The Best Restaurants with 3 Falstaff Fork(s) in England

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14 restaurants with 3 Falstaff fork(s) in England that are ranked highest on Falstaff's 100-point scale. All information including address, phone number and opening hours.
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One Michelin star Luca is the epitome of fine Italian dining, with a warm atmosphere and spectacular presentation of food without sacrificing flavour. The menu may be Italian, but the ingredients are organically British, such as Orkney scallops and Scottish halibut, while the wine list is better described as a book.

88 St John Street, EC1M 4EH London, Great Britain
Luxury / High End

Not only plant-based, but with one of the best vegan menus in London, Pied a Terre is the city's longest-running Michelin-starred restaurant. Chef Asimakis Chaniotis delicately blends French and Greek cuisine in the a la carte and tasting menus. Choose from over 800 wines on the wine list or pair your meal with a hand-picked wine flight.

34 Charlotte Street, W1T 2NH London, Great Britain

Discovering pubs in beautiful rural settings offering fantastic food is one of my great pleasures. A 16th century Inn in Warehorne, opposite the stark beauty of St. Matthews church, with Romney Marsh sheep grazing outside, fits the Platonic ideal. A proper inglenook fireplace greets guests as they walk in, with plenty of cosy nooks and crannies to settle into with a pint of local cider or perhaps a glass of Kentish sparkling wine from Gusbourne or Simpsons – English sparklers are now de rigeur on all drinks’ menus, happily sat alongside Champagne. The food here has ratcheted up several notches since Marcin Szelka – also executive chef of owners The Rocksalt Group – recently took over the kitchen, delivering thrilling cooking that has me dashing back each time I see a new dish shared on Instagram. I’ve been wowed by plump cutlets from a rack of Kentish lamb, tricked out with some lamb fat confit car- rots, mint oil and pickled walnuts, a generous plateful with just the right amount of artistic flourish – hearty pub food. Pig cheeks with buttery turnip purée and fried turnip tops, wickedly decadent, soothingly comforting: a charmer. Another visit finds me sitting in front of the fire with a slab of monkfish on the bone, nestled amongst mussels, fennel and sea vegetables, a deeply flavoured bouillabaisse sauce speaking of long-simmered crustaceans and fish bones, worthy of being slurped or mopped up to the last drop. Five bedrooms upstairs offer the opportunity for the perfect scenario: a country walk, a few pints of local ale, a restorative pub dinner, a short stagger up creaky 16th century stairs, and a soak in a roll- top bath before bed – pub nirvana. Reviewed by Zeren Wilson

