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Broad beans and toast, little gem lettuce and asparagus at 40 Maltby Street in Bermondsey, the modern British restaurant that forms part of the best 24 hour restaurant travel itinerary for London — where to eat with one day in the city Ola Smit/Eater London

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The Best Meals of 2019

According to Eater London’s year-end committee

It’s 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 related in no particular order; cut and pasted below. After the standbys and the best newcomers, read all about the single meals and remarkable dishes that defined an entire year.


Adam Coghlan, Editor, Eater London: The tasting menu by Zijun Meng at TaTa Eatery, the Compton Arms cheeseburger x2, the 10-course tasting at Ikoyi, 2x plates of cavatelli with sausage, chard, and parmesan at Quality Wines, my birthday at Jolene, a late-night solo dinner at The Laughing Heart, Tubo Logier’s final menu at P. Franco, a plate of rabbit in mustard and creme fraiche at St. John Smithfield, and the first time in a restaurant with our daughter — aged two weeks — at St John Bread and Wine; and a week or so later roti and curry at Island Social Club.

The most extra experience of the year was the evening in late summer when I cycled to Thornton Heath (from Dalston) to pick up a box of jerk pork, jerk chicken, and rice and peas from Tasty Jerk. From there, I took a train to Bermondsey to meet a man called a a dril who’d picked up a portion of tozo (beef) suya from Alhaji and an extra pot of yaji. Royal-tier barbecue. We ate it on top of a barrel outside 40 Maltby Street before going inside to eat all three desserts.

James Hansen, Assistant Editor, Eater London: In London: A winter canalside lunch at Towpath Cafe, with fat Napoli sausages and lentils, a chicken and honking wild garlic broth, and a marinda tomato tonnato.

The textbook wings, aubergine salad, and lardo fried rice lunch at Smoking Goat.

A flawless dinner at Lyle’s, preceded by Clove Club snacks and followed by Marksman pints.

Many delivery bowls of chongqing noodles and liang pi from Xi’an Biang Biang.

A post-talk pizza at Johnny Take UE’.

A whole-menu blowout at Brawn.

A Christmas dinner at Quality Wines.

Not in London: a solo dinner, all of three plates, at Bad Saint in Washington DC.

Keeping a tragically nerdy food list has made remembering the incredible dishes, drinks, and company that much easier.

Anna Sulan Masing, food writer and Eater London contributor: I think it’s been one of the most challenging years (for many people!) and so I have not ventured to many fancy or even new spots. Rather, the best meals have been places I can enjoy being with the people I love, whilst eating delicious food. A meal at X’ian Impression with one of my closest friends Emma (who works in the industry and picked amazing wine as it’s BYO), and my birthday dinner with a bunch of friends at Island Social Club come to mind. Also, had a delicious, clever, comforting meal at Noble Rot — a permanent fave.

If I can include the rest of the world, Nouri in Singapore. It made me cry — it was so beautiful, delicious and thoughtful.

Jonathan Nunn, food writer and Eater London contributor: The meal I really want to write about, a Cantonese banquet in Zone 5, is embargoed until next year so I would say either my birthday meal at Singburi — for which chef Sirichai bought a whole king crab from one of our trips to New Malden — or another birthday meal at Tayēr + Elementary (easily the best tasting menu in London right now), or the whole lamb sajji at Namak Mandi for the company and the pleasure of watching 15 previously restrained chefs and food writers stripping a whole lamb down to its bones. A special shout out to the time me and Adam Coghlan separately went to Al Haji Suya and Tasty Jerk and ate them on a bench outside 40 Maltby Street, uniting the two best barbecue spots in London, and then popped inside the arch afterwards for 3 (three) desserts.

Nigel Slater, food writer: In London, noodles from Xi’an Impression, delivered to my bedside after coming out of hospital.

Sejal Sukhadwala, food writer and Eater London contributor: This year I have visited mostly vegetarian or Indian restaurants for a series of Eater articles, leaving me with little time to dine anywhere else. Perhaps not the best, but the most interesting was Indian Accent. I’d eaten there a couple of times before, but this year, I suddenly “got” it. I got the in-jokes, the homage to famous Indian chefs dead and alive, the little nods to childhood nostalgia, the humour, the clever stuff, the nerdy stuff. I got how an essential component of a main course was left deliberately under-seasoned and under-spiced because the accompanying chutneys were so dazzling that all the flavours would have clashed otherwise. It’s a cerebral experience, and for those who don’t get it, a bewildering or underwhelming one — as was the case with a few diners who walked out or looked baffled on my most recent visit.

