What the experts recommend
Piecaramba! 11a Parchment Street, Winchester (01962-852182) During my career as a food critic, says Jay Rayner in The Observer, I have sometimes received menacing rebukes “from what felt like the paramilitary wing of the Pie Liberation Front for daring to refer to a casserole dish with a pastry lid as a pie. Heresy!” A true pie, of course, must be fully enclosed in pastry – like the “wonders” of perfectly cooked golden shortcrust being served up at Piecaramba! (“a jolly arch name for a bloody good pie shop”). Some of the pies on its menu are sourced from the well-known Pieminister; others from the Hampshire farmers’ market stalwart Mud Pie; but many more are produced in their own kitchen. All are belters – and cracking value at £5.50. A slow-cooked beef pie oozes with “dark, savoury tones” and rich gravy. A game pie of partridge, pheasant and venison is sweet with redcurrant jelly and “the airy waft of bay”. There are extensive vegetarian and vegan options, and all the accompaniments – creamy mash, mushy peas boosted by a little chilli, onion gravy, parsley sauce – are very fine, too.
Meal for two, with drinks, £25 (if you really try).
Ceremony 131 Fortess Road, Tufnell Park, London NW5 (020-3302 4242) This exceptionally welcoming new vegetarian place in north London is “one of the most exiting small restaurants I can remember opening in years”, says Giles Coren in The Times. By any measure, Ceremony is “outstanding”: the doubleheight space an airy delight, the kitchen and floor staff “lovely”, the cocktails set to be “legendary”, and the food “original, light, colourful and full of love”. We first went for brunch, and enjoyed a smoky tofu scramble, silky and rich with powerful red chilli, “wonderfully fluffy” sweet potato pancakes with maple syrup and a poached egg, and a huge heap of wild mushrooms on toast with eggs on top. So back we went for dinner, and began by downing a couple of “exquisite” cocktails, a “brilliant” crisped, breaded duck egg and some decent starters. Then the “bang on” mains: a “bright and golden” sweet potato curry that’s full of “depth and interest”, and (even better) a white bean broth with cavolo nero and “luscious, gnocchi-like dumplings”. Trust me: this place “is going to be huge”. Our starters were £7-£9; mains £14-£16.
Where to eat in Lisbon
It might seem “crazy”, says chef Nuno Mendes in the FT, but “in Lisbon you start the day with a custard tart” and a coffee. This is a city that stays up late, so we need a breakfast that “keeps people going”. At the best places, they produce the tarts in-house. You could try Garrett, Manteigaria or Confeitaria Nacional. For lunch, go to the “old-school” Zé da Mouraria to try a one-pot dish such as octopus rice or bean stew with cabbage and chorizo, or a baked fish and vegetable pot. Cantinho da Paz does authentic Goan cuisine, and Taberna da Rua das Flores serves dishes from Mozambique and Angola with Portuguese flavours. Martim Moniz is a “fun area”, home to Nepalese and Chinese markets. In the evening, head to the Adamastor district to sit outside at a nice kiosk, weather permitting, and enjoy the sunset with a cold beer. Tasca da Esquina does amazing Portuguese dishes; The Insólito serves food and drink until late at night; Nunes does fantastically fresh santola (crab), red prawns and clams.