Church Lane, Ashford, Great Britain

On an unlikely looking stretch close to King’s Cross station, Dim Sum Duck quietly opened towards the end of 2020. It was a slow burn of an opening that gradually began to garner praise, with the cryptic note on their Instagram page stating that it was ‘run by a dim sum chef with 30 years’ experience’. Intriguing. Having navigated the perils of several lockdowns (or smackdowns, as I’ve begun calling them), the chance to drop in a couple of times finally arrived. A tiny, unassuming restaurant, offering no frills, no reservations, open all day – flinging out some of the best dim sum I have ever had. Pro Tip: arrive before 12pm or waltz in between 3-5.30pm, any other time and you’ll be faced with a queue. We arrive too early on a first visit for duck (still being prepared as we pile in at 12.01pm on opening), and instead trawl through as many dishes as we can. Everything we have is exceptional. We’ll get to the duck another day. The dim sum are eye-wideningly good. It’s clear we’re in stellar dumpling territory as soon as the Har Gau come out: the ultimate test of a dim sum chef’s skills, the delicate pleating requiring great dexterity, the supreme quality of these an indicator of what is to follow – translucent gossamer skins holding impeccable bouncy chunks of prawn with a whisper of sesame oil. We’re off to a rollicking start. Siu Mai are crammed with minced pork and prawn, the silken wrapping holding a plump, generous filling bursting out of its casing, excellent when dredged through some chilli oil. Two baskets in and we’re already planning a return visit. Shanghai soup dumplings are a total star, that delicate pleating in evidence again, almost impossibly thin and delicate, a deep and satisfying pork broth within – these are the kind of morsels that can make you grin inanely and wonder if you should order another round immediately. We resist, this time. Too many others to try. Roast pork cheung fun, a classic of Cantonese cuisine with its origins in the province of Guangdong, are the Platonic ideal of this wonderfully slippery rice noodle dish, jammed with good char siu pork, bathing in a pool of light soy (which begs to be slurped up at the end, which we do), with the prawn version coming in a close second. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Deep fried prawn dumplings with ‘salad cream’ is a fun little number, a lacy, crisp carapace showing deft frying skills. I’m guessing the ‘salad cream’ here may the cutely packaged Kewpie mayonnaise, the Japanese condiment beloved of chefs across the world including David Chang of Momofuku fame – a flourish of playful cheffy fusion. Glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaves, also known as lo mai gai, is another charmer. A present to be unwrapped, it reveals more of that excellent char siu pork, alongside chunks of chicken and mushroom: a package of joy, unfurling its sticky goodness, with flavour running through it until the very last grain of rice. Haunting. We end up chatting to charming owner Alec on our second visit, who breezily runs the front of house, and gently probe him with questions about the chef. The mystery remains, with the only detail revealed that the mystery man has been instrumental in the success of a top place in London. We’re loving the intrigue. A dish that we perhaps wouldn’t have jumped on during early visits, as we were in true dumpling mode, is the stir fried beef with Ho Fun noodles, which we’re steered towards by Alec as ‘a big favourite’ – he wasn’t wrong. Pitch perfect, showcasing good nuggets of beef, humming with smoky wok hei, the fabled ‘breath of the wok’ imparting magical smoky depth, another marker of the skill in the kitchen – every strand of noodle is perfectly coated with its delicate sauce. Mystery chef strikes again. It’s another ‘must order’. On our handful of visits, it’s hard not to order the favourites, yet the menu sprawls out into plenty of other tempting options, including ‘seafood bean curd spring roll’ and ‘slow stew pork ribs with watercress soup’. We’ll get to them eventually. It’s a spot that plays on your mind hours after leaving, a real teaser. Thankfully (dangerously) I pass through King’s Cross almost every day, and there’s now a recurring thought of: can I squeeze a couple of dumplings in before the train home? Yes, yes I very much can…and I will. This is as good a dim sum experience as you’ll find in London. It demands repeated visits. With dumplings – and more – as good as this, I’m happy for the chef mystery to remain. Reviewed by Zeren Wilson in September 2021

124 King's Cross Road, WC1X 9DS London, Great Britain
Contemporary Cuisine

Angela Hartnett's Michelin-starred restaurant offers the flavours of Northern Italy in its hearty a la carte and lunch menus, using British produce and local producers. The wine cellar stocks regional Italian vintages as well as popular and lesser-known wines from around the world.

20 Queen Street, W1J 5PP London, Great Britain

Tucked away in a former beer cellar beneath the rowdy Blue Posts pub in Soho, Evelyn's Table is pub food on a Michelin scale. Serving just two meals a day, the frequently changing menu combines British ingredients with Asian techniques. Sake and wine, including low ABV options, complete the experience.

