Vinothec Compass, Greenwich
To consider Vinothec Compass as one of those hidden-gems in London is almost an insult to it’s location, there’s simply nothing hidden about it. Overlooking the city lights of Canary Wharf and the heart of London’s entertainment quarter, The O2 Arena, you’d be foolish not to stop by this contemporary Iberian restaurant with it’s special touch of Spanish flair. At Vinothec compass, the wine collection is so extensive with more than 600 bottles, it may be one of the first things you notice upon arrival. This floor to ceiling display showcases some of the finest wines starting from £23 and ranging upwards of £1,200 for a rare Californian- a wonderful way to compliment the fine Iberian cuisine that awaits.
The absolute standout dish at Vinothec Compass is the grilled tuna, cooked with an attention to detail but a special mention must go to the cornish lamb cutlets that melt like butter in your mouth.
Got an hour or two to spare? Why not test your swing at N1 Golf, only moments away from one of London’s most spectacular views. Truly a sunset to remember.
Club Gascon is a Michelin-starred French Restaurant located somewhere in the love triangle of Barbican, St Pauls and Liverpool Street. This Bermuda of love currently calls home to some of London’s finest culinary delights and skyscrapers, once dubbed an area that was deemed ‘the uncool end of London’ back in 1998 when Club Gascon’s doors opened. Far from uncool these days, Club Gascon’s legacy lies in it’s commitment to maintaining the highest standards of freshness and authenticity with Head chef, Pascal Aussignac honouring his capability for brilliance with playful plates of crafty French cuisine.
After dining here and indulging in a 5 course meal (Available at Club Gascon for £65 per person or £ 100.00 with Sommelier’s wine pairing), something I’ve never done before may I add, I can affirm the quality, presentation and standard, it was nothing but impressive and each course had me excited for the next. While my expectations of the tipsy lobster were not met, I did however, love the charolais beef, cooked skillfully with caviar and ox sauce. Never in my life have I had the courage to try any kind of foie gras, the idea of trying it has completely repelled me from doing so in the past me but I broke my foie gras cherry at Club Gascon. I may have cheated as I opted for the grilled foie instead of the standard pâté and my conclusion lies somewhere in between life changing and I’d do it again.
Club Gascon’s haute cuisine ticked all the boxes for a fancy night out in London and I highly recommend the sommelier’s wine pairing if you can afford it. It’s always a pleasure to arrive at a restaurant and find a relaxed, friendly atmosphere without all the French fuss.
Koji, Parsons Green
Koji poses as one of those contemporary Japanese restaurants catering for the sybarites of London’s South-West clique. This may the the answer to the slightly obnoxious service which I’ll only ever forgive and forget if the food is great and unforgettable.
Chunky slabs of salmon and tuna sashimi arrive lovingly sliced with two plates of spicey edamame beans that go down well in between a conversation revolving around where the best sushi in London is and the strategy on how my friends will entice me to eat indian food. With talk of Michelin-starred Amaya in Belgravia on the table as the next outing, I uninvite myself to the next gathering. There’s a variety of sake’s to choose from at Koji and our group opt for junmai daiginjo at a nifty £88 per jug. Sake ain’t my style and I can safely say I stayed away from both jugs and continued on with my Hendricks and nibbled on some tempura prawns.
What Koji seem to be a master of is creating dishes that are Instagram worthy, even if they are only tapas size. There’s an air of excitement behind two dishes that we devoured and ordered two servings of- the beef fillet teriyaki and black cod miso with 5 spice. If there is one dish you must try at Koji, it’s the ineffable black cod.
These days, is there anything better than plates of Japanese cuisine? I don’t think so, Koji is definitely a restaurant to try.
El Pirata, Mayfair
“Take me back to Barcelona!” I always hear my heart scream and while I wish I could go every week, the closest I come to delivering my heart’s desire has got to be El Pirata in Mayfair because there’s a fine line between the culture and the food that infuses my love affair for Spain together. There’s a rustic, authentic charm surrounding El Pirata and it’s ‘homely’ feel only adds to it’s roaring success. On top of their game, El Pirata has been around for over two decades. Lo entiendes…?
On two separate occasions, I’ve been wined and wowed at El Pirata whose impressive personal touch in service keep them ahead in comparison to slightly fancier neighbours. Staff make you feel like your part of the El Pirata family and are also persuasive at suggesting dishes to appease your appetite. Everything is great at El Pirata, didn’t you know?
My personal favourites are the mushrooms in garlic (Champiñones al ajillo), octoptus brushed with olive oil and paprika (pulpo a la gallega) and the grilled lamb cutlets (chuletitas de cordero). Depending on your budget, their finest bottle of Vega Sicilia from 2002 will set your back £695 and if money isn’t a problem, it’s a red that will have you craving more… I’m only writing from experience.
An unassuming name for an unassuming place, Goat is nothing but the most underrated restaurant in Chelsea. Having met many of my deadlines at Goat, with or without wine, I’ve got nothing but praise for the style of service and culinary perfection in this modern mecca of Italian cuisine.
I generally start with focaccia topped with tomato, red onion, black olives and chilli and a side of paprika fries. Goat offers a carefully crafted range of mains, well suited for any pallet but the highlight on the menu has got to be the pan fried cod, this is inevitably the winner on the page. As for dessert, I’ve never had a better cheesecake in London. Goat’s vanilla and blueberry cheesecake with ricotta sour cherry gelato must be made by angels.
While this kind of food pilgrimage usually comes at a hefty price tag in London, Goat is one of the most affordable places to eat, leave your prejudice about the postcode at home.
Which are your favourite restaurants in London?