Emma Hughes, freelance food writer and Eater London contributor: Am I allowed two? A plate-licking dinner at The Compton Arms, and a long Sunday lunch at 10 Heddon Street.

The best cheeseburger in the city is now found at The Compton Arms in Islington
The Compton Arms, in Islington
Four Legs [Official Photo]

George Reynolds, food writer and Eater London contributor: I’ve been keeping a faintly dorky list of my favourite dishes this year, and only three meals — Magnus Reid’s P Franco takeover, and dinners at Primeur and Allegra respectively feature on that list more than once. But as wonderful as the cooking was at each of those — real talk, if Allegra was in Zone One it would be celebrated as one of the best fine-dining restaurants in the city — my actual answer is somewhat more left-field. By early August, the memory of the first month or so after our son’s birth was starting to fade; he was old enough to sit up by himself in a high chair and had started on solids. The Dusty Knuckle bakery had just started doing pizza on Friday nights; on the spur of the moment we took the Overground across to Dalston. We drank cheap rosé and slightly too much beer from 40ft brewery next door; we had two pretty decent pizzas in the sun and for the first time in a while felt close to normal again. Perhaps it wasn’t the best meal of 2019, but it was definitely my favourite.

Hillary Armstrong, food writer and Eater London contributor: Decimo for service, design, food, booze, views, everything.

Sudi Pigott, food writer and Eater London contributor: Allegra at The Stratford. Impeccable produce, genuinely creative and deeply, luxuriously stylish.

Apoorva Sripathi, writer and Eater London contributor: A bit simplistic but eating tiffin (idli, vadai, dosai, filter coffee) at Murugan Idli Shop at East Ham on Deepavali just brought me back memories of home and the food that I’ve grown up eating. Also kebab shop meals after a long night of drinking are always welcome.

Feroz Gajia, restaurateur and Eater London contributor: Le Rigmarole, in Paris. Never has everything I’ve ever wanted and also everything I didn’t know I ever wanted been encapsulated in a single evening. Just the most joyous and mesmerising evening of impeccable cooking, unmatched hospitality and sheer wizardry. It scooped most of my personal awards for the year, best skewer, possibly the best fritters, the best pasta, best chicken, best cod’s roe, best chawanmushi, best offal, best pasta again, best flatbread, best kebab, best chocolate. Complete and utter magic.

Ed Smith, food writer and Eater London contributor: No single meal stands out. Which is not to say that among them there weren’t some standout bites: Tātā Eatery’s katsu sando at Tayēr + Elementary (not having eaten at the counter yet is my biggest regret of 2019); Bodega Rita’s mapo tofu baguette; mapo tofu(ish) at Peg; anchovies on fried bread at Orasay, also the prawn and highland beef tartare; my first lardy bun at Flor, the tomato tart, and every ricotta ice cream with fig oil and brown butter cake to finish; panko fried bao and aubergine dip at Bao Borough; smoked mushrooms and green sauce via Eat Lagom.

Peg restaurant and wine bar on Morning Lane, Clapton, east London
Crab chawanmushi at Peg in Clapton
Samuel Ashton

Vaughn Tan, academic and restaurant consultant: English peas in the French style, two slices of crab quiche, and a custard slice, at 40 Maltby Street.

Daisy Meager, food writer and Eater London contributor: Snapping breadsticks followed by a heap of spaghetti and meatballs and slab of tiramisu at Ciao Bella in summer — accompanied throughout with red wine, spillages, mates and the restaurant’s old-school paper-tablecloth charm. Also a banging sausage sandwich at Towpath Cafe, countless hangover-soothing gözleme at the caff on Broadway Market, the roti at Island Social Club and the pickled watermelon dish at Black Axe Mangal with chillies, bean sprouts and black beans that blew my mind.

Josh Barrie, food writer and Eater London contributor: A sensational pork chop and a bottle of Pinot Noir at The French House. A pork chop at Emile was a very close second.

