Have You Heard Of It? is one year old! Can you believe it?! Just 12 short months have generated 180 posts, multiple cities, hundreds of dishes, umpteen drinks, probably far too much caffeine, a handful of workouts to counteract all that eating, several hotel home-from-homes, and so much fun and opportunities I never expected – like being published in The Telegraph, Country & Town House, Melting Butter and even picked up by Condé Nast Traveller!
In that time I’ve written about the places that have impressed me (HYHOI doesn’t waste time on places that are below par – only the best make it onto the site), so for this anniversary piece I wanted to turn the tables…
I asked 13 people (one for each month, plus one for luck!) to reveal their favourite hotspot in their city. And not just any 13, but 13 who I consider to be influencers – because they influence me, and because I admire their superior style and taste! This content is straight from the horses mouths.
I hope this round-up introduces you to some new favourites yourself – and I’d love to hear what’s your favourite in your city and why you love it?
Jenny Nguyen-Barron | New York
Jenny is the editor of Melting Butter, the curated hotspots site that provides international inspiration on food, travel, fashion, art and design (for which I am the London correspondent!). She is my first port of call for recommendations when travelling to a new city!
Sushi Yasuda | 204 East 43rd Street, New York City, 10017
This restaurant truly embodies perfection in everything that it touches. The sushi is the purest traditional Japanese sushi that you will find in New York City and you can enjoy it inside a visually calming, minimalist blonde-wood jewel box-like space. Everything else is stripped away to put the focus purely on you and your sushi. Each buttery bite will have your eyes rolling back in ecstasy.
Jasmin Nasser | Berlin
Jasmin is the fashionable force behind What Defines Us fashion and beauty blog. She recently moved to Berlin, and you can be sure that any restaurant backed by her will be super stylish!
Transit | Rosenthaler Straße 68, 10119 Berlin, Germany
Not so hidden away on busy Rosenthaler Str. in Berlin Mitte, Transit is great for lovers of food sharing and a young, hip(ster) crowd. The menu consists of a wide range of savoury Southeast Asian tapas, with dishes like the Party Girl (fresh and spicy green papaya salad) or Catch The Fish (crispy shark catfish filet with red curry, coconut milk and thai basil) making my mouth water just thinking about them.
At 3€ a pop, these bowls of fresh, homemade and MSG-free goodness are not only a real bargain, but perfect for any fan of Pan-Asian cuisine. And the best part? Although the menu looks pretty meaty, vegetarians won’t be left hungry either. All but three of the meat dishes can conveniently be ordered with tofu instead. In combination with the fast and super friendly service (not to mention the good-looking staff!), I’d say Transit is a winner!
Andrew Fitton | Austin
Yep, that’s my dad! Certainly a major influencer in my life, much of my travel, design and culinary tastes can be credited back to him! A couple of years back, business took him to Austin (supposedly the only place in Texas that you’d want to visit!), and I swear it’s the food out there that keeps him going back!!
Odd Duck | 1201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, Texas 78704
For me it’s easy, I would always nominate The Odd Duck (and I know your mother would agree). It’s a relatively new restaurant, started by a man who previously had a food truck and it’s one of few restaurants in Austin where you struggle to get a table (they don’t take bookings on the day but you can book in advance). I think the whole family has been involved in the food business for a while and they have another restaurant (which I haven’t been to, but everybody says it’s fantastic – Barley Swine).
Odd Duck is quite large for Austin, in a purpose-built modern building dominated by a huge bar and an open kitchen area. It’s very relaxed and specialises in food truck food – all small plates of really interesting things, served ‘family style’ (as and when it’s ready, on a vast array of mismatched crockery). There’s usually one with a duck egg (hence the restaurant name) and there’s usually food which includes popcorn, goat etc, plus a “Taco of the Day” – all with spectacular flavours.
