Here in London, we’re lucky in that we could probably eat something different every day of our lives. So, if your standard Thai green curry or identikit chain pizza just isn’t cutting it for dinner tonight, why not think outside the box and check out this little lot.
From bush meats to little-known Asian dishes, to some seemingly questionable sweet and savoury combinations, London has got everything the adventurous eater needs. We’ll try anything once.
Anything at Archipelago
If ‘exotic’ eats are your thing, then go immediately to Fitzrovia’s most unusual restaurant, Archipelago. Here you can feast upon anything from crocodile, to zebra jerky and chermoula crickets — the owners pride themselves on their sourcing of exotic meat.
There’s a world food vibe throughout the menu with dishes inspired by cuisine from Peru, Ethiopia, the Baltics and beyond, and this is mirrored in the pretty eccentric décor of giant Buddhas alongside Polynesian masks and the like. Despite all this, reports suggest that the food is surprisingly good – and it’s even kind of romantic.
Archipelago, 53 Cleveland Street, W1T 4JJ
Blue cheese macarons at The Fine Cheese Co.
Artisan cheese experts The Fine Cheese Co. have opened an eat-in shop in Belgravia where cheese fans can enjoy fancy cheese soufflé, Welsh rarebit and other joys whilst surrounded by excellent cheese and wine. But, pride of place on the menu is something a little more out there: the savoury macaron.
They say, “if Roquefort and Sauternes is a marriage made in heaven, then our Bath macaron with Bath Blue, chives and walnuts is a mouthful of paradise. The savoury tang of the blue, meets the warmth of the nuts and the sweetness of the paste in an explosion of flavours that is both shocking and pleasing in equal measure.” There’s also a goats cheese and beetroot version available is that tickles your fancy.
The Fine Cheese Co., 17 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8LB
Crispy fried ice cream at Gyoza Bar
The skilled Japanese gyoza chefs at Gyoza Bar in Covent Garden are so into their dumplings that they’ve only gone and made one with ice cream. The dessert item is a ball of vanilla ice cream that is coated in batter and then – bizarrely — deep fried until crispy before being drizzled with maple syrup. Wash it down with plum sake.
Gyoza Bar, 63-66 St Martins Lane, WC2N 4JS
Fried chicken doughnut at Bird
Sweet and savoury is the food trend that just keeps on giving and the chicken fanatics at BIRD have seen fit to create a fried chicken doughnut — which is exactly what it sounds like. A free range fried chicken thigh topped with smoky bacon and American cheese all sandwiched between a sweet glazed doughnut.
It’s not a million miles away from pancakes with bacon and maple syrup – so who are we to judge?
BIRD, Shoreditch, Islington, Stratford and Camden
Kangaroo tartare or puffed beef at M
Executive chef Michael Reid spent several years honing his craft alongside Heston Blumenthal, so perhaps it’s not a huge reach to find kangaroo tartare on the M menu. The flavour is naturally gamey and well suited to a tartare, particularly when paired with earthy mushrooms, as it is here.
Skippy not your thing? How about beef tendons? M’s puffed beef dish is created by boiling beef tendons then compressing with weights overnight to allow the gelatine to form into a hard brick. This is then sliced and dehydrated for 12 hours then finally fried for 30 seconds in smoking hot oil. Yum.
M Victoria and M Threadneedle Street, see website for details
Nigerian tapas at Chuku’s
We’re spoilt for choice for proper Spanish tapas and pinchos joints in London, and we’ve even got our head around the Venetian style (cicchetti) too. But Nigerian tapas? Nigerian food is traditionally big plates of hearty rice and meat served sharing style, but thanks to siblings Emeka and Ifeyinwa’s mutual love of Spain and its long, languorous dining style, Nigerian tapas has arrived in the form of Chuku’s supper clubs.
A mix of traditional and experimental Nigerian inspired tapas is served at each of their pop-up events; expect dishes such as mini jollof rice and meat patties in a characteristically African chilled out, sociable environment.
Lahpet thoke at Yee Cho
Burmese food is not readily available, even in our metropolitan capital, so for an authentic taste of Burma (Myanmar), you should definitely look up supper club Yee Cho. One of the country’s most well-known street snacks Lahpet Thoke will be served at every event – mostly because creator Freya Coote reckons it’s otherwise downright impossible to find in the UK.
It’s essentially a pickled green tea leaf salad accompanied by a fried nut mix (peanuts, broad beans, sesame seeds, garlic) and dried shrimp, fresh tomatoes, ginger and lime juice which you mix together on your plate to your taste. The green tea leaves are exactly the kind we’re more used to having as a tea, and once pickled it’s fair to say that they're quite… pungent. There’s a strong umami flavour, verging on fishy.