St Patrick’s Day is on 17th March, but the big parade is taking place in London on Sunday, 15th March this year. Floats and processions will find their way from Hyde Park Corner, down Piccadilly and Haymarket, and finally to Trafalgar Square. There, you’ll be able to enjoy the talents of Irish singers, dancers, and other performers on the stage, including food demonstrations from International Chef of the Year 2019, Anna Haugh. Family-friendly activities include arts and crafts, and of course, there will be a street food market to fill your stomach with boxty and barmbrack.
a less crowded party, head to The Clapham Grand
pub, which will feature Irish cover bands, live DJs, Irish dancing, and food
stalls selling nostalgic fare. Alternatively, Borough Market will host 14 guest
traders from 18th-21st March to showcase
Northern Ireland’s best produce (not Ireland, but close – geographically).
What to try
The potato pancakes of Ireland are a real filler, especially if they are eaten with bacon and eggs, or smoked salmon and crème fraîche. Raw potatoes are grated and mixed with mash potato and then prepared in one of three ways: boxty on the pan (adding to a pancake-like batter before frying), boxty dumplings (mixing with flour and salt and boiling before slicing and frying in butter), or boxty in the oven (adding to a pancake-like batter before baking in a loaf tin and then slicing and frying).
A real comfort food, colcannon really reflects the history of Ireland as a nation that once relied on potatoes for sustenance. Mashed potatoes are mixed with cabbage or kale and butter or cream and then flavoured with spring onion. You’ll find it as a side dish on the menu of an Irish restaurant, but it’s also wonderfully easy to make at home.
Slow-cooked Irish stew is pure nostalgia for most Irish people who grew up with it. Traditionally, it would be made with mutton, onions, and potatoes, but these days the mutton is replaced with lamb, which is easier to come by. Stock and herbs such as thyme, bay leaves, and parsley add depth of flavour, while barley, carrots or a knob of roux are added to make sure the one-pot dish isn’t too watery. In the often still-cold March days, it’s the winter warmer.
Our personal favourite, barmbrack is a fruity tea loaf served smothered in butter with a cup of tea. We love the Halloween tradition that includes a charm in your slice which foretells the future: a ring for getting married within the next year, a pea for the opposite, a rag foreshadowing bad luck, a coin bringing wealth, and a stick predicting quarrels.
Soda bread is a variety of quick bread made using baking soda as a leavening agent instead of yeast. Buttermilk is another key ingredient, while raisins can be added to make it sweeter. The bread is a staple in Irish cuisine, with many families guarding their own recipe. Other additions to the bread might include seeds, oats, and even Guinness.
Ethiopian cuisine has not
been left untouched by certain non-indigenous ingredients over the centuries.
Chilli peppers came from South America via Portugal, ginger from the Orient,
and exotic spices were introduced during the times of trade with India. But
because of the country’s landlocked position, encircled by a rim of high
mountain peaks, Ethiopia has remained relatively uninfluenced by their
neighbours and other countries. In food, this translates to dishes with unique
flavours and combinations. Your palate will definitely expand with a visit to
an Ethiopian restaurant.
Perhaps one of the
most famous of Ethiopian foods, and certainly the most ubiquitous, injera is a
sourdough-risen flatbread made out of teff flour. Teff is an ancient grain
first cultivated in Ethiopia. It’s a very healthy grain that is high in
protein, calcium and iron, and gluten-free. The slightly spongy, sour injera is
used to scoop up the other foods that are served on top of the large, round
flatbread. It’s a blessing for the senses that no cutlery is used. The sense of
touch that lies dormant in Western culture, is activated and appreciated with a
traditional Ethiopian meal.
While Muslim factions predominate in the country’s south, Christians in the north make up almost half of Ethiopia’s population. We know Muslims eat no pork, but Christians in Ethiopia eat no meat or animal products during almost 200 fasting days a year. Every week, Wednesdays and Fridays are meatless, while certain religious occasions throughout the year call for extended periods of fasting. Talk about veganism. By being flexitarian, Ethiopians are vegan not just for one month, but consistently throughout the whole year.