28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ London, Great Britain

<p>The restaurants that dart under the radar are the ones I&rsquo;m always eager to hunt down, the places that somehow slip through the glare of the mainstream and quietly do their thing &ndash; I trust the <em>&lsquo;Spidey-Senses&rsquo;</em> when they start pinging away and get a bit of a buzz when I know I may be on the trail of a little gem.</p> <p>The magical otherworldly feel of Mersham-le-Hatch &ndash; unexpected, transporting, a real looker &ndash; sets the tone for a Nepalese meal that sparks with genuine verve and ambition. Feeling like a miniature Soho Farmhouse-esque Cotswold idyll, driving into the entrance of this self-titled &lsquo;business village&rsquo; which also houses the Kent Cookery School, a private events space and day spa, the setting is a surprise from the kick-off. An 18<sup>th</sup> Century converted stables is where we are, part of the Mersham Hatch Estate near Ashford, the majority of which has been in continual ownership by the Knatchbull family since 1486.</p> <p>Koyla is owned by the family behind the Everest Inn restaurants, established spots in Hythe, Ashford and Blackheath, with this newest addition being executive chef Shanker Pandey&rsquo;s modern interpretation of his Nepalese upbringing. The confidently short menu delivers dishes with nuance and subtlety, crackling with creative energy yet maintaining a balance and integrity to their Nepalese roots without freewheeling into self-indulgent &lsquo;twists&rsquo;: a clever combination of artistry and restraint.</p> <p><em>Pani Puri</em> get things off to a rollicking start: lacy wheat balls of airy crispness, filled with a dice of spiced potato and chickpea. Pouring a drizzle of tamarind infused water, or one with mint and chilli, ends up being a spectacular first couple of bites, exhilarating crunch against softness of potato, the zing of those drizzles, and one we almost miss &ndash; after placing our order we&rsquo;re implored by Ravi (one of the family) to order these pockets of glory, and I&rsquo;m pleased he did. My idea that these would be &lsquo;all filler, no killer&rsquo; is instantly quashed. Cheers, Ravi.</p> <p>Lime <em>Poleko</em> prawns arrive: crisp carapace on deftly-coated mammoth tiger prawns, a smattering of fried garlic, a wicked smear of turmeric mayo and a burnt lime alongside for squeezing &ndash; this is toe-tappingly thrilling cooking, full of bounce and kapows of flavour. Line these up and keep them coming with some blizzard cold Golden Everest lager, please. Momo dumplings, the mighty calling card of any Nepalese menu, are steamed chicken amongst a soup of chestnut and tomato chutney.</p> <p><em>Choila </em>is a barbecued meat starter often encountered in Nepalese restaurants, a <em>Newari </em>dish traditionally made with buffalo meat, but here it&rsquo;s the pinkest slivers of duck, fat rendered beautifully until sweet and crisp, a perky Nepali salsa of pickled pear alongside a scatter of snow-white crisped and beaten rice &ndash; again, there&rsquo;s texture and contrast, ebb and flow. Amongst this dazzling opening salvo of starters, perhaps our most anticipated of scallops on a smoosh of pea and mint chutney, and red chilli and garlic chutney, is kicked into touch &ndash; yet still excellent &ndash; by its boisterous <em>campadres</em>.</p> <p>The one that lingers longest in the synapses is the lamb cutlet, which has us &lsquo;high-fiving&rsquo; and finger-clicking like we&rsquo;ve just hit the jackpot &ndash; squarely in &lsquo;order another immediately&rsquo; territory, &pound;7 for this dish is deliriously good value and may incite a riot of frenzied orders if word gets out. Order two. Neatly French-trimmed, cooked to juiciest pink, fat crisped and charred, Nepali-spiced, this is an exercise in some serious barbecuing skills. Bone gnawed, stripped and sucked clean: we give it the deepest respect.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s &lsquo;home-style&rsquo; curry goat, the meat falling away ravishingly from the bone with the gentlest prod of the fork, deep booming flavour yet subtly spiced, a nugget of marrow begging to be scooped out of the bone. We duly oblige.</p> <p>Another dish that remains as a towering highlight is &lsquo;The True Biryani&rsquo;, a majestic thing complete with its &lsquo;dum&rsquo; pastry lid that seals in all the goodness as it cooks, the layered and saffron infused rice mingling with slow-cooked chicken (on the bone), fried onions and potato, hopping with the bright pop of cardamom &shy;&ndash; the big &lsquo;reveal&rsquo; at the table as the lid is sliced open for us delivers a celestial waft that has us cooing in appreciation. An essential order.</p> <p>&lsquo;Pork Se-kuh-wa&rsquo; is another twist on a Nepalese street food classic, popular in Dharan and Kathmandu, here featuring a charred pork loin alongside some &lsquo;naan sticks&rsquo; and sesame seed chutney. Again, the meat cooking is precise, and sees us chasing the last of that chutney around with luscious slices of pork and their robe of barbecued fat.</p> <p>Koyla roughly translates as &lsquo;charcoal&rsquo;, which feels appropriate given the kitchen&rsquo;s masterful use of fire and slow cooking, but also for this being a little diamond of a spot, that once unearthed, deserves a loyal crowd to appreciate the dazzling moves in the kitchen.</p> <p>Nepalese food doesn&rsquo;t need a reboot, but with the artful riffs and jives going on here, there is room for this quite thrilling interpretation.</p> <p>Reviewed by Zeren Wilson</p>

