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Happening Right Now: New Restaurant Intel

PHOTO: Karolina Wiercigroch

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. Scroll down to get all the info on the places we’re adding to our Hit Lists, the spots where we’ve been eating recently, and the next round of restaurants that we’ll be checking out.

16/10/2017 Update

NEW TO THE HIT LIST:

  • Mother: Battersea is getting a makeover. The redevelopment on the water here has brought in the usual installation art and pop-up food brigade to hammer home the heavy blow of gentrification, and now it’s also brought us Mother Pizza, a restaurant originally from Copenhagen. It’s set in a massive candlelit tunnel under the arches and they’re serving traditional, unfussy Italian food. The menu changes daily, and in addition to excellent pizza, there’s a good selection of fish, spaghetti, and panini. There’s a great drinks menu, too, with craft beers and a solid wine selection. With two wood ovens, exposed brick, and the rumbling of trains on the tracks above, Mother Pizza fits right into what’s going on in Battersea. And you should fit it into your routine soon.
Mother
  • Taka: When we visited, Taka’s website wasn’t even live yet, so we weren’t sure what to expect when we went to eat at this new Japanese restaurant in Mayfair. What we found was a small, elegant spot serving great Japanese food. Taka’s great for a casual date night or dinner with mates - with the bonus being that the high-quality sushi here is relatively affordable for the neighbourhood. The rest of the menu is made up of small plates, and the beef, tempura, and veggies are very good. We look forward to getting back here, and suggest keeping it in your back pocket as a ‘utility’ restaurant when you need a simple, low key option in Mayfair.
Taka

OTHER PLACES WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • Gul and Sepoy: The people behind Gunpowder have yet another new restaurant, and this time it’s a place called Gul and Sepoy. After a detour to Himalayan food at their underwhelming spot Madame D, they’ve come back to their Indian roots and have set up a two-part small plate menu based on the class divides of old colonial India. Part one is Gul, based on the food of the royal courts, and part two is Sepoy, inspired by dishes eaten by the soldiers serving the courts. The food overall ranges from good (like the tandoori seabream, from the Gul side), to nice enough. But again, the menu overall doesn’t have the same magic as Gunpowder’s. On the other hand, it’s definitely better than any Indian food that’s happening on the nearby Brick Lane, and it’s more interesting than Madame D, which is just across the street. Gul & Sepoy is just a few steps away from Gunpowder, and a pretty decent back-up plan for when you can’t get a table there. We have a feeling this could be a grower - so we’ll be back to check it out.
Gul and Sepoy
  • Pickled Fred: Pickled Fred is the latest opening on Brick Lane, and the food can only be described as a bit all over the place. The menu is split up into three sections: first snacks, then small plates, and finishing somewhat inexplicably with flatbreads. It’s all a bit of a ‘foods of the world’ tour, with options jumping from a jackfruit scotch egg, to sriracha honey wings, to a bone marrow rendang, to ‘yuzu avocado’ and ‘banh mi’ flatbreads. If you’re a bit lost, so were we. We liked several of the dishes, but we wish they would pick a concept and stick with it (we'd start by losing the flatbread section). In terms of environment, the restaurant itself is simple, warm and welcoming, and would work well for a chilled dinner date or catching up with mates. If Pickled Fred concentrates on focusing the menu, it has the potential to be an interesting casual restaurant in the area.

NEW OPENINGS:

THE KITCHENS - Breddos’s Tacos, Berber & Q, and eight other popular restaurants have set themselves up as permanent food stalls in the middle of Old Spitalfields Market.

YAMAGOYA - A new ramen option on South Bank sounds like a good idea to us. This one comes with a nice backstory, too, about a man with a van driving around Japan sampling all types of ramen before perfecting his own and bringing it here.

THE COAL SHED - If you like meat and fire and Brighton, then this second location of a Brighton favorite may be worth a try.

MERAKI - A posh Greek restaurant in Fitzrovia with a great-looking menu.

