Thirty days until #TasteofLondon... thirty dishes to try
30 days to go until Taste of London! The restaurants menus are in and with more than 160 dishes on offer to try at the festival, we’ve selected 30 to help your decision-making
French-born Daniel Boulud is widely regarded as the chef that invented the gourmet hamburger and elevated it from its humble post as cheap-and-easy fast-food staple to Michelin Star menu item. No fewer than five chefs will put their own take on Action Against Hunger’s 5 Star Burger at Taste of London – Raymond Blanc, Jason Atherton, Gizzi Erskine, Shaun Searley and Nieves Barragán Mohacho will all present their creations. All money goes to Action Against Hunger, so there’s no reason not to.
Anyone who’s been to Ametsa will appreciate the attention to detail present in absolutely everything from Ab Rogers’ design of the restaurant itself, to the sourcing of local ingredients to recreate the earthy flavours of the Spanish Basque region. Expect this to be a taste of a classic dish with a hint of why they call it the ‘Ametsa Experience’
3. Gluten free potato gnocchi with rice milk MozzaRisella, chives and shaved summer truffle – Amico Bio
Pasquale Amico does about the best value set lunch anywhere in the Capital. Anyone who tells you only fat makes flavour will need to get in line for this vegan, gluten free dish from Amico Bio garnished with Summer Truffle – similar in flavour to the Burgundy variety but with a mellower finish that brings a gentle mushroom aroma to the dish.
4. Pistachio Baklava – Babaji Pide
Turkish restaurant Babaji Pide occupies an unenviable position on Shaftesbury Avenue. Alan Yau has an eye for design and its gorgeous interior of deep blues and brass flourishes echos the sumptuousness of Turkey’s great sweet treat – Baklava. Try this after Club Gascon’s 72-hour Smoked Rib of Beef for a sweet hit after the epic meatiness.
The description reads: “Pork sausage topped with truffled mac & cheese with crispy bacon bits”. Try with Horny Devils (sweetcorn fritters with jalapeños & cheddar cheese). Divine.
The interplay between Chinese culinary sensibilities and the traditionally Japanese Wagyu here is not simply another fusion gimmick. The finely balanced flavours of Chai Wu’s Wagyu Puffs, presented in a cute parcel, are the stuff of food-review legend already. Track down a heady Shiraz beforehand and indulge sloooowly.
7. Salt & Pepper Soft Shell Crab Taco – Champor-Champor
The phrase ‘champor champor’ is Malay for ‘mix and match’ and there’s no greater a foodie expression of that sentiment than a Thai seasoned, Southern American inspired filling in a Mexican package. Stop by Taste of Thailand at the north end of the festival to pair with a Singha beer.
When @lechefpaski comes to Taste of London he does so to win a golden Best in Taste trophy, the award handed to the best dish at Taste of London judged by a formidable team of restaurant critics including the charming Fay Maschler and sensational instagrammer Clerkenwell Boy. Expect this to be Pascal’s battle cry.
Just think of the following self-titled albums; The Stooges, Led Zeppelin, The Smiths, Elvis Presley. Now think Duck & Waffle by Duck & Waffle; Crispy leg confit, Belgian waffle, fried duck egg & mustard maple syrup. Pure. Genius. Poetry.
Farang currently only exists as a pop-up in Highbury, with a permanent site planned for Borough Market later this year. Last time Taste of London visited, Seb’s mum was skilfully looking after front of house duties whilst the ex-Smoking Goat and Begging Bowl chef delivered spectacular Thai dishes to the eagerly seated ‘farangs’ out front. ‘mi krob’ means ‘crispy noodles’ and these are not to be missed.
‘Mittel-European’ is how German Gymnasium describes the cuisine of their expansive King’s Cross Restaurant. Nuremberg inspires this delightful German staple complete with Sauerkraut. For a curve-ball pairing, take this perfectly formed bratwurst over to the Laurent-Perrier Clubhouse and enjoy with a Cuvée Rosé whilst soaking up the sun-drenched vista of central London from idyllic Regent’s Park.
Gordon’s Heddon Street Kitchen on Regent Street has a dedicated ice cream bar that serves alcoholic ice cream cocktails alongside ‘create your own’ frozen desserts. Head Chef Guy Betteridge’s team are transporting it to Taste of London, complete with a myriad of toppings to fill your boots with. See Duck & Waffle’s Duck & Waffle for main course pairing.
13. Jerk Panko-crusted Red Gurnard with Chipotle Sauce, Seaweed Salted Chips and Wakame Pickle – Hook
Just as the legendary Daniel Boulud elevated the humble hamburger, Hook are taking fish and chips in to very exciting places. This is such a unique, interesting dish with huge character. Importantly, every last detail of Hook’s restaurant screams sustainability and ethically-sourced – the incredible quality Gurnard here is just the tip of the iceberg.
Takoyaki is commonly found at street stalls and festivals in Japan. The joke here is that it’s often referred to as the Asian ‘corn dog’, with which anyone who’s been to a Midwest USA state fair in the last 75 years will be familiar. These are exquisite octopus doughnuts done brilliantly by Japanophile Chef, Scott Hallsworth.
This is simply some of the most expensive ham in the world. A super premium Spanish Ibérico by one of the oldest and most revered producers in world, Cinco Jotas. The prized Ibérico pigs are raised on farms (deheshas) and fed on acorns (the bellota) which are high in fat and contain a large proportion of unsaturated oleic fatty acid. In turn this makes the pig’s fat soft and creamy, giving the ham a nutty flavour. This dish exemplifies Chef Jose Pizarro’s commitment to using only the best possible ingredients.
