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Feb 6, 2009 04:21 AM

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

                              1. re: iheartcupcakes

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