This is quite late, sorry — I was ill for most of January and busy for most of February — but is an attempt to continue the series begun in my November 2017 roundup. So, below is a summary of notable things I ate in London in December 2017 and January 2018.
Abshar, 65–67 South End, Croydon, CR0 1BF
This Persian restaurant opened around 5 years ago, and expanded into the next-door space 4 years later. I have only ever managed to have the stews here, not yet the grilled meats, since the stews are almost universally delicious. Those involving okra and aubergine are particularly recommended, since they get the cooking of the vegetables just right; soft and unctuous without being overcooked. Many of the stews include lamb, which again is cooked to a perfect softness. Fesenjan is on the regular menu, though I’ve only had it once and didn’t take detailed notes. My most recent meal here was in late January.
Carluccio’s, Heathrow Terminal 5 Landside, TW6 2GA (website)
A surprisingly good chicken liver pate here; smooth and well-flavoured. The accompanying toasted ciabatta and red onion marmalade were competent enough. (Normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning a chain, but that pate really was good.)
Pearl Liang, 8 Sheldon Square, Paddington, W2 6EZ (website)
A long-standing stalwart of the London dim sum scene, notable for its taster platter (photo) which allows for solo dim sum lunching. On my most recent visit just before Christmas, the standouts on the platter were the prawn and Chinese chive dumpling, with lots of flavour from the Chinese chives, and the two dumplings which involved sweetcorn; the corn was just perfectly cooked, and not overly sweet.
Orange Tree, 45 Kew Road, Richmond, TW9 2NQ (website)
This Young’s pub and hotel is very close to Richmond Station, and gets very busy on days when there’s rugby on at Twickenham. Luckily it was a non-rugby day when I popped in for lunch in December. I ordered from the brunch menu, choosing the sausage pattie in a brioche bun with cheddar and fried egg (photo). The sausage meat was good quality and well browned, the cheese was flavourful without being overwhelming, and the egg was very good, with a runny yolk, whites properly set, and crispy round the edges.
Shadi Bakery, 79 London Road, Croydon, CR0 2FF
This three-for-a-pound naan bakery recently started doing stews and kibbeh for eat-in or takeaway, and also expanded its naan menu to include variations such as cheese naan, chilli naan, and zataar naan. Their chickpeas with lamb are beautifully cooked; the chickpeas are a decent size and nicely soft (bigger and softer than the ones in cans from the major supermarkets), the broth is nicely flavourful, and the lamb is on the bone and tender enough to cut with a spoon. I didn’t take a photo the most recent time I had this, which was just before the New Year, but here’s one from a few months back, along with a (hot, crisp, fresh) egg naan.
Maramia Cafe, 48 Golborne Road, Maida Hill, W10 5PR (website)
One of London’s very few Palestinian restaurants. Lentil soup (photo) was delicious; well-flavoured, and with a smooth, not-too-thick texture. This small portion did seem oddly overpriced at £5, especially when the same price was charged for the arayes, a generously-sized pile of grilled flatbread stuffed with lamb mince (photo). The bread was fresh and had a crisp crackly surface with just the right amount of chew in the interior, though unfortunately verging on burnt in places. The lamb was underseasoned to my taste, though the sprinkling of sumac on top went some way to remedying this.