Eat Your Way Around the World – in London

Telegraph Travel, The Daily Telegraph, October 08, 2014

Argentina - Constancia

This unpretentious Argentine grill near Tower Bridge will satisfy any meat-and-Malbec lust in style. A traditional parilla with hot coals takes centre stage, with small wooden tables and bright red walls adding an air of let's-get-down-to-business. The staff are mostly Argentinean, proud of their country's rich wines and tasty steaks and sausages. Dinner costs around £30 a head.

Nigel Tisdall

Australia – Lantana

Minimalist Lantana is reknowned for its award-winning Aussie-style weekend brunches, and, in summer especially, waiting times can be long. But it's worth hanging around for. The menu evolves with the seasons, but a few classics remain. The Birchi muesli, currently served with grated apple, dried cranberries, lemon zest and poppy seeds, makes for a perfect preamble to heftier affairs, such as "soft toasted" courgette bread with grilled halloumi, a poached egg and chilli jam, or corn fritters with bacon, fresh spinach, avocado and crème fraiche. Two people, with two coffees, two fresh juices and two “main courses”, should expect to pay £35, without service.

Ana Franca

Austria - Kipferl

Central Europe comes to Camden Passage at the Angel in the form of Kipferl, an establishment set up by an Austrian and modelled on the finest traditions of the Viennese coffee house. This is the place to come for Wiener Schnitzel and Käsespätzle (egg noodles with organic mountain cheese); for Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel. Or simply to relax, to read the papers, to tune into a contemporary Mitteleuropäische vibe – and to drink glasses of delicious Grüner Veltliner white wine. Schnitzel: £16.80; “Wiener” sausages (a pair): £6.90.

Adrian Bridge

China – Leong’s Legend

This dim sum restaurant on Macclesfield Street is worth visiting just for its xiaolongbao. The magical little parcels are stuffed with minced pork suspended in gelatin. Once cooked, the filling collapses into a thick, succulent soup that floods your mouth when you bite down. Time seems to stand still each time you devour one. Other pros are the quirkiness of the venue - bare tables, hidden corners, a giant wooden door you must knock on to gain entry - and the fact that it's BYOB, making it instantly more affordable.

Oliver Smith

Ethiopia - Lalibela

Seats at this long-standing, inexpensive restaurant close to Tufnell Park station are arranged around the biggest flatbread you have ever seen, a traditional Ethiopian variety called injera. Share with friends while gorging on skewers of meat, spicy salads and chunky stir-fry type stews. The warm, ethnic feel and artworks add up to make this a perfect choice for a grey day. Mains from around £12.

Natalie Paris

France – Coq d’Argent

Restaurateurs D&D know their market and this rooftop restaurant, bar and brasserie on top of James Stirling’s pink-and-terracotta striped building, No 1 Poultry (you can’t miss it; it looks like a Frazzle), does classic French food during the week, but relaxes with jazz and brunch at weekends. It’s a treat being up above the City with stonking views. Top marks too for the £28 Sunday Jazz Lunch. Price: Brasserie £25, Restaurant £40.

Sophie Campbell

Hungary – The Gay Hussar

A long-established favourite, the Gay Hussar, which claims to be Britain’s only Hungarian restaurant, opened in Greek Street, Soho, 61 years ago. It has always attracted politicians (most famously from the Labour party - including Roy Hattersley, Michael Foot and Barbara Castle) and journalists - the ground floor dining room is adorned with political cartoons. Goulash - veal or venison - is ever-present on the menu and there is an imrpessive Hungarian wine list. Dinner from about £60. .

Nick Trend

Iceland – Texture

Icelandic chef/sommelier team and Raymond Blanc protégés Agnar Sverrisson and Xavier Rousset won a Michelin star in 2010 for their fresh take on British and Icelandic ingredients, dextrously presented, with an excellent wine list. The restaurant itself has vast white walls studded with art - striking, if not cosy. Lunch menus £24.90 for two courses and £29.90 for three. Tasting menus from £79 (per person, for the whole table).


India – Veeraswamy

Veeraswamy is not only London’s but Britain’s oldest Indian restaurant. It was opened in 1926 by an Indian princess and the grandson of an English General and has been an institution ever since. The L-shaped dining room is on the first floor with views over Regent Street and you’ll be served “posh” Indian classics, from roast duck vindaloo to Kerala prawn curry. Kashmiri rogan josh with saffron and cockscomb flower, is a favourite. Dinner costs about £60 a head, including drinks.


Israel & Palestine - Ottolenghi Islington

Israeli chef Yottam Ottolenghi creates Mediterranean dishes that are a feast for both eye and palate. This Islington flagship is one of four locations in the capital and open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and takeaways. Dining is communal at long white tables – get ready for a banquet of colourful salads, grilled fish and meat with delicious spices, and killer cakes and desserts. Dinner average £21 a head.


