London’s food scene couldn’t be hotter at the moment. The choice is staggering, competition is tough and quality is at an all time high.
In a list containing some old favourites as well as some hot newcomers, here are my top 10.
BBQ / Gastropub | Islington
A joint venture between the excellent Neil Rankin (Pitt Cue, John Salt) and the equally excellent Noble Inns, Smokehouse is a BBQ influenced gastropub that ticks all the right boxes.
You can smell Smokehouse before you see it so just follow your nose and you’ll be greeted by a cosy bar as you enter and a dedicated dining area as you head through towards the open kitchen.
As well as a great food menu, there’s an extensive drink selection on offer. After dinner just stumble a few steps to the bar and sample some of their many offerings.
Don’t miss: Chopped Brisket Roll & Gochujang, Korean Pulled Pork.
Contact: 63-69 Canonbury Rd, Islington, London N1 2DG | 020 7354 1144 | www.smokehouseislington.co.uk
2. Jones & Sons
British | Dalston
Previously the home of the Arcola Theatre and a Victorian textile factory prior to that, Jones & Sons is aimed at the more refined Dalstonites, who are after a classic British meal with carefully sourced and prepared ingredients and boy does it deliver.
The setting is industrial but comfortable, the service is first class and the menu is packed with fantastic, modern british dishes. There’s a very good value brunch menu and Sunday roast is supposed to be something special. They also offer a fixed price menu from 6–7pm & 9.30–10.30pm from Tuesday - Sunday.
Don’t miss: The menu is seasonal but if available, have the butcher’s steak and the chargrilled artichoke, radicchio, caerphilly & honey.
Contact: 23 -27 Arcola Street, Dalston, London E8 2DJ | 0207 241 1211 | www.jonesandsonsdalston.com
Steak | Mayfair
With 3 restaurants in central London offering an American steakhouse menu of individual cuts from traceable, grain fed herds, they claim to produce the “greatest steak in the capital” and I can’t argue with them.
If you want steak in London you’re spoilt for choice with Hawksmoor, Flatiron & Tramshed (amongst others) all offering incredible quality. Goodman is in the same bracket.
Ask your server to see the different cuts available and they’ll bring out a plate of steak to educate you with.
Don’t miss: Order from ‘The Cut’ blackboard. Have the biggest USDA bone in rib-eye you can afford and the Tiger Prawn Tempura.
Contact: 24-26 Maddox St, London W1S 1QH | 020 7499 3776 | www.goodmanrestaurants.com
4. Le Coq
Rotisserie Chicken | Islington
A neighbourhood rotisserie restaurant set up by Ana and Sanja Morris. Sanja founded the excellent Salt Yard Group and Ana is a Leith’s trained chef who has worked at Salt Yard, La Trompette & Bocca di Lupo (among others). Basically, you’re in good hands!
The rotisserie is on full display and you’ll see a line of chefs preparing the food just in front of it. The decor makes use of rough wood, decorative tiles, copper and stained glass giving the space a warm, natural feel.
The menu changes weekly and is minimalist to say the least with a choice of only 3 starters, 1 main and 3 desserts (as well as some sides and snacks) so it’s well worth a look online before you go to make sure you actually like the sound of what’s being served this week!
The pricing is equally simple - two courses for £17 or three for £22. Expect exciting starters, tasty desserts and perfectly cooked chicken. On Sundays the spits are fired up for other roasts such as whole wild salmon, crispy pork belly or melting shoulder of lamb.
Don’t miss: Menu changes weekly but there are a few permanent sides including the rotisserie potatoes - cooked in the dripping juices and fat of the chickens.
Contact: 292-294 St Paul’s Rd, Islington, London N1 2LH | 020 7359 5055
5. Opera Tavern
Tapas | Covent Garden
One of Salt Yard Group’s 4 highly rated tapas restaurants in London, Opera Tavern offers superb Italian and Spanish influenced tapas and charcuterie in a cosy setting and has a fantastic level of service.
The menu is split in to meat, fish and vegetables and is reasonably priced. There’s also a snack menu with classic dishes such as Boquerones, Jamon Croquettes and a less classic, but equally tasty Morcilla Scotch Egg.
Don’t miss: Chargrilled Octopus, Sea Bass Ceviche, Charcoal Grilled Lamb Loin Chop, Turrón Parfait.
Contact: 23 Catherine Street, London WC2B 5JS | 0207 836 3680
Peruvian | Soho
Ceviche started with a Twitter account set up by Martin Morales. Many supper clubs and pop-ups later Ceviche opened it’s doors in Soho in February 2012 and is now one of London’s best restaurants. Their book even won Sunday Times cookbook of the year.
