London’s Euro-community will naturally be getting in on the act – a community so diverse that we realised you can just about find a restaurant serving food from every single one of the participating countries. That’s all 41 of them.
So, whether you’re planning the ultimate Eurovision snack-crawl or looking for some comfort food from your home (or sweepstake) country, this is where to eat the Eurovision map in London.
Albania – Queens Arms, Kilburn
Alongside British pub classics, the menu at this North London pub takes cues from its Kosovo-Albanian owners. The grill is where to head: a mixed platter features pleskavica meat patties and cheddar ushtipka dough balls.
Georgia and Russia also make an appearance on the menu at Erebuni, but signposted national specialities also mean it’s easy to find an Armenian fix. Start off with thin slices of basturma cured beef, before diving into khash, a brothy dish of slow-cooked beef calves served with lavash bread.
No, Australia isn’t in Europe, but its now regular Eurovision turn makes for a welcome excuse to visit Lantana Cafe. Antipodean coffee culture gets a great showing here at brunch with corn fritters, courgette and kale and, of course, smashed avocado on toast.
There’s a little bit of Vienna to be found in Marylebone. From the team behind The Wolseley, Fischer’s mittel-European menu encompasses well-loved schnitzel and strudel dishes alongside lesser-known brötchen (open sandwiches) and käsespätzle (an Austrian take on mac and cheese).
This Camberwell restaurant is one of the few in the capital to extol the virtues of central Asian cuisine encompassing food from Azerbaijan alongside Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and more. Azeri dishes include plov, a popular spiced rice dish cooked here with lamb and carrots.
A small apology: Southwark restaurant Baltic is going to appear a couple of times on this list. Belarusian restaurants are more than tricky to come by in London, but the cuisine here encompasses a range of Eastern European cuisines. Dishes include koptyka dumplings, a dish originating from around Belarus, served here with chestnut, spinach and mushrooms.
Belgian dining isn’t all about chocolate – sometimes its about beer. At mini-chain Belgo, dozens of Belgian brews are served alongside Liège meatballs, waterzooi (a Flemish fish stew) and plentiful pots of moules frites.
While not a restaurant per se, Borough Market’s Taste Croatia is one of the foremost proponents of Croatia’s cuisine in the capital. Head to the deli to pick up award-winning Dinarski cheese, fig vinegar and truffled foods.
Selin Kiazim’s acclaimed Shoreditch restaurant Oklava is a innovative purveyor of Turkish-Cypriot dishes, with a menu featuring including a Black Sea cheese pide with za’atar butter, and a lamb and loquat kebab served with Urfa chilli dressing. Looking for a taste of Greek-Cypriot food? Head to north London’s Kolossi Grill where you can tuck into dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), spiced loukanika sausages and lamb kleftiko.
This restaurant’s name be a tad out of date, but it does have some considerable history. Having started in 1939 as a post-war meeting place for Czechs and Slovaks, the restaurant still serves Czech beers on draught, svíčková roast beef with dumplings and segediner pork gulash.
Snaps + Rye have transported Copenhagen cuisine to west London, serving up light bites in a slickly designed setting. Breakfast includes eggs on Danish dark rye toast with Riberhus cheese, lunch features a selection of smørrebrød open sandwiches topped with herring and smoked potatoes, and dinner showcases frikadeller meatballs made with pork and veal.
While we haven’t quite managed to track down an all-Estonian restaurant, Nordic Bakery encompasses all sorts of Estonian favourites. It serves a Karelian pie, a popular dish in the country, which is similar to a pasty made with rye flour and filled with potato or rice, served here with an egg butter spread.
While Aster’s menu is a mix of European influences, it takes many cues from chef Helena Puolakka’s Finnish heritage. Specialities include duck served with liquorice (a Finnish favourite) and Skrei cod with crushed potatoes, kale and seaweed beurre blanc.
There are plenty examples of superb French food in the capital. But with the country exercising such a huge influence on global fine-dining, we had to highlight one of its masters: Alain Ducasse’s three Michelin-starred restaurant at the Dorchester dishes up the likes of confit duck foie gras and a ‘Sauté gourmand’ of lobster.
