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Four volumes of SUITCASE Magazine, with a new issue delivered to your door each quarter
You don’t need us to tell you about Dinings, the Marylebone darling widely regarded as the hottest sushi ticket in the capital. And now Chelsea dwellers can breathe a sigh of relief that the West London dining scene has gained a diamond in its somewhat scanty crown as the izakaya experts have set up shop in a quiet mews off Walton Street. A spacious dining room with lofty ceilings, large windows, black-and-white parquet flooring and an ornately carved mahogany fireplace sets the scene for diners who gather excitedly around scrubbed-wood tables or at the open-kitchen counter bar to see what all the fuss is about.
Dinings’ USP is authentic Japanese cuisine meets European flavours and ingredients, so expect sushi galore but made with Scottish hand-dived scallops, salmon and seabass, while indulgences like a freshwater-eel and pan-fried foie-gras roll join the usual favourites (which tend to be spruced up with some truffle soy here, a nikkei salsa there). Larger plates include “fish and chips” with seared wasabi halibut and green-tea-battered chips, as well as an array of steamed burgers (tofu or wagyu?) while a Josper grill sizzles with creel-caught native lobster or corn-fed French poussin teriyaki. Cover all bases with the omakase tasting menu, and supplement with anything from Fat Samurai sake to Sancerre blanc.
Looks like your typical pub on the outside, isn’t on the inside. The Cow is a laid-back local pub in Westbourne Grove with a seriously good vibe and excellent seafood. This is a watering hole that’s filled with loyal customers, so it’s not the type of place to barge in and draw a lot of attention to yourself. They specialise in shellfish, so come here if you’re looking for quite a bit of drinking accompanied by oysters, winkles, whelks, crab and prawns. Follow up with the seafood stew, which is rich and filled with chunks of smoked fish, mussels and prawns or the crab tagliolini. Don’t worry about the brusque service, it’s all part of the experience.
Mazi is a Greek restaurant off Notting Hill Gate that will redefine what Greek food means to you. Here you will not find a single plate of uninspired dolmades or a greasy souvlaki – but modern, well-executed food served in a warm and very pretty atmosphere. During winter Mazi has the wonderful communal feel of a taverna, despite the modern décor. In the summer the garden out back, with a grape vine trellis overhead, could very well be mistaken for the terrace of a small, Greek island restaurant. Starters come in adorable jars – try the fish roe mousse and smoky grilled aubergine with soy and thyme honey. For mains, try the rabbit stifado, a slow-cooked dish reserved for winter nights in Northern Greece, which comes deconstructed and shredded with a meaty sauce. A phenomenal grilled octopus comes with, of all things, an olive tapenade, and not a squeeze of lemon.
A permanent space for gastronomic pop-ups, Carousel features a revolving lineup of international chefs with set menus. The industrial-chic dining room in Marylebone features polished concrete floors and low-hanging spotlights. Communal wooden tables create a fun, impromptu atmosphere which draws in a young and lively crowd. Carousel also plays host to art exhibitions, video installations, film screenings, spoken word poetry, live acoustic sets, theatre workshops and yoga brunches.
It’s easy to walk passed Dinings without noticing, as it discreetly takes up the ground and basement floor of an unassuming townhouse on a quiet street in Marylebone. What chef and proprietor Tomonari Chiba is trying to do with this restaurant is clear from the moment you walk in – it’s all about the food. The interior – stools along a sushi bar upstairs and tables downstairs – is neither sleek nor elegant, but isn’t offensive either. You’re here for the menu. The sushi overall is a delight, a large plate of nigiri shows off their talent for making each piece taste wildly different, drawing out the flavours of each fish. The hot and cold tapas are not to be missed – sweet aubergine with miso and Scottish lobster salad are highlights. This isn’t a place to order dragon rolls.