There’s always a bustling atmosphere here with plenty of customers at the bar by the entrance and a dark, laid back dining room at the rear. It’s alive with groups of friends chatting and eating, an invigorating place to be.
As you’d expect there are plenty of Ceviche options on the menu. Six in total, including the traditional ‘Don Ceviche’ of fresh sea bass in amarillo chilli tiger’s milk, limo chilli and red onions.
There are several skewers on offer as well – the Pulpo y Chorizo (Octopus and Chorizo) option is one of my favourite dishes in London and obviously, as this is a Peruvian restaurant, you can wash everything down with several perfectly made Pisco sours.
Don’t miss: Pulpo y Chorizo, Don Ceviche.
Contact: 17 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4RG | 020 7292 2040
7. Duck & Waffle
British & European | Liverpool Street
Up on the 40th floor and the highest restaurant in the UK, the trip up to Duck & Waffle is a great way to overcome a fear of heights as the glass elevator zips up the side of the building at alarming pace but once you’re there you’ll be rewarded with stunning views over the City.
It’s open 24hrs a day, which sounds like madness - surely it’s empty at 4am…? Wrong. In fact, both the super cool bar and dining room are buzzing in the small hours, making this one of the best places places on the planet to grab a bite to eat after a night out.
Duck & Waffle is the signature dish and another of my favourite dishes in the capital – a crispy confit duck leg topped with a perfectly fried duck egg with a pot of mustard maple syrup to pour over every luxurious mouthful.
I suggest you order everything for the table and just kick back, relax and indulge in the incredible views and delicious food and considering a trip up The Shard will set you back £25, a visit to Duck & Waffle is superb value.
Don’t miss: Duck & Waffle (obvs).
Contact: 40th Floor, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopgate, London EC2N 4AY | 0203 640 7310 | www.duckandwaffle.com
8. Señor Ceviche
Peruvian | Soho
Señor Ceviche has been across London in popup form for the last 18 months or so but now takes up a permanent home in the super cool Kingly Court in Soho where you’ll also find branches of Pizza Pilgrims and Shoryu Ramen.
There’s a brand spanking new menu including several fresh ceviche options and smokey Peruvian BBQ, alongside a range of Pisco cocktails. What more do you want?
The food is tapas sized so order about 3 dishes per person. The house ceviche - Señor Ceviche of sea bream, aji amarillo tiger’s milk, avocado & crispy baby squid and The Spaniard are both great dishes but the star of the show for me is the Pachamanca Pork Rib marinated in aji amarillo BBQ sauce and served with pink pickled cabbage. Sticky, crispy, juicy, rich… stunning.
Don’t miss: Pachamanca Pork Rib, Señor Ceviche.
Contact: Kingly Court, Soho W1B 5PW
Japanese | Fitzrovia
Roka is the sister restaurant of Zuma and both offer a sophisticated twist on the traditional Japanese Izakaya style of informal eating and drinking.
Roka itself is beautifully designed, with it’s floor to ceiling glass to the street and hefty knotted wood counter surrounding the open kitchen. All of the Izakaya restaurants I’ve been to in Japan are reasonably priced and are the kinds of places you could happily afford to go to every week - Roka is several levels of expense above that so save it for a special occasion.
With a 14 course tasting menu available for £79 a head and an a la carte menu combining sushi, sashimi, Roka and robata grilled dishes you’re not short on choice. Oh, and there’s a Shochu lounge downstairs for later.
Don’t miss: Kobuta No Ribs Yawaraka Nikomi (baby back ribs), Gindara No Saiyo-Yaki (black cod).
Contact: 37 Charlotte Street, London W1T 1RR | 020 7580 6464
10. The Wolseley
European | Piccadilly
The Wolseley is a few doors down from The Ritz, originally designed as a prestigious car showroom in 1921, it was restored and opened as The Wolseley in late 2003. It’s a stunning building and it’s black, gold and cream colour scheme oozes class.
Given the grandeur of the interior, the menu is surprisingly good value - especially if you come for breakfast, which The Wolseley is well known for with many dishes under £10. There’s also a highly rated afternoon tea available.
The menu has plenty of influences from the continent with a great selection of Viennoiserie (made on the premises) available at breakfast, Plateau de Fruits de Mer for lunch and Schnitzels for dinner.
Don’t miss: Take your pick from the list of Viennoiserie or if you can’t decide, have the mixed basket!
Contact: 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB | 020 7499 6996
by Gary Simmons – Scoff Reviews