After a summer hiatus the London restaurant scene is back up and running, and there seems to be a new opening almost every day to try. It is exciting to see a range of different cuisines, vegetarian gems, speciality seafood eateries and new fine dining venues. Here’s my top restaurants to try across the capital this season.
Bubala – Following a series of successful supperclubs Bubala opened up its first permanent site in Spitalfields this year. The all-vegetarian Middle Eastern restaurant is wow-ing crowds with the addictively good plates and welcoming service. Don’t miss the the Laffa flatbread and the luxurious halloumi with black seed honey.
Vardo – A new concept from the Caravan team, Vardo is an all day dining venue on the King’s Road. The futuristic space immediately catches your attention, and continues to thrill with a diverse menu of internationally inspired dishes. I recommend visiting for breakfast when you can also try their great coffee and baked treats.
Legare – Tucked away in Tower Bridge, Legare is another pasta bolthole, ideal for warming you bones and filling your stomach in the freezing winter weather. The chef Matt Beardmore, worked at pasta mecca, Trullo is Islington, and brings this experience to the short menu at Legare. I was particularly fond of the Orecchiette with fennel sausage & cavolo nero ragu.
Norma – Charlotte Street is awash with great restaurants, and now Norma has joined the family. This cosy and sophisticated eatery comes from chef Ben Tish, and is an ode to the food of Sicily. The comforting menu showcases the best of the region from traditional pasta recipes to exceptional raw seafood, seasonal antipasti and cannoli for dessert, of course!
Seabird – I love the Hoxton Hotels and was overjoyed when the first South London branch opened earlier this year. The huge site has beautiful common areas, a new co-working space (coming soon), and wonderful restaurants. Seabird was created in partnership with Premiere Enterprises (from New York’s Maison Premiere), and is the found on the 14th floor, boasting epic skyline views of the city. The seafood inspired menu has a range of appetising dishes and is the proud home of London’s longest oyster list.
Officina 00 – Just when I thought there were enough great homemade pasta places on the London restaurant food scene another opens and steals my heart. Officina 00 is thriving in Old Street, kneading and shaping all the pasta in full view of the diners, it is an atmospheric experience. The rich and flavoursome pasta dishes cost between £8-12 and showcase the chef’s wide pasta repertoire. I enjoyed Pumpkin gnocchi with smoked ricotta and Occhi filled with braised pork Genovese.
Folie – A newbie to Soho, this stylish restaurant promises a taste of the Riviera. I was happy to see Provence staples like panisse (essentially chickpea chips) on the menu, and remember the desserts being brilliantly moreish and refined. The perfect place for a glamorous weekday lunch in central London.
Forza Wine – The long-awaited Forza Wine finally opened this Autumn, perched on top of the newly transformed Bussey Building in Peckham. It is the sibling to the wonderful pasta haven Forza Win round the corner, but this venue very much has it’s own personality and menu. The concise menu changes regularly, with bold punchy ingredients taking centre stage. As the name suggests, wine is a major part of the offering here, and the drinks list is both interesting and reasonable.
Comptoir de Robuchon – Joel Robuchon’s death last year was one of the food world’s greatest losses… his restaurants (in London and further afield) have always delighted me, and I couldn’t be happier that a new Robuchon has opened in town. The grand but relaxed eatery is found in Green Park / Mayfair with a delectable deli by the same brand next door. The menu is long and everything is delicious and inventive while still staying true to the great chef’s classic dishes. Don’t miss the legendary mashed potato and the lamb chops.
Paradise – A new Sri Lankan restaurant has taken over the former-Spuntino site, bringing vibrant flavours and plenty of spice to Soho. The small plates menu is split into sections, I recommend trying one or two from each, I particularly loved the Mutton Shoulder Rolls and the homemade soft drinks.