Indoor dining returns on 17 May and, with it, an opportunity to fill our newly busy diaries with get-togethers with our nearest and dearest (did we mention that hugging is back too?) without looking at the weather forecast. For all the favourite haunts we’re racing to get back to, there are plenty of newcomers to discover too. From Anya Hindmarch’s old school ‘caff’ to Jason Atherton’s smart new spot at Harrods, these are the best new London restaurants to check out now.
It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for the NoMad London, which opens its doors at last on 25 May. Housed in the grand Grade II-listed surrounds of the former Bow Street Magistrates’ Court, it’s the first international outpost for the New York-based Sydell Group’s NoMad hotel brand, and its reputation precedes it. Where to try first? Side Hustle, the hotel’s ‘pub’ (of sorts) serving Mexican sharing plates and agave spirits? Or the majestic NoMad Restaurant and Bar with its wood burning grill, soaring ceilings and glass atrium? Some NoMad signatures have crossed the Atlantic including the stuffed chicken for two and the seafood tower, reinterpreted for a London audience.
NoMad London, 28 Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7AW
Wild food pioneers Imogen Davis and Ivan Tisdall-Downes of Native opened the hidden courtyard at Browns’ new Brook Street flagship in April, but it’s only now that fashionistas can get their peepers on the restaurant proper. And it is very special indeed. With interiors by Red Deer, it’s fully in keeping with Browns’ fashion-forward reputation and with Native’s sustainability credentials, featuring terrazzo tables upcycled from an old Browns display, glass and ceramics by next gen makers, and an exquisite Roman-style ‘unswept floor’ mosaic with motifs such as a squirrel, wild mushroom and even a Bottega bag. On the menu are fermented and foraged ingredients galore, but it never feels too worthy. Don’t miss the fillet o’ fish with cod cheek and seaweed tartare; burrata with miso bagna cauda; the sea buckthorn ice lolly with oat milk sorbet; or the elixir that is the Meadowsweet Sour.
Native at Browns, 39 Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 4JE
Jason Atherton’s latest offering sits jolly nicely on the lower ground floor of Harrods, in among the big-ticket timepieces, fine wines, and tempting luxury gifts. But first lunch. Harrods Social is a very ‘Knightsbridge’ take on Atherton’s Social Company formula, sourcing sparkling ingredients from around the British Isles and transforming them into the kind of haute comfort food we want to eat now. Consider Devon crab salad, Cumbrian cob chicken with black truffle mash, Yorkshire beetroot with burrata, and the irresistible allure of the house’s signature club sandwich with beef fillet and wasabi mayonnaise. Note: if you can’t find anything you fancy on the wine list, you can pop into the neighbouring wine department and pick a bottle there. The store has extended opening hours in the Dining Hall, meaning you can now dine there until 10.30pm from Thursday to Saturday.
Harrods Social, Harrods, Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7XL
London’s Italophiles are about to find out what Brightonian’s have known for some time: there’s nothing quite like a Negroni and plate of crab arancini at Cin Cin to transport one in an instant to a summer’s day in la bel paese. Cin Cin on Foley Street in Fitzrovia, opening May 18, is the third site for Cin Cin, which started life as a street food stall in a 1972 Fiat and has gone on to win a Michelin Bib Gourmand (connoting good food and good value). Judging by the opening menu, Cin Cin will differentiate itself in a crowded market with characterful cooking in the form of garlic and lardo flatbread, handmade farfalle with mortadella, peas and Tropea onions, and date ice cream affogato with Tosolini liqueur. In common with the Brighton original, Cin Cin is piccolo – just 20 seats and a small south-facing terrace.
Cin Cin, 21a Foley Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 6DS
Michelin-star-winning chef Cyril Lignac is a celebrity in his native France thanks to his regular spot on TV’s Le Meilleur Pâtissier (basically, le great French bake off). Building on the success of his chic Saint Germain restaurant of the same name, Bar des Prés in Mayfair which opens on May 22, is his first international venue. Lignac’s culinary style is described as ‘Franco East Asian’ which translates to the likes of scallops with caramelised miso, satay fillet steak, and his signature ‘galette craquette’ with curried crab and avocado. Pastry is a Lignac forte (he trained at Pierre Hermé) so his pain perdu, chocolate tart and mille-feuille ought to be incroyable. Perch at the counter with a Mayfair Sour and prepare for people-watching of the first order.
