LDN

Happening Right Now: New Restaurant Intel

You already have the Hit List, our regularly updated guide to the best new spots in London. But based off Team Infatuation’s recent restaurant experiences, here’s our newest intel:

14/6/2017 Update

  • It’s a well-known fact that once the sun comes out for the summer, London transforms into a completely different city. Case in point, the Here East complex close to the repurposed Copper Box arena in the Stratford Olympic village. We don’t usually go looking to hang out on the canal when it’s cold and wet, but the ‘complex’ - a row of bars and restaurants overlooking the water, basically - was glorious when we checked it out on a recent sunny day. The vegan cafe (yes, vegan) Mother is somewhere we’d be happy to laze all day, and we’ll definitely be back to destroy our mates at Goldeneye a few doors down at the new Four Quarters East , a bar-slash-video game arcade with consoles and tons of retro games.

  • Easily one of the most hyped openings so far this year is Xu (pronounced ‘shoo’) in Chinatown, which opened its doors a few weeks ago. It’s a new restaurant from the guys behind Bao , and unlike the casual pleasure of their first spot, it ups the stakes by going all-out on an upmarket ‘concept’ that’s meant to evoke old Taiwanese teahouses. Or something. Our first meal there fell flat - very little was truly outstanding food-wise, and everything from the layout of the menu to the design of the restaurant felt like it had been created to make the experience as awkward as possible for the diner. It’s obviously still early days though - we’ll be back to check in after they’ve had some time to settle in.

  • When we heard Indian-ish spot Kricket would close their original Pop Brixton site, we had a feeling something interesting would take its place. Lo and behold, new incumbents Smoke & Salt (who previously had a residency up in Islington’s Chapel Bar) have already taken it over and will be serving up their version of elevated barbecue from June 19th. Think posh charred meat and vegetables with a presentation more akin to Chef’s Table than Man vs Food.

  • Speaking of Kricket , we finally put on our big boy pants and braved the queue over at their new-ish permanent Soho restaurant. The meal was better than the ones we’ve had at their first site in Brixton, but even after ordering the entire menu, a lot of the same problems (underseasoned, lacking oomph) persisted with the food - not to mention the service, which felt a bit like being in a Project Runway dressing room. Stay tuned for the full review.

  • With regards to first impressions, we wanted to love Madame D , the second restaurant from the guys who run Infatuation favourite Gunpowder . It’s a tiny upstairs restaurant by Spitalfields Market (actually across the road from Gunpowder) that specialises in the food of the Himalayas. As non-experts in Himalayan food, we enjoyed much of what we ate, though very little truly stood out, and that’s not to mention that the downstairs bar seems to have been overrun with City boys comparing their todgers in the smoking area outside.


14/5/2017 Update

  • The award for Most Likely To Pop Up On Your Instagram Feed goes to The Ned, a new hotel-cum-members club near Bank. It’s run by Soho House, but they’ve relaxed their no-suits policy if you work in the area and fancy shooting for a membership. We went along to check a few of their restaurants that are open to the public, and while the layout of the dramatic space (it used to be a massive banking hall) reminds us of the world’s plushest food court, we can definitely see it becoming the go-to in the area for literally any meal or occasion you can imagine. In particular, the central bar is great for gawking at suits and lost art directors, and posh Italian restaurant Cecconi’s already seems a fixture for business meetings. None of the food will blow you away, but it’s a pleasant experience overall and you’ll certainly walk away satisfied.

  • Singburi in Leytonstone is a neighbourhood Thai cafe whose owners announced that they may retire this year. Hopefully someone takes over the lease with the view of keeping things going - this no-frills spot genuinely makes some of the best Thai food anywhere in London and is consistently packed every night. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s definitely worth jumping on the central line to catch dinner here regardless of what the future has in store.

  • Monty’s Deli makes the reuben sandwich that everyone who’s visited NYC wishes they could get in London. Well, now you can. It originally started at Druid Street Market, but they’ve gone permanent with a casual diner on Hoxton Street selling doorstop-sized sandwiches to eat in or take away. There are also proper latkes with apple and sour cream sauce, and a matzo ball soup that’s exactly what you want after a bad day. It’s a cool-looking spot that actually feels true to the East End, and we’d go back to eat solo at the bar or with friends any day.

  • Smokestak, our favourite BBQ joint in London, is putting its faith in the London weather and has added a proper outdoor seating section to the restaurant. We can now enjoy BBQ in its natural habitat during the summer months - that the summer doesn’t look like it’ll be arriving any time soon is a different matter entirely.

  • We’re looking forward to checking out new wine bar and restaurant Westerns Laundry, but a recent visit to its sister restaurant Primeur near Green Lanes was a brilliant refresher on how to do a neighbourhood restaurant properly. The food’s good - lovely small plates of modern French food that go great with vino - but the atmosphere’s even better. You’ll end up wanting to hang out in the candlelit dining room all night.

  • We’ve made it clear that we think Gymkhana is the best place to eat high-end Indian food in London, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any competition. So when Jamavar, the first international outpost of an Indian chain of ultra-swank fine dining restaurants, opened in Mayfair, we went down to check it out to see if it was a serious challenger. Our first impressions have definitely been positive overall, and we’re definitely not averse to hanging out and taste testing lamb chops to see what comes out tops. Jamavar’s good, and while it still needs a bit of a tune up, it’s an enjoyable experience that’s a different beast to the established competition. We’ll be back soon to nail down a complete review.

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