a bar in the basement serving pisco cocktails. Interesting textures and depth of flavour, rather than the high-tech wizardry of Central or Lima, take centre stage here. Sea bream ceviche comes as a sublime starter, teamed with mounds of guacamole-like avocado uchucuta (salsa), speared with dried onion slices and sprinkled with toasted corn. Sea bRead more
Drown your Monday blues as we invite you to BYOB on Monday 26th Jan! Served to you with absolutely no corkage charges.
Typical of the ETM chain, the Gun is an attractively spruced-up pub, with attentive staff and stiff prices. The focus is on making both diners and drinkers feel at home. The restaurant menu is available throughout – not just in the smartly dressed dining space – and there’s a standalone bar menu too. The handsome bar counter is lined with real ales (Adnams bitter is a regular, and there’s always a guest ale), but also offers cocktails and a global wine list. Cooking is assured, if not quite good enough to justify the prices: slow-cooked Middle White pork belly with battered skate knobs, carrot purée, sprout tops and ginger and port jus cost £19 for a small portion – making sides such as chips or dauphinoise potatoes a neccessity. Also, £9 seemed a lot for a (not very) devilled chicken liver starter. Better value is to be found on the bar menu, where £7.50 buys a substantial ‘fish finger sandwich’ (more like goujons in toast) served with plenty of tartare sauce, and a decent steak sandwich with caramelised onions and horseradish cream is £9.50. Lightly themed (prints and a few antique pistols), with wooden floors, white walls and an open fire, the Gun is a fine spot in any weather, but its USP is the terrace. Refurbished in spring 2013 with fold-back glass panels, this is right on the river, looking out over the O2. Neophytes, beware – the pub can be tricky to find first time around. For more ETM pubs, go to their website.Read more
Restaurateur Jason Atherton has had a great year. Berners Tavern is the third restaurant he’s opened in the West End this year; the other two, Little Social and Social Eating House, were very well received for their playful and appealing dishes. This new venture is more of the same, but in a much grander setting. It’s housed in the new Edition hotel in Fitzrovia, which looks like the older, more sophisticated sister of the Sanderson hotel just down the road. Both places were given makeovers by hotelier Ian Schrager, but Edition is an exercise in slick metropolitan taste, with opulent chandeliers, framed art-by-the-yard covering entire walls, and improbably elegant staff. The huge lobby bar looks fabulous; but the vast dining room, with its ornate plasterwork ceiling, very low lighting and lively bar area, looks even better. The menu’s prices are alarmingly high – but most of the dishes we tried were very good. Head chef Phil Carmichael turns out tender pork belly with a sauce of sharp capers, golden raisins and apple coleslaw to cut through the fat. The flavours of this and a pan-braised halibut (perfectly cooked) with a little saucepan of savoury squid ink risotto were sublime. A starter of ‘egg, ham and peas’ updates a signature Atherton recipe; a breadcrumbed duck egg is held upright by a purée of fresh peas, the crisp Cumbrian ham almost a garnish. The only culinary disappointment was a chocolate éclair dessert, as the pastry – which should be very slightly stale – wasRead more
Set lunch offer: bread and wine plus two small plates, £19; or bread and wine plus one small plate, £14
Inside the long-established Myhotel off Tottenham Court Road, Gail's Kitchen is a little different to the upmarket bakery chain's usual offering, as across the hotel lobby is a first foray into the restaurant business. Housed in what used to be the hotel’s bar, the interior at Gail’s Kitchen is bright and breezy. Ginger banquettes line one wall, salvaged wood tables and white wire-frame chairs punctuate the room. In pride of place by the counter bar is a display of rustic loaves and seeded cracker breads. A little plateful of these appears on your table,sliced up and served with oil and butter, it’s tempting to fill up on these before your dishes even arrive. As you’d expect, bread plays a central role on the menu of small plates, which features dishes such as mackerel rillettes with toasted rye, or steak sandwiches with comté cheese. Our smoked prawns, served with a charred slice of caramelised garlic-pocked bread, came in the shell in an appealing pile, ready to be dunked into a pot of aioli. Fresh from the pizza oven proudly on display in the open kitchen, the ‘white’ pizza took the form of an oblong of pillowy baked dough drizzled with plenty of quality olive oil and topped with rich burrata cheese, violet artichoke wedges, parma ham – and bread croutons for some added bite. The light gruyère scones that accompanied a creamy bowl of seafood chowder were another demonstration of Gail’s impressive baking abilities. But the chefs are not just here to showcase the bake-ofRead more
