23 December 2014

Bex's London Food and Drink Awards: 2014 Edition

I've been to a lot of London restaurants, coffee shops and cocktail bars this year and now it's time for me to choose the winners of my annual food and drink awards. Even more of the winners and runners-up this year are based south of the river this year, as I start to discover more and more fun places to eat and drink in south-east London. These favourites — and my other reviews and Instagram posts this year — indicate that Bermondsey is the best area for gin, Peckham for brunch and Camberwell for coffee. As ever, the winners and runners-up are, with one exception, places that are new to me in 2014, even if they have been around longer.

1. Best coffee: FreeState Coffee (Holborn)
I've enjoyed a lot of macchiatos this year and even more hand-brewed filter coffees, and it was tough to pick a winner. Omotesando Koffee in Tokyo wins the prize for most beautiful macchiato, but is, of course, disqualified from my London food and drink awards. Instead, I picked Holborn-based FreeState, where the staff are friendly and the coffee is excellent. Plus, their café is bright, characterful and a fun place to hang out.
Runner-up: White Mulberries

2. Best brunch: Anderson & Co (Peckham).
Bellenden Road — one of the nicest streets in Peckham — has no shortage of brunch spots, but my favourite is easily Anderson & Co. Their coffee is good and the brunch menu is so good that I often order two dishes: they do a mean scrambled egg on toast with avo, but the lime-roasted pineapple served with yoghurt and granola is also delicious. You can also enjoy your brunch on the pretty conservatory at the back.
Runner-up: Foxlow

3. Best street food: Street Feast (locations vary; previously in Lewisham and at Hawker House)
I'm lucky enough to work next to one of London's best street-food collectives, KERB, but it is often fun to partake in my favourite kind of table-less dining by night too. Street Feast put on great night-time food markets, which pop up in a given location for a few months. There is always plenty of choice and there are always excellent cocktails on offer — particularly useful if you've over-done it on the Rib Man's Holy F*ck sauce again. Check out their website to find their next home.
Runner-up: Peckham Market

4. Best cocktail: The Bermondsey Arts Club's Bermondsey Gardens (Bermondsey)
Bermondsey has had a great underground gin joint for some time — the wonderful 214 on Bermondsey Street — but 2014 saw the opening of its first art-deco cocktail bar in a former public toilet. The Bermondsey Arts Club is cool, elegant and with great drinks. My favourite is the fruity, gin-based Bermondsey Gardens, but the whole menu is creative and intriguing.
Runner-up: Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test #EKAAT at Bump Caves

5. Best burger: Honest Burgers (King's Cross and elsewhere)
This year I've been fairly conservative in my experiments in hamburgerology and have tended to stick to old favourites rather than trying out new places, mainly to avoid disappointment from mediocre burgers. When Dirty Burger, Bleecker Street Burger and especially Honest Burgers produce such delicious burgers, why go elsewhere? I've been going to Honest for a while, of course, but their epic April special with rib meat from the Rib Man and BBQ sauce, was legitimately new to me this year.

6. Best restaurant: Pedler (Peckham)
Pedler has everything you could want in a neighbourhood restaurant: an intimate venue with stylish, carefully thought out décor; a warm welcome from the friendly staff; and a creative — and gin-heavy — take on the modern British menu. As you would expect from the people behind Little Bird Gin (winner in the 'best cocktail' category of my 2013 food and drink awards), the drinks menu is also seriously impressive.
Runner-up: The Big Easy

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