The best restaurant experience of my entire life wasn’t a day at the Fat Duck or a night at Le Gavroche. It was a lunch at Pizza Express two years ago when the first lockdown eased and I was finally released from house arrest and having to cater for my family of four every goddamn day of the month.
An American Hot with extra olives had never tasted better and I swore I would never again take it for granted that I live in one of the most culinary diverse cities in the world, with any and every gastronomic experience I could possibly desire on my very doorstep.
So with all that time served in the domestic slammer, it’s about time we make up for all that we missed. We are positively spoilt for choice with the restaurant landscape in London: whether you’re looking for a buzzy and stylish night out with a group of mates or a traditional, romantic meal for two, the city has something for you.
Here at The Handbook, we’ve got the lowdown on the coolest places to eat in town right now…
This vibrant restaurant at the food of London’s iconic Trellick Tower on Golborne Road serves South American dishes inspired by Executive Chef Adam Rawson’s extensive travels around the continent. Formerly a bordello, the restaurant also has a club event space, at which it hosts regular live music.
10 Golborne Road, W10 5PE
Caravel @ Studio Kitchen
Originally converted to create extra dining space during Covid, an ex-office barge is the location of this restaurant from the Spiteri brothers. Moored along their pontoon, they have turned this Dutch barge into a 40-seater dining room with an open kitchen and bar. With a modern European and classic British menu, expect dishes like fresh pasta and hearty braises.
They have turned this Dutch barge into a 40-seater dining room with an open kitchen and bar...
172 Shepherdess Walk, N1 7JL
Opened on Charlotte Street in March, Chef-owner Nuno Mendes’s latest restaurant is his own love letter to his beloved hometown Lisbon. Set across three floors, guests can share ‘Petiscos’ (small plates) alongside larger offerings of ‘Tachos & Travessas’, and an eclectic and extensive Portuguese wine list.
BiBi, which means ‘The lady of the house’ is the brainchild of chef Chet Sharma. This is a contemporary Indian restaurant in Mayfair, serving chaat and grills, which are perfect for sharing, and which embrace the full multicultural span of Indian cuisine. Sharma has drawn on the years he spent cooking and sourcing ingredients for some of the most esteemed Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK to create dishes that combine the best produce from both here and India.
BiBi, which means ‘The lady of the house’ is the brainchild of chef Chet Sharma.
42 North Audley Street, W1K 6ZP
Having broken gastronomic hearts when it was forced to close during the pandemic two years ago, iconic Notting Hill restaurant The Ledbury has recently reopened with an eight-course tasting menu. This is reliable and innovative cooking, paired with fine wines in a smart, modern setting.
This is reliable and innovative cooking, paired with fine wines in a smart, modern setting.
127 Ledbury Road, W11 2AQ
Sessions Arts Club
If you haven’t been to this – one of London’s most illustrious restaurants – well, where have you been?! Sessions Arts Club is an urban sanctuary that sits in a grand Grade II* listed building in Clerkenwell, with a dining room that is surrounded by three terraces with fireplaces, a rooftop bar and garden. They pride themselves on having been built on a studio ethos, combining their restaurant, bar, and an art and performance space that moves and shifts with the seasons via its curated collective program.
Sessions Arts Club is an urban sanctuary that sits in a grand Grade II* listed building in Clerkenwell.
Old Sessions House, 24 Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0NA
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Chantelle Nicholson (of Tredwells and All’s Well fame) has opened this socially conscious restaurant in Mayfair, with sustainability at its very heart. This is a low waste operation, whose team have reconsidered everything they do from displaying the menu, to how they wash the dishes and who supplies them. Even the restaurant’s interior has been consciously designed to ensure as low a carbon footprint as possible. Seasonal British produce is championed and there is a zero-waste approach to both their tasting menu and wine & cocktail list. Flavour is paramount so you can be sure that as well as helping the planet, you will get a darn good meal too.
