Fish and vegan restaurants were particularly popular in London’s 2018 openings—proof that eco-conscious Londoners are looking for tasty ways to cut meat out of their diet. While the East End continues to be a hot spot for chefs looking to make their name, particularly those who have served their tutelage in the grander Mayfair kitchens, the financial district, too, has made waves this year. Here are the eight new restaurants you’ll want to make reservations at the next time you’re in London.
Brigadiers The financial district of the City isn’t the usual destination for a night out, but Brigadiers, a thoroughly indulgent sports bar/Indian restaurant, is bucking the trend. Since its opening in June, its barbecued meats—and whiskey vending machine—have been pulling in the crowds, from a tandoori rib eye to lip-smacking goat chops. You can play pool or cards while snacking on the masala pork scratchings, and there are punch and champagne fountains to keep your whistle wet.
The Spread Eagle The Sunday roast at the local pub is one Britain’s most enduring traditions. So when The Spread Eagle, London’s first 100 percent vegan pub, opened in January in Homerton, there were plenty wondering whether it would find an audience. It has, thanks to food that owes nothing at all to the nut roast. Fish-finger sandwiches (made of “tofish”), mushroom scallops, and jackfruit carnitas you’d swear were pulled pork will delight even the meat-eaters, while the triple-fried chips are worth the trip alone. Enjoy them with any one of its 16 vegan beers.
Cornerstone Since April, Cornishman Tom Brown, once head chef at Michelin-starred The Capital, has been serving some of London’s best seafood at Cornerstone in a sparsely furnished dining room in trendy Hackney Wick. Go for the raw dishes for the full flavor—scallops with roast chicken dressing or pickled oysters with celery and horseradish cream, washed down with an English rosehip negroni. A sumptuous dessert list includes a baked-to-order pear crumble.
Sambal Shiok Former lawyer Mandy Yin grew up in Kuala Lumpur, and her Malaysian laksa has been a staple of the street food scene for years now. In June, Sambal Shiok found a permanent address in Islington; it remains a fantastic value with everything on the menu less than $20. “The Standard” comes with fat rice noodles, fried tofu, sprouts, and beans, while “The Special” includes king prawns and poached chicken. It’s worth a trip if you’re a riesling fan, too. The specialized wine list complements the menu, which also includes beef rendang, gado gado salad, and fried chicken.
Bancone The West End, the entertainment quarter of London, is full of substandard Italian joints hoovering up the tourist dollar. So praise be for Bancone, which began serving its honestly priced and heartwarming pasta this June. Antipasti include smoked Gressingham duck with parmesan snow, while its fazzoletti comes in walnut butter and the tagliatelle with generous portions of braised lamb. The star dish is the oxtail ragu, cooked 10 hours in the open kitchen. A true neighborhood restaurant in the center of town.
Hide The arrival of Oliver Dabbous’s new restaurant, Hide, was London’s uncontested food event of the year—a three-story goliath in glamorous Piccadilly that won a Michelin star within six months of its April opening. It’s all in the numbers: 180 covers, 200 staff, and a rumored £20 million budget. There’s a cocktail bar in the basement, and an exclusive tasting-menu experience on the second floor, which has, it is said, a secret car lift so that mega-celebs can arrive incognito. The ground floor à la carte dining room serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner; signature dishes include barbecued octopus with muscatel grapes and squab pigeon with smoked walnut praline.
Brat After leaving legendary Mayfair restaurant Kitty Fisher’s, Welsh chef Tomos Parry traveled around the Basque country. He returned with a favorite turbot dish (known as brat)—and named his own place in Hackney that opened in March after it. The Michelin star restaurant is located in a bijou wood-paneled space on the first floor of a former strip club, where diners watch their food being cooked on the central wood-fired grill (which also caters to duck, lamb, grouse, and lobster). The eggs and caviar is a Parry special, created when he got home one night and had nothing else in the fridge.
Casa do Frango Casa do Frango, the Portuguese piri-piri joint that opened in July just around the corner from food-lover heaven Borough Market, is introducing a generation of Nando’s-lovers to the real thing. Its Algarvian-English owners, Marco Mendes, Jake Kasumov, and Reza Merchant, serve their wood-grilled chicken in a large light-filled room accompanied by regional charcuterie and natural wines. Don’t leave without trying the gazpacho—or their housemade pasteis de nata custard tarts.
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