Thank god it’s February, as January was tough. What were we all thinking when we attempted Dry January and that detox diet? It’s winter, so the idea of heading to the gym in the freezing cold and rewarding ourselves with a salad is definitely not the most appealing. Instead, we’d recommend combatting the winter blues by heading for a nice, warm and cosy restaurant before tucking into some indulgent comfort food. To aid you in this winter survival, we’ve found some of London’s most satisfying dishes, so book a table today and remember – there’s no judgement here.
Berners Tavern at The London Edition, Fitzrovia
Why: This Jason Atherton operation is a real dazzler, with towering ceilings, mosaics, gilt-framed oil paintings and a soaring, yellow-lit bar. The menu is an ode to British comfort food, including the likes of pork pie with carrots and fennel. Our personal favourite, though, is the sensational five-cheese macaroni, which comes topped with slow-cooked beef blade… to die for.
Where: 10 Berners Street, W1T 3NP
How much: £25
Bocca di Lupo, Soho
Why: This buzzy Soho Italian will be hosting three month-long regional takeovers throughout 2019. The first takeover, starting this February, will celebrate the cuisine of Italy’s capital, Rome. The dishes lined up for the takeover sound perfect for a comforting meal; we’d say the freshly fried doughnuts filled with a crema pasticcera centre are not to be missed.
Where: 12 Archer Street, W1D 7BB
How much: Doughnuts, £7
Chucs, various locations
Why: If you’re going to indulge in comfort food, going big or going home seems a fair creed to live by. When it comes to ingredients, the grand-daddy of opulence has to be truffle, and swanky chain Chucs is more than prepared to lavish its pizza Bianca with black truffle shavings. So put your feet up and live the life of luxury at this swish Italian – you won’t regret it.
Where: Various locations
How much: Pizza Bianca, £30
The Colony Grill Room at The Beaumont, Mayfair
Why: Many would define comfort food as good-old fashioned home cooking, the kind of food that your Mum makes when you’re feeling down. At the elegant Colony Grill Room (found at the Beaumont hotel), you’ll find British classics such as this chicken pot pie and a middle white pork chop served with French fries – precisely the kind of warming meals that will make you feel right at home (sorry Mum).
Where: The Beaumont, 8 Balderton Street, W1K 6TF
How much: Chicken pot pie, £21
The Game Bird, St James’s
Why: The Game Bird is known for its menu of best-of-British dishes which will make most diners feel right at home. One lavish option for foodies this winter is The Game Bird’s chicken kiev, which features luxurious truffle inside and is served with a pomme purée. Any comfort food seeking diner will be happy with this indulgent dish.
Where: The Stafford London, 16-18 St James’s Place, SW1A 1NJ
How much: Chicken kiev, £29
Greyhound Café, Fitzrovia
Why: At the time of the year where we shuffle around the city all togged up and grumpy, it’s good to go somewhere fun, and Greyhound Café can definitely be considered fun. Just take its ‘happy toast’ dessert, which will definitely cheer up anyone’s winter blues. The thick-cut brioche toast is served with four squeezy bottles of Thai tea, coffee, salted caramel custard and condensed milk, with guests able to add their own designs to their toast.
Where: 37 Berners Street, W1T 3NB
How much: Happy toast, £6
J Sheekey, Covent Garden
Why: J Sheekey is a Covent Garden institution and its fish pie is iconic (we don’t use that word lightly). The recipe is a stroke of genius, combining smoked halibut, haddock and salmon, then adding a topping of English mustard-laced sauce and a Parmesan mash. You’re also likely to spot a Theatreland star or two here, so keep your eyes peeled.
Where: 28-32 St Martin’s Court, WC2N 4AL
How much: £18.50
READ MORE: The best pie restaurants in London
Le Café du Marché, Barbican
Why: Le Café du Marché’s latest set menu offers some great luxurious dishes for those spurning a healthy start to the year. Dishes such as the tartiflette maison, cassoulet maison and black pudding with poached egg, croutons and frisee are bound to give you that warm feeling inside. Desserts such as a warm hazelnut and chocolate pudding, or a baked Alaska won’t go amiss too.