Anastasia Bernhardt | London
Anastasia is the Food Editor & Features Assistant at Country & Town House. Our paths first crossed some time after midnight in a soggy Glastonbury 2014 field, and I’ve been contributing to C&TH since! As part of her job, and thanks to her culinary obsession, she has eaten at basically all the best restaurants in London and beyond, so is certainly a foodie to follow.
Agile Rabbit | Unit 24, Brixton Village Market, Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8PR
Most people who go to Brixton Village for pizza get caught in the Franco Manca trap. Miles better is the Agile Rabbit. I always try and order something new when I visit a restaurant regularly, but I dream about the spinach and ricotta pizza here on a regular basis – it’s so good that I’ve never ordered anything else. It comes with more cheese than you know what to do with and the crispiest base.
Twinned with a good bottle of red, a blanket and live jazz, I struggle to go anywhere else in the Village.
Richard Lilley | London
This guy’s a major influencer for me. Not only has he taught me everything I know about coffee and DIY, he’s also the +1 for most of my review meals, and my workout buddy for discovering all the best exercise spots. Richard has the highest standards of anyone I’ve ever known (except perhaps my dad), so when a restaurant passes the “Richard test“, you know it’s abso-bloody-lutely fantastic and a real rare gem!
Barrafina | 54 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4SL
Barrafina is the best restaurant in Soho. It’s the best tapas I’ve ever had anywhere, actually. It’s not cheap, but it’s totally worth the price.
There’s a sense that all your fellow diners are loyal locals or somehow “in-the-know“. Which is probably correct, since you can’t book and always have to queue for ages to get a table – only the people who’ve experienced Barrafina before know that it’s 100% worth queuing for an hour for.
Table-wise, there’s a limited number of seats – everyone sits up at the U-shaped bar. You overlook the chefs in the kitchen, but it’s also a really good vantage point for people-watching – it’s always busy and most people come to dine in pairs, so it can be kind of voyeuristic as you might be watching a couple on a date, analysing their body language!
The food is always different – there are some excellent core dishes that are more traditional, but then there’s always something new – a list of specials depending on the seasons or the catch of the day.
And the anchovies. I love the anchovies. It’s hard to find good anchovies.
Suzanne Daurat | Paris
Suzanne is a Parisian colleague of mine, and is the epitome of French chic, head to toe in Petit Bateau, Karl Marc John and breton stripes (ish!). Although now a Londoner, she knows Paris like the back of her hand, and is my trusty source for Parisian hotspots – as well as getting me into hot yoga in London!
Gladines | 30 rue des 5 Diamants, 75013 Paris, France
One place I very much like is Gladines. I like it for a few reasons…
(1) I’m lazy and this one is walking distance from where I live;
(2) It’s very unpretentious and casual (and cheap), so it’s the ideal local restaurant for all those I-can’t-be-bothered-to-cook evenings; and
(3) Now that I live in London, it is ideal for big French food cravings (cheese, snails , good bread, magret de canard, andouillette, charcuterie, anything seasoned with extra garlic, and classic red wine). When you order a salad, it comes with giant sauté potatoes, giant pancetta, giant chunks of cheese, all mixed in a giant salad bowl!
Since I left Paris, Gladines has opened a few other restaurants, but the one in la Buttes aux Cailles is the original one. This area is also very nice, full of small restaurants and bars, very “local” and feels like a little lively village with tiny buildings and houses.
Laura Almond | London
Laura is the best baker I know. In addition, her Brownaroons (coconut macaroon-topped brownies) are the reason I broke my No-Sugar-January vow! Her baked goodness can be found on her recipe blog, Beaten By A Whisker, and an honesty box full of amazing cake can be found outside her north London house every weekend!
Lily Vanilli – Columbia Road Flour Market | 6 The Courtyard, Ezra St. London E2 7RH
So, most of my favourite places are recommended by you, Nina, but aside from those, I think my favourite place would be Lily Vanilli at Columbia Road Flower Market.
