The London Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In London guide image

LDNGuide

The London Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In London

We checked out these new restaurants—and loved them.

The Hit List is the guide to our favourite new food and drink experiences in London. We track new openings across the city, and then visit as many as we can. While the Hit List is by no means an exhaustive list of every great new spot, one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have genuinely checked out.

Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the city—inclusive of a wide range of cuisines, price points, neighbourhoods, chefs and owners of all backgrounds, and the many communities that make up London's restaurant industry. If you think we missed a great new place, we want to hear about it. Shoot us an email at london@theinfatuation.com

New to the Hit List (18/11): Mount St. Restaurant and Apricity


THE SPOTS

Apricity review image
8.4

Apricity

££££

68 Duke Street, London
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“I am not built for tasting menus for a multitude of reasons, namely I always fill up on bread and I’m what my grandparents always described as ‘enthusiastic’ (loud, I’m loud). But Apricity is a fine dining restaurant in Mayfair that has thrown the snoozefest, tasting menu playbook in the bin, and replaced it with a warm, chatter-filled dining room where seven wildly creative courses can be enjoyed for less than £100. The food here is best described as globe-trotting, with dishes like lip-smacking smacked cucumber, a tempura take on sauerkraut, and exceptionally meaty hand-dived Scottish scallops with rich black pepper pork belly. The signature fig leaf ‘chouxnut’ dessert is all the evidence you’ll need to know that this place isn’t afraid of frying or, crucially, having a good time. Come with your closest friend, or for a sophisticated date night that revolves around spicy natural wine and hand-feeding each other Flor sourdough. This is the rarest of London fine dining restaurants. The kind where you never once check the time and wonder how long you’ve got left.” - Heidi Lauth Beasley, Staff Writer


“Once you look past the Picasso on the wall, the Matisse behind you, and the silver butt plug-shaped salt and pepper shakers, Mount St. Restaurant is a totally normal place to eat. The Marylebone restaurant is from the people who own Hauser & Wirth gallery, so it’s little surprise that the beautiful, multi-coloured, terrazzo floor is, quite literally, a work of art, and everything down to the vibrant red furniture is an aesthete’s dream. What’s more surprising is that this place isn’t all looks. The omelette Arnold Bennett is a decadent, gooey, and cheesy mix of smoked haddock and egg. It’s a classic, and so too is the beef tartare. Admittedly, the £96 lobster pie for two is almost too rich, but it suits the champagne-popping surroundings, and things like HP hollandaise sauce shows there’s still a kind of levity at play. Of course, any restaurant with servers who point to a small Lucien Freud oil painting of prawns when you ask for more details on a starter, isn’t exactly down to earth. But that’s because Mount St. Restaurant is meant to make you feel like you’re at the very top.” - Jake Missing, Senior Staff Writer


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Koyn review image

Koyn

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"Koyn is a restaurant with two moods. There’s the light and relaxing upstairs dining room where you’ll catch a glimpse of the yellowtail being sliced in front of the stunning sushi counter. And downstairs is where you’ll find a moody, black and red den that says “seduce me with sashimi”. That’s enough reason to come to this upmarket Japanese spot in Mayfair, but the other—and most important—is that wherever you're sitting, the food is so pretty you won’t want to eat it and satisfying once you do. From the golden crispy rice topped with minced tuna and a zingy jalapeño, to the seaweed-wrapped spicy salmon roll that I could’ve done with a second round of—the dishes here are all the things you’ve heard of before, just done extremely well.”- Rianne Shlebak, Staff Writer


“Newsagents, train stations, maternity wards—when I think about it, I’m truly pushed to come up with an environment that wouldn’t be exponentially improved by a pool table. Speedboat Bar, the new Thai restaurant off Shaftesbury Avenue from the folks behind Plaza Khao Gaeng, continues to prove my irrefutable theory. The upstairs of the restaurant-cum-bar, all mahogany browns mixed with colourful walls and TV screens, is open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, complete with pool table and cocktails. I cannot imagine anything I’d like to do more when the menu gets involved as well. Chicken skin with zaep seasoning (essentially like pork scratchings covered in chilli powder and MSG) are incredibly moreish. Other things are a little less bar-and-cue friendly but even more essential: unapologetically fiery drunkard’s seafood and beef noodles, tom yam noodle soup with hunks of squid, roast pork and prawns bobbing in its broth and, of course, that deep-fried 7-11 pineapple pie. No scalding heat warning is necessary, but a second one definitely is.” - Jake Missing, Senior Staff Writer