Lamb cutlets with Korean spices. Barely needs introduction and text simply won’t do it justice. Take a trip along to ROKA’s open barbeque and be dared not to order. An absolute Taste of London favourite.
17. Grilled White Asparagus, buckwheat praline – Rosewood
The origins of asparagus can be traced back to ancient Greece some 2,500 years ago where it was prized for its medicinal properties. The difference between white and green asparagus is that the former is grown underground. The lack of exposure to light limits production of chlorophyll and hence the usual green colour. It needs to be handled, not least cooked, with incredible care. The fresh flavour is a perfect pairing for a summery Chardonnay.
One thing you shouldn’t miss is Chef Francesco Mazzei on the AEG Taste Theatre demonstrating why he is the darling of the London food scene right now. You’ll want to pick up this signature Sartoria dish beforehand. Baccalà is traditionally served on Christmas Eve in Francesco’s native Italy and exemplifies his philosophy of creating modern versions of dishes from his Calabrian upbringing.
Native Londoners won’t have missed the dramatic Sea Containers lettering proudly glowing atop Mondrian Hotel, overlooking the Thames at the south edge of Blackfriars Bridge. Gus Crosby is a very, very good chef. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, these roasted meatballs are served with soft sheep’s milk cheese, cucumber and Moroccan spiced vinaigrette good enough to sell your parents for. Pair this with a stunning cocktail from Mondrian’s Dandelyan Bar at the north end of the festival – the work of cocktail genius Ryan Chetiyawardana of White Lyan in Hoxton.
20. Southern Fried Chicken & Pickle – Shotgun BBQ
Chef Brad McDonald was the first restaurant personality to feature on ITV’s The Wine Show, launched earlier this year. See The Wine Show’s Amelia Singer and Joe Fattorini live on the Wine & Spirits Theatre, taste this dish from Brad’s newest venture Shotgun BBQ. SFC has many imitators – this is the real deal.
21. Kahlúa Coffee Sponge with Toasted Rice and Coconut Mousse, Espresso and Coconut Crumb – Vanilla Black
Can you honestly say if you saw this on a menu you wouldn’t order two, one to have and one to wrap up and take home? Vanilla Black is, by its own admission, a vegetarian restaurant. Let’s call it an utterly gorgeous restaurant with flavours that will knock your sandals off.
The list of chefs that have passed through Pierre’s kitchens over the last 50 years is as long as it is prestigious. Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Bruno Loubet, Tom Aikens and Marcus Wareing have all learnt their craft from this doyen of the culinary world. A true master, this is one of his signature dishes available on Wednesday 17th only.
The beauty of a brilliantly crafted dish is that it can, at its best, open your eyes to aspects of an ingredient that you would never believe have existed. Yeasted Cauliflower from Lee Westcott’s Typing Room is a standout example. It’s a marquee display of accomplished craftsmanship, no lesser demonstrated by the wild array of flavours that spring from what most people would consider a modest if not slightly pedestrian vegetable. Available Thursday 16th only at The Daily Special restaurant.
Shrikhand is common in Gujarati cuisine and made of strained yoghurt. It’s the perfect palette cleanser between dishes with Vivek Singh’s trademark style of combining Indian and British cuisines to build on the historic affinity between the two nations.
If you’ve been lucky enough to get a table at Hoppers since its opening you’ll have seen this on the menu. The award winning team behind Trishna, Gymkhana, Bubbledogs, Kitchen Table, Lyle’s and Bao just know how to monopolise taste buds. Gotukola Sambol is common in Sri Lankan food and accompanies the exotic Ceylon spiced thighs beautifully. Hoppers are nominated for the ‘Worth the Queue’ Award at the Evening Standard London Restaurant Awards this year, hosted at Taste of London. They’re firm favourites to lift yet another trophy.
26. Dover Sole “Veronique” – Cliveden House
The legendary French chef, Escoffier created this dish whilst working at the Carlton Hotel in London . On the day that the hotel opened in 1899, Escoffier premiered another new dish, Peach Melba, in homage to Australian Opera Singer, Nellie Melba. This version is by Head Chef André Garrett and is a very fine example of a piece of culinary history. Available on Saturday 18th only, Cliveden House are attending Taste of London as part of the Great British Restaurant in association with Great British Chefs.
Cool off in the sunshine with an English classic and peruse the rest of the Roux at Parliament Square menu, consisting of Dorset crab, suckling pig, and smoked bacon with potato and Arlington brown egg yolk.
Sutton Hoo chickens are traditionally reared in Suffolk by Charles and Belinda Nash, free from additives and with acres of beautiful farmland to roam next to the ancient Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon National Trust site. Now just imagine what these beautiful wings will taste like following a stint in the hands of supremely talented Head Chef Ana Morris.
29. Barbacoa-style Grilled Lamb Cutlets – Santo Remedio
Barbacoa is a Carribean style of open-flame cooking and the term from which we derive the modern word, barbeque. Santo Remedio translates as ‘holy remedy’ from the Spanish. A restaurant with as much colour in their dishes as skill, they will no doubt ensure these cutlets cure hunger very swiftly. Available Sunday 19th only as part of the Daily Special restaurant. See open flame cooking with top chefs throughout the festival on the Whole Foods Market Kitchen.
Literally translated as ‘skewer sausage’, this defiantly complex Italian dish balances chargrilled fennel sausage, red peppers, fresh red chilli and parsley sauce with datterini tomatoes, cucumber, orzo and basil salad.