The German in German Gymnasium comes not just from its menu but its history: it was formerly the 19th century home of the German Gymnastics Society. Still, on its plates, chef Bjoern Wassmuth serves up the likes of veal Jäger Schnitzel with mushroom sauce and currywurst with triple-cooked chips.
Iberia restaurant on the Caledonian Road is not Spanish as you might anticipate, but Georgian. Dishes include khachapuri flat breads stuffed with Georgian cheeses, and a chaqapuli lamb stew with tarragon and plum sauce. The restaurant also boasts a wide selection of increasingly popular Georgian wine.
Greek cuisine comes in many forms across the capital, but for a taste of the country’s favourite street food dish, head to The Athenian. The grab-and-go spot specialises in souvlaki, a kebab-like dish which wraps grilled pork in pita bread with tomatoes, red onion and even oregano-sprinkled chips, all drizzled with tzatziki.
Last year saw the sad closure of Soho institution the Gay Hussar – but those looking for Hungarian food in London still have the Rosemary to soothe the loss. This organic restaurant serves up chicken-filled Hortobágyi pancakes, and lashings of beef goulash with Hungarian nokedli noodles on the side.
Iceland isn’t too prolifically represented in the London restaurant scene, but Agnar Sverisson gives it a very fine showing at Texture. The Michelin-starred restaurant focuses on ingredients from Sverisson’s home country, with dishes featuring Icelandic lamb, cod, langoustines and skyr yoghurt.
Richard Corrigan is arguably the capital’s finest Irish chef, and his acclaimed restaurants give the produce of the Emerald Isle a stellar showcase. Mayfair spot Bentley’s is one of the best oyster bars in the capital, featuring Irish varieties including prized Galway oysters.
Bala Baya in Southwark takes its culinary inspiration from the host city of Eurovision 2019. Israeli born chef Eran Tibi brings the food of Tel Aviv to the capital, with dishes on the menu including chicken thighs with bitter orange, harissa and sumac, and a dessert of burnt babka with sesame and pistachio creme.
Arch 25, Old Union Yard Arches, 229 Union Street, SE1 0LR, balabaya.co.uk
Italy – Lina Stores
London loves Italian food, but this family-owned, Italian deli loves London so much that it’s been sharing its fresh pasta with Soho for more than 75 years. A Greek Street restaurant now joins the Brewer Street site of Lina Stores, serving up superb handmade pasta cooked in front of you just over the counter.
Fan of Latvian bar chain Balzambars? We thought you were. The good news is that you can now have an authentic Latvian drinking and dining experience at its UK outpost in Bayswater, where regularly changing dinner menus include solyanka soup served with rye bread.
Another Eastern European chain has found a place in London, with Lithuanian restaurant group Berneliu Uzeiga finding a UK home at Leytonstone’s Shepherds Inn. The menu features a range of national dishes including didzkukuliai dumplings and turkey meatballs.
London’s much-loved Maltese cafe Paparellu closed its doors in 2016, but that’s not to say Maltese chefs aren’t still making waves in London. Malta-born Nicole Pasani gave up a role at Yotam Ottolenghi’s Nopi to get involved cook at Gayhurst Community School in Hackney. She has since published a cookbook and her Chefs in Schools charity has lead to her working with Jamie Oliver. So, though currently only pupils can try her Maltese-influenced dinners, but her passion for its cuisine is bound to be passed on to the next generation. Alternatively, way out east in Romford, is recently opened Joe’s Place, which has a few Maltese specialities too.
Moldovans can get a taste of home out in Ilford, where Restaurant Moldova serves up a selection of traditional dishes from the small, former Soviet country. Many of the traditional dishes here are served with mamaliga, a kind of polenta porridge that has historically been a staple food in the region.
Ealing’s Mugi Coffee Bar is a home for cuisines from all of the former Yugoslavian state, with its owner having moved to London from Montenegro in the 90s. A must-try here is sarma, a sauerkraut dish popular in Montenegro which sees pork mince and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves.
The food of the Netherlands is a little trickier to find in London than you may expect – De Hems claims to be London’s only authentic Dutch pub. Dutch beer can be found in many forms at the Chinatown spot, while the food menu features the likes of kaasouflees (cheese parcels) and bitterballen (beef croquettes).
