The Best Comfort Food In London

Best comfort food meals in London: Queso Fundido at The Cheese Bar
Not all cheese strings are bad. Queso Fundido at The Cheese Bar. Photo by @allthingsmeaty.

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.”

The Cheese Bar, Unit 93-94 Camden Stables, NW1 8AH. Price: £12. Click through to find out more about the best places to eat cheese 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.

Forza Win, Unit 4.1, 133 Copeland Road, SE15 3SN. Price: £10 for a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine, menu changes weekly. Find out more about London’s best pasta restaurants.

Best places to eat comfort food in London: pasta and wine at Forza Win
May the sauce be with you.

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.

Barshu, 28 Frith Street, W1D 5LF. Price: £4.90. Read more about London’s best Chinese restaurants.

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.

Roti Canai, at ultimate comfort food at Roti King in London's Euston
Roti canai by Su-Lin on Flickr

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.

Nanban, 426 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8LF. Price: £16. Read more about London’s best Japanese ramen.

Nanban's curry goat ramen is one of the best comfort foods in London
Japanese-Caribbean fusion at Nanban. Photo: Paul Winch-Furness.

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.

Cozzo, 177 Whitecross Street, EC1Y 8QP. Price: £9.95. Find more of London’s best lasagne.

Salted caramel fondue at Tramshed - best chocolate fondues and comfort food in London
Salted caramel fondue at Tramshed

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.

Tramshed, 32 Rivington Street, EC2A 3LX. Price: £14.50. Find out about London’s best chocolate fondues.

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.

Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean Street, W1D 3LL. Price: £8.50. Find out more about London’s best desserts.

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The Fiver – Five of the Highest Bars in London

Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street

One of the best things to have with a good drink is a view.  Lots of places out there have rooftop bars or observation towers where one can get a cocktail, a pint, or a glass of wine and gaze out over the horizon.  London certainly has its share of high-altitude drinking establishments that rank amongst the highest in the UK and in Europe.  Whatever you’re in the mood for, each of the five places below can guarantee that you’ll have the best view of any bar patron in London.  Let us know your own favorite high-altitude bars in the comments.

12TH KNOT

Formerly known as The Rumpus Room, 12th Knot is perhaps the highest rooftop bar in London, sitting on the 12th floor of the Sea Containers building in South Bank.  As such, it puts patrons just about level with most London buildings and landmarks, providing excellent views of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin, and the Leadenhall Building.  12th Knot has a smart casual dress code, so be sure to dress appropriately, and you can go without a reservation, but it won’t guarantee entry.

AQUA SHARD

About one-third up the Shard’s 95 floors, Aqua on the 31st floor is a smaller bar and restaurant that offers panoramic views of the city along with cocktails, beer, and wine.  Food is served in the main part of the restaurant, although the atrium bar is the place to go, especially since no reservations are taken to sit there.  You can still order some of the modern British cuisine here, though, but it makes for a  better spot to have a drink.  The dress code is stated to be smart casual, same as 12thKnot, so trainers (that’s tennis shoes for us Americans) are not allowed.

SKY POD

Found at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, above the 35 floors used for offices and such, is Sky Pod.  While technically a rooftop bar, the Sky Garden on top of the tower isn’t exactly open to the air, so you won’t feel the wind on your face like you might at 12th Knot.  However, the view more than makes up for it, and the drinks are some of the tastiest at any altitude.  The dress code isn’t as fancy, but as Sky Garden is naturally ventilated, you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing appropriately warm clothing.

DUCK & WAFFLE

The second-highest bar on the list, Duck & Waffle can be found on the 40th floor of the 46-story Heron Tower.  Besides the grand view of London from such a height, perhaps the most notable part of Duck & Waffle is that it is the only one of these listed establishments that’s open twenty-four-hours-per-day.  The cocktails are a bit pricier than most places, but the bar serves sharable snacks that are quite affordable.  D&W is quite possibly the most affordable and best dining option you’ll find so far up in the London sky, so be sure to make your reservation.

