CC Team Picks: Restaurant Edition

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If you're after some restaurant inspiration for 2024, then you’re in luck – we’ve asked the Culture Calling team to share the restaurants they are loving right now…

Khamsa in Brixton - Charlie

Image © khamsabrixton via Instagram

140 Acre Ln, London SW2 5UT

Loving decorated, perfectly lit, and truly lived-in, Khamsa feels like dining in someone’s living room. Upon being seated, it’s hard resisting the urge to take your shoes off, especially since the place is so well carpeted, with drapes that cover the walls to mimic curtains and blinds.

The spot would be worth a look-in even if its menu was the gentrified equivalent, but the menu, designed by the welcoming and talkative owner, is worth whatever tube journey you’re taking.

A small menu that hits the beats of approachable-to-the-English Algerian food, focusing on tagine and couscous, there is still plenty room for the adventurous, with two main courses only available when booked 24hr in advance: Rechta and Tchakhoukha Bel Djajdj.

For the unsullied, my top recommendations are the 7- salad sharing platter, probably the best of its kind in London, the chicken tagine, and spicy meatballs. If you wanted an introduction to the rich and varied world of Algerian cooking, then beginning at this intimate, family-run restaurant is your smartest move.

And, its BYOB. Good stuff.

For more information or to make a reservation click here

Ayam Zaman in Shepherd’s Bush - Charlie

Image via Zomato

258 Uxbridge Road, Shepherd's Bush W12 7JA

Past the green, into the heart of Uxbridge Road, lies a traditional Middle Eastern casual dining spot, that specialises in the cuisine of Damascus, serving a variety of hot and cold mezza (also spelt mezze or mazza) found across the Levant. 

Syrian hospitality makes it impossible for you to go hungry, and if you’re brave enough to get mezze before mains and then desert, then you’ve done it right.

A huge menu, it gets easier if you treat it like tapas, ordering small plates for the table to share, as the whole philosophy behind mezza emphasizes sharing and group participation in eating.

Coming highly recommended are the kibbah shamieh, which are basically lamb meatballs in a Scotch-egg like batter but crispier, arayes, minced veal in pitta bread, borak bil jebnej, a cheese pastry, and, of course, any of the multiple different types of hommos they have.

If you were smart you’d order sides of garlic yoghurt and extra bread, as well as leaving a generous tip so you can get extra free baklava with the bill. The kind of casual spot that will keep you trekking to W12 for hot mezza.

Poor Boys in Kingston - Gabriella

5 The Griffin Centre Market Place, Kingston Upon Thames KT1 1JT

Poor Boys is an independent restaurant serving the New Orleans street food I didn't know I was missing.

Choose from Po Boy Sandwiches, Mac N Cheese and a fishing boat's worth of seafood - then from a selection of rich sauces such as bourbon bbq or honey mayo.

The portion sizes are what you would expect of a restaurant with an American themed menu but if you have any room left, their frozen cocktails are also something to rave about.  

This restaurant is no thrills goodness with perfect consistency. It's well known that a small menu usually equates to quality and this is true of Poor Boys, they have mastered it. Hearty and delicious.

Dishoom - Gabriella

Various locations

The finest Bombay food. Dishoom wow's me everytime. The most authentic Indian flavours I've had outside of India.  The ambiance of the restaurant echoes a nostalgic charm, reminiscent of 1950s India, adding depth to every dining experience.

The service is always impeccable and I'm sure Dishoom will always be in my top picks. 

For the veggies: Mattar Paneer is always my go to. Full of flavour and a hint of spice. 

Eat Tokyo in Notting Hill Gate - Colin

Image via Rachel Phipps

17 Notting Hill Gate W11 3JQ

Traditional Japanese food: everything from sashimi to nigiri to lovely tofu dishes to Bento boxes: Everything you would want if you like Japanese food and it is incredibly good value and probably the cheapest high quality Japanese food in London. There are other branches including in Soho and Covent Garden.

Khan’s in Westbourne Grove - Colin

13-15 Westbourne Grove: W2 4UA

An institution and one of the oldest Indian restaurants in London (established in 1977), Khan's has huge and spacious rooms with a real feeling of India: Simply the best Indian food in London, with a constant high standard and at prices everyone can afford.

No alcohol though which some may argue make it even better.

