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WANTED: Unusual London restaurant. Dead or alive.

I love London's food scene and am looking to broaden my horizons. But I'm a bit bored to be honest... I'm looking for something a bit off-piste.

Please can you suggest some restaurants which are unusual, are dismissing the current culinary norms and have good wine lists...

Many thanks.

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  1. I'm trying to think of an equivalent to WD-50 (in NYC) here in London and can't come up with anything. I asked a similar question once and was told to try Michael Moore. What a joke! The china looks like someone puffy painted on it, and I don't think it's meant to be ironic. The chef comes around to every single table and chats you up like that's the reason you cam in the first place. So annoying. The food- nah. Moore's tartare with quail egg was a level of rawness that made me quite uncomfortable. No textures or flavors to balance the dish. Just raw meat and a tiny egg on a plate. Creative! Everything else was unmemorable, good or bad. So don't go there!

    Sorry, I've got nothing. Hope someone else does.

    1 Reply
    1. re: medorand

      Exactly. A WD-50 type place would be awesome. As would the place in Germany that allows you to add aromatic essences to your food. I guess I'm just trying to find somewhere that is being adventurous and is exploring new territory.

    2. Maybe you need to jump on a train or two and explore other regions of the UK? Maybe it's the scene and not always the food which is getting boring. Do you do much cooking at home?

      3 Replies
      1. re: zuriga1

        I cook a lot at home and am going to L'enclume next month, which I am very excited about. I'm just looking for somewhere which is pushing the boundaries a bit in London.

        It all just seems a bit flat... and I want some new and different in London.

        1. re: Browners

          These aren't pushing the boundaries, but I've recently been to Benares thought it was pretty great how they manipulated the usual Indian dishes. Plus, I had the best black dal I've ever had in my life. So good. Also the cocktails are delicious. Try the sour cherry margarita for sure if you go. Another thought: have you been to Roka?

          1. re: medorand

            Both are good ideas. I've been to Roka on a couple of ocassions. It's definitely one of my favourites.

            Benares isn't a bad idea at all. Might investigate.

      2. Champor Champor is pretty crazy. tie your visit in with a visit to the Shunt Lounge which is a peformance space ( and bar) under London Bridge station. Its one of the most impressive venues in london ( dusty old vaults)

        9 Replies
        1. re: beckypoostchi

          It's a shame that Bacchus has closed down - Nuno Mendes was incredibly creative with his dishes (if not better) than those found at WD-50.

          Then again, depends what you think 'pushing the norm' is - you could say places like Bar Shu pushes the norm - Szechuan cooking of man and wife slices in a spicy broth, or St Johns, with their nose to tail eating?

          1. re: pj26

            Fantastic ideas. I went to Bacchus when it was open and had a great time. I've heard great things about Bar Shu and already have a soft spot for St John.

          2. re: beckypoostchi

            Champor Champor looks like a lot of fun. Have you been there?

            1. re: Browners

              Ate at Champor Champor recently and found it good not great, with off-beat food that is fairly well put together, but not as refined as I would have liked.

              1. re: Browners

                yes i have eaten there twice around 2 years ago . The tasting menu was really fantastic, and otherwise i think the food is unusual and interesting. the cocktails are great too. Really odd setting - as there are no other restaurants/shops around it...

                1. re: beckypoostchi

                  Cool. Thanks for the snippet. Think we're going to go to the Double Club for a bit of a whacky experience.

                  1. re: Browners

                    bizarre! i am going there tomorrow night...

                    1. re: beckypoostchi

                      A little debrief would be great... very intrigued to get some insider info.

                      1. re: Browners

                        its a private party but hopefully they will be serving food.... will let u know

            2. Chez Liline on Stroud Green Road; excellent underlying classic French technique, very fresh fish/seafood, sauces and flavours that draw on cuisines that have influenced Mauritius (e.g. Indian, French) as well as some SE Asian touches (noticed lemongrass in a number of dishes). Outstanding food that is honest and well tuned. More details when I get the chance to clear my backlog.

              2 Replies
              1. re: limster

                This place sounds very interesting... keen to give it a go at the weekend. The Time Out guide suggests it can be a bit quiet during the week. Or is this rubbish?

                1. re: Browners

                  I've only been on a weekend, so I'm unable to answer your question. Perhaps other hounds will chime in.

              2. Very rarely read about African food here, was wondering if that could be a good area to look into...

                11 Replies
                1. re: limster

                  There's so many African countries represented other than Moroccan and Ethiopian, it'd be good to investigate.

                  1. re: limster

                    Here's a year-old article about the food of Ghana in London (Ghanaian? sp). It's something that always sounds tasty and interesting.


                    1. re: zuriga1

                      What a great idea! Given that I spent 4 months living in Ghana this could be a great idea. You've instantly brought back memories of poullet yasser, bbq'd tilapia and jolof rice.

