This undated photo shows chorizo tortilla at Sabor. (RICHARD VINES / BLOOMBERG)
There are so many new restaurants in London, it’s hard to know where to go. The city is home to countless places to eat and dozens of cuisines. But which to choose? We asked leading chefs and restaurateurs, including Gordon Ramsay, Daniel Boulud, Danny Meyer and Yotam Ottolenghi, about their favorites that have opened over the past couple of years—and their favorite dishes, too.
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Here are their picks.
Chef Quique Dacosta’s first London restaurant is a hit with fellow Spaniard, Nieves Barragan of Sabor. She loves the care and respect with which he prepares rice dishes, cooking over several different types of wood for just the right flavors. “It is new to London to have someone making paella in the proper way. I don’t even try in my restaurant because I don’t have the equipment. He is a very good chef.” Her favorite dish is the traditional Paella Valenciana, made with rabbit, chicken and garrafo beans.
This casual restaurant features long counters where you can sit and watch the chefs preparing pasta dishes from across the 21 regions of Italy. Bancone was an immediate hit and is popular with chefs, including Karam Sethi of Brigadiers. The head chef is Louis Korovilas, an alumnus of the smart Locanda Locatelli. “It’s the best pasta in the West End,” Sethi says. “It’s reasonably priced and it is just a knockout neighborhood Italian. The Locatelli pedigree of the chef is very much evident.” Favorite dish? Silk Handkerchiefs, walnut butter and confit egg yolk.
This casual Iranian restaurant in Soho is based on the cafes of Tehran. It’s owned by JKS Restaurants, the group behind Brigadiers, Gymkhana and some of the other most successful establishments in London. “It’s brilliant,” says Sat Bains of Restaurant Sat Bains. “I love the buzzy atmosphere and for me, sitting up at the bar and watching the rotating shawarma and fresh flatbreads being prepared is just heavenly. Make sure to order their Baklava Ice-Cream Sandwich and the Chenjeh Kabab.”
Bob Bob Cite
Bob Bob Cite is one of the most glamorous restaurants in the whole of London, occupying a floor of the Cheesegrater. Chef Eric Chavot uses the best ingredients to serve French comfort food that looks as good as it tastes. Italian chef Francesco Mazzei of Radici is a fan. “It’s a beautiful modern setting but the food is down to earth. Eric’s simplicity has a kind of sophistication. It is really difficult to make simple food, and he makes me happy.” Favorite dish? “The French Onion Soup. It is amazing. I would come back just for that.”
Tomos Parry cooks over fire at this Michelin-starred Shoreditch restaurant with Basque influences. New York restaurateur Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group says: “I have raved and raved about Brat. Loved everything I ate. The wood-grilled cooking is brilliant in every way, and the dining room strikes just the right balance of going out and coming home.” Best dish: Whole Turbot.
Chef Daniel Humm, of New York’s Eleven Madison Park, is another fan. “I love the vibe of the restaurant,” he says. “The service and the wine list are great, too. I've pretty much made it a required visit for any one of our team when they are in London. I hope they don't get sick of us.”
This Indian restaurant in the financial district focuses on different methods of Indian barbecue, while also offering a wide range of drinks in the bars. There are TV screens for sports, and there’s even a pool table. Chef Andrew Wong’s restaurant Kym’s is nearby and he is a regular at Brigadiers. “It’s lively there without being too boisterous and the food is really good,” he says. “It’s the kind of food I like to eat when I am drinking.” His favorite dishes include a snack of Lotus Root and Puff Chaat.
Core by Clare Smyth
Clare Smyth spent 13 years with Gordon Ramsay, where she was the custodian of his three Michelin stars. She has two stars of her own for Core, which opened in Notting Hill in 2017. Ramsay and his wife Tana are both impressed. “I have to say my favorite new restaurant has to be Core by Clare Smyth,” he says. “All the dishes are exquisite but the Potato and Roe, in particular, was mine and Tana’s favourite.”
Other fans include Mark Birchall, whose Moor Hall, in northern England topped the UK Top 100 in June. “It’s so great to see a high-quality new restaurant doing something special in London,” Birchall says. “The service is top notch, too.” Other chef fans include London-based Ben Murphy of Launceston Place and Anna Haugh of Myrtle.
Dublin-born chef Robin Gill is popular with the London food crowd, which may explain (in part) the haul off to Vauxhall, near the new U.S. embassy, to visit his latest restaurant. Darby’s is an oyster bar, bakery and grill. Gill says his aim was to create a quintessential local restaurant. It works for Irish-born Anna Haugh of Myrtle. “With his old-school Guinness taps and super high ceilings creating such a relaxing and comfortable dining experience. I want to stay there all day.” She loves the Dooncastle oysters.
