The 50 dishes in London we hope to eat again soon

A love letter to London's restaurant scene...

We could all do with a light at the end of the tunnel. So we thought we’d name fifty. The following list was compiled completely unscientifically (and often accompanied by plaintive sighs) over the course of several weeks.

Its entrants were crowd-sourced from a pool of friends, colleagues, foodies who would hate to be called foodies, ex-lovers (“sorry to reach out after all these years — but do you remember where we had those incredible devilled kidneys?”), industry insiders who would love to be called industry insiders, and, on one occasion, a chap on a park bench who looked particularly tearful about his bagel.

London’s restaurant scene is in a state of flux this year (to deploy some clattering understatement), so it’s not entirely clear whether the dishes named here will be available on menus when (and, in some cases, if) these establishments return. Instead, the items are mostly culled from recent memories, stalwart favourites and mid-afternoon daydreams. A kind of cosmic wish-list of gout and adoration. We hope to see them again very soon.

Ox Cheek Mac and Cheese, Berner’s Tavern

Noble Rot — Slip sole and smoked butter, We could have just nominated the bread basket at everyone’s favourite magazine-turned-restaurant. It’s as wonderful as bread can be. But that would be to downplay the chefs’ adoring mastery of a good piece of fish. The slip sole is super. 2 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4NB

Frenchie — Maple syrup and bacon scones, A mad and masterful invention. Light and fluffy, but with the sneaky joy of a chubby American 13-year-old enjoying a slap up birthday breakfast. 16 Henrietta St, Covent Garden, WC2E 8QH

Flour & Grape — Roasted pork shoulder and sage butter tortellini, Sumptuous and beautiful little things. A plate of golden happiness. Always Order two. 214 Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, London SE1 3TQ

Berner’s Tavern — Ox cheek mac and cheese, Stupidly decadent, utterly massive, completely wonderful. Get two forks, a friend, and a bottle of house red, and start plotting which pictures to steal off the wall. 10 Berners St, W1T 3NP

Rochelle Canteen — Anchovy toast, Simple and lovely. This is as unfussy and hearty as a breakfast should be, but with a light touch. Bring your own straw hat. Rochelle Canteen, 16 Playground Gardens, Shoreditch, E2 7FA

La Gran Carbonara, Gloria Trattoria

Gökyüzü — Full platter, Harringay Green Lanes is the North Star for Turkish grill houses. It sings with the hiss of hot coals and the lightest perfume of gasoline and gorgeous dripping fat. The full meat platter here could feed a family of eight, and often does. A joy. 26-28 Grand Parade, Green Lanes, Harringay, N4 1LG

Cornerstone — Crab crumpet, The hake kiev and salmon pastrami were also popular choices at Cornerstone, which is the best thing to happen to fish since water. The crab crumpets, however, are comfort food from the gods. 3 Prince Edward Rd, Hackney Wick, E9 5LX

Brat — Turbot, Tomos Parry’s flame-flecked turbot was a very, very popular entrant. It may well be the defining dish of modern London. Slow-cooked, slightly sticky, glorious and huge. Simple but near perfect. 4 Redchurch Street, E1 6JL

Kiln — Slow grilled chicken and soy, A gently caramelized, ever-so-slightly charred masterclass in simplicity. The whole place is wonderful. But this is the dish that lingers in the memory. 58 Brewer St, Soho, W1F 9TL

Gloria Trattoria — La Gran Carbonara, We could have plumped for several things from this playful and kitsch trattoria, because an evening at Gloria is as much about the occasion as it is about the food. But the carbonara is exquisite and rich and beautiful. In the evenings they only make it for two, which means its both romantic and delicious, as few things can be. And the presentation… just you wait. 54-56 Great Eastern St, EC2A 3QR

Curried Lamb Buns, Marksman Public House

Towpath Café — Fried egg on toast in sage oil, They only do this for breakfast, which stops strictly at 11.30 am. So don’t miss it. It’s really quite special. 42 De Beauvoir Crescent, Haggerston, N1 5SB

G13 — Egg tofu rice bowl, A bowl-lot-of-fun from London’s most fashionable secret supper club. Custardy clouds of egg tofu with spicy fermented mushrooms, sticky-sweet soy, Japanese mayo, and torn seaweed. Even the rice — deliciously bouncy, chewy, sticky — is worth writing home about. And I hardly ever write home these days. Bermondsey; available on request

The Palomar — Glazed octopus kohlrabi, A sweet and beguiling plate from the true masters of octopus, if that’s a thing. Sit at the counter and try to befriend the chefs for future reservations/ preferential treatment/ autographs. 34 Rupert St, Soho, London W1D 6DN

Hunan — whatever you get (but hopefully the deconstructed soup dumpling), Down in Orange Square, you get what you’re given. There’s no real menu here — just a rapid-fire rolling feast of Chinese tapas and dazzling innovation. Pray for the deconstructed soup dumplings. 51 Pimlico Rd, Belgravia, SW1W 8NE