                      I'm really excited about this route. You're all right. African food rarely gets a look in. Let's explore. Thank you Nii, limster and zuriga1.

                      There is one caveat. I truly despise fufu and kenke!

                      So... who knows of some fantastic, authentic, restaurants that serve London's best African food.

                      1. re: Browners

                        I ate at Champor Champor recently and it was pretty bad to be honest. The noodle salad I had to start was ok, if a bit boring and the main was interesting, only because I had not eaten catfish before. The dessert however was so bad I actually couldn't eat it which is a rarity for me! It was some kind of cream cheese type affair, with basil in it, rock hard from the fridge and with jelly underneath. Seriously, it was gross. The service was also a bit all over the place but the most disturbing thing was how the manager treated the waiting staff, the way he spoke to them was really quite unpleasant and upset our whole party. The inside of the restaurant is different though, with ornate carvings and tables on a little mezzanine. I would recommend just looking at thepictures on the website though, don't eat there!

                        1. re: FoodStories

                          Sounds horrific! Certainly going to avoid it now. Do you know of any top class African restaurants?

                          1. re: Browners

                            I don't think you'll find any 'posh' African restaurants, I may be wrong. There are middle of the road African places, but you'll find the best food in the run-down looking establishments in pretty shabby areas - home style cooking for recent immigrants.

                            Where are you based?

                            1. re: Nii

                              Live in Brixton and work on Baker St... but happy to travel anywhere in London for this one.

                              By top class I don't mean posh. I just want good food really.

                              1. re: Browners

                                There's May foods in Birxton market, a traditional Ghanaian joint, cheap and friendly.

                                I also like Gold Cost - in South Norwood - The food is really top notch - varied fresh and appropriately spiced!

                                Iroko on Brixton Hill is a new Nigerian/Portuguese bar/club/restaurant with funky decor, good service and good food - far more fusiony then traditional places.

                                1. re: Nii

                                  Thanks Nii. These sound very interesting indeed. Mays and Iroko are now on my list. Just down the road from where I live!


                            2. re: Browners

                              Not sure about top class but the 805 restauant near me is very popular and usually busy. I've not been myself but friends that have been recommend it, however Dos Hermanos review isn't that great.

                              You can view their menu here http://www.805restaurant.com/805main_...

                              1. re: iheartcupcakes

                                Sounds interesting.... may well give it a go.

                    2. Havent eaten here, so no idea what the food's like, but went here on Friday. . Its a Euro / Congolese venture sponsored by Prada, and the food is done by Momo. As you might expect, its very much a "fashion" crowd though. www.thedoubleclub.co.uk

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: foreignmuck

                        I read about this recently. Sound fascinating. This could well be it. Top stuff. Has anyone been here?

                        1. re: Browners

                          The Double Club is a lot of fun for a bar/club more so than a restaurant. When I went to eat their last month, their food wasn't mind blowing, tbh. It is different because the space is very arty (half of the restaurant is Western and the other half is Congolese-hence the name The Double Club).

                          I enjoyed the goat stew (£10.50) and the fried plantains(£3?) though. The stew was wrapped inside a leaf when it was presented to me. The goat stew reminds me of filipino food so I feel it wasn't way out of the box for me. If you want to go for some place like that, just go for all the Congolese food on their menu and not the Western side.

                          1. re: felizglfr

                            This sounds like exactly what we are looking for. And thanks so much for sharing the name! I'd been looking high and low for it.

                            What was the wine like?

                            1. re: Browners

                              I'm not much of a wine expert, sorry.

                              I just remember it was white and it was on the cheaper side (£3.95). No resling by the glass. I don't think their wine list was that extensive, just enough to cover enough for the food and for the drinkers at the bar.

                              If you go, let me know your thoughts on the place. I really love it as a club/bar. It's really popular on Friday and Saturday nights.

                              1. re: felizglfr

                                I think we're going on a Wednesday. But I see no reason why we can't get stuck into the club.

                                Very reassured by the reasonable cost of the wine.

                                1. re: Browners

                                  If you have time, check out the drinks menu. I think their prices are pretty reasonable for that type of space/crowd. Drinks could easily be at least £10 but they run from £7 at least from what I remember.

                        2. re: foreignmuck

                          Is the Doubleclub still open? I will be in London April 02-12 and I'd love to check out it, it sounds so cool! I read on the website that the doubleclub was suppose to be only open for 6 month?

                          1. re: Eaterlover

                            It's certainly still open now. Closing in May apparently.

                            1. re: DollyDagger

                              Gracias! Are there other places in London similar to DBClub? I'm into exploring this type of scenery :P

                              1. re: Eaterlover

                                hope you got to go to the double club while you were still here. the place has gotten pretty ridiculous with their door policy recently. you pretty much can't go in unless you have a dinner reservation or your name is on "the list"

                        3. 'Dans Le Noir' in Clerkenwell Green [London] sounds pretty wacky..but I've never been there so can only pass on what I've heard. Basically, you eat in total darkness. It's supposed to be the "ulitmate sensory experience" where you obviously can't see what you're eating but you taste it first and experience it that way. I think the waiting staff are blind, too. It all sounds quite curious! Dare you to try...

