The London restaurant scene, once a gastronomic punchline, has never been more diverse or delicious – and it’s also never been more in need of your help. The impact of the pandemic has been immense, plunging most of our favourite restaurants into financial precarity while sadly seeing off many others. It’s been reported that turnover in the UK hospitality industry fell by over £200 million a day over the course of 2020, and as a result there were almost 30,000 job losses in the sector. But restaurants are finally returning, and now is the time to rebuild.
When it comes to picking a London restaurant, you’re well and truly spoilt for choice, which makes picking a dinner destination a surprisingly anxious, time-consuming task (and that’s before you even get to securing a table, which are unsurprisingly hard to come by at the moment). That’s why we pulled together a comprehensive list of London's must-try spots, spread across a broad price range (£-£££).
Updated regularly, we want you to treat it like a culinary roadmap of the capital’s best new openings, local favourites and famed institutions. Tick them all off to get a hearty taste of the city at its best.
Location: St James's (34 Duke Street, SW1Y 6DF)
Any restaurant that has a roving pot of cornichons is worth consideration. It’s the kind of detail that can set a place aside; clearly the proprietors not only recognise the compact power of the pickled cucumber, but they also accept that some guests will want more than the usual three or four to accompany a delicate heap of charcuterie. Considerably more. Maison Francois, new to St James's in Central London – fast evolving into the Capital’s foremost food district – is a French bistro that gets such details right. Beyond the free-flowing cornichons, the bread is good, the butter is soft and proudly salty and the list of sides features just three types of very well cooked potato. Ostensibly, the menu is classically French, with the likes of Oeufs en gelée, moules marinière and Jambon persillé, but it’s pared back, nuanced and not too heavy. The anchovy, ricotta and thyme on grilled bread, for example, is an astonishing feat of creaminess, punchy umami and crunch, and not the kind of thing you’d find on Parisian pavement table. The roving continues, and finishes, with the dessert trolley; a mobile selection of sweet things that range from the barely calorific to the exorbitantly decadent. Just order as much or as many as you like. Finally, a French bistro with wiggle room.
Cuisine: Modern Italian
Location: Mayfair (20 Queen St, W1J 5PP)
Walking into a fine dining restaurant in Mayfair can sometimes be a bit of a daunting experience, but head chef-owner Angela Hartnett has drawn on her Italian heritage to make sure meals at her Michelin-starred flagship are full of warmth and showcase the best of her homeland’s cooking. The set lunch - £37 for three courses - is a steal, but the friendly staff are happy for you to switch things up and pick ‘n’ mix courses from the a la carte for whatever takes your fancy that day. Confit duck croquettes with pear remoulade vs. charred mackerel? Just have both! Lesser-seen pasta - such as fagottini or agnolotti - are arguably better than any speciality restaurants of the moment, and a meal bookended with their home-baked focaccia and lemon tart only goes to remind why Hartnett remains of the country’s greatest chefs.
Cuisine: Turkish grill
Location: Dalston (4 Stoke Newington Rd,N16 8BH)
In this part of the city – especially when you get even closer towards Haringey and Green Lanes – people get very vocal about which Turkish ocakbasi they believe to be the best. For us, it’s Mangal 2 in Dalston. From the second you walk in the door and that sweet, smoky scent envelopes you, everything that graces their monster charcoal grill becomes a thing of greatness. From adana kofte to the monster plate of their mixed grill, these masters of the flames serve up hearty feasts, all while manning the hospitality industry's funniest Twitter account. FYI, yes, that is the artist couple Gilbert and George sitting down to have dinner in the middle of the restaurant every night, but be cool and don't bother them for selfies, yeah?
Cuisine: Modern British
Location: Bermondsey (199 Tooley St, SE1 2JX)
A one-time public toilet at the wrong end of Bermondsey Street, Chef Tom Sellers recognised the potential of a site nobody else had when he opened Restaurant Story in 2013. It won a Michelin star five months after launch and, though it's been controversially overlooked for an upgrade by the inspectors in the subsequent six Guides, you can taste Sellers’s desire for more in every dish he creates. He cooks with imagination, flair and whimsy over six- or 10-course menus that feature mainstays such as his signature beef-dripping candle, which is lit at the table for diners to mop up the meaty molten ‘wax’ with some of the best bread in London.
