This year has been hard. Excruciating even, especially for all those working within the hospitality sector. As of last night, London has now entered Tier 3, meaning that restaurants up and down the city have to shut their doors indefinitely for the third time this year, with many wondering if they’ll even be able to make it through this winter.
But mixed amongst the uncertainty and sadness are some incredible stories and new restaurants that opened up this year, some which were born out of the pandemic. While restaurants remain closed for now, we wanted to share our favourites that opened their doors for the first time this year, in the hope that, in the new year, we’ll all be able to sit in, enjoy the exciting flavours and soak up the energetic atmosphere once more.
To the restaurant owners, entrepreneurs, bartenders, waitresses and everyone else involved who helped keep the restaurant industry ticking along in what can only be described as the hardest year for hospitality, we take our hats off to you. Keep fighting against the coronavirus current and we can’t wait to see you in person soon.
Driving inspiration from both Greek and Eastern Mediterranean cultures, Ampéli’s focuses on indigenous wines of Greek mainland and its tropical-eqsue islands. At the helm is Head Chef Oren Goldfeld who’s put together a delicate menu of social plates, designed for parties and sharing. Hero dishes include the Beef Croquette with harissa mayonnaise; Rabbit Loin, confit leg borek, turnip tops and potato dumplings; and King Prawns served on a rich smoked tomato sauce, broccoli, feta and grilled sourdough.
The brainchild of Tom Aiken, Muse marked the renowned chef’s return to experience-led fine dining. Opening early January, Aiken pried open the doors to his latest venture in Belgravia, offering three-, seven- and nine-course menus. Each dish has been carefully crafted to help provoke lasting memories, taking inspiration from nostalgia and key moments in both his personal life and career.
Earlier this year, supper club specialists The Water House Project opened up their first brick-and-mortar venue in Hackney, and since then, the rest is history. The social fine dining space serves up a delectable nine-course tasting menu with paired wines for 32 guests access two sharing tables in their Mare Street space. Grab a table in the new year and try it out for yourself.
Translating in English to an old wooden home where you go to socialise, live and eat, Baraka champions flame Mangal cooking and old recipes from the Ottoman Empire. Perfectly positioned just shy of Liverpool Street Station, Baraka can be found serving a selection of Turkish style mezza platters, charcoal grill offerings and indulgent, sticky homemade baklava.
Expect Turkish style mezza platters, charcoal grill offerings and indulgent, sticky homemade baklava.
Where: 1 Finsbury Avenue, Unit 4, EC2M 2PF
Cocktail and wine bar meets shared plate dining destination. If you like your cocktails paired alongside a delicious selection of sharing plates, Smokey Kudu is the place for you. Part of the Kudu Collective, pull up a pew and sample some of the most innovative cocktail combinations in the city. We love the Queen’s Road Sour, a mix of smoked amaretto, Old Forester, bourbon, lemon and orange.
Where: Arch 133, Queens Road, Peckham SE15 2ND
Helping to bring the fiery spark of traditional Spanish cuisine to The Borough Market Kitchen was Brindisa’s latest endeavour, Brindisa Kitchen. If you’re one for adventures, prepare to be guided on a culinary journey as you follow in the footsteps of an ancient Spanish pilgrimage, La Ruta de la Plata. The menu consists of seafood and fish delicacies from varying Spanish regions.
Prepare to be guided on a culinary journey as you follow in the footsteps of an ancient Spanish pilgrimage
Where: Borough Market Kitchen, Winchester Walk, SE1 9A
It’s no secret that it’s near impossible to nab a seat at London’s finest and most affordable pasta restaurant, Padella, but this year saw the opening of their second venue in the heart of Shoreditch. Known across the city for boasting London’s longest queues, the fresh pasta restaurant is both effortlessly delicious and incredibly affordable. Will you be able to get yourself a table to try it out? We can’t guarantee but boy, is it worth the punt!
Where: 1 Phipp Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 4PS
London went hopping crazy over the news that Hoppers would be opening up another venture in King’s Cross, and rightly so, it’s blooming delicious. The restaurant is inspired by the traditional home cooking techniques and street food found in Sri Lanka and Southern India, and elevates it to a whole new level. The menu features bar bites, seafood grill and beach-side snacks.
