Exponentially better than a Deliveroo
Words Sophie Jean-Louis Constantine
Baby, it’s cold outside this December, and our souls and bellies are crying out for heart-warming, mind-soothing food of the highest order. From oozy fresh lobster mac n cheese in Soho to winter-warming veggie wellingtons, here are 5 comfort food dishes for hibernation season.
The Ivy’s Shepherd’s Pie
Enduring Covent Garden favourite The Ivy serves quintessentially British comfort food alongside more extravagant dishes. With their mythic stained glass windows shielding diners from the outside world, iconic art adorning the walls and a swish clientele, there’s a glamorous timelessness in the air. The restaurant serves oodles of crowd-pleasers, but regulars will tell you that The Ivy’s shepherd’s pie is the best in London, and the reason they return again and again. This interpretation of the classic is a cross between a shepherd’s pie and a cottage pie, using both beef and lamb for the filling, giving extra depth of flavour. Take the dish to new levels with a generous helping of Mayfield cheese, which adds a subtle nuttiness to the dish. The accompanying jus is a thing of wonder, rich and deep and perfect. The Ivy does comfort food exceptionally well in a ritzy setting full of charisma and charm.
Max’s Sandwich Shop Giant Sarnies
Max’s sarnie haven spearheads the sandwich renaissance with its gourmet, gluten goodies. Much like the fare on offer, this spot in North London’s Crouch Hill is cosy, casual and convivial, with red wooden chairs, low-hanging lamps and windows that steam up of an evening. All sandwiches are mega in size and flavour, but they’ve covered themselves in glory with the ‘This is How We Spring Roll’ sandwich. The vegetarian Asian-inspired dish tastes like the most delicious takeaway (minus the MSG), and is filled with spring rolls, black bean mayo, pickled cucumber, kimchi, sauerkraut, beansprouts, chillies and carrots. A crunchy, hot, offbeat delight. Whopping sandwiches, crafted with care – could this be the ultimate comfort food?
The Riding House Café’s Vegan Wellington
Fitzrovia’s beloved all-day brasserie has taken the beef wellington, a dish that inspires foodie patriotism, and reimagined it. Theirs is an unconventional vegan take on the classic, replacing the fillet steak with truffled Portobello mushrooms and sweet potatoes. This flavourful filling is encased in golden puff pastry and served sitting on a bed of asparagus, spring beans and chestnuts. The RCH wellington is as restorative as it is wholesome, a welcome surprise when you break into its flaky shell. We then suggest moving to a teal-hued swivelling chair at the bar and ordering a postprandial cocktail from the ‘Taxi’ section of the menu. The ‘Planas Horchata’ with Diplomatico Reserva rum, almond, cinnamon, nutmeg and milk is particularly good.
Bob Bob Ricard’s Deluxe Mac n Cheese
Nothing keeps the winter chill at bay like a portion of oozy mac ‘n’ cheese. Bob Bob Ricard, a Russian-inspired restaurant that serves British fare in Soho, has elevated the dish, adding sweet fresh lobster for a luxurious spin on a comfort classic. Diners can eat their lobster macaroni amidst navy leather booths, marble finishes and art deco gold details. The creamy cheese sauce is made up of gruyere, cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan, spread over perfectly cooked pasta. A visit to BBR wouldn’t be complete without champagne. Each table is fitted with a ‘Press for Champagne’ button, prompting uniformed waiters to kindly oblige by topping up your glass. After all those refills, you may well find yourself on the dancefloor in the basement after dinner.
The White Horse’s Bangers and Mash
Tucking into bangers and mash in a snug, comfy pub is sure to lift your spirits as much as it lines your stomach – and at this Victorian watering hole in Parson’s Green, traditional British food is the order of the day. The pub interior is mahogany-lined, dotted with fireplaces and Chesterfields to curl up on. For The White Horse’s rendition of this favourite dish, sausages made from outdoor-bred stock are browned to perfection, served with spring onion mash, crispy onions and a red wine jus. Add one of the pub’s impressive selection of beers for a marriage made in heaven – choose from amber concoctions like the Duchesse de Bourgogne and Bavarian beauties such as Maisel’s Weisse. A dream spot to while away a blustery Sunday, reading the papers and warming the cockles.
Sophie Jean-Louis Constantine
Sophie is a freelance fashion, lifestyle and travel writer. An alumna of the University of Manchester, where she earned a BA in English Literature, Sophie went on to work at Conde Nast Traveller. She is a fervent North Londoner and happiest curled up with a book.