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The best new London restaurants of 2021 (so far)

As things get back to some kind of normal, some real gems of restaurants have been appearing over the past year. Here's our edit of the best openings of the year (so far). We'll update this as the months continue...

Opened in October

The Barbary Next DoorThe Barbary Next Door

Covent Garden - 16A Neal's Yard, London WC2H 9DP

In a nutshell: The Barbary gets a sibling

This is, simply put, a mini version of The Barbary, right next door to the original. The Barbary (which in turn is from the same people as The Palomar). Expect a small plates menu, with a similar Mediterranean/African focus all served up on a mini counter space.

More about The Barbary Next Door

Read our Barbary Next Door Test Drive

 

NEW - OxeyeOxeye

Nine Elms - 14 New Union Sq., Embassy Gardens SW11 7AX

In a nutshell: Fine dining in Nine Elms

It's been a long time coming (conceived over 10 years ago apparently) but chef Sven Hanson Britt has brought something quite new to a revamped Nine Elms (now with its own shiny new tube station). There's a shop and bar but the main event is his restaurant with a changing tasting menu (that apparently follows your own "individual tastes and preferences". 

More about Oxeye

 

NEW: The PlimsollThe Plimsoll

Finsbury Park - 52 St Thomas’s Road, London N4 2QW

In a nutshell: The Four Legs pub

They first created waves with their Compton Arms residency and now Four Legs have opened their very own pub in Finsbury Park. It's become an immediate hit, with tables booked up for weeks in advance mere days after opening. Their famous burger is on the menu, of course, but also look out for lots of new dishes too (like the beetroot and horseradish with fried oysters in the pic here). The pub also has a great (and affordable) wine selection (on top of beer, of course) which is an added bonus for locals like ourselves. 

More about The Plimsoll

 

NEW: Rita'sRita's

Soho - 49 Lexington St, Soho, London W1F 9AP

In a nutshell: Rita's comes to Soho

Nearly a decade after they first opened in Hackney, Rita's have arrived in town with their much-anticipated restaurant. They'd been previewing it to much acclaim on the terrace, but now it's set up as a fully formed restaurant, serving a menu inspired by owners Gabriel Pryce and Missy Flynn's travels across the Americas. Wine will also be a big deal here, not to mention a tempting steak dinner for two. 

More about Rita's

 

Opened in September

BibiBibi

Mayfair - 42 North Audley Street, Mayfair, London W1K 6ZR

In a nutshell: Contemporary new Indian restaurant

Run by Chet Sharma, previously at L'Enclume and Moor Hall and most recently development chef with JKS (Gymkhana), this restaurant takes influences from roadside cafes across India. Jimi Famurewa in The Standard was a fan - "BiBi lights a fire under a somewhat staid fancy Indian dining sector with personality, vibrant distinctiveness and mesmeric, precisely executed food". Grace Dent is also a convert: "Bibi has made 2021 bearable." 

More about Bibi

Our Bibi Test Drive

 

Kudu GrillKudu Grill

Peckham - 57 Nunhead Ln, London SE15 3TR

In a nutshell: South African grill from the Kudu folk

This Peckham restaurant comes from local success story, Kudu, and it's all about South African braai, with open-fire cooking a big part of the restaurant. Most of the dishes will come from the open grill and they'll also be using their nearby allotment as a source for the produce.

More about Kudu Grill

 

Mimi Mei FairMimi Mei Fair

Mayfair - 55 Curzon Street, Mayfair, London W1J 8PG

In a nutshell: 20s-style Chinese restaurant

This is from Samyukta Nair, the restaurateur who brought us Jamavar and Bombay Bustle. With this Mayfair restaurant, she wants to take Londoners on a journey to 1920s Shanghai. Expect a glitzy high-end Chinese menu in this three-floored building which also has an excellent (but small) bar in the basement.