Bar des Prés, 16 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 4HW
The pan-Pacific pairing of Mexican and Japanese at Los Mochis in Notting Hill sounds so outré, one could be forgiven for thinking it was cooked up by a random cuisine generator. Read the menu, however, and it all starts to make the most mouthwatering sense: think miso black cod tacos with ume miso salsa and jalapeño; lettuce wraps with fried chicken with guacamole, and habanero gochujang; truffle salmon sashimi tostadas; and a churros ice cream ‘sando’ with your name on it. These are popular tastes, elevated by HNWIs – high-net-worth ingredients – and pairings of small batch agave spirits. The man behind it is restaurateur Markus Thesleff, fresh from Dubai, but best known in London and New York for legendary nightspot Pangaea. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Los Mochis, 2-4 Farmer Street, Notting Hill, London, W8 7SN
Sally Abé won a Michelin star and the ‘Gastropub Chef of the Year’ award at the Harwood Arms in Fulham, so brings some serious clout to her new post at the Conrad London St James in Westminster where she’ll be opening not one but four concepts this year. First up is Blue Boar Pub, a modern take on a classic London boozer, very much Abé territory. Here, she puts her spin on pub grub classics, from a scotch egg, done with roast coronation chicken and golden raisin chutney, to beer-battered Cornish cod and chips with ‘chip shop’ curry sauce, and a towering fallow deer burger with celeriac and bone marrow rémoulade and onion rings. Vegans can tuck in too: their options include London particular soup, mushroom ‘sausage’ roll with pickled walnut ketchup, and lentil shepherd’s pie with black garlic gravy. The crowning glory is the roast dinner from top supplier Lake District Farmers, served from noon to 6pm every Sunday.
Blue Boar Pub, 45 Tothill Street, Westminster, London, SW1H 9LQ
The east London museum previously known as the Geffrye reopens on 12 June as the Museum of the Home after a three-year, £18.1m renovation. Its new café, meanwhile, named after pioneering curator and educator Molly Harrison, has opened already in an old Victorian pub adjoining the grounds. Molly’s Café – part canteen, part bar and bistro – is from the team behind the Anchor and Hope and the Clarence Tavern, so is anything but the typical museum café. There’s not a stale scone or sorry sandwich in sight, just gutsy cooking and stellar seasonal produce. What sounds good? How about the merguez and chip baguette, the stem ginger meringues, the rabbit lasagne, the bonito and Russian salad or kedgeree? Certain to be as popular with locals as it is with museumgoers.
Molly’s Café, Museum of the Home, Geffrye Almshouses, 136 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8EA
Imad Alarnab was a successful restaurateur in Damascus before he was forced to flee Syria and start over. Now in his fifth year in the UK, after running supper clubs and pop-ups, Alarnab finally has a bricks-and-mortar spot in Kingly Court in Soho (the former home of Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express which should bode well). Opening on 19 May, Imad’s Syrian Kitchen showcases the seasonal cooking of Alarnab’s homeland such as stuffed artichokes, labneh with garlicky coriander and okra, and slow-cooked marinated lamb shoulder, in a warm and welcoming environment. To match the food are low intervention wines from across eastern Europe and the Levant. One pound from every bill goes to the Choose Love charity supporting refugees.
Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, Soho, London, W1B 5PW
If designer Anya Hindmarch’s ‘A Village’ on Pont Street represents the future of the high street, we’re sold. Hindmarch’s model village comprises five shops – her flagship, her ‘Plastic Shop’, her ‘Labelled Shop’, a ‘Village Hall’ (currently a pop-up hair salon), and, best of all, an all-day café. With design by Brady Williams and food by William Norris and Company, Anya Café draws on the twin traditions of the great British ‘caff’ and tearoom, with an 8am to 8pm menu majoring in cakes, biscuits and pastries. Details are scarce but we know they’ve commissioned bespoke cake moulds and we know the cake boxes feature the house’s iconic ‘Zany’ eyes, and that’s enough to have us racing to Belgravia to see for ourselves.
Anya Café, 9 Pont Street, Belgravia, London, SW1X 0AD