Everybody may be in the middle of detoxing, cleansing, and cutting things out in the name of January, but here at SquareMeal we recommend telling your fave Instagram clean eater to do one. Instead, take a pick from this devilish list of comfort-food dishes dotted around the capital. We won’t tell if you don’t…
What: Everything at 34, from the top-hat wearing doorman to the art-deco style interiors, oozes opulence. So if you’re making a visit here, you might as well indulge in the most luxurious of comfort foods – none more so than this lobster macaroni, served in a rich formaggi sauce and topped with shaved black truffle. Worth the hefty price tag.
Where: 34 Grosvenor Square (Entrance on South Audley Street), W1K 2HD
How much: £34
Aquavit, St James’s
What: Michelin-starred Aquavit serves up comforting Scandinavian classics in a swish setting, which pays homage to the Scandi-style designs that you’ve seen on the cover of every home interiors magazine. Food-wise, we’re fans of the traditional Swedish meatballs, which come with lingonberries, creamy mash potato and pickled cucumber.
Where: St James’s Market, 1 Carlton Street, SW1Y 4QQ
How much: £16
Bao, Fitzrovia and Soho
What: Bao is one of London’s go-to spots for great-value comfort food, with its glorious steamed buns. Our favourite filling is the confit pork belly (available at both sites), which comes paired with crispy shallots and soy-pickled chilli – don’t miss the peanut milk or that sickly-sweet chocolate and toasted rice milkshake, either.
Where: 53 Lexington Street, W1F 9AS
How much: Pork belly bao £4.50
Berners Tavern at The London Edition, Fitzrovia
What: 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: £28
The Cheese Bar, Camden
What: Originally a street-food truck, Camden’s Cheese Bar is a bricks-and-mortar tribute to founder Mathew Carver’s love of fromage. This lactose-laced hangout boasts an entire menu of cheesy classics, with everything from fondue with smoked sausage to cheese-tinged desserts. Our favourite is the gooey, pull-apart four-cheese rotelle pasta.
Where: Unit 93/94 Camden Stables, NW1 8AH
How much: £7.80
Flesh & Buns, Covent Garden
What: How about a dose of brash Japanese cuisine off Seven Dials? We leave stuffed after every visit, having gorged on those soft hirata buns filled with crispy piglet belly. Then we order a pile of that fried squid, with punchy Japanese pepper and fiery Korean wings. Oh, and then the DIY s’mores for dessert, with passion fruit marshmallows, almond chocolate and crackers…
Where: 41 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LX
How much: Crispy piglet belly £14.50
Homeslice, City, Covent Garden, Fitzrovia and Old Street
What: Homeslice is known for its gargantuan 20-inch pizzas, which can be enjoyed whole or by the slice. With varieties including goat shoulder and wild venison, we recommend splitting your toppings for maximum eating pleasure.
Where: Various locations
How much: 20-inch pizzas £20 each
J Sheekey, Covent Garden
What: 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: £17.50
Jinjuu, Mayfair and Soho
What: A calorific mash-up of US junk food and Korean ingredients is just what the doctor ordered during these cold, wintry months. Order TV chef Judy Joo’s signature Korean fried chicken (and definitely pair it with the prawn crackers and Mexican-spiced French fries slathered with cheddar).
Where: 39 Albemarle Street, W1S 4JQ and 15 Kingly Street, W1B 5PS
How much: Korean fried chicken £9.50
What: No, we’re not talking potatoes; this acronym stands for Modern American Steak House. Prices are high, but the massive and juicy cuts on offer more than justify them. Make sure to pair your main with the moreish sides (mac ‘n’ cheese or chilli chips) and we suggest finishing with the deceptively light profiteroles – there’s always more room for dessert, right?
Where: 77 Brewer Street, W1F 9ZN
How much: Steaks from £32
Meatliquor East Dulwich, Islington, and Marylebone
What: ‘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 £8.75
Padella, South Bank
What: 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
If we’ve got you in the mood for stomach-filling treats, here’s where you can chow down on our pick of the capital’s best burgers, or take a slice from our favourite London pizzas.