After a hot summer of BBQs in the garden and weekends away, now is the time to catch up with friends and make the most of London’s best new restaurants. There are quite a few that have surprised and excited me, from pasta place relocations to fine dining openings, neighbourhood wine bars to Middle Eastern meccas. Here’s my highlights…
One of my favourite South London restaurants has recently found a new home in Camberwell, while their little sister Forza Win has been going from strength to strength on a Peckham rooftop. At this new eatery you can expect the same comforting pasta dishes, flavoursome small plates and, most importantly, the iconic Custardo is back (a heavenly combination of espresso and creme anglaise custard).
Alex Dilling has been on my radar since I witnessed his culinary finesse under Hélène Darroze at The Connaught. Then last year I was lucky to try his food again at his restaurant in Malta. His long-awaited London restaurant has opened in the beautiful Hotel Cafe Royal with various luxurious tasting menus to choose from. His signature French style suits this grand hotel perfectly and every bite was sublime.
Brixton is already full to the brim with great little places to eat and drink, but put Bottle + Rye to the top of your list. The newest outpost from brilliant chef Robin Gill and his wife Sarah is located in the heart of Brixton Village, a Parisian style wine bar with wonderful accompanying food. Don’t miss the anchovies on toast.
Cadet is a new wine bar and shop from wine importers Beattie and Roberts and charcutier George Jephson. The stylish little Stoke Newington bar opened over the summer and is already thrilling locals, and visitors from further afield. There are no bookings so you just have to turn up and keep your fingers crossed. The wine list is interesting and delicious and there is a blackboard of snacks (particularly good charcuterie) to accompany your drink.
Bubala Spitalfields was my go-to recommendation for vegetarians wanting to eat exceptionally well in London. But with such a small space it was tricky to get a table… the team have recently opened a second site in Soho, serving all the same Middle Eastern classics (silky smooth baba ganoush, the freshest falafel and honey-oozing halloumi) and more. Everything is irresistable for vegetarians and non-vegetarians!
Finally London is getting good at Mexican food… After working in some of the world’s best restaurants chef Adriana Cavita has opened her signature eatery in Marylebone. The colourful restaurant celebrates food from all regions of Mexico, and also has a great cocktail list. Order a signature margarita and a variety of the vibrant small dishes.
I first tried Miznon (by Chef Eyal Shani) in Tel Aviv where the buttery whole roasted cauliflower is renowned. The company have more recently opened across some of the world’s most prominent foodie cities, and have just taken up a home in London’s Soho. It’s a casual affair, perfect for a quick weekday lunch… the cauliflower features on the menu alongside stuffed pittas, dips (the hummus is a must) salads and juices.
North London seems to get all the best pubs, cue The Baring. This new neighbourhood pub in Islington serves simple and sustainable delicious food that makes you smile. It was set up by experienced duo Rob Tecwyn (former head chef of Dabbous) and General Manager Adam Symonds. Highlights for me included the Quail shish, pul biber chilli & garlic yoghurt and the Warm almond financier with cherries and whipped cream for dessert.
Another Robin Gill opening, Maria G’s is a new Italian restaurant in West London, with a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients. The dining room is found within an unlikely building (a new housing development) but the food makes the trip worth it. The short menu is expertly curated by chef Aaron Potter, I loved the La Latteria stacciatella served with stonefruit, soft herbs, and olive oil; and slices of succulent lamb rump with goat curd, chilli, and mint. Save space for the soft serve ice-cream with olive oil.
Named after the Greek god of the West wind – a soft gentle breeze – zēphyr offers a casual dining affair inspired by Grecian culture with an atmospheric late-night bar. Perfectly placed in the heart of Portobello, it is from the same family of eateries as Pachamama and Chicama, but in my opinion is the best of the three. Everything we tried was super tasty, but the Greek salad is a must. Zephyr has changed my opinion on Greek food.