Nicola is one of Time Out London's food and drink reviewers. She might be out at lunch, but you can follow her and her colleagues on Twitter @timeouteatdrink
London's best bars with a view
Cocktails shouldn’t taste better at altitude, but somehow they do – especially when that extra height guarantees that you’re also drinking in sensational views of London. So whether it's a special occasion or you're just wanting to get high in the capital, here are our top London bars with a view – from famed rooftop bars to hangouts with a particularly gorgeous backdrop.
London's best barbecues
Come summer, pubs and restaurants with barbecues in London are hot property. Here’s our area-by-area selection of the best alfresco grills the capital has to offer across street food hot spots, restaurants and of course, pub gardens. The only thing that can dampen the fires (and our enthusiasm for them) is the British weather, so check ahead at your barbecue of choice to see if the rain clouds are gathering.
The best summer food pop-ups in London
Whether you want to craft artisanal ice lollies, sample the city's coolest restaurants on top of a car park, slurp bottomless margaritas by a canal or knock back oysters in a stone courtyard, London's pop-up foodie scene has a lot to offer this summer. So go forth to eat, drink and be merry with our pick of the best.
The best juice bars in London
London has really let the juice loose of late; these days, anybody who is anybody is sipping the stuff – cold-pressed and organic, of course. With juice bars on their way to becoming as ubiquitous as coffee bars in the city, we’ve rounded up the best in town. Straws at the ready...
The coolest supper clubs in London to try while you have the chance
Supper clubs have been around for donkeys’ years, so anyone who wants theirs to make a mark on Londoners’ consciousness these days has to have a pretty awesome USP. Luckily, the capital continues to provide a wild night out in supper club form. Here’s our pick of London’s envelope-pushing supper clubs, all offering deliciously different dishes and cut-above cocktails.
London's coolest female chefs
Women in kitchens all over the city are doing fine work, but you're unlikely to know about it as numbers of them have been steadily decreasing over the past few years. Just 23 percent of chefs in the UK were women in 2010, but that dropped in 2014 to 20 percent and as of 2016 stood at a paltry 18.5 percent, according to the Office for National Statistics. Well, in this increasingly butch food world, we’re here to say big up the broads! We've pinpointed a handful of the coolest female chefs London's vast array of restaurants has to offer, who dish up top nosh daily. RECOMMENDED: Read all about International Women's Day in London
The best bars and restaurants in London to propose in
If your beloved loves restaurants, you can of course pull out all the stops by getting a gold-dust reservation at one of the capital’s swankiest spots, then popping the question in a carefully orchestrated fashion. But proposing marriage doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune – we’ve come up with a whole range of ideas for how and where to propose, from intimate, romantic spaces to dazzling destinations and slick bars. We’ve even thought of some suitable places to propose when you’re not so sure the answer will be ‘yes’… You know, just in case. Good luck!
London's best celebrity chef restaurants
You’ve seen these celebrity chefs on the telly, you’ve read their recipes in cookery books or newspaper supplements, and you’ve heard their names uttered in reverent tones by those in the know - but how exactly did they earn their fame and fortune? Here's a whistlestop tour to the best celebrity chef restaurants in London.
The best restaurants for celebrity-spotting in London
Looking for a side-order of stardust with your meal? Then allow us to point you to London’s best restaurants for celebrity-spotting. They’re not all big, they’re not all clever – but enough about the celebrities (ho ho); let’s hear it for the starriest restaurants in town.
