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.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Our favourite restaurants of 2013

Trying to name one restaurant as our favourite above all others is an impossible task. Different types of restaurants are almost incomparable - classic cuisine done well is always enjoyable, but sometimes a down'n'dirty burger joint is preferable on those occasions when nothing else but fried food will do. We have therefore picked the top 10 restaurants that we have most enjoyed visiting this year. Whatever the type of restaurant, whether it’s a Michelin- starred restaurant featuring starched-tablecloths-and-silverware or an everyday kitchen with simple ‘man’ food, these were all taken into consideration. All ten on this list (and plenty more that didn't make the final cut) are places that we have considered to have delivered exemplary food along with good-quality service, atmosphere and value for money.

It must be said that this list covers only the restaurants that we've been to this year, so if your personal favourite isn't on this list, please feel free to let us know where we need to visit next year and maybe it will be on our list this time next year...

10. Kitchen W8

Michelin-starred neighbourhood restaurant in Kensington serving up exquisite fine dining. Particular highlights of our visit included the scallops starter and rabbit three ways. Slightly too expensive to be considered an everyday restaurant, it's certainly worth visiting for a special occasion.

We said: "We wish we could afford to eat at Kitchen W8 every day of the week... Every neighbourhood should have a restaurant as good as this."

9. Bodean's
Various locations
Sometimes, you need meat, and you need to eat it with your hands often resulting in sticky, sweet sauce smeared over your face. It's a primitive urge that we can't resist. Bodean's has four branches in London, serving up ribs, pulled pork and burnt ends to satisfy all our caveman cravings.

We said: "Few places do [BBQ] as well as Bodean's... The ultimate in 'dude food'."

8. Harrison's
Re-launched this year and low looks as good as the food tastes. Another fantastic neighbourhood restaurant, serving up perfect steaks, grills, fish and salads to the people of Balham. It's not just about the food though, the cocktail bar downstairs is certainly worth checking out too.

We said: "Great ideas, executed superbly... Red meat heaven."

7. The Spaniard's Inn
There's pub food, and then there is serious pub food. The Spaniard's Inn, hidden away between Hampstead and Highgate is definitely the latter. The history and heritage of the place gives a great foundation, but the food elevates The Spaniard's Inn above other gastro pubs. The selection of beers is outstanding too, and worth dropping into for a pint.

We said: "A creative menu shows why dinner has been in demand here for 400 years... If it's good enough for Keats and Dickens then it's good enough for us!"

6. Sophie's 
American steakhouse
Covent Garden
An old favourite that never let's us down, Sophie's is one of very, very few restaurants in town with a 'no reservation' policy that will always find room for guests, even on busy Saturday nights. It's the sort of place that's always bustling with a great atmosphere, yet will always find a decent table whenever you turn up. And more places should give complimentary salami while we peruse the menu, always a winner.

We said: "Consistently brilliant, never lets us down. We will be back again and again."

5. Hakkasan
Mayfair and Fitzrovia
Super-luxury is the word here, every element of the dining experience is simply first class. The food is breathtakingly good, the service is exemplary. It's not cheap here, but it's worth treating yourself to something very special.
We said: "Save up. Sell something on eBay. Rob a bank. Just do whatever it takes to make sure you experience Hakkasan at least once."

4. Tramshed
If you want steak or chicken, Tramshed is the place to visit. If you're a vegetarian, perhaps not so much. A limited menu has allowed them to perfect the chicken and steaks though, it's a meaty paradise.

We said: "Faultless food, great service and at a price that won't break the bank... Simplicity is bliss."

3. Gordon Ramsey's Maze Grill
Regular readers of our blog will know how highly we rate red meat, and Maze Grill delivered the best steak we had all year. There is a risk when visiting restaurants with names of famous executive chefs above the door that the restaurant will rely on reputation, but nothing could be further from the truth here, with first class food and fantastic wines.

We said: "Sophisticated and classy, Maze is a joy from beginning to end.

2. Kua 'Aina
While not being the most sophisticated restaurant in this list, few have bought us as much joy as Kua 'Aina, Carnaby Street's Hawaiian burger joint. Competition is tough for premium burgers, but in our opinion Kua 'Aina stands new pretenders like Shake Shack and Five Guys and even old favourites like Meat Liquor.

We said: "[Kua 'Aina is] in the very top category of gourmet burgers... Somewhere we'd be delighted to go back to on multiple occasions."

1. Balthazar
Covent Garden
Want somewhere to impress a date? Check. Somewhere to take a business associate for lunch? Check. A refined bistro to unwind with friends over a few bottles of wine? Check. Balthazar is all things to all people. Quite simply exceptional in every aspect.

We said: "Balthazar isn't cheap, but it is exceptional. One of the best restaurants we've been to."

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