This post is one for all the foodies out there – I know there are a lot of you! I’m very fortunate to dine out a lot both through invitation and my own hungry belly and I’ve decided to round up everywhere I’ve eaten each month so that you can discover some fabulous new restaurants in London and further afield. They’re not in any particular order though I’ve scored each place out of 10 for the food, service, value and ambiance. My favourite will be featured on the home page under ‘Restaurant of the Month’ and at the top of each post. A dreamy accolade, I know.
RESTAURANT OF THE MONTH
It was a tricky decision but the crown has got to go to The Tuscan Kitchen in Rye this month for it’s fantastic service, lovely, authentic, family orientated story and homely atmosphere.
The Tuscan Kitchen, Rye
The Tuscan Kitchen in Rye, East Sussex, is a real gem amidst an oldy-worldy coastal town. Owners, English Jen and Italian Franco spent 25 years running an organic farm and restaurant in Florence before embarking on a trip to Rye where they set up the Tuscan Kitchen.
The menu pays homage to Franco’s Florentine routes whilst offering unpretentious and homely cooking that will warm both your belly and your soul. Expect to have difficulty choosing between the likes of Maremma Ravioli (ricotta and spinach ravioli, brown butter, crisp sage leaves and parmigiano), Gamberoni Porto Ercole (brandy flamed red prawns, garlic, chili, parsley and lemon) and Cappelletti di Tartufo (Tuscan cheese filled cappelletti in a delicate white truffle sauce). After much deliberating I opted for the latter washed down with a glass of white wine that Jen helpfully paired for me and it did not disappoint.
If you’re ever in the small town of Rye then the Tuscan Kitchen is not to be missed, though be sure to book ahead – it’s as popular with the locals as it is with the tourists.
Meal for 2 including wine and service: £60.00
Bokan, Canary Wharf*
I dined at Bokan on the 37th floor of Novotel, Canary Wharf, last week and had a spectacular time. The view is as astounding as you would expect it to be and I rather like that it doesn’t quite seem to have the same rush of crowds and complex booking processes as the more central sky scraper restaurants do.
The food – modern European – was exquisitely presented; by far the most immaculately done of anywhere I have ever eaten. As for the taste, well it wasn’t far off either. The menu is relatively concise but the options are varied and imaginative. The Organic Pugliese burrata, grilled peach, basil, cucumber and melba toast was a firm favourite whilst the Hereford 28 day-aged ribeye steak, bone marrow and grelot onions in a red wine sauce was cooked to perfection; it’s easy to see why Bokan has already been awarded 2 AA Rosettes.
3 Course meal for 2 including wine and service: approx £150.00
Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden
Clos Maggiore has long been one of my favourite restaurants in London – the kind that you save for a special occasion or a much-deserved treat. It’s heralded as London’s most romantic restaurant and if you can get a table in the highly sought after flower-laden conservatory you’ll understand why.
The contemporary French menu strikes the right balance between being adventurous and homely and the food is of outstanding quality each and every time. Although it may be in the higher end of some budgets they do offer a fantastic value lunch menu, including at weekends where 3 courses with a half bottle of wine costs £39pp.
There are a lot of restaurants in London where you can get fine food in a beautiful setting but I’ve found few that rival the service at Clos. It’s absolutely impeccable and each and every diner is treated like a VIP, as they should be.
3 Course lunch menu for 2: approx £100.00 (with service)
I firsted visited a Polpo in London back in January and really enjoyed the concept. I’m a big fan of sharing plates though tapas doesn’t always float my boat…unless of course it’s Italian!
Be sure to book a table because it gets rather busy, especially at the weekend, but staff are very accommodating and there’s a nice bar area where you can wait and enjoy a bottle of house red. The menu of Venetian small plates is eclectic and they’re rather famed for their meatball selection!
Meal for 2 including wine and service: £70.00
Chilli Pickle, Brighton
When I ended the second leg of my mini East Sussex tour in Brighton I did a bit of a Twitter shout-out for foodie recommendations. My mum found the Chilli Pickle in the Good Food Guide and it’s a definite winner! They create regional Indian cuisine in a quirky contemporary setting and spin much welcomed twists onto traditional dishes. The Nepalese Pork Momos (dumplings with smoked bacon and chive broth and fiery garlic cumin sambhal oelek) are a must order.