South west Londoners favourite spot, Megan’s opened up a brand new branch in the beating heart of Islington. The dog friendly joint brought with it a new brunch getaway to London’s ever-growing scene. By day, Executive Chef Sercan is found serving up brunch delights and avocado on toast, by night the restaurant becomes a haven for sharing plates and posh kebabs.
Where: 6 Esther Anne Place, Islington, N1 1WL
Bringing a splash of Nigerian spice to the city is Chuku’s and their newest endeavour in Tottenham. Championing authentic Nigerian flavours and hospitality, Chuku’s is run by brother-sister duo Emeka and Ifeyinwa, and offers exceptional mini tapas plates, perfecting for sharing and socialising.
Where: 274 High Road, Tottenham, N15 4RR
Channeling traditional French cooking is Patron Cave À Manger who opened up their second site in the heart of Highbury and Islington later in February. Carrying on its older siblings tradition, you can expect to be munching your way through a selection of small plates bursting with authentic French ingredients including steak tartare, French onion soup and the all important frog’s legs.
If you’re a fan of open kitchens, you’ll delight by the sight of the wood-burning grill and rotisserie helping to bring all of the kitchen’s theatrics to centre-stage. Think meat and fish grilled to perfection over British hardwood charcoal and burnt apple wood.
If you’re a hardened foodie, you’ll know how big this news is.
Having successfully won the hearts of thousands of diners during its reign from 1955 – 2000, The Connaught Grill reopened its doors earlier in March. It’s been revived with contemporary interpretations in both design, thanks to its interiors by architect John Heah and wood artistry from Nakishima Woodworkers, and cuisine crafted by Chef Jean-Gerges Vongerichten.
Where: THE CONNAUGHT, CARLOS PLACE, MAYFAIR, W1K 2AL
Chicken is an ingredient that can go two ways: complete and utterly dry or succulent, juicy and delicious, and Cocotte has mastered the latter.
Committed to the farm-to-table concept, Cocotte has become renowned for their fresh and farm-grown delights, and these foundations were transposed at their latest outpost on New Kings Road too. Every cut is perfectly marinated for 24 hours in their special secret blend, before being cooked on the spit for you to enjoy. Paired alongside their trusty salads and you’re onto a real chicken-fuelled winner.
Where: 271 NEW KINGS ROAD, PARSONS GREEN, SW6 4RD
Larry’s is the New Yorkian diner you’d always dreamt of.
Drawing on the success of Salon and Levan, the wonder trio made up of Nicholas Balfe, Mark Gurney and Matt Bushnell decided to set up shop in Peckham bringing with them fresh flaky pastries, deli-style sandwiches and sharing plates.
Wondering where the name derives from? An old-school 70s dance music pioneer and DJ Larry Levan. Weird but we’re into it.
Where: 12-16 BLENHEIM GROVE, SE15 4QL
Wild flower; a flower of an uncultivated variety or a flower growing freely without human intervention. You might think this is just a ‘trusty’ old Google definition, and granted it is, but these values transpose into this new restaurant opening.
Tucked in Camden Market, Wildflower is a brand-new fine dining resto that embodies sustainability and ingredients in their most natural form. The restaurant comes as Irish chef Adrian Martin’s first solo adventure and values draw on foods that are foraged, fished or naturally grown.
Hero dishes include Hand Dive Scallop, ranch and sand carrot; Cornish Cep Mushroom Custard, brown butter, autumn truffle and artichoke; and Barbecue Cumbrian Beef, onion miso, cucumber and beer pickle. There’s also a vegan tasting menu too for you veggies.
Where: BUCK STREET MARKET, CAMDEN HIGH STREET, NW1 8QP
Let’s jump to July when restaurants were allowed to reopen following Lockdown 1.0…
We’ve got some cracking news for you… The LA-based diner franchise Eggslut opened its second residency in London earlier in July.
