Located right next to Broadway so perfect for pre- or post-show dining, the decor here is much better than other Asian mid-range restaurants.
The assorted appetizer platter is a great way to start, and I enjoyed the Angel Hair with shrimps. The pho here doesn’t have a great rep and none of the dishes are given with their Vietnamese names, but the fish sauces are authentic and the selection of noodle, curry and rice dishes is extensive. The Martinis in fruity flavours are refreshing and service ranges from curt to jovial.
Closest subway: 49 St, 50 St
One large room greets you as you enter and walk down the five steps from the door; this place can look busy and vibrant or eerily quiet, but the location is so central that it gets a steady stream of diners from 7pm. Don’t let the young groups of Indian students fool you: the food here is neither cheap nor authentic at all. Apart from the impressive starters – a mellow paneer tikka and sturdy vegetable and meat samosas – all of the main dishes we ordered lacked flavour and spice, and ended up as bland imitations of their namesakes. The Goan shrimp curry was the exception, with a smooth rich finish and a generous serving of seafood, but the dhaal makhani was probably the worst I’ve tried in any restaurant anywhere in the world. The chicken tikka masala was awful, the channa masala passable. Avoid this one.
Closest subway: 42 St – Bryant Park
A touristy place, considering its location next to Broadway and Times Square. The main sports bar full of big screens is in the front and there’s a lounge in the back. The selection of draught beers is vast, but we were convinced they had mixed up a couple of the barrels when we were served. The margarita pizza is small but decent, and the prices won’t break the bank.
Apparently open until 4am.
Closest subway: 42 St Port Authority (A,C,E) and 49 St (N,Q,R)
A mainstay of the high-end Italian scene in London, Signor Sassi has been around for ages and slebs have always come here straight from Harrods or Sloane Square to eat the highest quality salads, pastas and meats and be seen in its small open space, or hiding in one of its discreet nooks and crannies. The tortellini with Gorgonzola is ecelente, and the desserts, in particular the classic Creme Brûlée are perfect.
Closest tube: Knightsbridge
We came here for a couple of bottles of wine, prosecco and some cheese plates, and we were certainly not disappointed. The ‘eastern outpost of Borough Wines’, service is quick and friendly, the converted garage space is very San Francisco, and the menu is extensive. More than anything, they’ve just managed to create a great vibe here, and I’ll be back for a full meal soon.
Closest rail: Hackney Downs
This is a claustrophobic little place with no music but lots of charm. Service is friendly and the beer selection, especially for lagers, is quite good. The Christmas decorations are a sight to behold. Handy for popping in for a couple of pints after shopping and browsing in the piazza.
Closest tube: Covent Garden
Excellent American deep-south specialities are served at Joe’s, in a bustling ground/first floor setting, with a very cosy bar called Cocktail Baby in the basement. None of us had the Beer Can Chicken (an entire bird with a can stuck up its posterior, £25) but the regular buttermilk chicken wasn’t bad; beef short rib (£17) and soft-shell crab (£9) stole the show though. The snacks, especially the corn bread with paprika butter, jalapeño poppers and popcorn shrimp (all about £4) were delicious, and the cocktails are excellent too, especially the Rumdog Millionaire and the non-alcoholic Lemongrass Lemonade. Service can be slow, but they do try their hardest to please.
Their weekday lunch special, the ‘Blue Plate’, is a great deal for the poultry fan: a chicken platter with BBQ pulled pork beans and a beer, wine, or lemonade, all for only £10. I’ll be coming back here for that, as the bill at any other time can be pretty steep.
Closest tube: Covent Garden