Sunday, 3 January 2016

2015 Favourites

I'm fond of lists. It orders my mind, gives me a sense of achievement if I need to tick them off, and it provides a handy tool to round things up with. So, slightly late in proceedings, here's a list of the favourite things I ate in 2015, in no particular order. Some are new restaurants, some are stalwarts. I should point out that I paid for all the meals I've mentioned, just in case it makes anything of a difference to you. Happy new year!

Portland, Fitzrovia: 

I went to Portland three times this year; to celebrate a birthday, my work leaving lunch and just cos. Each time it was brilliant. Particularly loved this salsify dish that tastes like a carbonara. The opening photo dish comes up a lot in their mostly-changing menu - it's raw Isle of Mull scallops, beneath wisps of radish and dressed with buttermilk. Isn't it pretty? 

Mama Lan, Brixton

These spicy fried wings are just SO GOOD. Crisp, crunchy, spicy, happiness, even if perched on a stool somewhat uncomfortably in Brixton Market. I often come here for these and a few dumplings as a snack. 

Decatur, Druid Street Markets on Saturday

I love these oysters, trading out of Maltby / Druid Street on Saturdays. Charcoal grilled with lemon, hot sauce and butter, I've never enjoyed a cooked oyster more.

Elliot's Cafe, Borough - lunchtimes only

I was skeptical about the seeded bun - do we really need seeds? - but turns out they're pretty ineffectual. Delicious, well seasoned meat cooked perfectly medium, and good chips. I'm a fries girl myself, but these had such a great potato flavour. 

These are called 'liang pi', or 'cold skin noodles'. Sure, they're not really a patch on Xi'an Famous Foods in NYC but they are, nonetheless, very good in their own right. Love their 'burgers' too. My full experience is here

The signature lamb noodles are so so good - creamy, savoury, intense depth to them. I haven't tried enough of the menu to recommend anything else, but I'd struggle to return here and order anything but this. Perfect for cold, windy, winter nights. 

Quality Chop House, Farringdon

I hardly think these need much explanation, but just in case, these confit potato are rightly famous. Crisp on the outside, gooey and soft within - just how any potato should be. I love this restaurant and everything they cook - I even went to the Bloodshot supper clubs at The Dairy when Head Chef Shaun Searley was guest cooking. If you've not heard of it, it's a supperclub for the hospitality industry, recognising that nowhere decent is open after all our hard-working chefs and waiting staff have finished for the evening, so they set up a monthly dinner that starts at 1am. I was delirious by the time I was eating dessert at 4am - I rarely stay up past 2am being the old lady I am. Totally worth it. 

One of the best dishes I had this year was this duck with cherry sauce. The set menu is fantastic value, and I only wish I had gone more often this year. 

Ceviche, guesting at Le Coq, Islington

This quinoa scotch egg at the Ceviche takeover at Le Coq had such interesting flavours and textures, and the whole meal had brilliant dishes throughout. I must get to Ceviche, and Le Coq properly next year.

The Camberwell Arms, Camberwell

Not exclusively this dish of squid with chickpeas, but in fact much of what is served at The Camberwell Arms is really excellent. Had a lukewarm and slightly greasy venison stew recently but I'll forgive them that for all the other great dishes. Here's my full post. 

Finally, my Restaurant of 2015 goes to The Newman Arms

They serve comforting pies on Monday lunchtimes, wonderful roasts on Sundays, but also incredibly inventive cooking that's brilliant and interesting, a few cuts above usual pub comforts, by Head Chef Eryk Bautista. I've written about the weekday evening menu here. Owner Matt Chatfield of The Cornwall Project surely has to be the nicest man in the industry; he lends his kitchen and facilities out to charity soup competitions, and to aspiring chefs and street food traders to host guest dinners. It's that kind of collaborative, generous and wonderful spirit of sharing that is really really special. It warms me, and makes me want to return again and again. 

Have a great 2016!

1 comment:

Steph Toms said...

Awesome suggestions on here - and based on your rave reviews on Camberwell Arms, I went to check it out last night and you weren't wrong, I am definitely going back there, it is better than Anchor & Hope. I can also vouch for Chang's Noodles, love it there