Kopapa is perfect for your pre or post theatre visit. We have set menu options available with 2 courses for £18.95 or 3 courses for £21.95
Fusion maestro Peter Gordon (of the Providores & Tapa Room) co-owns this handily located, stylish all-dayer. He oversees an exciting and well-executed menu that runs from breakfast to dinner, with missteps a rarity. Turkish eggs (poached eggs with yoghurt, hot chilli butter and flatbread) – a favourite from the Tapa Room – makes a welcome appearance on brunch and breakfast menus. Lunch features weighty sandwiches (steak on focaccia with caramelised onion, mustard cream cheese, roast tomatoes and pickles) and burgers (soft-shell crab burger with Asian salad, spicy peanut mayonnaise and avocado), alongside salads (belper knolle cheese, roast grapes, mixed leaves, pickled ceps, walnuts and black vinegar dressing) and a selection of more inventive dishes. Many of these also appear as large or small plates on the evening menu. Pan-fried sea bream with broccolini, rainbow chard, coconut coriander chutney and paprika crumbs is a typical main – quality produce, imaginatively teamed. There’s the occasional disappointment (a slightly flabby serving of deep-fried sesame and Urfa chilli salted squid with sumac mayo, for example), but you’ll never be bored. Smiling staff are attentive and clued-up about the menu, which changes monthly. A wide-ranging wine list is buttressed by an eclectic set of cocktails, and even the modish brasserie-style decor globe-trots, very prettily in the case of the Turkish floor tiles.Read more
The Delaunay was Chris Corbin and Jeremy King’s 2012 follow-up to the Wolseley and, like that handsome behemoth, it looks like it’s been here for decades. Grand European cafés provide the inspiration, and the interior is a treat – a David Collins-designed mix of green leather banquette seating, dark wood, brass rails, antique mirrors and a black and white marble floor. The café and bar area leads through to the main dining room; next door is the Counter (a café serving savouries, cakes and coffee, with takeaway available). The menu runs from breakfast to dinner, taking in afternoon tea (a not-to-be-missed opportunity to try the Austrian-biased cakes, all made in-house). There’s a dish of the day (goulash, say, or chicken curry), soups, salads and egg dishes, plus savouries (welsh and buck rarebits) and crustacea. The sandwich selection runs from croque monsieur to a brioche burger with french fries. Starters include steak tartare and smoked salmon plates; mains take in kedgeree and choucroute à l’Alsacienne. There’s also a good choice of sausages, served with potato salad, sauerkraut and caramelised onions: try the käsekrainer (an Austrian meat and cheese version). In short, there’s something for everyone, at prices that aren’t greedy given the setting, the quality of the service and the assuredness of the menu.Read more
Such acutely stylish venues rarely last, but after a decade Yauatcha can add longevity to its enviable list of attributes. So why do people still glide down the stairs of this self-styled Taipai tea house into its sensual basement? The design helps: the long bar, spot-lit black tables and illuminated fish tank still have allure, and the nightclub vibe is boosted by beautiful staff and bass-heavy beats. Even being shunted away to seats behind the staircase has benefits (privacy). And there’s substance behind the style. Day-and-night dim sum was a Yauatcha innovation, and a special of scallop and edamame crystal dumplings produced three delicate, pendulous sacs filled with a textural mix of resilient beans, crunchy carrot morsels, flavourful fragments of scallop and juicy sweetcorn. Gai lan came with just enough salted fish sauce to pique the palate, and fragrant lotus leaf rice held moist treats of egg, chicken and dried shrimps. Exotic teas and East-West fusion desserts (yuzu brûlée tart) are highlights too (sample them in the ground-floor tea room), and main courses hold interest (sea bass with shiitake and wolf berry, say), but grazing on exquisite snacks is the primary culinary draw – though prices might make you wince.Read more
Part of the Vietnamese Kitchen group, with branches in Hoxton and Shoreditch, Cây Tre is just what you might imagine a Vietnamese restaurant in Soho to be...