Hythe Road, TN25 6NH Ashford, Great Britain

When is a gastropub a restaurant? And frankly does such distinction matter? I’m happy with it defining a pub focussing heavily on exceptional food cooked well yet still offering a pint at the bar, just. The now legendary The Sportsman near Whitstable still styles itself a pub despite its refined and invariably fully booked tasting menu slots. Now The Unruly Pig, a 16th century Suffolk inn close to Woodbridge and Snape’s extraordinary concert hall, and anything but unruly despite its jaunty name, has just won best pub for food award at the Great British Pub Awards 2021. Apart from being UK Dining Pub of the Year in the Good Pub Guide and it was this year’s highest climber in the UK Top 50 Gastro Pub list, very much in the top food-centric pub league. Fortuitously I found myself staying close-by and made a reservation, initially unaware of its recent roster of accolades. The decor is sophisticated, yet warm and relatively informal, with a wood panelled central bar, inglenook fireplaces, beamed ceilings, fashionably deep blue painted walls crammed with an eclectic, even frankly surreal collection of pictures and prints. There is a wild boar’s head snarling from its home over one of the pub's fireplaces and a Micky Mouse brandishing the fat end of a cigar. A clear sign that all are welcome perhaps? No expense has been spared on beautiful colourful textiles – even in the ultra-smart bathrooms – which adds to the sense of feeling cossetted. Best of all, the menu is creative, yet rigorously local in its championing of East Coast producers. Outstanding house-made bread and butter invariably makes a good first impression whenever dining out and is a good clue to the timbre of the rest of the meal. The billowy <i>focaccia</i> served with anchovy-spiked whipped Fen farm butter, made by chef-co patron Dave Wall, is star quality, as are Wall’s credentials: he spent formative years at Bibendum and Le Talbooth and worked with Gordon Ramsay too. Proprietor is former lawyer Brendan Padfield who devotedly spent a considerable sum making The Unruly Pig a Covid-secure dining. A love of Italy is indulged, too, and present in the <i>nduja</i> (spiced Calabrian soft <i>salume</i>) chorizo and Taleggio arancini offered as a snack, and a starter of a chubby curl of octopus grilled on the Josper is accompanied by the aforementioned, punchy Southern Italian sausage, too, beside a jet black pool of squid ink sauce. Returning local, there’s a raviolo of Orford lobster and crab with brown crab emulsion, raffishly spiked with chilli and lime. Main dishes are more refined. Impeccable brill is smartly crisp on top yet succulent and pearlescent and frankly perfect. It is made even more so because it is paired with a side of umami-moreish steamed potatoes and samphire with what turned out to be specks of dehydrated ham hock. Most original. Strictly seasonal, wild duck is artfully plated with a ravishing confit duck leg <i>crepinette</i> that seems to pack the flavour of many birds into one explosively flavoursome parcel. There are flourishes of <i>chanterelles</i> and whirls of damson puree, too. The homage to classical culinary techniques is clear and impressive. Yet their Unruly burger with a Roquefort mayonnaise remains a constant on the menu and diners are reminded it is best eaten messily with no need for cutlery. Pump Street chocolate from nearby Orford stars in a melting chocolate mousse served with a malted milk ice-cream. Portions throughout are generous bordering on greedy. The majority of diners clear their plates, who wouldn’t? The mix of the unexpected and idiosyncratic extends to the excellent drinks selection, including ‘driver’s tipples’ such as a damson (picked in the garden) spritz and a most impressive choice of wines from good producers by the glass, (so doubly mindful of drivers). Despite many of the staff looking fresh-faced and young, they are knowledgeable, friendly and intent on making the service memorable. Reviewed by Sudi Pigott

