The Just Got Promoted One
The original: Galvin Bistrot de Luxe
The alternative: Locanda Locatelli
Alright, so Locanda Locatelli might plate up an entirely different kind of food to the uproariously French Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, but if its a “how and why did they not arrest me at the door” culinary experience you’re after, Giorgio Locatelli’s much-loved, Michelin-starred Marylebone institution is a hugely classy choice. And what’s a hard-fought payrise for if not for this? Locanda Locatelli might be on the wallet eviscerating side of the price scale, but who’s counting when you sink into a bowl of risotto al barolo e castelmagno (a cheesy, winey risotto to us plebs)? Sublime.
The Payday Treat One
The original: Paradise Garage
The alternative: Sorella
All things must pass, but Bethnal Green’s not been the same since the shutters crashed down on Paradise Garage. Still, let’s park the somber meditations on time and the dissolution of earthly things and get down to… Clapham. Sorella comes fresh from the same brains behind Paradise Garage and if its an Italian-infused payday blow out you’re after, they don’t come finer. We recommend plumping for the very reasonably priced chef’s menu. £45 gets you a tailored selection of antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci. That’s less than four Camden Hells, a regret’n’beetroot kebab and an uber XL back to your Epping box room. Aka, a bargain.
The Central London Date Spot One
The original: Ape & Bird
The alternative: Copita
Ape & Bird was your secret weapon, your calling card, your dating raison d’être. Love, life and Venetian arancini. Now you’re just another schmuck in an anorak, praying that your companion doesn’t mind “Nandos… à la Lewisham High Street” for the eighth time. But Copita, the Soho tapas joint so authentic you’ll forget that you’re closer to Sydenham than San Sebastian, is the tonic. Sharing pieces of presa iberica with romesco sauce, empanadillas de sobrasada, and octopus with crushed potatoes isn’t only delicious, it’s the perfect relationship barometer. Do it without disgrace and you’ll be withstanding daylong, egregiously hungover Edmonton IKEA trips together in no time.
The Post Pints One
The original: Smoking Goat
The alternative: Kiln
Yet again, that “quiet half” has mutated into eight roaring full portions and a table thumping dissection of Ricky Gervais’ post-Office career. You’re wobbly, weak, and in desperate need of perk. What you need is a heaving plate of the kind of grub that makes the gaps between your toes tingle and your brain release a year of serotonin in one. Smoking Goat was great for that, wasn’t it? But now that’s gone, we’d advise you stumble toward Kiln, with its turbo-charged Thai menu that packs a punch. Step into the ring with the Guinea fowl jungle curry (£8.50) and try to swerve the Brexit-chat thunderclap on the horizon.
The Actually Brill Gastro Pub One
The original: The Blue Posts
The alternative: The Blue Posts
We’ve all bored half our social circles to tears with David Mitchell-esque diatribes against gastropubs and the “perfidious six quid Peronis in our midst”. Sure, a lackluster gastro can be painfully disappointing. Done well, however, they are a genuine delight. Chinatown’s Blue Posts gets it absolutely spot on having been taken over by new owners, the heroes over at Palomar. Keep it casual upstairs with a New England fried fish sandwich (£9.80) and a pint of ale, or book yourself into the super-intimate 11-seat Evelyn’s Kitchen down in the basement, where modern European plates are the order of the day.