Part of the Vietnamese Kitchen group, with branches in Hoxton and Shoreditch, Cây Tre is just what you might imagine a Vietnamese restaurant in Soho to be like: chic, minimal decor, impeccably smart and efficient black-clad staff, and beautifully served food. Customers are very mixed – tourists, Chinatown youngsters looking for something fresh, and a smattering of techies and media types. The chain prides itself on using all fresh (ideally local) ingredients with impeccable provenance – witness the delectable Devon crab wrap with crisp lettuce and perilla leaves (in which to roll up the super-tasty filling); grilled Cornish scallops in spring onion oil, roasted peanuts and nuoc cham; and barbecued Somerset ribs with lemongrass, sriracha chilli sauce and galangal. The menu is peppered with imaginative combinations, such as a delicious textural treat of grilled squid stuffed with duck pâté, or braised ox cheek pho with lemongrass and coriander. Thoughtfully, counters with stools have been provided by the entrance, facing the street, for those in a hurry or singletons. A big choice of cocktails leaves little room for a decent wine list. Loud piped music throbs through the place – enjoyable, but not conducive to conversation. Sister restaurant Viet Grill in Shoreditch has had a makeover, and now has a dining room with a new organic menu, and a retro-styled Vietnamese cocktail bar.Read more
Valentine's Day: five course tasting menu with welcome Champagne.
Gigi's is a smart new Mayfair venue for Italian food with plenty of modern twists, most coming from the direction of the renowned chef Ivan Simeoli. That combined orientation means that alongside a classic starter of vitello tonnato (cold sliced veal with tuna sauce) you might find golden and red beetroot served with buffalo mozzarella and a signature dish of sea bass tartare and langoustine, served with honey and lemon caramel. Among the fish dishes is a traditional fritto misto and pasta dishes include an equally traditional linguine with bottarga (dried, salted fish roe) with lemon, chives and celery. Meat dishes include braised veal cheek, one of Italy’s most famous dishes, but also innovative creations such as a ‘Trilogy’ of lamb (rack, loin and a braised roll), served with celeriac purée. The dessert list is a mixture of own-made sorbets and classic Italians like tiramisu and pastiera, the famous Neapolitan ricotta cake. In addition to its numerous Italian wines, Gigi's list has a larger selection of bottles from France and the new world than you'll find in most Italian restaurants in London. There are classic and original cocktails (with numerous variants of the Martini) and a notable selection of liqueurs. You can head outside to the terrace on days or evenings when the weather is fine, and there's a live DJ from Thursday to Saturday nights.Read more
Have a TimeOut Card? Visit us between 12pm-3pm & get 30% discount on lunch! (A la carte menu/excluding lobster/six people or fewer only.)
