What a start to the season! London always comes into its own in the autumn and this year looks set to be no exception. After a tough 18 months and a wet summer, the city’s primed for a revival, as an unprecedented wave of spectacular restaurants, bars and hotels from celebrity chefs, international designers, and established restaurateurs hits the capital this month and next. The only problem is choosing where to book first. Here’s our guide to help you decide.
The Best New London Restaurants
Swapping his lab coat for chef’s whites, Chet Sharma went from a physics doctorate at Oxford to the development kitchens of Mugaritz, the Ledbury and Moor Hall. After three years in R&D with JKS Restaurants, the 33-year-old has gone in with them on his own place, Bibi, now open in Mayfair.
Taking its name from an Urdu word meaning ‘lady of the house’, Bibi is certain to be one of the year’s most captivating launches. Its small size – just 33 covers including the 13 at the counter – belies its big ambitions. Butter chicken you can get anywhere; here you’ll find best-in-class ingredients and laser-focused technique and such contemporary Indian creations as super-seasonal sweetcorn ‘Kurkure’ (whose spice mix alone comprises 23 ingredients), yoghurt meringues sandwiches with Chettinad chicken liver parfait and coconut blackberry chutney, and ceviche-style Orkney scallop ‘nimbu pani’. There’s a chef’s selection menu at £35 for lunch, £55 for dinner.
Bibi, 42 North Audley Street, Mayfair, W1
With Eurostar jaunts to Paris back on, we’ll be needing a good King’s Cross recommendation for our pre- and post-journey pick-me-ups. Welcome and bienvenue, then, to Booking Office 1869, the new all-day, late-night spot launching at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in October. Big names are involved, namely property developer Harry Handelsman (of Chiltern Firehouse fame), Allegra chef Patrick Powell, and French architect Hugo Toro whose interior design looks set to be nothing short of spectacular (eight-metre palm trees and pendant lights made of nearly 300 brass leaves aren’t even the half of it).
With Powell around, we know the food can match the statement-making design; look forward to slow-roasted, chermoula-spiced lamb shoulder for two, brioche donut with caramelised apple and burnt cinnamon cream, and Powell’s much lauded fried chicken (Fay Maschler’s a fan). To drink, make it a Clear Margarita from the 22-metre bar.
Booking Office 1869, Euston Road, King’s Cross, NW1
Had Swedish celebrity chef Niklas Ekstedt opened in London at the height of Scandimania, it would have been massive. As it is, the launch of his first restaurant outside Sweden at the Great Scotland Yard Hotel in Westminster, is merely huge. Ekstedt at the Yard, which opens on 17 September, will showcase Ekstedt’s way with wood-fired new Nordic cuisine that has won him a Michelin star in Scandinavia.
While the techniques will be Scandinavian, the ingredients will be mostly British. Dishes so far announced include Ekstedt’s signature oyster flambadou with smoked apple and beurre blanc nasturtium (a ‘flambadou’ is a medieval-looking cast iron cone used for cooking over the coals); ember-baked leeks, white fish roe, smoked roe deer; and cep soufflé with birch ice cream and blueberries.
Ekstedt at the Yard, 3-5 Great Scotland Yard, Westminster, SW1
Once upon a time there was a beautiful Empress…so begins the story at Mimi Mei Fair, restaurateur Samyukta Nair’s three-storey townhouse Chinese restaurant on Curzon Street. Nair (Jamavar, Bombay Bustle) and her design collaborators Fabled Studio have realised the story of their imaginary empress in rich, almost cinematic detail. Mimi’s secret residence is as glamorous and transportive as an old movie, with its Wedgwood blue and coral double-height parlour, its teal leather and gold jacquard-adorned Deco-style drawing room, and its mirror-panelled Moon Bar.
Chinese-Singaporean chef Peter Ho (Hakkasan, HKK) creates contemporary Chinese cuisine with the emphasis on decadence: crispy golden langoustines meet Périgord truffle; smoked Chilean sea bass is anointed with Shaoxing wine, and lobster comes three ways, wok-baked with spring onion and ginger, steamed with chilli or braised with Yung Chun noodles. Alternatively, summon your friends and split the lacquered Peking duck between you.
Mimi Mei Fair, 55 Curzon Street, Mayfair, W1
Russell Norman, the restaurateur whose ground-breaking restaurant Polpo pretty much defined how fashionable London socialises today – small plates, no reservations, many, many Negronis – is back, this time with a Tuscan-inspired trattoria in Smithfield. Opening around September 30, Trattoria Brutto (named after the Italian expression ‘brutto ma buono’ – ugly but good), will pay tribute to the generations-old, family-run trattorie of Florence and Siena with their hand printed menus, traditional recipes and flasks of red wine. “I don’t want any twists. I want as few twists as possible,” insists Norman.