YAMAGOYA

02/10/2017 Update

NEW TO THE HIT LIST:

  • Hoppers St Christopher’s Place: If you didn’t have the patience to wait it out for the first Hoppers in Soho, your tardiness may for once be rewarded. They’ve opened a second one in St Christopher’s Place, and prepare the ground to feel the full force of your jaw because THEY ARE TAKING BOOKINGS. This 65-seat amphitheatre, which is comparatively bright and airy, offers the same full-throttle Sri Lankan madness served up at their place in Soho - most importantly the deadly duo of the egg hopper and that bone marrow varuval curry. There are two tasting menus (one of which is entirely vegetarian), which we can recommend, and there are private booths downstairs for big groups. Hit this place on the weekend to take advantage of their discounted menu. Enjoy not queueing.

  • Ichibuns: The guys who for better and worse brought us Busaba, Nobu, Wagamama, and Hakkasan have a new joint in Chinatown. And it appears that they have now completely lost their minds. But with genius and insanity so closely acquainted, they’ve actually got something pretty good going on with their newest spot, Ichibuns. The restaurant is a super colorful spot set over three wildly different floors, and the menu includes things like king crab ramen, wagyu beef sushi, and a panko-crusted burger, all quite enjoyable. Their drinks are sealed in plastic sippy cups and their smoking negroni looks like a genuine fire hazard thanks to their flavoured smoke machine. In other words, it’s all a bit mad, but also a lot of fun. Come with a not-too-serious group as a way to start out your night in Soho.

  • Aquavit: Aquavit feels like that person you started seeing, but weren’t quite sure about, but whom you’ve really warmed to, and now you want all of your friends to meet them. We’ve been to this Nordic restaurant in the St James’ complex off Piccadilly several times since its opening late last year, and each time we’ve liked it more and more - and it finally feels like it deserves its place on the Hit List. In addition to making the best meatballs you’ll find outside an Ikea, it’s a great utility restaurant and one to keep in your back pocket at all times. It’s posh enough for a client breakfast or lunch, but casual enough for a midweek catch-up with your mates. The food is great across the board, they have weekend and lunchtime deals to make the meals a little more affordable, and they’re even dog-friendly.

Aquavit

OTHER PLACES WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • Cub: This is a new restaurant-slash-bar from the same guys behind excellent cocktail bars Dandelyan and Super Lyan. There’s a lot of ‘concept’ to get your head around here - first, they do a ‘cocktail-led’ tasting menu, which basically means you’ll eat a short four-course dinner of creative small plates paired to cocktails. Second, the whole restaurant focuses on being as low-waste as possible, from the food (you’ll see ingredients like Japanese knotweed, or compost smoked carrot) to recycled lampshades and furniture in the restaurant itself. We went in expecting a completely insane and slightly pretentious experience, but we left really enjoying ourselves. It’s obviously somewhere you visit for an experience instead of a random dinner, but at £45 a pop, it’s definitely worth checking out for the quality of food and cocktails.

  • Santo Remedio: A wave of anticipation, excitement, and nerves overtakes us every time we hear that a new Mexican restaurant is opening in London. Being a company with an American HQ, we long for the day when we can go back to home base and say, ‘We have a great Mexican restaurant in London, thank you very much. We can name at least one’. Santo Remedio, which started out as a Shoreditch food truck and has now graduated to being a London Bridge restaurant, unfortunately won’t be that place. The truth is, we love everything about this place, apart from the food. The bar area is fun and the staff are great. But like so many other Mexican restaurants in London, it feels like they’re hedging, and making an imitation of Mexican food they think Londoners will like, rather than giving us the full experience. The guacamole, for example, sounded very exciting as it comes topped with grasshoppers. What came out was mashed-up avocado with some creepies on top - passable but nowhere near as exciting as we hoped - and the rest of the menu failed to make any impact either. We’re hoping that it gets better with time, because London needs some wins in this space.