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: london_girl

                            I've been to Dans Le Noir and had a fantastic time. Mainly because I took some colleagues and clients there who completely freaked out! I loved the idea and had a great time. Would recommend it, but probably for a one off.

                            1. re: london_girl

                              The food is terrible, by all accounts - the place opened to just about the worst reviews I've ever seen!

                              1. re: Clerkenwellian

                                It does have some shocking reviews. Very true. I'd hesitate to add to them because our trip was more about exploring the senses. And from that point of view it was a huge success. Apart from a crying client and a boss who walked out!

                            2. Try Hibiscus if you haven't already.

                              Saf in Shoreditch. (Read the many reviews online.)

                              And have you been to one of the Ottolenghis? Great wine list. And I think the food is a little bit different.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: kristainlondon

                                Hibiscus is a very good idea indeed. And we went to Saf for the last installment of this monthly event. And your suggestion of Ottolenghis is excellent. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it!

                                Thanks for the suggestions.

                                1. re: Browners

                                  I went to Hibiscus for lunch on Thursday, and it's not particularly different or wacky.

                                  How about Chilli Cool, or Snazz Sichuan? They're both Sichuanese restaurants, and they both do hot pots - so you get wire baskets, an array of meat and seafood and you cook it yourself in a bubbling pot of broth. (Let me know if you do go cos I'd love to join).

                                  1. re: hollow_legs

                                    What a good idea. A decent blast of ferocious chilli heat is just what we need! Let's organise.

                                    1. re: Browners

                                      Brilliant. I've been dying to go for AGES!

                                      1. re: Browners

                                        Please read the guidelines for organizing a real-life get-together. The organizational details are off topic for this board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3676... Thanks! These gatherings are a lot of fun.

                                  2. re: kristainlondon

                                    Ottolenghis has been on my list for months and I don't know why I have never went despite living about 10 minutes walk away from there. i heard they have pretty good desserts as well. what kind of food do they usually offer?

                                    i've been trying to decide if ottolenghis, tayyabs or life is going to be my splurge this month.

                                    1. re: felizglfr

                                      Ottolenghi's food features lots of vegetables, lemon and yoghurt. The food is quite unique and could be best descried as Meditteranean with a touch of Middle Eastern. There is a big emphasis on salads however they also do brilliant lamb cutlets and fish. The desserts are brilliant and everything looks really mouthwatering. It is more pricey than your average cafe but I think it is worth it for a treat.


                                      1. re: Gourmet Chick

                                        Super idea. Think I'll be going to Ottolenghi's as soon as I can manage it. Everything I've read makes it sound brilliant. Plus I loved his feature in the Observer for Christmas.

                                  3. Not in London but gallery of very weird restaurants around the world http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/gall...

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: rolyatoj

                                      There's a new place in Brixton called Isola Verde and it's cuisine is Eritean /Italian, which I think is quite special!

                                      1. re: Nii

                                        This sounds great. Where abouts in Brixton is it? I've just had a flash back to a history lesson where we learnt about the battle of Adowa.

                                        1. re: Nii

                                          Where's this then? I live in Brixton/Herne Hill and have yet to discover it.....

                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                            Isola Verde is at the bottom end of Brixton Road bordering Oval.

                                            There also a new Portuguese buffet/patisserie opening on Brixton Hill which looks promising.

                                      2. Has no-one mentioned Archipelago yet? See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493613 and http://archipelago-restaurant.co.uk/

                                        I went there at the end of last year and ate all sorts of mad stuff - the restaurant's decor, crockery, cutlery and glassware is all pretty wacky too - like Indiana Jones's attic!

                                        We ordered:

                                        Cayman Islands: crocodile fillet seared in vine leaves with a plum dipping sauce £10.50
                                        Acapulco Reef: seafood wok-seared with chilli, lime and coriander seed and green apple tzadziki £9.50
                                        Conquistador Conejito: a muddle of rabbit, pickled walnuts & green peppercorns with mole spread £10.00

                                        Hottentot's Discovery: seared zebra with a port, juniper and blackcurrent sauce and kai-lan £19.50
                                        Serengeti Dusk: peanut crusted wildebeest (gnu) with sour green mango soba noodle salad £20.50
                                        Hot Marsupial: zhug marinated kangaroo fillet with water spinach and choi £19.00

                                        Colombian Fix: serious therapy for the chocoholic £7.00
                                        African Sunset: granadilla bavarois topped with 24 crt gold and champagne glaze £6.50
                                        Baby Bee Bruleé: orange blossom honey and stem ginger bruleé with lemon and lime tuille £7.00


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: meemalee

                                          You are so right. This was on my "unusual" list prior to starting this thread. I want to go there. As it sounds very unusual indeed.