The restaurant industry has taken an absolute beating thanks to COVID, but we are thrilled to see many of them heroically climbing back from the brink, reopening doors, dusting off the banquets and firing up the kitchens to feed us hungry Londoners once again.
We’re even more thrilled at the prospect of some of our favourite normally no-reservation restaurants opening up the booking lines to deal with dining in post-Corona times.
Yep, you can now book for the likes of Dishoom, Barrafina, Tayyabs, Gloria and more – even for a cosy table for two.
To think we used to queue for two hours in the rain for a bacon naan. Ludicrous.
One from the Parisian bar and restaurant group that can do no wrong. Big Mamma Group’s Gloria is like walking into a Gucci campaign thanks to its seriously, anything goes granny chic interiors. You used to have to queue with the rest of East London unless you came with a harem of six, but now you can book a modest table for two.
Try the pasta dipped in a melted cheese wheel at the table and don’t even think about ordering the bill before you try their famous tiramisu.
GLORIA, 54-56 GREAT EASTERN ST, HACKNEY, LONDON EC2A 3QR
If you’re familiar with Soho’s Lexington Street you’ll be familiar with Bao’s ridiculous queues around the block. The Soho favourite is yet to reopen but you can still get your bao fix by heading to their Borough outpost to tuck into the pillowy soft Taiwanese buns and their delectable fillings.
For those conscious of social distancing rules, from 22nd July, they will also be offering seats in the new outdoor sheltered area.
BAO Borough, 13 Stoney St, Borough Market, London SE1 9AD
We missed these guys so much during lockdown we took to making their famous creamed spinach recipe at home, which they kindly shared on Instagram.
We’re officially hanging up our aprons once again as they’ve reopened their London Bridge branch and are taking bookings – hurrah.
Hands down, it’s here that you’ll find one of the best, most affordable steaks in London. They basically do one thing and they do it well – a flat iron cut of beef, cooked to perfection and served with salad.
With smashing sides like chips and aformentioned spinach, good wine and welcome beef dropping popcorn, this unpretentious restaurant offers warm, friendly service and dinner for less than 20 quid. And now without a queue, too!
Flat Iron, 112-116 TOOLEY STREET, London SE1 2TH
If you’re sick of queuing for Dishoom’s Bombay-inspired street food, now is your time. The Shoreditch, King’s Cross, Carnaby, Edinburgh and Manchester restaurants are all now open for business and you can book online to guarantee a table for as few as two guests.
We deplore you to not find something (or 100 things) you don’t like on this menu, from the bacon naan baps at breakfast to the Dishoom family recipe chicken tikka, this restaurant offers a journey through spices, day right through to night.
Shoreditch, King’s Cross, Carnaby, Edinburgh and Manchester
We might not be booking our next long-haul just yet but we can book in for the next best thing as Sri Lankan restaurant, Hoppers is taking reservations.
Head there for the eponymous dish – rice and coconut pancakes served with brightly coloured and flavour packed fillings and a fried egg. Delicious.
For now it’s just the Kings Cross & Marylebone restaurants that have reopened and the team have extended the terrace areas to compensate for the loss of socially distanced seats inside.
Kings Cross and Marylebone
Dean Street is already open, Adelaide follows on 30th July and we’re still waiting to hear about the other outposts, but you can now officially book a table at Barrafina.
The Michelin-starred tapas restaurant serves up some of the best Spanish-inspired small plates in the UK, from Prawn and Piquillo Pepper Tortillas to Buñuelos de Bacalao.
There’s no wonder Barrafina was voted Britain’s Best Restaurant at the National Restaurant Awards in 2015 – it’s been charming Londoners ever since.
Dean Street and Adelaide Street
This world-famous dumpling restaurant is a must try for self-confessed foodies. In fact, when they opened their first London outpost people really lost their sh*t with queues snaking round the corner.
If you’ve still not managed to nab a table, you’ll have the last laugh now as you can actually book for as few as two diners. They are going above and beyond when it comes to safely, taking your temperature on arrival, mobile-only ordering and all the usual social distancing rules.
DIN TAI FUNG, 5 HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, LONDON WC2E 8PT
Walk-ins are still welcomed at Blacklock if you have a sudden hankering for a juicy steak, but you can also take advantage of their temporary booking service at both the Soho and Shoreditch chophouses.
Dining here is somewhat Henry VIII style – chops in every cut, meat and size you could think of – served on plates that look borrowed from your granny. Plus, a dedicated £5 cocktail menu that is very welcomed but hugely dangerous.
Soho and Shoreditch
Say what? The staunchly no-reservations restaurant that sees punters line the quiet streets of Whitechapel have opened a booking service for the first time ever.
Decidedly down and dirty (this is no-frills, BYOB dining at its best), Tayyabs might not be the most Instagrammable of places but the punjabi-inspired menu is utterly delicious.
Always order the lamb chops – if you know, you know.
Tayyabs, 83-89 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London E1 1JU