Articles - 9th May 2019

The Final London Food Roundup

Words by Neil Davey

As mentioned last week, this is the final column and we really hope they’ve been useful. It’s been a lot of fun putting it together, finding some of the best value things in London, as well as some fine recipes from, appropriately enough, other freelance writers.

It’s been hard to pick a single subject for this finale and so I haven’t. Hey, my column, my rules, right? Instead, I figured I’d cast an eye over a few favourite things the capital has to offer.

First up is The Pie Room, Calum Franklin’s sort of hole-in-the-wall, budget takeaway offshoot of Holborn Dining Rooms. I adore HDR but, inevitably, once you start ordering or exploring their incredible gin collection, the idea of budget goes out of the window. I’d still argue it’s good value – the quality of the ingredients is obvious – and I’d walk a very long way for that scotch egg, but me and will power are rarely on even nodding terms at the best of times, let alone when confronted by one of Calum’s pastry-encased creations. The Pie Room, while not cheap, is a far safer bet: handheld baked snackage, with change from a tenner. Standing on the street inhaling a still warm pork pie or an exceptional sausage roll though does make me wonder if I’ve just taken something beautiful and turned it into a Greggs.

Also worth a look is The Guinea Grill. Landlord Oisin Rogers is a legendary host and, while the dining room is best explored on someone else’s credit card, a shared pie and a couple of side dishes will more than fuel you through the afternoon. Stick to the bar menu, however, and there are smaller “personal” pies, a fine scotch egg and a very good sausage roll. The Guinness is superbly kept too.

On the subject of sausage rolls, The Ginger Pig’s interpretation at Borough Market is also worth a look, as is the nearby Mrs King’s offering. They’re very different beasts – you’re going to need to sit down to attempt the former while the latter is more portable – but both are very tasty.

Noodles are another go-to in this choice of working life, and Tonkotsu has long been my default option. They do a great lunch deal – a smaller portion of gyōza, a small bowl of ramen for £10 – although it’s always tempting to upgrade or, at least, order the superb Karaage as well.

For a fuller Japanese experience, I rediscovered Koya recently, thanks to Zeren Wilson and the Bloomberg Arcade. The latter is a fine place to graze (at all levels of dining), the former is the man I mentioned before, on Instagram and Twitter as @bittenwrittenwho, you should follow – as in, do it now, I’ll wait – for seriously up-to-the-minute restaurant discoveries as well as the discovery of genuinely hidden gems.

As well as writing eloquently about such things, Zeren also compiles wine lists for many places including Koya. While drinking and freelancing may not necessarily go together – well, they do, but the first certainly affects your ability to do the other – if you do do both, Zeren’s lists can be found in Lucknow, Sambal Shiok (which is fantastic but not open for lunch) and Koya among many others and can usually be spotted by their value and the presence of excellent Rieslings… Anyway, Koya is as good as it ever was.

So, that’s kind of it from me, I guess. If you want to keep tabs on my eating habits, both here and around the globe, do track me down on Twitter and Instagram where I’m @dinehard, which was an attempt to combine my three loves of film, food and terrible puns. Happy eating all. And see you on social media.

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