In case you missed them in our daily things to do, here are 10 restaurants the Londonist team loved recently.
Indian Tapas is a winner at Lokhandwala
We enter into a cosy restaurant with fine finishes, and a bar that made us feel like we’ve slipped into Alice’s Wonderland. The fantasy continues when the recommended Like A Bird cocktail arrives: a bird shaped glass swinging prettily in its cage containing a sweet, slow burning Bombay sapphire and fruity drink. The Indian tapas are little plates of bliss, with standout favourites including the spicy and rich lamb chops, and the stunning Yorkshire pudding lamb keema with mash and gravy. The latter is a seriously mouth-watering and flavoursome twist on a British classic. Other dishes such as the biriyani and coconut curry fall a little flatter following such wonder, but are great alternatives for those who’d like to steer clear of the heat.
Lokhandwala, 93 Charlotte Street, W1T 4PY ★★★★☆ Eleana Overett
The Regent Canal's your oyster
The Regent's Canal is dappled in a rare bank holiday sun, as we scud past the weeping willows and chocolate box narrow boats of Little Venice. But we wouldn't mind if it was pouring with rain, given that London Shell Co is serving up sunshine on a plate. From the opener of ostra regal oysters, through to the salted honey ice cream with strawberries and toasted almonds, here is a menu sparkling with seaside sass. That the food is never the same twice, makes it that extra bit special. The crew does a fine job of scattering courses across the three hour round-trip to Camden, giving you space to take regular excursions to the bow - and slurp away at the accomplished wine menu (the semi-sweet riesling is a winner). There's none of that "if you look to your left now..." stuff either — it's cruise dining as it should be. Our favourite section of canalway? The dark, dank 250m stretch of the Maida Hill Tunnel. Told you the weather doesn't matter.
London Shell Co, The Prince Regent, Sheldon Square, W2 6DS. From £45 a head ★★★★★ Will Noble
Skylon is more than just a pretty space
In an outrageously lovely spot on South Bank, the views alone would keep Skylon constantly busy. Cinematic spread across the Thames, windows stretching ceiling to knee-high the length of the restaurant... But arriving on one of this summer's brightest days, we find out they've dropped curtains on the panorama to protect diners from the reflected glare off the river. Making this a rare chance to see what the restaurant's really like, when you're not being irrationally prejudiced by the views. It turns out: still lovely, from the vibe — formal, but not stiffly so — through to recently-arrived Executive Chef Kim Woodward's menu: classic dishes, brightened with interesting touches. Seafood dishes including smoked salmon cannelloni and a scallop ceviche are stand-out, and the weirdly compelling hit of the night's the starter of pressed watermelon, Shimeji mushrooms and tiny, yellow tomatoes. There's not a dull note anywhere in our dinner and desserts almost match the views in the iconic stakes. It seems Skylon can still dazzle with the curtains drawn.
Skylon, Royal Festival Hall, SE1 8XX ★★★★★ Lydia Manch
Gin cocktails in a subterranean garden at Whistling Shop
London’s got a bit of a thing for gin right now and you will too once you’ve drunk your way through this pop-up. Draped in gardening paraphernalia, the Victorian-inspired drinking den is a feast for the eyes. Our bartender rustles up an Eccentrium and an Anomalous Negroni; the first arrives in a mirrored bird cage, the second in a miniature wheelbarrow — both deserve to be smelt and snapped before they’re drunk. The menu reads like a herbalist’s medicine cabinet, which is both intriguing and perplexing. It's a step up from the overpriced, acerbic G&Ts our palette is used to. The Oddlytini Buzz Button leaves an oddly pleasant tingling sensation on the tongue (rather than the full-on vibration promised by the waiter.) The elderflower tonic fights a losing battle with the balsamic reduction in the Analeptic Spirit, though we enjoyed the novelty factor of sipping from a watering can. But it’s the Cucumberolic 75 which steals the show, a deliciously subtle balance of refreshing cucumber acid and rose petal-infused gin. Unusual flowers are the order of the day until Monday 21 August when the pop-up gets a vegetable-themed makeover. You’ll go for the Instagram likes and leave with a newfound respect for gin.
Whistling Shop, 63 Worship St, EC2A 2DU ★★★★☆ Kyra Hanson
Dolce Vita meets grand brasserie
In a part of Covent Garden more rapid-turnover tourist trap than destination dining, Margot's a flood of Old World splendour — grand-brasserie banquettes and brass, and waiters dressed more formally than plenty of people would for their own weddings. Service is friendly, and formal without being stiff, waiters earnestly passionate about our order. And prices are roughly in line with the amount of marble and the warmth of the welcome. On the food front not everything's as entirely assured as the vibe. Oddly, it's our pasta dishes that feel less footsure — tagliolini slightly claggy, and blander than the deep flavours in the starters and desserts. One side dish we order doesn’t arrive, though portions are far more generous than expected so that's probably a mercy. However, they're getting some of it pitch-perfect: breads are flawless, fluffy and chewy, a gianduja chocolate mousse dessert's delicate and rich. A simple trio of sorbets are so intensely fruity they almost eclipse the chocolate mousse, which we didn't know fruit could do. Finally a starter of 'nduja, octopus and lentils, thick tentacles curling out of the dish like a sci-fi beast, might be the best dish we have there — it's hands-down the most menacing. Margot might not be perfect across the board — and maybe at these prices you'd want it to be — but enough of it's downright lovely to keep it deservedly busy.
