1. Mangal 1.1, Bedroom Bar, 68 Rivington St, EC2
The original Mangal has opened a Shoreditch outpost. Sophie and I attended the opening and were treated to a simple but super tasty Turkish meal - starting with a selection of dips and Turkish bread and ending with sweet baklava. The menu is quite meat focused but after doing my "oh sorry I'm veggie" thing I ended up with a plate of falafel while Sophie tackled the mixed grill. Despite being a new opening, the restaurant had a great atmosphere and I can definitely see myself returning.
|A selection of yummy dips (always hard not to go wild with the bread and to be too full for anything else!)|
|They look small but even for me, these are potently sweet!|
When my Insta-friend, Eliza, was in town she suggested brunch at Friends of Ours - we're always liking (and heart-eye emoji-ing) each other's food pictures on Instagram so we obviously had to go somewhere appropriately Instagram worthy for our first IRL meet-up. Friends of Ours is a super cute cafe with an "I want it all" brunch menu and great coffee - I had to have an almond milk iced latte despite the weather. Obviously, we both had the avocado on toast for the 'gram and our waiter brought us fresh juices due to the kitchen losing our orders which was a nice gesture. The cafe is on the small side and gets busy so arrive early for brunch!
|Allpress coffee and an almond milk iced lattes. Since stopping coffee earlier this year I can now only drink it iced - even when its minus degrees outside...|
|Fully loaded brunch table.|
B&H seems to be an Instagrammer's favourite - the interior is just so damn pretty. The conservatory here is one of my favourite spots for a drink so I was intrigued to try the brunch menu before Hannah, Sarah and I saw Hamlet at the Barbican (and I was keen for my stomach not to rumble constantly throughout the very long first half as it had on my first viewing). B&H has a simple brunch menu and its definitely popular - the restaurant was packed with everything from dates to baby showers. I had the eggs florentine which were nice but not mind-blowing, style over substance is maybe a little unfair but I'll probably stick to B&H for their amazing cocktails rather than food in the future.
|Iced Americano because Hamlet is long.|
|Egg porn again. The eggs were perfect but the rest felt a bit...uninspired? Or am I all brunched out?|
Not exactly a restaurant but my one and only formal dinner of the year so I couldn't not photograph it. I'm always in awe of how they manage to serve dinner to so many people at once, especially considering the myriad of dietary requirements that this many guests must have. I went for the pescatarian option which was a goat's cheese tart, sea bass fillet and a chocolate and raspberry tart for dessert. Got to love a bit of Masterchef-esque plating!
|Fine dining. Minus me switching the cutlery for every course because I just cannot hold a knife in my right hand (no, I'm not American or left-handed....)|
My friend S and I were looking for somewhere near South Kensington station and opted for the tiny and not-particularly-glam looking Little Japan. What the restaurant lacks in decor it more than makes up for with its food - we both had salmon bento boxes, miso soup and green tea and paid around £15 each which is amazing value for Japanese food in London. Also, I got to use the bento box emoji on Instagram when I posted this. If you're looking for a simple, no-frills but authentically Japanese meal then this place is a must-try.
|Bento Box. If the next person going to Japan could just put me in their suitcase...|
5. Manna, 4 Erskine Street, NW3
My friend P and I were looking for a new veggie restaurant to try and Manna is highly recommended in online reviews. The restaurant used to be vegetarian but is now fully vegan and has been a Primrose Hill mainstay so I was intrigued to try it out. The food is simple and internationally inspired - after much deliberation (so novel as non-meat eaters to have free reign of the entire menu!) we both went for the enchiladas to warm up on a freezing day. As our order was late we were treated to free bread, olives and hummus to start which were very welcome as we were there for a late lunch. The enchiladas were really tasty and definitely not lacking in flavour or filling-ness due to their lack of animal products. I'd have no qualms about taking meat-eaters here as the menu is so diverse and it's less "hippie" (not that I mind that) than other London vegan restaurants.
|Complementary bread, hummus and olives.|
|Vegan enchiladas - perfectly warming and spicy.|
Ok, so where should I add to my list?