Chutney Mary. 73 St. James’s St. London

I was taken to the original iteration of this Anglo-Indian fine dining restaurant in Chelsea about 25 years ago and remember being impressed by their salmon kedgeree amongst other colonial-style mash-ups. Their new location is far more central though less cosy, but the menu has had an overhaul to chime with modern tastes in Indian cuisine. A wide range of mocktails and wines by the glass are on offer, Business Lunch works well for fish (salmon tikka and sea bass) and kebab fans, though lamb chops ($26) don’t work well for your pocket. The scrambled eggs akoori can be ordered for breakfast or lunch, and definitely shouldn’t be missed. The desserts are fantastic: salted caramel kulfi and dark chocolate chikki fondant. Prices are high, clientele classy but the cooking is exquisite.

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Roti Chai. 3 Portman Mews South. London W1

It’s a ‘street kitchen’ with ‘soul food’ apparently, and very influenced by Gujarati and ‘dhaba’ cafe food. Even though service can be a little uneven, the food is reliably good, though portions tend to be on the smaller side. Bombay bhel puri, chicken lollipops and Hakka chilli paneer were all excellent, and all around the £5 mark. There are cocktails and coolers (mocktails), wines, beers, chais and hot chocolates, and even a ‘lychee teapot martini’ infusion with vodka – these drinks will keep us coming back. Perfect for snacks and a few drinks, but the decor – ersatz Hindi street signs and advertising slogans – doesn’t impress. 

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Tube: Marble Arch
  

Roka Mayfair. 30 North Audley St. London

This became a London mainstay a decade ago in Charlotte Street, and the branch just off the middle of Oxford Street has cemented its reputation for nouvelle Japanese cuisine. Service is perfectly charming and efficient but the food comes out in the order it wants to. The lamb cutlets were thick and sublime, the fried aubergine a hearty surprise, and the chicken unlike any poultry I’d ever eaten at any Japanese restaurant anywhere – supreme. For desserts, we enjoyed the creme brûlée with Yamazaki ice-cream so much we ordered it twice.
The wine and cocktail selection is comprehensive as well as imaginative. This is a pricey place, but it really is special; funkier than Nobu, more upmarket than Sumosan and comparable to Zuma, it really has found its groove in London.

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Tube: Bond St / Marble Arch

Blind Pig. 58 Poland Street. London

Excellent creative cocktails from mixologists of reputation. We had a Ginger Spice (vodka with lemon and ginger and a touch of carrot), a Rye ‘n’ Air (a carbonated pre-mixed whiskey drink served in a cough syrup bottle in an airline-safe ziplock bag – but over 100ml) and a Bombay Bicycle Shrub (JW Black Label with IPA, curry and Indian tea served in a copper mug with a poppadum and mango chutney balanced on top). All were just shy of £10 each, and all were delicious. There’s much more mischief and fun to be had with this menu, with drinks named Genever Lopez and Robin Hood Quince of Thieves.

££

Closest tube: Oxford Circus

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Pitt Cue Co. 1 Newburgh Street. London

This barbecue joint had been on my list for a while and I’m so glad we finally went on a day of celebration and heavy wallets. Don’t take a vegetarian with an appetite as there are literally no main dishes that don’t consist entirely of meat, but the sides are wonderful: green chili slaw and bone marrow mash were both demolished within a few minutes, the former undoubtedly the best coleslaw I’ve ever tasted (even with hardly any mayo involved) and the latter served with a rich smooth gravy that would be accompanied with every single dish I order in the future if calories were of no consequence. The lamb (£17.50) was horrifically overpriced, but the beef neck (£16.50) ended up being a memorable, substantial dish that I would probably return to have again if I was feeling flush. The feather blade was tasty too, and good value for the morsel of beef at £4. Pitt Cue Co is also famous for reviving the Pickleback, a shot of bourbon with pickle-juice chaser that I would heartily recommend. The is a ginger citrus delight, and the Bourbon & Coke sticky toffee pudding with its serving of salted caramel ice-cream was absolutely heavenly.

£££

Tube: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus

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Bundu Khan. 43 Commercial St. London

Excellent service, delicious food and generally good atmosphere – when there are more than 2-3 tables full. Bundu Khan has already made a name for itself over the last half-century in Pakistan, but this London outpost deserves plaudits: the kheema, chicken, lamb chops and kebabs are all well-spiced and cooked to perfection. This was our plan B after failing to get a table at Tayyab’s after a ten-minute wait, but I think this will be out first choice destination when we’re next on Commercial Street.

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Tube: Aldgate / Aldgate East

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The Enterprise. 35 Walton St. London.

It’s not a pub at all, but a restaurant with a good bar, offering a refined dining atmosphere with a touch of the casual. We had the specially-priced lunch menu (cheaper on Mondays/Tuesdays at £14.95 for two courses). The goats cheese and chorizo tart was warm and just flaky enough to be posher than a comfort-food tart, and the cider mussels with pancetta were cooked perfectly, not leaking with unnecessary brine. A fish main course was dazzling, crispy and delicate, while the salmon fish cakes were heartier and quite rich, especially if you took some spoonfuls of the cream-loaded basil foam. Service is excellent, and the atmosphere really is quite classy; well-picked music and a jolly crowd make this a solid institution of the Knightsbridge area.

$$$$ (but set lunch is $$)

Tube: Knightsbridge

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