21 December 2012

Bex's 2012 London Food and Drink Awards

I've just spent the past few days updating my New York Moleskine city guide for my upcoming trip and as such, my head is full of old and new Manhattan rather than London eateries. Nonetheless, I've managed to put together my list of London food and drink favourites for 2012. Like last year, these places didn't all open in 2012, but I did visit them for the first time this year.

1. Best new macchiato: Prufrock (Farringdon).
2012 has been a good year for meritable macchiatos in London and it was quite difficult to pick my favourite new discovery of the year. In the end, though, I went with the place I put at the top of my updated map of my favourite independent espresso bars in the city: Prufrock. Although it's a bit of push to get there and back on a lunch break and fit in lunch too, I make the effort fairly often, sometimes just to get some ground coffee for my Aeropress. Knowledgeable baristas, a great macchiato, a cool place to hang out, and cute bunny stickers. What more does a girl need?
Runner up: Shoreditch Grind

Prufrock's macchiato + brownie bite

2. Best new brunch: Village East (Bermondsey)
I haven't had much time for brunch this year, what with the flat hunt and subsequent move. It isn't by default, however, that Village East, one of my new locals, takes the prize in this category. From pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, to eggs numerous ways and sweetcorn fritters, Village East has more than just the usual brunch suspects. If it's more -unch o'clock than br- o'clock, you can also order a burger, chicken sandwich or fish and chips. Oh, and the juices and coffee are good too. Booking is advised.
Runner up: The Table Cafe

3. Best new street food: Maltby Street Market (Bermondsey)
Even though, it has since had a rebrand, changing its name and some of its vendors, I would have liked to have chosen the street-food market formerly known as eat.st (now Kerb Food) as the winner again, but I thought that was probably cheating. Instead, I've picked Borough Market's cooler, quieter little sister, which is, happily, even closer to chez moi than Borough. The little corner of Bermondsey underneath the railway tracks is home to the warehouses/wholesale units of a whole host of small food and drink producers and on Saturdays--and, increasingly, Sundays--they open up to retail customers. A lot of the produce is to be taken home to prepare, but you can definitely enjoy a good street-food meal on the go, from sandwiches and pastries to cakes and ice creams.
Runner up: Leather Lane Market (especially Daddy Donkey burrito truck)

Classy cocktails at Nightjar

4. Best new cocktail: Nightjar (Shoreditch)
Nightjar had been on my cocktail wishlist for a long time before I finally had the chance to visit a few months ago. Being of the secret speakeasy genre of cocktail bars, it is hardly surprising that it is tucked underground only stumbling distance from the glamour vacuum that is the Old Street roundabout. With a cocktail menu that takes a good ten minutes to read from cover to cover, full of creative cocktails, which come expertly mixed and beautifully presented. A marvellous place to get merry.
Runner up: Callooh Callay

5. Best new burger: Tommi's Burger Joint (Marylebone)
2012 was the year when London finally got into the whole proper burger trend. Just when Marylebone finally got a cool but chilled-out place to grab an excellent burger, I only had to go and move south of the river... Tommi's opened just in time to raise my spirits after a lengthy Paralympics ticket queuing experience and I've been back several times. 'Best burger' is usually one of the most closely fought contests in my food and drink awards, and Tommi and his Icelandic chums beat out competition from maybe five or six other great new burger purveyors, including the runner up.
Runner up: Burger and Lobster

Tommi's: no fuss, just a great burger

6. Best new restaurant: Hawksmoor (Spitalfields, and others)
Hawksmoor was another example of a place I'd been meaning to check out for a long time before I enjoyed their delicious fillet steak at the Spitalfields branch. Within two months, I'd already been back to the newly opened Air Street branch, just off Regent Street. The food was great at both, but the former is probably better for a more traditional, Mad Men vibe, whereas the latter (which has more fish on the menu) is a more elegant venue. The cocktail menu is excellent, and what gave Hawksmoor the edge was the peanut butter shortbread pudding. Apparently I can't resist a peanut butter pudding even after 300g of beef!
Runner up: Pitt Cue Co

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