Marksman Public House — Curried lamb bun, Buns, buns, glorious buns from this traditional Victorian pub. The curried lamb one is handsome, understated, and brilliant. 254 Hackney Rd, E2 7S

Suckling Pig (and everything else), Sabor

Sabor — Suckling pig, Is there a more sweet, tender, gorgeous, and enticing phrase in existence than ‘suckling pig’? (Overtones of succulence, I think, and plenty of pig.) And is there a better suckling pig in London than the one down at Sabor? Nope and nope. 35-37 Heddon St, Mayfair, W1B 4BR

Rovi — Lobster toast, A sweet, sumptuous, achingly fine little thing from Ottolenghi’s Fitzrovia outpost. 59 Wells Street, W1A 3AE

The Other Naughty Piglet — XO linguine with cured egg yolk, The salt-cured egg yolks here are of such a deep, rich, sunset hue that you almost don’t dare eat them. You should, for obvious reasons. The Other Palace, 12 Palace St, Westminster, SW1E 5JA

Anchor and Hope — Dover sole with butter sauce, Order this, and a glass of whatever cold, crisp, grown-up white wine the charming, beaming waiter suggests, and I guarantee you’ll have a lovely, lovely day. 36 The Cut, South Bank, SE1 8LP

Kerridges Bar & Grill — Truffle baked hens egg with baron bigod, cranberries and hazelnut crumble, A hedonistic, festive confabulation of highly-cheesed, truffle-speckled baked eggs. Its proposer became near tearful at the very memory. 10 Northumberland Ave, Westminster, WC2N 5AE

Taiwanese Fried Chicken Chop with Soy Egg, Bao

Evelyn’s Table — Squid noodles with mushroom dashi, Luke Selby, who’s just taken over at Evelyn’s Table, is the former head chef at Hide. More importantly, his squid noodles are truly fantastic. The Blue Posts, Cellar, 28 Rupert St, Soho, W1D 6DJ

St John — Devilled kidneys on toast, Fergus Henderson eats his devilled kidneys with a glass of black velvet — Guinness and champagne combined, which tells you everything you need to know. The breakfast of champions from the King of Offal. 26 St John St, Barbican, London EC1M 4AY

Bao — Taiwanese fried chicken chop with soy egg, Bao’s logo is a line drawing of a sweet, hunched over, utterly contented little man, stuffing a buoyant, fluffy bun into his mouth, eyes closed in glorious surrender. It is precisely how you feel at almost every bite. The chicken chop is particularly overwhelming. 3 Lexington St, Soho, W1F 9AS

Black Axe Mangal — Crispy F*cking Rabbit, One of the cornerstone dishes at BAM, as it’s known to its friends, and with very good reason. This is punchy, curse-worthy, gamey excellence. 156 Canonbury Rd, Highbury, N1 2UP

Kaki — Pak choy with garlic, There is so much (so, so much) to choose from at this bold and authentic Chinese restaurant, stuffed in an old corner pub up in Islington. Our respondent opted for the pak choy, in all its simple, garlicky excellence. 125 Caledonian Rd, Islington, London N1 9RG

Iberian Katsu Sando, Tātā Eatery

Isabel — blackened chicken, Isabel is a sociable, colourful, enveloping dining room with exquisite taste and a cast of expertly-curated characters. The blackened chicken is a wholesome but refined delight. 26 Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4HY

Jackalope — Minced pork and chickpea szechuan noodle, A comforting, umami slurper from this mysterious pub-and-noodle-shop hybrid. 43 Weymouth Mews, Marylebone, W1G 7EQ

Monty’s Deli — Reuben, Piled high with salty, sweet, peppery pastrami, and spilling over with unctuous dressing and tart sauerkraut, this is two fists of lunchtime joy. Old Spitalfields Market, 16 Horner Square, E1 6EW

Maison Francois — Toulouse sausage ragu and chanterelle pasta, This glorious, bright, high-ceilinged, joyful, truly inviting all day brasserie is one of the best things to come out of that damnable 2020 — it is spirit-lifting, generous and populated with people-you’d-like-to-know. The food is uniformly excellent, but this pasta is particularly heartening. 4 Duke Street St James’s, St. James’s, SW1Y 6DF

Tātā Eatery — Iberian Katsu Sando, London’s most famous sandwich. Fanatically precise, eerily square, utterly beguiling. Believe the hyperbole. Tou, Arcade Food Theatre, 101-103 Oxford Street, WC1A 1DD

Reuben, Monty’s Deli

Louie — Iberico pig cheeks and langoustine, Rich, heady, succulent French-Creole mastery from Guillaume Glipa and the team. The social spot of all social spots, once things can be social again. 13-15 West St, West End, London WC2H 9NE

