The best of London

Institutional dining, 'concept' tables, brasserie or inventive gastronomic experimentation: London ingenuity seems always disposed to investigate new concepts and there is surely more to come. Focus on the addresses that count.
2018-09-03
Gastronomy

BOB BOB RICARD, Soho

This art-deco Soho restaurant has just launched a new Sunday lunch menu, so now punters will be pressing the button for 16oz, corn-fed Arkansas Prime Black Angus, as well as champagne.

BRONTE, Trafalgar Square

Supper at Bronte is a total treat. It is right next to Trafalgar Square, with sheltered outside seating and a large dining room inside. Chef Tom Dixon serves up classic dishes with an Asian twist (think sashimi pizzas, truffle bao and matcha Eton mess), while the bar staff whip up similarly funky cocktails. Our favourite is the White Rabbit. Your Instagram is about to go into overdrive…

CAFÉ BOHEME, Soho

The recently reopened Cafe Boheme is as charming and Left Bank as you remember – marble-topped bistro tables lit with flickering tapered candles, rickety wooden chairs and half of Soho squished inside. But the menu is sharper, with ever-popular bavette steak and frites, garlic escargots and a rather wicked crème brûlée. Mornings are best spent eating scrambled eggs at one of the long outside tables, and afternoons are for listening to live jazz in the bar (every day from 3 to 5pm). Best of all, it stays open into the small hours – the iconic croque monsieur, served until 3am, is quite delicious!

DARJEELING EXPRESS, Soho

If you’re after authentic North Indian and Bengali food, you’ve come to the right place. Run by Calcutta-born self-taught chef Asma Khan, what started out as an enormously popular supper club for 12 at her home has now opened in the form of a buzzing restaurant at the top of Kingly Court. No one in the all-women kitchen is a trained chef – instead, they all learnt from their grandmothers, so you can expect glorious home-style dishes, like slow-cooked Bengali goat curry and spiced tiger prawns in coconut milk. The menu changes every eight weeks to reflect the seasonality of British vegetables, and welcoming Asma is usually on hand to greet every diner who walks in. This is Indian food as it should be eaten.

JAMAVAR, Mayfair

Everything in Mayfair is posh, especially the mega-swish Indian restaurant Jamavar. The cocktails are appropriately exquisite, featuring exotic ingredients such as the Blue Lady flowers and absinthe spray, and the food is extraordinary; here the most adventurous offerings are quite delicious (the chef, Rohit Ghai, previously led the kitchen at Michelin-starred Gymkhana), like the crispy guineafowl Malligai starter - little nubbins of rich, savoury perfection - or the Malai stone-bass Tikka, served with mace and avocado chutney, which is mind blowingly fragrant.

LA GOGGIA, Covent garden

Tucked away in the labyrinthine side streets of Covent Garden, in the aptly named Floral Court, you’ll find Petersham Nurseries’s new West End outposts: the Petersham, a copy of its original restaurant, and its intriguing (Italian) little sister, La Goccia. Both restaurants spill out on to the courtyard which is strewn with the group’s signature blooms. Inside, La Goccia is buzzy, made up of several rooms and centred on an open grill, where chefs effortlessly whip up the menu’s edited selection of Venetian small plates, or Cicchetti. We started our meal with the burrata; it was fresh and creamy and served with a generous dollop of Zisola olive oil, which we mopped up with big morceau of the onion and rosemary focaccia. Other standout dishes include the fried chicken (sourced from the family’s Haye Farm) which was expertly done, simultaneously moist and crispy, and tasting even better when dipped in the accompanying aioli; the squid with tomato salsa, the crab linguini, and the spicy nduja pizzetta, a small pizza with a fiery kick.

SHUANG SHUANG, Covent Garden

Prawn heads with lemongrass, fermented broad beans with Sichuan peppercorns and black-fleshed chicken with berries are just three of the big-flavoured broths you'll find at London's first Chinese hot-pot restaurant - a cross between the Stock Pot of yore and Yo Sushi. Fresh ingredients are laden on a conveyor belt which snakes by, you then choose the dishes that take your fancy and cook them up in your personal sunken pot. It's futuristic and a bit wacky but also fun and the results taste rather good.

VILLA DI GEGGIANO, Chiswick

Villa Di Geggiano is a splendid 15th-century palazzo in Chianti with a noble lineage and acres of vineyards producing some of the most delicious red wine in the world. It also has an outpost in west London - a slice of Tuscan decadence and hospitality on the Chiswick High Road, with a front garden full of olive trees where you can drink cocktails and eat cured meats from the Bianchi Bandinelli family's favourite salumeria. Inside, the restaurant is grand and bustling, in the best way, with a small but perfectly formed menu of delights - the tagliolini with fresh crab meat is delicious, the pici cacio e pepe is perfect and the Tuscan sausages, flown in from Siena, have become famous among foodies. And of course, there is the wine, brought directly to your table from the Geggiano cellars, organic and delicious.

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