Channelling the culinary spirit of an Italian nonna will be chef Oliver Diver, previously of the original Soho Polpo, more recently at Allegra, who’ll be cooking Tuscan classics such as panzanella, pappardelle with wild boar and Florentine lampredotto (spicy tripe panini).
35-37 Greenhill Rents, Cowcross Street, Clerkenwell, EC1
Leo Carreira’s dramatic destination restaurant The Sea, The Sea wouldn’t look out of place in Tokyo, Barcelona or Berlin. But here it is in Haggerston, in a brick-lined railway arch, seconds from Regent’s Canal. Launched in early September, it’s the cool east London sibling to the fish shop, deli and seafood bar of the same name in Chelsea. There’s space for just 12 guests a night at the horseshoe counter overlooking the open kitchen where clever, creative Carreira (ex-Mugaritz and Viajante) is reaching new heights.
Early standouts from the £110 ‘omakase’-style tasting menu are Scottish razor clams hiding beneath a sheet of black garlic; ribboned kohlrabi with caviar, and smoked langoustine layer cake. The space is also home to The Sea, The Sea’s wholesale business and its fish ageing room, fishmongers, and live shellfish tanks. That the business supplies such exacting chefs as Ikoyi’s Jeremy Chan and The Clove Club’s Isaac McHale speaks volumes about quality. Book now or miss the boat.
The Sea, The Sea, 337 Acton Mews, Haggerston, E8
Amy Corbin and Patrick Williams, the husband-and-wife team behind the Kudu Collective, have opened their fourth site in Peckham. Their latest, Kudu Grill, in a former Truman’s pub, focuses on the braai, the South African way with open fire cooking.
Chef Williams’ South African roots bring a playfulness to his contemporary European menus, where biltong scratchings pair with duck terrine and sauce gribiche, a pork chop comes with spicy ‘monkey gland sauce’ and a ‘melktert’ choux bun with candied kumquats and milk ice cream. To drink, the signature Smokey Kudu is the obvious choice, but there’s a strong wine list with a focus on South African, family-run wineries that is well worth exploring.
Kudu Grill, 57 Nunhead Lane, Peckham, SE15
Rohit Ghai, the chef behind Chelsea townhouse restaurant Kutir, returns to Mayfair this autumn, the postcode where he made his name at Jamavar as the first Indian chef to win a Michelin star within a year. Manthan, his buzzy new bar and restaurant, means ‘to churn and reflect’ and speaks, he says, to both his past and his present.
Here Ghai debuts his mother’s recipes, including aloo paratha with freshly churned butter, alongside small plates inspired by his native Madhya Pradesh and street food from his travels across India. Half of the menu is vegetarian or vegan, think jackfruit dosai, Burford Brown egg curry and, for dessert, garlic kheer; while for the omnivores, there’s goat shami kebab in bone marrow sauce, Nepalese sekwa kebabs, and curry leaf pepper fish. Don’t miss a cocktail at the central bar; the heavenly-sounding Amrita involves Calvados, date-infused rum and a tandoori-grilled spiced fig.
Manthan, 49 Maddox Street, Mayfair, W1
There have been a few changes at Mayfair’s Beaumont Hotel in an 18 month-long refurb. Its restaurant, the Colony Grill, has had a makeover (the new mural is fabulous) and it’s bar, Le Magritte, has a new look and new location within the hotel. But fear not, the glamorous New York feel remains; Don Draper would still feel right at home.
New head chef Ben Boeynaems (ex-Petrus and the Goring) has updated the menu of transatlantic standards, introducing intriguing new dishes of raw Orkney scallop with Waldorf salad and apple vinaigrette, monkfish Wellington, and buttermilk fried chicken with roast chicken emulsion and XO. It’s a lovely room for breakfast or brunch. New additions include sourdough waffles with sour cherry compote, buttermilk pancakes with smoked maple syrup and bacon, and the ‘full New York’ with over-easy eggs, salt beef and hash browns.
The Colony Grill, Brown Hart Gardens, Mayfair, W1
The original Seafood Bar is a local favourite in Amsterdam, famous for its long waiting lines. It’s now arrived in London’s Soho; can it repeat its success here? The portents look good. Its founders, the aptly named De Visscher family, have been selling fish in their native Netherlands since 1984, and are passionate about offering high quality seafood that’s kind to the pocket and to the environment (all their restaurants run on wind energy and practise zero waste).
The menu offers something a little different, with Dutch specialities such as shrimp croquettes, North Sea crab and kibbeling (fried fish bites) alongside towering fruits de mer platters, shellfish à la plancha and a keenly priced wine list. Dining is across two floors and there’s talk of late-night oyster parties in the basement coming later this autumn.
The Seafood Bar, 77 Dean Street, Soho, W1