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Where to eat in London

If you’re looking for a place to eat in London, it can be really hard to avoid the rubbish restaurants. They’re everywhere, and give you absolutely no idea of how Londoners actually eat. No, we are not Pizza Hut, and no, we are certainly not queuing for Angus Steakhouse.

Instead, we’re sneaking off from the hoards of tourists looking lost in Leicester Square and heading to our favourite jaunts. Sure, we have to wait 45 minutes for a table, but if it’s that or a stale pizza-buffet, I know which one I’d choose.

You’re in Covent Garden

My favourite place in TheatreLand to eat is definitely Shackfuyu. They’re definitely flavour of the month with Londoners at the minute, if Grace Dent’s review is anything to go by (it is). Order at least three things per person and pig out on their incredible Japanese inspired dishes. You’re definitely meant to play with your food here, so get stuck in. Website here.

Shackfuyu Covent Garden

You’re in Kensington

Dirty Bones is to die for, and many of my friends have noticed my next-level obsession with them since my visit earlier this year. I’ve been back a few times since that review, and I just love it. Classic, dreamworthy American comfort food, my faves are the dirty fries and the Kimchee Dog. Will there ever be something on that menu that doesn’t make me drool? No. Go immediately.

Dirty Bones Kensington

You’re in Clapham

Firstly, Clapham is massive. Once you’ve figured out which part of Clapham you’re in, mission your way over to Southsider for amazing cocktails (Happy Hour until 8pm every night, toot toot), then when you’re nice and drunk head to the Roxie. They’re usually pretty quiet for Clapham Junction, and the platters are such good value for gorgeous steak medallions.

Southsider Clapham

You’re in Brixton

You need to be in Brixton Market, where you have a million choices. The best place in Brixton Market, for me, is Chicken Liquor. It never lets me down and no matter how many ties I try and recreate the Korean fried wings I’m yet to master it. My top tip for Chicken Liquor is to forget the cutlery and accept the messiness. If the queue is too long here though, you’re in a good spot as I’ve never heard a bad word about any of the places in the Market. Then, go to Kaff Bar for the best five quid mojitos ever.

Kaff Bar Brixton

 

You’re in London Bridge

Um, duh. London Bridge can seem like a crap area for food, but actually is home to one of the most famous foodie spots in the country- the market. Go to Borough Market if you need something cheap and cheerful, or if you’re pining for something snazzier, whizz up the Shard for dreamy views, cocktails and food. I like the food at Hutong best, and they do a v reasonable lunch set menu.

Hutong London Bridge

You’re in Kings Cross

I have a real soft spot for Bonnie Gull. It’s this kinda refined seafood place that’s got a lotta sea-shanty vibes with less demon seagulls, and more delicate slurpy oysters. Wander up to Exmouth Market for a dainty dinner where you also get to wield a hammer (with good reason!)

Bonnie Gull Kings Cross

You’re fucking lost

So you’re God-knows-where in London. That’s fair, doesn’t mean you’ve got to eat rubbish. Chains in London have loads of seriosuly good competion to be dealing with, so they’re really some of the best in the country. My favourites are all over the show, so check the locations for:

  • Wahaca- fast casual Mexicana for those with a burrito inclination.
  • Breakfast Club- loud and easy diner with epic breakfasts and chuggable cocktails
  • Pho- it’s not as tasty or as cool as Bone Daddies, but these bad boys are everywhere and they’re pretty good bang for your buck.
  • Byron- good, solid burgers that are reliably tasty and pretty reasonable. And everywhere.

No doubt I’ve heinously undersold a fabulous spot- and as you may have noticed I’m definitely a south-of-the-river girl- so apologies in advance for any angry foodies who are outraged I’ve missed a trick. Let me know where I should’ve included and I PROMISE I’ll go there soon!

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Shackfuyu

I’m pretty late to the Japanese food scene in London. When you’re going out with Jonathan Frost, who thinks that no amount of sushi will ever fill him up- which is the main aim of the game when taking Frostie out for dinner- you don’t get to go to a lot of Japanese restaurants.

So when my colleagues planned a Friday lunch trip, I was a teency bit unreasonably excited. I’d seen so many  Instagram-perfect shots of the dishes there and worked myself up into a Shackfuyu-hysteria. I was psyched to go eat this food. My job is to get other people excited about restaurants, and I think I’d gone over the mark into worrying people with my enthusiasm. Luckily, it was all genuine, and I can now confirm with authority, totally justified.

Priorities straight, we got the cocktails in first.

 

A photo posted by Hazel Henbury (@henburyhazel) on

 

Mine’s the Bone Daddies Punch (on the right), which was lush- and I couldn’t keep myself from picking out the tiny cherries at the end.

Shackfuyu has a weird menu in that you order one ‘main dish’, which changes on the reg. When we came it was wagyu beef (which means they like, fondle the cow before cooking it, or something, so it’s proper relaxed and yummy), so we ordered that with a plate of basically everything else. Sharing plates are so in right now.

 

Every Friday should involve @shackfuyu #london #restaurants #instafood #instadaily #bonedaddies #foodporn

A photo posted by Sauce Communications (@saucecomms) on


The food was gorgeous. My personal favourite was the Korean fried wings, which they serve in all the Bone Daddies’ restaurants. The prawn toast was pretty cool too, as it had this dancing herb stuff on top (Watch this Vine if you don’t know what I mean!) and the scallops were in a chilli miso butter that I could honestly have drunk by the gallon.