Again, food from North Macedonia is pretty difficult to track down in London, but Mugi Coffee Bar takes it upon itself to embrace food from all over the Balkan region. North Macedonians are also a fan of sauerkraut-filled Sarma and tulumba, a dessert of ridged rolls of dough that are fried and then soaked in honey, can be found here.
Open sandwiches are a big deal in Norway. The lunch staple is served at Fitzrovia’s wonderful ScandiKitchen in nearly twenty varieties, with more than a dozen types made everyday. Toppings on offer include cold-smoked Norwegian salmon with peashoots, apple and dill, or pickled herring (a Norwegian favourite) with beetroot, egg and chives.
This South Kensington restaurant has stood on Thurloe Street for more than 70 years. Throughout its staggeringly long tenure, it has hosted many a famous face and served up traditional Polish cuisine. Dishes on the menu today include jajka faszerowane (Polish-style stuffed eggs) and watrobka cieleca, a dish of calf liver with fried onion and apple.
London’s taste for Portuguese food has really taken hold in recent years, and Bar Douro is one of its most popular proponents. The Flat Iron Square restaurant serves national favourites including bacalhau (salt cod) fritters and addictive pasteis de nata, the hugely popular Portuguese custard tart.
Romanian dishes are the speciality at west London spot La Maria. Mamaliga makes anothe appearance here, topped with cheese and served with sour cream, alongside mititei, rolls of beef and pork meat that are cooked with spices and served with mustard.
There are very few restaurants that are quite as packed with European opulence as Bob Bob Ricard. Owned by Russian restaurateur Leonid Shutov, the glistening dining room of this Soho spot features traditional Russian dishes with luxury twists – traditional vareniki dumplings are made with truffled potato, baked oysters brehnex are also truffle topped, and there’s an awful lot of caviar around.
If you’ve not heard of San Marino, that’s because it’s a microstate inside Italy that has a population of just over 33,000 and is approximately 1/24 of the size of London. We haven’t quite found a restaurant from inside the state, but Radio Alice pizzeria in London boasts an original restaurant in nearby Bologna.
This Balkan restaurant in London dedicates a whole section of its menu to recipes by the chef’s mother. Cevapi, a Serbian staple dish of grilled beef mince sausages, feature on the menu, served with somun flatbread and chips.
We told you we’d be back at Baltic. The Southwark restaurant also sells pierogi dumplings, which are also popular in Slovenia, where they are more often made with buckwheat. Baltic fills them in the traditional style with potato, cheese and spring onion.
London’s Spanish restaurant scene is buzzing with Iberian excellence, but one of the best spots for it has to be Michelin-starred Barrafina. This tapas bar serves up some of the best croquetas in the city – oozing with its creamy centre and filled with unctuous jamon – while its olive-oil laden, garlicky pan con tomate is exceptional.
Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef Marcus Samuelsson took his inspired take on Scandinavian cuisine to New York, before London brought Aquavit over here too. The menu includes a traditional smörgåsbord sharing selection featuring the likes of blood pudding with lingonberries, bacon and lardo, as well as gravlax with mustard and dill sauce.
A holiday on the Swiss slopes wouldn’t be complete without an evening spent huddled around a fondue pot. St Moritz brings Alpine dining to London with its wide-ranging fondue selection, including hot pots filled with gruyere, vacherin and emmental cheeses, as well as a fondue bourguignonne featuring hot oil ripe for sizzling strips of prime beef.
Head out south west to Twickenham for a Ukranian experience, where Prosperity serves up traditional dishes from the Eastern European state. Start off with a dish of Ukranian borsch (a sour, bright red soup made with beetroot) before moving on, of course, to a chicken Kiiv, breadcrumbed, fried and stuffed here with cheese.
And finally, we’re back home. And who better to welcome us than Fergus Henderson at St John, the Clerkenwell restaurant that has achieved international fame for reviving English culinary traditions? The excellent bone marrow on toast dish is a must-try, and be sure to finish off with an eccles cake and Lancashire cheese. We don’t think anyone’s ever given St John nul points.