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mike's peckham
Photograph: Danny Olivier

The best new restaurants in London

The city's best new restaurants and cafés

By Isabelle Aron
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Every week, a frankly stupid amount of brilliant new restaurants, cafés and street food joints arrive in London. Which makes whittling a shortlist of best newbies down to manageable size a serious challenge. But here it is. The very best new restaurants in the capital. Go forth and eat.

RECOMMENDED: The 100 best restaurants in London

The best new restaurants in London

ave mario
ave mario
Photograph: Jean-Baptiste Strub

Ave Mario

Big Mamma, the swashbuckling group behind Gloria and Circolo Popolare, have been busy under lockdown. They launched an extremely good delivery service called Napoli Gang and everyone applauded. But in the background, secretly, they were beavering away at something much bigger: an enormous new restaurant. Ave Mario in Covent Garden is a 295-seat behemoth, spread over 7,000 square feet. You won’t get any of the Gloria or Circle Popolare classics here, but don’t panic. Instead, expect new showstoppers like carbonara ravioli filled with pecorino cream, egg yolk and crispy guanciale flakes; a gigantic cotoletta milanese made with high-welfare rose veal; and a two-foot-tall stracciatella ice-cream cake marbled with chocolate spread. Good Lord.

15 Henrietta St, WC2E 8QG. Opens Jun 25.

native
native
Photograph: Native

Native

Like a catering Chumbawamba, the folks behind Native get knocked down and, well, they get up again. In the last few years, they’ve moved from Covent Garden to Southwark to… Essex (they had a brief sojourn on Osea Island last summer). Now, they’re back in the capital, this time at swanky Mayfair boutique Browns. Native might be in a new location, but you can still expect the same commitment to foraged ingredients or things that would usually go to waste, including sea herbs and retired dairy cow short rib. Oh, and for dessert? Salted caramel, schmaramel – they’re serving up ‘marrowmel’, a white-chocolate-and-bone-marrow caramel.

Browns, 39 Brook St, W1K 4JE.

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Turul Project
Turul Project
Photograph: Turul Project

Turul Project

London isn’t exactly overrun with Hungarian restaurants, but here to change that is Turul Project, a restaurant, wine bar and deli that’s setting up shop in a 1930s art deco space which was previously attached to Turnpike Lane tube station. Founder István Ruska wants to ‘showcase Hungarian cuisine within a modern fine-dining setting’ and on the menu you’ll find hare with bread dumpling ‘vadas’ style, monkfish ‘paprikas’ with pasta, curd cheese and sour cream, and ‘ludláb’ torte with brandied cherries and cherry sorbet. Don’t expect the usual suspects on the wine list, either – they promise an ‘unrivalled’ selection of Hungarian vino, much of which is new to the UK. Step aside, savvy b.

1 Turnpike Parade, Green Lanes, N15 3LA. 

cheese barge
cheese barge
Photograph: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

The Cheese Barge

A cheese restaurant on a boat might sound ridiculous but, after the last 18 months, maybe eating a wheel of brie on the briny is exactly what we need. From the crew behind The Cheese Bar, the double-decker Cheese Barge will be permanently moored on the Grand Union Canal in Paddington. On the food front, you’ll find… cheese, obviously – cheese boards, but also cheese-heavy dishes like fried curried cheese curds, goats’ curd with lamb scrumpets and a sharing dish of aligot (French for cheesy mash, basically) with fennel and red wine sausages and braised red cabbage. Trousers with an elasticated waistband are advised.

Sheldon Square, Paddington Central, W2 6EZ.

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Bao Shoreditch
Bao Shoreditch
Photograph: Bao Shoreditch

Cafe Bao and Bao Noodle Shop

There are not one but two new branches from Bao, the restaurant that single-handedly got the capital hooked on buns when it first launched. First up is Cafe Bao, which threw open its doors in November last year… and then swiftly shut them. It officially opened in May and is now serving up Bao classics and some excellent new dishes – everyone’s favourite pork bao, a burger bao (a beef patty, cheese and burger sauce), Taiwanese fried chicken kiev and baked ham hock congee pie. The other new spot is Bao Noodle Shop. Yeah, plot twist, they’re pivoting to noodles, but don’t panic, there will be bao too. The noodle dishes will be inspired by the beef noodle shops of Taiwan and there will be three new bao fillings – panko shrimp croquette, iberico pork and sweetcorn congee. We have no choice but to bao down (sorry).

Cafe Bao, 4 Pancras Square, N1C 4DS.
Bao Noodle Shop, 1 Redchurch St, E2 7DJ (opens Jun 23).

mike's peckham
mike's peckham
Photograph: Danny Olivier

Mike's

‘If the only rule is making the most delicious thing you can think of, then who says what should or shouldn’t be on a pizza?’ That’s the ethos at Mike’s, a new venture from the team behind The Camberwell Arms and Peckham’s much-loved rooftop bar (also named after a man with a one-syllable name) Frank’s. Serving up pizza by the slice, you won’t find your bog-standard pepperoni here – expect flavours like smoked pancetta, artichoke, smoked provola, burrata and salted chilli as well as pineapple, mozzarella, scotch bonnet onions and mortadella. They even do brunch pizza: eggs, tropea onion and pecorino with ’nduja mascarpone, and eggs, prosciutto, mozzarella and tomato with jalapeños. Eggs benedict, who?