Defining themselves as a chef driven, gourmet food concept, Eggslut has been helping to redefine everything we knew and already loved about the humble egg and help transport the simple ingredient into the 21st century. The Percy Street menu brought all of the Eggslut favourites, from ‘the slut’, a combination of coddled egg on top of smooth potato puree, that’s been poached in a glass jar and served with baguette slices, to the ‘Gaucho’, consisting of sear wagyu tri-tip steak, cage-free over medium egg, chimichurri, red onions and dressed arugula.
Forget your half hearted sunny side up sandwiches at home and dive into one of their beloved eggy baps to cure your Sunday hangover.
Where: 17 PERCY STREET, FITZROVIA, W1T 1DT
Originally scheduled to open in March, Six by NICO London’s opening date was pushed back due to lockdown 1.0. But finally opened up in the middle of July, making this the seventh venture for Nico Simeone’s in the UK.
Every six weeks the six course tasting menu is entirely reinvented, inspired by memories, ideas and places. The first tasting menu took inspiration from the humble ‘chippie’, inspired by Simeone’s Scottish-Italian heritage, while others have championed childhood and the festive season.
Simeone’s Edinburgh restaurant usually has an eight week waiting list, so we’re certain Six by Nico London is set to live up to his epic reputation.
Despite the help given by award-winning bars across the city, we still never managed to perfect the art of cocktail making during lockdown. But here to help us out is our new favourite hideout is set to be Swift, an award-winning cocktail bar which opened in Shoreditch.
Swift’s new branch in Shoreditch took interior inspiration from their sister bar in Soho, bringing with them elegant art deco touches, banquette style seating and high chairs lining the bar counter, perfect for a nightcap. The menu will have all-day dining options, from brunch classes to to-go breakfast items.
Put down your cocktail shaker and leave the cocktail making to the experts at Swift.
Put down your cocktail shaker and leave the cocktail making to the experts at Swift.
where: 93 GREAT EASTERN STREET, SHOREDITCH, EC2A 3HZ
Lockdown was an incredibly confusing and taunting time for many but Kaké is one of the many loveable stories that came out of the bizarreness. The sushi bar was born out of the chaos, bringing together an empty sushi bar and creative chefs together. The result? Amazing. This sushi spot is fresh and brings the simplicity of Japanese cooking to the forefront. We can’t wait to see what’s next in store.
where: FIRST FLOOR, 31 BEAUCHAMP PLACE, SW3 1NU
Lockdown brought with it a lot of sadness, heartache and problems, but the period did birth a few happy stories along the way, including the arrival of Love Triangle, a new artisan pizza joint in Balham.
Set up by three friends who all lost their jobs to the pandemic, Love Triangle merges three millennial highlights: pink interiors, awesome branding and pizza. Oh, and an outdoor terrace too.
The dough is perfectly cooked inside their brighter than life pizza oven (it’s got a quirky face on it – definitely worth a shot for the ‘gram), and we love their n’duja and fennel topped pizza that’ll add a fiery kick to your day.
For every pizza ordered too, the team donates a meal to their local food bank. A meal with a conscience.
Set up by sisters Grace and Victoria Sheppard after working in hospitality for several years, Queens of Mayfair is a brand new speciality coffee shop-cum-cocktail bar in Mayfair. The pair decided to make their dream a reality, offering high quality and artisanal produce to the London market.
By day, it’s a coffee shop, boasting a delicious breakfast and lunch menu and by night, it’s a new cocktail and wine bar, serving up an exceptional cocktail filled with classics.
Originally slated to open at the beginning of the year, Queens of Mayfair finally opened its doors in August.
Boasting outposts in Covent Garden and Southwark, Tandoori Chop House has recently launched its third location inside Eggbreak in Notting Hill.
The team will be serving up their renowned Northern Indian menu, while still championing the best of a classic British chop house. Think punchy spiced flavours with carefully selected cuts of meat. On offer will also be dishes from their other delivery based restaurant, Tandoor Tacos. We’d recommend trying the ‘great paneer’ taco, a mix of egg paratha, jalfrezi mix, paneer, pickle onion, green chutney, fennel, lettuce and coriander.
Chicken wings can often be so disappointing. Dry, halfhearted additions to the menu but Wingmans has other ideas. The eatery has become renowned for its succulent, often spicy, freshly dipped buttermilk wings and sauces, and they’ve just landed a brand new restaurant slap bang in the middle of Soho.