More about Mimi Mei Fair

 

NEW - PlanquePlanque

Haggerston - 322-324 Acton Mews, London E8 4EA

In a nutshell: Wine bar/restaurant with added Seb Myers

One of those openings that's simmering away in the background is Planque. The wine bar/shop/restaurant opened relatively quietly but has a lot going for it, not least in getting ex-P Franco chef Seb Myers in to lead the kitchen. The menu will change regularly and an early fan is Instagrammer Felicity Spector, who says it's "such a pleasure to be enjoying Sebastian’s cooking again"

More about Planque

 

Supa Ya RamenSupa Ya Ramen

Dalston - 499 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AU

In a nutshell: "Inauthentic" ramen in Dalston

Luke Findlay:had been running Supa Ya Ramen as a supperclub, but this is his first permanent restaurant. As with their pop-ups, you can expect what they call "traditionally inauthentic" ramen and this restaurant added lots of extras like roast chicken skin and noodle ice cream with miso caramel for dessert. Jimi Famurewa in The Standard said it "has a verve, simplicity and slurpable magic that feels, thrillingly, like the future."

More about Supa Ya Ramen

 

NEW - Trattoria BruttoTrattoria Brutto

Farringdon - 36-37 Greenhill Rents, Cowcross St, London EC1M 6BN

In a nutshell: Russell Norman returns

He changed London's restaurant scene with Polpo and now Russell is back a decade later with this new opening in Farringdon/Smithfield that's inspired by the trattorias of Florence. There are signature touches throughout - the decor is beautiful and the lighting is low - which sit beside a menu of classic Italian dishes and enormous T Bone steaks. Plus they have negronis for a fiver - that's certainly going to pull the crowds in. Jimi Famurewa was the first critic in and declared it somewhere that'll "have you plotting your next visit before the main courses have arrived".

More about Trattoria Brutto

Our Trattoria Brutto Test Drive

 

Opened in August

Bar La Rampa  Bar La Rampa

Fitzrovia - 7 - 8 Market Place, London W1W 8AG

This restaurant near Oxford Circus comes from the same people who brought us Casa Do Frango, and they're hoping that this celebration of Cuban culture and cuisine will be as big a hit. Bringing in the people behind TA TA Eatery to run the menu is a big plus, and by all accounts their Cuban sandwich (a key quality check) is wonderful. 

More about Bar La Rampa

 

Bibo  Bibo

Shoreditch - 45 Curtain Rd, Hackney, London EC2A 3PT

Not to be confused with Bibi (above), Bibo sees Dani Garcia, a top Spanish chef with Michelin stars to his name, take his Bibo restaurant group to the new Mondrian hotel in Shoreditch (where The Curtain use to be). While rollouts can sometimes be hit or miss - this is definitely in hit territory, with an excellent tapas menu and vibe to match. In the Standard, Jimi Famurewa was impressed, saying Garcia has created a place with a "fun, party-starting hedonism and rough-hewn generosity".

More about Bibo

Our Bibo Test Drive

 

Cafe Cecilia  Cafe Cecilia

Hackney - Canal Place, 32 Andrews Rd, London E8 4RL

In a nutshell: River Cafe chef goes it alone

Cafe Cecilia's chef Max Rocha came from The River Cafe and like many of London's best chefs has also spent time at St John Bread & Wine. They're just serving  breakfast and lunch right now, but dishes like rabbit tagliatelle and sage & anchovy fritti (not to mention Guinness bread ice cream) should make this a very worthwhile trip to the canal. David Ellis in The Standard agrees - "I’m not a very “it” person, to tell you the truth of it, but I think Café Cecilia might quietly just be the one."

More about Cafe Cecilia

 

NEW - Danclair's KitchenDanclair's Kitchen

Brixton - 67-68 Granville Arcade, Brixton Village, London SW9 8PS

In a nutshell: The sequel to Fish, Wings & Tings

This Brixton restaurant is from Brian Danclair, the man behind the popular Fish, Wings & Tings. The restaurant is best described as Caribbean fusion, while also taking influences from Latin America. It opened relatively quietly in Brixton, but to immediate acclaim. In The Standard, Jimi Famurewa said, "there is something quietly radical about its forceful sincerity, its unusual juxtapositions and the way it pushes at the edges of what we imagine when we hear the words “Caribbean restaurant”."