Listings and reviews (6)
You know you’re in for a bumpy ride when your waiter asks, ‘What can I get you?’ and you go, ‘Er, menus?’ At this cycle café, we were mentally willing the guy serving us to remember his lines. It’s a shame he didn’t, because everything else was spot-on. The café’s basement workshop will serve refreshments with your repairs when it opens later in the spring, but for now, the cycling theme is purely cosmetic: bike hooks in the spacious entrance, framed Tour de France jerseys and dishes referencing legendary cycling routes. There’s takeaway Allpress coffee at the colour-blocked counter, a three-sided bar, and leather booths for sit-down meals. The kitchen does thoughtfully enhanced versions of brunch faves: creamy, sticky ‘100-mile’ porridge packed with mashed banana, date syrup, crunchy seeds and a vanilla hit of cocoa nibs; avo and poached eggs on sourdough toast, lifted with a sprinkling of citrussy dukkah. Pizzas, too, are made with obvious care: my stelvio had a crisp, chewy, evenly browned base and high-quality toppings – smoked scamorza and sprigs of gloriously scented fresh oregano alongside courgette and mascarpone. So the kitchen is a winner, and the space is smart – only diffident staff put a spoke in the wheel. Perhaps they can book a service at the workshop.
The Railway Tavern
This pub at the tawdrier end of Clapham High Street has undergone one of those unrecognisable transformations we used to see in trashy reality programmes. Just weeks ago, it was a watering hole so gloomy you might have thought twice about going in to use the loo; now, its façade and interiors sport petrol hues, the trendy lighting is reclaimed, flowers brighten the tables, and the once-dominant bar has shrunk to accommodate high tables and stools, a glimpse of the tastefully worn parquet, and lots more daylight. The new menu aims to be a bit gastro, but really just offers a modern take on pub grub; it’s there for ballast rather than ammunition to blow you out of the water. The small-plates section is like a bingo card for era-defining Noughties cuisine: poutine, pulled-pork sliders, dishes name-checking quinoa and kale. Sadly, the sliders had just one layer of flavour (an ersatz tang); chunks of merguez sausages lacked their trademark fiery punch; and soggy pumpkin and kale croquettes had soaked up most of the homemade salsa they were served on. To drink, there are award-winning cask beers and ales on tap, including Doom Bar, Old Engine Oil and Tribute, plus cans and bottles of craft beers and ciders from well-known brewers such as Brooklyn, Brewdog, Fourpure and Purity. A short, safe list of wines, meanwhile, is a one-way trip to Snoozeville - but its Merlots and Pinot Grigios are mostly available by the glass. All these components are already done better and with more passi
First Aid Box
When your neighbourhood café serves cocktails worthy of Zone 1, you know the only way you’ll ever leave London will be in a box. But this Herne Hill newcomer – the second from the team behind Brixton’s Shrub and Shutter – will even go so far as to help you keep the Grim Reaper at bay. Because, as the name suggests, it specialises in ‘cure-all’ drinks. A great fit for the area’s relaxed, thirtysomething inhabitants, First Aid Box’s white tiled walls, shelves of pseudo-pharmacological gear and menu with a medicinal theme suggest the snap of a latex glove, but it’s a concept lubricated by charming staff, upbeat music and flattering, flickering candlelight. Drinks make ample use of ‘shrubs’: spirits suspended in vinegar-based syrups that make for thrilling flavour bases. Updates of tried-and-tested classics include an aviation-style mix called Conscious Pilot (£8.50). Here, the rhubarb-infused gin lends the drink a subtle tartness that prevents the triple whammy of violette liqueur, violette shrub and violette droplets from delving too deep into granny’s knicker drawer. Elsewhere, the creamy exuberance of a Ramos gin fizz is given added depth with a shot of rich, earthy matcha-and-pistachio shrub. Both are served without gimmicks – though if it’s theatre you’re after, there’s a smoking cocktail served in a bell jar (£8), a cucumber sherbet in a bottle with a miniature cone of sorbet as a stopper (£9) or a vitamin C-laced bramble with a syringe of blood-hued Chambord (£8).But the
When a restaurant tries to provide something more than just good food and drink, things can get confusing. With this east London jazz venue, the potential for confusion is real. Jackdaw has a lot to offer, but its concept may need finessing. Jackdaw has two spaces, the larger of which is the ground-floor dining room. The atmospheric basement is where the music happens, and it’s here that things turn tricky. It's possible just to have a drink while enjoying the music, but in our experience, the combination of dining and listening was not an easy multi-task. Quality was mixed in what we ate. Our cocktails lacked the balance needed for true slurpability, so the interesting wine list may be a better bet (prices start at £24). Most of our food, ambitious and inventive small plates, was very fine stuff. Highlights included a partridge kiev, enlivened by a streak of sriracha; al dente purple sprouting in garlicky almond milk; and well-seasoned chunks of chicken thigh, grilled sweetcorn and rioja-braised salsify. The single dud was a tough onglet. Food this good deserves to be more than a sideshow. If it’s food you’re after, staying upstairs may be the smart move – even if it means missing out on the cool sounds. Or at least postponing your musical pleasure.
