London’s food scene is finally back and enjoying a burst of creativity with a seemingly endless supply of exciting new restaurants and bars opening across the capital. From a family-run Italian in Kensington to a designer noodle bar in Shoreditch, and all the big glossy launches in between, these are London’s best new restaurants we’ll be talking about this summer.
The Best New London Restaurants
Bellissimo, buonissimo, and all the other ‘issimos! After Gloria in Shoreditch and Circolo Popolare in Fitzrovia, the ‘more is more’ maximalists at Paris’s effervescent Big Mamma Group are opening a third London Italian, this time an osteria-pizzeria in Covent Garden. Ave Mario will be their biggest London site to date, with some 295 covers across two floors, a terrace, interior courtyard, a sexy ‘70s-style mirrored basement and bold décor inspired by Florence’s zebra-striped Duomo. The menu by 23-year-old head chef Andrea Zambrano is all new – so no wheel of cheese, no towering lemon meringue – and includes big pillows of carbonara ravioli filled with pecorino cream, egg yolk and guanciale; massive cotoletta Milanese made with high-welfare rose veal; baby pizza with Baeri caviar and crème fraîche; and a grandissimo 60cm high stracciatella ice cream cake. The big reveal is on 2 July. Che favoloso!
Ave Mario, 15 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2
There’s nothing more exciting than a new arrival in London about which I know next to nothing. One such is Sucre in Soho, the first international outpost of Fernando Trocca’s twenty-year-old Buenos Aires institution Sucre, a regular presence on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. Trocca will be joined (at what was the London College of Music) by Tato Giovannoni of Florería Atlántico, voted Best Bar in South America, 2020, who’ll run the cocktail bar Abajo specialising in – oh joy! – highballs. The menu sounds promising (I’ve got my eye on ox cheek quesadilla, scallops tiradito and monkfish tail with XO sauce) and the highballs sound, well, remarkable. ‘Pink and bitter’ with Fernet Branca, coke, cherries and grapefruit soda sounds like summer in glass. Opens July.
Sucre, 47 Great Marlborough Street, Soho, London, W1
This must be the poshest ‘chippy’ in town. Chef Tom Kerridge of two Michelin star gastropub the Hand and Flowers in Marlow has opened Kerridge’s Fish & Chips in the grand surrounds of Harrods’ Grade II* listed Dining Room. What better place to enjoy the national dish complete with triple cooked chips, a buttered roll and a helping of curry sauce – and who better to do it? Kerridge knows his chip shop classics, the crisp golden battered cod and haddock, the pickled eggs and onions, but he’s mixed up the menu with luxe touches (think chips topped with caviar and crème fraiche) and fun twists of ‘cockle popcorn’ and pea fritters. Note: Harrods has extended the Dining Hall’s opening hours in the Dining Hall until 10.30pm, Thursday to Saturday, for the first time ever. Pass the salt and vinegar!
Kerridge’s Fish & Chips, Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW3
The Pem at the Conrad London St James in Westminster takes its unusual name from the childhood moniker of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison. It’s a fitting choice for a female-forward project such as this, led by a trio of London’s most promising young stars: consultant chef Sally Abé, general manager Emma Underwood, and head chef Laetizia Keating. Between them, they want to create a dining room that shimmers with the promise of fun, glamour and good things to eat and drink. For those who know Abé from the Harwood Arms in Fulham, where she won a Michelin star, this will be something altogether different, with luxurious ingredients and fine technique coming together in native lobster with shellfish cream; roasted John Dory with lemon and sauce Choron; and rich Black Forest gateau with chocolate curls and cherry ripple ice cream. Opens 1 July.
The Pem, 22-28 Broadway, Westminster, London, SW1
Cast aside any doubts you may have about the Japan-meets-Israel concept and give Jiji a chance. Why? Because while the culinary marriage sounds unlikely, its creator Sumosan’s Janina Wolkow has form (she was right about Japanese-Italian after all). Wolkow believes Tel Aviv and Tokyo are two of the world’s most innovative culinary capitals and is out to prove it in this contemporary new spot in Islington when it opens on 18 June. Sumosan group chef Bubker Belkhit is joined by ex-Palomar chef Jeremy Borrow, cooking up bold flavours such as flamed aubergine with tahini jalapeño, blow-torched scallop nigiri with crème fraîche and ikura, and sweet prawn and crispy quinoa sushi rolls.