Addis is a
family-owned restaurant in King’s Cross where the all-important injera, sauces,
bread, and pates are produced on the premises. The homemade food is cooked with
natural ingredients, while flavour enhancers and preservatives never find their
way into the food. Every meal comes with vegetables and a basket of freshly
baked bread. Make sure to check out their drinks menu – wine and beer are
sourced from Ethiopia, amongst other countries.
Where? 40-42 Caledonian Rd, Kings Cross, London N1 9DT
Merkato is one of those London restaurants that serve both Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes. Eritrea borders Ethiopia in the North and has direct access to the sea, which has allowed for more seafood and influences from other cultures and cuisines. Ottoman and Italian influences mean Eritrean food includes more pasta specials, curry powders, and cumin. Try Merkato’s Ga’at dish, a typical Eritrean porridge with clarified butter, spice mixture berbere, and yoghurt.
Where? 196 Caledonian Rd, Islington, London N1 0SQ
The first and only
Ethiopian restaurant in the UK to specialise in traditional Ethiopian vegan
food, Andu Café in Dalston is the logical choice for vegans. Choose between
samplers and traditional platters, which includes an option for one. They
consist of potato tikil gomen, spiced cabbage, spinach gomen, and an assortment
of lentils and split peas. This pared down menu means each topping gets the
attention it deserves.
Head to The Queen of
Sheba Restaurant for an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Much like the Japanese tea
ceremony, it is a mindful, special affair. Make sure to bring friends, because the
focus here is on sharing dishes all served on a round injera the same size as
the large tray you eat it from.
Where? 12 Fortess Rd, Kentish Town, London NW5 2EU
Another Dalston spot, Kaffa Coffee serves coffee, snacks, and homemade baked goods only during weekdays, but Thursday to Sunday you can enjoy lunch and dinner as well. The music playing is a selection of Ethiopian jazz and world music, and on Thursdays live music/a DJ set will get the party started. Owner Markos serves his own coffee, flown in directly from his family’s farm in Ethiopia.
is the first and oldest Ethiopian restaurant in London. While some London
restaurants mix in wheat or other flours into their injera, Abyssiana proclaims
to be completely gluten-free. Meat tibs and tilapia fish make nice alternatives.
At the end of the meal, revel in the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, or be a little
more daring with some tej – Abyssinian honey wine.
Where? 9 Cricklewood Broadway, Cricklewood, London NW2 3JX
One of the most
popular dishes at Zeret Kitchen is shiro wat, a chickpea stew. If you’d like to
try a little bit of everything, Zeret Surprise will give you several different
stews and other dishes on one large injera. And for some delicious chopped, raw
beef, try kitfo. For those who love the food so much they’d like to recreate it
at home, the owners Tafeswork Belayneh and Berhanu Tesfaye have published a
cookbook that can be bought at the restaurant.
Where? 216-218 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell, London SE5 0ED
Ethiopian food is a secret gem, but one waiting to be discovered. Lucky for us, London has a multitude of restaurants to allow us to do just that – we’d be mad not to uncover the beauty and palatability of Ethiopian cuisine!
Pizza is the ultimate
comfort food. It’s quick to have, but so filling. It was the perfect meal, at
any time of the day, for Naples’ lazzaroni. They were the city’s inhabitants
who fell into poverty during the 1700s because the urban economy had not been
able to keep pace with the population explosion – it doubled in only half a
Pizzas were sold by
street vendors, often cut into slices to suit the customer’s budget and
appetite. The pizza makers would cover the most simple pizzas with nothing more
than garlic, lard, and salt. Other toppings included a cheese made from horse’s
milk, basil, and tomatoes, that curious ingredient that had recently been
introduced from the Americas.
