Top Tables

London's Best New Restaurants

An array of global influences is on display across the Pond, ensuring the city’s food scene is alive and well. Plus, the reservation of the moment and more top tables to know now. By Jen Murphy

London has always been heralded as having one of the world’s most diverse dining scenes. Given the city’s multicultural population, it’s possible to go on a global tasting tour without getting out your passport: more than 100 different cuisines can be sampled in settings ranging from fine-dining temples to casual wine bars. The lull of the pandemic provided chefs the opportunity to experiment and research techniques and flavors like never before. The result is a crop of wildly innovative restaurants devoted to re-creating—in some instances reimagining—the most delicious variations of foods from cultures around the globe.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to learn more about planning a trip to London. Our team can match you with the itineraries, accommodations, reservations and guides that are right for you.

Akub | Palestine

Courtesy Akub

Courtesy Akub

Fadi Kattan, the Franco-Palestinian chef behind restaurant Fawda in Bethlehem, draws on influences and inspiration from all corners of Palestine at his long-awaited London venture, Akub, in Notting Hill. The menu is designed to offer a culinary journey of regional specialties, such as hummus from Jerusalem and a peppery dandelion salad from Jericho. Kattan, who helped pioneer Bethlehem’s first food tours, calls upon his deep network of Palestinian farmers and artisans to import unique ingredients, then marries them with top-quality products sourced from around Britain. His ambition: to respectfully redefine modern Palestinian cooking. akub-restaurant.com27 Uxbridge Street

Manteca | Italy

At Manteca, British chef Chris Leach combines the nose-to-tail cooking of his youth with the handmade pastas he fell in love with while traveling around Italy. After a series of residencies, the concept finally has a permanent home in Shoreditch. The former factory digs are spacious enough to allow for a wood-fired oven, a bench where chefs roll out yolky pasta, and a glass-walled salumi room where Roman-style pork jerky and fennel pollen–seasoned sausages are hung to cure. Leach’s delicious recipe riffs include pig-skin ragù with Parmesan, brown crab cacio e pepe and seaweed tagliatelle with smoked seaweed butter. 49-51 Curtain Road

Lisboeta | Portugal

Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes has earned a devoted London following with projects like Michelin-starred Viajante, his experimental kitchen Loft Project, and his stint at celebrity hangout Chiltern Firehouse. His newest restaurant, Lisboeta, is his largest and most personal yet. Spread across three floors of a townhouse in Fitzrovia, Lisboeta is Mendes’s ode to Lisbon, the city he grew up in. An accessible menu of shareable pesticos (small plates), tachos (pots) and travessas (platters) showcases Portuguese ingredients, such as greater amberjack caught in the Azores, and acorn-fed black pork from Alentejo. Mendes brings a touch of refinement to rustic dishes like Goan-spiced pork pie and red-prawn-and-seafood rice and puts a playful twist on classic desserts like abade de priscos, a rich custard that he tops with port-wine caramel. And the extensive wine list here reads like a who’s who of Portuguese producers, both past and emerging. Charlotte Street

Speedboat | Thailand

During his 15-plus years working in Southeast Asia, chef Luke Farrell collected hundreds of seeds, which he’s cultivated back at his nursery in Dorset. Those rare ingredients are now showing up on the menus at his latest London restaurants. Earlier this year, he teamed up with JK Restaurants to dazzle Londoners’ taste buds with the pungent curries and bold stir-fries of southern Thailand at Plaza Khao Gaeng. His fall follow-up, Speedboat Bar, in Soho, delivers equally zingy dishes inspired by the restaurants of Bangkok’s neon-lit Chinatown. Named for the traditional Thai sport of speedboat racing, this spot is anchored by a menu that features wok-flamed noodles, roasted-duck curries, chili-spiked seafood salads and a tom yum (hot and sour soup) recipe from Farrell’s favorite boat racer. An upstairs bar, decorated with signed racing posters, serves the best whiskey sodas in the city. | 30 Rupert Street

Chourangi | India

While London has an abundance of excellent Indian restaurants, there are very few devoted to the cuisine of Kolkata. Chef turned restaurateur Anjan Chatterjee’s first London eatery, Chourangi, fills the void. A dining room with limestone floors, rattan furnishings and twirling fans transports diners to the coffee houses found in the historic Calcutta quarter for which the restaurant is named. Chatterjee personally sources the spices in India and adds them to ingredients from the United Kingdom’s top purveyors to re-create his favorite childhood dishes, such as clay-pot-cooked Bengali carp, Awadhi biryani and kosha lamb slow-roasted in a curry of cardamom, clove and cinnamon. | 3 Old Quebec Street

