This weekly column suggests London restaurants to try over the weekend. There are three rules: The restaurants must not be featured in either the Eater London 38 Essential map, or the monthly updated Heatmap, and the recommendations must be outside Zone 1. In need of even more London restaurant recommendations? Head to the Eater London Five Restaurants to Try This Weekend archive.
On the Ealing section of Uxbridge Road there are more Persian restaurants than you can shake a stick of koobideh at, the result of an ever westward movement of Iranians in London from Kensington to Hammersmith and all the way out into the boondocks. The restaurants here, by and large, have the same menu, (with the exception of Caspian’s Tehrani tongue and brain sandwiches): the same marinated skewers, the same one or two stews, the same one or two fragrant rices. Eram Shishlik stands out not just for its strangely bougie cafe interior but for the aberration on the recited list of meats: lamb neck.
It takes a huge amount of confidence to put a neck on the menu and serve it simply, knowing that people will order it regardless. Not only is it a cheap cut; when it arrives, it is quite unmistakably a neck: three fragile knobbly vertebrae surrounded by knotty meat that has been slow cooked until it comes apart in guitar strings of flesh, all wobbly fat and sinew basted in what seems like a vat of butter, onions, and saffron. It absolutely demands careful picking apart, scraping at the bone with fork and finally teeth, sucking out the marrow from the now completely fleshless vertebrae, a small memento mori left at the table. This is cooking completely without ego: no searing hot grill, no complex marinade, just careful preparation and time. It’s the kind of exceptional home cooking everyone secretly craves when eating out. —Jonathan Nunn
5-6, Culmington Parade, Ealing, W13 9BD
Pasta Next Door
The quaint old coach house adjacent to the Deli Downstairs in Victoria Park Village has, in recent memory, gone from junk shop to café to florists before settling on its finest reinvention yet — as a tiny one-chef, one-waiter neighbourhood pasta joint. New owner Sophie Taylor, ex-Tom’s Deli and The Cow, took over both the Deli Downstairs and Pasta Next Door last month and has zero plans to make swingeing changes — cue sighs of relief from the regulars. The format’s simple: a tickbox menu of the titular pasta (made fresh on site) turned into a feast with the addition of six quid negronis, antipasti from the deli, a few scoops of Hackney Gelato, and a carafe of red from the barrel. Expect straightforward seasonal flavours such as fresh borlotti and anchovy bruschetta, fusilli with pesto, and charred green beans and bouncy gnocchi with pumpkin and sage in a sea of melted butter. Thursday to Saturday evenings only. No reservations. —Hilary Armstrong
219 Victoria Park Road, E9 7JN
Imone (“Auntie’s place”) is a tiny room in New Malden with the familiarity and comfort of home serves food to nourish and excite. It begins with a greeting of a seasonal banchan (courgette at the moment) served at just above body temperature and house kimchi served just under, with just the right amount of acidity and ripeness.
The restaurant, packed at lunch times and most evenings is known for great seafood cooking: ssaengsun jjim is the signature dish. A splayed out white fish (currently whiting) perfectly cooked and dressed with what must have begun as a mountain of ssukgat (chrysanthemum greens) and a blushing red sauce with great depth and savouriness. Maeungtang is billed as a fish stew but belies the sheer amount of dried anchovy stock that forms the backbone of the broth. Light, clean and almost sweet, it’s coupled with large fleshy chunks of fish with glints of a la nacre and generous amounts of kimchi and vegetables. Both sides of the Korean DMZ come into play for the chefs refreshing take on beef salad, as she swaps out the usual greens for a pile of coriander (something grown and eaten exclusively in North Korea), plenty of raw garlic, tiny shreds of crispy beef for texture, and a bright dressing with background heat from the dried chillies hidden underneath.
The journey to Imone will be half the adventure, but the warmth of the place, delicious food, and buzz inside keeps people coming back. —Feroz FG
169 High St, New Malden, KT3 4BH
A simple, functional vegetarian canteen on Green Street between Upton Park and Forest Gate, this long-established Gujarati venue is an east London institution. It’s usually filled with of groups of friends dining together after shopping in the area, and also doubles up as a mithai shop. There’s a separate chaat station where staff make street food items to order using ingredients stored under domed lids. Although snacks are what most people come here for, it’s worth also trying the Gujarati thali, or one of the daily specials — with luck, this may include dal dhokli. This much-loved classic is made from soft squares of wheat flour ‘pasta’ in a bright yellow dal with mustard seeds, asafoetida, fresh tomatoes, and coriander leaves. The famous one-pot dish is rarely found in other Gujarati restaurants; here it’s cooked by a team of Gujarati women frequently seen moving through the kitchen’s swinging doors. —Sejal Sukhadwala
268-270 Green Street, Forest Gate, E7 8LF
As the nights draw in, with temperatures dropping, we enter the final few weeks of al fresco lunches. None come lovelier than the ones at Bingham Riverhouse, an idyllic boutique hotel overlooking a manicured lawn that backs onto a particularly picturesque stretch of the Thames: Weeping willows and cheerful, gin-soaked retirees on careening narrow boats. For a sunny lunchtime, the short menu is appealing and reasonably priced (the same is not true of the wine list). Torched mackerel comes smoky and subtle under its blackened skin with crunches of fennel and punches of sweet pepper escabeche. Salt baked carrot is luminous on a black plate with swirls of bright, spiced tomato relish and elegant little swishes of hummus. For dessert, a marscapone cheesecake is only fitting, a perfect little cuboid alongside a quenelle of strawberry sorbet and topped with the final wild English strawberries of the summer. —Leila Latif
61-63 Petersham Road, Richmond Upon Thames, TW10 6UT