A special, one-off Eater London 5 to try — five restaurants to visit this weekend in the city.
King’s Cross has plenty of restaurants, but 10 years ago most would ignore the majority of those and walk to the back of Euston station to join the throng at Roti King or explore the multitude of dosa options on Drummond Street. In 2022, though, the walk is either down Kings Cross Road to join the hypebeasts waiting in line at Dim Sum & Duck for, yes, excellent dim sum and good duck; or head to the lower end of Caledonian road, past Supawan, to Hawker’s Kitchen. A tiny canteen with twelve seats frequented by students and Malaysian facebook group members and many delivery drivers, it serves Malaysian food and some Indian dishes, including dosa. The go-to order no matter the group size is: Fish curry with roti (ask for fresh), mee goreng, kang kong, beef rendang, nasi lemak or kway teow, plus a dosa with whatever takes the fancy. To drink, it has to be the frothy warmth of teh tarik.
64 Caledonian Rd, N1 9DP
Follow restaurant openings long enough is a little bit like following football, delighting in the best chefs joining the restaurants you have an allegiance with. Over the years, followers become more and more invested, more interested in their favourite chefs’s moves. You might scout talent from the lower leagues, see them spend time and flourish overseas as before coming back to make an impact on the restaurant landscape. Planque is a “wine drinkers’s clubhouse” but more importantly it’s where Sebastian Myers cooks food that has a French tinge from his time at Auberge de Chassignolles, technical prowess from the Viajante (Nuno Mendes) kitchen, and his own need to make food that is just plain delicious. Inadvertently reintroducing and refreshing the tartine for London along with choux farcis, crepe rolls, seafood with vinegars, and dulce de leche with cheese. All this in an arch in Haggerston, it feels like 2012 again.
322-324 Acton Mews, London E8 4EA
El Inca Plebeyo
Soup and raw fish are two things the average London diner says they love but only on their own terms. The former usually being a rich decadent viscous mouthful full of dairy, tomato, or stock; the latter taking the form of identikit chain sushi or, at a push, some slivers of smoked salmon. The Ecuadorian restaurant El Inca Plebeyo serves multiple versions in both of these categories that would convert anyone with their precision seasoning and bountiful portions of seafood. Chef Jorge Pacheco’s menu filled with bright flavoursome ceviches and fish soups including the national dish, encebollado de pescado — a bowl of broth with hunks of tuna and cassava, deeply satisfying and made for the cold, pitch-blue nights. Do explore the menu in its entirety.
162 Essex Rd, London N1 8LY
During the pandemic finding new restaurants often meant scrolling the delivery apps to see if there was anything that didn’t fit in the generic categories assigned by the apps. On a random goose/google chase for a sour cherry kebab, Zer in Dalston popped up. A Middle-Eastern restaurant with dishes from all across the region, including a meatball version of kebab bil karaz, a ghormeh sabzi humming with olive oil and herbs, including a wallop of fenugreek. In the restaurant or via delivery the fish stew delivering perfectly cooked cod along with fluffy ciabatta like pitas baked in-house. Whether you’ve been turned away by that trendy ocakbasi or just ordering from home, the mains at Zer are undeniable.
13 Stoke Newington Rd, London N16 8BH
Restaurants names are a strange thing, often thought up to reflect the potential offering by the time they open the focus and the thing they are known for is utterly different. Bebek (meaning baby) serves baklava but this is not the reason to visit. No, lahmacun: so thin, the topping can be seen from underneath; lamb fat-topped crisp pide; house made kavurma and eggs — potted beef in a clay pot cooked in the large stone-bottomed oven — all flanked with individual plates of onions, ripe tomato slices, crunchy parsley, and lemon. To finish off the meal the amazing kaymak and honey is a must. Proper buffalo cream and organic honey served with freshly baked bread, the familiarity and comfort of eating it resonates with anyone who tries it no matter if they grew up eating something like it or not.
91 Kingsland High St, London E8 2PB