Best things I ate in 2021

I eat out a lot, this is some of the best food I ate, starting with the restaurants I consider to be the best in the world right now, all of which I did not have a single bad dish at.

  • Everything, 40 Maltby St, London
  • Everything, ASAP Pizza, London (RIP)
  • Everything, Endo at Home, London
  • Everything, Banh, NYC

And some very good dishes from other places:

  • Nashville Hot Sandwich, Bake Street, London
  • Chicken wings, Smoking Goat, London
  • Lobster roll, Quality Wines, London
  • Fish finger sandwich, Hank’s Crab Shack, Fowey
  • Crab fried rice, Thai Diner, NYC
  • Burger, 7th Street Burger, NYC
  • Pistachio escargot, Du Pain et des Idees, Paris

Waste of time and money: Dishoom, London

A list of very good book shops

Mast Books, East Village, NYC. Diverse selection of new/used books on art, design, philosophy etc. Gorgeous layout and excellent music choices too.

Palais de Tokyo Bookshop, 16eme, Paris. Huge selection of art books, many of which are discounted. The museum’s often got good exhibitions as well.

Foyles, Soho, London. The best of London’s big bookstores for browsing — very spacious, lots of seating, and tons of light.

The Strand, Union Square, NYC. Indoors is way too cramped and overwhelming, but if you patiently search the discounted sidewalk shelves you will always find a few gems (and get an interesting sense of people’s reading tastes).

McNally Jackson, Nolita, NYC. Big but not overwhelming, good lighting, expansive selection and curation that encourages serendipity. The Downtown Brooklyn location is good, too.

Popular places I don’t particularly like: Books Are Magic; London Review Bookshop; Shakespeare & Co. Paris (though the NYC one is okay).

Recommended restaurants in NYC, November 2021

I’ve just returned from a two week trip to New York City. I make regular trips from London and always try to eat at as many new places as possible. Here are some highlights from this trip:

Banh
The best “new” restaurant I’ve been to in any city for a very long time. The pastry and barbecue were both perfect. Really high-quality produce, too (I normally hate lettuce but it was good here). And very reasonable prices. Disclosure that I’m not very familiar with Vietnamese food, which probably helped wow me. (Upper West Side — Menu)

Dhamaka
I went somewhat sceptical amid the fawning praise (the Bloomberg review comparing it to London’s “slop” didn’t exactly prime me to love it). But I was pleasantly surprised: it’s a very interesting menu and all of it was pretty good, especially the biryani. Nothing blew me away, but I’d return to try the rabbit. (Lower East Side — Menu)

Peaches HotHouse
Came here in a fairly bad mood, but the food was absolutely restorative. Spicing on the ‘regular’ is flavourful without being overwhelmingly spicy, though I’d like to try the ‘hot’ next time. Great cornbread too. (Bed–Stuy — Menu)

Wu’s Wonton King
Possibly the best salt and pepper squid I’ve had. Great mix of textures with the perfect amount of spice. (Chinatown — Menu)

Katz’s
The food was good, the atmosphere even better. I could sit in that room for hours. (Lower East Side — Menu)

Golden Diner
I’ve got a thing for diner nostalgia, and this fits the bill perfectly. The food is pure comfort — a really good tuna melt (feat. salt and vinegar crisps), with some of the best, crispiest fries I’ve had anywhere. (Two Bridges — Menu)

Peter Pan Donuts
A very, very good donut, and a wonderfully nostalgic room. Can’t wait for indoor dining to resume here. (Greenpoint — Menu)

I also made a return trip to Thai Diner to have their crab fried rice, which was every bit as excellent as on my last visit. One of my favourite restaurants in the world, I think. (Nolita — Menu)

Other places I enjoyed but recommend less strongly: Via Carota; Curry Mania; Peter Luger; Joe’s Pizza; Arepa Lady. And please send recommendations for my next trip.

Jasper Johns at The Whitney

An enjoyable retrospective which made me appreciate Johns more than I did before. The exhibition shows just how versatile he is, though putting all the works together highlights both his strengths (conceptual flag/map art) and weaknesses (‘traditional’ painting).

The map/flag room is particularly good, both in terms of the works chosen and the way they’re displayed. It’s quite impressive to see just how different an effect his maps have, depending on the colours/styles chosen (see two examples below). I also enjoyed seeing his surrealist works, which were new to me and pretty good.

The only criticisms I have is that the exhibition is too long (go when you are neither hungry nor tired!), and in general The Whitney isn’t very good at creating defined pathways through exhibitions, which annoys completionists like me.

(Sidenote: I wonder how many visitors to the NYC exhibition will also go to the Philadelphia exhibition? I assume it’ll be significantly fewer than Philly-to-NYC visitors.)

Book tickets here.