This French-owned Italian restaurant in East London is a riot of color, with exuberant designs and staff. Be prepared for a long wait to get a table. Chef Jason Atherton of Pollen Street Social is a fan: “I didn’t think I was cool enough for Shoreditch but Gloria is filled with all kinds of people, including families. The decor is absolutely stunning and the food is really good casual Italian. It feels like a special-occasion restaurant but it is affordable.” Favorite dish? La Gran Carbonara, served from inside a wheel of pecorino. Chef Paul Ainsworth of Paul Ainsworth at No. 6 is another fan. “I love it,” he says. “It’s totally bonkers but in the best possible way.”
Cypriot chef Selin Kiazim uses her classical training as a springboard in the creation of light and colorful Turkish dishes that are big on flavor at Kyseri. It’s the pick of British chef Pip Lacey of Hicce, who particularly enjoys a dish of Beef and Sour Cherry Manti, yoghurt sauce, tomato-chilli butter and pine nuts. “This dish seriously educated my palate,” she says. “I love new taste sensations. and this is a very clever restaurant, from the use of space through to the extraordinarily delicious flavor combinations on each plate.”
This Italian restaurant in Covent Garden is unusual in that it is owned by two maitre d’s—Paulo de Tarso and Nicolas Jaouën—rather than being being chef-led. It’s the pick of New York chef Daniel Boulud of Daniel. “Not only is the restaurant casual and elegant, but there is always the finest quintessential London host, Paulo De Tarso, there to greet you,” he says. His favorite dish is Ravioli al Granchio e Zafferano (crab ravioli with mascarpone, saffron sauce, cherry tomatoes and basil). “All the pastas are fantastic there,” he says.
This low-key and simple Xi’an noodle restaurant is a destination for food lovers, including chef Yotam Ottolenghi, known for his several restaurants including Rovi and for cookbooks such as Jerusalem. The chef is a woman, Wei Guirong, whose first London restaurant was Xi’an Impression. “I love Master Wei,” Ottolenghi says. “It’s the intensity of the flavors with all that chili and chili oil and Sichuan peppers. It’s the most remarkable, vibrant cuisine and I didn’t even know it before.” Favorite dish: Boneless Chicken in Ginger Sauce.
This low-key neighborhood restaurant on Newington Green is starting to gain attention from high-profile chefs for the quality of Ben Marks’s cooking. Phil Howard of Elystan Street, who held two Michelin stars at the Square, is among the fans. “Every now and then a chef comes along who really has something to say,” he says. “Ben manages to create consistently exciting food that is as stunning to look at as it is exceptional to eat.” He enjoys Organic Greens With Girolles, a herb sauce and goat’s curd. “He has a way with vegetables that is magical.”
Chef Nieves Barragan, who grew up in Bilbao, serves some of the best Spanish food in the UK “It’s one of my favorite places to eat in London,” says Tom Kerridge of the two-Michelin-stars Hand & Flowers. “It’s buzzy and full of incredibly enthusiastic great staff. The tortilla is the best in the whole of Europe.” Favorite dish: Chorizo Tortilla. “Sabor has got to be one of the best restaurants in the capital,” says chef Tom Brown of Cornerstone. “Nieves cooks from the heart, and that’s something I really admire.”
Chefs Jackson Boxer and Andrew Clarke cook over fire at this Hackney restaurant, whose bare tables and walls reflect their focus on simplicity. Dishes come with a minimal number of ingredients and few adornments. It’s the pick of James Knappett of the two-Michelin-star Kitchen Table. “They have a log-burning hearth where they cook everything from whole ducks to monkfish to spider crabs, and their wine list is really special,” he says, picking Diver Scallop, Curry Butter, Pistachio, Lime as his favorite dish.
The Sea, The Sea
This new Chelsea establishment is a fishmongers by day and a seafood and Champagne bar by night, led by Portuguese chef Leandro Carreira. It is a favorite of Brat’s Tomos Parry, himself one of the UK’s most respected young chefs. “I ate there the other night and I was blown away by the food,” he says. “It was the best meal I’ve had in a while. Everything was very fresh and exciting. It is very clever cooking. I particularly enjoyed the Aged Turbot Crudo With White Asparagus. It was delicious.”
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This south London establishment is an Italian-inspired cafe, bar, pizzeria restaurant from the folks behind the nearby Canton Arms gastropub. “We knew it was going to be good and it turned out even better then expected,” write Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co. “It’s the kind of neighborhood restaurant you dream about: Simple food cooked with care and attention, using top ingredients, the kind of food you can eat every day.” Favorite dish: Basil Pesto Pizza.
This new venue from Chinese-Portuguese chef couple Zijun Meng and Ana Goncalves started out as a street-food concept and is difficult to classify, but the focus is on katsu sandwiches. “It’s the most interesting place to open in the last couple of years,” says James Lowe of Lyle’s. “I love how they've evolved, the addition of the kitchen counter menu and their sandwich place makes them such an interesting crew and something that London really needs.” Favorite dish? The Iberico Pork Katsu Sandwich.
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