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Where else I’ve been eating this Summer & Autumn

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Anzu, St. James

Tonkotsu is a pretty good ramen restaurant named after the Japanese word for the pork broth you often have with your noodles (as opposed to tonkatsu, which is deep-fried pork, such as that you might have in a “pork katsu curry”). It’s not my favourite (KOI Ramen, Ramen Sasuke, and best of all Kanada-Ya) but it’s up solidly decent. Anzu is a sister restaurant with an upmarket, smart, look, a more expensive menu, aimed squarely at business lunches, and next door to another new opening, Veneta. They do pretty good tempura-ed vegetables, fish, seafood, pork, although nothing special. Their eponymous rice is a bit of a mess but tastes satisfyingly malty. Their yuzu mayonnaise is just the right balance of creamy and zingy-fresh. (No medals.)

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Manitoba Tigella, Fitzrovia

I’d not heard of tigella before, which apparently is a somewhat-pancake-like, round, patterned, bread from Northern Italy, around four inches in diametre. You fill it with ham, cheese, and so on. Those opening this place, on New Oxford Street a stone’s throw from Tottenham Court Road tube, clearly didn’t think they could centre a whole restaurant on tigella, so they offer a bunch of other stuff too, generic Italian stuff you’ve eaten before. I was there for a launch and while the canapes were mediocre at best, the tigella were pretty interesting: a satisfying chewy give with nice Italian cured meats. I’m not sure I’d go back. (No medals.)

Tang, Fitzrovia

I went to Tang to try some VR goggles (actually one of those things where you slot your phone in) for St Giles hotel chain’s 360 degrees project. That was quite cool. The food they served was from a small restaurant in their London branch, next door to the YMCA seconds away from Tottenham Court Road tube. It’s all solidly decent sort-of-Chinese-sort-of-Asian food: dense deep-fried tofu cubes with a salty limey sauce, rice and slow-cooked beef, noodle soup with chicken. Prices aren’t high, and you could do a lot worse, but also a lot better. (No medals.)

Fuller’s Kitchen, Greenwich

So Fuller’s Kitchen is basically when Fuller’s pubs are a bit more ambitious and have a more kitted out kitchen and sophisticated menu. I tried lots of the dishes and they were mostly a cut above what you’d expect from a pub in both quality and price. Nothing savoury blew me away, but it’s always nice when the steak or duck breast you get is clearly from a decent animal and cooked to the degree you ask for. However, their lemon tart was surprisingly excellent: wobbly, but coherent and resistant to light tugs; sweet and cloying but in a good way. I think I ate a whole (massive) portion. It’s basically decent modern European food but it’s the same price as some excellent examples of the same thing. (No medals.)

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Shake Shack, Fitzrovia

Who knew there’s a Shake Shack right by Tottenham Court Road, where I apparently have been hanging out a lot recently. Shake Shack is one of my top three London burger joints, along with Bleecker St. Burger (the best), and Dip & Flip (the most interesting). Honest Burger, Patty & Bun, Burger Shack, and all the others (please recommend places you think I mightn’t have been to, I’m always curious) are just not quite on the same level. They cannot match the loose, smashed, fatty, juicy patty; they cannot match the American cheese in its gloopy glory; they cannot match the soft, chewy bun that take any level of grease you can throw at it. Yes, their burgers cost £10, yes they are glorified McDonald’s burgers. But McDos is already good. It was the first meat I ate after two years vegetarian, and I’ll be back dozens more times. (Two medals.)

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Newman Arms, Fitzrovia

The Newman Arms has 50% new ownership, but the cook and supplier are still the same, so don’t fret. I went back because the room is beautiful, they offered 300g of Cornish sirloin (Dexter advertised, ended up being Ruby Red which is just fine wiht me), and it happened to be half off wine the day I went. With that discount included, a bottle between two, mains, small starters, a dessert to share, and service, we spent £38 each, make of that what you will. The service, atmosphere, and food is all still excellent: a deeply beefy, tender slab of meat cooked to perfection. Interesting pickles, excellent caramelised treacly roasted veg of all sorts. Only problem is the “chips” which were wedges and soft and floury rather than crispy on the outside. I lodged my concerns and I am told this is to be fixed: after all it was their first night with the new team. (One medal.)

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The 10 Cases, Covent Garden

You can’t book Barrafina for two, and the queue was unpleasantly long, so I trundled along the road to The 10 Cases, where I had a lovely dinner. Its name comes from the fact they only ever but ten cases of any of the wine they serve, so the menu is constantly chopping and changing. We ate simple but well executed food: tempura broccoli with a hoi sin-esque sauce; deep fried bits of squid far fresher, bouncier, and more lightly but crispily battered than usual; medium-cooked rack of lamb for two (£46, four bones worth). We had an especially amazing Chenin blanc dessert wine which was much butterier than most and less sweet—didn’t even know it was a thing that existed. Also amazing service and dark, candlelit, buzzy atmosphere. Recommend. (One medal.)

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