Saturday

MY TOP 10 RESTAURANTS

Over the past 3 and a half years or so of writing my blog I've been to tens if not hundreds of restaurants - some of which end up on here, others that don't. I tend to only write up a review of a restaurant here if it's one that I want to recommend to my readers, as my blog's about that, not ripping into places I haven't enjoyed. However there are also places that I've eaten at that I absolutely love, that for one reason or another haven't ended up on my blog. So as a quick and easy reference I wanted to put this post up to summarise my favourites. Most of these restaurants are in London, a few further afield (although all south of the M4 - I can only write about what I know!), and hopefully they're a good variety of food styles, prices and ideas. I'm going to continue the top 10 series (keep an eye on the new "top 10" button under my blog title), with more specific lists, but this one's my top 10 of all time (so far!)

The list is not in any order of preference - I can't do that as I just couldn't choose between them to pick my favourites in any order!

1. BARRAFINA - my absolute favourite London restaurant
    54 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4SL

I love Barrafina for many reasons. I lived in Spain for a while and got a taste for great tapas. Barrafina bring this to London with each and every dish they produce. Top quality ingredients and excellent cooking mean the food here is second to none. The original restaurant (they've recently opened a 2nd site in Covent Garden) is small and set around a curved bar with 23 seats where you sit to drink and eat. There's no booking here, so although it's my favourite, it's not necessarily reliable for large parties or events where you want to eat at a particular time, but they do now do a private event space in Covent Garden that can be reserved for up to 60 people. Don't let the no booking put you off though, the queue moves pretty fast and the lovely staff keep you topped up with drinks and nibbles until you do get a seat. And a little tip for colder days - there are three or four tables outside the restaurant that don't get snapped up that fast - take one of these and watch the world go by under the powerful heat lamps that will keep you just as warm as if you were inside!

Top dishes - octopus with capers / courgette flower.


2. THE PRINCESS VICTORIA - a really brilliant pub, serving even better food
    217 Uxbridge Road, West London, W12 9DH

The Princess Victoria is one of our stand out local pubs. Ok, so it's not quite walking distance but it's still near enough to class as a local. The PV's not your average pub though - think dark wood interiors, a huge dining room and food that's worthy of a restaurant and you're getting nearer to what's on offer here. They also have an immense wine list, and the chef is more than happy to talk you through his drinks recommendations. A must visit if you find yourself in West London.

Top dishes - Hanger steak, triple cooked chips and watercress / Tamworth pork and green peppercorn pate


3. THE PELHAM ARMS - perfect cosy pub in the heart of Sussex
    High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1XL

I have such fond memories of this place. We went on a wild and windy night in January and had the most fantastic meal. The Pelham Arms source nearly all of the produce they use in their food from the local area, including salmon from a smokehouse that's actually in Lewes. The freshness and quality of the produce stands out and service is super friendly. So book yourselves in to the lovely Pelham House hotel and spend the evening lounging and feeding the Pelham Arms - I promise you won't be disappointed! And Lewes is such a sweet little town, you can spend the next day wandering the high street and ducking into cute independent book shops, antiques houses and delicatessens.
 
Top dishes - Smokehouse Lewes salmon with pickled beetroot / Pan fried fillet of local cod, tarragon crushed Jersey royals, sweetcorn puree, chorizo veloute


4. THE SHED - a new favourite, with nose-to-tail cooking served as sharing dishes
    122 Palace Gardens Terrace, Notting Hill, London, W8 4RT

I recently wrote about my first visit to The Shed on my blog as I was blown away by their food. The menu here is split into sections - mouthfuls, slow cooking and fast cooking. They recommend you share dishes here (this seems to be a bit of a theme to my top 10!) and I recommend that too, as then you get to try even more of their amazing food. All produce is responsibly sourced and the brothers who run the restaurant have close ties with various suppliers from Sussex, including those who supply wine and sparkling wine. Book ahead if you want to go here as they are hugely popular, so you'll need to be organised if you want to eat here on a Saturday evening.

Top dishes - Wood pigeon, plum, Shed bacon, cobnuts, port / Pan-fried goat's cheese, hazelnuts, honey, thyme


5. THE CHAPEL - Somerset bakery and restaurant with bedrooms
    High Street, Bruton, Somerset, BA10 0AE

The Chapel is a gorgeous restaurant and bakery on the high street of Bruton, in Somerset, set in a stunning building that used to be a 17th century coaching inn. Again the focus is on seasonal, locally sourced food, and they get it so right here. We had a superb birthday meal for my Dad here last year, and I long to go back for a weekend and stay in one of their wonderful rooms, whilst eating my way slowly through their entire menu. The restaurant has a really laid back feel and it acts not only as a restaurant but a café/coffee shop as well, serving breakfast and brunch. You can also pop in to pick a freshly baked loaf of bread and a nice bottle of plonk from their on site wine shop. If you're travelling down the A303 and need a stop off, this is where you should head.

Top dishes - Buttermilk pancakes, Sandridge Farm crispy bacon, maple syrup / Dorset crab, cucumber, fennel, avocado mayonnaise, toasted ciabatta / Wood roasted artichokes, pancetta, fontina, tomato, olives wood-fired pizza


6. 64 DEGREES - best food in Brighton
    53 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, BN1 1HB

It's no secret that 64 Degrees is my new favourite food destination in Brighton - I love it. And the best bit about it, is that they're coming to London! Having only opened at the end of last year in Brighton 64 Degrees' has had astronomical success, so much so that there'll be a new site in Pimlico by the end of the year, serving up the same style food as the original Brighton site. Think small sharing dishes (I know!!) of the best quality food you can get. Innovative combinations like scallops, land cress and lardo make 64 Degrees my kind of place.