VERTIGO 42

 

And now we reach the highest point of this list of altitude-defying bars.  Of the 47 floors in Tower 42, 42 of them are open to the public and Vertigo 42 right at the top.  The champagne bar at Vertigo 42 is the highest of its kind in the city, and it is open not only to the tower’s residents but also the public, considering you make a reservation beforehand.  Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s, and the length of the River Thames are visible from high atop this drinking perch.  Of course, smart dress is required for such a fancy establishment.

The Fiver – Five of the Highest Bars in London – Londontopia – The Website for People Who Love London

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Big Ben Has Been Repainted Blue

Big Ben becomes Blue Ben. Photo: UK Parliament

Sacre bleu!

Big Ben*, the icon of London, has turned blue. Except it hasn’t ‘turned’ blue exactly — it’s simply reverted to its original colour. The clock face was blue when built in 1859, but over time it turned black due to a London that was even more polluted than our city is today. When it got its last fresh coat of paint in the 1980s, they just stuck with simple black.

Big Ben is currently undergoing a four-year refurbishment and until today, three of the four clock faces had been covered by scaffolding. One side was peeled back this morning — presumably to then cover the face that had been on display up to this point — to reveal this fresh paintjob.

We can’t help wonder about the timing. Big Ben turns blue as we’re in the midst of this Brexit debacle? Could it possibly tie into plans for us to get blue passports once we’re out of the EU? Scratch that, apparently this hue is dubbed ‘Prussian blue’, so perhaps it’s a statement of our everlasting ties to Europe. Delete whichever of those two scenarios makes you madder.

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This Chelsea Pensioner Has Painted Some Awe-Inspiring WWI Artworks

The ghosts of the first world war haunt these paintings, by Chelsea Pensioner, Rick Graham.

The specially-commissioned artworks go on display as part of an exhibition at the Royal Hospital Chelsea this month, commemorating the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

Graham’s thought-provoking paintings remember brave British men setting off for the battlefields of France and Belgium, as well as the city of Ypres razed to the ground, its sky throbbing blood-red.

Another work is set at the Royal Hospital Chelsea — home of the Chelsea Pensioners — and remembers those residents who’d fought in the Great War.

Elsewhere, as part of From the World War One Battlefields and into the Peace, you can learn about Sylva Boyden, the first woman to descend from a tethered balloon by a packed parachute; find out why the Silver Badge Men, who could not serve, marched in Hyde Park; and examine a copy of the Treaty of Versailles, given to the Royal Hospital, shortly after the original was signed.

The 10th Essex Living History Group will recreate a section of a first world war trench, re-enacting the demobilisation of a unit coming back home to England after the war, complete with original tents, cycles, uniforms and equipment.

A series of free guest lectures takes place each day at 2pm.

Artist and Chelsea Pensioner, Rick Graham, with one of his paintings, ‘Battlefields to Butterflies’.

From the World War One Battlefields and into the Peace is at Wren House, Royal Hospital Chelsea from, 29-31 March, 10am-4pm, free entry

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London’s Weirdest Building: Will Alsop’s Neuron Pod

What the actual f*ck?

Whitechapel has a building that looks like an amputee hedgehog.

London’s most erinaceous structure can be found at the Centre of the Cell, a science educational facility attached to Queen Mary, University of London.

Do you see a brain cell, or something you might find snuffling under a hedge?

The peculiar new extension was designed by the late Will Alsop to resemble a brain cell. Called the Neuron Pod, it joins other cell-shaped meeting rooms within the building. It’s sure to become a staple of Instagram, especially night time shots when the spines are illuminated.

Hedgehog bottom
Oh. My. Gosh. Look at that butt.

Your correspondent walked right around the pod, underneath, back to front, and viewed it from every side. It most definitely has more of the dismembered hedgehog about it than anything cellular.

It’s nightmarish when viewed from the west. Like some kind of hedgehog-shark composite or a massive tardigrade. Beware.

Still, who could begrudge such a joyful, original piece of architecture? I for one have no axon to grind.

Oddness from a safe distance.

Dezeen has additional photos, including shots from inside the pod. Visit the building at Centre of the Cell,  4 Newark Street, Whitechapel E1 2AT.

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Be Treated Like Royalty At Ted’s Grooming Rooms

This is a sponsored article on behalf of Ted’s Grooming Room.