Location: Soho (24 Great Windmill St, W1D 7LG)
Chops. Big piles of charred and juicy, well-aged chops. There really is no other order here, with cutlets coming in sizes 'Skinny' or 'Large', with an option for having the meat carved off the bone and presented as a grilled lattice of smoking flesh. Gather a group of six pals and order everything, taking two of the outrageously good bacon chops. Double down on each of the house-made sauces, paying extra attention to the chilli-hollandaise. A great range of punchy cocktails sit on the all-day £5 menu, while the truncated wine list has a few good options for popular whites, and a much broader selection of red.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
Location: Chelsea (68 Royal Hospital Rd, SW3 4HP)
The flagship of Gordon Ramsay’s armada, this is widely considered the best fine-dining restaurant in the country. At the absolute pinnacle of luxury, the ingredient list reads like a roll call of finery. Head chef Matt Abe plays fasts and loose with the foie gras, caviar, lobster and langoustine across nine courses, each as elegant as the next. Classic French technique underpins the menu, which features well-timed punches of citrus and pickle, but the real genius lies in the pace of the food: portion sizing and time between the courses is balanced to leave diners always wanting more.
Cuisine: Spanish / Mexican
Location: Kings Cross (10th floor, 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG)
After conquering Bristol with informal tapas joint Casamia, Peter Sanchez-Iglesias has stepped things up several notches with Decimo, an of-its-time new restaurant atop the Standard Hotel. Instagram darlings sit side-by-side with a media crowd, who lap up the ambient DJ, luxe styling and a late-night service that sees artfully arranged plates fly out of the kitchen until 2am. Fusing Spanish and Mexican culinary identities, expect aguachile (Mexican ceviche), suckling pig tacos and Spanish bomba rice. However, the dish gracing the grids of serious eaters and Instagrammers alike is the caviar tortilla: 25g or 50g of Ossetra finery perched on an omelette that, when sliced, oozes criminally runny yolk that’s perfectly cut by the salinity of the roe.
Location: Whitechapel (87 New Rd, E1 1HH)
Thought Tayyabs reigned supreme for grilled meats and curries in Whitechapel? Think again. Although it might remain the mecca for many Indian food heads, the more clued-in go a naan's throw away around the corner to Needoo instead. Less rushed-in, rushed-out than its counterpart and without the monstrous queue, Needoo was opened in 2009 by a former manager of Tayyabs, and the whole experience is a little more refined at version 2.0 of the curry house (you still get the pumping Bollywood soundtrack, though). The wafts of smoky mixed grill that hit you on the way in have a Pavlovian impact on your salivary glands, but think beyond the carnivorous options: the chefs also spice up vegetables like okra, aubergine and baby pumpkin. The best bet, though, is to go for the changing daily dish of the day – Monday's Kerahi lamb chop masala and Friday's King Prawn biryani are the standouts.
Cuisine: Traditional British
Location: Covent Garden (34-35 Maiden Ln, WC2E 7LB)
Proudly established as oldest restaurant in London, Rules has been doing things properly since 1798. A bastion of fine British service, nights should begin with a classic martini, taken in the Winter Garden cocktail bar. Crimson velvet runs through the interior, with lacquered ceiling fans and banquettes so deep and comfortable, they encourage a return to the three-bottle lunch. Autumn is the best time to book, when the UK game-focussed menu really hits its straps. Roast grouse with game chips followed by a pick from a selection of rib-sticking sweets – sticky toffee pudding, Golden Syrup sponge, bread and butter pudding – is the pro order.