“Biryani, kebab, chai. That’s what BKC, the name of this Awadhi spot in Marble Arch, stands for. But that’s not all you should try when you come here. The small plates, from the tangy, sweet, and savoury papri chaat, to the warming potato and vegetable-stuffed samosa with its thick crispy coating, are excellent. The lamb kathi roll—a paratha filled with a spicy lamb kebab and chutney, with a citrussy mint dip on the side—feels like the ultimate lunchtime upgrade from your Tesco meal deal wrap. And the tender shami lamb kebab evaporates on your tongue. It’s a comfortable, but small spot with the kind of warm lighting that makes you forget what time it is outside, and rattan chairs that invite you to stay a couple of hours.”- RS


“As someone who is feelings on legs and can interpret breathing as a criticism, I hate eating alone. But I loved eating alone at Hong Kong Restaurant. For starters, everyone says that to enjoy eating alone you should bring a book but this relaxed Upper Street spot is ahead of the game with a huge wipe-down menu you can flick through—my favourite read of the year, you heard it here first. The quality of the dim sum is exceptional and thanks to the pictures on the menu, you’ll order double what you intended to because it’s very easy to convince yourself you’re still hungry when surrounded by a soundtrack of healing flute noises. The king prawn cheung fun is hypnotically chewy and the siu mai glistens like it’s actually trying to wink at you. Plus a large portion of the dim sum is served until 9pm. Late-risers, solo diners, and crab xiao long bao-sippers rejoice.” - Heidi Lauth Beasley, Staff Writer 


“A restaurant that manages to charm me before I enter is a rare one. But Roji, a 10-seater omakase spot in Mayfair, succeeded. There’s a little bell you have to ring before entering, and inside is a minimalist table wrapped around a counter where the husband and wife chef team are at work—slicing Arctic char, plating oysters, and explaining where each fish was sourced and inspirations behind less traditional food pairings. The eight courses, including an eight piece nigiri selection, are exceptional, and the chef talks you through the meal in a knowledgeable, unpretentious way. Without a single dud on the menu and an atmosphere that’ll make you feel like you’ve been invited to a very exclusive, very delicious dinner party, this is hands down one of the best sushi experiences in London.” - RS


“I have two main fears: that seagulls will one day unionise for world domination and food halls. Only time will tell if my future contains a legion of organised sky shriekers but thanks to Sessions, I have opened my heart and my stomach to the modern food hall. This laid-back all-day spot on Upper Street puts quality food and jolly table service above any Live Laugh Love Your Overpriced Mojito silliness. It’s a cool and casual space with the odd pop of neon. The current kitchen line-up includes modern caff Norman’s glistening pickle-loaded burger, supersized garlic and coconut prawns from Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, Tiger and Rabbit’s lime-surprise kimchi and ssamjang aioli rice medleys, and a one-way ticket back to summer courtesy of Big Has’ minty watermelon salad. Grab some mates, grab a pint, and bed in for an exciting cuisine world tour all from the comfort of a tall stool by the open front windows.” - HLB


photo credit: Sam A Harris

Cadet review image
8.3

Cadet

“There’s much to be said about London’s eroding nightlife and, let me be clear, I’m not about to claim that a wine bar in Newington Green is the second coming of Plastic People. But I will say that having somewhere to drink pinot noir and lazily fork meaty slices of pâté en croûte at 10pm on a Sunday night is something that London could do with a lot more of. Cadet is a happy union of two of London’s finest wine buyers in Tom Beattie and Francis Roberts, an ex St. John chef in Jamie Smart, and a charcuterie wizard in George Jephson. Combined they’ve turned what was once one of London’s most aesthetically pleasing chicken shops (RIP Chicken Express) into a breezy, communal corridor full of good people, good food, and good wine. I was loath to leave after three hours (six plates sampled along with many varieties of grape) and I predict locals from N16 and all over will be making a night out of Cadet on a regular basis.” - JM


