clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Best Dishes Eater Writers Ate This Week

Eater writers share their meal highlights from a week eating out

Crab tart at Quality Wines, one of the best dishes in London this week
Crab tart at Quality Wines
Jessica Wang/Instagram

Welcome back to the new weekly column which will highlight the best dishes Eater London’s editor and contributors ate during the week.

Crab tart at Quality Wines

As the exit poll came in I found myself, not in Kensington like I was supposed to be, but in Quality Wines frantically checking my phone. Perhaps I knew deep down I shouldn’t be in Kensington that night. I hadn’t eaten all day and although the kitchen was closed, chef Nick Bramham kindly rustled up a cold crab tart. “It’s brilliant isn’t it?” the couple next to me said, but to be honest it was ashes in my mouth. I don’t remember a single thing about it, but I won’t forget the gesture. The next evening I had the tart properly, now glistening and warmed to body temperature. This was no 40 Maltby Street crab quiche (a beautiful thing in its own right) but all pearlescent crab meat, the heady saffron somehow accentuating the sweetness of the crab like salt in chocolate. A second was ordered immediately. Does this story have a point? Probably not, but take small pleasures while you can and receive kindness when it’s offered to you — it’s going to be a long five years. —Jonathan Nunn
123 Food Road, W12 3YZ

Chicken and chips and Casa do Frango in Shoreditch was one of the best things Eater writers ate in London this week
Chicken and chips and Casa do Frango in Shoreditch
Adam Coghlan

Piri-piri chicken at Casa do Frango

One of my top three favourite restaurants in the world is a canteen at the side of a busy road between Almancil and Quarteira, in the Algarve. Marufo serves half a grilled chicken, slathered in homemade chilli oil on a silver platter, on another — perfect, freshly cooked chips, and a third is piled with lettuce and tomatoes dressed with white wine vinegar, olive oil, and oregano. The closest I’ve come to experiencing the same salt-fat-heat-acid satisfaction in London was this week at the new Casa do Frango in Shoreditch, where the weather is worse, the atmosphere is inferior, and the prices, understandably, are higher. And yet, neither the chicken — salted, spiced, oiled, and grilled perfectly — nor the freshly chipped chips are really that far off at all. Shoreditch 8.0 is looking up. —Adam Coghlan
2 King John Court, EC2A 3EZ

Croissant at Flor was one of the best things Eater writers ate in London this week
Croissant at Flor
George Reynolds

Croissant at Flor

I love croissants. I lived in France for a hot minute in the prelapsarian idyll that was early 2016, and since moving back I’ve scoured London for something approximating the perfection of the best Parisian examples. Until recently I thought Aux Pains de Papy was the closest I’d come — and it’s probably still the best French-imitating one out there. But on a recent trawl through Borough Market I happened to grab one of the rapidly dwindling supply at Flor, and it instantly jumped to the top of my list of best baked goods for 2019. I’m not sure how it’s even possible for a Modern British croissant to exist, but it really did scan as more Fergus Henderson than Christophe Vasseur, from the gloriously beige interior, to the properly robust chew, to a verging-on-burnt-no-on-further-inspection-it’s-actually-deliberately-burnt bottom that added an extra layer of flavour to something already significantly more delicious than its short list of ingredients should rightfully dictate. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve yet to eat an actual meal at Flor, but if the bar is this high across the board I am already looking forward to one of 2020’s best meals. —George Reynolds
1 Bedale Street, SE1 9AL

Congee at The Kitchen Counter by Tātā Eatery
Congee at The Kitchen Counter by Tātā Eatery
Jessica Wang

Congee at The Kitchen Counter by Tātā Eatery

The aforementioned absolutely excellent crab tart at Quality Wines would have been my first choice — wonderfully sweet white crab barely suspended in a caramelised saffron sauce; or even some pillowy cavatelli with a supremely flavourful duck ragù, which was in my top three pastas of the year. But it would be remiss of me not to highlight a truly stunning congee at Tātā’s four seat counter, one of its best dishes all year. Luscious yet light, with fresh clams, lightly fermented cabbage, toasted almonds and so much more. The textures and flavours in that bowl would make even the fussiest rice aficionado question their preferences for the perfect congee, and the fried, garlicky senbei cracker on the side completes the comfort requirements for any winter evening. —Feroz Gajia
152 Old Street, EC1V 9BW