Get your wing fix and order in a boat load of their signature offerings, from their award winning buffalo with blue cheese and celery wings to their sweet and smoky bbq bites. Add on some truffle parmesan fries and spicy Korean cucumbers and you’ve got yourself a meal to remember.
Where: 28-31 OLD COMPTON STREET, SOHO W1D 5JS
The Signet Collection, a new boutique luxury hotel brand, officially launched this month, with the arrival of their first hotel The Mitre opening in Hampton Court. Originally used as ancillary accommodation for guests of King Charles II at Hampton Court Palace, The Mitre has been transformed into a beautiful boutique hotel, boasting 36 rooms and two gorgeous new restaurants.
Headed by Ronnie Kimbugwe, the new Culinary & Operations Director, has created beautiful menus throughout the whole hotel, with a strong modern British comfort food focus. The first, Coppernose, will boast an all-day menu with views over the riverside, and will include dishes such as flamed English asparagus, broad beans, watercress and fried duck egg; and Atlantic lobster and prawn Cocktail, gems, Sriracha and lemon. Meanwhile, 1665 will be a modern brasserie, boasting stunning interiors which tie in the building’s heritage as well as an expansive terrace for al fresco dining.
Where: HAMPTON COURT ROAD, MOLESEY, EAST MOLESEY KT8 9BN
We’re all for restaurants hopping on the sustainability bandwagon to help do their bit and new Mayfair restaurant, Fallow is no exception to the rule.
Co-owned by chefs Jack Croft and Will Murray, the 40-cover restaurant will comprise a weekly changing menu that’s made up of light snacks, small plates and mains championing the finest sustainable produce and environmentally friendly methods too.
where: 10 HEDDON STREET, MAYFAIR, W1B 4BX
A very exciting venture from Chiltern Firehouse’s Guillaume Glipa and Paris Society; Louie is a brand new four-storey townhouse restaurant-bar that’s opened in September, on the former L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon site.
The four-storey complex features a two-storey restaurant, bar and rooftop terrace, and the kitchen will be headed by Slade Rushing, specialising in Creole and French cuisine.
The Hoxton Holborn’s new neighbourhood restaurant serving up modern bistro classics.
wherE: 199-206 HIGH HOLBORN, HOLBORN WC1V 7BD
The Hoxton Hotel group have become famed for their chic interiors and affordability, but also their rapidly expanding dining destinations. And their Holborn branch saw the arrival of their new restaurant back in September.
Enter Rondo, The Hoxton Holborn’s new neighbourhood restaurant serving up modern bistro classics. The restaurant has been launched by the hotel group and William Lander, co-owner of Quality Chop House, to bring a relaxed dining experience.
Headed by Chris Gillard, the restaurant boasts an all-day dining menu, from breakfast classics through to elevated dinner options. Highlights include: smoked mackerel, beetroot and horseradish; crispy polenta, baby artichoke, pea puree and goat’s curd; Tamworth pork chop, bobby beans and chutney; and a fun take on the British classic: strawberry sherry trifle.
If your summer plans to jet off to the south coast of France were shattered in 2020, head to London’s newest French brasserie, Maison François, for a traditional menu (without having to worry about the two week quarantine afterwards).
Founded by François O’Neill, the restaurant plays homage to the traditional brasseries of Paris, Lyon and Alsace, and focuses on simplicity and seasonality.
Open from early morning to midnight, start your day with their freshly baked breads and patisseries from their in-house bakery. For those wanting a lunch or dinner affair, the menu marries brasserie classics, including reblochon gougères and oeufs mimosa with fresh herbs sitting alongside handmade pasta dishes like ravioli dauphine, Comté and black pepper. And their dessert trolley is a must-try for all things laden with fresh fruit tarts, praline Paris-Brests and layered gateau.
Where: 34 DUKE STREET, ST. JAMES’S SW1Y 6BN
We’re a nation obsessed with the humble sandwich, and luckily for us there was a new high-end Japanese restaurant which opened up in Marylebone in September bringing an all-new wagyu sandwich to try and indulge in.