It’s hard to imagine
that this much-loved Italian dish was ever described as ‘disgusting,’ as it was
by food writers and foreign visitors when pizza was associated with poverty. It
took some royalty and a fresh perspective all the way across the Atlantic to turn
the pizza into the ubiquitous, popular food it is today.
King Umberto I and
Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889. Rumour has it, they grew tired of
complicated French dishes served for every meal. Enter pizzaiolo Raffaele
Esposito who presented them with three types of pizza. The queen was most
infatuated by his tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil concoction, coincidentally
(or not) in the colours of the Italian flag. This is how the pizza Margherita
we know and love today got its name.
Try the Margherita here
Let’s all remember to thank Queen Margherita for initiating this particular pizza tradition whenever we visit Pizza Pilgrims. The restaurant, with several London locations, specialises in the Neapolitan style and serves up a mean Margherita with fior di latte mozzarella, a soft and supple dough, for only £7.50. The duo behind the restaurant spent six weeks on a pizza pilgrimage in the south of Italy, hence the name – and the excellent Margherita!
Where? Victoria, Westfield, City, London Bridge, Soho, Carnaby, Exmouth Market,
Covent Garden, Swingers Crazy Golf, Shoreditch, West India Quay, Oxford
What makes this pizza joint extra special is that it has four different types of dough to choose from: traditional, wholemeal, vegetable charcoal, or gluten-free. All of them are fermented for 48 hours and baked inside hand-crafted wood-fired ovens. Add creamy burrata to this and you’re in for pizza heaven straight from the sweetest of your dreams.
Where? Aldgate East: Unit 1a, 12 Piazza Walk, London E1 8ZH
Olympic Way, Boxpark Wembley, Unit 11, HA9 ONU
The pizza at this legendary Naples pizzeria is stretched just like it would be in Naples: pulled and pinched over a wooden paddle, with a base so thin that you can almost see through it. It’s a misshapen pizza with tomato and mozzarella the same as at its original Naples restaurant. A unique piece each and every time, the result of love, as we like to believe. A pretty good ristorante to have a date on Valentine’s Day.
stone-baked pizzas started off as a supper club in one of the founder’s back
garden and has since turned into five restaurants across London. Choices are
aplenty when it comes to the pizzeria’s thin-crusted flexi beauties. Pick from
a TSB (tender stem broccoli), Holy Pepperoni (with spicy Nduja sausage), or
Evil Maestro, which includes those little sinful spicy anchovies.
Where? Hackney: 184 Hackney Road, London, E2 7QL
Leytonstone: 622 High
Road Leytonstone, London, E11 3DA
Out of all the pizzerias in London, perhaps it is Pizza Union that might have appealed most to the lazzaroni, if they were still around. This casual pizza place is buzzy, fast, and cheap. Pizzas are made in Roman style, with thin and crispy bases. There is also a gluten-free option. The Calabria with mascarpone, nduja sausage and rocket is a great choice for a spicy meal.
Where? Aldgate: 29 Leman St, Whitechapel, London E1 8PT
Dalston: 14 Kingsland
High St, Dalston, London E8 2JP
Hoxton: 145 City Rd,
Hoxton, London EC1V 1AW
King’s Cross: 246-250
Pentonville Rd, London N1 9JY
Sandy’s Row, Spitalfields, London E1 7HW
Ciro Salvo is a pizza master, the third generation of pizzamakers from a renowned family. His extensive research means that we can enjoy pizza with extremely hydrated dough, making it especially light and easy to digest. This practice of adding a large percentage of water to the flour has even resulted in awards and recognition from the most regarded food critics. We don’t need to be asked twice if we want a piece of that!
Where? 7 Northumberland Ave, Westminster, London WC2N 5BY, UK
Run by two Neapolitans, you don’t need to look any further than Santa Maria for that original thin-crusted, stretchy, chewy Neapolitan pizza. The duo uses a wood-fired oven imported directly from Italy, and the most crucial ingredients are from the source itself: San Marzano tomato sauce DOP and artisanal fior di latte from Campania. All pizzas are served with extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil leaves – get ready to reawaken your senses.
