Covering every cuisine and every budget imaginable, London’s restaurant scene has gone from strength to strength in 2015. From the countless gems to choose from, here’s 10 of our favourites, which have also been lauded by some of the capital’s top food bloggers. And if you’re looking for some new year’s resolutions you might keep, read on for some must-visit new openings for 2016.
1. Hotel Chantelle Book Hotel Chantelle
When a famous New York establishment turns up in Mayfair it’s sure to turn heads. In true Mayfair style, inventive modern cooking meets chic cocktails above an exclusive nightclub. Echoing its New York heritage, jazz brunch is also a hit.
As reviewed by We The Food Snobs: “The menu is full of incredible sounding dishes, with mouth-watering ingredients and it’s not until the plates arrive that you can comprehend the time and effort that has gone into Levine’s creations.”
2. Piquet Book Piquet
When Fay Maschler and Jay Rayner sing a restaurant’s praises, you know you have to try it. Allan Pickett’s Anglo-French cuisine certainly ticked all the boxes when we visited recently.
As reviewed by The Picky Glutton: “In a better world, every high street across the land would have their own Piquet. The classy decor and straightforward dishes resplendent with punchy flavours make Piquet one of my favourite restaurants in a city where there’s no shortage of places to eat.”
3. Morden & Lea Book Morden & Lea
Award-winning chef and restaurateur Mark Sargeant brought some creative British dishes to Soho this year. With a head chef that has worked at both The Savoy and Le Gavroche, hearty but refined dining is the order of the day, on a menu that features the likes of rib of beef with dripping chips, followed by a dark chocolate and salted peanut stack.
As reviewed by The Not So Secret Diary: “Seriously though, I was seriously impressed with Morden & Lea. It’s shot straight into my recommendations list and would be back in a heartbeat. Hats off.”
4. Kitty Fisher’s Book Kitty Fisher’s
After opening at the very end of last year, critics flocked to Kitty Fisher’s in 2015. Grace Dent found the lamb cutlets to be ‘up there on a London foodie’s list of must-try dishes,’ whilst Zoe Williams found ribeye steak that was ‘unlike anything I have ever tasted.’
As reviewed by Cheese and Biscuits: “With an impeccable eye for good ingredients, coupled with command of a range of techniques on hand to make the most of them… and service that makes you want to stay the night, it ticks almost every box you could care to think up.”
5. Roka Book Roka – Aldwych
The 4th member of the ROKA family, ROKA Aldwych added to London’s impressive selection of Japanese hotspots this year. With a robata grill as the focal point, sizzling meats, fresh sushi, and exotic cocktails have made ROKA a bloggers’ favourite.
As reviewed by SilverSpoon London: “Roka is my favourite sushi restaurant in London with faultless food, a sexy and seductive atmosphere and killer cocktails – I’ve never had a bad experience there.”
6. German Gymnasium Book German Gymnasium
Offering German-inspired food in a former gym, German Gymnasium promised something a little different when it opened back in November. It delivered, serving a selection of Mittel-European dishes, in a stunning split-level building.
As reviewed by Ginger & Bread: “The quality of the ingredients, the beautiful setting and the location in central London make it well worth a visit.”
7. Belgo Book Belgo – Soho
Despite the proliferation of new cuisines and must-try dishes, mussels and Belgian beer are unlikely to ever go out of style. Belgo are experts at both, with over 50 beers joined by classic seafood dishes and topped off with rich Belgian waffles.
As reviewed by Fashion Fake: “There is something on the menu for everyone – shellfish lovers, meat admirers and vegetable converts with vegetarian dishes available.”
8. Naughty Piglets Book Naughty Piglets
2015 saw Brixton further cement its place as a foodie hotspot, with an array of pop-ups and talked-about restaurants appearing in SW2. Naughty Piglets was one of those garnering hype, setting tongues wagging with its laidback feel, European sharing plates and impressive wine stock.
As reviewed by Samphire and Salsify: “…this was simple cooking elevated to somewhere a lot of chefs don’t seem to quite manage these days.”