Italy – Polpo

There is a magic door in Beak Street in Soho. Step through the entrance of number 41 and you will find yourself in a Venetian bacaro. Admittedly the client is a little more London hipster than northern Italian but the food is the real deal. Cicheti plates, perfect pizzette and a great selection of fried fish are accompanied by aromatic prosecco and local wines served in simple glass tumblers. The distressed décor, shared plates and hidden basement bar give the place a real sense of a restaurant respecting both its roots and locale.

Johnny Morris

Jamaica - Bamboula

This laidback kitchen has the sort of home cooking you would expect to find on a Jamaican beach. But it's in Brixton. The saltfish and ackee is particularly tasty, as is the tender goat curry. Other mains include jerk lamb and oxtail with butter beans, and all come with a wide selection of rice and peas, yam, dumpling and plantain accompaniments. It’s an informal place with an appropriately sunny soundtrack. Mains around £10.


Japan – Benihana

As the worn carpets and Sixties décor remind us, Benihana steakhouse has been a Chelsea institution for 50 years. Descending from King’s Road into the dark basement, you are met by a roar of sizzling from dishes cooked on hot plates at individual tables. It is pure theatre as “private” chefs show off their samurai knife skills, producing a stream of dishes from chicken yakitori to hibachi prawns. This year, after a long import ban, wagyu beef returns to the menu. Flash-fried and served rare, it is so silken and buttery it is almost a liquid, served as part of a 10-course anniversary menu costing £50.

Andrew Purvis

Morocco - Momo

When the Algerian-born Mourad Mazouz opened Momo off Regent Street in 1997, Swallow Street was a dark alley, visited only by Moroccans desperate for a taste of home cooking. Today, it’s paved, filled with music and in summer thronging with hip things sipping mint tea, puffing apple tobacco from hookah pipes, and eating both Moroccan tapas platters and full-blown feasts. Most famous are his pigeon pastillas, lamb tagines, harira soup and aubergines with labneh cheese; weekend brunches are also popular, with a mix of Parisian pastries and Moroccan savoury dishes on offer. Full Moroccan feasts cost £52.

Lisa Grainger

Nepal – Everest Inn

It is a surprise to find a restaurant in South East London producing dishes that could trump the authenticity and quality of any eatery in Katmandu. What distinguishes the food produced in the kitchen of the Everest Inn in Blackheath is the freshness of the ingredients and the fact that dishes are cooked to order. Nepalese cuisine offers subtler flavours and a range of tender meat dishes that outdo most of the homogenised Indian ‘curry’ dishes on offer across the capital. Try the Hansh Ko Sekuwa – marinated duck breast with a Gurkha beer and you will see why the place is one of Joanna Lumley’s favourites.


New Zealand - The Providores and Tapa Room

There’s a little taste of the Southern Hemisphere in this chic, intimate little venue on Marylebone High Street. Peter Gordon, the chef at the helm, is a proud New Zealander who has broadened his culinary horizons way behind his origins – to the point where he has is even referred to as the “godfather of fusion cuisine”. It means the menu has a distinctly international slant - Smoked Dutch eel with Isle of Wight Heirloom tomatoes - but there is more than a hint of Gordon’s antipodean roots, especially in the wine list, which has the largest selection of fine New Zealand wines at any European restaurant. Two courses is likely to set you back at least £50 – with wine.

Jolyon Attwooll

Pakistan - Tayyabs

Quality varies hugely at Brick Lane’s curry houses, but nearby Tayyabs is always a safe bet. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you spot the queue – arrive without a booking and a wait is inevitable. That’s a reflection of the quality and the affordability – you can BYOB and a meal should cost less than £20. Karahi curries are a house speciality, but punters consistently praise the succulent spice-rubbed lamb chops.

John O'Ceallaigh

Peru - Ceviche

Ceviche - a dish of raw fish marinated in lime juice - is available in six different forms here, all delicate and with the perfect chilli kick. This Soho restaurant’s menu may not be as adventurous as that at Lima, London’s other impeccable Peruvian, but the atmosphere is always buzzing and informal, without being too noisy, making it popular with friends wanting pisco sour-charged conversation. Fried, cheesy tequeños are a great companion to the Cusqueña beers and the little towers of cubed avocado and quinoa make for a scrumptious side. Four dishes cost around £30.


Poland – Daquise

Part of the same block as South Kensington tube station, Daquise was opened by Polish immigrants just in 1947 to cater for the local Polish community. It has always been popular and, while it attracts well-known diners - Christine Keeler and Roman Polanski were regulars in the 1960s - it has never been prohibitively expensive. Yes, prices have risen in recent years, but traditional Polish mains, such as beef roulade stuffed with bacon, pickles and prunes, still cost from £16. Its a very small dining room, so book online. .


Portugal - The Portuguese Conspiracy

For proper Portuguese in London - no, it's nothing like Nandos, or Spanish tapas - head to Dalston. The Portuguese Conspiracy, an unassuming deli, is fiercely traditional, with starters such as “Farinheira”, a traditional smoked sausage commonly made from a wheat flour, pork, white wine and paprika and, here, served with spinach and scrambled eggs. By now you'll feel like your in Lisbon, so proceed with Bacalhau a Bras - shredded salt cod sautéed in olive oil, garlic and onion, and bulked up with finely sliced fries. A meal for two, with starters and mains and a bottle of Drink Me, a wonderful red from the Douro, costs around £45, not including service.