Angela Hui, food writer and Eater London contributor: Technically not a restaurant, but Jason Li’s invite-only Dream of Shanghai supper club in his home was such a memorable meal. Loads of remarkable dishes that showed a great level of skill and technique like the oil exploded prawns, drunken chicken, blackened spring onion noodles, drunken hairy crabs and tree sap jelly dessert. Was so full that I had a tactical nap at the table, woke up and carried on eating afterwards. Or, the other incredible feast at Chu Chin Chow in Barnet. Oh man, those butter prawns, salted egg yolk chicken wings and crab, stuffed bitter melon, glutinous rice chicken wings and crab with black fermented bean.

Leila Latif, Eater London contributor: Best meal was Endo at the Rotunda, it is peerless. A shimmering room with views over London, the bartender hand carving perfect spheres of ice and Endo himself is such a compelling presence and his food is unpretentious and extraordinary. Most fun meal this year was downing elderflower river oysters and smoked cods roe potato flatbreads with a big group of friends at Orasay. Jackson Boxer has created such a joyful atmosphere there.

Jonathan Hatchman, food writer and Eater London contributor: The restaurant meals I’ve enjoyed most this year have been outside of the UK. At the risk of sounding predictable, my favourite London meal was a long lunch at St. John in February. A simple salad of dandelion leaves, roasted shallots and shards of brittle pig skin; wobbly calves brains served cold on toast, lavished with sauce rife with parsley; bone marrow salad for the table; late-season hare with nuggets of braised trotter; insalubrious, inelegant Bath chaps with another simple salad; and a dozen madeleines dipped in Cognac, because why not?

Broadway Market

Broadway Market, , England E8 4QJ

Indian Accent

Lodhi Road, CGO Complex, DL 110003 098711 17968 Visit Website

Island Social Club

258 Kingsland Road, , England E8 4DG 020 7254 4945 Visit Website

Black Axe Mangal

156 Canonbury Road, , England N1 2UP Visit Website

Orasay

31 Kensington Park Road, , England W11 2EU 020 7043 1400 Visit Website

The Dusty Knuckle Bakery

Abbot Street, , England E8 3DP 020 3903 7598 Visit Website

London

, , England Visit Website

Xi'an Impression

117 Benwell Road, , England N7 7BW 020 3441 0191 Visit Website

The Sun

4 North Street, , England SM5 2HU 020 8773 4549 Visit Website

Decimo

10 Argyle Street, , England NW1 2ST 020 3981 8888 Visit Website

Lagom

17 Bohemia Place, , England E8 1DU 020 8986 2643 Visit Website

P Franco

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

BAO

590 Valencia Street, , CA 94110 (415) 658-7453 Visit Website

Wings

5 - 7 Old Fishmarket Close, , Scotland EH1 1RW 0131 629 1234 Visit Website

Aubergine

106 Mitcham Road, , England SW17 9NG 020 8244 1020 Visit Website

Allegra

20 International Way, , England E20 1FD 020 3973 0545 Visit Website

TĀTĀ Eatery

152 Old Street, , England EC1V 9BW Visit Website

Peg

120 Morning Lane, , England E9 6LH 020 3441 8765 Visit Website

Chu Chin Chow

7 Cat Hill, , England EN4 8HG 020 8449 5156 Visit Website

40 Maltby Street

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

Flor

1 Bedale Street, , England SE1 9AL 020 3967 5418 Visit Website

The French House

49 Dean Street, , England W1D 5BG 020 7437 2477 Visit Website

MURUGAN IDLI SHOP

315 High Street North, , England E12 6SL 020 8552 0001 Visit Website

Emile

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

Tayēr + Elementary

152 Old Street, , England EC1V 9BW Visit Website

Tasty Jerk

88 Whitehorse Lane, , England SE25 6RQ 020 8653 3222

Namak Mandi

25 Upper Tooting Road, , England SW17 7TS 020 8767 6120

Primeur

116 Petherton Road, , England N5 2RT 020 7226 5271 Visit Website

BAO Borough

13 Stoney Street, , England SE1 9AD 020 3319 8132 Visit Website

Noble Rot

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

Lamb

94 Lamb's Conduit Street, , England WC1N 3LZ 020 7405 0713 Visit Website

The Compton Arms

4 Compton Avenue, , England N1 2XD 020 7354 8473 Visit Website

Tart

65 Lordship Lane, , England SE22 8EP 020 8299 4989 Visit Website

Endo at the Rotunda

101 Wood Lane, , England W12 7FR 020 3972 9000 Visit Website

Singburi

593 High Road Leytonstone, , England E11 4PA 020 8281 4801

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