What better way to recover from a seemingly endless food coma from festive over-indulgence than to read about more food?! Good thing I’m here to provide the remedy.
I could think of nothing more Christmassy than kicking off December in a cozy rooftop igloo above Vinegar Yard market in London Bridge. You’re probably familiar with the market itself-especially if you work nearby-as it’s got a great lineup of street food and a few bars to keep patrons happy. But just for the Winter season they popped up these wonderful igloos for groups to enjoy a bit of comfort and privacy, while taking in views of the Shard above and food from down below! Definitely a good way of spending time with friends.
As for the food itself, NATURALLY the traders were bringing Christmas specials to the table. Everything from the awesome Christmas Chicken Tikka Burger from Baba G’s through to a sausage, sprouts, cranberry and gravy pizza from Bad Boys Pizza Society! We were definitely in the festive spirit by the end of the night-helped along by the Grey Goose rooftop cocktail bar...
Speaking of “cozy”, that’s definitely the word I’d use to describe recent Warren Street addition Hugs & Bites.They bill themselves as a Mediterranean tapas spot, and the snug and intimate ambience is definitely a highlight of the experience! Once again, a great range of interesting cocktails doesn’t go amiss either. Good date spot vibes.
On the food front there wasn’t a duff dish on the table-and we tried most of the menu! There’s a whole range from quite simple, classic dishes well-executed through to interesting, innovative creations. I was happy with the lot, but my top picks were probably the unassuming ‘Tacos’ and the Zucchini Fritters. The former won me over by virtue of their sheer size and presentation, as well as the richness of the chilli, and the latter were huge cheesy balls of deliciousness-not what I was expecting at all! I was even surprised by the White Chocolate Mosaic dessert, which seems to be an original nougat-esque creation that really grows on you as you devour it bit by bit.
A great Christmas present for fans of Malaysian and Singaporean food is a brand new refurbished spot for Rasa Sayang in Chinatown! You may have heard me sing their praises before and that’s because they’re pure class, consistently delivering a great experience with great food and drink every time.There are a few bits I ALWAYS order at Rasa Sayang, and that includes their roti canai (one of the best in London) and their Hainanese chicken (probably THE best in London!) The portions are huge and the food is hearty, comforting and delicious. A first for me was trying their Singaporean Chilli Prawns with mantou buns-they’ve faithfully recreated that ‘chilli crab’ flavour (which is also on the menu!) and the buns go perfectly with the sauce for a bit of a naughty treat.
I didn’t indulge this time, but they have a great range of cocktails and other drinks too. Instead I opted for the bright pink, super sweet ‘bandung’ which is a favourite of mine! And whilst Rasa Sayang can definitely cater for your every need, as they’re now smack in the centre of Chinatown the world is your oyster before and after too.
You may remember me gushing about the huge Eataly by Liverpool Street and some of the restaurants therein. Well I need to gush once more as they invited me in for a taste of everything Christmassy they had to offer-from pizza to panettone, literally.
I definitely recommend Eataly as a spot to shop for a special meal or for some treat items, as everything they stock is super fresh and high quality. But naturally it’s also great for hot food, whether you’re looking for quick service or a nice sit-down experience.
They absolutely stuffed me full of festive pizzas and platters of cheeses, breads, olives and loads more fresh produce! But that was just for starters... We sat down for a fancy truffle risotto in their most recent restaurant addition, Terra, before they wheeled out the TROLLEY OF PANETTONE. From the classic to varieties I’d never seen before, they stock some seriously incredible stuff at Eataly. As I type this I’m still working my way through the last of our panettone we picked up from there!
On the topic of panettone-and a generally sweet Italian Christmas!-a particular vice of mine is gelato from Badiani. I feel like I’ve probably spent more money on Badiani gelato than anything else in my entire life! But it’s oh so worth it.
As a mini holiday treat I tried out some of their festive flavours, including their famous and DELICIOUS panettone gelato which is still incredible! The pandoro flavour from them was new to me but also well worth a look to complete the Christmas set. You really can’t go wrong with Badiani though. For reference, my top regular picks are the Buontolenti Pistachio and Praline flavours!
I also ventured slightly out of my frozen comfort zone and checked out the Christmas selection from La Gelatiera, another gelato giant on the scene. They’ve added rum to their panettone gelato for a warming combo made in heaven! And with flavours like mulled wine poached pears, gingerbread biscuit, mince pie and candied chestnuts they’re really ticking the Christmas boxes. Definitely one to look out for is their Sicilian Pistacchio Sorbet though-pretty much blew my mind, and it’s won a bunch of awards too!
Whilst most irregular to shout out the same spot two months in a row, it would be remiss of me not to mention Bone Daddies’ December ramen special: The Big Cheese Daddy. A collaboration with The Cheese Bar featuring a mound of Spenwood cheese, it may well be their best special to date. I hope it sticks around or makes a quick comeback!
I’m sure we’re all looking to the new year with some amount of trepidation, and maybe we won’t be venturing out to restaurants and bars again for a while yet, but there’s plenty on the horizon to get excited about. I’m also keen to share some of my current top picks in London with you! Keep your eyes peeled for that, and have a happy new year.