August 18, 2022

Zaika

Livingston

The Best Dishes in London Restaurants, According to Eater Writers

8 min read

A very warm winter welcome back to the column which highlights the best dishes (or things) Eater London staff and/or contributors ate during the week.

Look back on previous best dishes of the week here.


4 December 2020

Assam Sambal Prawns at Chu Chin Chow

Assam Sambal Prawns at Chu Chin Chow
Jessica Wang

Assam Sambal Prawns at Chu Chin Chow

The wonders of the off-menu menu Chu Chin Chow are hardly a case of “IYKYK” now and for good reason. But, what exactly does someone, like me, who walks into this miraculously good “local Chinese” on a whim to celebrate the end of lockdown order when those pre-order only specials are not an option? Well, I can tell you that the assam sambal prawns — which you can find on the standard menu — will stand up against all of their banquet dishes on any given day. Oh, and when it comes to selecting your prawn size, be sure to go “grand.” —Jessica Wang
7 Cat Hill, East Barnet EN4 8HG


Stuffed pita at Pockets in Netil Market, London Fields
Feroz Gajia/Eater London

Stuffed falafel pita at Pockets

Some weeks are stuffed full of so much good food you just can’t choose what to write about, you start playing a game of “guess who?” in your head trying to narrow down the choices. Should I mention the amazing panettone in a Catford garage? He’s already sold all his preorders, that would just be mean. Maybe the Sichuan vada pav at Shree Sai in Wembley? A high octane hot item but best had in the company of a plate of bhajias and a few other snacks. What about the return visit to the expanded Sonora taquería? The deliciousness quotient was very high but many have already waxed poetic about the barbacoa and chile verde.

No, the best thing to talk about was the huge falafel pita at Pockets, a recommendation by the aforementioned Sonora. The fluffy steamed pitas are stuffed with a rainbow of salad, freshly fried falafel of the smooth textured kind, hummus, tahina, zhoug, a fried battered slice of potato just to gild the lily and on request Itamar’s amba. He seemed worried about people liking it but I will say it’s the mellowest and brightest tasting amba I’ve had, mango pickle with pops of lemony acidity. The wrap may have been big enough for two sensible people to share but for me it served as the perfect main course between taco shaped starters and dessert, There was dessert after that, too. Weekends only. —Feroz Gajia
Netil Market, 12-23 Westgate Street, E8 3RL


A piece of pissaladière, with caramelised onions, anchovy, and black olive, on a piece of wax paper

Pissaladière from Anna Tobias’ Café Deco
James Hansen/Eater London

Pissaladière at Café Deco

Anna Tobias’ new Bloomsbury restaurant and deli Café Deco wraps its pissaladière like a present; first in parchment, and then in a brown paper bag. When handed over, it almost feels like there’s nothing else in the bag. But then you find a bench on Bedford Square — or Fitzroy Square, for those with greater patience than I — and unwrap your present. At the centre is a slice so thin it could be pressed into a book, so friable that you feel you should be wearing gloves to handle it, with a stern curator sniffing over your shoulder. Where Cafe Deco’s ham focaccia is pneumatic and direct, its pissaladière is so fragile that the salt of the anchovy and olive hits like sitting bolt upright from the plush bedding of caramelised onion; the base so crumbling with butter that it sublimates on the tongue. Some will admire its gossamer beauty and know not what to do; some will fold it in on itself like a concertina and cram it in in one greedy go. In between is a place of comforting awe, which is exactly where Anna Tobias’ food so often lands. —James Hansen
43 Store Street, Bloomsbury WC1E 7DB


Coronation cauliflower fritter sandwich at Cafe Deco

Coronation cauliflower fritter sandwich
George Reynolds/Instagram

Sandwiches at Café Deco

Choosing a favourite between the fried chicken sandwich at Café Deco and the cauliflower fritter sandwich at Café Deco was impossible because they are basically the same thing. The frying was perfect, as you’d expect from a cook who has mastered the dark arts of the brown and the beige. The mayonnaise-like condiment on both — a dill-heavy sauce gribiche on the former; an unobtrusively spiced coronation dressing on the latter — was perfectly apposite. The bread was unimpeachable, the rare showcase for focaccia-as-sandwich-bread where the end result isn’t as hefty as a Sunday broadsheet. Fair warning: these are now off rotation, but no matter the filling, even the size of these sandwiches seems precision-engineered to court delight: at about the size of a modern smartphone, one is a perfectly sufficient light lunch, two is perfectly satisfying (but not overwhelming). So don’t choose: get both.—George Reynolds
43 Store Street, Bloomsbury WC1E 7DB


St Emilion au Chocolat, from Quo Vadis at Home. One of the best desserts in London during the coronavirus lockdown

St Emilion au Chocolat, from Quo Vadis at Home
Quo Vadis/Instagram

St Emilion au Chocolat, Quo Vadis at Home

The quality of London restaurants’ finish-at-home deliveries is almost uniformly impressive, but not many are as flamboyantly on-brand as Quo Vadis’s. So much of what makes the restaurant itself is there in the box, from proper ceramic bakeware (for keeps, but return them and there’s a free drink on offer) to a paper tablecloth printed with John Broadley illustrations. The finale of a truly decadent menu (baked salsify; terrine and sourdough; cured salmon with pickles and dill sauce; pie with ludicrously buttery mash; pouches of ready-mixed negronis) is a St Emilion au Chocolat: a perfect slice of two-layered chocolate torte with an almost ganache-like layer merging into a boozy biscuit base. A top three 2020 dessert that preceded a top three lifetime hangover. —Emma Hughes
26 – 29 Dean Street, Soho W1D 3LL