9. Sticks ‘n’ Sushi Book Sticks ‘n’ Sushi
Part of an exciting new development of restaurants, bars and shops, the latest Sticks ‘n’ Sushi continues the tried-and-tested formula of fusing Japanese and Nordic inspirations in ultra-sleek surrounds.
As reviewed by A Little Lusciousness: “Apart from the quality of the food and cooking one thing that really stands out for me is the sourcing of the fish and meat they serve – it’s all responsibly sourced”
10. Drake & Morgan Book Drake & Morgan at King’s Cross
With a centrepiece circular bar, an open kitchen and a heated terrace, Drake & Morgan has ‘relaxed and trendy’ written all over it. Bottomless brunches, mixology classes and a DJ booth in the bar confirm this.
As reviewed by The London Sinner: “…knock your socks off cocktails, small plates from air, land or sea, pumping basslines and sexy bar staff to bring it all to you with a smile. Oh, and a candy bar which will make your inner ten year old cry out with tooth rotting joy.”
Ones to watch for 2016
Aulis at Fera
Billed as a development kitchen, Aulis will offer something completely different from the regular Fera menu, as well as an exclusive private dining option inside the Michelin-starred restaurant. The man behind world-famous L’Enclume, Simon Rogan openings do not pass by without buzz, and this one will be no different.
You’ll have to wait until autumn, but given that this is the first restaurant from MasterChef’s Monica Galetti, it will no doubt be worth the wait. Expect simple, seasonal food, although having spent 12 years at Le Gavroche there’s sure to be some extravagant twists on the menu.
The man behind Michelin-starred City Social, Jason Atherton will add to his ever-expanding portfolio of London restaurants when Sosharu opens in March, serving teppanyaki, robatayaki, and sashimi. With work on a new Victoria restaurant also underway, Jason is a busy man.
Quite literally one of the biggest openings of 2016, this 3-storey building is huge. Full details are yet to be revealed, but we do know that it will be on the newly developed Granary Square, with food from ex-Murano chef Diego Cardoso.
Foodies, podcasters and now restaurateurs, the team behind Pidgin – which opened in Hackney this year – are at it again. The location is as yet unknown, but expect British small plates, fine wines and cocktails. Oh, and everything will be served on trolleys.
The street food craze doesn’t look like dying down, so this Thai street food restaurant in a new food hub near Borough Market is a surefire hit – particularly as it comes from a former Smoking Goat, Begging Bowl and Som Saa chef.
With already established Polpo sites across London, and new Polpos opening in Lewisham and Brighton, Russell Norman is a restaurant owner on a mission. Yet another one is due to appear in 2016, with Harvey Nichols set to play host to Venetian small plates.
Victoria could well become the place to eat in 2016. Not only will Franco Manca be bringing their legendary pizzas to the area, they’ll count the likes of Barbecoa and a new restaurant from D&D as neighbours.
Lucky Chip Burgers & Wine
The fact that this much-loved burger pop-up is getting a permanent home in Dalston is a sure sign that the burger craze is not slowing. In an unexpected twist, expect special wine-matched burgers.
The first London restaurant from a 3-Michelin-starred Spanish chef. The Mayfair location is no surprise, but the street food-inspired cuisine promises a touch of something different.
The fact that this restaurant is owned by Damien Hirst guarantees it buzz. Set to open in his recently launched Newport Street Gallery, it will be open as a visitors’ canteen during the day, and a restaurant at night.
2016 could be the year of the posh kebab. Setting up in Kingly Court, this is not the place for a post-drinking doner and cheap lager, but a ‘kebab renaissance’ with seasonal dishes and an unexpectedly good wine list.
Starting life as a Hackney pop-up adored by Instagrammers, Som Saa’s Thai food proved so popular that it had no trouble crowd-funding the money for a permanent venue.
Head chef at Chiltern Firehouse, Nuno Mendes is a major player on the London restaurant scene. Next year he’s set his sights on reopening formerly Michelin-starred Viajante – an opening that is sure to get tongues wagging.