Located on James Street, a five-minute walk from Bond Street station, Cocochan offers contemporary pan-Asian cuisine, including dishes from Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, China and Korea – gyoza, spring rolls, lobster, sashimi, black cod and stir-fried tiger prawns included. The dining room has an adjacent lounge bar and terrace for after-dinner cocktails.Read more
La Fromagerie, in Marylebone & Highbury, both feature our signature walk-in cheese rooms and cafés. They also host tasting events and are available for private hire. Open every day for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and early supper. Number 6 Moxon Street has a daily changing kitchen menu of salads, soups and seasonal dishes. This Moxon Street branch is open late on Mondays and Fridays. Monday night supper offer: a simple set supper menu using seasonal ingredients. Sittings at 7pm, 7.30pm or 8pm. Please go to our website to view our menus. Friday nights: open until 10.30pm, offering cheese, wine, charcuterie and tasting plates - perfect for sharing. They include our house ‘savoie’ toasted cheese with homemade pickles. For bookings contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are cheeseboards and then there are La Fromagerie cheeseboards. We’d like to live in a world in which we were only ever served the latter – carefully sourced, themed by nation (with suggested wines to match) and prettily arranged on a wooden slab at the back of a shop filled with wonderful chutneys and handmade French tableware. Our Italian and British selections – best eaten from goat to blue, our waiter helpfully clarified – had not a dud between them. The Marylebone shop’s popularity has only increased since it opened in 2002 (a decade after the original Highbury branch) and the café doesn’t take bookings, so time your visit with care. Earlier in the day, you could stop by for breakfast (granola, bacon sandwiches, organic boiled eggs with Poilâne soldiers), while if you’re lucky enough to secure a table for lunch, you’ll find cut-above sandwiches and soups on the menu alongside charcuterie plates, smoked salmon and escargots. A late afternoon table (the cakes are as lovely as the cheese) with prime people-watching potential would be our preference. Choose a glass from the meticulously sourced wine list and watch glamorous locals stockpile dinner party nibbles as you plan your fantasy weekly shop from the shelves.Read more
This former fruit warehouse is now Carnivore Central in Will Beckett and Huw Gott’s confidently expanding empire, and the bar a place of pilgrimage in its own right for cocktail geeks. Winner of Time Out’s Best New Restaurant award in 2011, the discreet-fronted basement location is elevated to a high-end destination with a characterful interior of reclaimed materials and the fan-boys’ zeal for premium meats and other taste sensations. The bad news is, with a similar appreciation of gustatory pleasures (a couple of cocktails, say, followed by crab or lobster, sirloin and side dishes, wine and pudding), dinner here can easily set you back £100 a head. The good news is the express menu (ideal pre-theatre when tables are easy to snare) proffers two courses for £22 and three courses for £25 – and still allows enjoyment of fine Ginger Pig Longhorn ribeye (a more-than-strictly-needed 250g), and bone marrow with onions. Desserts here, in our experience, don’t benefit from the same obsessive attention to detail as the beef dripping chips, kimchi burger, hot dogs or historic anti-fogmatics – still, there’s the post-prandial cocktail list to peruse featuring the likes of Climpson’s espresso martini. See more mouthwatering Sunday roasts in the capitalRead more
Looking for a romantic place to treat your partner on Valentine’s Day? We created a menu to remember matched with our best wines for £45 p/p