  • Ella Canta: Second on the list of new Mexican restaurants in London is Ella Canta, a high end spot in the Intercontinental on Park Lane. You’ll see the grasshopper-topped guacamole here too, but in this case it’s actually tasty, as are the ceviche, mole-based meat dishes, and even the simple Caesar salad. It made a really good first impression, but there wasn’t any particular dish that really wowed us enough to rush back. And it’s bloody expensive. Expect it to be the new hot spot for expensive anniversary dinners for couples who are gainfully employed and under the age of 70.

CUB - Photo Credit: Kim Lightbody

NEW OPENINGS:

GUL AND SEPOY - The third restaurant from the folks behind Gunpowder, with a menu split in half covering the north and south of the country. We hope it lives up to the very high standards that Gunpowder continues to maintain.

WULF AND LAMB - A plant-based restaurant in Sloane Square. This should be more exciting than it looks on paper.

BREDDOS TAQUERIA - The second location of our favorite ‘not really Mexican but still really good’ taco joint is opening in Soho.

DEAN AND DELUCA - A marketplace and deli from NYC is opening its first European outpost in Mayfair. We’re sure the tourists and suits will love it.

18/9/2017 Update

HIT LIST ADDITIONS:

  • Ikoyi is the much talked-about casual fine dining restaurant in St James Market (aka a restaurant village for rich people) specialising in West African cuisine. The food is essentially modern European, with West African sauces, spice mixes, and rubs thrown in. While the flavours are relatively subtle in comparison to the usually heavy-duty dishes from this region, they’ve managed to balance all the elements in a way that really works. Their Iberico Pork Suya is a prime example - pork marinated in African spices, cooked perfectly pink, served with some flower parts for good measure. This is one of the more exciting new restaurants to open in a while, which is why it makes our Hit List.

OTHER PLACES WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • Jacob the Angel in Covent Garden is the new ‘English coffeehouse’ from the guys behind excellent spots The Palomar and The Barbary. It’s essentially a small deli that’ll remind you of an Ottolenghi spot, with lots of fresh salads, sandwiches, and tasty baked things like Middle Eastern-style spinach borekas. You can sit in and there’s a nice view of Neal’s Yard, but it’s definitely more of a grab-and-go kind of place. We’d come back just for their coconut meringue pies.

  • Just a couple of minutes away is The Oystermen, a new seafood restaurant off the main Covent Garden piazza. The whole place is a small room with bare brick walls, minimal decor, and a tiny kitchen at the back, so it isn’t somewhere you’d want to linger. That said, we ate pretty well there. We had a great piece of hake with polenta, as well as a nice squid starter with romesco. The menu switches up depending on whatever’s good that day, and it’s worth noting that a meal here is also a lot cheaper than your typical seafood blowout at Wright Bros - it’s a solid call if you’re after affordable seafood.

  • Chik’n is a new posh chicken shop that opened recently on Baker Street. Run by the same people behind Chick n’Sours, it’s a cross between a KFC and a Shake Shack - so think excellent wings, shakes, and fried chicken sandwiches, but made with free range birds and high-quality ingredients. As chicken sandwiches go, they’re very good, and the wings and nachos we tried were great as well. While we wouldn’t go out of our way to eat there, we’d be more than happy to pop in if we were in the area.

The Oystermen - Photo credit Greg Funnell

NEW OPENINGS:

ICHIBUNS: A Japanese burger spot in Chinatown that also serves ramen and sushi rolls.

CUB: The owners of one of our favorite cocktail bars, Super Lyan, have opened Cub upstairs. They serve a £45 tasting menu that’s all based around cocktails - it includes food, but everything is based around the drinks.

SANTO REMEDIO: Before it closed unexpectedly, Santo Remedio was one of the only legit Mexican restaurants in London. They’ve reopened in London Bridge with a bigger space, but expect it to be rammed nonetheless.

HOPPERS ST CHRISTOPHERS PLACE: The second, larger location of the excellent Sri Lankan / Tamil restaurant. And instead of a two-hour wait, you can actually book.

