La Candela – Cadiz, Spain

Can you book? Yes
Food: 10/10
Atmosphere: 10/10
Price paid per person: £25

I thought the highlight of my recent trip to southern Spain would be my boyfriend’s proposal (I said yes). Then, after a life long search for a shower cap that gives full head coverage, I found a wonderful one in Malaga train station for a very reasonably price. I was wrong again. La candela, Trip Advisor’s 2nd best restaurant in Cadiz, won the contest.

Every table was occupied, and we were pleased to hear mostly Spanish being spoken, meaning that locals (who aren’t just excited about tapas because it’s tapas) rated it highly.

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Winnicott – Bermondsey, London

Can you book? No
Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: 9/10
Price paid per person: £12

There’s a fire, pizzas for £10 (or £5 if you go on a half price day), a piano which they let me play and it’s opposite the Thames. Need I say more?

Previously known as the Old Justice, the Winnicott reopened in September with a new name and having reverted to a more traditional local community pub. I’m told there is now cask real ale and a selection of locally brewed craft beers. It’s full of charm and cosiness.

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Sticks’n’Sushi – Covent Garden, London

Can you book? Yes
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Price per person: £50

“Sushi is fish in haute couture” according to the waiters at Sticks’n’Sushi. At least that’s the slogan on their uniforms. The Google definition of haute couture is “expensive, fashionable clothes produced by leading fashion houses.” Replace ‘clothes’ with ‘fish’ and you’ve got a pretty accurate description of Sticks’n’Sushi! Continue reading

Portland – Fitzrovia, London

Can you book? Yes
Food: 10/10
Atmosphere: 9/10
Price per person: £40

I once read that Giles Coren disagrees with serving bread before a meal. I don’t have a Times subscription so can’t read his review of Portland but I imagine he retracted that comment after trying Portland’s warm crusty bread served with ox heart butter. I didn’t know what to expect but suffice to say it will now be difficult, albeit more practical, to go back to butter that hasn’t been adorned with shavings of ox heart.

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Berber & Q – Haggerston, London

Can you book? No (but the wait is pleasant and not too long)
Food: 10/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Price paid per person: £40

I emailed Berber & Q a few weeks before going to ask if they would consider bending their ‘no reservations’ policy, for no real reason other than fear of being turned away and sulking all the way home. They said no, but in a very friendly way, so we made it our business to get there early last Saturday evening and arrived just before 7pm. It isn’t a large restaurant, there are two sharing tables running along the centre, another five or so smaller tables against the wall and a few seats at the bar. We were told the wait could be up to an hour so put our names on the list and were advised to enjoy a cocktail either at the bar or either of the next door bars but to stay close as we would receive a call. Continue reading

Joe’s Southern Kitchen – Kentish Town, London

Can you book? Yes
Food: 8/10
Atmosphere: 9/10
Price paid per person: £24

What is it about the name Joe? Why is it always used in conjunction with fried chicken, lumberjack shirts and Jack Daniels? Don’t get me wrong, clearly as a Jo I’m not in any way against the name, I’m just terribly curious as to what the connection is. Even Google couldn’t help me. But what’s in a name, right? Continue reading

Petek – Stroud Green, London

Can you book? Yes
Food: 10/10
Atmosphere: 10/10
Price paid per person: £25

Quickly becoming one of my favourite neighbourhoods, Stroud Green has no shortage of good restaurants. According to Google and TripAdvisor, one of the best is Petek on Stroud Green Road. We squeezed past people waiting for a table to claim our reserved one, to be greeted by very friendly and accommodating staff despite our being half an hour late. We were given menus to look at whilst we waited, then seated a few minutes later and instantly presented with olives. Continue reading

Parlour – Kensal Rise, London

Can you book? Yes
Food: 8/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Price paid per person: £17

“Guys, help yourself to toast over on the bread table. Any spread you could imagine. Only £1.” Well if that isn’t a good start to a brunch I don’t know what is.

I just had a hearty breakfast at Parlour in Kensal Rise (next door to well known Paradise). I had smoked salmon with “that soda bread” to quote the menu, and side of mashed avocado. The soda bread did actually warrant its prefix; it was warm, crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside and really tasty. The smoked salmon was good quality and the mashed avocado seasoned well. Continue reading

Rabbit – Chelsea, London

‘A goats cheese shot of loveliness’ is how I would describe the beetroot crisp with goats cheese, quince and chick weed ‘mouthful’ at Rabbit, the seven-week old sister restaurant to The Shed in Notting Hill. The restaurants are run by three brothers who are all about bringing the food from farm to table. In their words, they “farm, forage and produce seasonal British food.” Whilst there were a few crossovers with the menu from The Shed (both do tiny ‘mouthfuls’ to amuse one’s bouche) the focus here is more on wild foods, such as rabbit, or partridge.

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