I started writing this week’s blog about whether hospitality businesses can survive through reputation alone in a world of prevailing digital technologies influencing our decisions. Sounds interesting, right? And it is, all two thousand pages of it! It’s so long I can’t bring myself to read it, and if I can’t be bothered I can sure as hell guarantee my audience* won’t be either! I do believe there is a story in there somewhere though so I will have it edited and ready for my next deadline. Promise.
The article you’re going to get instead came to me during the conception of my magnum opus. I got to thinking about restaurants introduced to me through the purest and most powerful form of organic marketing: word of mouth. The following list comprises my favourite hits passed on from trust worthy sources, which I will now pass on to you:
The one for a payday blow out: Brilliant Corners
This sushi bar, named after a Thelonious Monk LP and inspired by Japanese Jazz cafés, couldn’t be more Dalston if it tried. If you can see past the tragically hip synopsis, Brilliant Corners has an ace (and gloriously simple) menu and a great range of beers and spirits.
The one for any occasion: Banner’s
Years before moving to London, a friend took me to Banner’s, claiming it to be their favourite restaurant EVER! And it’s easy to see why.
Situated in the heart of Crouch End, Banner’s has the kind of lived in, unpretentious atmosphere which cannot be affected. It’s also a perfect spot for any occasion. Their breakfast options are perfect for a hangover brunch (I recommend the quesadilla, hash browns and a big shake) while lunchtimes you can expect to find kids of all ages revelling in a relaxed vibe. In the evening it’s an equally ideal date destination for North London Tinder-ites. One could argue that it’s a little out of the way, but for me that only increases the appeal. It’s worthy pilgrimage.
The one to visit with a date you want to see again: L’Absinthe
Speaking of ideal date destinations in leafy enclaves, L’Absinthe brings a bit of Parisian chic to Primrose Hill. The traditional French menu is reassuringly simple, sensibly priced and the service is attentive but unobtrusive. If you’re looking to impress or simply want a really (really!) great steak, L’Absinthe is the place.
The one Waltham Forest can’t live without: Singburi Royal Thai Café
A diamond in the rough (as it were) of Leytonstone Highroad, Singburi is packed all night, every night. This small, family run café serves simple, delicious Thai food which isn’t going to break the bank. When they close for their holidays the entire borough mopes around scratching their collective head wondering where to eat.
The one from my veggie past: Herbie’s
I’m always keen to pay homage to my Devonshire roots and Herbie’s is a local treasure. This small family restaurant has been serving vegetarian & vegan cuisine to south-westerly hippie types for almost 30 years – and I can promise there’s not a hipster café in the whole of East London which can lay claim to that kind of longevity or consistently high standard.
I’ve heard so much about both of these – Dotori, a Korean diner in Finsbury Park, and The Gay Hussar, a legendary Hungarian restaurant in the heart of Soho, are definitely the next word of mouth restaurants on my ever growing list.
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