Orford Road, IP12 2PU Woodbridge, Great Britain

<p>It was a choice between a Massaman curry and <em>foie gras</em> with Pedro Ximenz that led me to&nbsp;Andanza. I was on a mission, striding towards a favoured spot in London Bridge for some&nbsp;Thai fishcakes and more, when the pintxos menu in the window caught my attention in the&nbsp;window:&nbsp;<em>pil pil cod en tempura; mini hamburguesa con Manchego; foie gras con reducci&oacute;n&nbsp;de Pedro Ximenez&nbsp;</em>&ndash; hold my coat, I&rsquo;m going in.&nbsp;</p> <p>Memories of several Txakoli-fuelled visits to San Sebasti&aacute;n are some of my most memorable restaurant/bar visits of all time, bouncing in and out of pintxo bars in the Old Town, and at&nbsp;Andanza I&rsquo;m soon taking a gleeful bite out of a cutesy little slider-esque bun, reminding me&nbsp;of the irreverent&nbsp;A Fuego Negr<em>o,</em>&nbsp;where the kobe beef&nbsp;<em>hamburguesa&nbsp;</em>was one of several&nbsp;sparky little <em>pintxos</em> &ndash; it became a cult dish ordered by everyone. Here, it&rsquo;s a belting start on a&nbsp;first visit which reassures me this place is<em>&nbsp;the real deal.&nbsp;</em></p> <p>Maybe it was luck that pulled me in here &ndash; I later find out that Andanza means &lsquo;fortune&rsquo; or&nbsp;&lsquo;fate&rsquo; in Spanish &ndash; but a couple of small plates later I&rsquo;m charmed enough to start plotting&nbsp;another visit. It all starts to make sense when I find out that Head Chef is Paulina Irzyk,&nbsp;formerly senior sous chef at the excellent London Basque hang-outs Donostia and Lurra,&nbsp;two fantastic Spanish resaurants from the same owner. A tiny open kitchen adds a homely&nbsp;bustle to the room, and each time I&rsquo;m impressed with the quality and playfulness of the&nbsp;dishes coming out. The clever knack of appearing effortless is achieved impeccably here.&nbsp;</p> <p>So, that <em>foie gras</em>: it may well be the best value &pound;7 morsel in London. A second visit sees my&nbsp;pal immediately ordering another couple for us, and he&rsquo;s bang on with that move. Slab of&nbsp;wobbling seared foie, on warm bread, a drizzle of sweet/tangy Pedro Ximenez, and a walnut&nbsp;flourish on top &ndash; it&rsquo;s the most decadent bar snack in town. Again, memories are pinging back&nbsp;to San Sebasti&aacute;n, as with this one they seem to be channelling bustling La Cuchara de San&nbsp;Telmo, where I remember watching goggle-eyed as a flurry of similar dishes streamed out of&nbsp;a tiny kitchen to a bar crammed with drinkers.</p> <p>Another eye-wideningly good couple of plates come during a third visit with the ebullient&nbsp;and irrepressible Hugh Wright, their PR honcho who has been helping them again since&nbsp;London has begun whirring into some form of normality after a tricky couple of restriction-besmirched years: a perfect dining wing-man <em>campadre</em>, it allows us to take on some of the&nbsp;larger &lsquo;tapas&rsquo; dishes alongside those cheeky and compelling <em>pintxos</em>. Breaded tuna loin and&nbsp;goat&rsquo;s cheese sounds a bit mental and has to be tried, and is a little revelation: delicately&nbsp;crumbed tuna, stuffed with cheese and topped with air-dried tuna loin from Andalucia&nbsp;known as&nbsp;<em>Mojama</em>, which does a fine impression of jam&oacute;n and is cured in exactly the same&nbsp;way. It&rsquo;s like an unholy schnitzel breaking all the rules and having a riot. An &lsquo;order again&nbsp;each visit&rsquo; dish. The other larger dish sees fillets of the John Dory smooching with&nbsp;white bean pur&eacute;e, and sounds much sexier in Spanish:&nbsp;<em>San Pedro, pur&eacute; de fabes, salsa&nbsp;verde&nbsp;</em>&ndash; &iexcl;ol&eacute;! we have another hit.&nbsp;</p> <p>Attention to detail is all around, from the quality of the &lsquo;picos&rsquo; bread sticks, several notches&nbsp;above the usual with more heft and artisanal grain flavour, the filtered clarity of the ice in&nbsp;their excellent gin and tonics, and the perfect char on the bread for the classic&nbsp;<em>pan con tomate</em> that carries a luscious smear of garlicky tomato pulp, soused with plenty of good olive oil &ndash;&nbsp;details matter, and they&rsquo;re nailing them here.&nbsp;</p> <p>Other playful dishes include the Pil Pil cod en Tempura 'fish and chips', a finely battered little tranche with a 'vinegar sauce' and a riotous pomegranate seed scattered Pulled Goat Crumpet. &nbsp;<em>Arroz negro</em> hums with the stock from baby squid chipirones and is topped with a flourish of cockles. The smart wine list has character and focus, with sharp picks of Ribeira Sacra from Dominio do Bibei, and the Gallina de Piel 'Mimetic' from David Seijas, former long-time sommelier of the legendary three Michelin starred El Bulli &mdash; the food here sits comfortably among such company.</p> <p>Anything not to love about Andanza? Yes, the fact that it's not at the end of my road. Lucky London Bridge locals: fate must have brought them together.</p> <p>Reviewed by Zeren Wilson&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

