It is the tradition at Eater to end the year with a survey of friends, contributors, rovers of the industry, critics, and professional eaters. This year, the group were asked eight questions, spanning meal of the year to biggest dining grievance. Their answers will appear throughout this week. Responses are relayed in no particular order, cut and pasted below. First up, it’s time for restaurant standbys of the year.
Adam Coghlan, Editor, Eater London: Although Singburi is not a new restaurant to anyone who knows anything about Thai food, or anyone who lives in or near Leytonstone, the first time I visited — at the fourth time of trying — was in the summer of this year. I’ve been back five times in the past five months. A totally unimprovable restaurant.
Pret’s egg mayo sandwich and two packets of cheese and onion Walkers crisps is probably the lunch I ate more than any other.
And P Franco, because on the one hand it reinvents itself every six months, while remaining of the most steady, pleasurable wine bar-restaurant experiences in the city.
James Hansen, Assistant Editor, Eater London: Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles’ cold skin noodles have fuelled many a working lunch. Lyle’s, for coffee as much as food; Kêu; Esters; Diyarkabir’s lahmacun; Jashan; 40 Maltby Street; Bar Tozino; Santa Maria Ealing; Atari-ya Ealing; P. Franco; Smoking Goat.
Jonathan Nunn, food writer and Eater London contributor: Singburi and 40 Maltby Street. Both restaurants are led by two chefs at the top of their game that just keep getting better — technically gifted, but making food that feeds the soul. Between them there’s not another blackboard in London that comes close.
Sejal Sukhadwala, food writer and Eater London contributor: The Clove Club, The Ledbury (two reliably excellent places I take every visitor to London to), Vanilla Black, Nopi, Oklava, Lyle’s, Darjeeling Express, Asher’s, Dhaba at 49, Gymkhana, Gauthier Soho, Artesian bar, and the bar of Chutney Mary which is absolutely stunning.
Emma Hughes, freelance food writer and Eater London contributor: I’ve been in a committed relationship with the bread basket at Soif on Battersea Rise since January.
George Reynolds, food writer and Eater London contributor: Basically a cut and paste job from 2017. Local — Black Axe Mangal, Trullo, Esters. East London — The Laughing Heart, Marksman, P Franco. Central — Parsons, Royal China Club, Noble Rot. But the one place I visited most — by a distance — this year was Moi An, a lunch place a stone’s throw from work that has built up a loyal following seemingly purely on word of mouth recommendations from people blown away by the freshness of the food and the amazing efficiency of the service. There might be better Vietnamese food available elsewhere in the city but at a time of day and in a part of town more commonly characterised by Pret, the depth of flavour in the soups, rice bowls and salads still feels like a godsend.
Shekha Vyas, food writer and Eater London contributor: My standbys of 2018 would still be the restaurants I’ve been going to for years. Thattukada, Singburi, and Lahori Nihari never fail to disappoint. But discovering Kate’s Cafe this year has also been joyous; it has certainly become another spot I know I can rely on for deeply comforting food.
Helen Graves, food writer at Food Stories and Eater London contributor: Theo’s Pizzeria Camberwell (best pizza in London, no contest); Bright; Quality Chop House (loving the new bar menu); Black Axe Mangal; Quo Vadis.
MiMi Aye, food writer, cookbook author, and Eater London contributor: I spent most of 2018 eating leftovers from recipe-testing for my next book, Mandalay. However, the few times I managed to leave the house was to go to gigs in town, so a big shout-out to Nanban and its restorative ramen as most of those gigs seemed to be at the O2 Academy. Oh and I went ‘all in’ several times at Blacklock Chops (MEEEEAAAT!)
Zeren Wilson, food writer at Bitten and Written and Eater London contributor: Arch Rivals — unexpected, playful, constant thrills in a Forest Gate arch; Sorrel — new love of Dorking, because of here; Westerns Laundry; Skewd; The River Café; Jolene; Kiln; A. Wong; Loven Pizza; Sambal Shiok.
Daisy Meager, food writer and Eater London contributor: For dependable comfort, Jen Cafe’s dumplings, Monty’s Deli’s salt beef rueben or Sông Quê Café’s pho are hard to beat. Towards the tail end of the week at the start of the year, you’d find me at Bad Sports on Hackney Road (RIP) followed by Towpath Café in summer and autumn Sunday lunches at Bright.
Angela Hui, food writer and Eater London contributor: Dumpling Shack, Joy Luck, My Neighbours The Dumplings, Seoul Bakery, Baozi Inn, Misato, Roti King. (Just realised that these are all east Asian I’m totally not biased.)