Sông Quê Café on Kingsland Road - Emma

Image via Food Diaries London

134 Kingsland Road, London E13 9NU

Sông Quê Café boasts the best pho on Kingsland Road - broth with rice noodles and beef - the most exported of all Vietnamese dishes to the rest of the world.

An authentic, family-run restaurant in the heart of East London, Sông Quê's main selling point is its versatility as either a dine-in or a takeaway, as many olf the smaller Vietnamese dishes - summer rolls, spicy squid, prawn toast - are the ideal takeaway food.

Quick to arrive and lovingly crafted, no doubt you'll be pulling up the address of this one for more and more. 

Polpo on Beak Street - Emma

Image via Time Out

41 Beak Street, London W1F 9SB

Polpo serves a comprehensive range of Italian tapas - called Cicheti, meaning 'small plates' - which are ideal for sharing with groups, especially the pork and fennel meatballs, nduja arancini and various pizzette.

Despite it's prime location on Soho's Beak Street, the prices are more than reasonable: £22 for a whole sea bass, and octopus strozzapreti for £16.50. Not bad for seafood so far from the sea, especially in the heart of London. 

Pasture in Bristol - George

Image via Restaurant Guru

2 Portwall Lane, Bristol BS1 6NB

Arguably the best steak restaurant that sources ingredients from the South West, Pasture has become one of the areas most well-regarded staples.

Much of their produce comes directly from Buttercliffe farm, which began as a vacant lot before becoming attentively developed into a thriving market garden, utilising the 'no-dig' method to enhance soil quality.

Delicious steaks and great music, a really atmospheric place. Top marks for the chimmichuri sauce.

Bandook in Bristol - George

Image via Bandook

UNIT 17, Cargo 2, Museum street, Bristol, BS1 6ZA

A gem of a restaurant found in Wapping Wharf’s thriving Indie food scene, Bandook serves up contemporary Indian food from a cosy converted shipping container. Opt for the Tamarind Chicken Wings and Grandma’s Chicken Curry if you are after big bold flavours!

Steins Kingston - Rhianna

56 High Street, Kingston Upon Thames KT1 1HN

Authentic Bavarian Food and German Beers. Stein's boasts a warmly lit and cosy atmosphere, natural wooden decor.

A prime riverside spot and beautifully decorated, the menu hits all the nails of Central European cooking: stews, broths, meats, cured meats, and sweet treats like pancakes, and traditional Bavarian breakfast items. 


Image via Grey Horse

46 Richmond Road, Kingston Upon Thames KT2 5EE

Delicious bbq smoked ribs, ambiently lit traditional pub setting, Grey Horse serves craft beers and cocktails, with comedy nights in the club at the back on a Thursday. 

A des res for meat lovers, the ribs especially come with a gold-star recommendation: smoky, sweet, tender, falling off the bone, and sizable, you shall not be dissapointed. 

With the restaurant at the back, it's also a great boozer with a big outdoor smoking area and a separate bar for the venue at the back. 

The Ivy Asia in Guildford, Surrey - Gary

23 Tunsgate Quarter, Guildford GU1 3QY

Welcome to delicious Asian-inspired cuisine, incredible entertainment plus cocktails to bring a dash of drama to the evening – all at The Ivy Asia, Guildford.

Located in the fashionable Tunsgate Quarter, The Ivy Asia Guildford, will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.

It’s a stunning haven from the everyday bustle, where shoppers, tourists and locals alike can savour a menu as rich and varied as the diverse cultures that span the continent of Asia.

With pan-Asian classics alongside exciting new dishes and incredible vegetarian and plant-based options, there’s something to please all palates.

Albert Schloss in Manchester - Gary

Image via on.inlondon

27 Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR

Schloss: Noun - /ʃlɔs/ (German/Bohemian) - A castle, palace or manor house: built as a retreat for recreation, indulgence, pleasure, and debauchery.

Our namesake Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s main squeeze, championed truth, beauty, freedom, and love. Launched into many years of mourning by his untimely death, Queen Victoria named buildings up and down the country in his honour, including our flagship venue in Manchester.

Albert’s Schloss celebrates the beloved Prince’s values every day and all night long. We’ve built a retreat from the modern world where we invite you to discover new things, celebrate one another, and revel in the wünder of our Schloss. Influenced by our travels across Alpine Europe; expect roaring fires, raucous performances, tankards of Europe’s finest bier, and endless naughtiness.