If you’re not a London resident, or you just don’t want to have to schlep home after your dinner, then the Princess Royal is the place for you. This beautifully-designed pub in Notting Hill – from the people behind such beloved pubs as the Thomas Cubitt and The Orange – has four individually designed bedrooms for you to choose from. Acclaimed chef, Ben Tish, has created a menu inspired by the diverse cooking styles of the gloriously sun-drenched Mediterranean way of life, as well as a focus on seasonality and bountiful British produce.
Acclaimed chef, Ben Tish, has created a menu inspired by the diverse cooking styles of the gloriously sun-drenched Mediterranean way of life.
47 Hereford Road, W2 5AH
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Frequently listed in Top Tens, this Borough Market gem brought to you by the same duo behind Islington’s much-lauded Trullo, offers a simple menu of eight seasonal pasta dishes. The pasta is all freshly made on site – passers-by can watch it being rolled out by hand in the window of the restaurant – and come with delicious sauces and fillings inspired by the owners’ trips to Italy. Bookings aren’t accepted and space is limited, but you can queue virtually by scanning their QR codes, or give their Shoreditch site a go, which will take a limited number of advance bookings.
The pasta is all freshly made on site – passers-by can watch it being rolled out by hand in the window of the restaurant.
6 Southwark Street, SE1 1TQ
Ask anyone in the Hackney area where their favourite place to eat is and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t say it’s Jolene. This is a hip, modern bakery and restaurant in a roomy, industrial-chic space, serving refined comfort food, the menu for which is updated and posted daily onto their Instagram: think ricotta gnocchi with peas & wild garlic, with a ‘nduja honey bun chaser to go. This site is their original, but there are two new satellite sites in Redchurch Street, Shoreditch and Colebrooke Row, Islington.
Think ricotta gnocchi with peas & wild garlic, with a ‘nduja honey bun chaser to go
21 Newington Green, N16 9PU
If you fancy a maki roll with a Día de los Muertos vibe, then Los Mochis is the place for you! This restaurant, in the heart of Notting Hill, champions the vibrancy, passion and heat of Mexico, whilst celebrating the cool elegance and precision of Japan. The bar boasts the second largest collection of fine and rare tequilas in Europe – and they do a mean mezcal martini.
2 – 4 Farmer Street, W8 7SN
The queues for this Soho landmark are nearly as legendary as their fluffy bao buns. But rest assured those Taiwanese buns are well worth the wait. Service is quick, prices are reasonable and the fried chicken and pork confit bao buns are to die for! Sister sites in Fitzrovia, Borough and Kings Cross mean that wherever you are in town, there is a queue worth joining with a bao bun reward at the end of it.
53 Lexington Street, W1F 9AS
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This is a lively and understated neighbourhood wine bar and restaurant in Highbury, serving seasonal small plates with a rustic Mediterranean edge. The place is most famous around these parts though for its natural wines, from which there is a fantastic selection to choose. A perfect low-key date venue.
The place is most famous around these parts though for its natural wines.
177B Blackstock Road, N5 2LL
Patron Cave à Manger
We’re still thinking about the onion crème brûlée we had at the Kentish Town Patron a few years ago so we had to put this Parisian style brasserie on the list. The menu here features all the French favourites – steak tartare, garlic snails, duck confit – as well as some dishes inspired by its continental neighbours, such as burratina and padron peppers – all of the highest quality, and accompanied by a carefully selected list of fine French wines. There is also a site in Highbury that has a great brunch menu.
Roof Garden at Pantechnicon
Even if you haven’t been to this beautiful rooftop retreat on the third floor of the food and retail arcade Pantechnicon yet, you probably recognise it from Instagram thanks to the various luxury brand brunches it has hosted recently. This is a beautiful space, with a botanical-filled outside terrace and glass-covered interior with a retractable roof for those heady summer days. A casual menu, influenced by Japanese and Nordic cooking is prepared with seasonal ingredients, and the bar can prepare you crafted cocktails and spritzes using its house infusions, botanicals and exclusive spirits.
19 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8LB