Get us in your inbox

Search
mike's peckham
Photograph: Danny Olivier

The best new restaurants in London

The city's best new restaurants and cafés

Written by
Isabelle Aron
Advertising

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

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Clerkenwell

Is this real life? Is this just fantasy? Those are questions you ask yourself when visiting Session Arts Club. Hidden away behind an unassuming red door, up an elevator and through the velvet curtain lies an artfully distressed former courthouse room. The interiors resemble a stunning run-down Tuscan villa complete with cracked walls, glorious columns, towering arched windows, fireplaces and beaten old rugs. Chef Florence Knight, artist Jonny Gent, and frontman Jon Spiteri have tag teamed to create something truly beautiful and a much-needed escape in London. Amid all the grandeur, a deceptively simple and seductive Brit-Mediterranean menu is on offer, with panisse aka chickpea flour chips, crab croquette, mackerel tomato and capers. It’s a place to bring your lover, your mother, your sister and your friends to one of London’s most spectacular new dining rooms. Order the panisse, eel potato, crème fraîche, and roe, squid with calamarata pasta and chocolate tart.

Old Sessions House, 24 Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0NA

  • Restaurants
  • South African
  • Nunhead

Set in an old Truman’s pub and a rather handsome, dark dining room, Kudu Grill in Peckham offers up a menu centred around the braai – a traditional south African barbecue. Food is cooked over wood and charcoal, which means many of the dishes get the wonderful smoky treatment. Think: a grilled potato flatbread with lardo, a juicy yet crisp pork chop with monkey gland sauce (a thirteen-ingredient thick, sweet, tangy and smoky barbecue-like sauce), beef-fat crispy fingerlings and charred whole black bream. Bliss.

57 Nunhead Lane, SE15 3TR.

Advertising

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.

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.

Advertising

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).

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. 

Advertising

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

‘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.

Advertising

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. 

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.

Advertising

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.

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.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Best-selling Time Out offers
        Advertising