By Nina Koo-Seen-Lin.
Been there, dined on that. But you want more, don’t you? Don’t be bashful. London restaurants are meant to come up with a winning menu that will entice you into going back through their doors. You can identify your favourite starters, mains and desserts simply by sniffing the air. The aroma of hot bread rolls fills your nostrils as you weave your way through the crowd of diners and reach your table. It’s becoming a regular habit. It’s your mid-week treat to dine out in your favourite restaurant. But although your stomach is saying yes, yes, YES, your wallet is saying no, no, NO. Your tummy may be rounding off nicely but your bank account is starting to look as emaciated as a nineties heroin chic catwalk model. We are all still poop deep in a recession after all. The cheapest thing to do is dine-in rather than dine-out. But you’ve perfected your basic pasta dishes while at uni and your granny showed you how to make the perfect roast before you could even spell potato. The reason you go to these restaurants is because you want that kind of food. Marmite on toast is all very well but a meal from a top London restaurant it is not.
So, what’s the solution? Well, thankfully, some of London’s best restaurants have created cookbooks so we can all dine on their signature dishes. It’s all due to popular demand. Here are our favourite recipe books from the London’s best restaurants and cafés. Christmas presents: sorted.
Tibits, Heddon Street, Mayfair: Tibits at home, (£25)
Today sees one of the UK’s leading vegetarian restaurants launch its own cookery book. Tibits at home is a sumptuous cookbook, split into four seasonal sections, containing 50 recipes. Mouth-watering dishes to try in your kitchen include the hearty leek and quinoa soup, a scrumptious apple and ginger salad with tofu, and the luscious coconut chocolate pudding. Wash it all down with tibits’ famous ginger lemon punch and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were sitting in the fashionable Heddon Street food quarter in Mayfair rather than in your own dining room. Influences from around the world, from Asia and India to the Mediterranean and good old Blighty. All the recipes cater to vegetarians, with many that suit those with vegan, gluten-free and nut-free diets. Staunch carnivores, tibits at home will prove to you that veggie dining need not be dull.
Polpo, Beak Street, Soho: Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts), (£25)
One of the most anticipated cookbooks from this year came from the man behind London's hottest restaurants. Russell Norman's Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) is without a doubt some kind of luscious love letter to the city of Venice. His string of hit London restaurants: Polpo, Polpetto and da Polpo are based on the tiny bars you find in the city of bridges and water that serve snacks, named bacaros. Diners who love Polpo (polpophiles) will find the answer to the daily question: what should I have for lunch today? The first in what must be a series of cookbooks (a recipe book for Mishkins must be on the cards, right Russell?) include recipes for a pretty pizzetta bianca, the popular pork belly radicchio and hazelnut dish and the signature warm octopus salad.
Wahaca Mexican restaurants: Wahaca: Mexican Food at Home, £20
MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers (or Tommi as she’s often called) spiced up our summer with her latest cookbook, Wahaca: Mexican Food at Home. It’s a gorgeous new collection of recipes inspired by her everlasting love of Mexican cuisine. Tommi’s aim is to make people realise that Mexican cooking is not as daunting as it looks. As well as simple snack recipes there are also some delectable dinner dishes for those who want to get stuck in and fully explore Mexican cooking. The breakfast chapters are fun and include a recipe for Mexican hot chocolate, sweet buns and avocado milkshake. Every page is so fresh, full of colour and promises meals with the Yum-factor.
Ottolenghi, Notting Hill, Islington and Kensington: Jerusalem, £27
When Ottolenghi first graced the capital, the place did much to change Londoner’s perceptions of Deli dining. Owned Yotam Ottolenghi with the kitchen run by Head Chef Sami Tamimi, it’s one of the most successful food chains in London. Now the guys have taken over the cookbook world too with Jerusalem: A Cookbook. Both Ottolenghi and Tamimi share their knowledge of the tastes and flavours from their native country that blend together to make some delectable dishes. The recipes are inspirational and you can almost taste the fusion of flavours simply by turning the pages and reading how to make meals such as the saffron, date and almond rice and the comforting yellow pepper and Jerusalem artichoke soup.