When it’s cold and dark, whether in reality or simply in your heart, what you really need is some warming comfort food to put a smile back on your face. This is a selection of our current favourites, and we’d love to hear about yours in the comments.
Queso Fundido at The Cheese Bar
Melted cheese is a quick fix comfort, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In a sandwich, it can go cold quickly, but if there’s enough of it melted into a big ol’ pot, then Bob’s your cardiac consultant. The Cheese Bar founder Mathew said of the dish, “we use Queso Chihuahua and Oaxaca for our Queso Fundido. Then we add cooked chorizo and peppers with epazote. It’s a real comfort food classic in Mexico — almost like a fondue. It’s scooped up into corn tortillas then finished with a squeeze of fresh lime, the ideal dish to warm you up on a cold day in London.”
Pasta and wine at Forza Win
Forza Win continues to nail it in Peckham. We recently dropped in on a weekday evening to find the place heaving with people gathered around the two communal tables. Tuesdays through to Saturdays, 6-7pm only, look out for Awesome Sauce, which is a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine for a tenner. Your cockles will be thoroughly warmed.
Dan Dan Noodles at Barshu
Chilli always does the trick and we love a bowl of dan dan noodles, a classic Sichuan dish from the streets of Chengdu. The noodles are surrounded by a chilli oil enhanced sauce, and topped with intense garnishes, such as minced meat and preserved vegetables. The bowl is mixed together by the diner and slurped, if not kerb-side, then preferably inside this excellent Sichuanese restaurant.
Roti Canai at Roti King
Roti King is a twinkly gem set into the less-twinkly backdrop of Euston. Roti canai is a Malaysian creation, a flaky flatbread made with oily dough, which is flung and swooshed overhead, then folded and crumpled until the structure is full of layers and folds. It’s cooked until toasty on the outside, then dunked into a thickly spiced sauce— heaven. It’s so good we rate it in our top three roti in London.
Roti King, 40 Doric Way, NW1 1LH. Price: £5.
Poutine at The Poutinerie
You have to track down this roaming street food stall, but it’s well worth the effort. At present it’s the only place in the capital that we know of serving up bonafide Canadian poutine. We’re talking cheese curds (no exceptions). We’re talking crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside golden fries. We’re talking meat gravy, and lots of it. It’s not the healthiest of dishes, but it’s a smashing treat and pure comfort food magic.
The Poutinerie, roaming, but often pitched up at food markets in Victoria, Liverpool Street and Brick Lane. Keep an eye on the Twitter feed for updates. Price: £5 (for original poutine). Read more about London’s best poutine.
Curry Goat Ragu-men at Nanban
We’ve already written of our love for this Brixton based Japanese pub/ramen bar. It’s a lesson in Japanese comfort food and although we love the fishy tom yum ramen with onsen egg more than we love some members of our families, the curry goat ragu-men has got to be up there as one of those dishes that can melt through the worst of chills. Let the egg noodles wobble their way to the bottom of the rich, goaty sauce and set your mouth buzzing with scotch bonnet pickles.
Middle Plate Chicken at Silk Road
An oldie but a goodie. The hand pulled noodles at Silk Road are quite the opposite of the sad examples we were served at Noodle Oodle. These huge steaming bowls of chicken in anise-scented broth come in two sizes – middle plate or big plate. They are both massive, and halfway through the staff will come to the table and slop in another portion of noodles. It also contains potatoes so you can tick the double-carbing box. Middle plate will feed four people easily.
Silk Road, 49 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR. Price: £9 (middle plate)
Lasagne at Cozzo
Londonist’s Ruth Hargreaves admits that “the lunchtime street food market on Whitecross Street may be hard to resist, but halfway down the road, a treat awaits.” That treat is Italian restaurant Cozzo and, more specifically, its lasagne. Layered loveliness comes in the form of classic bolognese ragout, lashings of creamy bechamel, and a price tag of under a tenner to make it that little bit more delicious.
Salted Caramel Fondue at Tramshed
For no holds barred, positively shameless, boast-worthy indulgence, stick your face into the salted caramel fondue at Mark Hix’s trendy Tramshed restaurant in Shoreditch. At the centre of this former tram-generator building lies Damien Hirst’s famous ‘Cock and Bull’ installation, but the real artwork is hidden away on the desserts menu. The salted caramel fondue is meant for 3-4 people sharing (sharing?! whatever), and comes encircled with a platter of warm mini donuts and homemade marshmallows for dipping.
Steamed Lemon Pudding at Quo Vadis
Quo Vadis is almost a perfect restaurant in many ways and we’ve spent such happy times there, showing our appreciation for the ice cold martinis, ordering our favourite plate of bavette with pickled walnuts. One of the reasons that Quo Vadis is so brilliant is that the food looks as if it were casually thrown together — but there’s actually huge attention to detail. The steamed lemon pud is no exception. This could be one of the best comfort food dishes in the whole of London — deep citrus flavours and a dense yet fluffy texture. Served with custard.