Moxon’s Next Door
Location: East Dulwich (151 Lordship Ln, SE22 8HX)
Set on leafy Lordship Lane, Moxon’s Next Door is a restaurant attached to a fishmonger, which can only be considered a very good thing indeed. Provenance is paramount for the parent company, which has been sourcing British fish from UK waters for decades: flatfish from Cornwall, shellfish from Scotland, mackerel from East Anglia and oysters from Essex. Regulars on the small-plate billing are buckets of crisp whitebait with lemon-dill mayonnaise, grilled scallops with garlic butter, taverna-worthy taramasalata and cured salmon from Moxon’s own smokehouse in Wimbledon. The savvy guest checks the day-boat blackboard for a centrepiece before browsing the menu; the likes of roasted Cornish hake comes in at £25 and will easily serve three.
Cuisine: Modern European
Location: Herne Hill (293-295 Railton Rd, SE24 OJP)
Lurking in the shadow of Herne Hill’s railway arches, Llewelyn’s is the kind of neighbourhood joint that you find in far too few neighbourhoods. Set in a light-filled Victorian dining room, pared-back Scandi design provides a backdrop for a mostly local crowd – one that’s been trying to keep it under wraps since its 2017 launch. At the pass is Chef Lasse Petersen, whose tenure at Copenhagen’s Amass and 108 comes through in a menu that leans on the New Nordic canon. Expect a concise list of small plates and sharing mains. Mainstays include cavatelli with pumpkin, hazelnuts and salted ricotta, lamb kleftiko and pickled mackerel with pink fir and horseradish crème fraîche. On sunny days, tables trickle out onto the square: arrive early to snag one.
Moncks of Dover Street
Location: Mayfair (33 Dover St, W1S 4NF)
Moncks, at first glance, appears to have been a staple in Mayfair since around the Fifties; an elegant sort of place your great aunt remembers fondly as a spot for liquid lunches and clandestine dinners with unsuitable paramours. However, it's a myth of the restaurant's making, as the venue actually opened in 2019, by the same team behind the nearby Park Chinois. Not that it matters, of course, as the retro decor and silver service transports you back to the era of the three-hour lunch perfectly. Old-school favourites like steak tartare, scallop gratin and their signature dish, the truffled mac and cheese, make for the ultimate decadent dining experience, and give you an excellent excuse for ordering a second of their King's Negroni as a post-meal sharpener.
House of MoMo
Location: Dalston (52 Boleyn Rd, N16 8JP)
For the uninitiated, MoMo are Nepalese dumplings, and like every national spin on delicious stuff wrapped in dough, they prove yet again that we've never met a dumpling we didn't like. This busy cafe is perched at the edge of Dalston's Gillett Square, so you might find yourself sharing a bench with a guest DJ at the nearby NTS Radio, and the venue pumps out a steady stream of handmade steamed or pan fried dough balls (from £4), served with either a spicy, nutty jhol achar sauce, or a sweet yet slightly sour tomato chilli sauce to drown them in. Their filling set lunch of thali – curry with dal, rice, and paratha (£8) – is always a great shout too, with a spoonful of pickles giving a little kick to carry you through until home time. There'll be plenty of repeat visits once you get the taste for these little guys.
The Clove Club
Cuisine: Modern British
Location: Shoreditch (380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT)
Chef Isaac McHale’s philosophy is ‘reinventing modern British’ and it is one that has earned him and front-of-house business partner Johnny Smith the highest rank for a UK restaurant in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2019. Having trained at Noma, Eleven Madison Park and The Ledbury, tropes from each are evident in his cooking, which centres on UK ingredients treated simply and plated beautifully. The signature Orkney scallop, Périgord truffle, hazelnut and mandarin comes on both the six- and 10-course tasting menu, quickly followed by Parten Bree, a Scottish spider crab hot pot, that is McHale’s modern take on a traditional Scottish soup. The dining room is beautifully bright and breezy; a welcome respite from the greying east London streets outside.
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester
Location: Mayfair (53 Park Lane, W1K 1QA)
Helming one of only two Michelin three-star restaurants in the capital, the world’s most decorated chef, Alain Ducasse, considers his only UK outpost one of his best. Designed in emblematic style with neutral earth tones juxtaposed to curtains of crystal which splay light across the dining room, it’s a fine-dining restaurant with a distinctly modern feel. Head chef Jean-Philippe Blondet follows suit with the menu. French classics – pot-au-feu, gougères, confit duck, milk-fed lamb with vegetables – are all treated with a lightness of touch and minimal use of cream and butter that defines the modern French kitchen. Dinners here can run north of three hours, so it’s worth booking flexitime with the babysitter.
