It’s January and after taking a look back over 2016 as a whole, it’s time to remember the best places I ate in December of 2016. December is notoriously filled with food and a lot of places do whole ranges of Christmas themed specials however, with a visit from my family for my mum’s birthday and a few meetings with friends who didn’t want yet another Christmas burger, I actually ate out at a bunch of great places that I’ll happily talk about in January. That’s not to say I didn’t eat my body weight in Christmas burgers (notably the fried camembert one from Honest Burger), but with these round ups I like to keep it as something you can go out and eat yourself, and as this is looking back at a previous month it’s only right to pick out the non-Christmas-specific places.
Grain Store – London – Kings Cross
My parents came down to London to visit and to celebrate my Mum’s 60th birthday. The brief I was given for organising dinner on the Saturday night was as follows; ‘Probably 8 people, something quite nice, maybe Chinese?’. This, obviously, isn’t what happened, as every single place that matched those exact criteria were only doing, pretty damn expensive, set menus for large groups in December. Grain Store was in the next batch of places I suggested and, at relatively short notice, they managed to fit in 8 of us at prime time on a Saturday night. I’ve talked about them before, so don’t need to say too much about the restaurant itself, but it’s worth noting that the service was friendly and helpful, plus the seasonal cocktails are absolutely worth trying, as are their more unusual desserts. I drank a pumpkin seed old fashioned, and my dessert was a soft meringue with red berry sorbert and yuzu custard(£6). Before all that I started with Sprouting seeds & beans, miso aubergine, crispy citrus chicken skin, potato wafer (£7.5) which, while not what I was expecting, was pleasantly surprising with a chickeny yet fresh taste coming together with the crisp textures of the wafer and sprouting seeds. For a main I went for the fish special (sadly I can’t remember exactly what I had but it came with a celeriac mash). We all shared a selection of their breads, which on every occasions I’ve visited have been excellent. Everyone left full, a little tipsy and feeling pretty festive.
The Modern Pantry – London – Finsbury Square
The next morning it was a slightly smaller group, with just my direct family involved, and we wanted a relaxed brunch. Modern Pantry is ideal for this. While it’s not as cheap as some of the million brunch options in London, its relaxed, light and well elegant setting is ideal for a slow Sunday and a catch up. This was my mum’s birthday proper so we exchanged gifts over coffee and food. I had the miso, chilli & green onion waffles topped with bacon. I love twists on the classic waffle, and I always enjoy when places do something a little different. Modern Pantry are the ideal place for these twists as they take the more classic breakfast dishes and add a few more unusual or modern twists to them.
Bone Daddies – London – Soho
It has now become a Christmas tradition for me to visit Bone Daddies for ramen the night before (or lunch of the day) I leave for Christmas. It makes a nice change, breaking up a month of eating Christmas specials and then actual Christmas food (plus a lot of cheese). It’s actually been a while since I’ve been to Bone Daddies (after trying, and failing, with Gluten Free blog pal Loriley in the summer, after it turned out they couldn’t accommodate her) and they’ve expanded the menu considerably since I last went. This is great to see, they now actually have a number of proper veg options, for instance. I had the Kani Tonkotsu (grilled chashu pork belly, softshell crab, chilli, kale, black sesame). A thick and creamy soup topped with a softshell crab. The pork belly was the star in this though, and made me wish I’d gone for something that had more of that in it.
Oh and I went to Bleecker Burger because they were doing burgers for £5 and when you’re off work with your feet up that’s pretty hard to resist.