TAKA’s menu has been crafted by Group Executive Chef Taiji Maruyama (Beaverbrook and Nobu) and Head Chef Jonathan Dowling, and brought with it a Japanese small plate led menu focusing on hot and grilled dishes, as well as a tempting selection of sushi too.
Championing the best of British seasonal ingredients, the menu uses these locally-sourced ingredients to transform them using traditional Japanese techniques and flavours. Come the weekend will be another addition to London’s ever-growing brunch scene, with TAKA bringing fluffy gluten-free Japanese pancakes, alongside their menu standout: the miso glazed wagyu sando.
Describing itself as a “home for a playful celebration of Nordic and Japanese creativity and craftsmanship – a story told through food, drink, design and experiences,” Pan-technic’on is a huge new concept store, boasting creative spaces, restaurants and even a new rooftop garden to hide out on.
For the restaurants, Elder, located on the second floor, is a modern open kitchen inspired by the ten Nordic countries and their flavours, techniques and heritage, while Sachi will be serving up superb dishes inspired by local Japanese market ingredients and author of ‘Japan’, Nancy Singleton Hachisu.
Venture upstairs onto the rooftop sensational Nordic-inspired cocktails, created by expert mixologists from across the region.
Where: 19 MOTCOMB STREET, BELGRAVIA SW1X 8LB
From the legends behind Casa do Frango and the bars at Vinegar Yard and Pop Brixton, Bar Bolivar is your new go-to destination for Cuban-inspired serves and Venezualan street food concepts.
The concept is inspired by pre-revolutionary Havana and its renowned lively Cuban spirit, expressed through the colourful tiled walls, suitcase-cladded bar and vibrant tropical plants dotted around the venue.
On the booze front, expect an extensive list of boozy cocktails with a fiery Cuban twist, from the Hemingway Highball to the Gin Malecon. As for food, the menu has been designed by street food heroes, Pabellón, and is made for sharing. Choose from the likes of Aprepas – grilled corn bread filled with cheddar cheese; Pico de Gallo salad – avocado chunks, sweet fried plantains and slow cooked beef brisket; and a take on the classic Cubano sandwich, with honey-roasted ham, Emmental cheese, roasted shredded pork, pickled cucumber and American mustard.
Championing the best of British ingredients with fresh, vibrant and fiery Mexican flavours, Kol hopes to immerse its diners in its culture and heritage.
Kol’s Mexican heritage can be seen from the food to the interiors, with bright, earthy oranges and patterned tiles surrounding you. Menu highlights include: Kohlrabi, pink mole, pumpkin aguachile and smoked beetroot ceviche; Seared lamb leg, guajillo mayonnaise, wild herds and corn crisp tostada; and the Tikin Xic – roasted skate wing, achiote, cabbage purée and clams xnipec, served with salsa, pickles and fresh tortillas.
If you’re fascinated by how your food is prepared and cooked, book in for their chef’s table experience and truly immerse yourself in the theatrics of the kitchen. Chef Santiago and his team will guide you on a journey through Mexican culture and cuisine.
Ramen lovers, there’s a new downtown retro-style ramen bar in town, bringing with it hearty broths perfect for the chilly winter weather.
Heddon Yokocho, located on the pedestrianised food quarter of Heddon Street, hopes to transport its diners to the yokocho ‘alleyways’ of Japan, inspired by the retro tastes and vibrancy of 1970s Tokyo.
Offering speciality bowls of different broths from across Japan, choose from the likes of the Sapporo Miso, a miso based chicken and pork broth ramen; Hakodate Shio, a salt and miso based broth ramen; and the Vegan Napoli, a tomato based ramen with grilled tomato and mushroom topped with basil and vegan cheese. An Italian take on the traditional Japanese broth – odd, but we’re willing to give it a try.
Where: 8 HEDDON STREET, MAYFAIR W1B 4BU
The Tramshed Project bridges the gap between co-working space and dining destination, without the membership fee.
Taking over Mark Hix’s former Tramshed restaurant, the new venue is a space that allows creatives to be creative, foodies to be foodies and everyone to feel comfortable.