Dining out in San Sebastián is a food crawl like no other: locals cruise the tapas bars, gobbling up a speciality at each before continuing. London hasn’t caught on to this model yet, but the team behind Donostia is slowly fashioning a tiny Basque enclave up in Marylebone – the group’s second venture is just steps from its first. This smart, luxurious outfit centres around erretegias, the charcoal and wood grills used in Basque cooking. Smoky aromas waft from the open kitchen, and almost everything tastes like it’s had a beneficial brush with the flames. Typical Basque delicacies include gelatinous kokotxas (hake’s, er, double chin) and padrón-style peppers from Guernica. Sharing plates are big on flavour but small in size. Warm sourdough, chewy and crusty, was even more mouthwatering spread with silky marrow scooped from the bone. A tiny tartare of cobia – its firm flesh chopped into bead-like morsels whose texture melded with the trout roe they were topped with – had a perky dill and citrus dressing. A stout courgette flower stuffed with creamy cod brandade was more generous. Supremely tender pork tenderloin came imbued with sense-aligning bonfire notes. The wine list features sprightly, refreshing txakoli alongside glasses from similarly independent-minded areas of Spain such as Catalunya and Mallorca. Although the main dining area is a candlelit vision in Eau de Nil and white marble, its close-set tables and hard surfaces make for challenging acoustics. At times I almost
Four Hundred Rabbits
Anyone trying to break into London’s organic sourdough pizza market will find it quite a task these days, thanks to the nearly-omnipresent Franco Manca, which specialises in high-quality and affordable renditions of just that. In Crystal Palace, however, Four Hundred Rabbits has pipped them to the chomping post. The restaurant has a prime location on the Triangle, which is the place to be for any restaurant, vintage store or lifestyle shop in SE19. It draws attention with its vibrant green frontage and colourful, brightly-lit interior (pine tables and stools, exposed ducts and funky prints riffing on the restaurant’s moniker). The menu is short and sweet. The team has concentrated on perfecting their six pizzas (plus two specials), and delegated ice cream, coffee and juices to other specialists (Gelupo, Allpress, and Peckham’s Ali Baba Juice, respectively). They have, however, stretched to a barrel-aged negroni (£3.50). A punchy, pleasingly bitter concoction it’s dinky enough to polish off before the pizzas arrive. The pies themselves are no Franco Manca knock-off. For a start, the bases are completely different: tightly knit rather than soft and chewy, and mildly sour instead of boldly tangy. Whereas Franco Manca puts as much focus on the base as on the sparse toppings, 400 Rabbits sees it very much as a quality foundation for lavish toppings – our generously laden special of merguez, roasted butternut squash and pine nuts got extra oomph from burnt-aubergine yoghurt. For d
Eating in restaurants with children: a survival guide
Planning to eat out en famille this Easter? You'll need to dig dip. We’re talking a level of patience that has to extend not only to your own sprogs, but also to all the people around you silently judging your parental skills. But you can do it. Here's how: 1. Lower your standards Your choices now are so limited that spying a Leon on the horizon or finding a new topping on the Pizza Express menu are moments of pinch-yourself joy. Jamie’s Italian is your new Wolseley. 2. Feel the need for speed Your kids will detonate after 60 minutes of confinement, so you need to be tactical with your restaurant choice and favour places with a wham-bam approach. 3. Charge your devices Technology is your friend. If an iPad full of ‘Peppa Pig’ will get you to the bill without being blacklisted by the restaurant, it’s worth the guilt. 4. Give thanks for bread Most children – especially small ones – will happily gnaw away on bread, so a crusty roll can double as a makeshift chew toy for a good 20 minutes. Little cherubs won’t eat their actual meal? Ask for more bread. They start whining? Stuff some bread in. You need more time while the bill comes? Bread is the answer. 5. Bribery is all Ply them with pudding – or anything, really – in order to elicit good behaviour. We will brave the Lego Store if you eat your greens. We'll pick up a Maccy D's later if you sit on that goddam chair. You can play with the bleach bottle when we get home if you eat three more mouthfuls. That sort of thing. 6. Forg
