There are so many restaurants in London that I’ve eaten at and people often write to ask me for recommendations when they’re visiting the city. So I’ve decided to periodically write up brief descriptions about a few of the restaurants I haunt here in the Great Smoke but that have never gone as far as inspiring me to write an entire blog about them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re really very good and they’re places I go to with regularity, but they’re very local places a lot of buzz surrounding them, and no big tricks up their sleeves (except for a good solid food). I’m going to start with some of the restaurants I’ve eaten at recently and then we’ll go from there, adding from time to time.
Maguro Sushi in Maida Vale is a delicious sushi spot. We moved to the neighborhood almost a year ago and this little gem tucked away on a little alley off of Clifton Road high street has been a delightful find. I’ve found it tricky to find good sushi at reasonable prices here in London. There are plenty of chains that will deliver sushi or provide an ok hit if you’re in need of a raw fish fix, but nothing of this quality. The fish here is fantastically fresh, their rolls are creative and delicious and their gyoza are yummy! There’s no delivery service but they do offer take away and if you’re planning a meal here it’s best to book ahead. Every time we’ve been we’ve see diners hoping for a meal turned away….and it’s tiny!
When I moved here four years ago it seemed that every pub was calling itself a gastropub. This was meant to indicate that they served interesting, unusual grub – something beyond your bog standard fish and chips or bangers and mash. Well, to my dismay, you can call yourself a gastropub no matter what kind of food you’re serving. Shouldn’t there be some kind of food standards’ agency that monitors these things? Anyway, the Anglesea Arms is a true gastropub. Their food is ever-changing and always delicious. On a recent visit I had skate with purple artichokes and leeks and my friend had hake with lovely roasted beets. They mix in a few pub favorites, like prawns in a marie rose sauce and pork pies but they’re done to an extremely high standard. In the bar area there is a lovely fireplace and when the weather cooperates there’s a little terrace full of tables out front. It’s a bit off the beaten path but worth a try.
When we lived in Primrose Hill I must have walked past Manna thousands of times. It’s Europe’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, opening its doors 44 years ago. What was always appealing about it was that it didn’t look like a vegetarian restaurant. Now, what I mean is that one of the most off-putting aspects of eating vegetarian food is the assumption that I also want to travel back in a time machine to the 1960s, enjoy the smell of incense and don’t shave my armpits. Manna is a pretty restaurant with well-groomed staff (albeit a little scattered sometimes) and delicious sounding menu. I could never convince my dear husband that we should maybe give it a go, but recently convinced a friend that we should brave the waters. I am all for vegetarian dining and try to refrain from overdoing it on meat, so Manna was a nice change of pace. I thought the starters were particularly yummy and the main was filled with interesting textures and a certain amount of playfulness. It didn’t all work for me, but I’d definitely recommend this spot if you’re looking to expand your vegetarian options.
Brunch is a meal I took so for granted when I lived in New York and San Francisco. Probably my favorite meal of the week, there was always a slew of good places to meet up with friends, work on curing a hangover and get the day started on the right foot. Here the Sunday Roast is what appeals to the masses and it’s not necessarily a morning affair, it’s in the middle of the afternoon which precludes doing much of anything else (which I think is the point). I don’t love it because it’s not a natural time of day for me to be eating and I’d much rather have eaten a lovely meal by noon and then be off to enjoy the rest of my day (perhaps it’s the German in me). The Providores on Marleybone High Street is a lovely solution to my brunch funk. Smoothies, eggs any way you want them, pancakes, and a few lunch options which I’ve never tried because the breakfast is just that good. I highly recommend the Turkish eggs with yoghurt and a chilli oil. Sounds weird, trust me, it isn’t.
You’ll walk by this last restaurant and wonder where I’ve sent you. Tsiakkos & Charcoal is a Greek hole in the wall off of Harrow Road, that deserves a second look. It has little to no ambiance, you’ll wonder about the kitchen’s cleanliness and you’ll leave smelling like roast meat but it’s cheap and the best Greek food in London. We always order as many mezze as we can agree upon and then share a couple of mains. They always have delicious whole grilled fish on the menu (which is handwritten every night) and the grilled meats are also excellent. This is among my favorite ways to eat, communally with lots of sharing. On top of this there’s a little deck off the back of the restaurant that’s covered with vines so when the weather improves you can sit outside and imagine that you’re on one of the Greek Isles (almost).