How To Be Greedy In London This February
Berber & Q Shawarma Bar’s pita party. Photograph courtesy of Berber & Q
The food to put your waistband to the test with next month.
For the puritanical, the start of February signals the end of restrictive, post-festive penitence, while for the rest of us, a bout of celebratory gluttony is a canny way to fend off seasonal ennui. London’s restaurateurs seem only too keen to oblige, or so it would seem when perusing manifold tantalising opportunities for indulgent, borderline excessive, dining experiences. So, whether it’s a tasting tour of Spain, courtesy of soon-to-open Sabor, a night of proper Guinness, live music and “casually excellent” cookery at Nuala, a day’s pasta-making at Luca, Berber & Q Shawarma Bar’s pita party, a moreish Mexican dinner at Corázon, or simply luxuriating in delectable vegetarian cookery at Ceremony, all that’s left to do is pick and book (and bin that godforsaken spiraliser).
A vegetarian feast at Ceremony
Truffled duck egg on polenta at Ceremony. Photograph by Mr Jasper Fry, courtesy of Ceremony
This Kentish Town vegetable-led outfit hasn’t been open long, but it’s already developed a devoted following, curmudgeonly meat-loving critics included. It’s easy to see why, when faced with excellent dishes such as the pappardelle with Jerusalem artichoke, watercress and deep-fried salsify crisps or romesco, butternut squash and cauliflower purée and signature plates such as crispy duck egg, polenta and wild mushrooms. The cocktails, including the Mountain Negroni, are not to be missed, either.
Guinness, beef and champ at Nuala
Barely open and booked solid, Nuala, named after proprietor Mr Niall Davidson’s little sister, seems destined to be a 2018 hit. A bastion of the best of British produce with a feisty Irish heart, the two-tier space (restaurant with fire pit upstairs, Irish pub with a live-music licence downstairs) is geared towards after-hours fun. Yet despite the high spirits and Mr Davidson’s inclination to downplay his craft – “We keep the cheffy nonsense behind the screens so we don’t bore people” – the cooking is serious. Start with a pint and scampi-fried quail’s egg, before settling in for a fire-pit-cooked whole turbot or slab of Highland beef with Guinness, mussel stock and cream, not forgetting the champ, cabbage and bacon, because “they're the best things ever”.
A pita party at Berber & Q Shawarma Bar
Mr David Carter’s aged gochujang pork belly, toasted sesame, cucumber mint and crackling pitta. Photograph courtesy of Berber & Q
The pita party on 4 February is the grand finale to the Tel Aviv-inspired smart kebab shop’s now annual Pita Month. Five guest chefs – Mr David Carter (Smokestak), Mr Nud Dudhia (Breddos Tacos), Ms Sarit Packer and Mr Itamar Srulovich (Honey & Co and Honey & Smoke) and Mr Oded Oren (Louie Louie) – will be plating up creations such as spiced beef kofta, and sea bass and hake for diners to scoff, and score, while sipping wine flights or cocktails and listening to the chefs’ playlists. A rare opportunity for an extravagant, memorable kebab session.
A pasta masterclass at Luca
Taglierini of black winter truffle at Luca. Photograph courtesy of Luca
There’s no more sophisticated way to ease oneself back into the world of endless starchy possibility than with a fresh-pasta masterclass at Luca. Scholars are greeted with coffee and pastry, before making for the pasta room, designed to recall an (implausibly finessed) rustic Italian kitchen, where head chef Mr Robert Chambers (ex-Locanda Locatelli, The Ledbury) leads this lesson in egg and flour handicraft. Duly educated on the wonders of tagliatelle and ravioli, and following an aperitivo in the bar, attendees are served a five-course specially written menu, which features dishes such as braised cheek of dexter beef braised in chianti with girolles and polenta. “It’s a fantastic, artisanal experience, replete with an insight into the workings of a professional kitchen and pasta skills you will keep for life,” says front-of-house impresario and co-owner Mr Johnny Smith.
Family-size tapas at Sabor
Ms Nieves Barrágan Mohacho (ex-Barrafina) and Mr José Etura’s keenly anticipated new space comprises a tapas bar, restaurant and asador (grill house), and promises diners an authentic, Spanish culinary adventure from the tapas bars of Andalucía to seafood-favouring Galicia. “We wanted to recreate the experience of family and friends gathering together to share the best things that life has to offer,” says Ms Mohacho. “So what better than a traditional asador and pulpería? We’ve gone the extra mile by building a traditional wood oven for cooking our Castilian suckling pig, and are bringing copper pots from Galicia to obtain the same flavours in our own pulpo á feira,” says Ms Mohacho.
Mountains of meat at Corázon
Roast goat at Corazón x Cabrito. Photograph courtesy of Corazón
A one-off collaboration with the award-winning sustainable kid goat meat supplier Cabrito heralds a series of producer-centric suppers at the vibrant Soho Mexican. It’s a glorious match, what with goat meat being a staple in the Latin American nation. “The meat lends itself very well to slow cooking as it retains its moisture beautifully,” says owner Ms Laura Sheffield. For the set menu’s main course, chef Mr Paul Daniel has perfected a goat birria: shoulder-of-goat stew spiced with housemade adobo, guajillo, pasilla and ancho chillies, Mexican chocolate and cumin. “It’s a really warming, put-meat-on-your-ribs kind of dish,” says Ms Sheffield, while, in the chef’s opinion, “It’s bloody nice.”