Location: Kings Cross (40 Doric Way, NW1 1LH)
Before The Standard Hotel and Coal Drops Yard arrived in Kings Cross, the area was a bit of a dead spot for dining – except for one tiny restaurant for those in the know. The simple basement cafe of Roti King hasn't changed much over the years, especially its two features: the best authentic roti canai in London and the queue down the street to get hold of one. The dish everybody is clamouring for becomes obvious with one bite – a rich, flaky, Malaysian flatbread to scoop up a punchy chicken, lamb or dhal curry, served at the meal-deal price of £6.50. The roti can be filled with cheese, egg or minced chicken, or can be sweet, like the dreamy caramelised banana roti pisang. If you fancy going off-piste, the traditional nasi goreng (stir fried rice) or kari laksa (spicy coconut noodle soup) are also worth a look in, but the clue's in the name; when you've found the best place in the kingdom for this street-food treasure, stick to what it does best.
Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill
Cuisine: Traditional British
Location: Mayfair (11-15 Swallow St, W1B 4DG)
With shoulders as broad as Marble Arch and the personality to match, Bentley’s chef-proprietor Richard Corrigan has the uncanny ability to read the London diner like no other. At Bentley’s – a grill restaurant with a 100-year pedigree – he does the simple things well. The best evenings start with Champagne and oysters (of which the restaurant always has a selection of six varieties), followed by some of the finest seafood from the British Isles. Its fish pie is the stuff of legend – packed to the gunnels with prawns, smoked haddock and cod – and is best served with just-arrived seasonal vegetables from Corrigan’s Irish smallholding, Virginia Park Lodge.
Location: Dalston (Unit A, 28 Hertford Rd, N1 5QT)
Sorry estate agents, but as much as you brand this area off Kingsland Road ‘The Haggerston Riviera’, absolutely no one is buying it. Not that it bothers the quiet and unassuming cafe Toconoco. Tucked away just off the Regent’s Canal, this cute Japanese spot is a total hidden gem and serves up simple, tasty and pocket-friendly meals. The home-cooked daily set menu (£8.10) might offer up pork tonkotsu, broccoli salad, rice and miso, or there’s udon or soba dishes for the noodle fans. Must-tries are also the onigiri rice balls or their black sesame cheesecake for dessert. Kick back with a Japanese tea by the waterside and while it might not quite pass for the Riviera, it will transport you away for your lunch hour nicely.
Cuisine: Spanish / North African
Location: Farringdon (4-36 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE)
The restaurant that launched a thousand dinner parties, Moro was the first and last word in bringing the heady world of rich Spanish and Moroccan food to Blighty. Married couple Sam and Sam Clark opened up their Exmouth Market restaurant back in 1997, which promptly won Time Out's best new restaurant, and still remains a super-popular dining choice for Londoners – and visiting out-of-towners – more than two decades later. Like Ottolenghi, there'll always be one ingredient you'll need to ask the patient waiting staff to explain, but the new discovery will no doubt be delicious. Recent revelatory dishes for us have been the orange and green chilli-steamed mussels with mograbieh (see? It's a type of Lebanese semolina pearls, like couscous, FYI) or the chargrilled lamb with sumac and fava bean puree (£27.50). The restaurant pivoted to tapas in 2010 when they opened the Barcelona-inspired Morito next door, and carried on the trend with a second outpost in Hackney in 2016. As the Sams have aptly demonstrated, there's always room for more Moro.
Location: Kensington (2-24 Kensington High St, W8 4PT)
High up on the 14th floor of the Royal Garden Hotel with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over Kensington Gardens, Min Jiang has one of the best restaurant views in central London. Tables at dusk are the plum booking, to watch the sun set over plates of wood-fired Beijing duck served every which way. Dim sum is the ideal way in, made by a chef who’s been practicing the art for half century. Duck follows next, where the crispy skin arrives with a bowl of finely granulated sugar for dipping, before pancakes and a hoisin sauce rich with orange and floral notes. Guests then have a choice of having the duck flesh pulled through hand-rolled noodles or served with rice. Neither disappoint.