Class, poise, judgement: these words might well be embossed on Moti Mahal’s burnished copper bar, beside the serried ranks of expensive whiskies. This London outpost of Delhi’s celebrated restaurant group is geared to international business diners and priced accordingly. Weighty linen tablecloths, polished wooden flooring, an ambient soundtrack and a spotless open kitchen (viewed behind a curvaceous glass partition) lend gravitas to the ground-floor dining room – as do diligent, multinational staff and a bulky wine list. The basement, with its enveloping red-velvet banquettes, has more date-appeal. The food? It’s moderately inventive pan-Indian, with expertly balanced spicing and a lightness of touch evident in the superb breads and rice. We were sad to see brain had slipped from the menu, but noted the varied choice of vegetarian dishes, including jackfruit in a roasted onion and coconut masala. Perfect salad specimens presented on a board with DIY spicing (in pestle and mortar) account for the £1.50 cover charge. An à la carte starter of crab and quail’s egg rolls had ample flavour and just-cooked zing, though the eggs were quite rubbery; a set-lunch main of gosht shakarkandi was like rogan josh, with beautifully tender lamb and dense, flavour-soaked chunks of sweet potato. Puddings are also worth exploring. You’ll get high-class cooking in impressive surroundings, but gastronomic adventurers might yearn for more thrills – and blench at the prices: £7.50 for a nondescriptRead more
A swish Bombay brasserie in the style of the old post-colonial 'Irani cafés' of Bombay, Dishoom is filled with retro design features: whirring ceiling fans, low-level lighting and walls adorned with vintage Indian magazine advertising. The look is certainly distinctive, but the effect can be so slick when compared to the real thing that the venue can feel rather soulless and corporate. This doesn’t stop the design-conscious and Indophile thronging here through the day, from breakfast (for sausage nan rolls with chilli jam) to dinner (for the stir-fries and tandoori grills). The main attraction though is the menu, loosely styled on Irani café food with birianis, bhel (crunchy puffed rice with tangy tamarind chutney) and even pau bhaji (toasted white bread rolls with a spicy vegetable stew as a filling). Our black dal was exemplary, and the lamb biriani suitably moist. We particuarly like the endlessly refilled house chai (Indian-style tea), but the other drinks are interesting too – excellent lassi concoctions, good wines by the glass, even the soft drinks Limca and Thums Up in glass bottles imported from Mumbai. Queues are common in the evening (bookings are taken for breakfast and lunch, but only for groups at dinner), though the basement bar helps make the wait more than bearable.Read more
Koba remains one of the strongest players on the West End Korean scene since opening in 2005 – we’ve yet to have a disappointing meal here. Barbecue meats such as beef kalbi or bulgogi are well marinated, and grilled at the table by efficient staff. Barbecued squid was fresh as a daisy, with just the right amount of tongue-tingling heat in the vibrant red sauce. Stews make a sound choice too, with umami-rich stocks and accompanying bowls of pearly rice. The spicy, slow-simmered short rib hotpot comes with chinese cabbage and sweet potato noodles as well as chunky pieces of beef, while the soft tofu stew is packed with seafood slivers. As this is Fitzrovia rather than K-town (New Malden), there’s no free panch’an, and the namul is a little pricy at £5.90. This is our only quibble, however. Service is polished but not too formal, and the dark, modern-East-Asian-meets-industrial interior is slick, making Koba an ideal spot for anything from a business lunch (set meals start at £6.50) to a casual dinner. Drinks include Korean beers, soju and a short wine list. Check out more great Korean restaurants in LondonRead more
January offers: warm up with two delicious courses £9.75! Daily from 12pm-5pm. Plus enjoy two courses for dinner at £16, served all night!
An offshoot of Westminster’s classy Cinnamon Club, this more casual venue specialises in small plates inspired by pan-Indian flavours and western presentation. Don’t be deterred by the dark and narrow ground floor and basement dining areas – the cooking, overseen by talented executive chef, Vivek Singh, is the real attraction. Try, for instance, the Punjabi-style gingery lamb mince, topped with crisp-crusted juicy brain fritters sharpened by a kick of lime. Remember to order breads for mopping up the marvellous masala. Lighter in texture, South Indian quinoa salad, seasoned with curry leaves, mustard seeds and chopped tomatoes, provides plenty of splendid citrus notes. An Indo-Chinese chilli chicken collaboration was so good that we ordered second helpings of the delectable seared morsels with their sweet and garlicky soy-chilli glaze. An outstanding ox cheek vindaloo featured tender meat in an unbeatable, almost pickled, garlicky masala. The only glitch was laal maas, a supposedly fiery lamb curry from Rajasthan, let down by a shortfall in chilli heat. The young service team needs to invest more energy in getting to grips with the menu, and promoting it to curious diners unsure of what to order.Read more
