—Bina Shah in London reveals something of her life located across eating places—



The Heeseberg in Germany

 We have been going every year for the last 25 years to a small restaurant in a remote village in Germany when we visit my mother, who lives nearby. The restaurant (the Heeseberg) belongs to the local butcher and is high up on a hill surrounded by fields of sunflowers, wheat and sugar beets. In the distance you can see the Harz mountains and the villages below have pretty half-timbered farmhouses. It’s very peaceful. The menu is not long and not at all sophisticated. It’s very meaty: roasted pork knuckles, sausages, beef roulade, rabbit stew and schnitzel. Sometimes there is venison, when the butcher has been hunting. Everything is served with mounds of boiled potatoes and, if you go in May, white asparagus. We wash it down with local beer. I’m not a big meat-eater and I cannot believe how much I love eating there. Perhaps because it’s steeped in nostalgia and in happy memories of long summer days. But when we went back last month, the restaurant had closed and the butcher had gone bust. A Covid casualty.


The River Café in London

In London, if it’s a special occasion, it’s got to be the River Café. We have celebrated everything there from landmark birthdays to wedding anniversaries, new jobs and getting into university. I always eat the same thing—grilled chilli squid, seafood linguine and the signature lemon tart. I love that it’s not at all pretentious with white paper tablecloths and a lipstick-pink pizza oven. The celebrity spotting is fun, too—Eddie Redmayne was at the next table the last time I ate there.


Roxy in Southall

I first went to Roxy, a Punjabi greasy spoon, in Southall, after my father had died and I wanted to eat again the food that he had loved. So I went there and ate unleavened cornbread with spicy mustard greens and cried. I’ve been back many times on much happier occasions—when I was pregnant and craved buttery black dahl; when my girls were little and wanted to buy bangles; and when I wanted to introduce non-Indian friends to authentic Indian food. Roxy used to have formica-topped tables and a counter where you ordered your food. It’s now much fancier, with black-suited waiters, but it still serves rich, delicious Punjabi food.