Our final list of thefoodpeople loves... for 2018 as we look back over the past month at the food and drink establishments where we've been habituating in December.
Victoria Market Halls, London
Victoria Market Halls opened last month with a collection of offerings from some of the tastiest restaurants in London. The people behind Roti King (arguably the best rotis in London) have opened up Gopal's Corner, order anything that comes with a roti. Koya restaurant has also expanded to bring us the varied menu of Koya Ko. Their noodle soups will keep you warm all the way to spring and the pork belly in cider is a delight. For dumplings and dim sum head straight to Baozi Inn who not only create beautiful flavours but also wonderfully colourful steamed and fried morsels to enjoy. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, there are 2 bars and a coffee shop, what more could you ask for?
Clarke & Lake, Edinburgh
A blink and you'll miss it charcuterie bar just south of Edinburgh's city centre sitting in the city's most unassuming foodie destinations just opposite the King's theatre. The Scottish and continental cheese selection is supplied by master affineur, Ian Mellis and the meats are sourced from small suppliers across the UK and mainland Europe. If you are after something (a little) more complex then there are artisan pies, Scotch eggs, whitebait and my Swiss wife's favourite raclette – which is served melted over potatoes with cornichons and onions. If you have room after all that, and I suggest you keep a little spare, try a ball or two to The Chocolate Tree's chocolate sorbet – I promise it will blow your mind!
Manju is the 82 year old chef at the helm of this Gujarat vegetarian restaurant in Trafalgar Street, Brighton. With her family around her she is serving up delicious vegetarian Street style food. Her secret recipe home-made mango chutney should be bottled and on the shelves, sweet garlicky and full of spices, delicious. Other stand out's were the Vada Pau, spiced potato dumpling in a bun with fried chilli and chutneys and the Carrot Halwa.
Dinner by Heston, London
Enjoying the infamous Tipsy Cake at the newly reopened Dinner by Heston Blumenthal... hands down still one of the best desserts money can buy, anywhere.
Le Coq d'Or, Jonzac
Le Coq d'Or in Jonzac was so good we went there twice and had the final meal of our holiday there. The pumpkin velouté was the best soup I think I have ever tried; it was as smooth as velvet, creamy and buttery, with crunchy croutons to counterbalance the textures, just divine! The rest of the meal was excellent too, with a homemade tarte citron to finish that was to die for!
Clayton's Kitchen, Bath
A delicious mixture of modern Italian and Mediterranean influences, Clayton's Kitchen is a beloved treat in Bath. We spent a quiet lunch catching up over great food and a glass of wine (or two).
Delamina East, London
It started off life as a pop-up called Strut and Cluck - they serve seasonal dishes inspired by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking, with many of their dishes roasted and grilled. Their smokey aubergine, tahini and zhug with pitta to dip is one of the most full of flavour dips I have ever tried!
Cornerstone, Hackney Wick
Having heard a lot about Tom Brown and the emergence of Cornerstone in Hackney this year, then seeing him talk at the Trends Event in November, I knew I had to get down to Cornerstone sooner or later. The setting in the back lanes of Hackney is a stark juxtaposition to the modern bright interior and the food takes the restaurant to the next level. We went for the tasting menu with a selection of the best dishes and the standout for me has to be the Porthilly oysters with celery, horseradish and dill.
Far's Dreng, Copenhagen
It's a lovely little brunch spot with a great menu and really friendly staff – they even let me test the teas to see which one I wanted (I opted for white teas with blood orange which was really tasty). The picture is of the coffee bread topped with espresso mascarpone, pistachio, fresh berries and syrup!
Caravan on Great Portland Street (Fitzrovia)
Everyone loves Caravan but the latest addition to the Caravan portfolio is their outlet on Great Portland Street. It has a heightened level of refinement and sophistication compared to the others and for that additional retro throwback, it is in the former Radio 1 HQ! The menu is the globally inspired delight that we've come to expect with influences of Spanish, Middle Eastern, Asian, British and Italian to name a few. My particular favourite of the moment is the Charred Aubergine plate with soft boiled egg, yoghurt, chermoula and za'atar toast and what's great is you have the option to add meat if you'd like, in this case a delicious merguez sausage! Also on offer are a range of house made laminated delights, creative croissants, sourdough, sandwiches and craft roasted espresso.