The River Café is a London institution. Patrons have been eating good food here since 1987, when Rose Gray (who died in 2010) and Ruth Rogers opened their restaurant on the river and vowed to serve the best Italian fare in the city. What the River Café is really good at is sourcing ingredients, and they’ve been doing that since the day the opened – whether it’s melon at its ripest flown in from Italy or the most delicious Cornish crab – this restaurant does seasonal dishes very, very well. It’s not the kind of place where your waiter will recite the first chapter of a novel to describe your dish, and because of that it is an immensely comfortable place to eat. At night, the warm room with its giant red oven glows with soft light, and the hum of happy talking people fills the room. Unlike most restaurants, there’s a significant number of female chefs and sommeliers. Expect to see important people dining there. We guarantee you’ll leave with fond memories.
Because the Ledbury has two Michelin stars and is considered by many the best restaurant in London (in 2014 Observer Food Monthly readers voted it the best in the country) it would be easy to think that having dinner there is an over-the-top affair. It is not. And one of the delights of going to The Ledbury is that you get the most elegant and tastiest of dishes with service that is welcoming and casual. Chef Brett Graham has made it a point to make his guests feel relaxed at his Notting Hill restaurant, which offers dinner á la carte for £95, and a lunch set menu for £50. Brett tends not to put the typical expensive restaurant ingredients at the centre of his cooking – lobster and foie gras aren’t the thing you come here for. You’ll still find those ingredients, but they might be pulverised into a dust and sprinkled over a dish, or whipped into a delicious butter. Expect to eat delightful, light dishes with full-on flavour like roast cauliflower, wrapped in shiitake, sherry and pine nuts and a warm Bantam’s egg with celeriac, dried ham, Arbois and Wiltshire truffle.
After hearing about it for years, we finally had a chance to visit Petersham Nurseries and we can confirm: dining on celebrated “slow food” in a glasshouse surrounded by blossoming flowers and vibrant greenery is an absolute joy. This Michelin-starred restaurant has been knocking socks off for ten years, and continues to surprise guests with colourfully reinvented classics. All of the food is created with sustainably sourced produce, which the kitchen uses in dishes like whole Dover sole with saffron mussels, guinea fowl with lemon and mascarpone, Keralan pumpkin and roasted rabbit with prosciutto. Fittingly, there is usually a smattering of edible flowers on the menu. If you’re not headed out Richmond way, stop by their Covent Garden branch. In addition to their standard service they also host a series of pasta masterclasses and floral workshops.
Set on a residential side street in Holland Park, the Ladbroke Arms’ terrace is a haven for after-work relaxation, where hanging flower baskets and rosy-cheeked customers come in equal parts. Inside, the furniture is crammed in so tightly that plates of rare lamb and fresh seafood spill over neighbouring tables. In the winter patrons move into the dining room, which is cosy and decorative – the space is too familiar for a burgeoning romance, but perfect for friends and family. The menu changes daily, but last time we checked the octopus stew with chickpeas, olives and couscous sounded like a good dish to round off a weeknight.
Earl’s Court is arguably better known for its tube station and exhibition centre than it is for great food and good vibes. Or it least that was the case until recently. Over Under, an independent, community-led coffee shop has opened up shop, serving delicious food and quality coffee in an area that quite frankly needed a boost.
Founded by young entrepreneur Ed Barry, the café is inspired by the coffee culture of New Zealand (where his family is from) as well as by the cities of Dublin and New York (where he has lived and worked for the past five years). Ed’s team of baristas, also known as Barryistas (yes, we know) are fun and friendly in equal measure. Chef Connie Grossman steers the kitchen and whips up a mean avo toast or grilled cheese sandwich, while those short on time can grab a pastry to go. On a Friday night the team have been known to lock in customers for after hours parties that spill out onto the streets, fuelled by outrageously potent espresso martinis. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Those who have visited the charming Notting Hill branch will know that the scrumptiosness of Farm Girl is a pretty poorly kept secret. Now, the healthy Australian-influenced cafe has opened its first all day restaurant in Chelsea. From superfoods to sweet treats, Farm Girl’s menu is healthy but not holier than thou. The menu is fresh and varied – standouts include the dukkah cod and the popcorn cauliflower. With interiors likened to a Malibu dream house, the suitably girl decor makes for a Instagram-centric dining experience.
You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.
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