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Five Restaurants to Try this Weekend

Including fantastic pasta in Bethnal Green and the rogue suggestion that it’s warm enough to eat ice cream in Clapham

Pink fir potatoes, radish and cod’s roe at Sager and Wilde, Paradise Row
@sagerandwilde/Instagram

Sager & Wilde Paradise Row

Michael Sager’s expertise is in wine. He readily admits that when he first opened this (his second) site — under a Bethnal Green railway arch with low-footfall — he made a mistake by trying to create a nu-neighbourhood restaurant that served an affordable tasting menu. A year ago, he changed tack and appointed ex-Kitty Fisher’s chef Chris Leach whose self-taught pasta-making abilities appear to have transformed the site’s fate. Leech recently left, but he says his legacy will live on. His deputies have been left with (nearly all) his recipes. Ox cheek ragu rigatoni is a must; so too is a plate of partially-blitzed, braised borlotti beans with greens and chicory. To start there are fried pink fir potatoes and cold radishes with a cod’s roe dip; to finish, locally-made ice creams and sorbets. The wines meanwhile, well they’ve always been really good. —Adam Coghlan
Arch, 250 Paradise Row, E2 9LE

Nardulli

Has it really only been a week since everyone was contemplating eating their chopping board? The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the few daffodils that survived the UK’s transformation into the ice planet Hoth are nodding in a gentle breeze. In fact, it almost feels like... ice-cream weather. Declare spring officially open at Nardulli, south London’s premier purveyor of proper gelato. On a warm day it’s harder to get into than Barrafina and manic inside, but right now it’s pleasantly chilled (sorry). Fig and mascarpone, Tuscan liquorice and the surprisingly punchy white coffee are the ones to go for. —Emma Hughes
9 The Pavement, SW4 0JE

Plaquemine Lock

Critical responses to this canalside Islington curiosity from Bocca di Lupo wolfpack leader Jacob Kenedy were positive but also slightly baffled when it opened last summer. Was this a pub (as its former identity as The Prince of Wales suggested), or a grown-up New Orleans-style cocktail place (as might be inferred from a list long on Sazeracs and French 75s), or a restaurant serving authentic riffs on the Creole food of Louisiana? Turns out it was all three, and even if the various moving parts don’t always work in harmony (getting an order in at the busy bar can be a struggle, the room still just feels a bit weird), there’s plenty here to make it well worth a visit. Beers are good and cocktails are strong; on the food menu, a beef debris po’boy is a thing of genuine heft and depth of flavour. It may not be one of London’s most cohesive aesthetic statements, but in the right mood this simply doesn’t matter — just sit back with a half-pint of bourbon and some fried stuff to snack on and let the good times roll. At Plaquemine Lock, they certainly don’t need much encouragement. —George Reynolds
139 Graham Street, N1 8LB

Rawduck

Littleduck The Picklery has already featured in this restaurant pentagon; this week, it’s raw. A fermentation crock’s burp from London Fields station, this is the most lo-fi industrial of the three London ducks, hewn from concrete and wood, tables beset with potted plants. The menu veers between monastic plainness (“A plate of salame con Finocchio”) and polite assemblies (“mussels, cumin, chilli and coriander”), the flavours are clean and the combinations are smart. If there’s a lottery it’s a happy one: which of many house ferments will be available. Reliable, smart, a little provocative: the theme continues to the wine, which will be mostly / all natural (deal with it) but is also eminently accessible. The best on a recent visit was a bag-in-box Pom Pon from Vinnaturo: raspberries in a glass at £5 a pop.
James Hansen
197 Richmond Rd, E8 3NJ

Marcella

An Aperol spritz and last summer’s fried artichokes, which were earthy and crisp and served with aioli, should be together enough to warrant a trip to Marcella, a spritely neighbourhood Italian on Deptford High Street that opened last year. Now well established (much like its sister site Artusi in Peckham), bookings of any party size are possible (before, a six or more rule was in place), so there really isn’t an excuse to avoid the restaurant any longer. The small plates are rarely above £7, and there’s usually an emphasis on vegetables and fish: perhaps the freshest of bream covered in butter and breadcrumbs and given a little boost thanks to morsels of ham. Note also: this restaurant is willing to serve a single sausage (with a salsa verde.) Main courses (around £15) might be bavette with chard and carrots or grilled mackerel on a potato cake, or cuttlefish, romanesco and borlotti — exceptional. Saying all that, Marcella would be worth a trip for its pasta and wine list alone. —Josh Barrie
165A Deptford High St, SE8 3NU

Spring

Lancaster Place, , England WC2R 1LA 020 3011 0115 Visit Website

Barrafina

43 Drury Lane, , England WC2B 5AJ Visit Website

Artusi

161 Bellenden Road, , England SE15 4DH 020 3302 8200 Visit Website

Marcella

165A Deptford High Street, , England SE8 3NU 020 3903 6561 Visit Website

The Prince

3198 7th Street, , CA 90005 (213) 389-1586 Visit Website

SAGER + WILDE

193 Hackney Road, , England E2 8JL 020 8127 7330 Visit Website

Plaquemine Lock

139 Graham Street, , England N1 8LB 020 7688 1488 Visit Website

Bocca di Lupo

12 Archer Street, , England W1D 7BB 020 7734 2223 Visit Website

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