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Every Silly Little London Small Plates Restaurant, Ranked

All the best spots to siphon artisanal hand cream.
Every Silly Little London Small Plates Restaurant, Ranked image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Few words send shivers down the spine of a committed Threads user like ‘small sharing plates’. What was once dubbed a hipster fad by BTL Guardian comment regulars is now a firmly established and dominant style of restaurant eating in London. But of all the vaguely modern European-ish spots with a £15 giant tortellini on their menu, which is the best per forkful?

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

Modern European

Shoreditch

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerCatching Up With MatesLunchDate Night

It only feels right that a Hackney restaurant should hold top spot given that east London was incorrectly branded ground zero for this epidemic of sharing however many years ago. Brawn is the clear standout. Candles, stinky wine, collaborations with The Four Horsemen in New York, and £5 ramekins of nocellara olives. It’s perfect.

Aside from being one of London’s finest date night restaurants, Quality Wines gains lots of points for establishing the gilda as one of the aperitif snacks in the city. Those with a god-given need to manspread and an aversion to chintzy china might have a problem with this Farringdon wine bar, but it’s highly likely it wins them over. 

Any dinner at a restaurant with cafe in the name is bound to raise a couple of eyebrows, but Cafe Deco has proved itself to be a wonderful host for anyone and everyone. Most importantly, you can easily have a selfish three-course meal at this chic British spot in Bloomsbury—and there always seems to be one pudding with custard.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

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Getting a booking at Sessions is one of the toughest reservations around and that’s just one reason some people will be put off. Glamorous, sceney, and very likely to rack up an enormous bill—this Clerkenwell restaurant is the epitome of a love/hate silly little sharing plates spot.

Whether you come to Levan to escape the office for a Jenga-style stack of comté fries or for a glass of wine mid-afternoon, the Peckham restaurant is the easy holiday that every Londoner needs in their arsenal. Breathe in. Breathe out. You’re going to have a good time.

A pub? That serves small plates? Anything that’s liable to cause Rod Liddle to have a cardiac arrest is alright by us. The Finsbury Park local also makes one of the best cheeseburgers in town.

In the growing category of all-day-bakeries-cum-wine-bars-cum-small-plates-restaurants, Jolene was one of the first to do it properly. It holds a soft spot for dog-lovers, new parents, and pastry lovers alike and a visit to Newington Green never feels wasted here.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

This perfect open-door Clapton dinner party is a stalwart of the east London small plates scene. Extra points are gained here if you actually snag a stool at the kitchen island. Otherwise, do as everyone does: lean next to the wine racks, glug something funky, and look incredibly chic while you’re at it.

With its no-bookings policy and location under a railway arch in Bermondsey, there’s no doubt that 40 Maltby could have aspirations to be the most annoying restaurant in London. Instead, it’s one of the most gentle and lovely. Catch-ups over terrine, fritters, and at least two custard or swiss roll-type desserts are regular.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Imagine the grandeur of being able to say ‘actually I went to this wine bar in Fitzrovia and a chef visiting from Amsterdam handed me a dressed oyster’. That’s the power of Carousel, a warm but entirely cool rotating chef residency operation where the servers will convince you to try a new zesty orange wine and you’ll actually like it. 

A converted garage now serving chickpeas with feta is sure to raise the blood pressure of some. Primeur is a charmer by nature, though. Canonbury locals have been seduced by this spot for years and don’t be surprised to see older generations raise a negroni to all the squeaky brakes fixed on this hallowed ground.

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

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Boris Johnson was booed out of Morito and, really, that’s all you need to know. The Spanish-North African spot in Hackney is a stalwart of London’s dining scene for good reason.

Corridor-sized and full of cheese-grating cheekbones, Cadet is a Newington Green wine bar so European that the chippy two doors down feels out of place. The high chairs mean it’s not exactly a crowd-pleaser but for small plates aficionados, few do it better.

AND SOME HONOURABLE MENTIONS...

  • Polpo: London owes lots to the late Russell Norman for its love of small plates and Polpo still hits.

  • Forza Wine: A rooftop wine bar that also makes frozen cocktails? No wonder The Daily Mail says you can’t buy a house!

  • Elliot’s: The parmesan fritters are the stuff of legend and its London Fields location feels just right.

  • Cafe Cecilia: The fashionista’s east London venue of choice. Breakfast is the way to go.

  • Westerns Laundry: Another converted garage with natural wine. Gorgeous space.

  • Papi: Experimental small plates with a bouncing soundtrack. Potential to be London Fields heritage.

  • Leo’s: It’s like a The Talented Mr Ripley obsessive opened a restaurant. Party cosplay, part molto bene.

  • FKABAM: The Highbury party restaurant has been a small plates innovator since the off.

  • Bambi: Sharing plates, schnitzel, and roll-away tables so a DJ can play until 1am. It’s Hackney, baby!

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Suggested Reading

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The 18 Best Wine Bars In London

Casual spots for an excellent glass of wine.

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Where to eat a special lunch or dinner without paying sky-high prices.

Where To Eat When You’re Sick Of Being Told To Share 2-3 Plates Each image

Sometimes you just want your own plate of food.

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