Cuisine: Modern British
Location: Chelsea (43 Elystan St, SW3 3NT)
Philip Howard is the master of reinvention. Since he left The Square – considered by many the archetypal restaurant of London’s Nineties excess – diners waited to see where he would emerge. Where The Square was all nouvelle cuisine, delicate portions and far-reaching technique, Elystan Street offers a dichotomy in big portions, big flavour and an even bigger welcome. Head chef Toby Burrowes’s cooking follows this mantra perfectly. Truffled chicken soup with a mushroom crumpet is hearty and delicious, best followed by in-season meat, such as loin of roe deer with root vegetables, mustard fruit purée and roasted pear
Cuisine: Modern British
Location: Farringdon (26 St John St, EC1M 4AY)
Less a culinary hotspot, more a British food institution, St John – through its gregarious founder, chef Fergus Henderson – pioneered the nose-to-tail revolution around the turn of the millennium. Put simply, it chides carnivores to not just enjoy the prime-cuts of animals, but to get stuck into the then less-fashionable other bits: liver, heart, sweetbreads, tripe. This is where the trend for bone-marrow on sourdough toast was born, and the kitchen has birthed a slew of other reinventions that now appear on menu's throughout London. Current favourites on the menu are unsurprisingly not suitable for veggies: robust slices of grilled ox heart with beetroot and green sauce or a delicately crumbed veal cutlet served with chicory and anchovy. Handily set just around the corner from London's Smithfield meat market, and housed in a former smokehouse, the classy and traditional restaurant never feels fussy or pretentious – it just keeps things ever simple by literally going the whole hog and offering high-quality food, excellent wines and outstanding service to every guest.
Location: London Bridge (6 Southwark St, SE1 1TQ)
No barbs about carbs here – pasta is well and truly back on the menu, and we've got Padella to thank for a nation binning off any faddy ideas about Keto or Atkins diets. Opening in 2016 on the fringes of Borough Market, it's had a queue outside for just about as long, as fans have no qualms about waiting up to two hours for a plate of its signature thick and cheesy pici cacio e pepe. The petite, two-floor venue – from the same team behind Trullo in Highbury – is an Italian monochrome dream inside, with the best seats being the stools at the marbled bar upstairs, where you can watch the dexterous chefs create the pasta by hand. The quick turnover and cheap prices make it essentially an Italian noodle bar, so this isn't the spot for a long, lazy lunch. Instead to grab plates like ravioli of Westcombe ricotta and sage or the tagliarini with Dorset crab, lemon and chilli; snap your photo for Instagram and dig in. Keep things fresh with a sparky rosemary lemonade and, pronto, it’s time to give up your seat for the next salivating customer in the queue.
Black Axe Mangal
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Location: Islington (156 Canonbury Road, N1 2UP)
Kebabs, but make it cool. Chef Lee Tiernan and his wife Kate arrived at the otherwise unremarkable area of the Highbury Corner roundabout in 2015 with a mission statement of banging meats and banging heavy metal beats, and since then, it's more than justified the opening-day hype. Tiernan took the beloved Turkish mangal and combined it with his decade of experience at the helm of St John Bread & Wine, resulting in dishes as punchy and loud as the restaurant's soundtrack. If you manage to bag one of the 20 seats in the smoky venue, the first port of call needs to be the umami-laced squid ink flatbread with whipped cod roe and a just-about-to-burst egg yolk. Next up on the ever-changing menu will be more doughy pillows of bread, perhaps with oxtail and anchovy, or grilled bone-marrow, or fresh and zingy grilled mackerel with XO sauce and salted mooli. Your eardrums might not thank you after a feast here, but your stomach most definitely will. In the words of two other rock enthusiasts: party time, excellent.
