Monday, 17 April 2017

2017 London Restaurant Visit List

Avid readers will know that Sis and I like to eat out once a month, though we didn’t do too much of that last year because I had braces and eating was sometimes painful and always awkward. And then came Winter and Colds. This year I have my teeth back, and it’s April, and we want to do it properly this year.

There are two fixed points in our schedule. A summer trip up the Kingsland Road to a Vietnamese place - this is as much for the atmosphere and summer evening as the excellent food; and Rules  in the Game season, when at least one of us goes for the roast Bambi. Rules usually ends the supper season for us, as after that the weather gets cold and December fills restaurants with India and Thomas having their Christmas party.

We started doing this a long while ago, and is it just me, or have the better places got really pricey, and the reasonable places compromised slightly on ingredients? I assume the relentless upward march of London rents is one reason, but I suspect that those with money have quite a lot of money and can afford the higher prices, which serve as much to keep people like us out. There are dozens of high-quality small-exquisite-portions-on-white-plates places with equally exquisite prices, and chains outlets by the score, but no so many in the middle anymore.

Sis is tired of the lamb-shank-brasseries: the places that do well-cooked food, but the menu is steak, chicken, lamb-shank, liver, and a white fish. I’ll happily eat at somewhere like that before a show at Sadlers Wells, but if the food is the point, there’s no point in food like that unless the location is interesting.

Interesting location gives the Oxo Tower a pass, because the menu  is fairly ordinary. Maybe one weekend. Same for the River Cafe which would otherwise fail the lamb-shank test.

A lot of the places at the top the Time Out 100 guide seem to have a) long queues and b) long waiting lists, so Barrafina, Time Out’s #1 is out. So for that matter is the Ivory (Sis and I aren’t famous enough). However, #2 Counter Culture in Clapham sounds interesting, as does #4 Som Saa in Spitalfields, and #5 Hoppers in Soho. I have seen the queues outside #7 Bao and, no. Just. No. On the other hand, it would be nice to go to Tapas Brindisa on Broadwick Street, about fifty yards from Bao. I’ve eaten there before, but not with a full set of choppers.

Sis wants to go back to The Providores, which we went to in December 2012 (!), and I want to go back to Gauthier, which we visited in January 2012. She’s also suggested the Merchant’s Tavern in Spitalfields, which I do want to go to.

So here’s a list:

The Providores, Marylebone High Street

Gauthier, Soho

Merchant’s Tavern, Spitalfields

Counter Culture, Clapham (seats at the counter)

Som Saa, Spitalfields

Hoppers, Soho

Tapas Brindisa, Soho

Native, Covent Garden

Oklava, Shoreditch

Rules, Covent Garden

Tay Do, Kingsland Road

Eneko, Aldwych

The Shed, Notting Hill

The Holborn Dining Room, Holborn,

Gymkhana, Mayfair

Pizzaro, Bermondsey

Plus we have to consider The Ledbury, and then not organise it. Again. The Ledbury takes a lot of organising.

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