Scully St James's hops between flavors and cultures; think, pastrami with butterscotch horseradish, or broccoli with salted egg-yolk sauce. The tapas verdict: you don't mind sharing small plates as long as you have your own big plate coming. The antipasti offerings are very enticing; the tonno tonnato is thicker cut than usual but delicious and served with a perfectly creamy tuna anchovy dressing. What to have: Go for small plates so you can try more, and don’t miss the radish, celeriac, pomegranate and pecorino salad with truffle dressing – it’s a Bocca classic.
What to have: The potato and roe (Smyth is from Northern Ireland: this is her homage). When to go: Breakfast at The Wolseley is arguably the best meal of the day. When to go: It’s off the beaten track in Soho, so you can afford to be a little spontaneous; but ring first anyway, and avoid peak times. If you like Hide Above, you may like… Core by Clare Smyth, Da Terra, Roganic. Unmissable and unforgettable.9 Conduit Street, London W1.
The decor might be an acquired taste, but the food certainly isn’t.Gazelle: restaurant review48 Albemarle Street, London W1. The one-page menu recreates Khan's childhood favorites, from her family’s Mughlai recipes to Kolkata’s vibrant street-food snacks. Which doesn’t necessarily mean cheap (if you’re on a tight budget, check out our dedicated cheap eats list), but definitely means value for money.
Ex-Tamarind chef Nirmal Save has pulled off a real humdinger of a restaurant here: a hip, no reservations, East End Indian that puts the identikit curry canteens of nearby Brick Lane to complete shame by focusing on styled-up home cooking from all over the subcontinent.
It was a marriage made in heaven; Bosi is hitting all the right culinary notes in a beautifully light and iconic dining room that suits him and his cooking style perfectly. Plus, it works perfectly for two of you to try everything (hint, hint: it’s date time). 14hills.co.uk, The vibe: As someone who clearly remembers pounding the streets of the King’s Cross in the early Nineties, off for a sweaty night at Bagley’s Warehouse (fun but, let’s face it, slightly grimy), I find King’s Cross utterly unrecognisable these days. Desserts, too, are taken seriously – and are seriously delicious, with tarts a speciality. //
Kiln is a little less dive-y than its sibling. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.
020 7287 2481. the-araki.com, In 2017, chef-restaurateur Claude Bosi took charge of the kitchen at the legendary Bibendum. If you can afford to go all out, do so. You may have heard of her family restaurant, Maison Pic in Drôme – proud owner of three Michelin stars, given consecutively to her grandfather, father and her. What to have: anything that’s getting the blow-torch treatment.
In November 2015, she finally launched Oklava – a tasteful restaurant on the City fringes (more savvy suits than scruffy Shoreditch) where she could finally showcase the likes of monkfish with spiced runner beans or her trademark chilli garlic chicken with a za’atar crumb (aka Turkish fried chicken).
Pretty good going for a restaurant that, when it first opened, received almost universally bad reviews and a barrage of brutally negative publicity. St John remains a model other restaurants aspire to.
Kick things off with the freshly baked bread basket, which comprises five different styles (depending on the seasonal produce available) from a warm cherry tomato focaccia to onion and parmesan crackers. This can make getting a table at short notice tricky for mere mortals, so book ahead. More than 30 years since its opening, Claude Bosi has helped this historic restaurant recapture its former glory.Bibendum: Restaurant ReviewMichelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London SW3. It’s all made fresh on the premises, and the window is filled with breads, pastries and exotic jams. The original is cosy and not terribly large; the new King’s Cross location is a bigger, bolder version with, not just a deli, but a restaurant too. The downside: tables are now turned every two hours, and service can occasionally feel muddled. The final surprise were the desserts, with the poached merengue with fruit textures emerging as a luxurious and refreshing coda. With enthusiastic switched-on staff doing the rounds, this is a real feather in SE15’s cap.
You don’t have to imagine it: it’s real. Just not paralytic – it’s too good to be wasted on the wasted. Thirty years after it opened, there’s still nowhere else in London quite like the River Café, Ruth Roger’s iconic Thames-side restaurant. From cold plates of fennel salami, courgette achar or jersey rock oysters, to warm plates: roast sand carrots with coco beans, chervil and goat’s curd, say, or mussels with mogrhabieh, coriander and chilli, it’s anything but boring, especially when teamed with a glass or three from the daily-changing natural wine list.
No choice. It’s particularly appealing in the summer, when you can sit outdoors in serene St John’s Square. They get plus points for the atmospheric Paris bistro via Hackney vibe and the enthusiasm of the small team.
Their lamb cutlets with Korean spices rank among the best grilled dishes in London. Come for nose-to-tail eating, with a menu that might run from deviled kidneys to the decadent roasted bone marrow, or less carnivorous options like earthy braised beetroot with goat’s curd. When to go: It’s most fun at dinner, but you do need to go early to get a seat. If you like Trullo, you may like…Padella, Artusi. If you like Kiln, you may like…Smoking Goat, KaoSarn, The Begging Bowl. 020 7581 1144. kutir.co.uk, Kin & Deum offers a marvellously modern interpretation of classic Thai cuisine alongside smart street-food specials. Go on…, If you like Clipstone, you may like…10 Greek Street, Portland. The setting is fancier, for a start, and more spacious, with high ceilings, arched windows and a marble counter for watching the chefs while you eat. Whether it’s for a warm family reunion or a romantic date location, GQ has refined the ever-growing list of restaurants down to the very best: from ramen to risotto, vegetarian to steak houses. The wine list boasts an excellent selection of Italian regional wines, including natural and biodynamic options.