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Location: Soho (21-22 Warwick Street, W1B 5NE)
Ottolenghi: say it softly and it's almost like praying. As a recent Desert Island Discs appearance confirmed, the Israeli-born chef is now at national treasure status in the UK, thanks to his service to making vegetables great again. Back in 2002, he made salads a thing of desire with then mostly unheard-of Middle Eastern ingredients at his small Ottolenghi deli in Notting Hill. He then went on to expand his empire with seven cookbooks and four more restaurants, with our favourite being Nopi, a grown-up brasserie in Soho. The signature sight of beach ball-sized plates piled high with vibrant salads, glossy with dressing and bejewelled with pomegranate seeds greets you on entry, and sets the tone for the rest of the restaurant's offering. A creamy burrata ball is spiked with slices of tart blood orange and studded with crunchy coriander seeds, the baked Valdeon cheesecake with pickled beetroot and honey is the fans favourite, while the restaurant was one of the first to start the trend of polenta chips, here served with a heavenly black truffle aioli. Pull up a pew at one of the marble-topped sharing table and dig in – oh, don't forget to take a trip to the mirrored, trapped-inside-a-crystal bathrooms, which co-incidentally win our unofficial prize for London's best toilets, too.
Location: Soho (69 Brewer Street, W1F 9TL)
One of the greatest things about living in a city with around 40,000 restaurants is chance to experience more than just a sweeping generalisation of a nation's cuisine. For Kiln – the buzzy Soho bar, where the seats are set just inches away from the fragrant food being tossed around on smouldering hot coals – the specialty is regional Thai, specifically where the country borders Burma, Laos and Yunna. Kick off with some snacks-on-skewers starters, chunky spiced bites of aged lamb and cumin skewers, or a complex northern Isaan sausage. Chef Ben Chapman sources the best seafood from Cornwall, so popping up on the menu might be a lively turmeric curry of cod, or curried monkfish , but remaining a constant is the already iconic clay pot, which arrives steaming full of glass noodles, with chunks of Tamworth pork and sweet brown crab meat embedded within. That the smell lingers on your clothes afterwards is only a good thing – you'll be dreaming of the noodle dish for days afterwards anyway.
Cuisine: Modern British
Location: Hackney Wick (3 Prince Edward Rd, E9 5LX)
Thinking about food and Hackney Wick was only ever likely to throw up the suggestion of beers and pizza by the canal, until 2018, when chef Tom Brown turned up and put the area firmly on the culinary map with his first restaurant, Cornerstone. A protege of Cornwall's Nathan Outlaw, Brown became head chef at his London outpost, Outlaw's at The Capital in 2016, and two years later, Cornerstone opened in an otherwise unremarkable building in the warehouse district. The modern venue is centred around the open kitchen at the heart of the room, and Brown's background in fish and seafood shines through the menu. Always on offer will be a dressed oyster perhaps with a spicy seaweed sauce, or the much-lauded comfort of the crab crumpet rarebit, while the monkfish tail in roast chicken butter is a contender for one of our dishes of the year. The restaurant won AA Restaurant of the Year in 2019, and being catch of the day means Brown can probably expect another haul of awards this year too.
Cuisine: Regional Indian
Location: Peckham (38 Holly Grove, SE15 5DF)
The skill of a small, neighbourhood restaurant truly reveals itself when it manages not only to become a much-loved favourite of locals, but of an entire city as well. Step forward Ganapati, which, over the past 15 years, has established itself through word-of-mouth as the force behind some of the greatest Southern Indian cuisine in the capital. Located off a residential SE15 street, the cafe is a riot of colour, with bright reds, pinks and greens washing the walls and tiled floor, while a giant golden statue of the elephant-headed god Ganesha looks on approvingly. The menu – which changes every eight weeks – is equally vibrant. On a recent visit, a warmly spiced, Attapadi grilled quail with a vivid pink onion chutney put the star into starters, while the fragrant Pondicherry fish curry was enough of a power-punch of flavour to make us start researching flight prices to Chennai. For anyone who suffers from plate envy, the thali is just the ticket, as from just £12.50, it gives a greatest-hits meal of the restaurant, serving up little fiery bowls of dal, pickles, a chilli-infused broth and curry – make sure you order their home-made, lighter-than-clouds Keralan paratha to mop it all up with.
