2022, our first “normal” year in what feels like ages, and what a wild ride it was. We’ve seen a lot of changes this year (new monarchs, new governments, new scarily high temperatures) but some things will always stay the same, namely that Team LOTI is never far away from food – here are our highlights from the last twelve months.
What Jules Says…
Favourite London eating experiences of 2022, that’s a hard one. Standing in an alley, in the rain, drinking pints from The Shacklewell Arms and enjoying NYC-style crispy slices from Kaps Pizza has gotta be a highlight – the grandma slice is my fave – made even sweeter after a gym session. On the other end of the scale I enjoyed an incredible tasting menu at St Bart’s, the new restaurant from the people behind The Nest in Hackney and Fenn in Chelsea. Incredible cooking and wines to boot. Roji was another fave; hidden down an alley way in Mayfair the ten-seater omakase restaurant uses sustainable British ingredients where possible to create incredible sushi and sashimi dishes. Then there’s Cadet, my new local wine bar, with its own charcutier in the basement, tres bon!
My standout dishes of the year have to be the anchovy, honey & butter on toast from Bottle & Rye; chips with garlic aioli from The Baring; mackerel ragu from Maria G’s; celeriac from Tacos Padre; the oyster & crab pot at Alex Dilling; the face-smacking moo nam tok at 101 Thai Kitchen; and 3am pork noodles at Lanzhou Noodle Bar just off Leicester Square, which kicks 24 hour Ronald’s ass any night of the week.
Jules Pearson | Co-Founder & Editor-At-Large | @jules_loti
What Connie Says…
“Connie, round up your favourite food spots of 2022 for LOTI please”. When asked this question by my fellow colleagues here at LOTI, I thought to myself how could I possibly do that? Luckily I’ve kept a list of all the restaurants I’ve been to this year, which accounts to a whopping 61 (not to mention my delicious clients as part of LOTI agency), to help me remember all the amazing dishes I’ve eaten. From endless pasta dishes at Padella, including the giant portions of tagliarini with chilli, garlic and pangrattato and pappardelle with THAT 8 hour beef shin ragu (my fave), to many Sunday roasts – The Laundry in Brixton is home to the most delicious Sunday offerings; and please for the love of all get that truffle cauliflower cheese. I finally made my way down to Sessions Arts Club for a fantastic meal; an ever-changing menu but I hope for your sake, reader, that the white asparagus, vin orange and egg makes the cut when you head down (May is best for asparagus season FYI). Acme Fire Cult was another great win ticked off the list – down next to The Dusty Knuckle in Dalston, where they not only serve up the most amazing barbecue meats and veg, but the bread drenched in marmite butter and a showering of pecorino cheese is one that you do not want to miss.
Some further highlights include venturing to my (near) local Peckham Cellars for a beautiful al-fresco dinner (oh how I miss summer), featuring the likes of baked crab with tomato and bread crumbs and patatas bravas smothered in garlic aioli; the seriously addictive lobster and coconut risotto at Farzi Cafe; the sweetbread fritti at Legare were a delight; the array of sandwiches I’ve consumed this year (Doms, Black Pig and Sons & Daughters I’m looking at you) and last but not least the mountains of oysters I’ve had the pleasure of eating at Little Social, Tacos Padre, Top Cuvee, Borough Market (these are massive by the way!) and many more. I suppose that leaves me at 2022, and if this year was this good, I can’t wait to see what 2023 brings (Lisboeta, Ombra and Casse Croute I’m coming for you).
Connie Morphet | Senior Account Executive | @conniemorphet
What Circe Says…
In a city where menus too often slot into the category of a formulaic sprinkle of small plates, it’s exciting when we’re offered a fresher take – especially when it’s something as good as Mambow. Early dinner here on a sweaty weekday in August was a particular highlight of the year. A few floors down from the significantly more cramped Peckham hotspot that is Forza Wine, Mambow’s got a menu of Malaysian dishes that are one hit after another. It’s so good, in fact, that it makes a two-hour-long Thameslink journey on an impossible 40-degree day feel as easy and justifiable as a trip to the cornershop on any Tuesday in spring.
Circe Hughes | Editorial Assistant | @circeplum
What Christina Says…
It’s been another year of good eating, and thanks to the lack of lockdown restrictions, there’s been far fewer meal kits and lots more tables in restaurants. 2022 started with a chef’s table at KOL, where Santaigo Lastra served lobster tacos and chestnut tamales, and ended with a masterclass in open fire cooking at Ekstedt at the Yard. I’ve gone from sitting out in the cold eating Nashville hot chicken buns from Bake Street to vintage champagne and custard tart in the Wild Honey private dining room.
There’s been gorge food in even more gorge rooms, from breezy Bondi vibes and big steaks at Milk Beach Soho to Chettinad fried chicken in the Art Deco-inspired Bombay Bustle, Persian feasting at the intimate and homely The Drunken Butler to summer strawberry perfection on the Luca terrace. And there’s been a lot of living up to the hype, including Acme Fire Cult, with that bread and marmite butter; Supa Ya Ramen, with a sensational sausage tantanmen; Plaza Khao Geng, with a messy whole crab curry; Tatale, with a revelatory omo tuo & nkatekwnan; Lisboeta, with moreish Goan-spiced pork pies; and Bubala Soho, with basically everything on the menu.
Christina Dean | Head of Content | @cdean1
What Ben Says…
One of the most interesting and perfectly executed meals that come to mind this year has got to be the West African restaurant Akoko in Fitzrovia that’s all about live fire cooking, umami and spices. Most people overuse the word amazing, but the eleven-course tasting menu at Akoko is just that, AMAZING. I’m often asked what’s my fave Sunday roast is, and yep, it’s a tough one, but I know the best roast I’ve had this year has been at Fallow. The roast is pretty mega and worth splashing out the 30 beans for, yes it’s spenny but the produce is exceptional. I dived into middle white pork and dairy cow rump that came loaded with roast potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding bigger than the medium-sized head of a small dog, glazed carrots, red cabbage, cavolo nero and yes, it’s beaut. Nods of approval all around. The jug of gravy could only have been better it if came with a straw.
The lobster egg fried rice at Hakkasan is a dish I still dream about and would happily eat this all day, everyday, forever. Acme Fire Cult has been a place I’ve gone back to quite a few times, beer and bbq, what’s not to love? F.K.A.B.A.M. and their collab with Tabasco might have been super short-lived but that HAWAIIAN pizza with pulled pig’s head & fennel seed, smoked pork jowl, pineapple, charred pickled chilli, dill pickled cucumber & TABASCO Sweet & Spicy Sauce was absolutely bangin’. And another experience I won’t forget was part of Frieze London, where Adam Byatt and Jeppe Hein created Food For Art which was all about being in the moment and allowing ourselves to connect to our senses through the things, food and people around us. I think they nailed it, it was unique in many ways and the creative and playfulness role the food took on was impressive, verging on Alice in Wonderland meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Ben Smith | Co-Founder | @ben_loti
What Neha Says…
For me a good Sunday brunch NEEDS to have a sweet dish, in particular French toast, and I’ve tried plenty but the one that stood out for me this year was the one from Sloane Deli Street. These guys know what they’re doing. Not only is the exterior crisp and caramelised to perfection but the inside is gooey and custardy, and this glorious French toast is served with labneh and a honey date syrup. Perfection, really. If I had to pick another fave, it would be the French toast from Christopher’s in Covent Garden. Served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a warm choco sauce, this is comfort food as best.
Neha Yusuf | Social Media & Team Assistant | @nehayusuf_