London’s Warming Comfort Food: Eleven Ways To Get Toasty From the Inside Out
Just Opened London’s ‘Best of’ series covers a combination of recently opened venues and established London favourites, to make sure you get the full lowdown on where to spend your time and cash.
What you should order: Beef brisket drunken noodles and duck larb
Why? The chilli levels in the larb will set you up as a snotty, drooling blancmange of a human, which is when you can start shovelling in the noodles. It’s a two-part warming strategy.
The noodles are wide and floppy, mixed with pieces of beautiful fatty, soft brisket, and herbs that really sing.
You’d also do well to check out our round-up of London’s best noodle dishes, which is itself a source of warming riches.
Smoking Goat, 64 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ; 7 Denmark Street, WC2H 8LZ
What you should order: Butter chicken and black dal
Why? Rohit Ghai is the man behind this restaurant so you’re in very good hands indeed (he’s the executive chef here and at the box fresh Bombay Bustle). The food boasts some seriously on-point spicing and an intensity that only works when the kitchen really knows what it’s doing.
The butter chicken is the comfort food dish you dream of when you’re stood at the bus stop in the rain, toes icy, wind whipping your umbrella inside out. It is a panacea for life’s everyday grumbles; silk-smooth, rich with butter and delicately spiced, it works its way slowly through your system like top-notch underfloor heating.
Ditto the dal, which is a pot of lentils so thick you can almost stand your spoon up in them. The key with a black dal is to cook the lentils long and slow, so they break down and become creamy. All together now… mmmmm.
Jamavar, 8 Mount Street, W1K 3NF
What you should order: er, dumplings
Why? Look, there are many superior dumplings in London, including the likes of Dumpling Shack, A Wong and now Duddell’s, but we return time and time again to Dumplings Legend thanks to their no-frills, no-nonsense approach to getting the job done. That job is filling us up with comforting puffs of steamed dumpling, Xiao long bao and fried dough stick Cheung fun, soaked in sweetened soy.
Dumplings Legend, 15–16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE
What you should order: Fondue
Why? Nothing warms the cockles like a gigantic pot of molten cheese and everyone knows it. The only way a giant pot of dairy goo is getting better is when it comes with bread and… oh! It comes with bread AND potatoes (there are some vegetables, if you’re interested).
The tartiflette is also worth considering. This magnificent Alpine dish is made with layered potatoes, pungent Reblochon cheese, lardons of bacon and onions which makes it officially one of the world’s most comforting dishes, and they know what they’re talking about in the Alps — cold, innit.
Androuet, Spitalfields Arts Market, 10 Lamb Street, E1 6EA
What you should order: hot chocolate with meringue
Why? This is some next level hot chocolate. Chloe Timms is famous for her caramel, which is why she puts her salted version into this hot chocolate Yep. Looking at this hot chocolate is like staring into the deep brown eyes of a lover, except much better because who cares about other people when you’ve got hot chocolate this good? Oh and there’s a toasted marshmallow rim, like a cloud perched atop the cup, gooey and warm on the lips.
Fatties, 21 Club Row, E2 7EY
Holborn Dining Room
What you should order: Any pie
Why? Guys, where have you been? Chef Calum Franklin is London’s official pastry-master and if you don’t follow him on Instagram then you’re missing out on a daily dose of pastry joy — this is some seriously impressive stuff.
Come December he’ll be selling those pies in a special shop at the front of the store but for now it’s best to go into the (snuggly, warm and oh-so-festive) main restaurant for a curried mutton pie with mango chutney (seriously, that’s pretty hard to resist) or perhaps a creamy chicken number? It all depends what’s being encased in pastry on the day. #pastry4ever.
Holborn Dining Room, Rosewood London, High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
The Camberwell Arms
What you should order: anything from the Sunday lunch menu
Why? The team here also make some spectacular pies, although more homely in style, with beautiful burnished brown suet crusts cuddling fillings like rabbit, lamb or steak and kidney.
Their roast chicken to share is also a thing of beauty — a really great quality chicken comes with a pile of crispy roasties, a sharp green salad and a pot of wobbling yellow aioli. There are similar sharing dishes which are slow-cooked and piping hot, like shoulders of lamb, or steamed puddings. Oh and there’s a plentiful supply of chips. ‘Nuff said.
The Camberwell Arms, 65 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR
Trullo or Forza Win
What you should order: pasta
Why? Trullo is run by the guys behind the super hip Padella, except here you can book a table rather than queueing outside in the cold. They really know what they’re doing in the carbs department, so make sure you order one, if not two pasta dishes.
Pappardelle with ragu is always a strong choice in the cold weather and their pici with black pepper and Parmesan is as lip-smacking as the London Bridge version.
Forza Win was once a ticketed arrangement in a warehouse in Peckham. It’s still in the same location but now they’ve upgraded to a fully-fledged restaurant with bookings and everything. Dining is still canteen style, at long tables but it suits the warehouse, and this is incredibly good value for such well-made pasta — the portions are huge and the hospitality genuine. On Wednesdays, they do walk-ins only and it’s a tenner for a plate of pasta and a glass of wine or beer.
Trullo, 300-302 St. Paul’s Road, N1 2LH
Forza Win, Unit 4.1, Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Road, SE15 3SN
What you should order: roti canai
Why? Because it’s some of the best roti in London. This poky little room in Euston is home to seriously skilled cooks who layer, knead and fling great swirly sheets of dough around their heads until it becomes flaky Malaysian roti, perfect for dunking into the richly spiced sauce that comes with. It’s cheap as anything, too.
The only problem here is timing your visit right so you don’t have to wait on the steps in the cold for your table. The consolation is that the waiting area is very small, so you can huddle together with others for warmth, like pigeons.
Roti King, 40 Doric Way, NW1 1LH
What you should order: sticky toffee pudding
Why? You need us to tell you why you should order sticky toffee pudding? We love this one because it’s a very old school — a big gooey slice of caramel soaked cake, squidgy and fudgy and, at the moment, served with brown bread ice cream. Yep, that covers it.
Quo Vadis, 28–29 Dean Street, W1D 3LL
What you should order: chicken soup
Why? The traditional soup at Monty’s is something you should definitely explore if you’re in need of something to soothe the soul as well as warm the body. Yeah, they do amazing sandwiches, but this is special so do both, if you can handle that amount of warming… The soup has got fantastic depth of flavour but real clarity, and the matzo balls are basically dumplings made with chicken fat, called schmaltz — we hope you can understand why that’s a very good thing.
Featured image: Smoking Goat