BY TARA COUMBE
Tara, the face behind the @foodiefromgib Instagram account, has recently returned from a food-fuelled trip to the UK – and she’s taken notes! Here are four places you should visit on your next trip to the capital.
KOL – Marylebone
KOL is brand new on the London scene. Its head chef, Santiago Lastra, a NOMA alum who headed their pop-up restaurant in a Mexican Jungle, opens his first restaurant. This is high-end Mexican but using mostly the best British ingredients. The World’s Best 50 Restaurant’s already highlights KOL as one of London’s hottest newest attention-grabbing restaurants, and we were very lucky to grab a table on our trip at fairly short notice. This is a formal dining experience, with high-end ingredients and refined techniques, but with a brilliant relaxed atmosphere. You can choose between two tasting menus (ours was 11 dishes), and the drinks pairing is highly recommended (mostly natural wines).
Master Wei Xi’an – Holborn (Bloomsbury)
When choosing restaurants to visit in London, one of our guiding factors is going for food which we can’t readily get in Gibraltar or Spain. Asian food is one cuisine which London really excels in. We were craving spicy Beef Biang Biang noodles; thick, broad, hand-cut noodles, covered in chilli, garlic and spring onion, a delicacy of the Shaanxi province in northern China.
Via food blogs and newspaper reviews we found Master Wei, a modest casual Chinese restaurant in Bloomsbury. We ordered their Cumin beef ‘burger’, some decent dumplings, and two stunning noodle dishes (which were the real highlight of our trip). Their cold noodles, the traditional Xi’an Liang Pi Noodles, were perfect for a balmy London evening, with their cold skin and light chill oil dressing. Their famous Beef Biang Biang noodles are the real reason to come here, and were some of the best noodles we have ever had. The noodles were chewy, spicy and a great accompaniment to the beef. Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles, a restaurant in Shoreditch, is also a great option instead if you happen to be in the area.
Hideaway – Mayfair
One-star Michelin restaurant HIDE has recently opened a little sister cafe in the heart of Mayfair. This being Mayfair, Hideaway hosts a ‘boujee’ menu including lobster, truffles and caviar. This is a casual cafe experience, with no reservations.
We arrived at about noon (we recommend you do the same as it can get very busy with queues on the weekends) and ordered the lobster roll with caviar, croque monsieur with fresh truffle and white pizza with fontina, black truffles, thyme and honey. All dishes were absolutely divine, especially the lobster roll. Soaked in melted butter, thick chunks of meaty lobster sat in a warm bun, accompanied by a slither of caviar. Definitely worth a stop off for a quick lunch (or brunch) in the area.
The Barbary – Covent Garden (Neal’s Yard)
The Barbary has been rated year after year as one of ‘London’s Top Restaurants’ by Time Out. Their minimalist U-shaped bar restaurant serves a fusion of North African and Mediterranean food. As a Gibraltarian, this is particularly intriguing. Their menu includes ‘baking and grinding’ naan and pitta cooked over coals and paired with hummus, baba ghanoush or mashwiya. The hot blistered breads are a perfect mop for the delicious Middle Eastern inspired dips.
Their main menu is small and focused, usually a selection of chicken, fish and seafood as well as vegetarian dishes. On a recent visit, their salmon dish was probably my favourite dish of the entire trip. The salmon was cooked in honey, garlic and cumin, slightly charred and showered in spring onions. Served alone, so simple but cooked to perfection, the sweetness from the honey really complimented the spiciness and smokiness of the dish.
The Barbary is best for a couple of people or a solo meal due to the bar only seating arrangement. The Palomar in Soho, with a menu inspired by modern Jerusalem and run by the same team, is another fantastic option when craving Middle Eastern food.