London’s Best Dishes: Meat Fruit, Burgers to Eccles Cake

London is home to world-class restaurants with elaborate and original gastronomic creations.

Sometimes, simpler pleasures are more appealing.

Here are 30 dishes I enjoy. It’s not a balanced list. It’s not aimed at foodies. It’s not comprehensive. These are a few of -- to quote Julie Andrews and Miles Davis -- my favorite things.

Broad Bean, Mint & Ricotta Bruschette (Polpo): Things don’t get much simpler than this. Apart from the main ingredients, there’s extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest and juice, sea salt, black pepper and garlic. It’s delicious. (7 Pounds/$10.82)

Chicken Karaage Burger (Tsuru): Chicken thigh is marinated in soy, garlic, ginger and mirin, coated in Japanese corn flour then fried and served with Japanese mayonnaise and lettuce in a brioche bun. It’s finger-lickin’ good. (4.95 pounds)

Chopped Chicken (Delaunay): This salad of chicken, avocado, tomato, peppers and peas in tarragon vinaigrette is a classic. It’s also dairy- and gluten-free. (9.75 pounds)

Country Pate, Cornichons and Salad (Little Social): This isn’t ground-breaking. It scores not for creativity but because it is so well executed. My lunch guest, food writer Matthew Fort, said it’s the best he’s tasted in 30 years. (7.50 pounds)

Dim Sum Platter (Hakkasan): This selection of scallop shumai, har gau, Chinese chive dumpling and shimeji dumpling is as good as I’ve tried anywhere. While Hakkasan has masses of style, there’s no shortage of substance, too. (15 pounds)

Dry-fried Green Beans (Bar Shu): This contains minced pork. Much of the flavor comes from ya cai, mustard greens from Sichuan. I’ve loved this dish since I first tried it 30 years ago. Bar Shu’s reminds me of that time. (9.90 pounds)

Duck Shepherd’s Pie (Balthazar): This is a signature at Balthazar. The brasserie sells about 100 a day, so there is no shortage of fans for duck in red wine, under a mix of potato and parsnip that is topped with Parmesan cheese. (17.50 pounds)

Eccles Cake & Lancashire Cheese (St. John): These are baked on the premises. The filling is dense and spicy, with a hint of orange. The cheese is Kirkham’s Lancashire. It’s crumbly and creamy with a sharpness that keeps the sweetness at bay. (6.90 pounds)

Flame-Grilled Mackerel With Avocado, Celtic Mustard and Shiso (Ledbury): Chef Brett Graham pan-fries the fish until the skin is crispy, then places it over a flame. The flesh is soft and sweet. The fish is served with a tartare of mackerel with avocado and a seaweed mustard. (15 pounds)

Fritto Misto (L’Anima): You’d be lucky to taste better fritto misto in Italy. Chef Francesco Mazzei soaks the fish in milk and then coats it in double-zero flour. It’s light and crisp, without a hint of grease. (17.75 pounds)

Guinea Fowl Boudin Blanc (Bistrot Bruno Loubet): Bruno Loubet is modest until you get him onto this dish, when he beams with pride. He should. The boudin blanc, served on a French pea soup, is light and soft, gently releasing its flavors. (8.50 pounds)

Hakka Chili Paneer (Roti Chai): This vegetarian option is a Kolkata specialty of cheese, herbs and spices. The paneer is marinated in salt, pepper, ginger and garlic, then flash fried with green chili and served on spring onion, peppers and salad. If you are wearing socks, they may be blown off. (5.20 pounds)

Kankoku Fu Kohitsuji (Roka): These lamb cutlets with Korean spices are unusual in London because Korean cuisine has had little impact. The mix of fermented pepper paste, soy sauce, chili powder and sesame is powerful. Hot off the grill, these charred and juicy cutlets are my food heaven. (21.90 pounds)

Lasagne of Crab With a Cappuccino of Shellfish and a Champagne Foam (The Square): Chef Philip Howard, in “The Square The Cookbook,” says this has been one of his signature dishes for 20 years. Dived scallops are made into a mousse to bind claw meat from large crabs. The mix is spread between sheets of parsley pasta. It’s George Clooney: smooth and rich. (Not individually priced, though you could try asking.)

Lemonade Parfait (Gordon Ramsay): This light dessert with honey, bergamot and sheep’s milk yogurt sorbet is the creation of Clare Smyth. She has headed the kitchen for six years at Gordon Ramsay’s flagship restaurant and her dishes are coming to the fore. (Not individually priced though you could try asking.)

