New dining digs in London town
The London restaurant scene stands still for no one. It feels like there’s a new opening every week. Here is a list of places I’ve been to that have opened within the last year which have got my tastebuds going. All are decent, some are very good indeed. I’ll keep adding to this and updating it, so make sure to check back for the latest juice.
Thai | Shoreditch | ££
Opened Oct 2017
This is round 2 for the Smoking Goat lot (or technically round 3 if you count Kiln). Critics have been raving about the Soho original since it opened in 2014. I liked Kiln but didn’t love it and the same applies to Smoking Goat in Shoreditch. To be fair, I really didn’t sample the menu as I wasn’t v.hungry. The Duck Laab (which for laymen like myself is minced meat) + a side of jasmine rice was too salty and the chillis – DAYUM. My pal who ordered the Lardo Fried Rice, thinks she got food poisoning from it – eek! I don’t eat goat but I must say when I saw my neighbour’s curry, I was salivating. Highlight for me was the Cornish Cuttlefish Skewer – yum. Dishes felt fairly priced & overall, I would def go back but not necessarily in haste. W&R
‘West African’ | Piccadilly | ££££
Opened July 2017
I first sampled Ikoyi’s offering a few years back and was impressed at their vision to bring flavours inspired by West Africa onto the London dining scene in a sleek setting; fast forward to 2017 and they’ve set up shop in swanky St James’s Mkt. If you go expecting traditional Nigerian fare plated up nicely, you’ll hate it. It’s experimental and not trying to replicate things authentically – somethings I liked (plantain w/ raspberry dust), others not so much (mackerel in tiger nut milk). Fine dining prices. RR.
Cocktail Bar | Bethnal Green
Opened June 2017
Coupette is by Chris Moore, ex-head bartender at the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar, so you know you’ll be getting some quality shit. Focus is on French liqueurs, wine & food. The cocktails I had were banging: Straight Outta Bethnal, Second Time Around + the Grand Master. The gougères laced w/ truffle was sublime as was the salmon croque madame + the cheese plate. Guessing they’re into 90s hip hop from their playlist & wall hangings. An elegant space with an eclectic crowd; it doesn’t get going till c.9pm. The mix of hi-low reminded me of Gravity Bar. W&R.
Taiwanese | Piccadilly | £££
Opened June 2017
Xu like bao is legit, it’s got style AND substance. A sophisticated space with no trace of snootiness; it’s bringing old school glamour into a cool modern context. It’s spinning out banging plates like the chicken wing with sanpei sauce and caviar and the ‘drop egg crab’, all delivered with happy vibes. In sum, the food is on point, the space is on point and the service is on point. Would I go back? Without a damn question. RR.
Image: The Cool Hunter
Modern European | Drayton Park | ££
Opened May 2017
This is the second spot from the lads behind Primeur in Canonbury. It’s a similar set up – tucked away on a residential street, doors fully expanding out when the sun comes a shining, (with the added benefit of a lovely courtyard – perfect for knocking back some vino) communal tables and a chalkboard menu. The focus is on seafood here with a changing menu – when I went I had mussels (nice enough) ray wing swimming delightfully in brown butter sauce (solid stuff) and fideo pasta with a generous helping of lobster (interesting) washed down with some Riesling and Muscadet. RR.
Italian | Belgravia | £££
Opened Mar 2017
Il Pampero is the new restaurant in the Hari hotel. A suave Italian spot with old school glamour but zero stuffiness. For the level of food, the fresh produce and beautiful setting, I think it’s keenly priced and actually pretty good value for money; you can get a cacio e pepe for £12. Oh and their cocktails are deliciously potent. W&R.
Italian | Clerkenwell | £££
Opened Jan 2017
The latest venture from Stevie Parle (The Dock Kitchen, Rotorino + Sardine) serves up enjoyable Italian fare. The ravioli, spinach + squash is so good as is the gorgeous lump of chocolate sprinkled with pistachio + chunks of honeycomb. However, bizarrely they’ve decided to shove this restaurant in a co-working space which kinda kills it. RR. Read More
Mexican | London Bridge | £
Opened Dec 2016
El Pastor has had much hype probs because it’s by the guys who brought us the enduringly popular Barrafina. It’s a cool space – a converted railway arch with pops of colour via the table tops & woven chairs. There’s a fun outdoorsy vibe about it. I got the prawn taco (£3.50) & char-grilled stonebass taco (£3) – the ingredients were fresh and I particularly enjoyed the pineapple salsa that came with the stonebass taco. A great place to go with a group of friends but they don’t take reservations. Read More
Japanese | Piccadilly | ££
Opened Nov 2016
Anzu, Tonkotsu’s posh big bro is in St James’s Square sandwiched by Veneta and Ole & Steen – 3 mins walk from Piccadilly and for you fashion folk, about 1 min from Dover Street Market. I am genuinely baffled why every time I’ve been (3 or 4 times) it’s been near dead; the dumplings are brilliant, the ramen decent, the staff good and the price point really damn good for the setting and the area. Piccadilly’s very own ‘hidden’ gem. W&R. Read More
Portuguese | London Bridge | ££
Opened Nov 2016
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. RR. Read More
Nordic | St. James’s Sq. | £££££
Opened Nov 2016
Aquavit serves up sublime Nordic inspired plates with 1st rate service – the Matje Herring dish is a winner – try that. Its New York outpost has 2 Michelin stars. The high ceilings and original pieces of artwork by Olafur Eliasson pieces give the space a feeling of modern grandeur. RR. Read More