The Observer's restaurant critic Jay Rayner has just published a Penguin Shorts ebook on his worst meals out. To help excise the memory of those 20 tragically bad meals, we asked him to share with Hot Dinners three places in London that he really rates.
"Asking me for just three restaurants in a town like this is very, very tough. But here are three I love."
Giaconda Dining Room
9 Denmark Street, London WC2
"The name makes it sound grand. It is anything but: a tiny neighborhood, elbow-to-elbow place on Denmark street, or tin pan alley as its known, where they knock out plate after plate of robust, big-fisted food. They're not afraid of tripe. They like marinating raw salmon. They do duck confit and braised guinea fowl and lots of other good things besides. A total gem."
12 Gerrard Street, London W1
"I sneak off to this small unassuming place, which is famed for its roast duck, by myself all the time. The great chef and food writer Simon Hopkinson once told me the Chinese were the best at roasting ducks and this restaurant, part of a small chain across London, proves it time and again. The skin is that perfect mix of glass and caramel. Always ask for their duck on the bone."
La Petite Maison
54 Brooks Mews, London W1
"I can't pretend. The usual clientele are not my cup of tea. Far too many of them are artificially orange. But Raphael Duntoye's take on Nicoise cooking is just sublime. His pissaladiere, his cote de veau, the whole roast black leg chicken, and the very best crème brulee in London, make this food that's worth shelling out for."
Jay Rayner's ebook "My Dining Hell - Twenty ways to have a lousy night out" is available from Penguin now.