Location: Shoreditch (64 Shoreditch High St, E1 6JJ)
There’s a very strong argument to say that Smoking Goat serves the most authentic Thai food in London. But chef-owner Ben Chapman also makes interesting ingredient swaps, supplementing impossible-to-source South East Asian ingredients with those he can find closer to home for his well-balanced, puckeringly hot plates. Dishes like chilli fish sauce wings that use British fish and a som tum that pairs green papaya and heritage carrot show this neo-fusion technique perfectly.
Core by Clare Smyth
Cuisine: Modern British
Location: Notting Hill (92 Kensington Park Rd, W11 2PN)
When Clare Smyth cut the apron strings after eight years helming Gordon Ramsay’s three-star Michelin restaurant, the dining world knew her next move would prove something special. Within several weeks, Core became one of the best restaurants in the capital and has accrued a pair of Michelin stars after just two years in operation. Her style is fine-dining British, but defines luxury in a different way. She elevates humble ingredients, imbuing time and love for plates such as potato and roe, where the basic spud takes centre stage among two types of fish roe (neither of which are caviar).
Cuisine: Modern European
Location: Soho (28 Rupert St, London W1D 6DJ)
Tucked inside the basement of Chinatown’s Blue Posts pub, the relative secrecy of Evelyn’s Table only adds to its appeal. As soon as you get inside the intimate space, it immediately feels like one of those restaurants that only people in the know take you to. From the same restaurant group as revered eateries The Palomar and The Barbary, Evelyn’s Table strays from Middle Eastern cuisine for a fine dining experience which is best enjoyed from their 10-seater counter. Head Chef Luke and his two brothers, Nat and Theo Selby have created a menu which is both innovative and classic, refined but unpretentious, with particular highlights on the changing menu including a tempura oyster made with a zing of fresh wasabi, squid noodles with a mushroom dashi, and a miso tarte tatin packed with umami flavours. The wine list is also excellent, with lots of the most exciting names in natural winemaking featuring prominently. A spot to lose several hours inside and emerge into the world again extremely satisfied.
Location: King’s Cross (4 Pancras Square, London N1C 4AG)
Few restaurants have been as responsible for bringing a dish so quickly into mainstream restaurant culture in the UK as BAO have with their pillowy namesake. Already boasting locations in Soho and Borough, their latest outpost pays homage to the Western-style cafés of Asia, serving up twists on British classics like the humble pie and chicken and chips, all made with the signature playfulness and flavour of BAO. Don’t panic: you can still get your classic pork bao bun, but we really recommend trying out their new lobster bao, which comes in a delicious doughnut-type bun. Elsewhere the chicken kiev, which offers a bomb of oozing garlic butter is a serious step up on the school dinner variety of the dish. Save room for dessert, as this venue features the first BAO Bakery Goods counter, offering delicious options like a salted caramel BAO Cookie or a molten chocolate and cherry BAO.
The NoMad Restaurant
Cuisine: Modern European
Location: Covent Garden (28 Bow St, London WC2E 7AW)
The arrival of a NoMad hotel in London has brought some excitement to a city in dire need of some fun. The crown jewel of the historic building (within the former Bow Street Magistrates Court) is the glassy box of the atrium where the hotel’s main restaurant sits like an Edwardian greenhouse with dramatic hanging lights overhead. Start with a selection of smaller plates, like the venison tartare or a dish of oozing stracciatella cheese and perfectly ripe tomatoes, and you can’t go wrong. A wood-burning grill is a main feature of the room, lending smoke and flavour to dishes like the suckling pig, which comes in the form of ribbons of juicy meat and a smoked bacon jam. Executive Chef and NoMad stalwart Ashley Abodeel proceeds over the delicious fare, which is a truly notable addition to the London food scene, importing the hotel’s famous menu option of the stuffed chicken dinner for two. Finish the evening with an ice cold negroni while watching the glamorous come and go.
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