A new year means a chance for new experiences. Some people take on a new hobby or visit a new place but there are few experiences as special as trying a new restaurant. London is full of hidden culinary gems and here are a few recommendations for where you should visit on your next trip to the English capital.
With its wide windows and rustic décor, it would be easy to forget that you’re not in Tuscany when dining at Trullo. The Islington-based restaurant emphasises a focus on a “simple, seasonally focused, Italian inspired” menu that aims to showcase the very best of Tuscan cuisine with a menu that changes daily. Trullo’s pride and joy is their fresh, handmade pasta that is rolled minutes before service. In addition to that, they offer meat and fish dishes cooked on a charcoal grill to give the dish a unique flavour. Trullo has something for everyone, whether it’s a classic ribollita or something more adventurous like ox heart or charcoal grilled calf livers. All this comes at an affordable price without sacrificing the quality of the dishes. Trullo is a two-minute walk from Highbury & Islington train station and has flourished in a vibrant part of London. Why not remain immersed in Italian culture with a visit to the nearby Estorick Collection of Italian Art, a gallery showcasing a wonderful collection of 20th-Century Italian art, after your meal? If you are a football fan, you could always visit Trullo after catching an Arsenal game, as the Emirates Stadium is only a fifteen-minute walk from the restaurant. There is nothing complex about Trullo - it offers good, simple Italian food and is well worth a visit if you find yourself in north London.
Alternatively, Clipstone is the 2017 GQ Food & Drink Restaurant of the Year. Based in metropolitan Fitzrovia, Clipstone styles itself as a neighbourhood restaurant, offering familiar favourites and delightful European dishes. Clipstone offers everything from homemade sourdough bread as a starter to Cornish mussel marinière as a lunchtime main course and rolled pork belly for dinner. You can pair your meal with a vast collection of classic cocktails and handpicked wines to create an unforgettable dining experience. All this comes at a reasonable price - a three course meal from the set lunch menu is only £26 per person. Clipstone is in an ideal location to be implemented into a busy day in London. The expansive Regent’s Park is only a few minutes’ walk away from the restaurant. The park is the perfect place to either work up your appetite or relax after your meal. Clipstone is also within walking distance of several museums, including the often overlooked Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. In a bustling, fast-paced city like London, Clipstone is a relaxing getaway serving great food.
A ten minute walk from Clipstone brings you to a wholly unique dining experience. Seating only 46 people, BAO Fitzrovia is a taste of Taiwanese street food in central London. The cosy, small-capacity location is reminiscent of many restaurants found across eastern Asia. Bao’s speciality is bao, steamed milk buns that are filled with meat and condiments. Bao offers five varieties of bao - classic (pork belly), confit (meat slow-cooked in fat), black cod, beef short rib and daikon (winter radish). Bao is a traditional Asian favourite that everyone should try at least once in their life. Aside from bao, the restaurant offers xiaochi, traditional Taiwanese street food, and the Ping Paan Platter, a traditional grilled meat sharing platter. Due to the quick eat mentality, Bao is the perfect meal for a particularly busy day in the capital. The British Museum, a must-see for any history buff, is only a seven-minute walk from Bao, which means that the restaurant is suitable for your food needs before, after or even during your visit to the museum. There are also numerous cinemas and theatres within walking distance of Bao, meaning you can patron the arts without worrying about having to rush off to meet a reservation. If you are looking for a dining experience that isn’t the usual fare and wholly memorable, be sure you visit Bao.
If you are visiting London for its arts and culture, why not visit Soho’s Bocca di Lupo for an affordable dining experience that showcases the various regions of Italy. Whether you’re enjoying Fassona rose veal tartare from Piedmont, orecchiette with crim di rapa from Puglia or sea bream charred in a sarcophagus of salt from Lazio, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo, Bocca di Lupo’s founders, have poured heart and soul into every dish to provide the best Italian dining experience they can. Bocca di Lupo is in the heart of London’s theatre district and takes full advantage of this, offering a lunch service as well as pre and post theatre services. The lunch and pre-theatre service also offer a daily-changing one-dish meal for under £10 so it is always worth asking for the specials if you are looking for a quick, affordable meal. Aside from the theatre, Bocca di Lupo is within walking distance of the National Gallery, a place that never fails to provide a day of entertainment. Bocca di Lupo is a must visit location to experience the variety that Italian cuisine has to offer.
For something different, pay a visit to The Barbary, a restaurant offering North African cuisine in Covent Garden’s iconic Neal’s Yard. The first thing that will strike you about The Barbary is the unique naming conventions on the restaurant’s menu. The main courses are categorized as either land, sea, earth or heaven. Land offers you meat dishes like Chicken Al Bandora and Lamb Cutlets Zuzu. Sea offers you fish dishes like Monkfish Oliva. Earth is vegetarian dishes such as Fattoush and heaven is the restaurants’ desserts. Every dish is carefully constructed to be bursting with the flavours unique to the region they hail from. The Barbary is located in the cultural hub that is Covent Garden and is definitely a more expensive restaurant, however the quality of the food is well worth the price. There is so much to see and do in and around that part of London that you will easily be able to include The Barbary in a full and productive day around London. North African cuisine is something often overlooked when eating out, but this sub-genre of Mediterranean cuisine is something you should try when visiting London and there is no better place to do that than at The Barbary.
London is a glorious meeting point for cuisines from all over the world and you would do yourself a disservice by not trying something new during your next visit to the English capital. So now that 2019 is here, take the leap and put something new on your plate.
Photos by Trullo; Clipstone; BAO London; Bocca Di Lupo; The Barbary
Written on 3rd January 2019 by Benjamin Mock