1. The Albion, 10 Thornhill Road, Islington, N1 1HW
All you need to know about The Albion is that it has a really really lovely big garden that would be perfect for leisurely weekends drinking Pimms in the sun, and does a great Sunday roast. Inside, its all wooden floors and tables and great sharing plates of beef rib, so it makes a great wintery Sunday lunch place too. Last time I was there (with Juicy Jigsaw and Helga), we ate THE most incredible sticky toffee pudding I think I’ve ever had, a ton of white wine and some lovely fishcakes, and it came to £40 each which was very reasonable considering the amount of vino we managed to consume. I’m definitely putting this in the “best Sunday lunch” / “best beer garden” lists.
2. The Gay Hussar, 2 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 4NB
A blue-blood London institution this and not normally one I would have chosen for a girls’ night oot in Soho, but thanks to a deal from Keynoir (3 courses for £16), Giovanna, Tallulah and I went merrily along for dinner a couple of Saturdays ago. Its a Hungarian restaurant famed for its patronage by politicians and the atmosphere can be a little old and stuffy – the clientelle was an odd mix of gentlemen dining with their mothers, couples, and groups like us all wet behind the ears and clutching our vouchers. It hasn’t had great reviews lately which would be the reason for the deal, but we had lovely service, really delicious Hungarian wine and I thought the food was great – my mackerel starter and sea bass main were delicious and my friends loved the venison goulash and choucroute-type thing. We were the last to leave at around 11pm though (I was tempted for a shot of Unicum to remind me of my trip to Budapest but sadly denied), so it’s not the best place to take a group of friends, but is still definitely worth trying for its amazing character and history (I loved the bookcases full of political biographies) and delicious Central European food. I’m putting this in the “best place to take your elderly Conservative great Aunt / Hungarian colleague / local MP” list.
3. Hereford Road, Notting Hill, W2 4AB
Hereford Road was featured in Time Out’s best 50 restaurants in London, is near where friend Amaia now works, and it comes highly recommended from friends, so I went along for dinner last week. Try to get the booths at the bottom rather than the smaller tables at the top, but its a very cute restaurant inside. It features British cooking with a chef formerly of St John, so I’d go for red meat and sharing plates – the skate was beautifully cooked (above) but so delicate and tiny that we were starving afterwards and had to go for the chocolate cake to make up for it. The chocolate cake was INCREDIBLE but I was jealous at the beautifully smelling meat wafting around us from the open kitchen. Main, a carafe of wine and sharing a pud came to £30 each which wasn’t bad. I’m marking this as “best for date night” and am hoping to go back soon *HINT*.