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Five Restaurants to Try This Weekend

A Sunday roast by team Rita’s in Hackney, plus a hyper-regional new Spanish bar and restaurant in Islington

Black beer-braised beef shin, cheddar grits, pickles, chilli at The Prince Arthur
Gabe Pryce

A weekly column suggesting five restaurants to try this weekend. There are three rules: The restaurants must not be featured in either the Eater 38 Essential map, nor the monthly-updated Heatmap, and the restaurant must be outside Zone 1.

L’Oculto

L’Oculto sits on Loampit Hill just a short walk down from Brockley’s Saturday Market. Small but perfectly formed, the warm wooden-clad space serves up a regularly changing menu of tapas, cheese, charcuterie and an interesting list of natural and small-batch wines and sherries. Try the tortilla made with potatoes imported from Spain, the deliciously salty pan con tomate, and any wines recommended by the lovely team — who really know their stuff. The restaurant accepts reservations, too. Book here. —Abby Michalski
57 Loampit Hill, SE13 7SZ

Llerena

Llerena’s backstory is also the story of its success. Where some of the capital’s tapas bars rely on middle-man suppliers and are forced to accept inferior product (watery olives, anaemic cheese, stringy ham) in order to safeguard margins, this Islington newcomer’s direct line to Extremadura offers Londoners something altogether different and more rarefied. Across a fairly extensive (and, it must be said, decidedly vegan-unfriendly) menu, cheeses and cured meats genuinely stand out for their depth and intensity of flavour; alongside, rustic assemblages like Cocido Extremeño or salt cod potato hash are more substantial affairs perfect for cold winter nights. In a world of increasingly teeny-weeny cocktails, Negronis and gin-tonics come in robust double measures; the charming hospitality may even extend to a glass of acorn liqueur on the house. This, unlike everything else about Llerena, is perhaps one to miss. —George Reynolds
167 Upper St, N1 1US

Benk + Bo

“A creative eco-system bringing people together from different disciplines to work, make, learn, share ideas and collaborate,” proclaims the website of this palm-bedecked café-cum-yoga studio. Blergh. But wait! In spite of the tooth-grinding Lululemon vibe, Benk + Bo is home to a kitchen that turns out really exceptional bakes rich in wheat, gluten and dairy. Julien Valmier headed up the pastry section at The Savoy before he came here, and it really shows — witness the warm madeleines and his frou-frou tart tropezienne. A delightful surprise. —Emma Hughes
4-6 Gravel Lane, E1 7AW

Richard Haward Oysters

It’s a hardy soul that will shuffle around a market that will be as packed as it is cold this weekend. Between the piles of produce and thrum of the crowd, steps from London Bridge, it might seem contrary to recommend swerving bubbling stews and the reviving melt of cheese for molluscs on ice. Here, rejecting the wisdom of crowds brings great reward. Oysters from just two hours away are shucked with care and precision; condiments are classic; the saline thrill confirms the unlikely win of matching cold with cold. Whether stood at a table, rejoining the throng or reclining on the curb, there’s a grounding decadence about it that can only improve any weekend. —James Hansen
35 Stoney Street, SE1 9AA

The Prince Arthur

News of ex-Rita’s chef, Gabriel Pryce’s pub residency came under the auspicious header: “East London Gourmet Junk Food Visionaries Take Over Hackney Gastropub”, which—as Pidgin/Magpie (Birdman?) owner, James Ramsden suggested—could have been generated by a Guardian-bating bot. But don’t dare be put off(!) for, hype-aside, both Pryce and Rita’s partner, alcohol aficionado, Missy Flynn, have an old-school attitude towards hospitality i.e. they look after people properly. Here, this entails serving a menu that embraces the best of British standards skewed for fans of U.S. Deep Southern (and sometimes Mexican) food: Think black beer-braised beef shin, cheddar grits, pickles, chilli; and 60 day aged Tamworth chops with sprout tops and pecan gremolata. And the Sunday roasts—including the vegan roast celeriac with king oyster mushroom, and not vegan: cornbread-stuffed chicken—are equally delectable. (Try it before Pryce and Flynn leave The Prince Arthur after next weekend.) —Suze Olbrich
95 Forest Road, E8 3BH

Pidgin

52 Wilton Way, , England E8 1BG 020 7254 8311 Visit Website

Magpie

10 Heddon Street, , England W1B 4BX 020 3903 9096 Visit Website

The Prince Arthur

95 Forest Road, , England E8 3BH 020 7249 1119 Visit Website

Llerena

167 Upper Street, , England N1 1US 020 7704 9977 Visit Website

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