Reasons why I like it:
– The cakes are unusual – typically made with vegetables and more obscure ingredients than your average cake shop. They look rustic and wholesome, while still being really pretty! I enjoy the intrigue of tasting new flavours and am always inspired to bake new things myself. The cakes are insanely moist and often topped with cream cheese frosting, making them very difficult to eat elegantly – just my kind of cake! The brownies are also amazing, and I judge a place on its brownies…!
– Since it is only open on Sundays, like the flower market, they call it The Flour Market – and since I cannot resist a pun, it scores big points there!
– I love the atmosphere of the market – in the summer there are street musicians and you can sit on a curb and listen, eat your cake out of a cardboard box, and watch people walking past laden with beautiful bundles of flowers.
Olivia Parker | London
Olivia is Writer & Commissioning Editor for Telegraph Weekend, and is also the girl who got me this gig writing for the Telegraph myself! She is insanely well-travelled, hilarious, and a very old friend of mine, and if anyone knows the best cocktail and dancing spots in the city, it’s her!
Radio Rooftop Bar | ME London Hotel, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA
I am a complete sucker for rooftop bars in any shape or form – the merest hint of a view to look at whilst having a drink is enough to make me happy. But Radio Rooftop Bar takes high-level drinking to an entirely new, er, level. Yes, you have to beg, bribe or seduce your way past the bouncers to have any chance of getting in from about 3pm on any of the days it is open, but it’s one of the best late-night views in London, so it should be well-protected!
On the magic day that fate swings in your favour, it’ll be worth the wait. The experience starts as soon as you enter the building – you cross the elegant hotel lobby, swish into the lift like for all the world you’re Julia Roberts and then emerge into a super-cool rooftop paradise.
There’s a large open balcony filled with white sofas, with heaters and fur rugs in winter, surrounding a glass bar. Inside, the rich and glamorous, or the simply persuasive, gather around the piano or DJ, knocking back cocktails. The food? No idea. The decor? Pales in comparison to the panoramic view. The clientele? Largely too flashy for words. But there’s something about leaning over the back of a sofa, wrapped in blankets and clutching a glass of rose (cocktails too expensive), taking in the lights of London below, that just does it for me.
Shawn Meyers | Brussels
Shawn is a great friend of mine and although he hails from Ohio, he knows Brussels all too well (let’s just say he has something of a penchant for European ladies!). He also has the best job title I’ve ever come across: Urban Designer. Someone in such a profession obviously has amazing taste, so you know you can trust his recommendations when next in Belgium!
Maison Renardy | Chaussée de Wavre 111B, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium
In a town that doesn’t wear its heart on its sleeve, the best places in Brussels take some time to discover. One of my favourite establishments in all my travels (which surprises even me) is located on a quiet corner in Ixelles, Brussels.
Maison Renardy is a little gem that is located on the same street as a German siren that used to have my song 🙂 It is a small and exceptional café, owned and operated by generations of the same family and it truly shows in the quality of the food and the likeness of the staff! When traveling, I often find it difficult to find a café that combines food and atmosphere with a local identity, and I have never seen it done more exceptionally than Maison Renardy.
I will readily admit that I am not a food critic so I won’t wax lyrical about the merits of the food, but the thought of the fresh baked croissants and baguettes induce a Pavlovian effect on me and the Belgian hot chocolate has nourished my soul. I don’t often find myself in Brussels anymore, but when I do my routine always involves spending a few hours sitting at the marble topped tables and revelling in the authenticity of the moment.
Katie Erbs | Amsterdam
From Georgia to New York to London and now all over Europe, Katie has lived in all the coolest spots. Of late, work has taken her to Amsterdam, where I’m sure she’s been painting the town red in only the coolest venues. This lady introduced me to Barry’s Bootcamp, Bone Daddies and Williamsburg, and I can’t wait to see what else she gets me hooked on in the future! Here she suggests drinks for daytime and evening…
Scandinavian Embassy | Sarphatipark 34, 1072 PB Amsterdam, Netherlands
For the best coffee, it has to be Scandinavian Embassy – great Swedish coffee shop in De Pijp. Baristas are very friendly and willing to tell you every intricate detail about the coffees. They also have great snacks and healthy food options.