SERGE ET LE PHOQUE: A London branch of a famous Hong Kong restaurant, serving upmarket modern French food in a fancy London Bridge hotel.

4/9/2017 update

HIT LIST ADDITIONS:

  • South London has had two impressive neighbourhood restaurants open in the last couple of months. In Clapham, there’s Minnow, which has a bit of a split personality, but in a way that’s actually quite useful. There’s a bright, attractive upstairs area with a back patio for a sunny day, while downstairs is darker with bar and alcove seating that would be suited to a date night. The food is interesting modern British, and a lot of the dishes involve fruit - for example, the octopus comes with green mango, and the pigeon comes with pickled cherries.

  • To the South-East, there’s Marcella, an Italian restaurant that just opened in Deptford. It’s the sister restaurant to Peckham staple Artusi, and they’ve kept the same format of a simple space, a small menu, and great Italian food. We’d suggest getting the artichoke starter, and then leaning on the pasta dishes. It’s a serious win for the neighbourhood, and may even eclipse the original spot in Peckham. Both restaurants make our Hit List.

Marcella

OTHER PLACES WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • There’s now a place in Soho with the words Flavour Bastard written on a sign outside, and it isn’t a hipster pop-up or someone’s idea of a practical joke - this is actually a restaurant name that somebody signed off on. Inside, there’s a lot of polished brass and leather all over the shop, so it’s actually a fairly serious restaurant, despite being called ‘Flavour Bastard’. As for the food, it’s a mashup of ingredients from different cuisines, so the fried chicken is coated in tandoori spices, and the Hawaiian poke comes with curry leaf. The flavours are interesting, but they don’t always come together. It’s a new opening, and it has some kinks to work out - but we’ll be back.

  • The Wigmore is a new place inside the swish Langham Hotel near Oxford Circus, and it calls itself a ‘Great British Pub’. This might be accurate if pubs looked like ballrooms and had Michel Roux Jr overseeing the food. There’s communal seating and a bar with a short but nice selection of ales, but other than that, it’s basically a posh restaurant in disguise, serving upmarket pub dishes. While the mains are so-so, the bar snacks are good, especially the masala scotch egg and mini crab crumpets. The Wigmore isn’t a place we’d go out of our way for, but we’d be happy to drop in for a drink and those crumpets if were in the area and looking to kill some time.

  • One of us grew up in t’North, which means that chips count as a vegetable. But after hearing about a new raw vegan spot called Essence in Shoreditch, we were curious enough to step inside to take a look. Even though the food was healthier than anything else we’ve eaten this year, it was all surprisingly tasty, especially the raw pad thai and caramel brownie. That said, the awkward space feels a bit like a futuristic waiting room from The Matrix, so we’d skip a sit-in meal in favour of grabbing something to go.

  • There are a couple of new bars down the stretch from Stoke Newington to Dalston that we checked out recently. The Mint Gun Club in Stoke Newington is a laid-back tea and cocktail lounge that feel like you could be drinking in someone’s living room - we’d be happy to hit it on a weeknight for a few drinks if we were local. Further down the road in Dalston, Three Sheets is a tiny bar that serves drinks that incorporate flavours like vanilla flower and shiso leaf to keep things interesting. Due to its small size, we like it better in the early evenings before it starts getting packed out late at night.

FLAVOUR BASTARD

NEW OPENINGS:

THE OYSTERMEN A new seafood and oyster restaurant in Covent Garden that’s actually affordable.

SALON - This cult small plates restaurant in Brixton closed temporarily over the summer, but has just reopened with a shiny refurb, as well as a new bottle shop next door.

BRICK & LIQUOR - If you were going to open an low key, NYC-style bar in South London, the quiet area by Clapham South would be a natural fit. They’re serving classic cocktails along with small plates and a brunch at the weekends.

MILDREDS - A Dalston branch of the excellent vegetarian restaurant, just around the corner from Dalston Junction Overground.