More about Danclair's Kitchen

 

Jose Pizarro at the Royal Academy  Jose Pizarro at the Royal Academy

Mayfair - Royal Academy, Burlington Gardens, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD

The Royal Academy has drafted in Jose Pizarro to take over the food at the gallery and it's a near-perfect match. Post-culture tapas and Cava - what's not to like? There's an extensive tapas menu, a surprisingly affordable all-Spanish wine list and the Poster Bar downstairs is a great drop-in place too. Giles Coren loved it and as far as the RA itself was concerned, "frankly, this perfect exhibition by José Pizarro is all the art I need."

More about Jose at the RA

Our Jose Pizarro Test Drive

 

Park Row  Park Row

Soho - 77 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9ZN

In a nutshell: Batman in Soho

This DC Comics-inspired restaurant has been a big hit. It's certainly got everyone talking (as you can see from our own TikTok). A huge space, it maybe could still lean into the Batman mythos a little more but it's had immense interest both in this country and further afield. And there's definitely nothing in town like their immersive Monarch Theatre, where you're completely surrounded by a changing video projection for your whole meal. 

More about Park Row

Our Park Row Test Drive

 

Pizzeria Mozza  Pizzeria Mozza

Fitzrovia - Treehouse London, 14-15 Langham Pl, London W1B 2QS

In a nutshell: Top LA chef comes to London

Nancy Silverton is a BIG name back in the states where the LA Pizzeria Mozza is a big draw. This sees her arriving in London (and spending some time herself to help get it off to a good start) with a pizzeria which really does turn out excellent pizzas (and with a menu that's a good deal different from the norm) as well as huge desserts. As Marina O'Loughlin says, the "pizzas are sublime... There’s magic in this dough. "

More about Pizzeria Mozza

Our Pizzeria Mozza Test Drive

 

Sessions Arts Club  Sessions Arts Club

Clerkenwell - 24 Clerkenwell Green, Farringdon, London EC1R 0NA

In a nutshell: Florence Knight in Clerkenwell

London has seen some pretty beautiful restaurants opening of late and this Clerkenwell restaurant is a particularly good example - the stripped-back approach to the decor on the Grade II building is stunning. Reviews of both the look and Florence Knight's cooking have been great. Grace Dent called it "hugely convivial, like a time before any of the Bad Things happened" while Marina O'Loughlin said "This is a place for four-hour lunches, for cinq à sept, for abandoning all idea of restraint or frugality."

More about Sessions Arts Club

Our Sessions Arts Club Test Drive

 

 

Opened in July

NEW - Ave Mario  Ave Mario

Covent Garden - 15 Henrietta Street, London WC2E 8QG

In a nutshell: Big Mamma's latest creation

Ave Mario, from the people behind Gloria and Circolo Popolare, follows the Big Mamma restaurant template. It's gaudily decorated and with huge dishes on offer like the enormous ice cream cake that they wheel about the room or a veal Milanese that's twice as big as your head (and huge cocktails too). Not everyone's a fan - The Standard's Jimi Famurewa was underwhelmed - but it's an instant hit. 

More about Ave Mario

Our Ave Mario Test Drive

 

New - BAO Noodle Shop  BAO Noodle Shop

Shoreditch - 1 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DJ

BAO have mastered the art of the bao bun - now they've moved on to noodles, with beef noodles being the key draw at this Shoreditch restaurant. But worry not - bao buns are available too as well as many never-before-seen dishes. It even has two karaoke rooms. This latest branch of the BAO empire wowed The Standard's Jimi Famurewa who called it "a transporting, instant classic". 

More about BAO Noodle Shop

Our BAO Noodle Shop Test Drive

 

Bar CrispinBar Crispin

Carnaby - 19 Kingly Street, Soho, London, W1B 5PY

Crispin is a huge hit in Spitalfields, and this is their Soho wine bar spin-off. Primarily all about the wine, the list takes the same approach to its selection as the original Crispin - so that's old-world primarily and small producers. Alongside that, there's an all-day snack menu and they also have monthly wine events, including tastings, food pairings and more.