“I will go anywhere if there are enough cushions present and once again, the lazy person’s school of thought has led me to greatness—and a nkatekwan which was all the evidence I need that groundnut soups are superior to any other formats of blended foods. I ordered everything on the menu at Tatale, a chilled but decidedly cool pan-African restaurant in Southwark, and there was not a single dud. The ackee croquettes are a panko masterclass, the black eyed bean stew is a proper zinger complete with a whole plantain, and you’re about as likely to share the rich but refreshing black eyed bean hummus as you are the remaining plug point in a Costa Coffee. The mood is drama-free family meal and it’s perfect for rounding up a group of mates, getting a round of Star beers in, and ordering the chin chin cheesecake to apologise for hogging the chichinga buttermilk fried chicken wings. Also, love the cushions.” - HLB


“The Tamil Prince calls itself a pub but make no mistake, it’s so much more than a pub. Despite only being open for just over a month, the smart Islington spot already has that buzzy atmosphere of a worn-in neighbourhood watering hole. But the big window at the back, looking into the kitchen, and tables laid with cutlery signal that this is very much a pub that leans restaurant. And the fact that it was opened by ex-Roti King people and serves excellent southern Indian food means that’s very much a good thing. Hoover up crunchy, thick-battered okra fries with a hint of heat and marvel at the huge, succulent tiger prawns fresh from a grilling. As The Emotions play over the speaker, watch as puffed, saucer-like bhatura travels towards your table, ready to be deflated, ripped into, and used to scoop mouthful after mouthful of warming chickpea curry. Long live The Tamil Prince.” - Daisy Meager, Senior Editor


“Zephyr is the restaurant that made me fall in love with beef tomatoes. The things this Greek-inspired restaurant (by the Pachamama group) can do with vegetables is impressive. From a tomato salad with a refreshing dressing that made me seriously consider slurping it from the bowl, to a tzatziki that’ll coerce you into ordering one, then two, more pitta baskets. There's a menu of familiar mezze dips, tender wild sea bass drowning in amarillo butter, and the kind of baked butter beans you’ll want to save for a winter night. The front window that opens up on to Portobello Road, the bright artwork on the walls, and the basket of pineapples at the bar all make this feel like you’re far away from Notting Hill. There’s a real holiday feel to the place and the fact that there’s a bar downstairs is just the cherry on top.” - RS


Layang Layang is permanently closed

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

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Layang Layang

“A sign of a great restaurant, bar the food tasting good enough that you’d want to go back, is when it feels like it’s always been there—even when it only opened a month ago. And Layang Layang has that special quality. This homely Malaysian spot on Notting Hill’s Pembridge Road is inviting and bright, with an upstairs dining room flooded with natural light from every angle, and a menu of Malay classics like buttery, layered roti canai with a creamy chicken curry. It’s as excellent as a stand-alone dish as it is alongside the beef rendang nasi lemak. Not to mention the chicken curry puffs that have earned a place on our list of go-to snacks in the area. A friendly spot serving top versions of traditional dishes—a very welcome addition to west London, that already feels like a neighbourhood favourite.” - RS


“Modern Malaysian restaurant Mambow is located in Peckham food hall, Market Stalls, past the pop-ups selling boujie candles and tucked right at the back of the row of food outlets. Find a spot to perch at one of the high chairs by Mambow’s open kitchen (recommended) or nearby at a handful of tall tables (note it’s a communal dining space for all the traders). Everything here is brilliant. My fork danced and twirled between small plates like sharp pickles and spicy kerabu glass noodles, and my spoon scooped up creamy gulai nangka (jackfruit curry) and earthy, sour ikan assam pedas (fish curry). Lor bak, a salty pork and prawn roll encased in deep-fried bean curd skin, was double-dipped in sweet chilli jam. Come here with three people so you can order the whole menu of around seven small plates. But if you’re a very hungry pair, speaking from experience, you can get everything too. When the weather’s nice, snag a spot at the long tables just outside.” - DM


