London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Back to Basics


It's a well-known fact that all the best fish restaurants are on the coast. Or is it? There's a presumption that just because a restaurant is nearer the sea that the fish will be fresher and of a higher quality, but there are a few London restaurants disproving this myth. One of which is Fitzrovia's Back to Basics, a fairly small independent restaurant that has been serving up innovative and delicious fish and seafood for over 10 years. Situated in the heart of media-land, it is packed out during the week, especially at lunchtimes, but at the weekend it is relatively quiet and not difficult to get a table.

This is a fish restaurant that is loved even by people who don't usually like fish. The menu changes daily - when they say 'catch of the day', they mean just that. Don't expect to return to Back to Basics and have what you had last time: the menu is composed of what is fresh that day and is never the same twice. Fifteen dishes were described on a huge blackboard taking up half the wall, from thick, steaky salmon and tuna, to delicate sea bass, mussels, clams and shellfish. There is something for everyone, whatever your tastes. To start, we opted for the calamari and the soft shell crab. The squid was perfectly cooked, firm to the bite and coated in crispy golden batter while the crab was delicately flavoured and perfectly proportioned for a starter. There is no glamorous way to eat it though, whatever happens, you're guaranteed to make a mess!

This was followed by monkfish and king prawn kebabs, served with couscous; and seafood linguine containing a mouth-watering combination of mussels, squid and prawns. The monkfish and prawns had been marinated in garlic and herbs before being grilled, the flavours of the herbs working particularly well with the subtle flavours of the monkfish. The portion of couscous was generous and filled us up completely. Equally as filling was the large portion of linguine hiding the seafood within a spicy tomato sauce. Be warned though, the sauce carries a real kick and is definitely one for lovers of chilli!

Sometimes, it's lovely to escape central London and just for a couple of hours and feel like you're at an old fashioned traditional restaurant by the sea. The decor is quaint, adorned with model ships and small reminders of the coast. Alternatively, if it's a warm day, they have a decent amount of outdoor seating for you to soak up the sun and watch the world go by. A real personal favourite, Back to Basics is so good you can almost taste the salt in the air.
21A Foley Street, W1W 6DS 
Average price for main meal: £16
Average price for a glass of wine: £5
Food and drink: 5/5
Service: 4/5
Price: 3/5

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