With its top-notch, UK-sourced (when possible) ingredients, speedy and friendly service, and rapid turnover, the original Brixton branch of Franco Manca remains, for our money, the best pizza joint in London. Both indoor and outdoor seating overlooks the bustling market arcade. Here you can sate a craving for genuine, Neapolitan-style pizza, with a flavourful slow-rise sourdough crust and a variety of traditional and innovative toppings. Purists will prefer either the tomato, garlic and oregano or the tomato, mozzarella and basil, in season. The tasty chorizo pizza comes in two versions (thick-cut and thin-cut, dried) of the rich, oily Spanish sausage; it’s reminiscent of New York’s ubiquitous pepperoni pizza. Other menu choices and daily specials include a variety of seasonal vegetable and cured meat-laden pizzas that, while of top-quality, we find a little busy. Side salads and the restaurant’s unusual lemonade (murky brown and slightly like an Arnold Palmer, thanks to a tannic under-taste) are highly recommended, being thoughtful additions to the carb-heavy pizza. Wine and beer are also available. The other branches we've visited are fine, but haven’t equalled the original branch’s perfection.Read more
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If you're looking for a good time, head to Soho. No, not for anywhere lit by a red light, but for a night at Chotto Matte. This vast Frith Street newcomer takes Japanese-Peruvian fusion (or Nikkei) and really cranks up the volume. On the ground floor is an enormous bar, which on our visit was a seething mass of suits and glamourpusses, all drinking cocktails against a vivid manga-style mural; for the restaurant, go up a floor. Aside from another mural to inject colour, this is a study in industrial prestige: the floors are black (marble), the ceilings are black (paint), the pillars are rough-cast concrete. Attractive staff (in black – what else?) work the floor. Robata chefs tend the grill. The menu offers a spectrum of the two cuisines, though with more Latin flavour than at other Nikkei restaurants. From the Japanese end came exquisite sweet shrimp sashimi; from the Peruvian, a correctly made ceviche: curls of seabass bobbing in a zingy, chilli-spiked marinade, with sweet potato and roasted corn. In between was the fusion fare, including a terrific shrimp tempura (Japanese) with three dipping sauces: one traditional and two Peruvian-themed creations (we liked creamy jalapeño best). The only offbeat combo was grill-marinated (anticucho) pork belly laid on rice (nigiri style), then blow-torched at the table. It had theatre in spades – but this on-the-spot-flaming was more for show than flavour. It’s not the only over-the-top aspect. A trip to the loo is like a challenge frRead more
A small, unshowy restaurant that’s made a name for itself with a short but perfectly formed menu and an easy-going conviviality. Dishes are seasonal – ricotta-stuffed courgette flower with lentils, wild mushrooms and truffle, and chilled asparagus and pea soup with crème fraîche were exemplary starters. And it’s value for money too – the soup cost a fiver. The kitchen (under Australian Cameron Emirali) produces lots of interesting but ungimmicky combinations: notably a special of halibut fillet with yellow beans, chilli and garlic, on a vivid romesco sauce. There’s more fish than meat, but Brecon lamb cutlets with borlotti beans, aubergine and courgettes earned their place on the menu. Cooking is not fault-free: gooseberry and apricot crumble had good fruit, but the topping was a little worthy. Better was a divine own-made lemon and basil sorbet doused with vodka. A thoughtful drinks list includes several variations on the negroni. Tables are closely packed and in the evening it can get noisy, but otherwise it’s hard to fault the place. Adept, friendly staff are a further plus. If you can’t handle the no-booking policy at dinner, bookings are accepted for lunch.Read more
Enjoy a variety of home-cooking stews, grills, dips and traditional hearty dishes such as lamb shanks with dill rice.