"Given the number of times my tealight-associated attempts at romance have ended in trying to find a seductive way to hold a fire extinguisher, the words ‘fire cult’ make me very nervous. But rest assured, Acme Fire Cult in Dalston is not only a very relaxed place to be, it’s also serving cheeky cheesed-up Marmite flatbreads and a fantastic Dorset crab sourdough situation which doubles down on rich flavours with added bone marrow. As you might have guessed from the name, this place is all about cooking things with fire. Think hefty slabs of meat alongside a zinger mojo rojo and whole fish grilled on the big barbecue on the terrace. But in a plot twist no one saw coming, their real talent is giving vegetables sex appeal. The smoked potatoes come with a smooth, smoky tahini mayo and the fermented squash hummus is a macadamia-sponsored crunch party. Be sure to book a table out on the heated terrace for big summer energy and in my humble opinion, a negroni is mandatory if the sun makes an appearance." - HLB


"On the mezzanine level of the bustling and somewhat overwhelming mania of Arcade Food Hall is Plaza Khao Gaeng. There’s officious light, lurid plastic tablecloths and a cocktail so neon, so pumped full of energy drink, you might well suggest sprinting home from Tottenham Court Road. That’s what I was thinking. At least, it was until the food came and I realised I needed to stay put and eat much, much more. The first plate was one of many favourites. Miang Phuket, a starter of coconut and chestnuts mixed with palm sugar would’ve been Wonka-ish if it wasn’t for the unforgiving slaps of bird’s eye chilli, ginger and lime through out. You pile the mixture into Miang (Thai spinach leaves) before popping it into your gob. No polite bite. No dabbing with your napkin. No blinking, because you don’t want to miss any plates of excitement here." - JM


"The truth is no one really expects greatness from a chain. Decent pastas? Sure. A recognisable menu item? You got it. Something to get excited about? Rarely. Except at this Italian spot on Hans Road. Owned by the San Carlo restaurant group and located directly by Harrods, Cicchetti has several things to get excited about. From the jazzed-up dining room that makes you feel like you’ve escaped Brompton Road and somehow landed in Venice, to the daydream-worthy truffle and pecorino ravioli, it’s more than worth your time. The food here is actually really great. The gorgonzola gnocchi, which arrives in a “baked parmesan basket”, is creamy and a real winner. As is the melanzane parmigiana—a rich tomato sauce with layers of tender aubergine and mozzarella. So the next time you’re in Knightsbridge, or even if you aren’t, this is a spot that should be on your radar." - RS


"Food halls are a great idea in theory. Big spaces, vast options, walk-ins welcome. But the reality tends to involve weeping into a stodgy taco whilst being elbowed off of a table by a tourist and shouting "I’M BY THE CHURRO STAND, NO THE OTHER ONE" into your phone. Not anymore, not at Arcade Food Hall. This is a big glossy space on New Oxford Street from the people behind Bao, Gymkhana, and Flor, where the food comes first. Home to everything from saucy little Nepalese momos to hefty Margot Henderson sandwiches, it’ll work just as well for a cool Tom Yam mojito-fuelled date night as it will for an emergency round of Flor’s brown butter cakes on a dreary Thursday afternoon. You’re definitely going to want to get involved in North Indian pao buns from the Hero stall and the deeply satisfying sate marrangi from Indonesian street food spot, Bebek! Bebek!. Oh and the best part is, you can make a booking so there’s no last-minute stress if you’re rolling with a group." - HLB