Russia – Baltic

Close to Southwark Underground station, this airy restaurant champions the cuisine of Eastern Europe – not to mention its lively bar with over 60 varieties of vodka. There's an impressive variety of intriguing dishes including beetroot soup, spicy lamb meatballs, Siberian dumplings, black sausage and braised red cabbage. Lunch/dinner average £26 a head.


South Africa - BBar

This little hotel bar-cum-restaurant has its culinary roots in a tiny hotel in South Africa started in the Fifties by a then young bride, Bea Tollman, who with her husband went on to create the international Red Carnation hotel group. In their first hotel, Bea was the chef, and half a century later still keeps her unerring eye on all 16 hotel kitchens. The B Bar’s menu is full of treats for homesick South Africans, with starters such as Babotie spring rolls with Mrs Ball’s chutney and boerewors hotdog, mains such as Cape Malay curry and springbok fillet, and cheesecake from Mrs B’s own recipe. The bar has 91 different wines, from the family’s own Bouchard Finlayson vineyard to historical French cellars, which can be enjoyed on big giraffe-print sofas, surrounded by wildlife photographs. Two courses about £25.


South Korea - Bi Won

This cosy spot offers flavourful and affordable Korean cuisine in a friendly environment. It's both run and frequented by Koreans, a sure fire indicator of authenticity, and the menu offers all the classic dishes, from bibimbap (steamed rice with sautéed mixed vegetables and a fried egg) to bulgogi (grilled sliced beef) and kalbi (marinated ribs), along with a variety of side dishes including kimchee (spicy pickled cabbage). The spicy soft tofu casserole (soon do boo jee gae) and the savoury seafood with spring onion pancakes (hae mul pah jun) are a must. Finish with the surprisingly tasty black sesame ice cream and wash it all down with Hite beer (a Korean beer) or shot of soju (a sake-like clear drink). Mains from around £7-£10 (no website).

Soo Kim

Spain – Copita

With Iberico hams hanging in the window, stools to perch on, and just a handful of wooden benches to eat at, tiny tapas restaurant Copita, in the heart of Soho, feels unerringly authentic. The food is simple, relying on quality ingredients rather than showy cooking. The heavenly truffled goat’s cheese with almonds and honey is the only ever-present on the menu – other options might include perfectly roasted butternut squash; salt cod croquetas; pig cheek, or braised venison. Expect to pay £30-£40 a head, including wine.


Thailand - Busaba Eathai

It may be a chain but Busaba takes popular Thai staples, as well as dishes you are less likely to remember from your travels, and reproduces them reliably well. The modern, canteen-style space may not suit those not keen on sitting with strangers but tables are large enough to avoid the knee-to-knee squash of a Wagamama. The Tom Kha chicken soup has a suitably rich galangal silkiness and the Som Tam green papaya salad is suitably fiery. While the curries and rotis of southern Thailand are represented too, it’s not all Thai, with sticky rice and Beer Lao also available. Mains around £10.


Turkey – Kazan

Always busy, always reliable, Kazan, on Wilton Road in Pimlico, is one of the very few upmarket Turkish restaurants in London. The atmosphere is authentic but not kitsch, and the cooking, based on classic cuisine, is fresh and flavourful. The grilled kebabs are always good, but the meze selections offer the best value. About £40 a head for dinner, including drinks.


United States - Dirty Bones

US-style diners have become ubiquitous in London, but this Kensington venue of stands out from the crowd. The décor is a big part of the appeal: a cross between an abandoned Brooklyn loft, with its rusty wrought-iron windows; a vintage laundrette, with it chess-board floors; and the dimly-lit bedroom of an Eighties adolescent, with its retro portable radios and Nintendos. The menu has all the obligatory American classics - don't come if you fancy a salad. There are hotdogs with pulled-pork, guacamole and sour crème, or gherkins and treacle bacon, vast piles of fried chicken, flat iron steaks, and beef rib soaked in BBQ sauce. The inventive cocktails add to the experience – do try the Mutt’s Nuts if you’re into bourbon. Dinner for two, including drinks and service, costs around £75.


United Kingdom – Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

This light-filled restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental grabbed headlines for its reinterpreted historic British dishes, from 18th-century Salmagundy (chicken, salsify, marrow bone) to Taffety Tart (apple, rose, fennel and blackcurrant sorbet). Go: the food is delicious, the stories fascinating, the service charming - and the views over Hyde Park aren’t bad, either.


Vietnam - Viet Grill

The southern end of Kingsland Road is home to an engaging strip of over 20 Vietnamese restaurants that draws a buzzy crowd of students, couples, foodies and fashionistas every weekend. Take a stroll and see what you fancy – Viet Grill is one of the slickest with cheerful banana-leaf murals, sizzling seafood dishes, wok-fried duck and sustaining bowls of noodles - and a Vietnamese party punch where the ingredients include “lot of alcohol”. Lunch/dinner average £20 a head.


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