Three of London’s finest chefs will be taking over the kitchens. Andrew Clarke will be bringing smoked and flame-grilled dishes to the table, while Zoe Adjonyoh will be firing up the oven, bringing vibrant West African flavours and dishes to Londoners. Winner of The Great British Menu and founder of 12:51, James Cochran will also be pumping out a Caribbean-influenced menu of bar snacks, small plates and burgers, perfect for sharing. Meanwhile downstairs will boast a Basement Gallery, perfect for retrospectives, panel discussions and workshops.
Where: 32 RIVINGTON STREET, SHOREDITCH EC2A 3LX
London Fields’ latest haunt, Behind, will centre itself around the humble chef’s table experience, offering 18 lucky diners the chance to really experience the heat of the kitchen.
Run by chef Andy Beynon, the restaurant will be entirely fish-focused, with an eight course tasting menu on offer. Using sustainably sourced seafood, the menu will champion bold flavour combinations, all beautifully presented.
Next door to the restaurant will sit a small wine bar and bottle shop, perfect for a nightcap.
where: 20 SIDWORTH STREET, HACKNEY E8 3SD
From the team behind Azure Hospitality, Pali Hill is a brand new restaurant serving up hearty, authentic Indian dishes. Expect to be munching through dishes such as: Grilled venison lal maas marinated with ginger, herbs and sweet spices; Pan-fried lamb sweetbreads with black pepper, cumin, crispy curry leaves and mint; and a tangy Stuffed aubergine with green tomato chutney, and hung curd with rice flour. Yum.
Venture downstairs and you’ll find a brand new cocktail den too, Bandra Bhai, inspired by the retro smuggling dens of India.
wherE: 79-81 MORTIMER ST, FITZROVIA, LONDON W1W 7SJ
Let’s skip to December as November saw the country enter Lockdown 2.0
If you missed out on a summer soiree to the Med this year, then wash away your tears and venture to Joan, the all-new Mediterranean bistro made a beeline for Shoreditch this December, originally scheduled to open in November.
Founder Niko Kontogiannatos (formerly head chef at Caravan Fitzrovia) will be bringing Londoners a new taste of Greece, with everything cooked and made in house, from the breads to the ice creams. On the menu, you can expect everything from Salmon tartare with avocado sorbet and squid ink tuile; pan fried cod with ‘nduja and cannellini bean stew; and orange pie with white chocolate cream, orange gel and crispy filo. Yum.
Where: 19-23 BETHNAL GREEN ROAD, SHOREDITCH E1 6LA
What started as a dinner for a dozen guests at home, serving authentic Indian food passed down by generations, has since grown into a beautiful foodie empire that’s about to blossom even further. Darjeeling Express, the all-women powerhouse team, relaunched its restaurant in the heart of Covent Garden.
The cosy restaurant in Carnaby relocated, taking over a huge 150-seater restaurant in Covent Garden. The new site is split into two parts. The first, of course, being the restaurant where they’ll be offering new tasting menus for sit-down dining Wednesday through to Saturday, as well as brunch on Sunday. The tasting supper club style menus will focus on traditional feasting dishes, with the star of the show being the Lamb Dum Biryani. There’ll also be a whole vegan menu, the Pulwhari, meaning Garden, featuring classics including the Baadami Baigan and Alu Bukhara Biryani.
And the other half is an all new deli available for takeaway every day of the week, featuring popular dishes including Prawn Malaikari and Haleem.
Just when we thought all hope was lost for 2020, London’s leading bao specialists BAO launched an all day cafe dedicated to the fluffy bites of goodness.
The trio behind BAO were inspired by the Western style cafes commonly found dotted about Asia, and wanted to honour their traditions by opening up one in central London. This month, Cafe BAO will open up its doors in Pancras Square, just a short distance from King’s Cross, and they’ll be serving an all-day menu brimming with new dishes and innovative twists on their best-sellers.
Expect BAO’s legendary Classic Pork BAO, alongside classic western and Asian dishes, including a Hamburger BAO, Lobster BAO and Fried Chicken XO Butter Kiev. Plus, there’s a new Pizza BAO we’re hugely excited to try. On the dessert front, you’ll want a bite of the Lonely Puddling, BAOS’s iconic lonely man embodied in a classic creme plan, and BAO’s take on profiteroles featuring Horlicks ice cream with choccie sauce.