Trishna. 15-17 Blandford St. London

After initial disappointing reviews of Trishna, invariably comparing it to its namesake – Mumbai’s most famous seafood eaterie* – this Marylebone restaurant, a few rungs above a regular curry house, has become a neighbourhood favourite. There is in fact very little connection with the Mumbai one, and that’s a good thing; this little restaurant lacks the soul food edge and the greasy joy of Punjabi street grub, not quite making up for it with its refined styles. So in short, we can’t compare them – but this is nothing like the original. We did the express lunch, and starters were decent: partridge pepper fry and spicy Hariyali sea bream the highlights. In the mains, the sides were very disappointing: a dull Hyderabadi dal and undercooked aloo hara pyaz with some very average mixed naans, not even served hot. But the Andhra lamb masala was absolutely excellent, overshadowing the tasty smooth Moplah seafood biryani and a moreish Kerala jheenga prawn curry. But it was the ras malai for dessert that really bowled us for six, with its cherry coulis streaks and rich cream sauce. Overall, not so bad after all.

* The legend of the Delhi businessman who gets regular deliveries of king prawn curry flown in from Mumbai persists to this day; for most connoisseurs, Delhi has no equivalent for seafood cooked in this way.

$$$
Tube: Bond St

IMG_5859-1.JPG

IMG_5856-1.JPG

IMG_5857-1.JPG

Passing Clouds. 1 Richmond Rd. Dalston. London

A community venue that has acoustic, folk and reggae nights, film screenings, meetings and even a library. The raucous Friday night gigs are great, spread over two floors with East London’s hipsters all over the roots’n’culture vibe until 4am. Drinks are ethically sourced, with Samuel Smith organic beer and Dalston Cola the popular choices.

IMG_5833.JPG

Koya. 49 Frith St. Soho. London

The Japanese eaterie Koya – rather than Piccadilly’s Peruvian coya – is just a long bar facing the kitchen, traditional ramen-joint style, seating approximately 20, with inevitable queues forming at lunchtime and again from 7pm. With the tinny radio playing and the unadorned walls, they’re certainly not here for the atmosphere. Food is excellent, with the braised pork belly in cider one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted in any restaurant anywhere. The smoked mackerel sashimi is exquisite, and the buta-udon has a thick rich broth. Prices are not low, with portions unsuitable for sharing and ranging between £8 and £13, and bottles of Kirin ichiban for £4.60 each. But you’ll remember the delicious layered fat and slow-cooked meat of the cuts of pork for years to come.

$$$
Tube: Leicester Sq / Tottenham Court Rd

IMG_5836.JPG

IMG_5815.JPG

Five Guys. 1-3 Long Acre. Covent Garden. London

This place is addictive. Burgers are a little thinner than other chains such as Byron’s and Shake Shack, but the choice of free toppings (grilled mushrooms! Jalapeños!) make it worthwhile, and at very competitive prices – £4.75 for the cheapest one, a ‘little hamburger’, £8.75 for a full-size bacon cheeseburger – it’s easy to just stop in for ten minutes on the way out to somewhere else, rather than make it a part of your evening. Decor is red and red, and that’s all; no one is hanging out here for the atmosphere. Food is definitely a couple of grades above Burger King but not quite at gourmet burger level. Queues can get long, but there are free peanuts to munch on!
$
Tube: Leicester Square

20140904-171459-62099582.jpg

Shake Shack. 24, Market Building. Covent Garden. London

Great burgers in a great location.
Scottish grass-fed cattle are used for the meat, and the buns are tasty Martin’s Potato Rolls, doughy and squidgy and refreshingly unlike the brioches that have taken over the capital’s numerous burger joints. It’s the extras that really make this place:
check out the frozen custard Concretes, which consist of irresistible mixes of banana, chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallow and more, along with sea-salted chocolate chunks by Paul Young and hazelnut brownie pieces from St John Bakery.

Salvador & Amanda. 8 Great Newport St. London

An above-average bar with an unsophisticated midweek crowd, the only reason to hang around here is the large basement space and the imaginative cocktails. We tried a Cinnamon Crush (chopped orange, citrus juice and cinnamon sugar muddled with El Dorado rum and Licor 43 topped with soda), El Torrito (El Dorado 5yr with Teichenne pear, vanilla schnapps, pear puree and apple juice) and the Miel (Dewar’s whiskey, honey liqueur, citrus juice and sugar cane liquid laced with Chambord). All were very tasty and very sweet indeed. The DJ spinning on the Thursday night we went was quite awful, and the dancefloor was empty. Come in a group and you won’t mind it so much though.

Tube: Leicester Square

20140902-192524-69924588.jpg

Lima Floral. Floral Street. London

At the time of writing this place was only a few weeks young, so Delusionaryculinary hit it when it was HOT; staff were fresh and enthusiastic, and the food and drink on our visit were firmly in the A+ category. Cocktails were great, especially the Maracuya Sour, a smaller version of a favourite drink from my Lima days (five months of eating and drinking in the capital of Peru, fans) and the frutas de la selva, a mix of blackberries, raspberries, ginger ale, rum and pisco. Chilcanos were hearty and went down very easily too. We shared the Green Causa (a mash of Muña corn and avocado uchucuta in a leche de tigre sauce) and the Dry Andean Potato Stew with sheep’s cheese, onion and red shizu. For mains, the Hot Ceviche (sea bream) is spectacular, a heady mix of tiger’s milk, red peppers, and ambition; the rump of organic lamb with its side of queso fresco and black quinoa is so achingly London-hip that we were surprised it wasn’t served in a branded box with logos and downloadable links. Terrific!

$$$$

Tube: Leicester Sq

20140902-022728-8848970.jpg

20140902-022729-8849864.jpg