The Latest Food Trend: London’s Single Dish Restaurants

by Jun 30, 2017

In terms of food our city has a great deal on offer. Nat looks into the rise of single-dish restaurant for busy Londoners on the go.

Sometimes you want fancy food. Other times you just want great grub without having to make too many decisions. For these times we dine at single-dish restaurants. Thankfully of late we have seen an increase in these single-dish establishments where the kitchen focuses on doing one thing and doing it really well.  

Picture the scene: You’ve had a long day at work and are meeting friends in central. You sit in a busy restaurant as the waiter stands over the table while you umm and ahh over an extensive menu in an indecisive frame of mind. Sound familiar? To combat these scenarios the city has seen a rise in one dish eateries who offer a time saving, efficient and delicious way to have a great meal without the painful debate over what you fancy. Hoorah!

With pared-down menus this niche trend is often more affordable. Simpler menus are an advantage to the restaurant with less waste, high table turnover and the ability to keep a consistent level of food quality therefore benefiting you and the venue simultaneously.      

Say goodbye to dual-dish eateries (sorry Burger and Lobster) and hello to your new favourite spots around town:

Chicken
Mother Clucker
Serving  tea brined, buttermilk soaked, twice battered fried chicken from a converted US Army ambulance currently parked in the Truman Brewery. You can also find these guys at Camden Market, Hawker House and roaming around with KERB.

Location: 6 Dray Walk, London E1 6NJ
Website: motherclucker.co.uk

Chick ‘n’ Sours
A whimsical menu of herb fed fried chicken, serious seasonal sides, sour cocktails, local beers & cracking soft serve ice cream creations.

Location: 1a Earlham Street, Seven Dials, WC2H 9LL
Website: chicknsours.co.uk

Bird
Bird serves free-range fried chicken at its heart, alongside fries, corn pudding (try it!), Korean style salad, pancakes and more. And if you don’t want chicken, burgers are also available.

Location: 42-44 Kingsland Rd London E2 8DA (other locations available)
Website: birdrestaurants.com

Meatballs
Belpassi Bros
Created by twins the Belpassi Bros have worked tirelessly at perfecting meatballs over the past couple of years. Starting life as a meatball truck in Spitalfields the brothers have now opened a permanent residence in Tooting. Aiming for simple food, service and price the pared back menu mainly offers meatballs with different sauces and accompaniments with a few sides and desserts on offer too.

Location: 70 Tooting High Street London SW17 0RN
Website: belpassibros.com/dinner

Balls & Co
A little while ago Playmate Mark Kelly reviewed Balls & Co (see full review here). Balls & Co is the brainchild and first solo venture for Australian Masterchef finalist, Bonnie Porter. Claiming to make the “humble meatball more refined” the tiny, simple and laid back eatery has seating for no more than 35 people. On the menu is, you guessed it, meatballs created with different meats and flavours. Start with Popcorn or Arancini and accompany meatball mains with sides such as Market Greens, Spaghetti or Hasselback Potatoes.

Location: 58 Greek Street Soho, London W1D 3DY
Website: ballsandcompany.london

Tacos
El Pastor
El Pastór is a taqueria, serving tacos with tortillas made from scratch in house every day. The Barrafina boys (Sam and Eddie Hart, the kings of the Soho food scene) have set up a new home, focusing their attention on Mexican in this South London eatery situated under a railway arch in London Bridge. Try the signature taco Al Pastor – a taco whose name means “shepherd style” and has Arabic origins, with meat cooked on their upright ‘trompo’ grill. If this doesn’t take your fancy there’s a variety of eight tacos and a few quesadillas. Accompany these with a choice of salsa and sides including Frijoles Charros, Grilled Corn and Mexican Radish Salad.