Where? Ealing: 15 St. Mary’s Road, London
Chelsea: 94 Waterford Road, London SW6 2HA
Fitzrovia: 160 New Cavendish Strreet, Fitzrovia, London W1W 6YR
These days, we often take more time to really indulge in a freshly baked pizza than the lazzaroni probably ever did. Whether you like it a bit different, with a vegetable charcoal dough at Zia Lucia, or a bit fast and cheap, like at Pizza Union, there are plenty of options in London for you.
Wandering the streets of London can be the most romantic thing you’ll ever do, but sometimes taking it all in from a bird’s eye view really gives you perspective. Of the city. And of your never-ending love for each other of course.
London SkyBar, Westminster
London SkyBar is opening its doors to the public in a venue that reserves a peek of its London views to only a chosen few. Choose one each from a selection of two starters and main courses, and finish off with a Dessert D’amour: red velvet cake pops dipped in a duo of chocolates served with raspberries. There will be live music too.
Where? London SkyBar, Millbank Tower 21-24, London SW1P 4QP
When?14th & 15th Feb
How much? £80pp Romantic Dinner in the Sky, £30pp Champagne in the Sky
Be enchanted by Boundary London’s winter terrace, complete with a heated glass orangery and fire to snuggle up next to. The rooftop candlelit dinner includes a Valentine’s cocktail and canapés, followed by a four-course menu and a warm cider. Important fact: they offer blankets too. The perfect setup for intimacy.
Duck & Waffle, with its spectacular views over the city, is a romantic meal spot all year round, 24 hours a day. The uniquely designed main dining room and bar area with glasses hanging from the ceiling, and an original duck and waffle menu complete the experience. But expect even more from the venue on the big day with a specially curated menu by Executive Chef Elliott Grover, including champagne on arrival. The excitement is real.
Sometimes a special atmosphere can make all the difference. It can turn a good meal into one that you’ll still talk about in ten years. You become immersed in the environment, all distractions become obsolete. You look into your significant other’s eyes, you really see them, and suddenly it’s just the two of you.
Petersham Nurseries, Richmond
Petersham Nurseries is one of those extra-special places. It has that shabby chic playfulness where you could imagine a scene of Pride & Prejudice taking place. A lover’s quarrel that ends with Keira Knightley throwing her head back while laughing and teasingly hiding behind pillars and glass doors until throwing herself into Matthew Macfadyen’s arms. Well, that’s the kind of place where you can enjoy a candle-lit Love & Heart 10-course tasting menu this Valentine’s Day.
Where? Church Ln, Off Petersham Rd, Richmond TW10 7AB
A neighbourhood restaurant full of heart-warming ambiance, you can’t go wrong with a date here on any given day. You’ll find classy period paneling on the walls, a tiny courtyard, a buzzy counter downstairs. And jazz music playing. On Valentine’s Day, Minnow is offering a special menu that includes desserts like rhubarb clafoutis and treacle tart with whipped cream.
If you like things to get more personal (and public), book a table on Valentine’s Day at 100 Wardour Street in Soho. You can pick a song to dedicate to your loved one and be serenaded at your table by their live roaming band. Enjoy this with a Cupid’s arrow cocktail and a three-course menu, and you have your memorable night sorted.
We can’t help but start by saying this has been voted the most romantic restaurant in London. Make sure to get a seat in the glass-roofed courtyard, hung with flowering branches. The roof opens during summer, on a colder February night expect an open fire. It is an oasis of calm with an extensive wine list referred to as the wine bible.
This Valentine’s Day only, indulge in a range of pink dumplings at one of two BaoziInn branches that offer the special romantic meal. It includes chicken, prawn, and soup dumplings, and a Ferrero Rocher chocolate with a shot of Red Velvet Baileys to finish. For the more intimate and cosy interior, visit the Soho branch. You might find us there as we’re not sure we can resist.
