Dirty Bones, Shoreditch

The new Dirty Bones in Shoreditch is a grown-up, more glamorous alternative to the other branches in Kensington and Soho, though there is still a hit of grunge in the dark decor and DJ set up. The all-American restaurant has taken over a gorgeous Grade-II listed building in central Shoreditch and has smart leather seating and a glitzy bar to lure you in. Known for their strong cocktails and indulgent menu of US classics, the offering here has all the same recipes with a few extra dishes (like Cheeseburger Dumplings) added.

Dirty Bones Shoreditch

I visited on a Monday lunchtime, bringing along my brother to help with the inevitable feasting. Totally overwhelmed by the large menu we let the waiter pick his favourites for our meal. His choices were flawless, a nice mix of meat and veggie dishes which complemented eachother well. Our favourites included the Beef Short Rib with salted caramel & burnt onion sauce, crispy shallots and spring onions. The tender meat fell easily off the bone coated in a sticky sweet-smoky sauce and topped with tangy spring onions. The blissfully simple but wonderfully tasty Crispy Lamb Fries were also a hit, flavoured with a spicy sauce and a hint of miso with a scattering of crunchy lamb bites.

Dirty Bones Shoreditch

I was beginning to tire of burgers, until I ate ‘The Mac Daddy’ an extravagant bun filled with a 6oz patty, pulled beef short rib, mac & cheese and homemade BBQ sauce. Juicy and moist with a rich cheesy sauce, it was as good as it looks.

For dessert I recommend ordering the Milk & Cookies, a simple pudding with a chewy chocolate cookie and refreshing creamy milk ice-cream. We loved all the cocktails that were put in front of us, but the winner had to be ‘Mutt’s Nuts’, a perfectly balanced short drink with Woodford Reserve bourbon, cinnamon & vanilla infused maple syrup, Angostura bitters, lemon and apple.

Visit Dirty Bones for a quiet weekday lunch to really relish the food, or head there at the weekend when the music adds a fun atmosphere to the venue.

More information and book a table here.

Liberty Cheesesteak Company, Spitalfields Market

Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, birthplace to a nation and home to the Liberty Bell (made round the corner from LCC in Whitechapel!), Rocky Balboa and to rich culinary and ethnic traditions that spawned the famous Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich.  The humble Cheesesteak, developed in the early twentieth century, quickly became the food of the masses and ultimately an icon of Philly culture.  It is synonymous with the city, its people and history.

Liberty Cheesesteak Company, Spitalfields Market

While there is no shortage of American food in London, Liberty goes beyond superficial Americana, it focuses on sharing Philly culture through the iconic and with highly sought after sandwich made of bread, steak, onions and secret recipe cheese, known as ‘Wiz’.

A whole Philly Cheesesteak from Liberty costs £8, and half costs £5. Other Philly classics on offer include South Philly Style Italian Roast Pork sandwiches, Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak and, for dessert, ice cream sandwiches and Philly style Cannoli, pumped with ricotta filling right before the customer for freshness.  Gluten free options are also available.

London’s first full time real Philly Cheesesteak retail experience can be found at ‘Love Park’ on the Lamb Street entrance to Spitalfields market, seven days a week or ordered for delivery across London via  Take Eat EasyDeliveroo and Jinn.

More information here: www.cheesesteaks.co.uk

Jackson & Rye, Soho

Many restaurants in London try to emulate the vibe of NYC eateries. In my opinion few succeed, and there are a lot of cheap impressions around. Jackson & Rye however is effortlessly cool and comfortably casual with warm wooden interiors, a well-stocked bar and the dimmed cosy lighting of famous American hang-outs. This new Soho restaurant offers all day dining, ranging from hearty brunches to light lunches, delicious dinners and strong cocktails. I have visited twice now, for a long lazy breakfast meeting and later for an early evening supper. At night the bar becomes more popular and crowded as Soho’s streets fill, I preferred the carefree daytime atmosphere.

When I visited for dinner it felt like the whole of Soho was crowding into the restaurant desperate for some grilled meat. We managed to squeeze into a corner table for two, though the tables are so close together it felt like we were joining the next door couple for a meal! Abiding by dry January rules, I resisted ordering one of the cocktails the barmen were so efficiently shaking up at the counter behind me. After enduring a long walk in the pouring rain, my ballet shoes drenched on my feet and hair stuck to my face, I felt in need of something comforting and hot… Market soup with pumpkin spinach and ricotta ravioli was the perfect solution. It was a silky smooth soup, perhaps slightly too thin, but with the pleasant addition of the ravioli. The Crispy squid was rather thick and chewy for my liking but arrived with a delicious creamy chipotle mayonnaise that doubled up as a good sauce for chip dipping.

Jackson & Rye is at its best with the American classics. Buttermilk fried chicken is tender and satisfyingly tasty, coated in an abnormally thick crunchy crust. The steak was good too, a decent sized piece of meat accompanied by grilled shallot and watercress, a little overcooked but with a lovely rich flavour. Bearnaise sauce was the best of the sauce selection, peppercorn needed thickening and a touch more onion and the house sauce was too sweet for me. For fries, go for the shoestring, ultra thin and crispy, they easily beats the average standard sized variation.

It wouldn’t be a proper American meal without dessert, and the array of choices made a decision difficult. We eventually chose the Melting Chocolate Sundae with Butterscotch sauce which came highly recommended by our waitress. A spherical shiny object arrived, a ball of vanilla ice-cream encased in dark chocolate. You pour the sauce over yourself and watch the chocolate collapse inwards, creating a creamy melted mess. Yum.

Jackson & Rye is ideal for conquering those American food cravings, any time of day.

More information and book here: www.jacksonrye.com