"Contented, melancholic sighs, and words like 'charming' and 'negroni' are bound to come out of your mouth once you walk away from the bobbing little treat that is Caravel, a bistro-feeling boat-cum-restaurant in Islington. Few restaurants in London have the ability to bewitch and seduce as this candlelit narrowboat serving duck croquettes alongside jelly and cream already does. If you're looking for a little magic—then this is your place. What's more is that it doesn't cost an arm and a leg, which is both brilliant and a little bizarre given, well, London, and this extends from the delicious and fairly priced food to the streamlined wine list. A good vibe all round." - JM


"I’m not going to lie, I approached The George with trepidation. There was the whole posh pub thing. Scottish langoustine scampi and chips for £35? My granddad would keel over at the thought. And then there was the location thing. It’s on Great Portland Street which, for me, is a little too in the mix. As is often the case, my internal anxieties were just that. This is a delicious and decadent take on a pub. The downstairs bar is Fitzrovia’s usual mix of slurring suits and those trying to ignore the slurring suits, while the upstairs dining room is a hideout for anyone looking to part ways with a stupendous amount of cash for scampi, steak, sausages and mash, and the like. All of it is perfectly debaucherous. The room gives off an upper class of the Titanic energy while the staff, who are friendly rather than fawning, will very much encourage you to eat foie gras. Indulgent? Yes. Silly? Certainly. The knickerbocker glory for dessert? Without doubt." - JM


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Ramo's Turkish Kitchen

“Walking into Ramo’s on a Friday night, looking around and seeing the big dining room rammed with loud groups with towers of grilled meats in front of them, you’d think this new Turkish restaurant on London Road had been around for years. Because despite the shiny new hanging lights and brand newness of it all, it somehow manages to have that lived in feel. The food is a mix of excellent and perfectly okay, but the grilled meats are what you’re here for. The mixed kebab, which comes with lamb shish, perfectly chargrilled chicken shish, and a skewer of meaty, buttery adana kofte that is up there with some of the best we’ve had, is what you want—sorry, need—to order. You’ll also want to get involved with the pide section of the menu, add an egg on top for 50p and get a couple for the table to share. And if you manage to find the stomach space after all that, or even if you don’t, make sure to end with a glass of fragrant Turkish tea.” - RS


"Considering the riches of Anatolian cuisine in London, I couldn’t help but feel a little put off when I sat down at Zahter—a shiny and slick new restaurant off Carnaby Street cooking the food of Istanbul—to see that a single palm-sized pide with yoghurt would cost a fiver. £5? I’m used to my bread being low on price and plentiful in Turkish restaurants. But equally, why should a few slices of sourdough and smoked butter be seen as standard at the same price? Restaurants like Mangal II have said the same thing when it comes to the price and preconceptions of Turkish food, and it’s something we should all consider when we start complaining about the cost of certain cuisines. Especially when the food is as good as it is at Zahter. The mezze, both hot and cold, is spectacular. Luscious muhammara, sweet with peppers and pomegranate, made for scooping up with their crisp and warm wood-fired pide. Give me bread and a bucket of this and I’m happy. But I’m even happier when crunchy, caramelised beef manti are involved. These aren’t the soft kind of dumpling. They’re crisp and fattily glued to the cast iron they sit on. Excellently snackable (and also very sausage roll-like). Best of all though is the kayseri yaglamasi. Layers of pita bread, spiced beef mince, garlic labneh and walnuts. Think of a pancake tower made of lahmacuns. It’s a real greedy guts creation that speaks to my ultimate form: happy, hungover and feeling gluttonous when I open the fridge. Ultimately, yes, Zahter does add up to an expensive restaurant. But that's because food this good is worth it." - JM


"Much like when you ask your parents who their favourite child is, I won’t tell you that I think the deep-dish Detroit-style pizza being served at this new Spitalfields restaurant might be my new favourite, instead I’ll tell you that I love all pizzas equally, while ranting on about how perfect these pizzas are. A single £4 slice of their 'Red Stripe' is enough to fill you up if you’re looking for a quick lunch—the dough is so chewy and so fluffy, with a layer of cheese and a river of rich marinara on top—but we're willing to bet you'll want a whole pie. Because when they’re the kind of cheese-covered, marinara-heavy, deep-dish pizzas that taste as good as they look, they’re bound to be everyone's favourite." - RS


