At the end of last year, famed French pastry chef and Cronut® creator Dominique Ansel finally brought his awesome pastries across the pond, with the opening of his first London bakery. But when he’s not getting creative in the kitchen, where does he like to eat? We asked him to share his five favourite foodie spots in London.
‘I really admire what the guys at The Clove Club are doing, using incredible local produce and bringing British ingredients to a whole new level. One of my favourite dishes I had last year in London was their buttermilk fried chicken dusted with pine salt.
Park Chinois is also a great spot for a special evening out. There’s a grand old-school vibe and you’re welcomed with a roaring fireplace once you walk in, then you’re led into a beautiful dining room with live jazz music and cosy plush banquettes. Order the Park carbonara, which is topped with a soft-poached egg and mixed tableside so that the sea urchin and egg yolk create a silky creamy sauce.’
‘I head to Maltby Street Market on a weekend for a cheese toastie from The Cheese Truck, with salty, gooey melted British cheddar and onions. There’s something that’s so simple and comforting about it, made with just a few ingredients, toasted up on a flat-top grill until the bread crisps up and the cheese starts oozing out the sides. Eat it while walking around the market in search of even more things to try.’
Dinner with friends
‘It's a toss-up between Barshu for Sichuan food and Dishoom for Indian food. On my last visit to London, I went to Barshu and had a hotpot stew with soft tofu, pig’s blood and offal in a spicy red chilli-laced broth that was delicious. Go in a group and be prepared for your tastebuds to wake up a bit with all of those spicy options.
And at Dishoom, I took our London team there just after we opened last autumn for a celebratory meal to thank them for all of their hard work. I think we ordered nearly one (or two) of everything on the menu with plenty of naan and roti on the side. It was all washed down with their Darjeeling tea and Ceylon Arrack punch that comes in a big communal copper punch bowl with a ladle so the whole table can serve themselves.'
Favourite street food stall
‘I had Brindisa’s chorizo panini at Borough Market for the first time last year before we opened and I still have cravings for it. It’s Spanish chorizo perfectly chargrilled so you get that savoury, smoky bite, with sweet piquillo peppers, a bit of rocket for some peppery bitterness, drizzled with olive oil on fresh crusty bread. The bread slowly soaks up the pimentón-spiced chorizo oil and olive oil – it’s one of the best bites I’ve had in a while.’
Favourite restaurant in London right now
’The Ledbury. The moment you’re seated, you know you’re in for something really special. I had an incredible meal there recently and every dish and every bite was so thought through and balanced – from the bread service with whipped whey that’s sprayed with a bit of maple, to a tiny steamed pan-fried bun topped with thinly shaved white truffle and nutty cheese, and paper-thin salt-baked beets with smoked eel and caviar.
’A close runner-up is Barrafina in Soho. I try to stop there every time I’m in London. Take a seat at the bar, order a glass of wine and their Pan Con Tomate – garlic-rubbed toast topped with juicy ripe tomatoes drizzled with fragrant olive oil and lots of white pepper to finish. Perfection.’