Location: 6-7A Stoney St London SE1 9AA
Website: tacoselpastor.co.uk

Pasta
Padella
Taking residence in a small venue in Borough Market, this pasta restaurant is notoriously popular with Londoners and visitors alike. With an array of accolades in 2016 from Evening Standard’s ‘Worth the Queue’ award to The Guardian’s Observer Food Monthly’s ‘Best Cheap Eats’ the modern bistro serves up cheap authentic dishes from a small menu of four starters, six homemade pastas and a pudding or two – all accompanied by Italian wine and bread.

Location: 6 Southwark Street London SE1 1TQ
Website: padella.co

Steak
Flat Iron
A little while ago we reviewed Flat Iron (see here) and since then it has been a big hit amongst the TWOP team. Set to the background of light chatter, buzzy atmosphere, moody lighting and industrial interior Flat Iron provides juicy and cheap fillet steak, served on a chopping board with a mini meat cleaver. If you are a veggie I can highly recommend the Aubergine Bake and for the carnivorous try the slightly more expensive (but still affordable) Wagyu beef. Pair with sides such as Dripping Cooked Chips (seriously delicious) and Creamed Spinach and finish with the delicious Chocolate Mousse and you will leave feeling utterly satisfied.      

Location: 77 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3BS (other locations available)
Website: flatironsteak.co.uk

Kebab
Le Bab
I first tried the delights Le Bab has to offer when visiting the mini golf venue Swingers (view review here) and have been desperate to go back ever since. The posh kebab joint have been reviving and redefining the famous ‘kebab’ at their restaurant in Soho’s Kingly Court to great acclaim since January. Headed by a kitchen team previously at Le Gavroche the eatery aims to refine kebabs as we know them into a delicious street food meal. With a choice of chicken, pork, kofte or paneer kebabs, accompanied by sides such as Double Cooked Fries with Fondue and Cauliflower and Broccoli Chilli Gratin you can’t go wrong.

Location: Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, Soho, London W1B 5PW
Website: eatlebab.com

Pizza
Pizza Pilgrims
Concise menu of Pizza, Not Pizza and After Pizza to take away or eat in on check-clothed tables.

Location: 11 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3RP (other locations available)
Website: pizzapilgrims.co.uk

Franco Manca
With UK-sourced ingredients, quick service yummy sourdough pizza, Franca Manca has been on top of the single-dish food offering for years and now has an a flurry of branches dotted around London. This pizza place offers Neapolitan-style pizza on a slow-rise sourdough base with a variety of traditional and creative toppings on offer. Cheap and cheerful, this one has been a hit for years.  

Location: 51 Berwick Street London W1F 8SJ (other locations available)
Website: francomanca.co.uk

Crisps
HotChips
One of the more unusual categories on the list, but nonetheless a single-dish venue that has proved pretty popular with the London crowd. Head chef Scott Davis has worked with some of the best chefs in the UK during his career and has been working with HipChips since October 2014. The menu offers a unique mix of hand-crafted heritage potato crisps and dips, offering both sweet and savoury options to suit varying palettes. A bit of a fad? We haven’t made our minds up… try it out for yourselves and let us know what you think.  

Location: 49 Old Compton Street, Soho, London, W1D 6HL
Website: hipchips.com

Pancakes
Where The Pancakes Are
We all love pancakes don’t we? (*hint the answer is YES*). So what’s better than a pancake only restaurant? Nothing much to be honest. Where The Pancakes Are is a not-so-traditional pancake house serving good honest sweet & savoury food and beautiful craft ciders, as well as dishes to share of blinis and prosecco.

Location: 85a Southwark Bridge Rd, London SE1 0NQ
Website: wherethepancakesare.com

Sometimes less really is more. Bon Appetite.

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Images © Balls & coEl PastorLe Bab & Where The Pancakes Are

About Natalie Jahangiry

Natalie is half Persian with a Geordie accent. Although small in stature, she makes up for it with a big personality! As a Graphic Designer you will often find Natalie gushing about her passion for all things creative and sharing her ideas with everyone and anyone who will listen. If she’s not decorating her house you will find her cooking up recipes from her foodie family or propped up in a cocktail bar in town.