It’s hard to find a bad word to say about Sufi, a restaurant we’ve consistently praised since it opened in 2007. And it’s equally hard to avoid hyperbole when describing Sufi’s kashk-e bademjam. Walnuts, onion and garlic give this aubergine dip spice and texture, but it’s the sour, smoky, creamy kashk (whey) that makes it so moreish. Taftoon flatbread, baked in the clay oven by the front window, is the ideal accompaniment. Kuku-ye sabzi (a frittata-like dish of parsley, coriander and dill mixed with eggs and baked) was almost as good. The key to Persian lamb kebabs is the marinade – lots of turmeric, black pepper and garlic – and the chelo koobideh (minced lamb) was spot-on. Even better was the khoresht-e fesenjan, a glorious chicken stew in a sauce made from ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses. Doogh (yoghurt drink) was properly minty and slightly carbonated. Our only minor complaints are that the tahdig (rice from the bottom of the pan) was more chewy than crisp, and the staff seemed keen for us to leave as closing time approached. Sufi is just about smart enough for a date, though rugs and instruments hanging from the walls are as exciting as the decor gets. But for exquisite Persian food at low prices (two can eat well for £25), it’s a fantastic option. Read more
Things to do in Stratford
A community theatre with many shows written, directed and performed by black or Asian artists, Theatre Royal is a great cultural hit in ethnically diverse Stratford. Musicals are big here – whether about hip hop or the Windrush generation. Kinks frontman Ray Davies penned the hit ‘Come Dancing’ for Theatre Royal Stratford East, while homegrown success ‘The Harder They Come’ made a West End transfer.Read more
The 'city within a city', Westfield's £1.45 billion retail behemoth snakes through the Olympic site, with 300 retail units – the cornerstones of which are gigantic versions of High Street brands John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose – 70 restaurants, bars and cafés, and a 17-screen digital cinema. So far, mega-mall, but Westfield Stratford City has attempted to be lead a little by its east London neighbours.Read more
The curly-wurly red scaffolding tower lords it over the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from its position right alongside the Olympic Stadium. Designed by the artist Anish Kapoor and structural engineer Cecil Balmond, it stands 114.5m (376ft) tall – with lifts (and a 455-step staircase) up to two platforms from which you take in the interesting, if not entirely spectacular, view – The Shard, St Paul’s and the Wembley arches are all very much on the skyline.Read more
Things to do in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Where to go next
Discover the best of Shoreditch, from indie shops to tasty cheap food What's on in Shoreditch this week? The Alternative London Tour East London's 'alternative' side is revealed on this leftfield tour. Expect to be introduced to the history and culture of the Brick Lane 'Banglatown' and Shoreditch areas as well as current issues and street art. Booking essential via www.alternativeldn.co.uk Urban Food Fest A revolving cast of dozens of food stalls and trucks serve a frankly intimidating variety of global cuisine at the Euro Car Parks in Shoreditch. Jerk chicken, wood-fired oven pizza, pad thai, halloumi souvlaki, sushi, schwarma, fried chicken, burritos – we could go on. And we will, quickly, to make special mention of the deep-fried frogs' legs at Geaux Cajun. Those things are amazing. Visitors will also find plenty to drink, along with a 'V Corner' for vegans and their day-walker counterparts, vegetarians. Up-and-coming bands and entertainers round out the experience, while the family-run fest’s ever-evolving lineup ensures second and third visits are well worth the effort. Entry is free. The food, of course, is not. 2014s launch night on Saturday April 12 will be Where's Wally themed so visitors who want to be in with the chance of winning a free cocktail should don red and white striped tops, bobble-hats and glasses. Secret 7" Anyone who's familiar with the RCA's Secret Postcard exhibition and sale will be familiar with this concept, but this time round it's record sleevRead more
Where to eat in Dalston Tina, We Salute You Tina’s puts you instantly at ease: the large communal table in the middle (sofas and a handful of pavement tables also available for early arrivers) – populated with help-yourself jars of Marmite and jam, and locals helping each other with the Guardian crossword – feel like your best friend’s kitchen table. Regulars work their way towards a lifetime discount by getting a star on the wall every time they buy a coffee; by the looks of things, Duncan, Andy M and Emma have a serious Tina habit. The café’s namesake is a glamorous ‘60s model who graces the wall, alongside an anything-goes mix of artwork and flyers for local events. Owners Danny and Steve make all the cakes at home, just as they have done since they first started running a cupcake stall off Brick Lane. A comforting breakfast menu (poached eggs, pancakes with berries, porridge) eases itself into lunch (toasted sandwiches, bagels, ploughman’s). The beans with chorizo had sold out by the time we arrived, but fluffy American pancakes showed attention to detail with a buttery maple sauce, tart berries, and a dusting of icing sugar and oats. The ‘breakfast trifle’ is a triumph of granola, fruit and a dash of lemon curd. Tina’s also serves consistently good coffee; expand your tastes beyond the usual latte with a Gibraltar (between a mini latte and a large macchiato). Cash only. Mangal Ocakbasi Some things have changed round here since Mangal Ocakbasi opened over 20 years ago. ARead more