London food scene keeps maturing
Sausage rolls, copious amounts of mash and peas and fish and chips have clouded most American perceptions of British cuisine for years.Still culinary staples for Brits, London has moved beyond its “unfussy” eats (of course, if you want mash, there’s plenty to go around) and become one of the premier dining destinations in the world with 49 Michelin-star restaurants and food representing almost every culture (the Indian food is particularly outstanding). “Ten years ago, we didn’t have the best reputation for food,” said Jacqueline French, senior spokesperson for VisitLondon tourism, “but the food culture has become more popular in London with more restaurants pushing themselves with more locally-grown and organic food.” In anticipation of London’s first-ever Restaurant Week this October, here are three spots to visit for affordable dishes anytime of year.
Daddy Donkey Kick-Ass Mexican Grill
100-101 Leather Lane Market
Cheap leather handbags and belts, clothes, produce and more fill the market-soaked street of Leather Lane. In the midst of it all sits the Daddy Donkey Mexican Grill. First opened in 2005, the hut, which often has one of the longest lunchtime queues in existence, offers up traditional-style Mexican eats and outdoor seating. Owner Joel Henderson, who studied in Mexico, offers up a simple menu of tacos, burritos or bowls full of chicken, tomatillo beef, carnitas (slow-cooked pork), steak, vegetarian or picadillo, a ground scotch beef with herbs and spices. First-time visitor? Bite into the Daddy D burrito stuffed with six fillings of your choice. Hours of operation: Mon -Wed, 11am-2.30pm; Thur-Fri., 11am-3pm. Moro
34 - 36 Exmouth Market
Just a10-minute walk from Leather Lane, Moro’s cuisine is one part Spanish, the other part North African. All ingredients on the menu, which changes each week, are imported or locally grown at London’s Manor Garden. There, patrons can find unique herbs, spices and vegetables like purslane, Sherry by the glass and Moro’s charcoal-grilled chicken, lamb or varied fish most days. Moro is open Mon. through Fri. 12:30-2:30 for lunch and 7:00-10:30 for dinner; tapas are also served daily. Beatroot
92 Berwick St.
Vegetarians won’t feel left out in London. Take the train to Piccadilly Circus and pick up a salad or hot meal like mushroom and lentil dhepherd’s pie with the mash of the day at Beatroot in SoHo. Organic and eco-friendly, all food is prepared fresh daily and is served by the carton—small, medium or large—starting at a modest 3,90 Euro. Open Mon. – Sat. 9am-9pm.
Restaurant Week: October 8-13
Fixed-priced dishes for as little as 10 Euro, grand openings and a mini film fest are all part of the first, official London Restaurant Week this October. More than 400 participating restaurants throughout the city will offer up meals at a discount during the weeklong event. As part of the week’s festivities, a traditional Sunday Big Roast on Oct. 11 in Leadenhall Market (Whittington Ave.) will showcase various restaurant dishes. The one-day event, Eat Film, produced in conjunction with British Film Institute, will allow guests to enjoy six films at select theaters, followed by a meal based on the movie. An Italian feast following Goodfellas or a meaty, Spanish dish after the Javier Bardem-Penelope Cruz flick Jamon, Jamon. The week will be sprinkled by restaurant awards for chefs, food and restaurants that have made a contribution to the city’s culinary culture. “We hope this will encourage people try out restaurants they haven’t been to before or were out of their price range,” said Jacqueline French. For more information, visit, http://www.visitlondon.com/londonrestaurantfestival.