Fried mortadella sandwich at Visions Canteen

On Wednesday, I was hungover. Not the full, death-warmed-up hungover, but the kind that makes everything ring hollow and time constrict like the blood vessels in your head. The sheer span of hangover eating lore would make a Star Wars stan hug Baby Yoda tight, but something approximating a bacon sandwich is always a solid port of call. Enter the mortadella special at Visions Canteen: thick white bread; mortadella fried with sage leaves and butter to give up its essence; a fried egg, because, it’s a breakfast sandwich. Put down with a coffee, it brought the world back into focus. —James Hansen
31 New Inn Yard, EC2A 3EY


Taleggio cappelletti with macerated grapes and hazelnuts at Popham’s bakery in London Fields, Hackney
Taleggio cappelletti with macerated grapes and hazelnuts at Popham’s
George Reynolds

Taleggio cappelletti with macerated grapes and hazelnuts at Popham’s

It was my birthday last Wednesday, which is another way of saying I am lucky to have quite a long list of potential candidates this week. There was a wonderful dish of warm brandade with a soft-boiled egg at Parson’s, some excellent Lincolnshire poacher croquettes at Emile, and a genuinely flawless three courses at The Quality Chop House — not to mention some late-night madeleines with Earl Grey ice cream at Noble Rot, or a trio of predictably extra flatbreads at Black Axe Mangal (seriously, don’t sleep on the Jerusalem artichoke and Spenwood). But with all due respect to Quality Wines’ glorious smoosh of a Christmas sandwich, the single most unapologetically delicious thing I ate all week was the taleggio cappelletti with macerated grapes and hazelnuts at Popham’s London Fields bakery / pasta fresca atelier. It’s not hard to work out why it tastes so phenomenal (butter: good; carbs: good; cheese: good; crunch and acidity: also good) but that doesn’t make it any less effective. One of the brightest success stories of London’s 2019 pasta obsession. —George Reynolds
197 - 205 Richmond Road, E8 3NJ

Brown bread and marmalade gelato, Gelupo

This makes me sound like a human Christmas advert, but Gelupo launching its December flavours — Speculoos; gingerbread and caramel; muscovado with juniper, clove and cardamom — is something I genuinely count down the days to every year. During a visit this week I was about to place my customary seasonal order (two scoops of panettone in a wafer cone, hold the spoon) when something stopped me in my tracks — something I’ve never seen on the menu before. It was brown bread gelato with (and this is crucial) dark orange marmalade. Paging Paddington! Crunchy, caramelised breadcrumbs spun through a creamy base, then the pleasantly bitter tang of citrus: outstanding. —Emma Hughes
7 Archer St, Soho, W1D 7AU

Quality Wines’ Christmas sandwich, one of the best things Eater writers ate this week
Quality Wines’ Christmas sandwich
Adam Coghlan

Quality Wines’ Christmas sandwich

A lot is made of Christmas sandwiches these days, a competition for attention has broken out among the chains, and this year, the independents, too. It’s part of the sort of non-uniform-dayification of the run-up and wind-down to Christmas — the ritualistic novelty of an annual tradition. But most are garbage. I’d argue that most of their enjoyment is down to nostalgia. But some are a triumph of taste, too. The best Christmas sandwich I’ve eaten in London this year is the turkey bun at the Quality Chop House. Why? Because it tastes like Christmas dinner. A layer of soothing, nutmeggy bread sauce, sprout tops, bacon, and spiced cranberry sauce come together perfectly in support of slow-cooked turkey leg and moist slices of roast breast with a trim of crisp, golden, salty skin. The milk bun that hugs it all adds richness and provides just enough resistance that if eaten quickly enough, its structural integrity remains intact. Try one tomorrow. —Adam Coghlan
88 Farringdon Rd, Farringdon, EC1R 3EA

The Lyle’s mince pie with clotted cream
The Lyle’s mince pie, served warm with clotted cream
James Hansen