More about Bar Crispin

 

Cadogan Arms  The Cadogan Arms

Chelsea - 298 Kings Road, London SW3 5UG

This sees a much-loved Chelsea pub get a complete revamp (it's looking rather beautiful now) and a menu from James Knappett (Kitchen Table) and Alex Harper (ex-Harwood Arms). The pub has been welcomed with open arms by the local crowd and is already a big hit. We had an early try of some of their dishes and drinks which showed this Chelsea boozer is worth crossing town for.

More about The Cadogan Arms

 

New - Dusty Knuckle  Dusty Knuckle

Hackney - 429 Green Lanes, London N4 1HA

The Dusty Knuckle's original Dalston bakery and cafe space is stupidly popular - with queues round the block at the weekends. This is their second bakery, where byou can more of their great potato sourdough, pastries and sandwiches. Plus it's a pizzeria in the evenings. It would be fair to assume you can expect a queue here too.

More about The Dusty Knuckle

 

FiendFiend

Ladbroke Grove - 301 Portobello Road, London W10 5TD

In a nutshell: Chris Denney's latest

Fiend is from Chris Denney, previously of hit Notting Hill restaurant 108 Garage. Here's he's putting together a menu that's trying to be as eclectic as it can in what's described as a "vibrant bohemian restaurant, bar and lounge" that's "provocative, rebellious and inspired". Grace Dent has been an early convert - "The menu was clever, focused, deliciously erratic and ever so slightly bewildering. Fiend sounds like being hijacked by a nefarious presence. The more I think about Denney’s cooking, the more it feels perfectly fitting."

More about Fiend

 

Hackney Coterie  Hackney Coterie

Hackney - 230 Dalston Lane, London E8 1LA

Hackney Coterie comes from Anthony Lyon (behind Lyon's in Crouch End) and sommelier Kelvin McCabe (previously at Zuma, Roka and Adam Handling's Frog group). In the kitchen is Dominic Auger (previously HIDE and Scully) and there's a great marriage between the small plates and a truly interesting wine list. 

More about Hackney Coterie

Our Hackney Coterie Test Drive

 

Jiji  Jiji

Islington - 6G Esther Anne Place, London N1 1WL

This Islington opening comes from Janina Wolkow, the restaurateur behind celebrity hangout Sumosan. Jiji is a Japanese/Middle Eastern fusion restaurant which brings something quite new to the N1 food scene. Exceptional sushi marries up with flatbreads and shawarma on the menu here. 

More about Jiji

Our Jiji Test Drive

 

Korean Dinner Party  Korean Dinner Party

Soho - Top Floor Kingly Court, Carnaby St, London W1B 5PW

An instant hit, Korean Dinner Party has taken over a prime space on the top floor of Kingly Court. With a menu created by the people behind TA TA Eatery (who have been very busy this year) this really is a Korean party experience (and the corn dogs are excellent). 

More about Korean Dinner Party

Our Korean Dinner Party Test Drive

 

New - The Pem  The Pem

St James - Conrad London St. James, 22-28 Broadway, Westminster, London SW1H 0BH

She won loads of plaudits for her time at The Harwood Arms and now Sally Abé has moved to the Conrad St James. The chef is in charge of all the food at the hotel and The Pem is her main restaurant, aiming to "build on the foundations of British cuisine" with a menu that intends to be elevated but fun. The Pem was named the restaurant to watch at this year's National Restaurant Awards.

More about The Pem

Our Test Drive of The Pem

 

Sachi  Sachi

Belgravia - 19 Motcomb Street, London SW1X 8LB

The Pantechnicon is a hugely impressive-looking building that flung open its doors in Belgravia last year, but kept back its subterranean restaurant opening for 2021. Sachi carries on the Nordic and Japanese theme of the rest of the building, with a focus on Japanese food with "Nordic flavours and ingredients interspersed throughout".

More about Sachi

Our Sachi Test Drive

 

Sucre & Abajo  Sucre & Abajo

Soho - 47 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7JP

Two Latin American superstars have come to Soho to launch this two-header. In the basement is Abajo, where Tato Giovanonni has opened a destination cocktail bar with glow in the dark drinks. Upstairs is the restaurant by Fernando Trocca where the Latin American cuisine is served in one of London's most beautiful new dining rooms.