Staff from London's swankiest restaurants share their best proposal stories
We’re all different: while some of us would rather dine with Donald Trump than field a marriage proposal in a packed restaurant, for self-proclaimed foodies it can be the most romantic gesture on Earth. We asked the staff at some of London's swankiest restaurants for their best proposal stories. In his post as GM of three Michelin-starred Le Gavroche, Emanuel Landré has seen it all. ‘We often bring out the ring as a course,’ he says. ‘We’ll take the box into the kitchen and place it in a prettily folded napkin; it’s then covered with a silver cloche, and when it’s time, the waiters bring over the gentleman’s meal and the lady’s ring, and remove both cloches at the same time. Then come the tears, and a glass of champagne on the house.’ Okay Emmanuel – but has anyone ever eaten the ring? ‘No, but a regular of ours proposed using our dessert selection,’ he says. ‘It’s a very big plate that normally has seven desserts on it, and we put the ring in with one of the desserts. The gentleman had been telling her all night how wonderful this dessert was, and she dug right in without noticing the ring was there!’ Gulp. Despite having notched up decades in the trade, Le Gavroche’s staff agree that the most memorable proposal was just last year – perhaps thanks to the cliffhanger suspense involved. ‘A gentleman pushed the table out as if he was going to leave and then all of a sudden got down on one knee,’ explains Emmanuel. ‘It was instantly obvious to everyone what he was doing and the
You don’t give to receive… or do you? How to make Christmas presents work for you
You know that episode of 'The Simpsons' when Homer buys Marge a bowling ball for her birthday, and she feels touched that he wants her to join in with his hobby… until she realises he's had it engraved with his name? Well, while we’re not advocating the sort of behaviour that could end up in domestic fireworks to rival The Queen Vic on Christmas Day, we do think that IF YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH IT, you should definitely make the gifts that you buy kind of for yourself, too. So, with Christmas in mind, we’ve thought up a few foodie treats that you can buy for yourself. We mean, for someone else (but really for you). Case in point: we all know afternoon tea is more fun when there are two of you, right? So treat a loved one to the Oxo Tower’s British-themed afternoon tea (just £35pp if you book this special deal), and they’ll probably invite you to share the bubbly, posh finger sandwiches, scones and luxury nibbles. Book now for January, when the riverbank will still be lit up for Christmas and the euphoria from the sugar and booze will banish any winter blues. Or if the cheese board trumps the dessert trolley for you every time, then how about indulging in a spot of urban cheese-making together? You can dress up the idea as ‘quality time’. The one-day course at Wildes Cheese teaches you to craft cream, curd and fresh cheeses that you can take home, plus you get to stuff your face on cheese. Other ways to turn food into a DIY outing include hands-on masterclasses in chocolate, gin
A share thing: the best roasts in London to eat with a crowd
