Today, eating out well in London means traveling beyond the city center to the still-hip East End and North London ‘hoods, scoring hard-to-book reservations at the trailblazing 10-cover gems, and experiencing the capital’s booming cocktail culture. Read on for our list of the can't miss restaurants in 2018, so far.
Granary Square Brasserie
This newest addition to the ever-changing King’s Cross neighborhood is an all-day-dining eatery done up in a paintbox palette of blue velvet banquettes, orange leather armchairs, and tropical print fabric and decadent accents (crystal chandeliers, mirrored walls). The menu spotlights classic brasserie fare, from the prawn cocktail and steak tartare appetizers to chicken Milanese and slow-roasted lamb shoulder. Join the media crowd for breakfast at 8 a.m., or gather for cocktails and British craft beers in the early evening. A boozy brunch is available until 4 p.m. at weekends, and there’s a terrace decked out with heaters and blankets for alfresco dining.
Rochelle Canteen at the ICA
The original Rochelle Canteen opened in a bike shed on the grounds of an old Hackney schoolhouse in 2006 and retains a loyal following of chefs and creatives who come for the insider-y vibe and inventive best-of-British menu. But there’s nothing discreet about this second outpost, a world away from Hackney inside the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) on the Mall, with a menu of tasty throwback dishes like oxtail stew, rabbit pie and cod’s roe.
Mortimer House Kitchen
On the ground floor of a six-story members club in ritzy Fitzrovia, this new Mediterranean restaurant is open to the public, which makes for a serious power-lunch scene. The gorgeous dining room is all high ceilings, oatmeal shades and brushed brass, with seating for 90 (on sofas, club chairs and stools at the bar). Order from the all-day small plates menu, or opt for heartier dishes like roast chicken with Amalfi lemon and rosemary for two.
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The latest venture from mixologist-of-the-moment Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr. Lyan, Cub is a drinks-led, no-waste restaurant on Hoxton Street in East London. The tasting menu (from $75 per person for four courses) is designed to “make your mind and belly happy,” with creatively-paired small plates like baby cauliflower, black garlic and lemon thyme; and rare tea, tea stems and compressed plums. The small dining room is done up with mostly recycled materials, from the table tops to the lamps, and group-friendly booths have front-row views of the chefs and mixologists at work behind the long wooden bar. Book well in advance to reserve a table, or try your luck at the door and head downstairs to sister cocktail bar, Superlyan, while you wait.
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A modern Irish eatery from a team of Chiltern Firehouse, Noma and Fat Duck alum, Nuala is part fine-dining restaurant, part basement boozer, all decorated in a handsome mix of wood, brick and polished concrete. A giant fire pit dominates the open kitchen (and is put to good use on the rotisserie goose, fired clams, charred cabbage and more), while horseshoe-shaped leather banquettes and wicker chairs define the light-flooded dining area. Downstairs, the bar stocks plenty of Guinness and whiskey, but this is not an Irish bar as you know it — the wine list includes a host of naturals and the cocktail menu features the whiskey-and-Guinness Straight Up Serve and party-ready punches.
Bombay Bustle is the latest upscale Indian restaurant from chef Rohit Ghar of Michelin-starred favorite, Jamavar. Housed in a dining room styled like a first-class railway carriage, the restaurant serves hearty lunches and large dinners, with vegetarian or meat tiffin boxes layered with flavorful dishes like Malabar chicken wings, Kerala fish curry, Punjabi vegetable samosas, lemon rice and more. The a la carte dishes include tandoor dishes, biriyanis, curries and a host of sides. Don't miss the fresh guncha-o-keema (minced cauliflower and tomato) and dabba dal (black lentils with fenugreek).
First opened as two-year pop up in 2011, London’s answer to Copenhagen’s Noma is back in a permanent space on Blandford Street in Marylebone. The veg-forward creation of chef Simon Rogan has no published menu, but expect inventive seasonal fare, much of which is grown on Rogan’s farm in the Cartmel Valley, Cumbria. The word is already out about Rogan's salt-baked celeriac with enoki and whey, cured mackerel wrapped in pickled kohlrabi, and dry-aged duck. The set lunch menu costs $55, or there’s a tasting menu option for $160 with a $110 wine pairing.