The past few weeks have passed in a whirlwind of Union Jacks, bunting, tea parties and royal festivities as the nation brought out its best patriotic pride to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. So in keeping with the national spirit, here at London Living we wanted to highlight some of the best places in the capital to grab a bite of ‘proper British grub’. And here they are…
1. F. Cooke’s Pie and Mash
‘Cooke’s is one of the last palaces of eels and pie and mash, once the staple diet of the London poor. Clean. Tidy. Respectable. Victorian. White tiled walls. Sawdust on the floor. Wooden benches. Honest food, honest people.’ Stuart Freedman
Once ubiquitous with the Cockney East End, Pie, Mash and Eel establishments have become something of a rarity in the 21st century. Which is why Cooke’s, tucked away on Hoxton street, remains such a jewel in London’s crown. Along with Manze’s on Tower Bridge Road, it is one of the few establishments that truly offers a gastronomic glimpse into London’s past. And the food isn’t half bad either!
Set in a funky former warehouse and with a seasonal menu serving the best of gourmet British dishes, Bistrotheque is fast becoming one of the East End’s most sought-after restaurants. A bit more up-market than a simple pie and mash, but as traveleastlondon puts it, this dining establishment is certainly’one secret not to keep to yourself.’
3.The Bull & Last
This small and homely little pub just a stone’s throw from Hampstead Heath has gastronomic aspirations much greater than its size. But this is no ordinary gastro pub. Last year, the Bull and Last was awarded the Observer Food Monthly’s award for ‘Best Sunday Lunch’. Expect warm fires and stuffed animal heads with a menu that, according to LondonEater ‘reads like a thumping belly cry of a feast’ and whose quality of dishes falls little short of ‘perfection’. After all, who doesn’t love a good Sunday Roast?
4.Hawksmoor Seven Dials
The younger sibling of Hawksmoor Spittalfields, Hawksmoor Seven Dials opened in 2011, bringing this ‘meat-lover’s paradise‘ to the West End. The food here is very meat-centric, with the focus on steak. But what steak! As Restaurant Spy puts it, ‘I’m a carnivore, in fact it is an extremely rare occasion that I have any meal without some form of meat (even breakfast) but I can say in all honesty, I have never, ever, experienced meat this good.’ Good enough, in fact, to win the restaurant the Time Out Eating & Drinking award for best newcomer. Praise indeed.
5. Vanilla Black
After all that focus on meat, it’s well worth mentioning that London is also a foodie’s paradise when it comes to vegetarian restaurants, and perhaps none more so than Vanilla Black in the City. Originally established in Yorkshire, this Michelin-nominated establishment moved down to the Big Smoke to seek its fortune – which it did with resounding success. Known for its unusual and inventive dishes, Vanilla Black might be the perfect place to try out good home-grown food with a twist!
‘It’s vegetarian food without being holier-than-thou or even a hint of self-denial. It’s food that glories in being (mostly) good, exciting. food, rather than in being meatless. Which is how it should be.’ Scoff in the city