The best thing about the current trend of restaurants specialising in just one or two hero items is that those dishes and drinks are explored, dissected and reconstructed with ingenuity and passion. So then to Chick ‘n Sours, where the focus is fried chicken and sour cocktails. Restaurant renegade Carl Clarke has settled for a permanent pop up, and after trying their fare, you’ll be delighted that Chick ‘n Sours is here to stay. The chicken is free range from the Pilmoor farm, and produce is largely organic. A minimal but appealing menu contains delights such as Korean fried thigh with gochujang mayo and chilli vinegar, or pickled watermelon with peanut and coriander. Try the Chick ‘n Club cocktail and save room for an ‘End’ of salted caramel soft serve ice cream. The branding may be fairly unassuming, but the food speaks for itself.
Chick ‘n Sours, 390 Kingsland Rd, London, UK, +44 20 3620 8728
London’s love of all things barbeque continues apace, but truly accomplished venues such as Duke’s Brew and Que elevate it to an art form. Due care and attention is given to details such as the pairing of wood smoke with meat; hickory, mesquite and apple-cherry wood all sit comfortably on the menu. The menu is well curated and not overloaded with options. Opt for Duke’s Greatest Hits if deciding between beef, ribs and pulled pork is too difficult. Duke’s is also home to Beavertown Brewery, so you can also be certain of an excellent selection of craft beers. For those with more of a taste for spirits, an extensive and surprisingly delicate cocktail menu is also available. No pale imitation of a proper barbeque join, Duke’s is unquestionably the real thing.
Duke’s Brew and Que, 33 Downham Road, UK, +44 20 3006 0795
Following the success of the original Tonkotsu in Soho, an eastern outpost sprung up in the arches of Haggerston station. Noodles are freshly made on site, water is filtered to make it pH neutral, and the stock is famously marinated for 18 hours to make it as rich and flavoursome as possible. With branches starting to spring up across the city, the merits of Tonkotsu are well renowned, but if their delicious ramen has somehow passed you by, take the time to warm up as the temperature drops. Ramen is known for curing all ills, and Tonkotsu’s version is as authentic a dish as you’ll get in London. The depth of flavour combined with perfectly textured noodles and a wealth of toppings create a memorable experience.
Tonkotsu East, 1a Dunston St, London, UK, +44 7254 24780
A mainstay under the railway arches, Berber and Q has every appearance of a classic East London hangout. While the sound of another grill might not excite the senses, rest assured that Berber and Q stands apart. Ribs and ramen might not be the most veggie-friendly of dishes, so those who don’t eat meat should head to this particular grill house. Enticingly cooked vegetables form the majority of the menu, you’d expect nothing less from chef-owner Joshua Katz, formerly of Ottolenghi. Of course, if the prospect of roasted pumpkin and sumac onions isn’t quite meaty enough for you, try the harissa hot wings or smoked short-rib with date syrup glaze. The beets with whipped feta and saffron candied orange are exquisite, and can be enjoyed by meat lovers and vegetarians alike.
The menu at Mr Buckley’s changes regularly to reflect the seasons, so even regular visitors will be in for surprises. Step past the neon sign and the palms, and you’ll find yourself in a cool, dark, minimal space. The menu is considered, never overloaded, and each dish demonstrates striking individual touches to elevate it from the ordinary. Start with vanilla and maple roasted nuts and a round of Padrón peppers for the table, then move onto creamy burrata with orange granita and soft herbs, and the spatchcok’d quail with pumpkin and sweet pickled onion. Mr Buckley’s doesn’t order the menu by appetisers, starters and mains, so enjoy this freedom from constraint and order whatever takes your fancy. Just save room for the tonka bean chocolate and a Pineapple Smash cocktail.
Mr Buckley’s, 277 Hackney Road, London, UK, +44 20 3664 0033