Here are a few highlights from the past few weeks in London, a few emerging names that people have been raving about so I thought I’d check out the hype.
DubPlates – Attempting to find some shelter in the rain at Notting Hill carnival, my friends and I indulged in a pretty good smoked jerk chicken roll, along with yam and potato chips. I don’t think I sampled enough to give a rounded verdict but these guys seem to have a few pop-ups lined up so hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to taste some more…
B.O.B.s lobster – I’ve been trying to track down their van the whole summer so I was glad to find it on the Southbank. I had done my research and knew a large portion was appropriate for dinner, and a glass of prosecco. The large is £14.50, plus £4.50 for prosecco. The lobster was a bit too cold, straight out of the fridge but it was a healthy tail along with roe, and the sauce and toasted brioche were incredible. Yes yes, everything comes in a brioche bun now but this was the best one ever.
Franco Manca – £13.50 per head for a glass of wine, pizza and shared starter of garlic bread at this no-reservations sourdough pizza chain. My friend Marie and I went to the one near Goodge St Station at around 6.30 and got a seat immediately but a queue developed shortly after and remained till we left an hour and a half or so later. They’ve packed as many seats in the open kitchen venue as possible with large chalkboard specials lined walls.
The menu is simple: 6 pizzas by season, added toppings by availability (couldn’t get extra peppers when we went) and wine served in tumblers. There was a long wait for our mozzarella garlic bread but both that and our pizza base bread was exquisite, I was sceptical about sourdough but it was so great, chewy and crisp, really fresh dough. Rustic chopped garlic making it feel even more fresh and homemade.
I had the Number 4 home-cured Gloucester old spot ham, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, wild mushrooms and a little tomato. Perfection, the hunks of ham were salty to make you salivate and the ricotta was just the creamiest. I’m glad I didn’t spoil it with extra peppers. Marie had the Number 5 with anchovies and capers and was equally delighted.
La Gelatiera Straight after Franco Manca’s we needed an Italian dessert fix so we headed towards Covent Garden to find what was supposed to tip Gelupo as the best gelato in the capital. I’d had Gelupo in August, blood orange and cucumber vodka among the flavours there more expensive than La Gelatiera and all the ice creams tucked away in metal canisters making it especially difficult to decide.
In contrast, La Gelatiera hosts a splendid little shop with baked goods as well. A real treat, a pistachio flavour gelato that really tasted of the raw nuts with their pinky green husks, and an intense dark chocolate (albeit similar to the Gelupo one). I also had a sample of the rosemary and honey which was really nice, and there are some other herb and chilli infused flavours that I hope to try at some point too.