Monikers

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Mackerel and Beetroot at Monikers Hoxton Square

Monikers totally snuck up on us. Discreetly tucked in an old school conversion in the north-west corner of Hoxton Square, we can’t believe we’ve missed it for so long. The big windows – thrown open in the summer – let welcoming streams of light into the bar area. Kinda hard to resist. For decor they’ve run with the school theme; specials are written on a giant blackboard and the upstairs area is decked out like a proper school bus. It’s all rather fun, and more to the point we discovered it just in time to take advantage of their outdoor terrace. Great for people-watching the Hoxton hipsters, it’s only downside is that it loses sun by the evening. No probs, kick off with some early afternoon cocktails in the sun then duck inside for a well-lubricated dinner.  The food is British tapas and there’s lots of seasonal goodies. There’s plenty of bar snack type stuff, perfect for nibbling on to balance out a drinking session, but there’s some more adventurous dishes thrown into the mix too. The special when we went was a sweetbread dish that we particularly enjoyed.

Scoffler was a guest at Monikers

Boundary

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Boundary Rooftop Restaurant in Shoreditch

Let’s be honest, the main draw of this place in the summer months is the simply stunning roof top bar, now complete with a pergola to shelter the smokers and bravehearts amongst us during the cruel, harsh winter. But if you’re not too distracted to see beyond the stunning view of Shoreditch, you’ll notice the food is pretty good too, even if it is overshadowed by the design. Then again, it’s a Conran restaurant, which mean the design takes precedence. The decor is spot on; comfortable, chic and a little quirky without being intimidating. The crowd is what one would expect in Shoreditch – the odd city slicker muddled with silicon roundabout’s future millionaires plus the obligatory East London trendies. Prices are reasonable so slip on your sunnies, take a long lunch break and pray it doesn’t rain.

MEATmission

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MEATmission

Burgers are busting out all over, not that we’re complaining, especially when we have our very own branch of Meatliquor that’s opened up just round the corner. Bring on the burgers, we say. Meatliquor lovers won’t be disappointed; all the classics are here, including the dead hippie (yes, it’s a burger, don’t worry and the green chilli cheeseburger), but they’ve added an east London twist with offerings like pastrami-topped burgers. Don’t want to overstate our excitement at this, but they’ll also be taking bookings in the new year, yep, that’s right, bye bye queues, hello instantaneous burger satisfaction. Not to brag, but we got a free round of drinks for pure volume of consumption on our last visit. It’s not a competition or anything, but go hungry.

Sushi Samba

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Sushi Samba

This international chain has nabbed the best view in London and the food is no less impressive. Located on the 39th floor of the Heron Tower, the City’s tallest building, this Japanese/Brazilian/Peruvian resto packs punchy flavours, killer cocktails and spectacular views all in one. Standout dishes include Wagyu gyoza, pork belly wraps and rock shrimp tempura. The bar is open late Thursday, Friday, Saturday and the atmosphere is glam bam thank you ma”am. This place has the wow factor so hit it up if you’re looking to impress a girl/your boss/your mum/your gran/whoever. Just bring the plastic; views like this don’t come cheap.

Dishoom Shoreditch

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Dishoom Shoreditch2

Dishoom, take 2, sees this popular Covent Garden staple head east, bringing with it its own brand of broke-down Bombay chic. Expect more of the same, with a slightly grungier edge; old school fans and a peeling paint job strip the spit and polish from the West End brunch. Never fear though, the food is still up to snuff from the now-classic breakfast bacon naan roll to the zingy curries and juicy grills. The one downside is that once you’re this far east, it’s hard not to make comparisons with Tayyabs, especially when it comes to lamb chops (double the price at Dishoom, it must be said). But, you’re paying a premium for atmosphere. You won’t be squashed in a corner here with no way to get to the loo, this is a more sophisticated affair (even when it’s pretending it’s not). The drinks are a dead give-away; a wide range of lassis and chais as well as exotically flavoured cocktails, perfect for big groups ready to get boozy.