Meal for 2 including a cocktail and service: £60.00
One of my favourite things is dining at independent restaurants, especially ones as quirky as Tagine. You really can’t miss this open fronted joint with it’s gilted metal tables, straw hats, colourful shisha pipes and fragrant smells luring you in – it wouldn’t be amiss on the streets of Marrakesh.
Decor aside, and it really is something special (make sure you visit the loo!), the food itself is wonderfully rich and wholesome. The Tagine Djaj was a particular highlight; a traditional clay-cooked dish with preserved lemons, olives, onion compote and rich saffron. It’s the kind of food that warms you from the inside out and leaves you feeling cosy and fulfilled.
End the evening with a spot of people watching curled up under the heaters outside with a shisha pipe and a pot of steaming rose tea.
2 Course meal for 2 with shisha: approx £60.00
~ be aware that the restaurant does not serve alcohol, however you may bring your own ~
The Real Greek, Marylebone*
The folks at The Real Greek went watermelon mad this August to celebrate the Summer harvest in Greece. They imported 8000 kilograms of the bad boys to ensure that their special watermelon menu was as authentic as it comes! The real highlight was definitely crunchy melon with salty feta cheese and fresh mint and a juicy melon salad with grilled halloumi and pomegranate wasn’t far behind.
The Real Greek have multiple locations across London and a few outside of the capital too and never fail to deliver if you’re after something fresh and full of flavour. A particular favourite of mine is the chunky chickpea houmous with warm pitta bread and dukkah! Washed down with a crisp glass of Greek white wine, The Real Greek has become one of my favourite lunch spots.
Sharing meal for 2 with service and wine: approx £50.00
Indian Moment, Clapham
I very recently moved to Clapham Junction and so it felt only right that after several days lugging boxes and building flat pack I checked out my local curry house. Indian Moment on the Northcote Road is….eh. Honestly, bad service really puts me off of a place and I felt as though we were rather unwelcome. We were never brought water despite asking for it and I had to flag down someone twice before our order was actually taken. The curry itself was flavorsome but not outstanding. Whilst it was by no means awful and the prices are reasonable I wouldn’t rush back and will definitely continue my Clapham curry quest…
Meal for 2 including beer and service: £35.00
Yalla Yalla, Soho
Last week I went out for a spontaneous supper after an event with my gal Chelsea. We ended up at Yalla Yalla which is a Beirut street food kitchen that I’d been to a few times before, but not in at least a year. The menu hadn’t changed and there are definitely some firm favourites such as the houmous and flat bread but the dish I’d enjoyed so much a year previously arrived a little bit cold and missing several key garnishes. The service was a bit hectic and if I’d been there solely for review purposes I wouldn’t have been that impressed but I was more interested in the wine and the company! Would recommend, but perhaps during off-peak times…
Meal for 2 including wine and service: £60.00
The Gallivant, Camber Sands*
I dined at The Gallivant earlier this month as part of a dreamy two night coastal escape. The hotel prides itself on it’s foodie focus and sources a very admirable hyper-local menu complete with a map to introduce you to Dave the Wild Forager and John and Joe the Fishermen. The restaurant also has the largest English sparkling wine list in the country so if you like your fizz then it’s definitely worth a visit!
In terms of the standard of the food, my review is a mixed one. On this occasion I was disappointed with both my starter and my main – duck confit turned out to literally be a kilner jar packed with dry shredded duck and little flavour – however having eaten a fantastic lunch here on a previous occasion I wouldn’t be too hasty to write them off! Equally, the waiting staff seemed very rushed and items were missing from dishes, though I also know the hotel staff to be lovely so I wonder if they’d perhaps taken on more covers than they could manage. The breakfast is absolutely brilliant if you’re a keen bruncher or staying in the hotel.
Meal for 2 including wine: £70-100 (the restaurant operates a no tipping policy, stating that they ensure they pay their staff fairly enough that guests don’t need to feel obliged)
Restaurants marked with an asterix were complimentary. All views and imagery are my own.