Roketsu | Japan

Roketsu claims to be London’s first truly authentic kaiseki experience. The traditional Japanese multicourse meal, whose origins lie in dishes served at the Zen Buddhist tea ceremony, celebrates ingredients at their peak of seasonality. Kaiseki master Daisuke Hayashi spent two decades training at triple Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant Kikunoi Honten in Kyoto and applies that knowledge to his intricate 10-course meals at Roketsu. The intimate hinoki wood interiors of the Marylebone restaurant were built by craftsmen affiliated with Sotoji Nakamura, one of the world’s foremost experts in sukiya (tea room)-style architecture, and shipped to London. With a counter of just 10 seats surrounding the open kitchen, reservations for dishes like sticky crab rice and pristine sashimi paired with exceptional sakes book out two months in advance. | 12 New Quebec Street

St. John Marylebone | Britain

When Fergus Henderson, godfather of modern British cookery, and restaurateur Trevor Gulliver opened pioneering restaurant St. John in 1994, they set off a nose-to-tail-eating movement that celebrated often overlooked animal parts like offal and pig’s ear. A mini St. John empire consisting of bakeries and a wine bar followed. The duo is opening its first new all-day, wine-centric spot in seven years this fall in Marylebone. “It’s inspired by the bars of Paris and Florence, which are all things to all people at all moments through every day,” says Gulliver. “We’ll offer coffee and wine, tartines and three-course meals.” In the morning, doughnuts from St. John’s Bermondsey bakery will be paired with Champagne, and lunch will feature a daily-changing blackboard menu of shareable small plates. Dinner will feel more like a feast with some classic St. John dishes gussied up with luxurious touches like a heap of caviar. Wine will play a starring role, with a carefully curated list including St. John’s own house wines and bottles reflecting Gulliver’s longstanding relationships with generations of vignerons. | 98 Marylebone Lane

The Tent (at the End of the Universe) | The Middle East

Globe-trotting star chef John Javier’s first foray into Middle Eastern cuisine puts an exciting twist on traditional flavors and techniques. Classic chicken schnitzel is reimagined with Iberico pork or saganaki cheese and other ingredients rarely represented in the region’s cooking, such as dashi, kombu and wakame, are deftly applied to dips like hummus and tzatziki. The dining experience at this vibey Fitzrovia restaurant feels more like a party, thanks to lunar-inspired lighting and live music piped through a sound system from Berlin audio specialists Martion. Rather than put the kitchen front and center, a DJ is nestled amid the 34-seat dining room; performances change nightly. | 17 Little Portland Street

Joia | The Iberian Peninsula

This fall’s opening of Joia, from Michelin-decorated Portuguese chef Henrique Sá Passoa, is certain to cement London’s new Battersea Power Station district as a new destination for food lovers. Part of the second phase of the decade-long redevelopment of the power station, Joia will span the top floors of Art’otel. The menu travels across the Iberian Peninsula, with a focus on the techniques and flavors of Catalonia and Portugal. Tableside touches, like a dollop of olive oil caviar atop a dish of salted-cod crudo with pickled onions, add to the theatrical backdrop of the London skyline. Two bars—one on the 14th floor, and one on the rooftop—feature a deep vermouth selection and cocktails mixed with Iberian spices. | 15th Floor, 1 Electric Boulevard, Nine Elms

Reservation to Get: Sessions Art Club

In an age of trend-driven dining, a truly original concept takes us by surprise. Case in point: Sessions Art Club—the darling of London’s food scene. Yes, the innovative cooking from chef Florence Knight, formerly of Soho’s beloved Polpetto, is excellent. But it’s the overall experience that has made it one of London’s toughest reservations. The entry has all the hallmarks of a private members’ club—a sign-free red door off a side street in Clerkenwell and an elevator that whisks you to reception—without any pretension. The white-tablecloth dining room is situated within an 18th-century building with distressed, blushed patina walls, custom leather banquettes inspired by the original Session House’s court chairs and a rotating art collection. A menu of dishes like fried potato and smoked eel and sea bream with fig oil and sorrel are complemented by a sensational wine list and delivered by top-notch staff. It’s more than a meal, it’s the whimsical, glamorous escape we’ve all been craving. | 24 Clerkenwell Garden

Here, five more London hotspots we're liking right now:

