LDN

Happening Right Now: New Restaurant Intel

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:

1/8/2017 Update

Dum Biryani

NEW TO THE HIT LIST:

  • DUM Biryani is a basement restaurant in Soho specialising in South Indian-style biryanis. We’re happy to report that along with Darjeeling Express, it’s one of the best Indian restaurants to have opened this year. The biryanis are great, but the starters like chilli prawns and spiced wings were what really impressed us. Even though the service is old-school curry house (in a good way), the vibe feels trendy - it should be on your list if you’re looking for a laid-back night out in central London.

  • The owner of Darjeeling Express in Kingly Court was a home cook before opening the restaurant, and it shows - the food reminds us of very good home cooking in a restaurant setting. While the dishes aren’t as spicy as a lot of other Indian restaurants around town, each curry or kebab is excellent. It took all of five seconds of pondering before we added it to our Hit List - check it out for your next small group dinner.

Smoke & Salt

OTHER SPOTS WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • If you’re the owner of one of the best Italian restaurants in the city, what’s a logical next move? The guys behind Bocca di Lupo seem to think it’s ‘open a Cajun-style place in a converted Islington pub’. The place they’ve opened is called Plaquemine Lock, and we were surprised to find that the space feels oddly like a kitschy theme pub, with steamboat and gator murals on the walls. While the po’boys, crab cakes, and seafood gumbo were fairly tasty, service was subpar. There are clearly kinks to work out - we’ll be back.

  • We finally dragged ourselves to Andi’s, a pretty cafe in Stoke Newington opened by Andi Oliver, mother of former famous person Miquita (no relation to John). As a place to hang out, it’s a pleasure - there’s a great vibe, a garden at the back, and a chance of seeing Nick Grimshaw or Alexa Chung popping in for a snack. The reuben sandwich is good, but the rest of the menu is hit-or-miss. We’d still go back for that garden if we were local, though.

  • Smoke & Salt recently took over the space vacated by Kricket in Pop Brixton, and it’s a fun spot to pop into if you’re down there. The small but mighty menu is based around lightly chargrilled and smoked dishes, and it feels like you’re eating the Kent countryside on a summer’s day. Aside from the fact that you’re sitting in a shipping container.

Temper City

OPENINGS:

TEMPER CITY - The second site of the whole-animal BBQ restaurant in Soho. Expect lots of meat, lots of curry, and lots of blokes in suits.

MAGPIE - Remember Pidgin in Hackney? This is the new Mayfair spot from the same owners, combining modern fine dining with trolley service, a bit like old-school dim sum parlours. Sounds a bit mental, and a bit State Bird Provisions in San Francisco.

ROLA WALA - A street food crew specialising in Indian wraps (kati rolls), with a permanent site in Spitalfields. At £6 a wrap, it’ll be good for a quick fix if you’re in the area.

MOTHER - One of a million new openings at the redeveloped Battersea Power Station, these guys are well-known in Copenhagen for tasty sourdough pizzas and a trendy vibe.

IKOYI - A fine dining restaurant in St James Market (aka a restaurant village for rich people) specialising in West African cuisine. Not sure who it’s appealing to, but we’re looking forward to checking it out.

17/7/2017 Update

  • Red Rooster, a restaurant originally from New York that serves Southern American food, has just set up shop in the new Curtain Hotel in Shoreditch. The place itself is a lot of fun - there’s a bumping jazz band playing daily, a gospel choir that sings during Sunday brunch, and you can order a whole fried chicken that shoots fireworks out of its arse. While anything with chicken is good, the rest of the food won’t necessarily make fireworks shoot out of your arse - skip the shrimp & grits and burrata and you’ll definitely have a great time.

  • While we’re on the topic of American food, let’s talk about Sub Cult, a street food crew who just opened their first semi-permanent digs in a shipping container close to Broadgate Circle. We tried a couple of their US-style gourmet subs, including a roast pork one with jerk crackling, and a smoked salmon sarnie with beetroot, which were both very good. City boys and girls - you’re going to love it.

  • Soho Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers and taqueria Breddos are two of our favourite restaurants in town, so we’re pretty excited that they’re both opening second locations in central London later this year. Breddos is opening a new spot in Soho this September. Given its popularity in a chilled neighbourhood like Clerkenwell, expect monster queues. As for Hoppers, it opens in Marylebone in the summer. In addition to a bigger space and a terrace for you to eat your curry in the sun, we’re most excited that the famously no-bookings restaurant will actually take reservations.

  • Neo Bistro is so new that the restaurant didn’t even have a geotag when we visited recently, which is really the only evidence that a place exists. It’s a casual fine dining restaurant from the Anglo crew close to Bond Street station, and from our first visit, there’s a lot to like. The smoked eel and lamb dish is a bit like your filthiest surf and turf dreams come true, and there’s also a plate of pigeon and lentils that we’re praying is still there when we go back. The space feels like a cross between a Mayfair members’ club and a Shoreditch pub - nice but a bit rough around the edges. At £35 for five courses of interesting food, it’s good for modern fine dining without spending loads.

  • For new spots these days, the City is where it’s at. The new Nobu Hotel is technically in Shoreditch, but it’s only a few minutes walk from the Square Mile - we doubt it’s planning to pay the bills by appealing to designers and fashion assistants. The main restaurant, Nobu Shoreditch, is classic Nobu (mood lighting, minimal look), which also means that it feels like you could be sat anywhere in the world. In 1997. On a recent visit, the food wasn’t as good as we remember - the black cod was as mediocre as its imitators, and we’re not sure a bowl of peppers is a novelty anymore, especially at nine quid a pop. The rock shrimp tempura is still good, though.

  • Dinings, the popular and pricey sushi restaurant in Marylebone, recently opened up a second location in deepest, darkest Knightsbridge. This interiors are swankier than those at the original, but unfortunately our first impressions of the food weren’t that great - the sushi quite frankly didn’t taste particularly fresh, and the other dishes weren’t exciting enough to justify the cost. We’re fans of the original Dinings, so we’ll be back to make sure they weren’t just having one of those nights.

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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