This week I've been eating...fun foods
If you're bored with sombre, humourless restaurants then the newly renovated Parlour just north of London's Notting Hill might put a smile back on your face.
The cocktail list boasts sweet mixes that taste just like dessert (try a Not-in-Hill which is like sipping a lemon meringue pie). The delicious bread is freshly baked with maple syrup and their popcorn chicken is simply deep fried bites of breadcrumbed chicken but it comes in a bowl alongside real pieces of popcorn. It's all in the details, see.
Their beef pie is one of the finest I've tasted and it arrived looking like Desperate Dan's dinner: delightful. For dessert, the waiter torched meringue at the table to recreate Wagon Wheels, the school-time treat. If it all sounds a bit kitsch for you they have plenty of serious dishes such as salmon fishcakes on offer. But that would be ever so boring of you.
Since opening in 2011 the Opera Tavern has been a go-to place for modern tapas. The restaurant is one of three owned by the Salt Yard Group, run by Sanja Morris, Simon Mullins and executive chef Ben Tish, who pretty much pioneered the small-plate concept.
Now, the group are releasing their first cookbook, a beautiful volume featuring some of Tish's best-loved recipes. There is truffled macaroni, mini Iberico pork burgers and some fine stuffed courgettes. Perfect for your new year dinner parties.
£30, Piquillo Publishing
Some people like junk food, get over it. That's the mantra of the Dude Foods website – a persuasive one, I'm sure you'll agree – a one-man homage to salty sat-fat combos. Still, some of Nick (the dude)'s creations look rather wonderful. Take the chicken and waffle wings for example, or the bacon weave grilled cheese sandwich. Yes, the latter does actually replace bread with woven rashers of bacon. See it to believe it.
Puff on this
Food in January. It's problematic. The rich delights of December (if you've even got any mince pies/ turkey/port left) would make anyone feel liverish. And anyway, we're supposed to be on a health kick. One way to put some vigour into dull but important healthy food like fish is with this nifty stovetop smoker by Camerons, from Sous Chef, our favourite one-stop web shop for culinary kit. Just £59 means you'll never have to endure plain steamed fish or chicken. There's also the bonus of looking like a pro as you whisk off the lid to waft around the smoky scents from within.
In the club
Roti Chai, the Indian restaurant in central London, is running a series of supper clubs during 2013. The first two on 14 and 21 January offers the chance to eat in the restaurant for £19 for two courses or three for £22. Dishes will include Amritsari stuffed kulcha and each dinner will have a different geographic theme.