British-Nigerian journalist Jimi Famurewa grew up in London. He began reviewing restaurants for the Evening Standard’s ES Magazine in 2018, before taking over as the newspaper’s main restaurant critic at the end of 2020.
Jimi appears as a regular judge on MasterChef and lives in south-east London.
Discover some of Jimi's favourite London spots for food in this exclusive interview for the Let's Do London campaign.
What’s the first place you’re heading to when indoor hospitality reopens?
It’s all bound up with my job I suppose, but one place that I haven’t been and I’m really looking forward to going to is Dishoom – the one in King’s Cross, although any one will do.
There are also loads of great and affordable, Indian restaurants, including brilliant vegetarian ones, a few minutes’ walk away from King's Cross, on Drummond Street. I’m looking forward to planting myself there, maybe with the laptop out, mainlining house chai, picking at a few bits from breakfast right through until lunch. That’s the sort of thing that I’ve really missed.
We’ve all made the best of sitting outside and a version of that restaurant experience to keep the show on the road, but being able to just relax will be great.
What restaurant reservations have you already made?
There’s a lot of places that briefly opened, that I worry about falling through the cracks because of lockdown, that I’m planning to visit. A lot of energy and excitement is understandably going to the brand new places, but I’m really keen to go back to the new Darjeeling Express as it’s a beautiful space.
I never got a chance to go to KOL and really want to go there. Akoko is another one that opened around that time. I’m both craving St. John and St. John Bread and Wine, along with the original Noble Rot. They’re all what I’d describe as indoor restaurants and I like those kind of places.
I’m not sure if and when they are going to open it, but I’d also love to go back to Black Axe Mangal.
Anywhere new that’s opened or that you haven't been to yet that you're excited to try?
Russell Norman’s new place Brutto in Clerkenwell, Ave Mario in Covent Garden – which is the new one from the Big Mamma Group whose venues are always a lot of fun – and Humble Chicken, a really interesting looking new yakitori place in Soho.
Have you got a special solo dining spot?
Padella, I love the simplicity of pasta on its own and I love the bustle of the Borough one.
There’s also Vietnamese Banh Mi Bay, the Holborn branch, near where I used to work in so-called "Midtown" – the use of which still makes me laugh. I still like going there solo to commune with a massive bowl of pho.
Where's the bar and restaurant neighbourhood that you visit most often?
Obviously, I travel a lot for the job but I think it’s probably between Shoreditch and King’s Cross, increasingly the latter as you’ve got so much popping up around there with Coal Drops Yard and everything else that’s going on in the area.
What dish have you been craving that you couldn’t get delivered or recreate at home?
Steak tartare – it’s one of those things I’d never make at home and took it for granted as you can order it everywhere. I love the one at The French House.
Where do you go for pre and post-theatre dining, or after the cinema?
Wagamama still has my heart for this. It’s where I always used to go after film screenings.
Your late-night destination of choice?
I like Shackfuyu in Soho – the kind of food and fun that you want after a few drinks.
What’s your perfect day out in London?
We’d go along the South Bank with the kids, maybe pop into the Royal Festival Hall, stop at one of the street food stalls – I remember some fantastic churros one time. Look at the skateboarders; skateboarding was my portal to the city as a kid.
Apart from doing your job, what have you missed most about restaurants?
I’ve missed that sense of being in a place and feeling a part of a broader whole. Conversations and interactions with strangers, looking around and seeing what other people are eating, changing your order and joking about it. Our universes became so small in lockdown and a restaurant is a lovely way to feel like you’re part of this bigger galaxy of people.