Slowly but surely, some semblance of normality is returning to the London dining scene. It’s been a brutal year but with the new season comes fresh hope and renewed vigour. Looking ahead at the crop of promising new openings arriving this autumn, it’s very clear that the capital’s reputation for creativity and resilience is undiminished. Here’s our pick of the best new restaurants in town to book now.
Louie has arrived, sashaying into town with all the swagger of the three cities that have inspired it – New Orleans, New York, Paris. It’s just the pick-me-up London needs, a glamorous new address brought to life by Guillaume Glipa (late of Annabel’s) and the Paris Society group. With a soundscape curated by Malik Alary (Hotel Costes) and waiting staff outfitted by Monsieur Dandy, Racil, Louie blurs the lines between movie set and restaurant.
Get ready for late nights, live jazz, Voodoo cocktails and all the flavours of the Big Easy interpreted by American chef Slade Rushing whose signatures are oysters Rockefeller, BBQ lobster and banana foster rum baba.
13-15 West Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2
Take your favourite neighbourhood bistro, transplant it to central London, and you might come up with something like Rondo, the new restaurant and wine bar at the Hoxton, Holborn. A collaboration between the hip hotel group and Quality Chop House’s Will Lander, Rondo gives food and wine equal billing, with exciting wines from oft-overlooked regions and idiosyncratic winemakers a match for some seriously punchy cooking from chef Chris Gillard.
His St John training comes through loud and clear in crispy pig’s cheek salad with roast shallots and watercress, squid braised in red wine or rabbit and bacon pie for two.
199-206 High Holborn, Holborn, London, WC1
Sollip in Bermondsey, from the Korean word for pine needle, is the debut restaurant of husband-and-wife team Woongchul Park and Bomee Ki. The pair, whose combined C.V. includes the Ledbury, Koffmann’s and the Arts Club, bring to bear their classical French training, on a contemporary menu that’s rich in Korean accents.
The opening menu reads like no other: consider fermented soy bean and aged Cheddar gougères; cassoulet with pork belly and kimchi; and fig leaf crème brûlée with Jeju buckwheat and Bishop’s Stortford honey. Completing the picture are handmade ceramics from Korea and serious wines courtesy of Noble Rot co-founders Keeling Andrew & Co.
8 Melior Street, Bermondsey, SE1
The spotlight is on West African ingredients and traditions at Akoko in Fitzrovia where rising star William JM Chilila (of MasterChef: The Professionals) takes the stove. BBQ quail yassa, smoked goat with jollof rice, pounded yam with native lobster egusi and burnt uda cream with Ghanaian cocoa butter showcase his contemporary style, set off by bespoke ceramics inspired by African mid-century pottery and artworks by British-Nigerian sculptor Niyi Olagunju.
Choose between the £30 four-course lunch and, the full experience, Chilila’s £50 six-course tasting menu, vegan or otherwise, with wines by sustainable wine consultancy Spencer & Smelskaya.
Opening October 8
21 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1
For gourmet travel without the air miles – and the quarantine – look no further than tiny Osea Island off the Essex Coast, the new home of pioneering London wild food restaurant Native. Accessible by boat or an old Roman causeway, Native at Osea (housed in a World War I torpedo store) will open from Thursdays to Sundays only, serving £75 tasting menus inspired by the surrounding ecosystem. An oyster shed in partnership with Nyetimber will run alongside.
Meadowsweet sours, Negronis with Osea Island vermouth, smoked Blackwater oysters and line-caught bass await, just one hour from London.
Opening October 22
Osea Island, Mersea, Essex, CM9
Following the success of its first restaurant in Mayfair, Taka is opening a second, this time on the former Providores site in Marylebone. The guiding principle behind Taka’s small plates menu is ‘British produce, Japanese execution’, as demonstrated by chicken wings stuffed with truffle and King Edward potato, scallop ‘open maki’ with kimchi and yuzu tobiko, and the unique nose-to-tail experience that is the ‘yakitori omakase’, a 100-day Lincolnshire chicken, broken down and grilled over the coals.
The stylish restaurant will be staking a claim as London’s most ‘grammable’ brunch spot with its fluffy waffles with chicken karaage and perfect geometric miso-glazed wagyu sando.
Opening September 24
109 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone, London, W1
Chef, restaurateur and tour de force Asma Khan (pictured above), the first British chef to feature on Netflix’s Chef’s Table, settles her groundbreaking Indian restaurant Darjeeling Express into its Grade II-listed new home in Covent Garden next month.
Khan, who ran a successful supper club for five years before opening with an all-female kitchen brigade in Soho in 2017, will by day offer a ‘Railway Menu’ inspired by her travels through India – think chilli cheese toasties, kati rolls and samosa chaat – and eight-course tasting menus by night. Book ahead for her signature ‘Biryani’, ‘Calcutta to Darjeeling’ and vegeterian ‘Phulwari’ menus, from £55 to £95.
Opening mid October
2a Garrick Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2
Bon chic, bon genre newcomer Maison François, opening September 14 in St James’s, draws inspiration from the grand brasseries of Paris, Lyon and Alsace. The all-day menu starts the day with bread and viennoiserie baked in house, moving into French classics such as jambon et céleri rémoulade, poulet rôti et frites, ratatouille with pistou as the day progresses. Be sure to summon the dessert trolley for fruit tart, Paris-Brest or slice of gâteau marjolaine.
For a dressed down rendezvous, head downstairs to Frank’s wine bar, the brasserie’s branché counterpart, for slices of rustic terrine, aged Comté, wine en magnum and sherry direct from the cask.
Opening September 14
34 Duke Street, St James’s, London, SW1
Noble Rot Soho
The stars have aligned for the opening of Noble Rot Soho, the second outpost of the much loved Lamb’s Conduit Street original. A new London institution in the making, it boasts an historic setting – the old Gay Hussar on Greek Street, onetime haunt of scheming left-wing politicians – and a magnificent wine list featuring such stellar names as Jacques Selosse, Emidio Pepe and Lynch-Bages.
In the kitchen, new signing Alex Jackson, latterly of the late, lamented Sardine, who will pay tribute to the site’s past with retro dishes of cabbage stuffed with game and sour cream and eggs Casino alongside roast chicken for two with morels and Vin Jaune.
2 Greek Street, Soho, London, W1
The wait is finally over for Kol, Mexican chef Santiago Lastra’s long overdue solo project, which open its doors in Marylebone on October 20th. Lastra, whose career has taken him to kitchens in over 25 countries, has been ‘one to watch’ since his successful stewardship of René Redzepi’s Noma Mexico pop-up in 2017.
Now based in London, Lastra offers his interpretation of modern Mexican, based on best-of-British ingredients combined with the spices, chocolate and heirloom corn of his home country. Dishes on the £55 five-course and £70 six-course menus might include langoustine tacos with sea buckthorn, lamb leg tostada cured in gooseberries and tamal with corn husk ice cream. A standalone mezcaleria will open later this year.
Opening October 20
9 Seymour Street, Marylebone, London W1