Mince pie at Lyle’s

To ape another seasonal speciality’s strapline, one of the most compelling things about the Lyle’s mince pie — now in its fourth iteration — is that you get to choose: “How do you eat yours?” An opportunistic takeaway, and the pie is carried out in a coffee filter, improvisation which adds to the glow of snagging one of very few, especially if eaten straight out of the door. Sitting in, the experience changes altogether: a pie warm from the oven, spoon of clotted cream alongside just waiting to be dunked into the centre like ice cream into a soufflé. Rich, uncompromising, and boozy, with a honk of aged beef fat and pastry so buttery as to both collapse and melt, it’s an intense experience and probably London’s most compelling mince pie. Is it the best? The only way to know is to eat at least fourteen more. —James Hansen
The Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ

Clementine posset with a marmalade sabayon at P. Franco in Hackney was one of the best things Eater writers ate in London this week
Clementine posset with a marmalade sabayon at P. Franco
Feroz Gajia

Clementine posset with a marmalade sabayon at P. Franco

On a brutally cold evening distance Vs quality is the sliding scale you look to balance when deciding where to eat. P. Franco being within two layers distance means I will be seeing much of the new hand behind the inductions, S.F. Myers. A returning London chef oozing the assured cooking and confidence so often displayed by proponents of the (not so new anymore) bistronomy movement.

I was there for the jet black cuttlefish rice coupled with a side of miyagawa citrus for those not willing to to submerge themselves in the well judged briny depths. But after a non-interaction with under the radar London restaurant botherer Aziz Ansari the show was stolen by a dessert that inadvertently echoed the Gujarati celebration of dairy, shrikhand. Usually a hung yoghurt mixed with sugar, saffron, cardamom, and pistachios. This version was a clementine posset with a marmalade sabayon, the marmalade adding light bitter notes, balancing out the indulgence of the set dairy and leaving you wanting more. Surely the first of many excellent meals in this latest season of the P.F saga. —Feroz Gajia
107 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NP


Crab, lovage, and pear salad at Daffodil Mulligan by chef Richard Corrigan in Old Street, one of the best dishes Eater editors ate this week
Crab, lovage, and pear salad at Daffodil Mulligan in Old Street
Adam Coghlan

Crab, lovage, and pear at Daffodil Mulligan

Full disclosure: I absolutely love lovage. Chef Richard Corrigan’s new spot on Old Street roundabout is a boisterous addition to the City-Shoreditch boundaries — a restaurant with the unfashionable energy of an early noughties gastropub where there’s an emphasis on protein, filling up its guests, and generally counter-attacking the shift towards high-acidity minimalism and vegetables. And yet, the best thing I ate here this week was a salad. A medley of excellent, immaculately prepared white crab, dollops of homemade lovage mayonnaise, slices of pear, and crisp gem lettuce. True, it was too cold, but it was an electric way to start a meal that soon after reclined into the Chesterfield of boomer decadence, bringing to mind a recent razor-sharp articulation of the meaning of “rich.”Adam Coghlan
70-74 City Rd, EC1Y 2BJ

Egg mayonnaise sandwich at St John Smithfield in Farringdon
Egg mayonnaise sandwich at St John Smithfield
George Reynolds

Egg mayonnaise sandwich at St. John Smithfield

The lunchtime bar menu at St. John may be the most purely pleasurable way to experience the Smithfield institution. All the classics — rarebit, bone marrow and parsley salad, Eccles cakes — are present and correct, but there’s also some more casual fare for those who can’t quite contemplate a whole pheasant and trotter pie at noon on a Tuesday. Like the egg mayonnaise and watercress sandwich, a perennial fixture that first-timers would probably overlook in favour of more stereotypically Hendersonian fare. This is understandable, if mistaken: this deceptively simple affair is pure St. John, from the immaculate house white bread (surely the best sandwich vehicle in the city), to the secret ingredients (finely chopped tarragon, the odd caper) lifting the mayonnaise into a zone of refinement that fully justifies the £7.50 price tag. Add watercress for pep and bite and you’re looking at something approaching perfection — and a blueprint that the current new wave of sandwich-slingers would do well to study. —George Reynolds

cabbage rolls at 40 Maltby Street in Bermondsey
Cabbage rolls at 40 Maltby Street
Jonathan Nunn

