We visited here on November 9 – the day it was clear Trump had won. We needed reassurance. We needed the sloppy solace of Asian comfort food. And when the squid with artichoke and chorizo crumb arrived, we started to feel better. With the caramel chips came hope. And when the mutton keema Sloppy Joe landed, we were banging the table and barking some two-beer defiance about “the indomitability of human decency”. Thank you, Jikoni.
Should’ve annoyed us, this place. All the pre-launch hype, the vowel-dropping, the big prices and the Mayfair location: a flame to the Made In Chelsea moths. This Latin-American shouldn’t have been our thing. It shouldn’t have been us. But it was. A brash yet brilliant opening that treats its meat with expert hands. Go here, definitely go here, but make sure it’s on company expenses.
One of the many pop-ups that grew up into a permanent space in 2016. Grew up like when your younger brother slipped into your handed-down school blazer. And he couldn’t breathe in there, buddy it was so tight he couldn’t catch a single breath, but he was grown up. Som Saa wears it confidently: “You won’t eat better Thai fare this side of Bangkok,” we said. Curried pork belly and fried sea bass are where the (Half Moon) party’s at.
Islington, that most moisturised and Corbynised of Jolly Nice Places, has a new champion. One of the few spots where the menu isn’t constrained by some plucked-from-the-sky theme – it’s ambitious and varied. If it’s good, it’s on there. The Ave Sour cocktail – with tequila, mezcal, lemon, pineapple and egg white – is our mix of the year, too. We binged them like a Netflix Original.
Check Eneko Atxa’s top pocket – three Michelin stars in there, mate. From his Azurmendi restaurant in Bilbao. And he’s come over here, right, and he’s done the unthinkable: a Spanish restaurant with large plates. Not a bit of the small-dish sharing tyranny. Not a bit of it. Roasted Iberian pork, with wheat in chickpea sauce and garlic cream, is the masterpiece.