Where: 22 Charterhouse Square, EC1M 6DX
How much: Two/three courses, £33.50/38.50
Why: A former linoleum warehouse probably wouldn’t be your first choice for a cosy and comforting restaurant, but Lino has turned the place into a chic and on-trend eatery. The restaurant also uses a lot of fermentation and pickling (making its own sourdough bread). For us though, it is the oxtail and potato hot pot with seasonal greens that sounds like the most satisfying dish on the menu.
Where: 90 Bartholomew Close, EC1A 7EB
How much: Oxtail and potato hot pot, £14
Little Kolkata, Covent Garden
Why: Little Kolkata began life as a supper club before becoming a fully-fledged restaurant in late 2018. The restaurant’s cosy surrounds also translates into its Bengali cooking: the most comforting dishes would have to be the kalighater kosha mangsho, a curry of tender goat in a rich sauce, or the Murshidabadi Chicken Moghlai, which is a whole baby chicken in cashew nut, saffron and rose water sauce.
Where: 51-53 Shelton Street, WC2 9JU
How much: Goat curry, £12; whole baby chicken, £11
Meatliquor East Dulwich, Islington, and Marylebone
Why: ‘Come hungry, leave wobbly’ is the motto at this 21st-century burger joint, making it the perfect place to ditch your health resolutions. Although we don’t support violence against hippies, we do recommend chowing down on the Dead Hippie burger: a French mustard-fried beef patty, dead hippie sauce (mmm), lettuce, gherkins, onions and lashings of melted cheese.
Where: Various locations
How much: Dead Hippy burger £9.50
Padella, South Bank
Why: Ok, so every celeb-turned-slimmer may tell you to ditch the carbs, but some things are too great to sacrifice. Padella is one of them. Choose from six pasta dishes, with all of the pasta hand-rolled on site. We love the unassuming pici cacio e pepe: fat, al dente spaghetti with butter, Parmesan and black pepper, which is astonishingly delicious and tangy. Go on, you know you want to.
Where: 6 Southwark Street, SE1 1TQ
How much: Pici cacio e pepe £6.50
Plaquemine Lock, Islington
Why: Southern-style American food is always the kind to give you the warm fuzzy feeling inside, so trying some Creole and Cajun cuisine is guaranteed to help you through the winter. This Mississippi and Louisiana-style pub provides heart-warming food such as chicken, shrimp and sausage gumbo, home-made sausage and mash, and pecan pie.
Where: 139 Graham Street, N1 8LB
How much: Two/Three/Four courses, £26/30/34
Red Farm, Covent Garden
Why: This New York import is not necessarily for Chinese food purists, but foodies looking for a fun way to indulge should look no further than Red Farm. At this restaurant, the quirky dim sum gets top billing, including spicy crispy beef, cheeseburger spring rolls, the pastrami egg roll and of course, its Instagram-famous Pac Man shrimp dumplings.
Where: 9 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ
How much: Prices start from £8
Smith & Wollensky, Covent Garden
Why: It’s no surprise that yet another US import is offering some great comfort food this winter. Smith & Wollensky is going back to basics with this giant piece of chocolate cake. The cake is made up of moist layers brushed with Baileys Irish cream, chocolate mousse and covered with dark chocolate ganache. Make sure to bring some friends though, as this cake is definitely for sharing.
Where: 1-11 John Adam Street, WC2N 6HT
How much: Chocolate cake, £18
Smith’s Bar & Grill, Paddington
Why: There is nothing more homely and comforting than a Sunday roast and Smith’s certainly aim to make you feel at home with its roast selection. The menu includes meats such as 28-day dry-aged British pave of beef, rosemary-marinated lamb shoulder, whole-roasted poussin and slow-roasted pork belly. This all comes with roast potatoes, vegetables, Yorkshire pudding and red wine gravy.
Where: 25 Sheldon Square, W2 6EY
How much: Sunday roasts from £14
If our round-up of comfort food has got you in the mood for gluttonous feasting, then take a bite out of our pick of London’s best burgers, or grab a slice of the best pizza restaurants in the capital.