More about Sucre & Abajo

Our Sucre Test Drive

 

Sunday in Brooklyn  Sunday in Brooklyn

Notting Hill - 98 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5RU

An American hit (in Brooklyn, obviously), this sees the restaurant open an outpost in London with lunches and brunches to wow the Nottting Hill set. Watch out for their brown butter pancakes, which are their signature dish, when they open for brunch service.

More about Sunday in Brooklyn

Our Sunday in Brooklyn Test Drive

 

 

Opened in June

El Pastor Soho  El Pastor Soho

Soho - 66-70 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9UP

El Pastor has been a success wherever they opened, and the latest Mexican restaurant from them in Soho is no exception. They took over the space that was once Hix and the tacos are as great as ever. Of particular note here is the downstairs bar, "Mezcaleria El Colmillo" which is worth a visit alone.  

More about El Pastor Soho

 

Maru  Maru

Mayfair - 18 Shepherd Market, Mayfair, London W1J 7QH

Maru is from the same people behind Taka. When that restaurant moved to Marylebone, this omakase restaurant took over the space it left behind. Seating only 10 diners, this Japanese experience is centred around a 20-course farm-to-table tasting menu and will evolve over the seasons. 

More about Maru

 

 

 

Opened in May

Bar Des Pres  Bar Des Pres

Mayfair - 16 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4HW

Bar Des Pres comes from top French chef Cyril Lignac and it's a sister restaurant to the Paris outpost. Here you can expect Japanese food with a French influence moving from sushi through to seared beef fillet and some truly excellent desserts (a speciality of the chef). Expect to rub shoulders with well heeled Parisian expats when dining here.

More about Bar Des Pres

Our Bar Des Pres Test Drive

 

Cin Cin  Cin Cin

Fitzrovia - 21A Foley St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 6DS

A move from Brighton to London is rare, but the people behind Cin Cin have made this a big success in Fitzrovia. The Italian restaurant has been very well received, and Marina O'Loughlin was an early fan, saying "Cin Cin isn’t that bothered about authenticity, just deliciousness".

More about Cin Cin

 

The Cheese Barge  The Cheese Barge

Paddington - Sheldon Square, Paddington Central, London W2 6HY

The Cheese Bar team could simply have settled for serving cheese platters on a boat and Londoners would have lapped it up, but they've done so much more with this floating restaurant. The vessel itself - purpose-built - gives nearly everyone a water level view. As for the food, just look at this picture and you'll know why you should go. Clever, elegant and delicious - a restaurant where can watch a nesting moorhen as you fork another curried cheese curd in your mouth. Grace Dent was won over - "a barge filled to the brim with fromage is silly, but fun, and I like it."

More about The Cheese Barge

Our Cheese Barge Test Drive

 

 

Imad's Syrian Kitchen  Imad's Syrian Kitchen

Soho - Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby London W1B 5PW

Taking over Asma Khan's old space at Kingly Court comes this hugely-anticipated permanent restaurant from another supper club chef. Imad's story is of refugee to restaurateur but his legions of fans testify to their delight in his food. Jimi Famurewa was the first reviewer and while he noted teething pains, he also praised the cooking that spoke to "abundance, simplicity and the traditions of the home". Meanwhile, Jay Rayner says the restaurant "represents all the good things."

More about Imad's Syrian Kitchen

 

Molly's Cafe  Molly's Cafe

Hoxton - 1 Geffrye Street, London, E2 8JH

The people behind The Anchor and Hope (and The Clarence Tavern) have opened this cafe at Hackney's Museum of the Home (formerly known as The Geffrye Museum). Here, they have an all-day cafe, with dishes ranging from potted shrimp to roast haddock and chips. Expect this menu to evolve over the coming months. 

More about Molly's Cafe

 

NoMad  NoMad

Covent Garden - 4 Bow St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7AT

This is the first time that boutique US hotel group NoMad has expanded outside the USA and they've done it with style. Combining a world-class bar (the cocktails are truly excellent) with one of the best looking restaurants opening this year, it's already a hit. The Chicken Dinner is definitely worth a look and the bar is very welcome for an area of Covent Garden that isn't blessed with them. Jimi Famurewa in The Standard may not have been blown away by the food, but was impressed by the "mad, gilded spectacle of it".

