Food for me is the most important, so I will dine anywhere, even in the most unglamorous gritty shacks (so long as they’re sanitary, lol). However, I really do love dining in good looking spaces because for me that can play into the overall experience.
Sooo, I thought I’d pull together some places that I think not only serve good food but have an attractive modern look and feel to them. I’ll keep adding to this and updating it, so make sure to check back for the latest juice.
Aquavit serves up sublime Nordic inspired plates with 1st rate service – the Matje Herring dish is a winner – try that. To avoid a high bill, order lots of the Smörgåsbord which are around the £7 mark.The high ceilings, lights, understated but luxe chairs and tables alongside the original pieces of artwork by Olafur Eliasson pieces give the space a feeling of modern grandeur. Reservations recommended. Read more here
Style and substance at play at this much hyped Taiwanese small plates joint in Soho; the fried chicken bao is a must. The Lexington Street one has a minimalistic aesthetic and laid back vibe; it’s extremely compact and takes no reservations, so be prepared to queue. There’s another spot on Frith Street where you can book (downstairs only). Read more here
In Great Portland St and in desperate need of a bite to eat, I swung by Clipstone (sister resto of 1 Michelin starred Portland) to see if they could accommodate me. They did. They’re nice like that. Lovely pared back space. Ordered the very good house bread + olive oil along with a delightful plate of young carrots, yuzu and dandelion. I will be going back for a proper meal – top stuff. Reservations recommended.
Tasty little tapas bar just off Carnaby Street. Their tortilla is bomb. Quite a compact little restaurant, Dehesa has communal high tables and stools with a few individual seating spots, so if you’re not a fan of communal dining, then this place ain’t for you. Earthy tones, abstract art and hanging lights give the space a warm modern feel. Walk Ins & Reservations. Read more here
After the huge success of Frenchie in Paris, chef Gregory Marchant brought his popular brand of sharing dishes to the Big Smoke. This modern luxe restaurant serves up some interesting plates of food – not everything is a hit but overall it’s good. The lights are gorgeous but could do with being a bit dimmer for night time dining. Service is fun but professional. Reservations recommended. Read more here
I remember when I first went here, queue was mad, so I respected myself and moved on (though they do seem to have an efficient queuing system in place, you can put your name on their beeper thing and they’ll notify you when your table is ready but you need to get down EARLY). Months later, I’m in Soho, hungry, so I hit it up; it was 3pm during the middle of the week and there was STILL a queue. Speaking to Sri Lankans about their experience here, they said it was good but expensive for what it was but you have to consider they are paying Central London rent prices. I didn’t have much when I went, just had the chicken lollipop chukka, roti, sides of brinjal moju and potato fry. Lots of brown, wood and foliage and the walls are decorated with framed colourful posters. Part of the JKS fam (Gymkhana, Trishna and Motu).
Le Bab is in Kingly Court in Carnaby, so if you get weary from all the shopping and need a spot to refuel, I’d highly recommend this place. I was just meant to meet my mate here for post work drinks and of course we ended up getting food. I had the corn fed chicken shish (£12) – so not a cheap shish but this ain’t any plain shish – it’s got pickled broccoli and harissa mayo and is the bees knees – def order that. Oh and the double cooked fires with fondue? Peng. The space is modern and bright with pretty blue tiled walls but feels a little cramped. Reservations Recommended.
Hip wine bar by the folks behind the magazine of the same name, serving up the sort of food I’d happily eat everyday but probably shouldn’t. Dark browns and green make up the colour palette of the bottom part of the dining area with light wood and cool prints bringing an energetic colour pop to the room. Feels like a grown up space but a playful one. Reservations recommended. Read more here
Upscale Italian canteen (stone+marble+glass) – always heaving, loud and brash but one of my favourite spots in town. For the level it’s aiming at, it’s very decent fare with a mixture of a fab dessert bar, salad + pizza bar with a hot section right at the back Service can be laughably slow but I’m so used to it, it doesn’t bother me anymore! Perfect lunchtime pitstop close to Oxford Street. No reservations.
This French / Modern European restaurant is in Bethnal Green and is one of the original restaurants in London to pioneer a minimalistic modern aesthetic. Having not been since 2009, I was pleased to find it had maintained its standards when I visited in Sep 2016. Good solid fare served in a stripped back cool setting with a mixed crowd. Reservations recommended.
Located on the 40th floor of Heron Tower, so crazy good views of the City (though I went straight in for the food and didn’t check this out). It’s hip and fun and doesn’t seem too full of itself. Had the obligatory duck & waffle (crispy leg confit / fried duck egg / mustard maple syrup – £17) – it was the sh*t. Deep fried Mars bar for dessert – delectable. Also open 24 hours which is a sweet bonus. Reservations recommended.
Pizza by the slice or opt for the 20″ pizzas which you can go half n half with a pal. They do a few classics but most of the menu is seasonal with interesting toppings. The Shoreditch branch is fairly large with upstairs and downstairs seating space. Decor is simple and stylish, feels hip without trying too hard. They have other spots in Covent Garden and Fitzrovia. Reservations possible for large groups. Read more here
A traditional gastro pub look downstairs with a hip casual dining room upstairs designed by Martino Gamper. Simple wooden tables, chairs + brown leather sofa chairs make for grown up dining; the playful element coming in via the primary coloured patterned floor. FYI, it has a cute little roof terrace. Order their famous beef barley buns but avoid the Sunday roast which is rather bland. Reservations recommended.