Cabbage rolls at 40 Maltby Street

There’s something melancholy about recommending something after it’s unobtainable, like a five star review of a one-off concert released the morning after (yeah I missed Kano at the Albert Hall too). The 40 Maltby Street menu is seasonal to the week: if I tell you that the cabbage rolls — translucent, soft faggots of still bright green cabbage stuffed with the sweetness of chestnuts, topped with chanterelles and splashing about in a little paddling pool of cream and oil — were the best things I put into my mouth this week, then I’m simply trolling you because it will probably only reappear at the first sign of frost in 2020, this time maybe with girolles or trompettes. And who else does something as unfashionable as cabbage rolls anyway? You’ll just have to find a Balkan restaurant or one of those faded Ashkenazi Jewish institutions that no longer seem to exist in this city to scratch the itch. But that’s the beauty of the 40 Maltby Street menu: there will always be something else to obsess over next week. Get the swede and cheddar pasty. —Jonathan Nunn
40 Maltby St, SE1 3PA

Swede and cheddar pasty at 40 Maltby Street in Bermondsey
Swede and cheddar pasty at 40 Maltby Street
Feroz Gajia

Swede and cheddar pasty at 40 Maltby Street

Would you look at that! After an excellent meal at Chinese Laundry (duck liver dandan, need I say more) nothing could make an evening complete like a blind (no blackboard information adding to the drama) visit to perennial favourite, 40 Maltby Street. Salsify fritters were ordered, on any other day this base delight would be the best thing I ate but that was before a swede and cheddar pasty showered in black pepper. A pastry with give and an almost melting texture punctuated with cheddar-crisped spots on the base, its filling celebrated the under appreciated swede in chunks as it should and cheddar in shreds. A fritter and pastry shop must be coming soon. —Feroz Gajia
40 Maltby St, SE1 3PA

The famous truffled cheese toastie at 45 Jermyn Street at Fortnum and Mason on Piccadilly
Truffled cheese toastie at 45 Jermyn Street
Emma Hughes

Truffled cheese toastie at 45 Jermyn Street

“Outsides almost caramelised with butter,” a “heady taupe snowdrift of sheerest luxury”... What can I add to Marina O’Loughlin’s description of what may well be London’s most expensive toasted sandwich? Two things, actually. First, it’s big. Like, paperback-book-big — massive enough, in fact, for two people to comfortably share after a surfeit of mulled wine Christmas cheer, which is exactly how I came to be eating it late on Wednesday night. Second, you get a lot of truffle shaved over the top — and this isn’t the sawdusty stuff with the mouthfeel of overpriced hamster bedding, either. There are definitely more sensible ways of splitting a £26.50 bill in central London. But there are plenty of sillier ones too. —Emma Hughes
45 Jermyn St, SW1 6DN


Buffalina pizza at Johnny Take Ue’

This discreet Neapolitan pizzeria on Shoreditch’s Hackney Road underwent a change of management two months ago and with it, seemingly taken on a new adherence to the specific set of principles which make proper Neapolitan pizza so good. Manager Giovanni told me that he is still in search of better buffalo mozzarella and better quality San Marzano tomatoes, two of the ingredients protected by a designation of origin stamp, that officialise pizza from this region. This is some ambition; the minimalist “Buffalina” — tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil, olive oil — is already the best pizza I’ve eaten in London this year. —Adam Coghlan
19 Hackney Rd, E2 7NX

Brinjal at Tian Tian

During a very decent meal with Guan Chua at Tian Tian, a Dongbei restaurant via Singapore, aubergine (written curiously on the menu as brinjal) sliced into batons and fried with pork floss until they are little furry cushions of sweet and savoury. I first read about Tian Tian on Guan’s blog about three years back so only fitting that it was him navigating the menu. I’m seriously considering going back to Stepney for this dish alone and some boiled rice. — Jonathan Nunn
166 Mile End Rd, E1 4LJ

Red mullet at P. Franco

It’s hard to pick from a dazzling first meal at the hands of new P Franco chef-in-residence Seb Myers, but if pushed I’d go for the red mullet tartine — a dish I only ordered because going to P Franco and not ordering the whole menu is like going to Padella and skipping the pasta. Honestly, I don’t like red mullet: I find it can sometimes taste muddy, or the wrong kind of fishy. And yet here, the skin swiftly blowtorched, its oiliness offset by fresh chervil and an immaculate onion soubise that was a perfect distillation of Myers’ recent stint working in Provence, it was an absolute revelation, and quite possibly the dish of the day. Any chef can dazzle you by cooking your favourite ingredient — it takes something a little more special to teach you how to love something you don’t. —George Reynolds
107 Lower Clapton Rd, E5 0NP

Sopa de lima at Bright

Paying appropriate respect to a cuisine not one’s known takes in many layers of care and attention — appropriate research; understanding of a dish’s place in tradition; what it’s called on the menu. Calling a dish “inspired” acknowledges a connection while allowing dexterity — using a specific name places more expectation on fidelity.