Jiji, 6 Esther Anne Place, Islington, London, N1
This ambitious new sushi-ya in Mayfair from third-generation sushi chef Taiji Maruyama, opening June 15, is a lesson in the Japanese art of hospitality or ‘omotenashi’. Maruyama-san, co-owner of Taka in Marylebone, takes care of every aspect of the experience, from the ceramics he makes himself to the flowers and, of course, the fish which he dry-ages in custom-made display fridges. The menu is ‘omakase’ only – meaning the chef’s choice – and it changes with the day, with the season. At £170 per person, it’s expensive (a shade less so than Endo at the Rotunda and several shades less so than The Araki) but that’s to be expected of an intimate, immersive counter experience offering 20-courses of pristine British ingredients such as Brixham squid nigiri, Exmoor caviar and Japanese vegetables from Namayasai Farm. Ten seats at the counter; two sittings a night.
Maru, 18 Shepherd Market, Mayfair, London, W1
London’s oldest family run restaurant, Il Portico on Kensington High Street, est.1967, has survived power cuts, recessions, a global financial crisis and now a pandemic. It hasn’t done so by standing still. On 6 July, it launches its new sibling, Pino, just four doors up, named after the owner James Chiavarini’s father who founded Il Portico and who now, at 81, still runs the family’s farm in Kent. Flavours from the family’s home region of Emilia-Romagna will figure prominently in dishes such as fried zucchini flowers; tigelle with lardo, rosemary and juniper; and gnocco fritto with cured meats and parmigiano. Other highlights will be Pino’s in-house aged balsamic, a marble bar, wood-fired oven for pizza and focaccia, and an all-Italian wine list all available by the glass.
Pino, 267 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London, W8
Bao opens its first Noodle Shop on 8 July in Shoreditch. Inspired by the beef noodle shops of Taiwan, its signature will be two different versions of the island’s beef noodle soup; one rich Taipei-style with slow-braised beef cheek and shortrib, the other Tainan-style with a lighter broth, rare rump cap, and aged white soy. Both will use fresh Taiwanese wheat flour noodles made daily on-site. Other items to check on your order form: shrimp croquette bao, boiled cull yaw lamb dumplings, fried Ogleshield cheese rolls, grape sake ice cocktails, and shaved ice desserts piled high with fruit and cream. As always with Bao, the design looks simply ‘wow’: the tiled bar, timber-clad walls and sculptural lampshades reference traditional Taiwan’s old tiled noodle shops but with a London look that will, no doubt, attract Bao’s usual queues.
Bao Noodle Shop, 1 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E2
The Carlton Tower Jumeirah – London’s first ‘tower hotel’ when it launched in 1961 – has reopened after eighteen months’ closure and a magnificent refurbishment to the tune of over £100m. Its new flagship restaurant is suave, sophisticated Al Mare, led by Italian chef Marco Calenzo, most recently the executive chef at Zuma. Calenzo plays to Knightsbridge tastes with classic dishes, beautifully executed, elevated by superior ingredients. Consider ravioli del plin stuffed with guinea fowl and seven-year-aged parmigiano; risotto al zafferano infused with Piana di Navelli saffron; and ‘ricciola al limone’ with Etna lemon. Al Mare is just the place to discover la dolce vita with its marble bar, theatrical open kitchen, aperitivo trolley, and terrace (with cigar butler) overlooking verdant Cadogan Gardens
Al Mare, The Carlton Tower, One Cadogan Place, Knightsbridge, London, SW1
Pantechnicon in Belgravia, a four-storey hub of Scando-Japanese retail and restaurants, has slowly but surely established itself among foodies. Its rooftop bar came at just the right time; its Nordic kitchen Eldr has found its feet; and the pastries at its cool Café Kitsuné outpost have captivated both influencers and patisserie purists alike. Now’s the turn of Sachi (meaning ‘happiness’) its new 130-cover Japanese restaurant and sushi counter on the lower ground floor. The remit’s modern Japanese but head chef Colin Hudson (Roka, Dinings) can’t resist some Scandiavian touches such as pickled sea herbs with the miso-glazed aubergine. Enjoy some retail therapy while you’re here: the delicate porcelain, wooden bowls and covetable cutlery are for sale, the sakes and Japanese whiskies too. Opens July.
Sachi, Pantechnicon, 19 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, London, SW1