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I’m not usually one for hot and cold desserts- I like my sweets at room temperature thank you very much- but Instagram was going wild for the kinako French toast and green tea ice cream and I couldn’t resist a spoonful or seven. The French toast was perfect- crème brulee crispness on the outsite and Mary-Berry-cake moist on the inside, and the ice cream wasn’t too sweet or too thick. I definitely am on board with the hype for this one.

Kinako French Toast

Stuffed, happy, and feeling all the world more like Japanese food is my newfound bae, we tottered out into the sunlight and back to the office. Shackfuyu is tucked down Old Compton Street, past G-A-Y, so it does take a little digging out while you’re in Soho, but is absolutely worth hunting down- for that chilli miso butter alone, frankly. MASSIVE THUMBS UP FROM FARRAH.

Shackfuyu, Old Compton St. Shackfuyu on Urbanspoon

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Bonnie Gull Seafood Bar, Exmouth Market

I’m a big seafood fan, but because it’s generally expensive for shellfish and I wouldn’t know how to cook a whole crab if it crawled into my oven and shouted out directions, I never make my own.

So when I saw Bonnie Gull Seafood Bar had relaunched, I got flashbacks of food envy at reading the Londoner’s blog, and immediately booked in a table.

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It’s tucked away on Exmouth Market, which is King’s Cross way. I live near Wimbledon, so this was no mean feat to get there- especially considering I had to drag Jonathan round the Piccadilly line moaning “why are we going this far for posh fish and chips?” the whole time.

When we eventually rocked up, our chirpy waiter seated us and explained the Bonnie Gull concept, and more importantly, the daily specials.

We opted for five dishes, all from the Sea section of the menu (when in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in a seafood bar, leave the steak behind). Potted clams, beef dripping chips (to die for), a mackeral pate with sourdough, fillet of mackerel with gnocchi, and, the main event- Smash your own crab.

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Jonathan’s eyes lit up when the waiter delivered a board of freshly caught and freshly cooked crab, complete with hammer, and crazy claw crushers. It was like playtime and dinnertime rolled into one, and all complaints about the tube crowds and the rain were replaced with joyous smashing. The meat was wonderful- light, fresh and lots of it. Who says you shouldn’t play with your food?

I ordered my first ever Bloody Mary, and I know I have friends who may disown me for this, but I really didn’t like it. I’m sure the quality of the Bonnie Mary is just fine, but I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy drinking a savoury drink. First and last!

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On the plus side, the Bonnie Mary came with a fresh Britsh oyster, ready for knocking back. Unsure of oyster etiquette, I gave it a sort of quick half chew before swallowing, meaning what should’ve been a moment of luxury- elegance at a push- was actually more of a brief choking and glamorous eye watering. Totally worth it.

Overall, I loved Bonnie Gull. It’s ditsy sixties seaside decor and the novelty of playing with tools to get to your lunch makes it a real contender for dates, and it’s smart enough to show off to your foodie mates too.

If you’re going to go, my recommendation would be to get the whole Smash Your Own Crab (we got the half) and a couple of sides/things to pick at, and you have to promise me you’ll handle your oyster better than I did.

Bonne Gull Seafood Bar Bonnie Gull Seafood Bar on Urbanspoon

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Dirty Bones London

In my opinion, the best way to spend a celebratory evening is by feeding and watering your nearest and dearest. Luckily for me, that’s also how Dirty Bones London wanted to spend it’s one year anniversary, so Jaime, Jonathan and I rocked up to wish them Happy Birthday.

dirty bones

Unlike every other birthday party I’ve been to, it wasn’t BYOB. In fact, Dirty Bones were rolling out the free cocktails like there was no tomorrow and if there was, it certainly wasn’t a school night.

cocktails

We hung out in the underground bar area, supping our freebies and snapping up mini burger canapes, until our table was ready. We were led into the smaller of the two dining rooms, snuck in an extra free cocktail and ordered away. They had a set birthday tasting menu on for the evening, so the toughest decision we had to make all night was whether to go for the Dog, Burger, or Wings. Ever the optimist, I suggested that in my group of three we should order one of each and all try a bite of each others…

No chance with these hustlers.

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To start, we had a giant lamb rib with spicy chicken wing- that’ll be the Bones, then- followed by our incredible main course. I had the wings, which were succulent and crispy and had just enough kick. All mains were served with a portion of fries and mac’n'cheese EACH. That’s six sides between three people, and though I’d like to say we were far too sensible to attempt scoffing the lot, I just can’t lie to you guys.

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The mac’n'cheese was especially delicious, and I say that as someone who usually resents paying for pasta I’m used to tipping out of a microwave packet. I don’t know what they put in it to make it spicy- it didn’t seem like paprika- but there was enough zing in there to make me grateful we all got individual portions.

You can definitely see where they get the Dirty part from, not only was the food unapologetically unhealthy good for the soul, we were all covered in sticky sauce, mac and cheese, ketchup and grease by the end. The staff were in no rush to kick us out to refill the table (a novelty in itself in London restaurants), so we had plenty of time to groom ourselves into looking presentable again, soundtracked by the amazing chilled covers the live band next door was crooning.

The whole shebang (that’s three freebie cocktails, a starter, main with two sides and a dessert each) cost £20 per person. Which is probably the best deal for food I’ve had in like, ever, so as well as feeling enormously fat proud of ourselves for finishing everything, our pockets weren’t that much lighter afterwards either.

All round, I massively enjoyed Dirty Bones London and will definitely be back.

Dirty Bones, 20 Kensington Church St

Dirty Bones on Urbanspoon