Where? 24 Romilly Street, London W1D 5AH and 34-36 Southwark St, London SE1 1TU
Sometimes it can be hard finding that place that feels just right for you and your date. But pick one of these that feels most fitting to you and you’ll have the necessary ingredients to make it a night all your own.
There will be food stalls, performances, and a colourful parade across the West End. The organisers of the festivities are poised to paint the town red – yes, THE luckiest colour for New Year’s Day!
Lunar New Year celebrations in London
The dragon-led parade kicks off at 10am on 26 January, followed by entertainment in Trafalgar Square from 11am and activities in the Leicester Square and Chinatown areas from noon. Look out for the food zone on Chinatown’s Gerrard Street where you’ll find plenty of food stalls to try out some CNY-popular foods.
5 Chinese New Year foods for a prosperous year – and where to find them
Traditions abound far and wide across China, with many regional differences and customs unique to each household. In China and elsewhere, people will enjoy a multitude of foods considered lucky for the new year. Today, we’ll focus on five of our favourites.
For us, the beauty of preparing and eating dumplings around CNY is not only the variety of fillings that you can choose from but the commensality it encourages. A common tradition sees families making the dumplings before midnight, and then eating them to send away the old and welcome the new. It’s that togetherness and family reunion that makes the dumpling tradition a truly special one.
Where? At Dumpling Shack, Spitalfields Market ; Ugly Dumpling, Soho Nothing less than you’d expect: handmade dumplings, juicy to the core.
Fish in Chinese (yú) is a homonym for surplus – a good thing to have at the end of a year because you’re off to a good start for the next one. Some people will even eat one fish on New Year’s Eve and another one on New Year’s Day which, when written out, sounds like a wish for a surplus year after year.
Where? At Imperial China, Chinatown Get ready for a whole steamed turbot in black bean sauce.
Also called longevity noodles, this slurping-friendly dish is made from wheat which is less prone to breakage. The long, uncut noodles symbolise long and healthy life and are served in a soup or stir-fried with meat or vegetables, which also come loaded with symbolic meanings.
Another homonym, chicken sounds like prosperity in Chinese. The important bit is that it’s served whole – feet, wings, and bones included. Because what else would you use to grab onto wealth and help you fly higher than feet and wings? The chicken also represents rebirth (think of a phoenix), so that’s why its head and tail are kept in place when served on a plate.
Where? Kam Tong, Queensway For a punch of umami with a group of friends, this is the right place
Pomelos and Tangerines
The Chinese language is a fascinating one. Pomelo in Chinese (yòu) can also be linked to good fortune and abundance because it sounds like the verb ‘to have’ (yǒu). Oranges and tangerines, meanwhile, sound like ‘gold’ and ‘luck.’ What a feast of prosperity-bringing vitamin C!
Where? Phoenix Palace, Marylebone A fresh tropical fruit platter will give you all the abundance and fortune you need.
This is only a small selection of the many delicious foods to enjoy on Chinese New Year’s Day and beyond, but it should get you off to a good start. Just writing about these foods has got us drooling and we’re already preparing our next outing to London’s Chinatown.
Where? Trafalgar Square, Chinatown, West End
When? 25th January, with many CNY specials lasting until 8th February
How much? Free entry to street festivities on 25th Jan
London’s appetite for street food seems unstoppable. The city is currently witnessing a surge of food hall openings, allowing you to enjoy some of the best street food in town without actually having to go outside. Ideal during these cold and wet winter days. Whether you’re looking for a low-key indoor food market or a high-end food theatre experience, London has it all. Here are 10 indoor food court concepts – new and old – that we think you should go and check out.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are just around the corner and Japanese food is more popular than ever. That doesn’t mean we know all the good places to enjoy the best soft and juicy gyozas or wiggly fluffy pancakes – but don’t worry, your new food guide Napita is here to help with that! Check out our Japanese food in London guide where we zoom in on specific dishes and where to find the best version of them.
All restaurants have been carefully selected and visited by our ambassadors. What you see is what they had.