Rum Kitchen

Why go here:

If you feel like eating at a Caribbean beach hut.

What it looks like:

It looks like a wooden shack with colorful lights, cheerful posters and a reggae soundtrack. There’s definitely that vibe that you’re out on a holiday in the Caribbean.

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The food:

You can try all sorts of Caribbean classics and fun all-rum cocktails (hint’s in the name) at this Soho eatery. I went all out and ordered the Double Jerk Chicken Burger which comes partnered with a scotch bonnet-flavoured mayo. The chicken was spicy and juicy and the skin was caramelised to just the right level. The sweet brioche buns and the fresh tomatoes offered a good balance to the heat of the chicken.

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My friend ordered the Jerk and Ting Chicken stack which is a better option for those with a lower tolerance for chillies since the rice, peas and slaw served in the dish help offset the spicy scotch bonnet better.

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The cocktails were nice and refreshing but were pretty generic in my opinion. I would have expected to more Caribbean themed, tropical cocktails on the menu but the found it to be lacking on the adventurous and experimental side of things.

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Verdict:

Go here with friends, order the jerk chicken and tuck in, if needed with your hands. This really is some finger licking good chicken!

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Pizza East

Why go here:

To try gourmet pizza – and no, Pizza Express doesn’t count as gourmet.

What it looks like:

The restaurant is in a warehouse with bare bricked walls, wooden benches and dimly lit. I was pleasantly surprised when I happened to wander downstairs to the toilets, to find their very own photo booths – free for you to use!

The waiters were friendly, tattooed hipsters but there were not as many of them considering how busy the place was, causing the service to be quite slow.

The food:

Before we tucked into pizzas, we decided to try some of their antipasti and this was definitely one of our best decisions of the day. The Jerusalem Artichoke dish and the Chilli, Almond Broccoli salad were so flavoursome, I could have easily had more of them instead of moving onto pizza at all.

But, I didn’t want to miss out on what Pizza East promises to do best.  So I did end up ordering the Butternut Squash and Fontina Pizza. Being seated at the bar counter had the advantage of getting to see the chefs do their magic with the pizzas – expertly rolling out the dough, sprinkling on all the freshly prepared toppings and the cheese and smoothly sliding them into the clay oven. It was almost like a factory process with the timings of the chefs perfectly coordinated to maximise the pizzas being dished out every minute.

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Having witnessed your pizza being prepared really does impact your patience in waiting to get to eat it. When my pizza finally arrived, I devoured it in seconds. The butternut squash was sweet and the base had the right thickness and crunch. My only complain would have to be the amount of cheese- this might be me being greedy but I did feel that my pizza was almost too healthy. Although, this might have been my choice of pizza because my friend had less of this issue with her Veal meatballs, Prosciutto and Cream pizza.

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Verdict:

Next time you get a girl joking about getting pizza for a dinner date, surprise her by taking her to Pizza East. Pizza doesn’t get any more gourmet and fun than this.

Poppies

Why go here:

This place got the award for the Best Independent Fish and Chips Restaurant in the U..K. The CEO of London’s popular Timeout magazine, which publishes reviews of all old and new things on offer in London, also declared it to be his favourite fish and chip joint. Surely you must be curious to check out if it is worth all this hype after all.

What it looks like:

Full of British knick-knack – vintage posters, a mini telephone booth and a jukebox help recreate the 1940s look when Poppies was first established. The waitresses were in red, Polka-dotted diner style outfits and headscarves. And if you choose to takeaway, you get served in faux newspaper cones!

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The food:

The fish is sourced daily from the Billingsgate market and you can taste the freshness. The batter was light and crisp and therefore didn’t overpower the taste of the fresh, flaky fish. The fries were chunky and the calamari had a good bite without being tough and chewy. While they do also serve some chicken dishes, their expertise lies in the fish. My Victorian lemonade was sweet and refreshing and was a great accompaniment to the fried fish – more places should offer the combo of lemonade with fish and chips.

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Verdict:

This place transports you back in time to a fish and chippy from the 1940s and offers some of the best quality fish and chips you can get in London without compromising on the prices.

Chico Bandito

Why go here:

For Mexican food served up in very big portions and for the sizzling table Fajitas that you put together yourself!

What it looks like:

Located in an alley just off Old Street, this Shoreditch Mexican eatery is colorful and cheery. The waiters were dressed in Mexican inspired waistcoats and there were sombreros and mini-guitars at hand for the guests to join in too!

The food:

For starters, my friends and I ordered one of their combo tapas trays of which my favourite were the BBQ ribs, which were as sticky and saucy as you can get, though the jalapenos with oozing cream cheese were a very close second, but lost out on the first place due to being a  bit too greasy!

For mains, we all ordered the sizzling table Fajitas. While the task at hand isn’t the most complicated, make-your-own dishes are always such fun and can be quite messy depending on how drunk you are! The sizzling chicken was delicious but the ribeye steak seemed to be the winner amongst my friends, due to being more of a rarity when it comes to Mexican street food, not to mention more filling.

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For drinks, we all alternated between tequila shots and cocktails. My Blue Lagoon Tequila Fizz was the most intensely colored cocktail I’ve ever had but due to the amount of tequila I consumed that evening, the margaritas were more palatable.

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Verdict:

If you’re looking for tasty but value for money Mexican food and wouldn’t mind doing tequila shots and taking selfies wearing sombreros amidst your meal, this is the place to go.