66 Weston St, SE1 3QJ london, Great Britain

A quiet confidence emanates from the menus of Café Deco – its stark simplicity and understated elegance assures the diner that everything is going to be alright. Chef/owner Anna Tobias has serious industry kudos running through her culinary DNA, from working with titan Jeremy Lee at Blueprint Café, regular stints at The River Café, to her first Head Chef role at Rochelle Canteen, the hidden gem in a Shoreditch schoolyard. Her first solo gig was always going to be keenly watched by those tracking the stars of the London cheffing scene. Now she has come roaring out of the traps with the kind of spot that lucky Bloomsbury residents will be delighted to call their ‘local’, an oasis of calm a short stagger from Tottenham Court Road. It’s a neighbourhood restaurant that rewards repeated weekly visits, the menu shifting subtly – and temptingly – every day. Over the last couple of years, Tobias has continued to have stints at the River Café, as well as a residency at Clapton wine bar P. Franco, an incubator for several chefs who have gone on to open their own venues. During this time, she has become known for championing ‘brown food’ on Instagram: unfussy plates of home-cooking which value flavour rather than looks: anything from anchovy toast to Scotch broth. The Café Deco venture is a collaboration with 40 Maltby Street, the restaurant and wine bar which has done much to lead the renaissance of the dining scene in the environs of Borough Market. Opening first as a takeaway towards the end of 2020, my first taste of Café Deco had me revelling in a fat slab of tortilla wedged between bouncy fresh focaccia, a slick of garlicky aioli helping things merrily along – worth the indecent double-carbing. The focaccia was such a star, not a mere vessel for the excellent tortilla, that I asked Anna where it was from: “It’s our own focaccia”, she said. Of course it was, and it showed. Now able to open for full table service, the details shine through everywhere: from the homemade sourdough bread and tangy butter to the strikingly retro-labelled and extremely mineral Loire sparkling water Source Parot, drawn from the volcanic rocks of the Monts du Forez and naturally carbonated. A plate of new-season asparagus, Jersey Royal potatoes, and the silkiest, diaphanous Italian ham encapsulates the Café Deco credo, a confident strut of distinct elements jiving alongside each other – the ham is exceptional, lacy sweet fat, satin-textured. Potted shrimp is a classic, flawlessly delivered, the shrimps studded into a butter rich with cayenne pepper, blushingly orange, alongside some pickled slivers of cucumber. On this visit, it takes extreme self-discipline not to also order the ravishing sounding lamb faggots with creamed nettles and onion gravy – next time. Another visit sees me dropping in for a dish that perfectly encapsulates Tobias’ ethos of generosity of flavour trumping cheffy artifice: a plate of buckwheat and mushroom cabbage rolls, the most thrilling plate of ‘peasant food’ I’ve had all year. I am soothed by these parcels of green, stuffed with buckwheat grains, topped with a rich slurry of tomato sauce that could just have easily been the finest ‘sugo di pomodoro’ in a plate of pasta at The River Café – kitchen skills singing from the plate, a handful of ingredients, a bewitching symphony. There are Café Deco jams and preserves, jarred items to take-away, such as minestrone, lamb meatballs with orzo, and chocolate and prune tartlets cutely laid out on the bar. Wine is a big focus too, with the whole list available for off-sales. I find myself feverishly checking their Instagram page each day for what may be on the menu, to see if I can be tempted (oh yes, I can) by even a quick drive-by takeaway, which could be asparagus frittata or cheese and spring onion quiche one day, a sausage and cime di rapa focaccia on another. Waldorf Salad; watercress soup; eggs mayonnaise; deep fried Gubbeen and potato salad; gnudi and wild garlic pesto; cicoria and borlotti bean stew; mint choc-chip ice-cream; crème caramel. It’s the kind of menu that tugs you in, holds you tight, refuses to let you go. Homely cooking with an unerring sense of focus and sure handed ethos. Get there. Return. Repeat. It’s the kind of local that is worth travelling for…wherever you live. Reviewed by Zeren Wilson in May 2021

43 Store Street, WC1E 7DB London, Great Britain

Putting a vegan twist on traditionally meat-centric Caribbean food, Jam Delish in Islington is family owned and fully plant-based. Their classic dishes like saltfish, fried plantain and curried goat are mixed with traditional spices and sauces to create modern, tasty plates.

1 Tolpuddle St, N1 0XT London, Great Britain

Russell Norman's reimagined Italian trattoria ticks all the boxes, serving pasta classics and Florentine favourites, plus a variation of steaks by weight. The house wines and negronis served on gingham tablecloths are the icing on the cake of a homely yet luxurious experience.

