When we suggest that you eat your heart out, we mean it quite literally. After all, why cook it at home when lots of restaurants do it so offaly well? With romance put firmly to one side, here is our pick of London’s best heart dishes. Seek them out this Valentine's and you might find love at first bite.
♥ Chicken heart kebabs at Barraco
You’ll find chicken hearts — or coração de frango — at many a Brazilian eatery around town, usually skewered to form kebabs and then grilled. Barraco in Kilburn takes on the role of a buteco (a social hangout, which could be described as Brazil’s answer to the pub) for the local Brazilian community and serves highly traditional dishes and drinks — including these crisped-up meaty bites which almost ‘pop’ in the mouth. See our pick of London’s best Brazilian restaurants for more places that serve coração de frango.
Barraco, Kingsgate Place, NW6 4TA
♥ Duck hearts on toast at John Doe
The shining star at this Golborne Road restaurant is Bertha, a charcoal oven — sorry chefs, you too. Just one of the things she lends smoky notes to is a pile duck hearts, which are tossed in sherry vinegar and parsley then served, still firm to the bite, on toast. Read our review of John Doe.
John Doe, 46 Golborne Road, W10 5PR
♥ Lamb heart with anchovy at Lyle’s
James Lowe’s Shoreditch restaurant is partial to a bit of offal, and is currently serving a dish of lamb’s heart with anchovies and sprouting broccoli — an intense flavour-hit if ever there was one. See photo in gallery above, by Joe Warwick.
Lyle’s, Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
♥ Ox heart with chips at St John
Clerkenwell’s St John is arguably the restaurant that started it all — and for that we owe it our heart. Founder Fergus Henderson coined the term ‘nose-to-tail eating’, and his resolutely British cooking here focuses on using up every bit of the animal. It’s hard to beat thin strips of griddled ox heart, cooked like minute steak and served with chunky chips, though it also comes in many other guises such as with watercress and pickled walnuts. See photo in gallery above, by The Amateur Gourmet.
St John, 26 St John Street, EC1M 4AY
♥ Devilled chicken hearts at Tramshed
The so-called ‘bar snax’ at Mark Hix’s Shoreditch joint include these beauties: firm, bursting bites of rich meatiness, spiced-up and set oozing upon a slab of bread. There can be fewer better backdrops for such a dish than Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde ‘cock and bull’.
Tramshed, 32 Rivington Street, EC2A 3LX
♥ Grilled ox heart at Trullo
Thinly sliced and grilled ox heart is a recurring favourite at this Highbury Italian that’s as about Tuscan as N1 gets. It varyingly comes with slow-cooked borlotti beans, horseradish creme fraiche, shallots or herby salads, but is on the daily-changing menu more often than not and is reliably tender and not too offaly.
Trullo, 300-302 St Paul's Road, N1 2LH
♥ Valentine’s hearts at Cinnamon Soho
Vivek Singh’s casual Kingly Court Indian is serving a pretty hearty special menu this Valentine’s Day, laying on a series of small plates ideal for sharing with your heartthrob. Maybe. Tuck into pan-seared ox heart with chilli, garlic and peanut; tandoori-spiced chicken heart tikka; devilled duck hearts; lamb heart skewers with pickled onion; and — for the veggie heart lovers — heart of gem lettuce with chilli, caramel, cashew, apple and fennel. Sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen (in a good way).
Cinnamon Soho, 5 Kingly Street, W1B 5PF
For more Valentine’s ideas, you might want to see our pick of 13 Non-Clichéd Things To Do On Valentine’s Day.