St James’s is home to London’s royalty. No, I’m not talking about Buckingham Palace, although there is that too. Welcome to the latest Ted’s Grooming Room, where every single customer is treated like a king. I went down there to try out The Full Ted Service: a haircut, clean shave or beard design rounded off with traditional ear flaming.

I arrive and take a seat on a comfy sofa as, even though this location has only just opened, the barbers are all busy crafting styles onto punters. I take a sparkling water — a brand from Istanbul. Looking up at the walls, there’s plenty of royal memorabilia to reference the nearby Palace-residing neighbours.

After only a few minutes, it’s my turn. First comes the haircut. The attention to detail is mind-blowing. This isn’t your average short-back-and-sides-please-mate-cheers you get at your standard high street barber. This is a classy cut, where the barber asks you what you’d like, then follows your direction to a tee.

Preceded by a quick wash, there’s an early pause in the trim, a chance for me to sup on a delicious Turkish coffee. Then it’s back to sorting out my somewhat mop-like hair into something respectable but trendy. After some incredible attention to detail, it’s over, and my, what a beaut it is. People spend the next two days complimenting me, on how good my hair looks. That has never happened. Ever.

Following the cut comes a shave. Hot towel after hot towel is elegantly draped over my face. Then a delicate and sensitive brush to apply shaving cream to my face. Finally, the cut-throat shave. All this, with the hot towel still over my eyes. I can’t see what’s going on, but I have complete confidence in the barber after the job he did on my hair.

Not since before puberty has my face been so smooth.

Next, out of the blue, an arm massage. Instantly it relieves all the tension that comes from living in a manic city like London. Finally, I have my ears singed. This is an entirely new experience for me, having a flame whacked near a vital appendage isn’t part of my standard Thursday morning schedule. However, this is completely safe, your ear just gets a bit warm. And then they’re smooth as a baby’s bottom.

For those more adventurous than myself there’s eyebrow trimming too. I watched my next chair neighbour have it done, and he seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself. The height of luxury. We wouldn’t be too shocked to see Philip here sometime soon. He can’t be getting anything this opulent at Buckingham Palace.

The new Ted’s Grooming Room is on 3 Butler Place, St James’s Park, SW1H 0QD. The Full Ted Servicecosts £54 for walk-in or £62 for appointments.

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Theatre Review: Downstate At National Theatre

Breathtaking, brave and brilliantly acted, Downstate is a landmark play. It’s listed as a ‘collaboration’ between NT and Steppenwolf, but the Chicago company’s prints are all over this glistening weapon.

Sometimes a play is just arrestingly good. Sometimes it’s also amazingly timely. As the creative legacy of Michael Jackson is re-examined in the shadow of fresh allegations, it’s sensational that the National Theatre should present a piece — by Pulitzer-winning Bruce Norris — which studies ankle-tagged paedophiles who have fetched up in a charitable co-living house in rural Illinois.

Script and acting combine to normalise the characters: could Francis Guinan’s sweet old wheelchair-bound grandpappy Fred really have been the virile young music teacher who taught his underage pupils a special type of fingering? When Tim Hopper’s excellent clockspring-wound insecure Andy comes to confront his abuser with a contract of closure designed by his therapist, he’s almost beguiled by the gentle self-effacement of a man of whom he was once terrified. Matilda Ziegler as his hardboiled wife is most definitely not.

The acting is universally splendid, every character has immense depth and credibility developed by Steppenwolf technique, but Bruce Norris’s script constantly defeats stereotypes and predictability. The way the characters establish a pecking order for household chores based on the comparative severity of their crimes is insightful and thought-provoking. You’ll leave this play wanting to talk.

Cecilia Noble’s coffee-mug toting Ivy may start as an amiable wisecracking black woman who wouldn’t seem out of place in Waitress or Hairspray, but she reveals solid police skills when the situation changes. But it’s K Todd Freeman’s ex-choreographer Dee, who loved the young chorus boy he dated for five years before being arrested — that most engages you, and carries you with humour and fierceness through the storylines until he eventually, gently, and beautifully breaks your f*cking heart.

In a word, it is unmissable.

Downstate, National Theatre Dorfman, Upper Ground, SE1. Tickets £25-54, until 27 April 2019.

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