This little sister to Manuka (which AA Gill gave five stars for food and a 9/10 score over all) is a tiny 50-seater with some of the most charming staff and jaw-droppingly stunning food you’ll find in a long time. Simple and perfectly executed, find dishes like the daily changing market fish with truffle mash, clams, oyster mushrooms & parsley pesto. Be sure to save room for dessert -- the peanut butter chocolate pretzel tart is amazing, and huge.
One successful feeding of the masses under their belt, the DF crew has brought their (kind of) self-service tacos, burritos, and enchiladas to central. Following the same service style as the original Brick Lane location, get friendly with the automated computer ordering system, load up on liquids (self-service drinks = all the refills), and let those plates of Mexican goodness come to you.
All hail Jacob Kenedy, who once again has brought amazing regional Italian to the masses and this time, you wont have to fight tooth-and-nail to get a rezzie. Served by weight, load up a tray with fresh fried squid, pizza slabs, bright salads, and -- seriously stop the presses -- fried lasagna balls. Exactly as they sound, these fist-sized spheres are filled with all the meat, cheese, and layers of pasta you could expect. Throw in a mini Gelupo stand, prosecco on tap, and a closing time of midnight and you’ve just found your new hang out in W1.
From the crew that brought you the ever-box-ticking and award-winning gastropub, The Truscott Arms in Maida Vale, comes a slightly more grape-centric venture. And by “slightly” we actually mean “totally,” with 300 bottles joined by 50 by-the-glass options. The food is mainly in the form of small plates, like the charcuterie-laden pig board w/ beef chips, all rustled up by the quiet genius of Aidan McGee, who is one of the most underrated chefs in London.
Bad for the heart, but so good for the soul -- Dirty Bones is back with its sophomoric venture filled with wings, dogs, and burgers including the signature Mac Daddy; a 6oz patty topped with pulled beef short rib, mac & cheese, Dirty Bone sauce, and pickle. Also check out the bottomless brunch for a remarkably reasonable £15.
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The first London outpost from The Natural Cook author Tom Hunt, who has been already happily feeding Bristolians for a while now with his local/sustainable/organic/ethically sourced/etc small plates. Housed in a former cycle shop and positioned as some kind of Spanish & Moroccan cross, all ingredients are as British as they can be, and most are sourced within a 100-mile radius.
Time to add another great spot to the growing scene up in Kentish Town. Headed up by Michelin star-trained chef Jess Simmons, who earned her stripes with Angela Hartnett before setting up the kitchen at the London Fields Brewery, the menu is surprisingly meat focused with a serious beer tie-in, and the is pricing low enough that you’ll wonder if there’s a mistype (including a delicious & thick hanger steak for a tenner).
What started as a series of pop-ups in Copenhagen has branched out into a fully fledged “meat & metal” restaurant and take-away joint. With only 22 seats, this micro-eatery will focus on kebabs and Mangal-style cooking (with a few global influences) coming out of a wood-fired oven.
Good news West London! The Wright Brothers are bringing their mollusk empire towards the setting sun. Calling back to days of Paris this place is darker and more intimate then its more recent siblings, but has a few new tricks. This time there’s a stand-alone Mermaid Bar, meaning wine & cocktails will take center stage alongside house oysters direct from their farm (at a mere pound per shell).
Because obviously London really needed another pizza restaurant, Homeslice has opened a second location. While it'll still be focusing on its fantastic 20in pizzas and slices, it’s a much bigger space with 120 seats, plus a cocktail bar, prosecco on tap, and a dedicated take-away area.
Bright and airy, this is the kind of place that just feels good to be in. The fact that it serves delicious seafood certainly doesn’t hurt either. While the lobster roll and other namesake dishes are certainly at the forefront, the whole menu -- including the addiction-inducing crab croquette -- is fresh and delicious.
The Swedes are annoyingly good at many things, including the art of preserving and seasoning food via smoking, salting, brining, and pickling. Combining these methods w/ British ingredients, and a simple pared-down design & service concept, this little restaurant (hidden off the wrong end of Curtain Rd) is ready for action. It also gets top marks for having a late license meaning you can snack on 'nduja quail Scotch eggs and duck leg w/ bacon & lingonberry jam 'till 1am on the weekends.
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Haley Forest is a London writer who wants to eat all of these. Watch her do so on Twitter at @HCForest.
1. Salt & Honey28 Sussex Pl, London
2. DF Mexico28-29 Tottenham Court Road, London
3. Vico1 Cambridge Circus, London
4. The Truscott Cellar240 Haverstock Hill, London
5. Dirty Bones20 Kensington Church St, London
6. Poco129 Pritchard's Rd, London
7. Beef and Brew323 Kentish Town Rd, London
8. Black Axe Mangal156 Canonbury Road , London
9. Wright Brothers Kensington56 Old Brompton Road, London
10. Homeslice13 Neal's Yard, London
11. Lobster BarUnit 2, London
12. Rök26 Curtain Road, London
This quaint restaurant only sits 50 total But their food is anything but quaint. This is a fine dining establishment with menu items like market fish with truffle mash and peanut butter chocolate pretzel tart.
The DF stands for ‘Distrito Federal,’ what Mexicans call Mexico City. We’re not sure they’d call the modern, Americanized cantina fare at this casual industrial-chic stop authentic, where you order tortas served in brioche via an iPad and the only Mexican thing about the buttermilk-fried chicken sandwiches is chipotle-mayo, but the frozen margaritas are fun! Burritos, DIY tacos, crunchy salads and grilled chicken and steak can be joined by creamy corn, chorizo-pinto beans or crinkle-cut fries.
This spot was started by the culinary genius behind Soho staple Bocca Di Lupo, and it’s nearly identical -- only without the extra fanfare and hard-to-come by reservations. This regional spot is quick and easy, offering loads of antipasti, like ridiculously good burrata and with other fresh accompaniments fresh -- plus all the fritti, pasta, and pizza you could ask for.
This contemporary wine bar, brought to you by the folks behind The Truscott Arms in Maida Vale, has over 300 bottles and 50 by-the-glass options. Small plates, dreamed up by chef Aidan McGee, are very charcuterie-centric and most of the meats and cheeses offered are locally sourced.
If you’re a comfort food connoisseur who anguishes over whether to order a juicy burger or home-style macaroni and cheese, fret not: Dirty Bones lets you have both at the same time. This hip Kensington spot serves high quality American-inspired eats, ranging from classics like chicken and waffles to the standout Mac Daddy, a heaping burger with pulled beef rib, topped with luscious macaroni and cheese and house barbecue sauce. Combined with the trendy, Brooklyn-inspired ambience and the killer list of specialty cocktails, it’s a weekend hotspot worth checking out.
This eco-minded spot, located in a former cycle shop on Broadway Market, focuses on locally sourced ingredients and seasonal flavors. There is al fresco dining and communal table seating, and the space is meant to feel rustic and ethical with plenty of reclaimed and recycled materials. Humble and affordable tapas compliment unique and artfully prepared cocktails.
As the name suggests, the menu here is all about meat. Cheap prices, plus beer make this place a great stop for protein.
Black Axe Mangal is all about kebabs cooked in a wood-fire oven. It's a small place, only seating 20, but punches big flavors into a small space.
This intimate dining room is the perfect place to chow down on some taste seafood platters.
This former food stall has now found a permanent home to serve up unique pizzas and Prosecco on tap. The large, 120-seat space has a cocktail bar, dining area and takeout section, and a dedication to fresh, seasonal ingredients is the primary focus.
Enjoy their fresh seafood menu in their bright and airy restaurant.