My blog has been suffering from neglect this year, not because I'm eating out less, but due to the fact that I now return to the same few restaurants time and time again rather than venture to new openings and risk disappointment.
I think it's time to compile a list of those places that I most regularly frequent, detailing why I love them so much and the item/s on their menus that I find myself craving, in no particular order...
1) Del Parc
The menu here - tapas 'with a North African twist' - is just the right mix of old favourites and new and exciting combinations, recent dishes I've tried include mackerel with rhubarb, mint and chilli and the classic padron peppers. The relaxed atmosphere and warm welcome from Alan and Steve ensure this is a regular dinner venue, particularly nice in the summer months.
Dishes I crave - those amazing marinated olives (below) and the goats cheese and figs in parma ham. See my full review here
Incredible steak, much has been written about it, I've still yet to try the burger here because I can never resist the lure of the New York strip or the (girl's steak) grass fed fillet. A bloody mary is always a must here too. Love the decor and the excellent service just wish it was easier to get a table mid week.
Dish I crave - the macaroni cheese with truffle oil. See my full review here
I love love love Barrafina. Lucky that I'm a patient person because there is ALWAYS a lengthy queue but it is most certainly worth the wait. Efficient service, an excellent and varied tapas menu with daily specials, Barrafina never disappoints. Seafood is particularly good.
Dish I crave (always) - the magnificent cheese and ham croquettas. See my full review here
This cafe paved the way for the new wave of Antipodean brunch/lunch type venues in London so we have owner (and blogger) Shelagh to thank for this burgeoning scene. It's wonderful to see them expanding and now opening on Sundays (yay) and evenings during the summer months. Get there early or late to avoid the queues.
Dish I crave - baked beans and feta. See my full review here
5) The Bull and Last
Great gastropub run by chef Ollie Pudney which is just around the corner from where I live! The menu is very considered and I've not yet been disappointed with anything I've sampled. A pretty listed building perfect for lazy weekend lunches or just drinks but you won't be able to resist the menu.
Dish I crave - triple cooked chips. See my full review here
This is a chain but that, thankfully, does not seem to affect the quality of the byron burger. With new branches popping up left right and centre, it seems many agree with me. Well sourced ingredients and an owner with his finger on the social media pulse ensures Byron stay on top of their game. Reasonable prices and swift but still personal service.
Dish I crave - The George Hamilton burger. See my full review here
I adore Caravan, in a similar vein to Lantana but on foodie mecca Exmouth Market. Relaxed dining with a very well constructed brunch menu, again very busy so arrive early or late to be guaranteed a table as they operate a no reservations policy on weekends.
Dish I crave - baked eggs with chorizo. See my full review here
8) Galvin at Windows
My go to special occasion venue for a celebratory meal. First visit was for an anniversary dinner and I was blown away by both the exemplary service, the fine food and of course the stunning views from the 28th floor of the Hilton Park Lane.
Dish I crave - that monster tarte tatin. See my full review here
Great for lunch, if a little on the pricey side, I love their salad boxes and the olive bread is out of this world. Desserts and hot meals are available too, authentic Milanese from Alan Yau, good luck getting a seat, or even standing room at lunchtime.
Dish I crave - apple, chicken and avocado salad. See my full review here
10) J Sheekey Oyster Bar
I love the luxury of this bar to the left side of the main restaurant. Lavishly decorated it has a gentleman's club feel to it. The spectacle of unbeatable shellfish prepared before you if you opt to sit at the bar is very entertaining. Frequent special offers including half a dozen oysters and champagne for £14 makes this is a popular pre theatre option. Or just for the occasional indulgence, I work dangerously nearby!
Dish I crave - the crowd pleasing Plateau de Fruits de Mer. See my full review here