Posts Tagged ‘Top London Restaurants’

Tamworth suckling pig, radishes and honey emulsion at Launceston Place

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.

beef dolsot bibimbap at Young Bean

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.

foie gras ice cream with brioche emulsion at Hibiscus restaurant

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:

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.

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Happy new year! Eight days late, I know.

I had a fantabulous trip back to the U.S., full of family, old friends and good food. I hope you and yours had a happy holidays, too.

Now I’m back in cold, foggy London. My gym is packed to the gills. Accumulated email at work is driving me nuts. So it’s definitely January, and I thought I’d kick off 2009 with a quick look back at 2008 with my five favourite London restaurants last year.

In choosing the restaurants for this highly-esteemed list, I considered only the places I visited at least every two months in 2008, or in the cases where it’d be cost prohibitive to drop by that often, restaurants that served me a meal so good in 2008 (and with service and decor so nice) that I think constantly of returning. [For the complete list of London restaurants I’ve blogged about, check out the London Restaurant Reviews page of my blog.]

In alphabetical order:

  • Barrafina Everything I ate at Barrafina last year was a hit. The main deterrent to my going more regularly is the prospect of having to queue to get a coveted bar stool. But the tapas at Barrafina is so head-and-shoulders above that of its closest competitors, Tierra Brindisa, Tapas Brindisa and Moro, that if time’s not an issue, it’s Barrafina for me.

    54 Frith Street, W1D 4SL, 0207 813 8016; Closest tube station: Leicester Square

  • Mangal Ocakbasi – This Turkish grill is worth the schlepp to Dalston. At least five times last year, Jon and I found ourselves gobbling down the mixed grill there. The kofte and lamb chops particularly rock my world. Although it’s annoying (especially in cold weather) to get jammed up in the entryway because of Mangal’s popularity, one look at that massive indoor grill and hood, and you know it’s worth the crush and wait. The meats here are always cheap and always good.

    10 Arcola Street, E8 2DJ; 020 7275 8981; closest tube station: Highbury & Islington, I guess, but Dalston Kingsland Overland is by far the closest mass transit point if the Overland is at all handy for you

Of course, it was tough for me to keep my list to five, which I guess is why making lists can be valuable. Pearl Liang, Hakkasan, Le Cafe Anglais, Tayyabs, Tomoe and the Marquess, for example, were places where my money and time were consistently well spent in 2008 (and 2007 and 2006 . . . ). But even listing them in this paragraph is cheating on this concept of my top 5.

Now, looking forward to 2009, I’m following in the footsteps of my fellow bloggers and listing the places I’d love to visit during this coming year. Right now, Galvin Bistro de Luxe, The Square, Chez Bruce, and a return to Murano to try out the dinner menu are in the cards. Maybe a trip to Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road thanks to Intoxicating Prose’s rave review in November 2008. (I was so disappointed by my Fat Duck visit in April 2006 that since then I’ve been wary of 3-star Michelin experiences – and expenses – in London).

In any event, here’s to Jon and my staying employed so we can keep on eating and traveling in 2009 . . . .

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