Restaurant Reviews Blog

Where I’ve Eaten

Bibi takes Indian chat and grills on sharing plates to a new level. It may be fine dining but the atmosphere is relaxed and eating with your fingers feels as natural as if you were at a street stall. Chef Chet Sharma uses meticulously sourced ingredients, many from the UK, to conjure up extraordinary flavours: Orkney scallop nimbu pani is enlivened with citrus; Texel lamb belly galouti is luxurious and meltingly tender and Sharmaji’s Lahori chicken made me want to drink the remainder of the sauce. It’s expensive, but the enjoyment of every mouthful justifies the cost.

Ottolenghi’s expansion continues across the capital with two new ‘eat in’ shops. The large Pavillion Road site offers a huge display of signature bakery goods: cakes, pastries and towering meringues. There are tables for breakfast and lunch and plenty of salads and pantry items to pick up and take away. The smaller but equally abundant site on Marylebone Lane has a long sharing table, if you get there in time to bag a seat, otherwise choose from the splendid array of salads and cooked dishes to have at home. I cannot leave either place without the tahini cookies in a box–dangerously addictive.

Laylow, W10’’s hottest club, bar and live music venue has turned the tables and introduced a new Mexican menu into their restaurant. The ground floor space, designed by Bella Freud, is now drawing the crowds with Mexican snacks, margaritas and generous sharing plates. Queen scallops come in the shell, bathed in a sauce of pecan oil and sesame seeds. A cleansing tomato aquachile is dressed with burnt chilli and lime, and tacos come topped with fried cauliflower and white mole or crispy duck with rhubarb salsa. A taste of Mexico city on Golborne road.

It’s taken me too long to get to Bala Baya, the fabulous Middle Eastern restaurant, tucked away in the beating heart of Bermondsey. Service is slick and fast and the menu offers a range of dishes to mix and match as you choose. Chickpea hummus comes spiked with pickled chilli and homemade hot pitta breads. Roasted cabbage is wine glazed, with a shawarma rub and the aubergine ‘mess’ is delicately layered smoky aubergine with tahini, pomegranate dressing and pops of fresh lychee. These are fully flavoursome dishes, expertly prepared, I only wish I’d tried them sooner.
This article originally appeared in the June edition of House & Garden magazine.  


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