Unit 4.1 Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Rd, SE15 3SN.

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sunday in brooklyn
sunday in brooklyn
Photograph: Evan Sung

Sunday in Brooklyn

At a time when the idea of crossing the Atlantic to get to the USA feels like the stuff of your wildest fantasies, it’s excellent news that New York restaurant Sunday in Brooklyn is coming to London. Opening in Notting Hill, this NYC favourite known for its ace brunches. Its popular and heavily-Instagrammed malted pancakes with hazelnut praline and brown butter will be on the menu, as well as the Don Reuben omelette with mole sauce, goats’ cheese and roasted mushrooms, and ‘Biscuits and Gravy’ with drop cheddar biscuits (that’s American-style biscuits, not a chocolate digestive, obviously), sausage gravy and poached eggs. It’s not just brunch, either – other signature dishes crossing the Pond include a whole smoked artichoke and grilled swordfish with butter-bean pistou.

98 Westbourne Grove, W2 5RU. Opens July.

humble chicken
humble chicken
Photograph: Carla Barber

Humble Chicken

Forget nose to tail, Humble Chicken specialises in ‘comb to tail’ – the comb is that flappy red thing (the technical term) on the top of a chicken’s head, if you’re wondering. So expect to see all parts of the bird on the menu at this new Soho spot, which is inspired by the informal vibe of Japan’s izakayas bars, as a place to meet for after-work drinks (remember those?) and food. The menu is heavy on yakitori (grilled skewers), using every part of the chicken – we’re talking skin, liver, heart, knee bone. For the squeamish, there’s also thigh, breast and wings, plus a selection of small plates and bigger dishes. We’ll have a pint and a couple of knee bones, thanks.

54 Frith St, W1D 4SJ.

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temaki
temaki
Photograph: Indiana Petrucci

Temaki

Good news for disorganised Londoners: most of the seats at new Brixton restaurant Temaki will be walk-ins, with only a few spots you can reserve. ‘Temaki’ means ‘hand roll’ in Japanese and this place claims to be London’s first hand-roll bar, so it’s kind of a big deal. Unsurprisingly, temaki sushi is the focus here – expect traditional combinations such as unagi eel or tuna with fresh wasabi and soy, as well as regularly rotating seasonal specials. There will be a few small plates, too – including toro sashimi with smoked salt and buckwheat and salmon-skin crisps with chilli and salt. And to drink? Sip on wine, sake, Japanese beer and cocktails designed to pair with the food. Kampai!

Unit 12 Market Row, SW9 8LD.

cinder
cinder
Photograph: Hannah Norris

Cinder

Like many of us, chef Jake Finn had big plans for 2020 – he was going to open his first restaurant, having trained at La Petite Maison, Coya and The Ritz. Instead, he pivoted to a home-delivery service to save Londoners from their terrible cooking during lockdown. Now he’s finally swung open the doors to his own place: Cinder in Belsize Park. As the name suggests, this place is all about cooking with fire: chargrilled sweet peppers, seared tuna and lamb-leg skewers (no, not all on the same plate). With a mix of small plates and sharing dishes, this is the kind of place to go with a group – round up five pals and order at least one of everything.

66 Belsize Lane, NW3 5BJ.

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imad's syrian kitchen
imad's syrian kitchen
Photograph: Issy Croker

Imad’s Syrian Kitchen

Having built up an empire of food joints in Damascus, Syrian chef Imad Alarnab was forced to flee his wartorn home. He headed for the UK and on the way he cooked for fellow refugees in makeshift kitchens. Eventually, he got to the UK and started running pop-ups, helping raise money for a children’s hospital in Aleppo. Fast forward to 2021 and he’s just opened his first bricks-and-mortar spot in London, Imad’s Syrian Kitchen. The menu pays homage to his roots, with falafel, houmous and grilled chicken and lamb. Here’s hoping it’s the start of his London empire.

Kingly Court, Kingly St, W1B 5PW.

Rita's and Bodega Rita's

The always-excellent sarnie spot Bodega Rita’s in King’s Cross sadly shut up shop last year, but the good news is that Rita is rising like a phoenix from the ashes and coming back with two new eateries. First up is a new Bodega Rita’s in Clerkenwell, which will be bigger and have an extended menu, although the details are very much under wraps for now. They’re also launching a new Soho restaurant called Rita’s, which will be serving up dishes such as hot bean devilled eggs, grilled sugar-pit pork neck and a bistro-style ‘steak dinner for two’ with smoked-anchovy caesar and fried potatoes. You can also expect natural and low-intervention wines as well as punchy Margaritas (that’s what Rita’s is short for, FYI).

Bodega Rita’s, 91 Cowcross St, EC1M 6BH (opening June). Rita’s, 49 Lexington St, W1F 9AP (opening early July).

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