1 | For Superior Indian Pub Grub: Darjeeling Express @ The Sun & 13 Cantons (above)
You might not have considered entering The Sun and 13 Cantons on Beak Street. Not with romance in mind, anyway: the pavement outside is normally teeming with media folk just freed from their offices, standing around with pints in-hand. But believe you me, you should wander through to the newly refurbished dining room for a weekday lunch or Saturday dinner, where supper club queen Asma Khan is manning the restaurant, Darjeeling Express, for at least the next six months.
Asma cooks phenomenally tasty Indian food inspired by her Mughlai and Calcuttan roots. Her menu includes hearty main dishes like the richly fragrant chicken korma topped with pomegranates (no creamy mess here) and the incredible goat curry, right down to smaller bar options (served all day long), like the puchkas – little crispy semolina shells filled with spiced potatoes and chickpeas, which you have to dip through a bowl of tamarind water and shove into your mouth before they start leaking. The samosas are smashing, the spicy potatoes will knock your socks off, and this woman really has a way with beetroot – just you try the croquettes. Asma cooks what she likes, depending what’s in season, and has a trusted troop of friends in the kitchen to help her out because she doesn’t trust just anyone with her cuisine. You’ll leave very full, and very happy.
21 Great Pulteney Street, London, W1F 9NG; darjeeling-express.com
2 | For A Posh Nosh Pop-Up: Krug and Chips
Champagne house Krug does a pop-up every year. For this one, it has teamed with chef Tom Sellers, of Michelin-starred Restaurant Story over by Tower Bridge. Sellers doesn’t do much by the book, and he has taken the good old potato as his inspiration for this venture, creating a super swanky menu of fish and chips. Or fish in chips, to be precise.
Dishes include crunchy potato ravioli containing whitebait, with tartar sauce, Monkfish cheek curry with fries, and potato spaghetti wrapped around Lobster claws. And just to elevate the spuds further into the laps of luxury, these are served alongside Krug’s Grande Cuvée. Tickets cost £35 each, which will get you a glass of bubbly and a plate of food in Krug’s special bar (complete with heated pods) in the Covent Garden piazza, right next to the Royal Opera House. Places can be booked online, and this upmarket chippy will only be there until Sunday.
East Piazza, Covent Garden, London, WC2E; krug.com
3 | For Upping the Ante: Reserve Bar Stock Exchange
The financial chat going on right now is fairly grim, it has to be said, so a stock market that only applies to your drinks might be just the antidote. The Reserve Bar Stock Exchange has recently opened up in The City, where the price of your tipple depends on the demand for it at the time. Big screens and a smartphone app enable you to watch the prices rise and fall, so that you can choose when to weigh in, and said smartphone app also allows you to order drinks from your table, thus avoiding bar queues.
It’s got a late license, lots of space and lots of tunes. And word is that the owner will be starting a Twitter account in the coming weeks for ‘insider trading,’ giving hints as to when the next crash will be so that you know when to get the next round in. It’s pure novelty, without a doubt, but could pep things up a bit.
46 Gressham Street, London, EC2V 7AY; reservebarstockexchange.com