"My entire job revolves around recommending restaurants but even I find it a ‘mare choosing somewhere that will cater to everyone. You’ve got your gluten-free folk, your vegans, your vegetarians, your spice lovers, your spice haters, beloved broke freelancers, and then that one mate who refuses to eat anything red due to some kind of traumatic childhood incident involving ketchup and an older sibling. But Lahpet is a Burmese restaurant that has countless options for all of the above and importantly, will serve everyone enough coconut and ginger to shock you all out of your urban blues. The £7 vegan yellow pea paratha was the perfect zesty little flatbread number and I almost asked the king prawns which workout regime got them so hench, but my absolute highlight was the coconut noodles. Rich, creamy, with an essential crispy wonton that served as the ultimate spoon. Lahpet gets that wanting no-brainer comfort is something everyone has in common." - HLB


"The distinction between those who enjoy and those who endure an evening in Shoreditch is undeniable. Whatever camp you fall in, Sohaila should be top of your list the next time you’re round here. The new Lebanese-influenced wine bar and restaurant is good for many reasons. First and foremost because it’s run by Fat Macy’s, a social enterprise that trains Londoners to help them move from hostels into their own homes, and second, because it’s the kind of inconspicuous, quietly lovely restaurant that isn’t particularly common in Shoreditch these days. The restaurant makes for an intimate dinner space ideal for sharing chewy flatbread with chilli butter-laden labneh and a bottle of something funky from their decently priced list. Everything's made for sharing, and the prices mean that you don't have to worry about being polite. The shish barak dumplings are a must." - JM


“When I went to Carousel I saw a large dog attempt to climb up onto its owner’s lap to get involved in their delightful little small plates. I understand that dog. I relate to that dog. I too am a sucker for polite little finger portions of fried chicken that have been bathed in honey and habanero. Carousel is home to a revolving line-up of impressive guest chefs from around the world with 7pm sittings at the bar, but they’ve also managed to create the perfect all-day neighbourhood wine bar with seasonal small plates. Think rich burrata with a refreshing dose of sage, mussels in a gluggable salty samphire broth, and a gloriously tender and nutty bavette. The wine list is packed full of interesting low-intervention options and they even manage to pull off that trendy meets comforting thing that makes it perfect for impressing people without looking like you’re really trying. Carousel is effortless, charming, and it’s officially entered my rotation of Wine Bars I Love To Sit In For Many, Many Hours. And it should be on yours too.” - HLB 


“The original Soho location of this Indo-Chinese restaurant has an almost cult-like following of lamb chop-yielding enthusiasts claiming that their chops are some of the best in London. And after visiting their newest location, this time in Covent Garden, I can confirm that they are indeed meaty, tender, and a cause I can 100% get behind. But that’s not all that’s impressive here, the menu, which is split into vegetarian, seafood, and meat dishes, is packed with exciting-sounding things that actually taste exciting too. Think deep fried spinach leaves covered in a sweet yoghurt, date and plum sauce, and pomegranate seeds. A refreshing vegetarian dish with the fun-factor of popping candy, Bombay chilli prawns that I wish I could supersize, and those perfectly charred lamb chops. With a combination of four people booths, high tables for two, and a downstairs room that could easily accommodate a large group, this is a spot that can be used for pretty much anything. Just as long as whoever you bring is ready to get down and dirty with a lamb chop.” - RS


"There many things to like about Balady’s second location on Leather Lane, not least the fact I find it markedly easier to get to than the kosher spot’s original location in Temple Fortune. Of course the best thing about it is their falafel: crisp and fresh out the fryer, it’s fluffy inside, steaming with green herbiness and spices, all of which cry out for the combination of fruity amba, punchy zhug and cooling tahini that lines their soft pitas. That will always be the #1 appeal, closely followed by their fantastic hand cut chips. Here though, at least for the time being, there’s another contender: the member of staff giving out free samples whilst trying to entice none-the-wiser lunch workers in by proudly, confidently and also nonchalantly proclaiming it “the best falafel in London”. A big statement we certainly have an opinion on. Is it true? Well, it’s a tight call. The only way to be sure is, of course, to eat some more." - JM