Autumn is the perfect time to get together a big group of mates and don your most forgiving trousers for a big, meaty, shareable main course. Nicola Arencibia gets stuck into the capital's best shareable roasts. Biblical proportions at St John St John's flagship cooks the king of Last Supper-style feasts: a whole suckling pig served with greens, potatoes, stuffing and gravy. Starters include St Johns famed roast bone marrow salad; desserts are classic English. You'll need at least 15 friends to keep the price right (the pig alone costs £380) but recruiting a full crew shouldn't be hard, especially when you explain that you can eat until you pop for around £40 (excluding drinks). 26 St John St, EC1M 4AY. Non-stop pig at Blackfoot Another pig-out option is the four-course menu at this Exmouth Market stalwart. Pork features not just in the middle of this menu, but in every course, from whipped lardo on toast to a dessert of peanut butter and bacon (yes, bacon) semifreddo. Treacle-dipped, anise-crusted pork belly is one of two main options. The price is £35 a head, for a minimum of six people. 46 Exmouth Market, EC1 4QE. Specials roulette at The Canton Arms The blackboard at Stockwell's autumn pub par excellence always suggests something shareable. If you strike it lucky, the signature joint of seven-hour saltmarsh lamb shoulder for five (£74), served with potato-and-olive-oil gratin and, will be chalked up there. Be warned: it's falling-off-the-bone-tender, and it sells out q
It's International Coffee Day! Here's how to celebrate
Since the capital’s hipsters turned from Colombian marching powder to matcha green juice, toting a cult cup of coffee in all its caffeinated glory has become somewhat rock 'n' roll. But you have to make your coffee count – and International Coffee Day is here once again to give a shout-out to the best beans, blends and baristas London has to offer. Kaffeine’s latte-art smackdown is perhaps generating the biggest buzz. 48 of the capital’s top baristas will go head-to-head to have their rosettas, tulips and hearts assessed under pressure. It’s a (semi) serious matter, with contestants rated not only for the consistency and symmetry of their design, but also on the volume of wastage they produce. The winner pockets a £680 prize – follow the final via @kaffeinelondon or see (and drink) the results for yourself at Square Mile Coffee Roasters on October 6. Over at Prufrock in Clerkenwell, it’s all about the high-end high, with cinema, jazz and martinis to accompany tastings of Has Bean coffee and expert-led workshops. The coffee shop will screen the premiere of ‘Caffeinated’, a film depicting the lives of key people within the coffee-production cycle; it will also host experts and past competition champions to lead workshops and serve up killer espresso martinis – plus, Prufrock’s director will stage a performance with his jazz trio (October 1, from 6.30pm). Finally, fans of Pact’s subscription coffee beans will be stoked about the company’s first in-the-flesh pop-up, at 45 Brushfi
A pop-up in Fitzrovia is turning sour foods into something sweet
What do you do if you don’t want to eat bitter flavours? Chew on something sweet instead – duh. And there this post could end, if it weren’t for a tenuous collaboration between Fitzrovia toilet-turned-coffee shop Attendant and a company that makes e-cigarettes. The duo is preparing to introduce Londoners to yet another miracle berry – this one with the dubious superpower of making sour flavours taste sweet. People visiting Attendant from September 28-30 will have the option of ordering an espresso and a plate of five bitter flavours (such as yoghurt and lemon slices). Then, after popping a ‘miraculin’ pill, they’ll be able to consume what they’ve bought without wincing. Which kind of raises the question: if they knew they weren’t going to like the taste of what they were buying, why buy it in the first place? Perhaps the biggest news is the temporary return of smoking in restaurants. For one night only, smokers will be able to puff away on a free e-cigarette indoors without censure – and eat and drink at the same time. For smokers, it’s a break from exile under an awning (if they’re lucky) or in a drizzle (if they’re not). Sweet. Non-smokers, however, might feel slightly bitter. The Attendant, 27A Foley St, London, W1W 6DY