Novikov. 50a Berkeley St. London

A vast, open dining space and a smaller cosier one in an outrageously expensive area of London underlines just how much Russian money went into this restaurant complex. The successful Muscovite restauranteur makes a killing from good food in dramatic surroundings. It really is epic, with a flashy bar on the ground floor and a psychedelic-kitsch bar in the basement. There is an Asian as well as an Italian restaurant, and the menus reach deep into the cuisine. The lamb chops were impressive, chicken was of the highest grade, and the spices and salsas added a kick to proceedings. Definitely for those who are impressed by Dubai-style grandeur and oligarchs.

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Green Park Tube

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The Bull. 100 Upper St. London

A real boozer in an increasingly commercialized high street in London, The Bull is cosy, especially at the back with its soft sofas and wobbly tables. Staff are very friendly and the range of local beers is great. We had an avocado and dolcelatte burger, juicy and fresh, and an ox-cheek and red wine pie. The warm scent of the mulled wine greeted us on Christmas eve, and that positive memory won’t fade in a hurry.

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Angel tube

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Pink Turban. 439 Alexandra Ave, Rayners Lane. London

The style and service of Pink Turban is exceptional. After tasting their exquisite catering for a private Diwali party, we went there for a Christmas eve dinner in a large group, and they were the most hospitable and patient staff we’ve had the privilege of experiencing recently.
We look forward to coming here in the spring and sitting out on the deck, but the interiors are equally impressive, all glammy-disco with pop-art Sikh warrior art on mirrored panels, with a furry wall and a real sense of occasion.
Mains here are great, especially the Rogan Josh and saag paneer but the stars of the show are the starters: chilli cheese toast, mirchi murgh tikka (chilli tandoor-cooked chicken) and garlicky basil-cookedkai krapow, chapli kebab. We didn’t try the tempura quail, black cod or dimsum, but certainly won’t miss out on that in the future. ‘Egg and the Sepoy’ (masala egg and chilli cheese naan soldiers) looks like the perfect brunch order, along with the portobello mushrooms, samosa channa chaat and the bhalla chaat, which was a memorable starter. Drinks are great, especially the nimbu (trad lemon juice) gin cocktail. Feedback from those who have tried the sushi Ambarsari Macchi (fried tilapia), rock lobster and wasabi prawn, please; this place is a north-west London winner.

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Tube: Rayners Lane (Metropolitan/Piccadilly) 2 mins walk

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Sumosan. 26 Albemarle St. London

A visit here was long overdue as we had heard so many positive things about it from friends that love Nobu and Zuma, and for a quick lunch it worked out quite well. Ambience was non-existent at 1pm, and it is definitely a dining space for a late, dark night, its sleekness and minimalism, greys and purples playing against each other.
The wasabi prawns are the most fiery things I’ve ever tasted in a restaurant but that was maybe because I had dipped and mopped up the wasabi-mayo sauce instead of shaking excess off. The ‘tacos’ were delightful: rice-wraps of minced mackerel, salmon and tuna sashimi. But the highlight was definitely the lamb chops furikaki (£21 for three chops), with a perfectly crispy coating and juicy, even though well-done as we requested.
Dessert just had to be the dark and white chocolate fondant, a confection that even grown men rave about. It was a little too rich though, and the texture inside just not melty or gooey enough. The green tea coating and the accompanying scoop of ice cream were delicious. Lunch for two with a small glass of wine came to an astonishing £96, even though we had only shared two starters, one main and a dessert. However, service was friendly and quick, catering to our need to be out within an hour. I might just pop in again for those tacos…

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Closest tube: Green Park

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Lemonia. 89 Regents Park Rd. London

A Primrose Hill institution, Lemonia’s authentic grub, large space and friendly service keep it bustling on most nights of the week. The meat is cooked to perfection – especially the Lamb Kleftiko – and dips and salads are fresh and hearty. Prices are reasonable for this kind of upscale Greek-Cypriot joint, and the waiters’ sense of humour make it enjoyable and definitely worthwhile. Celebrities love it here, so be prepared for some papps outside.

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Closest tube: Chalk Farm

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Platero & Co. Calle Dr Castelo, 21. Madrid

A welcome addition to this street, Platero takes some of the overflow from La Castela or, just those that fancy something less bustly and with better lighting. The choices here though are very unique, and are more imaginative than the competition across the street; presentation is slick and idiosyncratic too. croquetas and the berenjena con salsa de miel de caña are great sharing starters, and the palitos de queso de cabra with a sweet’n’sour sauce to take the edge of the cheese has a remarkable level of bite. But the star of the show is the risotto de carabineros y rape we shared, with maximum amounts of rich prawny stock, saffron and high quality oil. That alone is a reason to come back, very soon.
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Metro Ibiza/Goya

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