“Prior to becoming the Plimsoll, the pub on the corner of St Thomas’s and Plimsoll Roads was known as the Auld Triangle. It was a Finsbury Park boozer popular with Arsenal fans. A proper Irish drinking hole. Guinness was around the £3 mark and watching a game here usually involved several packets of Taytos. It was full of red shirts, red walls and red cheeks. I liked it a lot. But somehow when Four Legs (formerly of the Compton Arms’ kitchen) announced they’d bought the pub, I wasn’t worried. They had been a key part of a former Gooner drinking den that turned into a still pubbish pub serving excellent food, after all. And it’s the same with The Plimsoll. This is ostensibly a pub up front. Low-lit and loud and full of leaning hips with drinks in hand. The back is where Four Legs’ trademark floral car boot sale plates do their thing. A glorious pile of grated gouda and caesar sauce masquerading as a friseé salad. Deep-fried oysters and aioli on top of a corner-shop baguette. A chicken schnitzel topped with bhuna sauce and melted mozzarella with raita on the side. Everything tastes robust and gutsy and, moreover, fun. All things that make for an excellent menu and, incidentally, all traits you need to make an excellent pub. These guys are doing both.” - JM


“Though Rita’s has been knocking about London for going on a decade now there’s still something decidedly youthful about it. That said, Missy Flynn and Gabe Pryce’s take on American-influenced cuisine has grown up. The days of napkin-essential fried chicken and tequila-heavy frozen Ritas in Hackney may be gone, but they’ve created something different and better on Lexington Street, in the heart of Soho. That, or we’re all just getting old. Here it’s candlelight and Roy Davis Jr playing in the background, trademark punchy cocktails alongside cream cheese and chilli water-laden gildas. The room isn’t exactly big, nor is it particularly elaborate, but what it is is comfortable. Bowls of homely clams with sugared Idaho scones and a plate of still mooing bavette with creamed greens and crispy potatoes, all to the sound of James Murphy alongside a glass of Donati Lambrusco. It’s a dash of Americana that feels completely at home in London.” - JM


“Sachi is objectively cool. It’s in a cool five-storey Nordic Japanese building with white pillars at the entrance and more foliage inside than the Belgrave Square garden down the road. The servers are laid back but attentive, helpful, but not at all pushy. And the dining room feels like a well-kept secret with plenty of light wood, bamboo, dim lighting, and corner tables that’ll automatically ensure any date will go well. The coolest thing about this place, however, isn’t the atmosphere or the building. It’s the excellent food. Top quality nigiri, perfectly crunchy lobster tempura, and tasty sushi rolls. It’s somewhere I kind of wish I could keep to myself. But that wouldn’t be very cool of me, would it?” - RS


“If Planque had opened five years ago it would maybe, possibly, no, actually probably be the London restaurant to eat in right now. It ticks the boxes marked Hackney, funky wine list, and 2-3 small plates each that were all flavour of the month a few moons ago. Since that heyday, lots of people have got annoyed at having a nibble of this and a whiff of that for a large amount of money and have decided that perhaps the Toby Carvery approach to dining was the correct one all along. However, Planque is one of those beautiful, airy, minimalist, achingly hip, but undeniably excellent, restaurants that says otherwise. Its aesthetic is MKUltra meets Robyn music video. Its food is sort of French and sort of eccentric, so French. And its wine list is extensive and serious. So serious that one part of the restaurant and ‘wine drinker’s clubhouse’ is a glass wall into Planque’s hidden lair-cum-wine cellar. The kitchen is headed up by P. Franco alumnus Seb Myers and some of it is spectacular. Notably some luscious Jerusalem artichokes in egg yolk and a caramel tart covered in shavings of blue cheese. In a genre of restaurants that are often hard to like, Planque has all the elements that make me think it will be very easy to do so.” - JM


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