Al Forno by Shepherd’s Bush Green is delicious, if not slightly misleading. So I ordered a 13 inch Margarita Pizza (£4.80). The pizza was cooked to perfect and service was incredibly fast, even for pizza. The place certainly had an Italian rustic feel and the food was definitely worth it in my opinion. Especially with prices as low as this place, anyone who doesn’t give a place like this a try is missing out. I certainly will be going back so I hope to catch you there. Might try something different next time, maybe a lasagna? Also, the decor (inside & outside) is personally worth the visit whether you’re buying food or not.
£11 (2 people)
4 Romney Court, Shepherds Bush Green, London, W12 8PY
Al Forno: Website / Menu
Woody Grill is a chain of Turkish restaurants in London. When I visited this restaurant, I ordered a Chicken Doner Roll (£5.70) and it really surprised me. The bread was excellent! The chicken also came with two sauces. Firstly, the sweet chilli sauce had excellent flavours and it complemented the bread and chicken perfectly. The white sauce was my favourite though; it was creamy and had spicy herbs. The chicken had excellent flavour and juices, even without the sauces. This was a new type of restaurant for me, so I was a little apprehensive of trying the mystery sauces, but the combined flavours were familiar enough to enjoy, but still exciting and unexpected. I was served a large portion, but I was so happy with the meal that I took my leftovers to go. The restaurant’s interior seemed a little casual compared to the quality of the food, but matched their pricing. CASH ONLY
£15 (2 people)
1 Uxbridge Road, London W12 8LJ
Opening Everyday: 11:00am – 05:00am
020 8749 9767
Woody Grill: Website/Facebook
In the past, Wong Kei has been infamously dubbed ‘the rudest restaurant in London’. You will get no special treatment or patience from the staff – ever. You will likely get the bill while still chewing and don’t expect dishes to arrive at the same time. It looks like every other restaurant in Chinatown with succulent hanging roast meat in the window.
But regulars know you don’t go for the service. You go because it serves you a mountain of food for a few pounds in a matter of minutes. This visit, I had the roast duck noodle soup (£4.80), but also a treat is scrambled egg and prawns on ho fun (£6.20), crispy belly pork and eel on rice (£7.50) or the pork chop and aubergine on rice (£5.80). Order one-plate dishes from the back of the menu, this is not the place to order several dishes to share with sides of rice – you’ll rack up a big bill for average anglicised Chinese food.
The one-plate meals are value and always tasty. Forget all else, and you will might enjoy.
£26 (2 people)
Wardour Street W1D 6PY London
020 7437 8408
Wong Kei: Website
Ethiopian food – not something you come across every day but peaks any foodie’s curiosity. Upon opening the menu and realising I hadn’t a clue how to gauge what was the right thing to order, I called over the waiter/owner/father of the restaurant to ask for advice. (His children were sitting at a table in the corner doing their homework intermittently shouting for his attention).
For 2 of us, we were recommended and ordered Gomen Be Siga – lamb and spring greens (£8) and Yetsom Beyaynetu – a selection of vegetable dishes (£7). Both of these were served on or with injera – a light and spongy sourdough bread. With no cutlery provided, injera was our utensil as seemed to be what the regulars around us were doing. Each feature on the plate was a good subtle blend of spices, though the sour taste of the injera although pleasant at first, was not something I wanted with every mouthful.
But if you loved the injera, you’d be a happy chappy here but don’t miss the Tej (£2.50 per glass), a mead-like alcohol served cold from a teapot into a berele (conical shaped glass).
£30 (2 people)
82 Hornsey road Holloway, London.
020 7700 3055
Wolkite Kitfo: Website/ Facebook
Londoners see hundreds of these ‘restaurants’ shoved into every nook and cranny of central London. Though never homogenous chains, they somehow manage to all look the same and serve exactly the same thing – big deli fridge, fry ups in the morning, pre-made ‘gourmet’ sandwiches, jacket potatoes, microwaved lasagne…etc. Short of time to go elsewhere one day, a friend and I popped in and ordered some Arrabbiata Pasta (£5) and Carbonara Pasta (£5.50). By chance, it was a tastecard restaurant and we got it at £2.75 a bowl.
While admiring the vintage italian-brand produce shelf décor, I realised our pasta was coming from the kitchen, not the microwave! Pasta win! Food arrived – parmesan offered. Pasta rarely impresses, even more so in a bog standard café, but we were sitting in front of unexpectedly tasty pasta. A quick chat with the waitress and we discovered their Italian chef uses only De Cecco pasta – the only dry pasta Italians will swear by. Premium pasta, well made. I hope they never cut costs. Or fire the chef. Who knows what their microwaved Shepherd’s Pie is like. But the pasta is weirdly good.
£20 (2 people)
Temple Underground station, London WC2R 2PH
Out in the suburbs of London hides this unique Indian restaurant in a converted pub. The restaurant is often busy on week nights and full of native locals – a spicy start.
Each main dish was rich and fresh in flavour. Fish curry topped with fresh curry leaves and mustard seeds, daal served with whole fried dried chillies and tender lamb in the biriyani served with homemade raita. Although the Sheikh Kebab was disappointing, the other dishes more than made up for it.
What is unique about this restaurant however is that the native locals don’t come to eat the Indian food but come for the Indo-Chinese offering on the menu. From my understanding, Chinese food in India caters to local tastes, the same way it does here in England, and their version of Chinese food is therefore different. So this appears to be an authentic Indian Chinese restaurant which is an amazing niche to hit when you think about it.
I’ll be back next time to try the Fish Chilli Black Bean Sauce, Paneer in Schezwan Sauce, and Okra in Chilli and Spring Onion sauce. Don’t knock it till you try it right?
£28 (2 people)
Stanmore Hill, Stanmore, HA7 3DZ
020 8954 3335
Monday – Sunday
12.00pm to 11.00pm
Raw Lasan: Website/Facebook
Sen Nin is a Teppanyaki flare restaurant, mimicking the style of service found in Benihana restaurants around the world. The main obvious difference is the price – Sen Nin is significantly cheaper. (roughly £20-£25 per head for the set menu as opposed to £50-£60 at Benihana in Piccadilly).
The idea is to sit around the hot griddle while the knife-wielding, joke-telling chef fills you with awe and excitement. There was fire, there were eggs in hats, there was food thrown into our mouths, there was utensil juggling, there were funny jokes and the teriyaki tilapia was cooked perfectly. I wanted another 3 pieces.
It makes for an incredibly entertaining meal out with friends. It’s not quite Benihana, it’s lacking the finesse and atmosphere that makes a good restaurant superb, but it’s worth going out of your way to see for yourself if Teppanyaki flare is not something you’ve come across before. Bonus tip: go on a Tuesday, all food is 50% off, quite the sizzling deal.
£48 (2 people)
Islington -206 Upper Street, Islington N1 1RQ 020 7704 1890
Camden – 35 Pratt Street, Camden NW1 0BG 020 7096 1276
Monday – Thursday 12:00 – 15:00 and 17:00 – 23:00
Friday – Sunday 12:00 – 23:30
Sen Nin: Website