Door 74 | Reguliersdwarsstraat 74I, 1017 BN Amsterdam, Netherlands
Cocktails in Amsterdam are hard to come by, but if you are seeking a speakeasy style creative cocktail, this is your place. I recommend going on a quieter night so you have the opportunity for the bartender make you something unique, and be sure to book ahead.
Chris, Lauryn & co | San Francisco
Somehow I know a fair few people from SF, yet have never been to the city myself – these guys have therefore remained a massively untapped resource until now! With 5 San Franciscans round the table, it was hard getting them to agree on a single great place, so we settled for two… These guys know a good time, so I can guarantee these spots will be hot.
Zazie | 941 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117, United States
Zazie does the best brunch, 7 days a week. What kind of cuisine is it? Kind of French… California French, with a big focus on fresh ingredients. Oooh and the Challah French toast portion is huge – it’s amazing.
Zeitgeist | 199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103, United States
Zeitgeist for Bloody Marys – their Bloody Marys have won awards! And they have, like, fifty beers on tap. Beers and Bloodys. It’s a biker bar – apparently the burgers are really good too but I’ve only ever been for drinks. It has an outdoor patio which is perfect when the weather is nice. Zeitgeist is a must-do on a Sunday when you’re hungover – you have a breakfast burrito then you hit Zeitgeist.
Victoria Gower | Sydney
Victoria is my cousin – she moved to Sydney a couple of years back. In between raising two of the cutest children I know, and frequent trips to the beach, I just know she’ll have dug up some of the best places to dine Down Under.
Radio Cairo | 83 Spofforth St, Cremorne, NSW 2090, Australia
My opportunities to dine & drink out here are somewhat restricted, but there are a couple of places I love for food. The one that first comes to mind is a bit obvious – but unbelievable Italian food (especially the suckling pig) and amazing views – that’s Pilu at Freshwater.
But more in keeping with your ‘hidden gems’ theme is a restaurant local to us, called Radio Cairo. It’s in Cremorne, and it looks like nothing special from the outside, but then it has this fabulous and crazy mix of food – so diverse, but it’s just delish – I think it’s African/Carribean/carnivorous/full of flavour! It’s always busy – you have to book in advance if you want to go – loud, buzzing and just across the road from the Art Deco cinema, Hayden Orpheum.
Angela Murray | London
Angela is seriously over-qualified when it comes to advising on art stores and galleries in London. With previous roles including RCA curation, art critic for The Sunday Times, director of BEAK Gallery Dublin, and owner of Belfast contemporary design store LOUNGE, she now busies herself with painting, motherhood and as Art & Design Buyer for ACHICA. Oh and she was the creative director of the ‘art wall’ in my very own flat! If it’s art you want, Angela is your lady!
Cornelissen & Son | 105A Great Russell Street, London, WC1B
Cornelissen & Son is the most wonderful shop for any artist. It’s like a sweet shop for pigment. High rows of old wooden shelving display jars of pigment which are saturated with the most intense colour and some of the purest powders available are sold here. Located on Great Russell St, near The British Museum, they have been around since 1855 and the moment you walk through the door and smell the distinct odour of linseed oil there is no mistaking where you are.
This shop epitomises for me everything I love about the process of making Art – it is literally the process in the most traditional sense that I adore and the ability to be able to purchase the finest materials to create that work is key for me and gives me the utmost pleasure. Leafing through varying weights of watercolour paper, choosing the most decadent tubes of prepared pigment and selecting from the most beautiful array of handmade brushes in London – what’s not to love!
What is your favourite restaurant/bar/café/place in your city, and why do you love it?
For photo credits, please click each image.