Morito is a chic tapas & mezze with Spanish and N.African influences. It has a lovely central bar perfect for dining. It’s got quite an industrial feel to it with lots of zinc running through the room. There’s one on Hackney Road – the original is in Exmouth Market next to its sister restaurant, Moro. Only had a small bite to eat here, so keen to go back and check it out properly. Walk Ins and Reservations. Read more here.
Oklava serves up tasty ‘modern’ Turkish fare in a contemporary setting. There are a few individual tables with marble tops, plotted across the room but the seating mainly comprises stools dotted around the outer edge of the room and at the bar itself. It’s a smart, modern looking space with blue x rose gold accents. NOTE: Manager can be quite abrupt. Reservations recommended. Read more here
Sardine has a bar to your right as you walk in, then a long communal zinc table that occupies the centre, facing the open plan kitchen. Individual tables occupy the back wall of the restaurant with spherical lights hanging from the ceiling. Colour is brought to the space via the retro tiled bar and kitchen island unit + wild flowers. Serves up Southern European plates with real heart. Reservations recommended. Read more here
Banging plates of Thai food coming out of this deservedly hyped restaurant, housed in a pared back tropical, sophisticated space. The beef curry and deep fried sea bass we had when we went were packed with flavour. Yes, the wait is painful (we spent 2.5 hours at the bar) but it is well worth it. This is a place I would happily come back to again and again. Reservations recommended. Read more here
Headed up by Stevie Parle, the dude behind Rotorino, Sardine and most recently Palatino. A mix of exposed brick wall + floor to ceiling glass windows and kitted out with Tom Dixon pieces. There’s a large outdoor dining space. Difficult to pigeonhole the cuisine which draws influence from across the globe – sometimes successful, sometimes not but definitely a place I like. Reservations recommended.
The Ottolenghis I’ve been to are light, bright spaces and the colourful bar of delicious foodstuffs is an extremely welcoming and enticing sight. I’ve only ever eaten in once, at the Belgravia branch on their communal table which I wouldn’t recommend you do as it’s a round table and feels q. cramped. If you want to dine in, I’d try the the one in Spitalfields which is quite sizeable and takes reservations for dinner. Read more here
This restaurant putting vegetables in the starring role is a nice, bright, cosy, casual space to dine in. On the menu, vegetables are in first position followed by the meats / poultry / fish. However, interestingly when we all came to order, we ordered meat first. I would say it’s one of the best spots in the Granary Square area of King’s Cross. Reservations recommended. Read more here
Oldroyd is on Upper Street (Angel Station end) and is a pretty teeny space. In the summer, they stick a wooden bench outside. The indoor space is split level, downstairs they keep open for walk ins I believe and upstairs is bookable. It’s a very pared back, simple and rather elegant space. It wouldn’t suffer from a lick of paint and feels a bit DIY in some parts but in the most charming way. I went here for lunch and had a plate of tagliatelle doused in olive oil and chilli with crab meat and mussels. Tick.
Primeur is housed in a converted garage; when the weather is good they usually open up the whole front which is delightful. It’s not a huge space and they’ve addressed this by making the tables communal. Decor is modern with a low key luxury feel to it – love the mustard dining chairs and yellow accents throughout the restaurant as well as the fresh flowers. Slightly iffy service. Reservations recommended. Read more here
Decorated with beautiful azulejos, Bar Douro, is a little slice of Portugal smack bang in London Bridge, which has become a food destination beyond Borough Market. My must orders are the hake goujons and pastel del nata with cinnamon ice cream; I was less excited by the rice dishes and piri piri chicken. I would definitely revisit Bar Douro – it’s a gorgeous space and despite not every dish being to my taste, there are some very good plates to tuck into.
Mark Hix is well known for kitting his spaces out with modern art and particularly with work by the YBA’s. The ‘Cock and Bull’ by Damien Hirst stands proud on a plinth in Tramshed, works by Sarah Lucas feature in Hix Soho and the neon sign in Hixter is by Tracy Emin. Hixter has a contemporary look and feel to it – I wouldn’t call it luxe but it’s certainly quite smart Excellent bar snacks. Read more here
V. good tapas joint on Bermondsey Street. It’s a fairly dinky little space with the kitchen the focal point of this tapas bar. The wall of the kitchen and the front of the bar are decorated with tiles; the rest of the wall surface is exposed brick and lights hang down from the thick wooden beams. The overall look is quite dark and moody, which appealed to me. No reservations. Read more here
This pasta bar is literally a 30sec walk from London Bridge station right by Borough Market. Nice modern decor with marble counter tops in the upstairs section of the resto; they have a slightly larger space downstairs which looks more functional but is nice enough. Ordered the hand rolled pappardelle with beef shin ragu (£9) which was beyond delightful. No reservations. Read more here
Describes itself as serving up ‘Pan Balkan’ fare with much focus towards Greece and Turkey. Food is prepared on their custom made charcoal grill. It has a daily changing menu, serving up tasty little dishes like red lentil fritters on a bed of perfectly smooth squash puree and pomegranate salad. I really dig this small intimate place with its soothing mint green palette. Reservations recommended. Read more here
Rabbit has a certain ‘country goes modern’ feel to it. Yes the core and foundation of Rabbit is undeniably British countryside but everything about Rabbit is contemporary, from their British small plates to the venue’s look and feel. Expect to see things like rabbit ravioli with bone marrow, yellow chanterelles + lovage pesto on the menu. Walk Ins & Reservations. Read more here
AVG MEAL INCL. AN ALCOHOLIC BEVVY
[£] £25 AND UNDER
[£££££] £56 AND OVER