Margherita (Story Scout Hut Pizza): This simple pizza, with smashed tomatoes, tomato passata, basil oil, buffalo mozzarella and pesto was named the tastiest food item on earth in the recent Chowzter fast-feast awards. Get past the hyperbole and you are left with an exceptional pizza. (16 pounds)

Meat Fruit (Dinner by Heston Blumenthal): This is a chicken liver and foie-gras parfait, chilled and coated in a mandarin gel so it resembles a piece of fruit. It’s beautifully presented and tastes pretty good, too (15 pounds)

Mini Iberico Pork Burger (Opera Tavern): Minced Iberico Bellota collar is mixed with grated, frozen foie gras, shallots, milk, breadcrumbs and seasoning. The burgers are served in a bun with aged Manchego cheese, butterhead lettuce, red onion marmalade and home-made garlic mayonnaise. (5.50 pounds)

Mini Rack of Lamb, Couscous and Olive Jus (Brasserie Chavot): Chef Eric Chavot buys his lamb from Cornwall, spices it with cumin, coriander, garlic and ginger and smears it with molasses. The meat is finished on the Josper grill for smoky flavor. The mix of juicy meat and crunchy crust is epic. (23 pounds)

Mutton Bomb (Jugged Hare): Chef Richard O’Connell braises shoulder of lamb with pearl onions and chestnut mushrooms. The mix is moulded into balls and chilled before being wrapped in pastry to resemble a cannon ball. After baking, it’s served with a spear of rosemary, lit to resemble a fuse. (17.50 pounds)

Seekh Kebab (Lahore Kebab House): Minced lamb is mixed with onion, green chili, garlic, ginger and coriander, shaped like a sausage and then grilled. The rich meat and the pungent spices combine for a flavor that is unforgettable. (1.10 pounds)

Sheekey’s Fish Pie (J. Sheekey): Cod, salmon and smoked haddock are the main elements of this pie, together with flat-leaf parsley, white wine, double cream, English mustard and Worcestershire sauce. It’s topped with mashed potato and baked, with breadcrumbs and Parmesan added at the end. (15.75 pounds)

Smoked Eel and Horseradish Sandwich (Quo Vadis): This simple snack well represents chef Jeremy Lee’s cooking: a minimal number of good ingredients brought together with flair and without fuss. (7.50 pounds)

Souffle aux Pistaches et sa Glace (Koffmann’s): Pierre Koffmann’s pistachio souffle has been a classic since he served it at the three-Michelin-star La Tante Claire in Chelsea more than 30 years ago. It’s feather-light and the flavor is subtle for such a blockbuster. (14 pounds)

Souffle Suissesse (Le Gavroche): This cheese souffle, which can be made with Gruyere or Emmental is loaded with butter, double cream and eggs. (Mature Cheddar is also in the mix.) Developed by the Roux brothers, it’s been on the menu at Le Gavroche since 1967, when it was double the size. (21 pounds)

Squid and Mackerel “Burger,” Cornish Razor Clams (Arbutus): The fish is finely chopped, mixed with coriander, ginger, garlic, lime and wine, then pan-fried. The patty is garnished with clams and sea purslane. (11.50 pounds)

Tagine of Bresse pigeon, cous cous, aubergine puree & harissa sauce (Galvin La Chapelle): Brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin had a hit on their hands as soon as they opened La Chapelle in 2009. This dish has been on the menu since then and it’s easy to see why when you experience the balance of flavors that are strong and yet in harmony. (29.50 pounds)

Tunisienne (Bar Boulud): A spicy lamb sausage (merguez) is served in a bun with mint tabouleh and pepper stew. As hot dogs go, it’s my favorite in London. I’m also a fan of the Breakie (with fried egg, tomato relish and black pudding) at Bubbledogs. (8.50 pounds)

Welsh Rarebit (The Fountain): This British classic has been on the menu at Fortnum & Mason since 1926. A total of 7,840 were served last year. The Fortnum’s Vintage Reserve Somerset Cheddar is made for the store by the fifth-generation cheesemakers, Barbers in Somerset. It’s served on sourdough. (9.50 pounds)

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Catherine Hickley on German art, Robert Heller on rock music and Jeremy Gerard on U.S. theater.

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