My name is Ofeibea, and I am a foodie. It’s hardly a secret that yes, I love food. Yes, I have a food dance and yes, I am willing to follow where food leads. In this case, I’m celebrating my home city – the cultural melting pot that is London, and sharing just how easy it is to travel the world one plate at a time.
1701 / Jewish fusion / City
Tucked away in the back streets of London’s busy city financial district is Bevis Marks, the oldest synagogue in the UK. Built in 1701 and still functioning, it is now host to the aptly named restaurant 1701. Though a grade 1 listed building the decor is sleek and minimalist, you truly feel as though you are taking part in something special.
The menu does well to both represent and explain the different styles of Jewish cuisine that have evolved from centuries of traditional cooking from all over the Jewish diaspora. These include Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi, Judeo-Arab, Persian Jewish, Yemenite Jewish, Indian Jewish, and Latin-American Jewish.
This fusion makes for a delightfully creative menu in both taste and presentation. I went with friends, so dining was naturally accompanied by regular “ooh’s” and “aah’s” as we sampled each other’s choices. Curiosity and hunger were satisfied in equal measure as we enjoyed platters like Adafina and the delicious Borscht which is by far one of the most memorable starters I’ve ever had – a (bright purple) light soup made from Beetroot, balsamic vinegar sphere, rye soil and horseradish foam, major points for ‘wow’ factor!
Dress smart / dine as a couple / dine with friends / picky eaters need not apply
Jane Tira / Thai / SOHO
Stumbling across Jane Tira was one of those moments where feet followed stomach and got it absolutely right. Central to London’s famous SOHO district, it’s walking distance from the theaters, shops and bars that make it so unique. This cosy self-styled street food joint is easy to miss but definitely worth the visit.
The decor is simple, the service is fast and ‘With Thailand’ still very much on my ‘to-go-to’ list, the food here seemed a genuine foray into what to expect taste-wise.
Naturally, my first trip there was more to do with hunger than anything else, so we were pleasantly surprised when we tasted Moo ping (char-grilled marinated pork with lemongrass, coconut, chillies and tamarind relish). So pleasantly surprised that we couldn’t leave without ordering more, and then more again to take away (which naturally won me the accolade of most enviable lunch plate at the office the next day).
Dress casual / dine as a couple / dine with friends / dine fast
Coco Bamboo / Brazilian-Caribbean / Camden
It’s easy for lovers of Caribbean food to feel at home in London. The historical relationship and long established communities mean that good Caribbean food is never too far away.
As with many cuisines, there’s always the fear that once it becomes a restaurant affair, it’s not as good as “aunty so and so’s.” It’s for this reason I always love a good recommendation!
Coco Bamboo is just one recommendation that made it to my list of ‘keepers’. It presents itself as Caribbean Brazilian fusion cuisine. It may sound odd at first but just one look at the menu shows you just how much it works. The staples that are common to a lot of African, Caribbean and South American food are dressed onto platters full of flavor and favorites. The portions are generous and the restaurant does well to maintain a sense of home comfort despite its location.
The salt cod fritters are a must, and their curry goat did not disappoint. It arrives in a pastry basket served alongside the old faithful rice and peas. Their assortment of special sauces combines flavors such as mango, pineapple, avocado, coconut and chilli, and make a welcome addition to their dishes.
Plan the timing of your visit well to enjoy live music on the ground floor to accompany your meal.
Dress smart-casual / dine as a couple / dine with friends / dine with family / dine large