Bright’s sopa de lima both is and is not the Yucatán balance between rich, comfortingly soporific stock and the zap of lime like an alarm clock on a cold morning: a pheasant broth is pure British winter; its infusion with five different chiles, green tomatoes, garlic, and thyme makes it worthy of the name. Add white onion, lime juice, green chilli, coriander, and chunks of pheasant thigh bobbing like buoys, and it’s sopa de lima — at Bright. —James Hansen
1 Westgate St, E8 3RL

Pear Galette at E5 Bakehouse

I have rediscovered E5 bakehouse because of a friend of mine and this week I ate the bakery’s pear galette, which was the best use of spelt I’ve tasted and also possibly the best galette I’ve ever eaten, full stop. Crisp, short and with a depth of flavour to the pastry that marries perfectly with the clean crisp pear. I can’t believe I shared it. —Feroz Gajia
95 Mentmore Terrace, E8 3PH

Charred artichokes at Silo

Silo, the much-hyped no-waste Hackney Wick launch from Doug McMaster, won’t be everyone’s cup of (pre-industrial, composted) tea. If you’re one of those people who just likes getting quietly drunk with a big plate of stodge when you go out, having your meal explained to you in Masonic detail will make your teeth itch — you’re better off grabbing one of the pizzas downstairs at Crate Brewery. But if you love storytelling and futurology, step this way. The high point of the six-course tasting menu, for me, were the Jerusalem artichokes. Charcoaly without and fudgy within, they arrived in a lake of intensely savoury Stichelton blue cheese sauce, with a scattering of finely diced ruby-red kraut to cut through the funk. —Emma Hughes
The White Building 1st Floor, Unit 7 c/o CRATE Bar, Queen’s Yard, E9 5EN

St. John

26 Saint John Street, , England EC1M 4AY 020 7251 0848 Visit Website

FARE

205 West Wacker Drive, , IL 60606 (312) 217-8041 Visit Website

The white building

Queen's Yard, , England E9 5EN

Silo

Unit 7, Queens Yard, London, Greater London E9 5EN +44 20 8533 3331 Visit Website

High Street

High Street, , England KT3

Milk

18-20 Bedford Hill, , England SW12 9RG 020 8772 9085 Visit Website

Black Axe Mangal

156 Canonbury Road, , England N1 2UP Visit Website

Chinese Laundry

10 Coulgate Street, , England SE4 2RW Visit Website

Texture

34 Portman Street, London, W1H 7BY Visit Website

E5 Bakehouse

396 Mentmore Terrace, , England E8 3PH 020 8525 2890 Visit Website

Gelupo

7 Archer Street, , England W1D 7AU 020 7287 5555 Visit Website

P Franco

107 Lower Clapton Road, , England E5 0NP 020 8533 4660 Visit Website

40 Maltby St

40 Maltby Street, , England SE1 3PA

40 Maltby Street

40 Maltby Street, , England SE1 3PA 020 8076 9517 Visit Website

Emile

26 Curtain Road, , England EC2A 3NY 07496 568921 Visit Website

The Quality Chop House

88-94 Farringdon Road, , England EC1R 3EA 020 7278 1452 Visit Website

Noble Rot

51 Lamb’s Conduit St, London, Greater London WC1N 3NB +44 20 7242 8963 Visit Website

Daffodil Mulligan

70-74 City Road, , England EC1Y 2BJ 020 7404 3000 Visit Website

Padella

6 Southwark Street, , England SE1 1TQ Visit Website

Bright

1 Westgate Street, , England E8 3RL 020 3095 9407 Visit Website

Quality Wines

88 Farringdon Road, , England EC1R 3EA 020 3602 8115 Visit Website

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater London newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world