In the small arcade of shops between the Oxford St/Tottenham Court Rd junction and the start of Shaftesbury Avenue is the start of a mini Koreatown: a half dozen restaurants that offer a range of traditional barbecue, bibimbap and bulgogi as well as soups and snacks, all at low prices. My first foray involved a spicy beef soup (£5) at Seoul Bakery, a lively little greasy spoon with very friendly service. Water is immediately put on tables, and food served very hot indeed.
Tube: Tottenham Court Rd
A new hamburguesería in the Retiro area has been well-received by local residents, and it is clear why: excellent quality beef in brioche-style buns with good combo toppings and a great atmosphere, coupled with quick and friendly service make for a positive dining experience. We tried the Trufa (truffle oil, cheddar, bacon, caramelized onion and avocado) and the Picante (jalapeño slices, cheddar and a creamy sauce) and both were winners. Only a few (9-12) fries are served on the side, as they’re trying to get you to order their famous onion rings too. There are five sizes of burger patty: 200g (€8.90), 250g (€9.90), 350g (€11.90), 500g (€14.90) and 1kg (€32) which can’t be fun to eat. Nevertheless, many have tried and made it onto the wall of fame separated into the successes and the failures.
Not to be confused with the more upmarket Taj near Banco de Espana, this is a relatively new place offering some good deals if you book online. The food is better than average, especially the mixed grill and Chicken Jalfrezi, but the Lamb Rogan Josh lacked the real heart ‘n’ soul of Moharaj’s version. Starters were a little lacklustre and the service can be a bit too officious. They’ve got the location though: right next door to O’Neills Irish pub for the post-match crowd.
Delusionaryculinary doesn’t often eat out for breakfast, but made an exception in Dalston – we all make exceptions in Dalston, don’t we? This was a charming place with a great selection of well-designed dishes. We tried the Beets n’ Sweets (£8) which was beetroot slices and sweet potato on a bed of kale with two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, and the Hash Rarebit (£7) with double Gloucester cheese melted on top, bacon jam, homemade chutney and served with a green salad. Full and half English breakfasts are offered of course, as well as Belly Benedict, Pig Muffin and pancakes. Filter coffee is very good indeed – no cappuccinos or lattes here – and there are hair-of-the-dog Bloody Marys and other respectable brunch cocktails. Decor is simple and service is warm and friendly. Now if only they could serve a chai latte…
For late night hipster pizza on a high street that has changed immensely in the last five years, Voodoo Ray’s is the place: a large selection of slices are available from between £3.30 and £4.50 which is quite steep, but this is a good quality New York style-slice. I can’t help but compare it to NYC’s Two Boots, and if you compare the prices, the London one is considerably pricier for what are ultimately simpler pizzas. An impressive selection of bottled and canned beers, cocktails and juices are available, as well as spiky chilli oils and smooth Parmesan to sprinkle on your portions. The chocolate brownie was excellent too. There are plans afoot to open up a new branch somewhere else in London, but for now their food truck is doing the rounds at festivals and events.