By Jen Barr; Recommended by Annie Fitzsimmons

Socca | French Riviera

Lyon-born (Michelin two-star) chef Claude Bosi and entrepreneur Samyukta Nair have teamed up at Socca and choreographed a sophisticated menu with French Riveria favorites and a Med-style soundtrack to match. Which means you’ll find crowd-pleasers like salade Nicoise, lobster orecchiette, lamb chops, Bosi’s signature tripe and cuttlefish gratin, along with a classic tarte aux pommes. The sky-blue awning and matching leather chairs and banquettes in seating nooks inside and art by local artists are the tipoff—it’s Mayfair to a T. | Mayfair

Honey & Co. | The Middle East

After a decade on Warren Street, the homey new light- (and plant-filled) Bloomsbury flagship of Honey & Co. has relocated to Lamb’s Conduit Street. We could eat every meal of the day here—starting with delicious Shakshuka eggs or cheesy bureka (a pastry filled with feta and zaatar); stop in for tea and sweets (orange blossom and almond buns, babka, feta and honey cheesecake); but the sharing menu is the showstopper: housemade pitta, sesame bread and milk buns, house pickles and creamy hummus, Luxor-style falafel and tahini, Ramson leaf labneh, roasted aubergine with bbq tahini crust and chicken marinated in sweet garlic with a pea and fennel salad. Yum. You had us at hummus. There is also a private dining room for up to 10 guests. | Bloomsbury

Darjeeling Express | India

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Darjeeling Express has returned to Kingly Court, in Soho, and guarantees the same authentic homestyle Bengali and Mughal cooking that pays homage to chef Asma Khan’s royal Mughlai ancestry in Calcutta: Platters of slow-cooked beef tamatar gosht and prawns in coconut milk accompanied by spicy, tangy potatoes and lentils, fried puffed Indian bread and chutneys and sweet carrot pudding. An all-women team runs the kitchen. Vegans will find plenty to like on the menu here. | Soho

Jacuzzi | Italy

This White Lotus-worthy trattoria on Kensington High Street is part of the Big Mamma Restaurant Group (Ave Mario, Gloria, Circolo Popolare) and guarantees a circus maximus, if that’s what you’re after. Part of a new wave of Italian- and Med-inspired restaurants in London right now (Big Mamma sister restaurant Ave Mario and newcomer Bacchanalia are two more), it’s a grand palazzo spread over four floors. Think maximalist furniture, red banquettes and over-the-top chandeliers, art and ivy literally climbing the walls. Jacuzzi's menu changes monthly to reflect the season and the local produce. Expect Saltimbocca alla romana, panfried scallops, lobster risotto and Neapolitan-style pizzas. Available for parties and takeovers. | Kensington

Ave Mario | Italy

Part of the Big Mamma restaurant group (Jacuzzi, Gloria, Circolo Popolare), this Covent Garden hot spot is a cross between a Tuscan osteria and an Italian Riviera night club, making it quite the place for a big night out on the town. From the bold crescent-shaped red velvet banquettes, booths and red-hot tiled walls to the massive mirrored bar to the menu of Italian classics, Ave Mario is designed to serve up a see-and-be-seen scene and a meal to remember. (Take note: It seats up to 295 people over three floors and two terraces.) On the menu: housemade pastas and pizzas designed to be shared, along with generously portioned mains—hearty options like aged Cornish steaks and lamb chops. Finish it all off with “Tigramisu,” “Chocogasm Mousse” or a “Mamma Mess” (our favorite Euro sweet treat, pavlova). Giant drinks (“Spirit Sancti”) have names like Jumbo Mamma, Born to Rum and Watermelon Sugar Mojito come in “jugs.” Order one and let the evening begin. | Covent Garden

And if you can't get a are five not “hot” spots where you can:

By Annie Fitzsimmons La Famiglia:

 A local favorite for upscale Italian since 1966, on the other end of the King’s Road from Sloane Square. | Chelsea

San Carlo Cicchetti: Modeled after Venetian Cicchetti bars—the Italian version of tapas—this beautiful restaurant works well for pre- or post-theater. There are two locations, but 30 Wellington Street in Covent Garden is preferable. Garden

Taro Sushi: For Americans living in London, this is the closest we’ll get to L.A. or NYC-style sushi. | Near Piccadilly Circus

The Oak W2: A warm and elegant space that defines “gastro-pub,” far from Portobello Road. | Notting Hill

The Wells Tavern: A classic pub stop before or after a walk through Hampstead Heath—don’t miss the view atop Parliament Hill. | Hampstead

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to learn more about planning a trip to London. Our team can match you with the itineraries, accommodations, reservations and guides that are right for you.

Published onMay 25, 2023

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