When it comes to fine dining, London gets a bad rap. Food here is either too bland (read: too British) or too expensive. After a year and a half here, we can confidently say that London has one of the most diverse and innovative food scenes in the world. Thankfully, you don't have to shell out your entire paycheck at a Michelin-starred restaurant to get a good meal. Below, Michael shares some of our favorite restaurants we've visited in the past few months. As we continue to eat our way through London, we'll continue to share our top picks!
Bookings for this modern Jerusalem brasserie are hard to come by, so plan far in advance. Trust me, it's worth it. The small space is separated into two areas: the long front bar with views of the energetic kitchen and the wood clad dining room with dark blue leather banquets. The interiors of the space rival the food, which is brought out on individual wooden trays filled with mini silver casseroles and personal serving pieces. Each aspect of the meal is well thought out and delivered to perfection. Highlights include the Kubaneh, a pot baked bread with sides of tahini and tomato jam and the Jerusalem polenta topped with truffle oil. The pork belly tajine with couscous and Onglet steak with latkes, fried egg and bone marrow are perfect mains to share with the group. Make sure to order a second round of the Kubaneh to help soak up all the extra juices and sauce.
B A O
Originally a popular food stall in Hackney, BAO has found a new, permanent home in Soho. Don’t get too excited when you arrive and manage to walk right into the shop. The sweet maitre d' will direct you to the ominously long queue forming across the street. As you take your place at the back of the line, take some time to review menu. Here is a tip, order everything. In addition to the restaurant's namesake baos, don’t miss out on delicious small dishes like the Taiwanese fried chicken bites and the guinea fowl chi shiang rice. Compliment your meal with some Taiwanese beer or tea. The foam milk tea is a revelation, so don't be surprised if you end up ordered two or three.
This is one of the first restaurants we heard about before moving to London. It's frequently touted as the best Japanese restaurant in the city. God knows why we waited until last month to visit. Don't let the mundane neighborhood, nondescript storefront and modest interiors of this restaurant deter you. The talented team at Dinings have put their unique spin on traditional Japanese cuisine, serving a variety of nibbles, cold or hot tapas, sushi, open-face rolls and rotating daily specials. They pare the freshest seafood with inventive flavors like ponzu jelly, summer truffle, kizami wasabi, yuzu kosho and carmalized onion soy jam. Just make sure not to leave without ordering the seared waygu beef and pan friend foie gras sushi. You’re welcome.
Lima Floral (sister restaurant to Michelin-starred Lima in Fitrovia and Central in Lima, Peru) serves up modern Peruvian cuisine in a relaxed and unpretentious space. Ceviche may not be new to your palate, but the range of lesser known ingredients such as alarrobo, yacon and kiwicha will have you asking your server “what is that?” more often than you are used to. The sea bream ceviche with tigers milk, avocado, crispy onion and cancha corn is both flavorful and light. Hot yellow potato causa with avocado and organic chicken will have you scraping your plate. There are a wide array of main courses including chicken chalaca, organic lamb, sea bass, fillet pachamanca or Andean suckling pig with corn and Olluquito potatoes. It all sounds and tastes so exotic, especially when chased with a pisco cocktail, the national drink of Peru.