SUVLAKI BRICK LANE - A new opening at the top of Brick Lane that’s serving Athenian street food along with a Greek-leaning wine list.

POP-UPS WORTH CHECKING OUT:

BREWERY BELOW - This tiny Islington brewery is hosting a month of dinners from 7-30 September, with a seven-course seasonal £45 tasting menu. You can choose between low intervention wines or microbrews for your drinks pairing, but it’ll cost extra.

NEWCOMER WINES - Dalston wine shop Newcomer Wines is hosting several dinners on 7-9 September, with the chef of Cordobar, a popular restaurant from Berlin. If it’s anything like the dinners there, expect it to be very good.

21/8/2017 UPDATE

HIT LIST ADDITIONS:

You can read the full list here.

Tandoor Chop House

OTHER PLACES WE’VE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT:

  • If you like to hang out East, you might have stumbled upon Hurwundeki, the cult Korean restaurant/hair salon under the arches by Cambridge Heath. The space has been taken over for a couple of months by pop-up Lucky & Joy, and they’re cooking up their take on regional Chinese dishes like cumin lamb ribs and spicy Bang Bang chicken salad. The food’s tasty, and they also do satisfying rice bowls at lunch. It’s a nice local addition for a spontaneous group dinner, and they have DJs at the weekend for you to make a night out of it.

  • The name Cubé makes it sound like this place is going to be a fancy spa or experimental performance art gallery. But it’s actually a new sushi counter and restaurant in Mayfair. They’ve only been open for a couple of weeks, which may be why it was empty when we visited, but everything we ate was good. They do a serious £75 omakase, which you have to book for, but there are a few sushi and sashimi sets on the menu for £25 or less as well. If you’re going a la carte, the deep-fried agedashi tofu is excellent. Hit Cubé for an after-work dinner, and there’s also a low-key whisky/sake bar in the basement if you fancy a quiet drink.

  • We checked out Super Lyan on Hoxton Street, the new bar from the same guys behind Dandelyan. It’s a short walk from the main Shoreditch strip, but it’s absolutely worth the effort - it’s a no-BS cocktail bar you’ll want to hang out in all night, with incredible cocktails and some very sound bartenders. The drinks are experimental without being pretentious, and they’re both affordable and delicious. They have a nitro martini on tap, which tastes like a cross between an espresso martini and a JD and coke.

  • We’d like to make an announcement: trendy food exists in Canary Wharf. The Street Feast guys have done a great job of bringing Shoreditch cool to the coldest part of the Docklands with their newest site Giant Robot. There’s a short but sweet list of vendors, like fried chicken crew Thunderbird and bao specialists Yum Bun, as well as great drinks and a big bar area. It’s an excellent spot to visit for a casual post-work dinner and drinks, especially if you work nearby.

  • You might have heard about a place called Tandoor Chop House. It’s a new-ish Indian restaurant that does North Indian-style tandoori meat and breads, which sadly means that there’s no curry on the menu. We liked their starters and sides (especially the beef keema naan with dripping), but some of the main dishes from the tandoor were dry. We wouldn’t bother going back unless we were in Trafalgar Square and staring down a long wait at Dishoom.

Jean-Georges at The Connaught

NEW OPENINGS:

CORE - A new fine dining restaurant in Notting Hill is from Clare Smyth, who was the head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s flagship for eight years.

FANCY CRAB - London’s only crab-focused restaurant, and probably one more crab restaurant than the city needs. Having said that, we do like the sound of Singapore chilli crab.

JEAN-GEORGES AT THE CONNAUGHT - A plush all-day restaurant in Mayfair’s Connaught Hotel, that’s doing gourmet pastas and pizzas topped with truffles and caviar, as well as afternoon tea.

COUPETTE - A new neighbourhood cocktail bar in Bethnal Green, specialising in French liqueurs like Calvados. Oh, and it’s run by the Savoy’s former head bartender.

MEAT LIQUOR KING’S CROSS: A King’s Cross branch of the excellent burger and cocktail restaurant, just across the road from the main station.

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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