Margot, 45 Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AA ★★★★☆ Lydia Manch
Brunch Sri Lanka Style at Sparrow
Sparrow in Lewisham is frenetic with food on a Saturday morning. Waiters scurry around the packed minimalist space, while customers merry punters provide a buzzing atmosphere. Slurping down on the smoothie of the day — when we went a varied berried concoction — proves a refreshing start to our morning. The Sri Lankan inspired brunch is delicious, with both sweet and savoury options. On the sugary side the coconut pancakes with peanut caramel and pineapple salsa (with a hint of mint) dazzle. On the savoury front, the traditional Sri Lankan appam — a rice batter pancake that's crispy on the edges and squidgy in the middle — with egg and chilli aubergine hits just the right spots. Everything is served with the speed of a fast food joint, but with high-end flavours.
Sparrow, 2 Rennell Street, SE13 7HD ★★★★☆ Harry Rosehil
Spectacular Middle Eastern nosh in Stokey
It's not just Ottolenghi who knows a thing or two about middle eastern and Israeli dishes, as demonstrated by The Good Egg in Stoke Newington. A tangy Shrub Fizz — pickled plum and sage topped up with chilled Cava — some enormous olives, and colourful assorted pickled vegetables tease our palates before the sharing dishes arrive, with an explosion of different tastes and textures. Highlights include melting aubergine with tahini and pine nuts, and some truly incredible prawns. The zatar fried chicken is as far from KFC as you can get. The clever and sensational mix of flavours and ingredients, topped off with a truly laid-back ambience and impeccable service warrant this place several return visits. Frankly, the clue's in the name when it comes to food at The Good Egg.
The Good Egg, 93 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16, OAS ★★★★★ Hari Mountford
A taste of Texas in Fulham
Meat lovers are in for a treat, pure and simple, with an incredible steak meal at Hanger SW6. We begin with ham hock beignets which takes us right back to New Orleans with the first crunch — then comes the surprisingly savoury and deliciously creamy ham and cheese filling. The beef tartare with kimchi has a smoky sourness with a peppery kick from the gochujang. The sea bream is citrusy mellowed out by the avocado puree. Then we come to the steak; they arrive pre-sliced and perfect for sharing. The USDA hanger is smoky from the pure charcoal BBQ and cooked just with salt and the meat's natural drippings — while the marinated picanha 'asada' is softer and juicier. It's hard to believe you are still in Fulham when your taste buds tell you you're in Texas.
Hanger SW6, 461 North End Road, SW6 1NZ ★★★★★ [Tuesday-Sunday] Eleana Overett
A tiny slice of paradise for pineapple enthusiasts and tea lovers
Part Indonesian beach hut, part Scandi living room, Mint Gun Club offers a Hackney twist on a traditional teahouse. The overall effect is pure bliss, from the rich turquoise walls to the pretty palm fronds and that’s before we’ve even sipped our first apéritif, ‘Burmese No.2’, a tangy mix of ylang ylang, whisky and sage with a splodge of honey for sweetness. It sets the bar high but we wouldn’t expect anything less from thrice International Bartender of the Year winner Rich Hunt, whose mixology skills are worthy of an audience (so nab a seat at the bar if you can).
Arriving in a hand-painted Indian lunchbox padded with banana leaves, the ‘Tiffin’ High Tea (made using rare blend loose leaf tea and water filtered six times!) will tickle your taste buds as well as making a beautifully presented addition to your Instagram. Perfectly balanced small plates from the pantry are packed full of flavour, with plenty for veggies and vegans. Look out for pineapple-themed touches like the cute bag hooks under the bar and the deliciously moreish port-infused pineapple and cheese sticks. Forget coconut water, we reckon Hunt’s subtle, refreshing coconut wine may just be the drink of the summer.
Mint Gun Club, 4a Brooke Rd, London N16 7JN ★★★★☆ Kyra Hanson
The local St John's Wood's been missing
With pubs closing at a startling rate across the capital, we're always excited at Londonist Towers to hear about places bucking the trend — or like The Clifton, reversing it. Closed from 2013, it's resisted development attempts and was reopened this May, complete with beer garden at the front, conservatory at the back, truffle mac'n'cheese croquettes on the bar menu, and managers Ed and Ben Robson's own-brew Clifton beer on tap. Tucked quietly down a residential street, the feel's familial and relaxed, somewhere between neighbourhood pub and round-your-aunt's-house — with better beers on offer than you'd expect from either. We eat in the small, pretty conservatory, rain drumming down above us, and the food would only have to be half-decent to be a bit charmed by this place. Luckily it's far better than that. Our mains don't quite live up to the starters — the monkfish slightly oversalted and one-note — but a starter of bresaola, roasted fig and wild garlic on toast's a punch of rich, oven-warm sweetness: perfect summer comfort food for a rainy Sunday evening.
The Clifton, 96 Clifton Hill, NW8 0JT ★★★★☆ Lydia Manch