Top dishes - Potato knodel, cabbage, smoked butter / Ribeye, kale, mash, shallot


7. CHARLOTTE'S, TURNHAM GREEN - West London' finest
    6 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, London, W4 1QP

Charlotte's in Turnham Green is my favourite local restaurant, which has just been confirmed by them winning Good Food Guide restaurant of the year 2015 - a massive accolade they very much deserve. Their menu reads much like that of others in my favourite lists, although no sharing dishes here - no, they're far too good to share! Formal dining in a relaxed environment with the most knowledgeable staff I've come across in a restaurant. The menu again centres on seasonal, sustainable ingredients to make dishes like the grilled ox heart, slow roast garlic puree and pickled artichoke - yum! Charlotte's also offer oysters, crayfish and langoustines on their own or by the half dozen, as well as an impressive spread of cured meats.

Top dishes - Skate wing, black pudding, parsley butter sauce / Pan fried lamb's liver, tarragon mash, smoked red wine butter AND THIS - Brioche doughnut, apple compote, salted caramel and calvados cream


8. SONG QUE CAFE - cheap and authentic Vietnamese
    134 Kingland Road, London, E2 8DY

This used to be my local, where I was very much a regular. I lived less than 2 minutes walk away so used to stumble in here at all times of day or night for my fix of all things spicy and delicious. In fact, I rarely ate anything else here except their spicy soft shell crab, which they are the best at doing. If you pass Song Que, then pop in and try some. And then order another portion! It is SO good. One thing I did stray for on the menu though was their Pho, beef noodle soup or their crab meat and lemongrass soup (or as one the menus said "crap" meat!) Don't let that put you off. The food is too good. Although I haven't been to Song Que in over a year I've heard it's still as good as ever, and if I still lived as close as I used to, then it wouldn't have been so long since my last visit!

Top dishes - spicy soft shell crab / fresh roll - prawns and herbs wrapped in rice paper


9. ATARI-YA - the best sushi you can get, at the best price
    Various locations - Hendon, Swiss Cottage, Ealing Common and Mayfair

Atari-ya is my go to for good sushi. It helps that we have one so locally to home, but it doesn't matter - I would travel far and wide for fish this good! Don't expect fancy restaurants though, Atari-ya is all about the food. The restaurants are more like little cafes, with only a little bit of bamboo matting as décor - in fact you could quite easily walk straight past with no idea of the delights hidden inside. Atari-ya import fish on behalf of some of the top London sushi restaurants (think Roka, Nobu etc) so you know the quality here is incredible. I particularly love sashimi, and have never had a bad piece from Atari-ya. I'd recommend going with a group so you can order and try as much as possible! I would say to call ahead though if you are planning on going to an Atari-ya as I do sometimes find the Ealing branch is randomly closed for an evening.

Top dishes - sea bass sashimi / scallop sashimi / sea urchin ngiri (if you're brave!)


10. HIX SOHO - a bit of a cheat as it's actually the bar downstairs
      66-70 Brewer Street, Soho, London, W1F 9UP

This is my cheat entry! I really like Hix Soho - the food's wonderful and I love the exposed brick work and art that hangs around the place, but what I really love is downstairs at Mark's Bar - where you have to eat from the Snax menu if you want to drink, so it kind of counts on my top 10 restaurant list! Mark's bar is dark and cool and my go to for a drink and quick bite any evening I'm in Soho. The Snax menu is diverse and delicious - a huge Yorkshire pudding with chicken liver pate, Scotch quail's eggs with caper mayo or Webster's fish fingers with mushy peas. You can also order from the A la carte menu from downstairs so you can go for something more filling while you drinks amazing cocktails.

Top drinks/dishes - Celebration - 3 year rum, gin, Mark's redcurrant syrup and grapefruit juice / Scotch quail's egg with caper mayo / Glenarm Estate porterhouse (to share!)


Where are your top 5 or 10 places to eat out?
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10 comments:

  1. Ooh, I've never heard of Charlotte's but on doing a sneaky Google the reviews are great! Thanks for sharing your favourites - I'm so keen to go to Barrafina now :)

    Tamsin xx | A Certain Adventure

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    1. You should go to both - they're both really good! Charlotte's have another branch in Ealing too, I've heard great things but haven't been to that one yet.

      Rosie xx

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  2. I'm really keen to try Barrafina! I agree Charlotte's is lovely, I used to work in Chiswick and I some of the little local places there!
    Lots of love,
    Angie
    SilverSpoon London

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    1. Chiswick is getting better and better actually, all sorts of new, independent places springing up (definitely needed as well!). And Barrafina is a must visit - so so good!

      Rosie xx

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  3. Yay, so you ended up making a list! Thank you, Rosie! I’ll definitely try out some of these restaurants. :)

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    1. I did! If you're the guy from Chisou then thank you for making me write down my top 10!! I'm going to do more now too, with more specific/localised lists :)

      Rosie xx

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  4. I am (don’t know what happened, I thought I was signed in)! :) I know how hard it is to make lists, but there is always a bunch of places we keep closer to us and are the first ones that pop into our mind when someone asks “Do you know a good place to have dinner in London?”

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    1. Phew - it is you! I'll keep updating the series of lists with more specific/localised places so keep an eye out for those! Sorry I'd forgotten your name - too much sake!!

      Rosie xx

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  5. These sound delicious & definitely need to be checked out!

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    1. I really like them all in different ways - even though some of them seem pretty similar on paper.

      Rosie xx

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