Food often lies at the heart of a family’s fondest memories, as Great British Menu host Andi Oliver and her TV presenter daughter Miquita know all too well. From award-winning East End pub The Marksman to fine dining at Mayfair stalwart Scott’s, over the years the mother-daughter duo have curated a list of beloved foodie spots across the capital. Here, discover Andi and Miquita’s favourite London restaurants they return to time and time again.
Favourite London Restaurants
254 Hackney Road, Hackney, E2
Andi: Good food is all about the details. You can have Michelin stars coming out of your ears but if there isn’t enough thought and care, it shows on the plate almost immediately. Everything at this award-winning East End pub is beautifully finessed. They do a brown butter tart and – oh my God – it’s just perfect. The last time I went there I ate it too fast and had to have a little lie down. On a Sunday they do a shared shoulder of lamb they’ve cooked overnight that’s so soft and buttery and luscious and perfectly seasoned, and there will always be more gravy. I can’t abide a chef who is tight with gravy, it just upsets me, but The Marksman is very good at abundance. It exists really well in all seasons, too. It is so summery and bright and light, and yet also cosy and inviting and nurturing in winter. It’s one of our go-to places for a mother-daughter lunch. We’re quite good dining partners, though Miquita goes nuts if you order the same thing as her.
Miquita: I like eating with mum because she has a lot of food knowledge and I have a lot of questions. We were at The Marksman recently and all we ordered was a plate of pickles and they were amazing – that’s how good it is. It used to be an old man’s pub and it still looks like a proper pub outside but, inside, it’s like an old-fashioned French brasserie. It has great wine glasses and all the waiters are uniformed, but not in an uptight way. There are beautiful salads and grilled fish, all served with crisp white wine.
11-15 Swallow Street, Mayfair W1
Andi: What can I say? It’s actually perfect. The chef owner, Richard Corrigan, is one of the best humans I know, and his personality is exemplified in this, one of his flagship restaurants. The food is so well judged – Richard is the king of fish and he has an incredible way of creating classic dishes, like a fish pie or a whole dover sole, but adding his own little touches. Take his sole meunière, which has these barely discernible slivers of grapefruit on the top. Everything in there is chosen with such care and love and humour. They do Vietnamese oysters with fish sauce and lots of crispy garlic, chilli and fresh coriander that are so delicious, they make your toes curl.
We had my brother’s 50th birthday there soon after the lockdown first eased and we were slightly nervous to go out, but the whole night was just beautiful, with so many touches of elegance. The service is brilliantly balanced between really knowledgeable sommeliers and waiters, who come at just the right moment when you need to order, talk just the right amount of time and then leave again without imposing, which is actually really hard.
20 Mount Street, Mayfair, W1
Miquita: Me and my friend Lily [Allen] first went to Scott’s when we were in our early 20s and we’d started making a bit of money. We were always out around Soho and decided we needed to go for some nice dinners – I really love fish, so Scott’s in Mayfair became a favourite. It’s such a classic London restaurant, you feel like you’re floating the whole time you’re in there. I went there with Lily and her husband again before the pandemic and we had the most special fish any of us had ever eaten, a lemon sole that was so delicate and memorable.
I love sitting in Scott’s because the lighting is really gentle and it feels like there’s a lot of history all around me. It’s like a secret little bubble, and there are always people like Shirley Bassey sitting on the next table. But then there are also plenty of families celebrating special occasions. They do a great Martini.I always have a vodka martini with an olive. A clean, clear cold cocktail and a great piece of fish. I love that place. I don’t go enough.
426 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9
Andi: Nanban is owned by my friend and former Masterchef winner Tim Anderson, who I do The Kitchen Cabinet with on Radio 4. Often, you dream of having a really great bowl of ramen noodles with a sticky broth, don’t you? Well, Tim’s broth takes about three days to make and there are layers and layers of flavour that he’s worked incredibly hard on to get just right. He studied in Japan and now he lives in Brixton, and he does a really clever thing where he brings together produce from Brixton market and Japanese traditional cooking methods to makes these incredible dishes – last time we went we had a baked white sweet potato with ponzu butter that was so, so delicious.
We took our great nephew Flynn there for a late birthday dinner and had these platters of chicken wings that made me need another lie down. The music is banging too and they have booths to sit in – I do love a booth – as well as some brilliant records, like Japanese editions of Tom Jones albums, all over the walls. Tim has truly nailed it.
16 Playground Gardens, Shoreditch, E2
Miquita: I always used to see Margot Henderson at The Groucho Club when I was younger – she kept an eye on me, because people who knew our parents would always watch out for me and Lil when we were out. So we’d talked a lot, but I’d never eaten her food. And it’s so good. At Rochelle Canteen, I feel like I’m eating seasons. I’ve never been anywhere else where the vegetables have been so respected and looked after and given the time they deserve to really shine as dishes on their own – you can tell it’s run by two women [Margot and Melanie Arnold]. I had this broad bean and feta dish, which isn’t that unusual in itself, but it was just so fresh and zingy and alive in my mouth.
It’s my kind of food – I really like classic English dishes and simple, clean cooking. It’s quite a gentle eating experience, because there aren’t loads of people and the menu isn’t very long, so you feel there’s real care and attention to all of the dishes. And I love the story behind it – it’s in an old Victorian school in Shoreditch and every time you walk in you feel like you’re going into a secret garden. It’s a very special place.
116 Petherton Road, Stoke Newington, N5
Miquita: Primeur is in an old car showroom, with an open glass front on a lovely classic north London street. I went recently with my friend for his birthday and I knew it was going to be exactly what we needed. It’s all small plates and they encourage you to just share, share, share, so it’s perfect for a table of about four people. I like to be really brave and adventurous when I’m there and I always eat something I’ve never had, like rabbit, which was so good, cooked up with beans like a sort of cassoulet. They also do some incredible pasta.
They don’t serve spirits in the restaurant, but they have a brilliant list of low-intervention wines, which changes daily, and they do a great side dish. We got a whole radish with the leaves on, with butter and salt. Simple. They really know how to let their ingredients sing.
2a Garrick Street, Covent Garden, WC2
Andi: Chef owner Asma Khan is another one of my favourite human beings on the planet. The Darjeeling Express started out as a supper club for south Asian women who missed home and, from that, she went on to become the first British chef on Chef’s Table, which is quite a big thing considering all the chefs they could have chosen. But they chose Asma because she is just extraordinary. People in Darjeeling Express cry because the biryani tastes exactly like their grandma’s biryani. It’s stunning food, the spicing is perfectly balanced and Asma sort of floats around the restaurant talking to everyone – she’s one of those people, it’s like she’s rooted in the earth. She makes you feel better about being a human being and about being alive.
It’s not elegant in the way that a Michelin-starred restaurant is, but it’s elegant in my mind because of the beautiful nature of the food. There’s a whole kitchen full of women who were home cooks that Asma has created a team of chefs from – you can feel their energy in the restaurant. Magical food made by magical people.
Wadadli Kitchen opens 20 August
Unit 1, Hamlet Estate, Whitepost Lane, Hackney Wick, London, E9 5EN