Perhaps this is why not everyone can get a booking, because of the sheer demand. Having thrown myself head first into the pasta section of the menu (topped off with a delicious bottle of Sardinian vermentino), I left feeling very happy but a bit sleepy. If you like Marcella, you may like...Artusi, Bocca di Lupo, Trullo. No matter, the food here is a class apart, from the sushi and sashimi to warm street-food snacks and cold plates such as bonito-flecked tomatoes in a soupy wasabi/soy dressing.
The stately surroundings that never feel too stiffly formal; drop by on a whim for just about anything you fancy. The vibe is similar: sure, it’s tasteful and plush (no open kitchen, no loud music, lots of carpet), but it’s not stuffy either.
When to go: When you want to pretend that you’re a grown-up, but still be made to feel welcome.
It’s the same team, and (almost) the same name as before, but this EC2 reboot of the short-lived Hackney star is miles better than the original – mainly because the whole package is much more relaxed. If you like El Pastor, you may like…Breddos Tacos, La Bodega Negra Café & Taquería, Temper. Kanishka pushes the boundaries on what we know about Indian food and the result is deliciously different.Kanishka: Restaurant Review17-19 Maddox Street, London W1. The restaurant has been full from day one because of its sensible prices, artful grub, elbow-to-elbow bonhomie and peerlessly efficient staff. Looking for more recent openings? When to go: When only some genius modern small plates will do, What to have: Everything wows, but try the parsnip and flatbread combo with burnt yeast cream, pickled garlic and apple, If you like Smoke & Salt, you may like… Clove Club, Counter Culture, Pidgin.
When to go: For a casual first date (or a double date if you want to book). 020 3978 0978. kanishkarestaurant.co.uk, There is a corner of East London that has brought sunshine, good times and a trattoria off the coast of Capri to the capital. What to have: Breakfast and brunch are just as appealing as the dinner menu. Don’t panic and order all at once: you can—and should—add more dishes later. Prior to this, Piat worked for over a decade with another bastion of high-end French cuisine, Daniel Boulud and it shows in the precision and excellence of his cooking. Start things off right with exotic cocktails in the stylish drinking den. What to have: Kick off with one of the selection of posh tikkas – the tandoori broccoli, perhaps, or the pricey but delicious stone bass tikka. The restaurant is decidedly of its time. If you like Dishoom, you may like…Rasa, Zumbura.
The cooking is unshowy but delicious, from charcoal-grilled mackerel to impeccably fresh crudités, served with a luscious, chlorophyll-green parsley and parmesan dip.
Jason Atherton’s third opening of 2013 took a different turn from his highly successful Social ventures (Pollen Street Social, Little Social, Social Eating House, City Social and Social Wine & Tapas) with an impressively showy setting. If not, what the hell are you doing here? Mix classics such as the impeccably runny-centred tortilla with more adventurous regional dishes and going-going-gone specials such as carabineros (flippin’ gigantic, bright red prawns). When to go: When you want to rekindle your love affair with fusion food. Nest is simply charming. If you like Luca, you may like…Bocca di Lupo, Café Murano. Fondly remember sneaking a fag round the back of the school bike sheds? hamwesthampstead.com, Southeast Asian delightsFinally a permanent fixture in Soho, Freakscene boasts humble roots, originating as a popup in Farringdon serving fast, flavourful Southeast Asian cuisine. Go before the Insta-food crowd take it over.Fatt Pundit: Resaurant ReviewFatt Pundit, 77 Berwick Street, London, W1F. What to have: Mix and match from the concise, regularly changing menu – every dish is primed to delight.
Revolving around a theme of fire and ice, expect succulent oysters straight from the ice bar, situated not far from an impressive open wood-burning hearth. Part of the reason this balance has been so effortlessly achieved is thanks to the ‘Frenchie’ himself, Gregory Marchand (the nickname was given to him by Jamie Oliver, many years ago), who combines his classical, technical training with a playful, creative approach to cooking. Like an A-lister heading towards a public meltdown, this former star of the street food scene loves to smoke and doesn’t give a damn about calorie-counting. Visit https://ikoyilondon.com/. It carries all the technical skill of her time in some of the capital’s best fine dining spots, but is still, ultimately, food made with love, that you could imagine coming out of a (very fancy) Italian home. The music is upbeat, the chefs are not just filleting fish, but actually enjoying themselves (and will chat to you as they hand over the dishes).
The food’s all-round flawless and eating here is such fun.
Ask anyone to list 20 things they’d expect to see in a classic French bistro and chances are you’ll find at least 15 of them at this dinky Gallic charmer, including lettered mirrors, tobacco-coloured walls and a tubby Michelin figurine behind the bar.