By Louis Walters
As the office’s student placement/designated debt amasser, London can be a tricky one. Work chatter frequently turns to outstanding openings and desirable dining, whilst I’m sure Simon Rogan’s new tasting menu is to die for, I simply do not have the pennies.
However, there are still plenty of places where you can have a brilliant nibble, keep your Instagram followers engaged and all without having to plead with your parents for some funding to subsidise your newfound, uber-trendy lifestyle..
1. Baba G’s – Brixton, London
Some love it, some hate it, but one thing you can’t dispute about the shipping container mecca that is Pop Brixton is the great food offerings. The stand out for me is Baba G’s and their Indian style burger food. Jalfrezi flavoured lamb and onion bhaji in a seeded bun? Yes, please. Spice-coated chips with a mango drizzle? Go on then. Whether it be a weekend hangover cure or a quick bite before you see that up-and-coming Indie band at Brixton Academy, G’s has you covered.
2. Beigel Shop – Brick Lane, London
Brick Lane is exhausting, and after a day of posing in front of graffiti and trying on vintage jeans, you are bound to be crying out for something to restore your energy levels. Biegel Shop is the place to go, having served mouth-watering, salt beef filled bundles of goodness for over a century. I would be lying if I said I haven’t purposely cut a night out short and made the excursion, and for less than a fiver, my friends should be completely understanding. The best thing about it is it’s open 24/7, so lace up your Reebok Classics and get yourself down there.
3. Bao – Soho, London
Nestled down one of Soho’s many narrow streets is this thirty-capacity haven. Bao buns are the specialty (clue’s in the name), ranging from duck confit to pork belly with some fab vegan options thrown in for good measure. Individual Bao’s are around the £5 mark, whilst their three-course lunch deal comes in at £15 and more than fills you up. Drinks-wise the Peanut Milk is a real treat and makes you feel young again. Most importantly, the food looks great (perfect for your social media stories), which is all that truly matters at the end of the day – just be prepared to queue.
4. Joe Public – Clapham Common, London
Situated behind Clapham Common station, Joe Public is that slice of New York delicacy you have been crying out for, pun intended. This spot does it the old-fashioned way, by the slice, eat in or take away. The free wifi makes it great for a casual drop in on an indulgent Saturday afternoon, whilst its midnight closing time provides a warm hug for that sobering train journey home. My advice? Keep it simple with a chorizo and halloumi slice or two.
5. Hotbox – Spitalfields
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, even more important when it involves succulent meat and punchy drinks. That’s what you get at Hotbox, a BBQ lovers paradise providing either the ultimate hangover cure or the perfect start to a long day ahead (depends on how heavy Friday night work drinks were). In the name of reviewing, I turned up in need of the former, delving into a plate of pork belly eggs benedict, paired with a Bloody Mary. The restaurant is open all day, but brunch is where you’ll get best bang for your buck, and whilst the drinks are more on the expensive side, if you resist the temptation of a pre-midday steak, you can be happily fed for under £10.
6. Four Seasons – Chinatown
Chinatown is one of the hardest places in London to navigate in terms of standout food. The rows of restaurants seemingly offering identical menus, all crammed with tourists is enough to put off any foodie after a chow down. But have no fear, I think I might have cracked it as the Four Seasons (not the ‘little’ one) on Gerard Street is perfect for groups to swing by after a show or before venturing into the depths of Soho. As you enter, make sure you do so via the left-hand side, as what awaits you is glistening crispy duck, which, trust me, is what you are there for. Split half a bird between two of you for less than a tenner each (you really can’t go wrong), and whilst I’d also recommend the 128 and the 161, you’ll need to get down there to see what that is for yourselves.
7.Homeslice – Covent Garden
Can you have pizza twice on the same list? Of course you can, don’t be so ridiculous. Whilst Joe Public is for your own selfish wellbeing, Homeslice gets the whole squad involved, rolling out giant twenty-inch table fillers for you all to salivate over. Starting out in Neals Yard, the restaurant is now growing faster than the dough in their pizza ovens, popping up in Old Street, Fitzrovia, White City and Bank. That means there is more than enough space for you and the ones you deem close enough to see you devour a few slices with your bare hands to head on down. Personally, my fave topping is the mushroom, ricotta and pumpkin seed, and at only £20 per pizza (which easily feeds up to four), splitting the bill never felt so good.