13 November 2020

The diy Oreo doughnut by Treats Club in Hackney

The diy Oreo doughnut by Treats Club in Hackney
Gemma Croffie

Hot Donut Oreo Kit from Treats Club

After a week lasting 20 days, the hot donut Oreo kit from Hackney based Treats club dessert bar was the perfect end. The kit arrived with everything you need (except oil) — it even included squares of baking parchment. Hands-on time was about 10 minutes, including frying. Post-frying, the Oreo, buried inside the orb, transformed into a squidgy delight. I’m not going to lie, we stayed standing by the pan — dipping, smearing with boys tears (marshmallow fluff), cinnamon sugar, sprinkles, chocolate sauce, and more. Heaven. Find them here. Nationwide delivery £18.50+delivery. —Gemma Croffie
Netil Market, 12-23 Westgate Street, E8 3RL


Cheesecake buns at Buns from Home, Notting Hill

Cheesecake buns at Buns from Home, Notting Hill
Maazin Buhari

Cheesecake bun at Buns from Home

This is the only reason to walk down Portobello Road on a Saturday, since traipsing around Notting Hill makes me wonder if I’m in an imagined Franken-town juxtaposing Los Angeles and bourgeois London. Barney and Gabriel started baking for their neighbours during the first London lockdown; what started off as a productive distraction for the brothers has thankfully evolved into a dreamy Talbot Road fixture, selling babka loaves, a variety of rotating croissant buns flavours (including a fantastic vegan one), and massive focaccia slices.

Watching the mini phalanx in their laboratory kitchen is like watching poetry in motion. The cheesecake buns, filled with luscious (but not-too-sweet) cream cheese, topped with a berry compote and sprinkled with crumble, are indulgent but not excessively so — I’d eat one, then take two to go. —Maazin Buhari
128 Talbot Road, W11 1JA


A Cornish pasty in all but name, 40 Maltby Street’s beef pasty is one of the best things Eater writers ate in London this week

A Cornish pasty in all but name
Jonathan Nunn

Beef Pasty at 40 Maltby Street

I now spend my Wednesday’s furiously updating Instagram, waiting for the 40 Maltby Street sandwiches to be posted like an Ariana-stan waits for an album drop. This week’s offering provoked a tactical selection: I got the cheaper, healthier option (pumpkin fritters, ricotta and kale) to fit in a ‘beef pasty’, a Cornish pasty in all but name, a big, fat zeppelin of peppered beef chunks, onion, potato and swede, juices already oozing from its base. Next time though, tactics be damned ─ I’m getting the fish finger sandwich. —Jonathan Nunn
40 Maltby Street, SE1 3PA


Beef, pickled greens on rice at Hoa Phuong, Elepahant and Castle, one of the best dishes eaten by Eater writers this week

Beef, pickled greens on rice at Hoa Phuong
Feroz Gajia

Beef, pickled greens on rice at Hoa Phuong

Food crawling during lockdown has not changed much. Insatiable hunger for one more great bite of food remains, but now is coupled with a desire to check-in and support the businesses we love more than ever. But the small amount of extra time afforded and change in work habits also means being able to try places and recommendations that you’d never make it to normally. Hoa Phuong is a tiny takeaway that currently sits behind a JCB digger, singly staffed and quietly putting out amazingly good Vietnamese food — slightly more central in style than many Vietnamese restaurants in London. A pick from the best-value map meant I’d had previous conversations with that map’s author about what was “must order.” It also meant I’d decided on this meal almost a year ahead of time: A container piled high with rice, sweet pickled mustard greens, stir-fried beef with a surprising hit of lemongrass, and the house chilli oil. It marked the end of a day filled with 10 courses of excellent eats, but was consumed with a fervour usually reserved for the first bite. Moral of the story is: Travel but don’t travel, eat out but stay at home, explore but stay safe and please don’t all go to the same markets at the same time. —Feroz Gajia
4 Hampton Street, SE1 6SN


Juicy fried chicken at Bright by Peg, one of the best

Fried chicken at Bright by Peg
Angela Hui

Fried chicken at Bright (by Peg)

Admittedly, I saw an instagrammer posting about Peg’s fried chicken on his Stories the day before. After interrogating him about it, I just knew I had to have it in my body, so off I went to Bright the following day: £7 for two thigh pieces served with a single wedge of lime. An excellent, crispy batter coating that’s light and seasoned well throughout, but the succulent white meat is the star of the show. As the chicken hypebeast pointed out, it’s rare for fried chicken to be served without any condiments, and here, juiciness is the only condiment it needs. In fact, it’s so juicy it needs a serviette to wrap around to catch any liquid runoff and to prevent from further embarrassment. Now, this is influencing done right. —Angela Hui
1 Westgate Street, E8 3RL


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