20 December 2013

Bex's London Food and Drink Awards: 2013 Edition

With less than a fortnight of 2013 remaining, it's time for the first of my end-of-year round-ups. Today I've chosen my London food and drink favourites of the year. I've had some great culinary experiences in London this year — surprisingly, not all involved burgers! Like last year, these places are new to me this year although not all of them are new. I'm no foodie, so as usual, I've stuck mainly to my specialist subjects.

1. Best macchiatoAssociation Coffee (City)
I have just one problem with Association Coffee, on Creechurch Lane, near Aldgate station: its opening hours mean that I only get to visit on a somewhat long-winded journey into work. With coffee from a range of London suppliers, the macchiato is always excellent, and I've also had some great Aeropress brews. Plus, the decor is great and the staff are friendly and very knowledgeable, so it's a great place to hang out. Please start opening at the weekends, Association, or open a branch in King's Cross!
Runner-up: Allpress

2. Best brunch: Bea's Diner (Bermondsey)
Pancakes: check. Maple bacon with extra maple syrup: check. Bottomless coffee: check. Yes, Bea's Diner, under the arches of Druid Street, near Tower Bridge Road, really is the perfect venue for a cool brunch while the trains rumble overhead. They also do movie nights!
Runner-up: The Hangover Club

3. Best new street food: B.O.B.'s Lobster (check their website for current locations)
I visited B.O.B.'s a couple of times during their Borough Market residency over the summer. This year, London had an amazing summer, when the thought of scoffing a delicious lobster roll — served from a red VW van by the most cheerful staff London has ever seen — washed down with a glass of Prosecco is even more appealing than in today's wintry state. At £11, the lobster roll is also great value. The van has been at Hawker House, but the B.O.B.'s crew are also sheltering in a garage near St Paul's for the winter; check out their website for more info.

4. Best new cocktail: Little Bird's Perfect G and T (Bermondsey)
Nothing says hip London weekend brunch than a Perfect G and T at Little Bird Gin's Maltby Street outpost. Little Bird is a small-batch gin distiller based in Peckham, and their citrusy gin does indeed go perfectly with the pink grapefruit served with the Perfect G and T. Plus it looks so pretty, it's currently the lock screen photo on my iPad!

5. Best new burgerPatty & Bun (Marylebone)
A hotly fought contest, as always: I have eaten a lot of great burgers this year. I'd thought Bleecker St Burger was going to win, but I realised I actually discovered them last year. Still, with the Yanks trying their hand at the London burger market, in the form of Balthazar, Shake Shack and Five Guys, there were plenty of other places to choose from. In the end, though, the Brits had it. You often have to queue at Patty & Bun, but the burgers are awesome, especially the Smokey Robinson burger, which comes with caramelised onions and smokey mayo. They get bonus points for the peanut butter choc ices available on the pudding menu!
Runner-up: Dirty Burger — yes, good burgers crossed the Thames, eventually!

6. Best new restaurant: Grain Store (King's Cross)
Bruno Loubet's new-ish restaurant in King's Cross's Granary Square is the perfect place to celebrate a special birthday. Or an ordinary birthday. Or, you know, a Wednesday. The menu is creative and meticulously planned, the cocktails are top notch, the staff are friendly, and it has a buzzy, cool ambience.
Runner-up: Pizza Pilgrims — great pizza, great service, great prices.

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