London has had scores of top restaurants open in the last 12 months. Not least the new branches of existing franchises: Hawksmoor’s new gaff round the back of Borough Market, Blacklock’s follow-up chop house in the City, Margot Henderson’s second Rochelle Canteen on The Mall, and Smoking Goat’s hot new outpost in Shoreditch.
Looking over recent expansions such as these for the moment – with the exception of one or two doing something notably different to their sister joints – here are fifteen restaurants which came and conquered Londoner’s hearts, minds, and stomachs this year. So, how many have you been to?
XU – Food as delicate and beautiful as this is almost unheard of outside the circles of fine dining. But here it is, served up in a vintage Taipei tea room-inspired restaurant tucked away in Soho.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele – The so-called best pizza in the world landed straight from Naples, in Stoke Newington of all places. Londoners quickly realised the true allure of these queue-worthy pizzas, in their soft, voluptuous, and minimalist Neapolitan form.
Farang – Unapologetically inauthentic Thai cuisine is one way to describe Farang, who capitalised on their pop-up success to open up a restaurant in Highbury.
Santo Remedio – Many a prayer was answered when Natalie and Edson Diaz-Fuentes announced they’d be resurrecting their neighbourhood restaurant which unexpectedly closed last year. In the summer, they made their move from Shoreditch to south of the river in Bermondsey.
Coal Rooms – Grilled, smoky, umami-rich fare served in a former train station ticket office in Peckham? You bet.
Radici – Francesco Mazzei’s knack for brilliant Italian fare is well known among Londoners. But at an affordable price point? Not so much. This, you’ll be pleased to know, is where Radici comes in.
Monty’s Deli – It’s a simple thing, the Reuben, but Mark Ogus and Owen Barratt have emphatically taken salt beef, pastrami, pickles and mustard sandwiched between two bits of rye bread to impressive heights in Shoreditch.
Darjeeling Express – In the short time since its opening, it seems Darjeeling Express has managed to redefine what we expect from homely Indian food. Maybe not so surprising when the kitchen’s staffed not by Michelin star chefs but ‘Indian housewives.’
Claude Bosi at Bibendum – Technically not a new opening (more of a subbing-in of a highly reputable head chef), but it sure feels like one. Bosi has bought serious pedigree to le Bib, and early signs suggest maybe another star next year, too.
CORE – Clare Smyth’s first restaurant was also London’s most anticipated in recent memory. The hype is, as they say, real.
Serge et le Phoque – It’s not every day a hotel gets a show-stopping restaurant pleasing the critics, but that’s certainly the story over at the Mandrake.
Temper City – Neil Rankin builds on the success of his first Temper, which opened in Soho last year. This second iteration in the Square Mile might share the name, but feels different enough to be refreshing, with more of an emphasis on spice-forward curries in lieu of tacos.
Ella Canta – Mexican cuisine was all the rage at the end of last year, but that was before bona fide Mexican Marta Ortiz finally burst into picture, with some of Mexico’s best molés, chilies, and tequila in tow.
Bleecker – London’s best burger peddlers Bleecker made their restaurant debut at the beginning of this year, bringing their aged beef burgers and angry fries to the people of Victoria.
Also worthy of mention: Lupins, Henrietta, Smoke & Salt, The Oystermen, CHIK’N, Magpie, Jean-Georges at the Connaught, Lorne, Ichibuns, The Coal Shed, Pastaio, Sparrow, Mere, Tamarind Kitchen, Duck and Waffle Local, Palatino, and Le Dame de Pic.