Despite the tired cliché that Brits are bad at food, London’s melting pot culture means that we’ve got more international cuisine on offer than most cities in the world. Take a quick stroll around East London, and you’ll see what we mean. From Peruvian to Vietnamese, Australian to Polish – you name it, we’ve got it. For that reason, conducting an around-the-world tour of London restaurants is pretty easy. In fact, it’s a walk in the park (and a few stops on the Tube). Here’s some essential pitstops for each continent. Except Antarctica – that one’s kind of niche.
1. Best Of South America: Lima Floral, Leicester Square
Peruvian food does things to me. It’s the freshness, it’s the cleanness, it’s the zing – it’s probably also the pisco. Either way, whenever I eat it, I leave feeling like a better person. Lima Floral recently celebrated its first birthday: younger sister of the Michelin star restaurant Lima Fitzrovia, it’s another creation by Peru’s patron chef and general superstar, Virgilio Martinez. A little cheaper than its older brother but equally as masterful in its creations, the dishes are dainty, colourful and fresh. The seabream ceviche – made texturally interesting by the popped cancha corn and spikes of crispy fried onion – is a must, and the beef fillet with fresh cheese and white quinoa is a great way to go if you’re not big on fish. Star of the show, oddly enough, was the humble cusco corn cake: sweet and comforting, if someone could just get one of these into my kitchen at the end of each week, I don’t think I’d ever get Sunday night blues again. Downstairs, the bar glows with colourful jars of pisco infusions and the cocktail menu is impressive. Try a shot of the fiery pepper-infused pisco at the end of your meal and you’ll leave with a spring in your step. I’m telling you, Peruvian food takes you places.
14 Garrick St (Floral St Entrance)
2. Best Of North America: Patty & Bun,
This one was always going to be a bit contentious. Burgers have become a frequently debated breed in recent years: any faithful burgerati will always have their personal favourite and they won’t be afraid to tell you about it. Started as a pop-up, Burger & Patty opened its first restaurant in Marylebone but with around-the-clock queues and ridiculous waiting times, it quickly spread East, opening smaller diners in Liverpool St and Hackney too. These are sloppy, lip-licking, sauce-dribbling-between-your-fingers kind of affairs. In other words, they’re exactly what burgers should be. Try the Lambshank Redemption if you’re at the flagship restaurant and if you’re not so into red meat, the Hot Chic chicken burger is a great alternative. Their food basically represents everything America has ever done well, sandwiched between a brioche bun. Bold statement but we’re making it.
3. Best Of Africa: Lalibela, Tufnell Park
Ethiopian coffee is probably the best in the world. Upon entering Lalibela, you quickly understand why. The rich, fruity, smell of beans roasting at the bar is enough to transport you far, far away. This is Ethiopian cuisine at its best. Pile your injera high with curried chicken and tibs – (that’s a special type of Ethiopian flatbread) – and you’ve basically got yourself an edible dinner set. The interior is warm and cosy: packed out with carvings, figurines, textiles and instruments, it’s a glorious African escape on a more grey day.
137 Fortress Road
4. The Best Of Europe: Berlin Brünch (Pop-Up)
Okay, we’ve gone a bit rogue on this one. There are too many tip-top European restaurants in London – from Bocca di Lupo to Social Wine and Tapas – to even know where to begin. So we thought we’d throw something a little different out there. This one is a pop-up, brought to us by Berlin food blogger, Noemie Duleschewski. Roaming around some of the trendiest locations in London, she throws German brunches on Sundays and this week you can find her at Maltby St Market, under the Victorian arches. Buy your ticket today and for just £23 you can enjoy a brunch bursting with German treats: from cold meats and cheeses to homemade Nutella and endless supplies of fresh sourdough and rye bread. It couldn’t be a more dreamy way to start a Sunday. And we love supporting young start-ups. So for that reason, it gets our vote.
Sunday 26th July – 41 Maltby St, SE1 3PA
But don’t worry, she runs them regularly – just keep an eye on her website.
5. The Best Of Asia: Everest Inn, Blackheath
Londoners don’t make enough time for Nepalese food. Stick them in front of a Chicken Tikka Masala and they’ll be laughing. Nepalese cuisine, however, is more subtle in its flavours and the tender meat dishes served at this South East London restaurant quite frankly knock spots off the homogenised Indian ‘curry’ dishes that have fast become a favourite across the capital. In terms of authenticity, Everest Inn is as good as the best eateries in Katmandu. Try the marinated duck breast with a Gurka beer and you’ll see what we mean.
41 Montpelier Vale Blackheath
6. Australia: Lantana Cafe, Fitzrovia (and Shoreditch)
Minimalist Lantana is known for its award-winning Aussie-style brunches. The menu changes in accordance with the seasons but a few classics remain the same. Nothing beats the courgette bread with grilled halloumi, a poached egg and chilli jam. And upon tasting the corn fritters with bacon, fresh spinach, avocado and creme fraiche, we wondered why we’d been mucking round with English Muffins for so long. To put it simply – we all know the Aussies do beaches well but they do brunches even better.