When I tell friends and acquaintances that I blog about restaurants, they often ask what my favorite restaurant is. And while I often end up saying something like “it depends” because it’s the truth, I also understand why that response is deeply unsatisfying.
Although I have no single “best” London restaurant to share, below is a list of my fave restaurants and individual dishes of 2009. (Click on the boldface restaurant names to read my original posts).
- Barrafina. Each time I eat at Barrafina, I swear that it’s the *last time* I’m queuing to snag one of their coveted seats at the bar, but Barrafina’s fresh and tasty seafood served in convivial surroundings sucks me in time and again. Based on my dinners there in 2009, Barrafina’s still going strong.
- Launceston Place. I ate here relatively recently (in November 2009), so of course my dinner there remains fresh in my mind. But even if I hadn’t been there since last January, Tristan Welch’s creative, delicious food served in a chic, comfortable dining room would still stand out. I can’t wait to revisit!
- Leong’s Legends. I eat dim sum at the original Chinatown location about once a month, and it’s part of the place’s charm that they still don’t recognize me as a regular diner. Although I agree with World Foodie Guide that Pearl Liang has the edge in service and decor, in terms of quality of dim sum, I think the two restos are neck-and-neck. What gives Leong’s the slim advantage over Pearl Liang is its location in Chinatown — Soho is just so much easier for me to reach than Paddington.
- Murano. Delicious and elegant. I’m still not a fan of all those mirrored walls (it’s so worst-of-Vegas-in-the-80s), but I love the haute Italian food here, along with the generosity and quality of the amuses. I’ve been to Murano twice and look forward to going again.
Lifting a good idea from Londonelicious, below are my fave individual dishes at London restaurants in 2009:
- Galvin La Chapelle served me a superb bone-in rib eye. I loved everything from the accompanying bone marrow and black truffle macaroni and cheese to the the over-the-top tableside presentation. I haven’t eaten anything else at La Chapelle, but based on how consistently good Galvin Bistro de Luxe is, I’m hoping Galvin La Chapelle will turn out to be just as good.
- L’Anima‘s heavenly fritto misto pulled me in twice in a month. For £14.25, you’re served a massive plate of fresh seafood, battered and fried in the lightest, crispiest, grease-free way possible. It’s like taking a trip to Venice, but 5,000% cheaper.
- Young Bean‘s dolsot bibimbap is an addiction. I love the sizzle of the rice and raw egg when they hit the clay pot, and if I could eat this thing every day, I would.
London restaurants that I haven’t visited in the past year, but which I will definitely return to in 2010:
- Hibiscus. I was last there in December 2007 (!), and I keep hearing good things about it. Read Tamarind & Thyme’s recent post on her lunch here.
- The Ledbury. Time flew by, and I didn’t notice until today that I was last there in October 2008. Hollow Legs’s post on her excellent meal there last week also informed me that the Ledbury finally has its second Michelin star. So I’d better get in before the prices go up.
London restaurants I’d like to try in 2010 for a variety of reasons I won’t go into here, but tell me if you think I shouldn’t bother with any of these:
- The Brilliant Restaurant (in Southall)
- Chez Bruce
- Giaconda Dining Room
- Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Roa
- Madhu’s (in Southall)
- The Square
- Sushi Hiro
Here’s to more eating and eating and eating in 2010! And I’ll post later this week on my favorite meals while traveling outside the UK.