Duck & Waffle

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DuckandWaffle

Whizz up to the 40th floor in the impressively fast elevator with its even more impressive view of London – impressive, but a dangerous proposition for a 24-hour restaurant that is definitely our new go-to for drunk food. We’ve taken the liberty of nicknaming the the vomit comet – figure it out. In the interests of full disclosure, to our knowledge, no one has vomited in the lifts (yet). It’s well worth braving the journey up, though; the panoramic view is breath-taking. The restaurant itself is also quite swish, though it might take you a while to notice it with your eyes trained out of the floor-to-ceiling windows. The room is airy with big tables round the outside and cozy little booths in the centre – perfect for curling up on late at night. And, of course the food – this place may be open all day, but it’s a drunk man’s kitchen. The signature duck and waffle dish is a heart attack on a plate – confit duck and fried duck egg slathered in maple syrup and piled on top of waffles – the perfect 4 am meal. The menu is made for sharing, so don’t stint. If you’re still on the sauce, the crispy pigs ears go down a treat with any form of drink. The experimental cocktails are well-worth trying too, though at the same price as most of the main dishes, maybe not too many.

Hawksmoor Bar

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Hawksmoor Bar

Don’t let the heaving steak platters distract you as you head past the dining room, we know it’s hard, but stay focused and hit Hawksmoor’s basement bar. You won’t regret it, honest. Decked out in typical fashion with distressed copper tables, tiled columns and big settle-in-for the night booths, this place heaves with a mix of hipsters and off-duty office workers. The menu is short and sweet, which is good since after a swig or two of one of the cocktails, even an A4 page is a bit much to handle. Luckily, the menu is choc-a-bloc with the perfect drinking snacks, suitably fat-filled and fried to soak up all that alcohol. Don’t miss the poutine or the chicken wings, and if you want something more substantial the buttery lobster roll is finger-licking good. Just don’t venture down here as a precursor to a steak dinner. You’ll never make it.

Poppies

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Poppies

Poppies is not a typical London chippy. These tend to be depressing places – all greying linoleum, soggy chips and lingering smells of old grease. Poppies, on the other hand, is a self-consciously charming caricature of the traditional – y’know, Lindsay Lohan post-makeover in Mean Girls; still warm and fuzzy on the inside but totally polished on the outside. Everything is spick and span. The floor tiles are sparkling, the formica tables filled by Shoreditch hipsters and the waitresses clad in flowery scarf-and-apron combos. More to the point, the fish and chips are actually good. Believe us, a serious achievement in Central London. The flakey white fish is sourced from Billingsgate and cooked to crispy perfection in a well-flavoured batter. The hand cut chips are good and thick and taste perfect with lashings of salt and vinegar. The kitschy cutesiness may be hard for some to swallow, but the deep-fried food won’t be.

Tramshed

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Hix Tramshed

Tramshed is bizarre and wonderful. The room is dominated by a dead chicken sitting on top of a dead cow plonked on a plinth. Damien Hirst don’cha know? Then there’s the hideous painting of Cow and Chicken (CartoonNetwork – google – go) that surveys the whole place. They also don’t have a cloakroom. What they do have in spades is atmosphere, and people are queuing to soak it up so book well ahead. Go early to squeeze into the bar for Hix’s fabulous cocktails, though avoid the underwhelming bar snacks. The menu is sparse; chicken or steak, and why choose? They don’t carve the chicken but plonk it down in front of you suspended upright. It looks cool, but gets a bit awkward when chicken and chips start flying everywhere as you desperately try to carve in a ladylike manner. They’ll start you off if you ask nicely though, and in a big group it’s general cause for hilarity. The food is only so-so, which is slightly unforgivable when the menu’s only one A4 side, but somehow the atmosphere makes up for it all. This is a place to go to party.

St John Bread & Wine

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St John Bread and Wine

The nose-to-tail cuisine of Fergus Henderson is not to everyone’s taste, but for those who aren’t afraid of the odd bit of offal, this white-washed Spitalfield’s brasserie arguably outshines Henderson’s first St John. For starters, the place does breakfast – most important meal of the day. Who needs french toast when you can have perfect porridge, naughtily topped with lashings of cream (there are prunes too, and those are healthy, right?). If you’re after something a bit less wholesome, the bacon sandwich is a beast and, we maintain, the best in London. Lunch and dinner are equally unmissable. Although it is perfectly possible, there is absolutely no need to spend a mint. A few of the starting plates (generally priced around 8 quid) should fill a couple up just fine, but don’t let that stop you from going full hog if the fancy catches you. The daily-changing and temptingly simple selection of dishes makes that perfectly understandable. Any meal should, of course, be finished up with a piping hot plate of fresh Madeleines.