More about NoMad

Our NoMad Test Drive

 

 

 

Opened in April

Eataly  Eataly

The City - 135 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3YD

In the depths of lockdown, with images being shared on social of an empty, zombie-like City, the idea of opening a massive new palace of Italian food by Liverpool Street station seemed faintly ridiculous. Eataly proved them quite wrong - the place has been busy ever since it threw open its doors. Go to marvel at the huge grocery section, and then recover with a glass of Chianti and bowl of pasta in one of its many restaurants.

More about Eataly

 

Fenn  Fenn

Fulham - 194 Wandsworth Bridge Road, London SW6 2UF

Two huge (and good) reviews helped propel this Fulham opening to the top of everyone's hit lists. Grace Dent loved the "casual yet caring service" and urged readers to order the custard tart, while the Standard's Jimi Famurewa was staggered by his meal there - "the relentless level of control, technique and explosive flavour was almost stupefying". If you love alfresco dining, know that the terrace here is particularly warm, covered and snug.

More about Fenn

Our Fenn Test Drive

 

Hot Stone  Hot Stone

Fitzrovia - 3 Windmill St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2HY

Chef Patron Padam Raj Rai opened his first restaurant in Islington after learning his skills at Nobu and Zuma. Now he's got a restaurant just off Charlotte Street serving up exemplary sushi alongside DIY hot stone wagyu steak cooking. Fay Maschler praised the food in Tatler urging readers to make "one, or even two, orders of the crispy rice with tuna tartare". 

More about Hot Stone

Our Hot Stone Test Drive

 

NEW - Humble Chicken  Humble Chicken

Soho - 54 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4SL

This is chef Angelo Sato's solo Soho restaurant and it's about literally all of the chicken. Every bit of the chicken is put to use in the yakitori menu, so while you can play it safe and choose breast (with plum + shiso) or wing (with shichimi + lemon) you can also opt for achilles, tail, cartilage and more. Giles Coren says "It’s beer food. Izakaya snacks. Pub grub. And bloody good." while Tim Hayward in the FT said it features "high-quality avian deconstruction."

More about Humble Chicken

 

sumi london sushiSumi

Notting Hill - 157 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2RS

Top sushi chef Endo Kazutoshi is the man behind this gorgeous new West London sushi spot. Having opened for delivery during lockdown, they finally opened to diners in April. Obviously the sushi here is great - the temaki particularly so. Jimi Famurewa clearly loved it saying while it "packs familiar comforts for a sushi-literate audience, it deals in some curveballs too."

More about Sumi

Our Sumi Test Drive

 

Mr Ji  Mr Ji

Soho - 72 Old Compton St, Soho, London, W1D 4UN

Working on the proviso that pretty much everything TA TA Eatery get involved with is worth knowing about, folk have already been flocking to this revamped Soho spot which had them overhauling the menu. Jay Rayner was an early reviewer, describing his meal there as "fun, reasonably priced and well-executed".

More about Mr Ji

Our Mr Ji Test Drive

 

Native at Browns  Native at Browns

Mayfair - 39 Brook Street, London W1K 4AH

It certainly didn't hurt Native that their new opening in this chic Mayfair store was in possession of a rather lovely courtyard, making it the perfect set-up for alfresco dining. Jimi Famurewa loved it called the fish fillet "the capital's most intensely enjoyable new dish" - the same conclusion Marina O'Loughlin came to, "genius, simply". McDonalds haven't been so keen - they've since issued them with a 'ceast and desist' over the dish's name.

More about Native at Browns

 

The Red Duck  The Red Duck

Balham - 1 Ramsden Rd, Balham, London SW12 8QX

The Red Duck actually first opened in the depths of the winter lockdown, starting first as a delivery service that wowed Jimi Famurewa who said it enjoyed "all of (the) highs possessed skill, care and just the right amount of dutiful fidelity". It comes from someone who's worked closely with Alan Yau and is bringing something quite special to Balham, with a back-to-basics approach to studying Chinese cooking techniques. 

More about The Red Duck

 

 

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