London’s Secret Off-Menu Restaurant Dishes

Us Londoners love something a bit exclusive. Let’s face it, we revel in the smugness of being in on something not everyone else is. Some of the city’s restaurants and bars have tapped into this, with some off-piste dishes and cocktails that aren’t written down anywhere, only available to those who know to ask. Here we reveal seven of those secret off-menu items — order one of these babies, and you will totally impress your date…

Joe Allen — Prime Chuck Mince Burger

Old school theatreland restaurant Joe Allen has recently reopened, after moving from its 40-year-old home in Covent Garden down the road to 2 Burleigh Street. While you’re checking out the new digs, get involved with their off-menu Prime Chuck Mince Burger, with batavia lettuce, sliced plum tomato, sweet and sour pickle, ketchup, mayo, Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper — all piled into a brioche bun.

We would also recommend adding a cheeky extra package of mature cheddar, melted swiss cheese, and bacon.

Joe Allen, 2 Burleigh Street, WC2E 7PX

Magpie — Mezcal Ice Cream Cone

Those in the know can get their hands on a secret mezcal ice cream cone at new trolley-service restaurant Magpie. It’s from the guys behind Michelin-starred Pidgin, so hopes for delicious stuff are pretty high.

The rim of the cone is dipped in a lime gel and then dusted with gochugaru Korean chilli flakes and salt. The ice cream is topped with puffed wild rice — a little nod to the gusano (worm) sometimes found lurking in tequila bottles. The dessert has a spicy margarita flavour, with the strong smoky mezcal nicely balanced by the freshness of the ice cream, lime and hot chilli.

Magpie, 10 Heddon Street, W1B 4BX

Merchants Tavern — Gentleman’s Reserve

Those in the know at Merchants Tavern in Shoreditch will ask for a Gentleman’s Reserve  — a rum-heavy cocktail with seven-year-old Ron Abuelo Dark Rum, Ableforth’s Rumbullion Reserve XO (another rum), and Drambuie liqueur. The drink remained a solid favourite with regulars, way after it was taken off the cocktail menu, so the bar guys continue to serve it up for those who request it.

Merchants Tavern,  36 Charlotte Road, EC2A 3PG

MASH — Dry-Aged Ribeye

For those hankering after a dry-aged ribeye, then, nine times out of ten, the MASH kitchen can cut you one up, if you ask nicely. The off-menu dish is dry-aged in-house for approximately 90 days before being cut, giving the dish its signature gamey flavour. Leaving the bone in also locks in all that extra juicy flavour. Team it up with some MASH potato, which, very surprisingly, doesn’t currently appear on the restaurant’s main à la carte menu — although we hear a little rumour it may be making a comeback in print soon. Ask your waiter for it, because it’s always available.

MASH, 77 Brewer Street, W1F 9ZN

MEATmarket — Black Palace Burger

Burger-heads need to get to MEATmarket in Covent Garden where you can ask for an under-the-counter Black Palace Burger — it’s a relatively simple but delicious beast, with two beef patties, cheese, grilled onions, pickles, mustard and ketchup. And of course, in characteristic MEAT style, it’s insanely messy.

Thank goodness they have reams of kitchen roll on hand. Note: you can only get hold of this special burger at MEATmarket only and not any other of the MEAT outposts; MEATLiquor, MEATMission etc.

MEATmarket, Jubilee Market Hall, The Deck, Tavistock Street, WC2E 8BE 

Kitty Fisher’s — Galician Beef Special

Where’s the beef? At Kitty Fisher’s in Mayfair their fancy signature dish is actually off menu — a Galician beef special for two. It’s a real treat, with beef from retired Rubia Gallega dairy cows in Galicia, Spain.

The steaks are grilled on the bone over a wood fire, and then served up with rainbow chard, Roscoff onions, crispy confit pressed potatoes and a smoked béarnaise sauce. We did say it was a treat though, ringing in at £80, and that’s before you’ve even touched the wine list.

Kitty Fisher’s, 10 Shepherd Market, W1J 7QF

Texture — Hákarl

Michelin-starred restaurant Texture is hiding a secret Icelandic national dish called Hákarl — otherwise known as fermented, rotten Greenland shark from the North Atlantic Ocean (?!). Texture’s Chef Patron Aggi Sverrisson whips out this special occasionally as a surprise to guests, or to those who know to ask. Its overpoweringly strong fishy smell and pungent aftertaste certainly is not to everyone’s nose or taste buds, (some have described it as ‘the worst tasting food on earth”).

But we’re still game, plus it’s classed as a delicacy up in the Nordics — so those guys must rate it pretty highly. To help you wash it down, the dish is traditionally served with a heady shot of Akvavit (a Scandinavian spirit). Let us know what your date thinks of this one!

Texture, 34 Portman Street, W1H 7BY