35-37 Greenhill Rents, EC1M 6BN London, Great Britain

Fluffy foccacia, cacio e pepe and prawn ravioli are paired with a strong selection of Italian wines at this casual Islington eatery. The spring silk scarves of Bancone fame are the crowning glory of chef Louis Korovilas, and combined with careful presentation and friendly staff, it's the perfect neighbourhood Italian.

4-6 Islington Green, N1 2XA London, Great Britain

The first time I tasted the food from chef Max Rocha was towards the end of 2020, in a pub called Mannion’s, the finest Irish pub in Tottenham. Chowing down on a handsomely hefty pork, apricot and pistachio terrine, I knew this was a chap to keep tabs on. He was also knocking out a cracking Guinness soda bread `and sprats with mayonnaise – no nonsense, gutsy cooking, drawing on both his Irish heritage and his time spent in the kitchens of London stalwarts such as The River Café, St. John Bread and Wine, and Spring. So here he is, his first permanent spot on the Regent’s Canal in East London – the term ‘café’ is misleading, this is a proper restaurant – and from the kick-off, the menus and cooking here are worthy of serious attention amongst the rash of openings in the London food milieu. The vibe is indeed canteen-chic: a clattery stark white dining room hosting a fully open kitchen, the rattle of pans and hiss of the grill there to enjoy, observe and titillate, if that’s your thing – it very much happens to be mine. The opening salvo of sage and anchovy fritti sets the tone, the kind of salty fried nuggets that enjoy the accompaniment of the bitter twang of a Campari spritz. Perhaps two or three. A good start. Open from breakfast with bacon sandwiches, kippers and brown butter and capers, and homemade black pudding with poached eggs, the couple of lunches that I’ve enjoyed there already include some ‘must orders’. Rabbit pasta is a constant on the menu at the moment, ribbons of pappardelle tangled amongst delicate shreds of rabbit, bolstered by the grunt of the odd piece of offal running through it – satisfying, carefully judged, skilful stuff. Pizzetta with Taleggio and Parma ham, a crisp disc topped with cheese carrying a suitably satisfying honk, is a carbon-copy of the one wheeled out at The River Café, and it’s clear Max has churned out many of these there: joyfully, at a fraction of the price here at Café Cecilia. Onglet with a nigh-on-perfect green peppercorn sauce and chips, has also been on each menu since the opening weeks; ravishingly ruby-red steak, deep beefy flavour, expertly judged, and the kind of potato skills that show an Irishman’s devotion to the tuber – this may be the finest iteration of steak frites in London right now. More skilful riffs on the potato appear with a supreme potato cake, thinly layered potato pave style, two thick fried slabs, jiving alongside a wickedly silky cod’s roe and thinly sliced radishes: taramasalata that’s gone to university and emerged with a Ph.D. During the same lunch, we end up happily over-ordering, as a specials board knocked us off-kilter from the menu, leaving us compelled to order a Coronation chicken sandwich and chips (excellent, crammed with chicken thighs between toasted sourdough), and the tempting plaice and gribiche (spooned up to the very last morsel of egg, caper and tarragon-flecked mustard mayonnaise) – the same board led us astray into girolles and green sauce on toast, with a couple of unadvertised fried eggs, blushing orange yolks happily tipping us over edge. Desserts feature homely tarts and ice-creams, sorbets and possets, chocolate pots and shortbread – simple classics, zero faff, executed with love and aplomb. If there is a ‘caff’ vibe at all, it comes from the echo and jangle of the room when it’s full, and from the array of bread (excellent large roundels of crisply carapaced sourdough and Guinness bread) and a daily tart, all available to take-away for those on the hoof. It’s a clever trick to pull off a serious restaurant with the breezy feel of an all-day diner, but it’s also a savvy one, being a short stagger away from the bustle of Broadway Market, a destination and haven for discerning food-centric Londoners for years – the crowd in this part of town will soon sniff out the treats being served in this room. Some chefs are worth keeping track of as they work their way through some of the best restaurants in the land. We have one here who has made a much-anticipated debut with confidence and a quietly modest swagger – no need to keep tracking, we know exactly where to find him, here by the canal-side in E8. Reviewed by Zeren Wilson

32 Andrews Rd, London E8 4RL, London, Great Britain