Padella — Beef Shin Ragu, The world’s most delicious queuing system is rightly lauded for bringing unfussy, paper-plate pasta excellence to London. The whole menu is pretty bloody good — to mop up the remnants of the cacio e pepe with a hunk of focaccia is worth the wait on its own. But our correspondents opted, when pushed, for the beef shin ragu. 6 Southwark St, London SE1 1TQ

Blacklock — Sunday roast (various), No-one does better roasts than my mother. No-one. But the Blacklock bonanza comes a very, very close second. 24 Great Windmill St, Soho, London W1D 7LG

The Guinea Grill — Oysters and Guinness, A classic pairing in the archetypal Mayfair boozer. Penny loafers encouraged. 30 Bruton Pl, Mayfair, London W1J 6NL

Kricket — Keralan fried chicken, There is so much to daydream about in the Kricket Universe: the brown butter paratha; the goose vindaloo; the Beets by K cocktail; Will Bowlby’s haircut. But the Keralan fried chicken is right at the top of the wishlist: a thing of dazzling comfort. Truly quite wonderful. 12 Denman St, Soho, W1D 7HH

Cauliflower Shawarma, Berber & Q

Dishoom — Black Daal, The daddy of all daal. Get queuing. 7 Boundary St, Shoreditch, London E2 7JE

Trullo — Cornish monkfish with lentils, Trullo is the trattoria that all other trattorias want to be when they grow up. Simple, effortless, confident — and alive with conversation and old friends. The food is excellent too, of course — and the monkfish from the grill is stellar. St Paul’s Rd, Highbury East, London N1 2LH

La Famiglia — Rigatoni al gorgonzola, This is the archetypal neighbourhood Italian. The aged front of house welcome you with knowing smiles, even on your first visit, like the whole thing’s in your honour and they’ve long been expecting your arrival. Order whatever you like, so long as you’re in good company. We’ll be having the gorgonzola rigatoni, thanks very much. 7 Langton St, Chelsea, London SW10 0JL

Berber & Q — Cauliflower shawarma, Berber & Q is the latter day King of the Grill. And their cauliflower shawarma — flame-licked, mountainous, brimming with sumac and tahini and pomegranate molasses — is as good as it gets. 338 Acton Mews, Haggerston, E8 4EA

The Cow — Pint of prawns, The best seafood pub in the world. No need to meddle with perfection. Plenty go for Guinness and oysters, though the real regulars plump for a pint of prawns. We’re easy. 89 Westbourne Park Rd, London W2 5QH

Truffle Tagliolini, Harry’s Dolce Vita

Harry’s Dolce Vita — Truffle tagliolini, Truffle-doused tagliolini and a white peach bellini. Fine. Sure. Easy. Lovely. Thanks. 27-31 Basil St, Knightsbridge, SW3 1BB

The Wolseley — Eggs Benedict, Things will only feel normal again once The Wolseley is all a-buzz on a weekday mid-morning, and the conversation drifts up to those timeless vaulted ceilings, and the maitre d’sweeps you to a lovely little table, and you break into the gleaming apricot yoke on your eggs benedict. We will breakfast again, friends. 160 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EB

Manteca — Pig Head Fritti, Manteca is a hearty, handsome, noise-to-tale joint — but you don’t need to go much further than the nose. The pig head friti — a brickish croquet with oomph and sweetness — is life affirming. 58-59 Great Marlborough St, Soho, W1F 7JY

Lina Stores — Crab linguine, …or anything at all, really. Is it the best small plate pasta joint in the capital? Whisper it: probably. 51 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4EH

Bocca di Lupo — Honey and rosemary lamb shoulder, ‘Mouth-watering’ is an overused phrase. Here, it doesn’t even come close. Succulent and tender, rich and deep, sweet and aromatic. 12 Archer St, Soho, London W1D 7BB

Butcher’s Plate, German Gymnasium

Gymkhana — Muntjac Biryani, The game’s afoot — and finely spiced. A biryani to propose over. Or to. 42 Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4JH

Kudu — Bread with melted cape malay and bacon butter, Bread of heaven. 119 Queen’s Rd, Peckham, London SE15 2EZ

Mac & Wild — Venison Chateaubriand, A Scottish masterstroke — velvety, lightly charred, with the faintest hint of highland peat. 65 Great Titchfield St, Fitzrovia, W1W 7PS

German Gymnasium — Butcher’s plate, Nothing better than a beer stein like a murder weapon and a plate of assorted grilled meats. Shout out to sauerkraut and gout! 1 King’s Boulevard, Kings Cross, N1C 4BU

Boudin Blanc — Tarte Tatin, The tastiest tarte tatin in town. Terrific. 5 Trebeck St, Shepherd Market, Mayfair, London W1J 7LT

More more discoveries to broaden those taste horizons? These Alpine liqueurs will put the après-ski spirit into your lockdown…

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