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SEABIRD

40 Blackfriars Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8PB, UK
Southwark

Seabird, the 14th floor rooftop restaurant and bar at The Hoxton Southwark has an incredible outdoor terrace with epic London views plus a beautiful indoor dining room and bar – it’s a pretty special spot. Joshua Boissy and Krystof Zizka (the team behind NYC’s Maison Premiere) have created London’s largest oyster menu alongside a menu of dishes with Spanish and Portuguese influences. As well as a super selection of shellfish, the tuna belly crudo with gordal olives, tomato consommé, basil, and sherry is a winner, and the octopus roll with sobrasada aioli, creamy crab croquettes and the whole John Dory topped with a zingy salsa verde are also must-orders.

QUALITY CHOP HOUSE

88-94 Farringdon Rd, Farringdon, London EC1R 3EA, UK
Farringdon

Clerkenwell’s Quality Chop House turned 150 in 2019. Despite some brief closures, there’s been a restaurant on the same site since 1869; back then it was a ‘progressive working-class caterer’ and now it’s one of the most beloved restaurants in town. Will Lander and Daniel Morgenthau have been running it since 2012 (they’re also behind Portland, Clipstone and Emilia), with Shaun Searley heading up the kitchen. Aside from the amazing interiors, complete with rickety old church pews, the food here always hits the mark. It’s classic British cooking with dishes like duck liver parfait with truffle and beef fat brioche; peas and jellied eel with a herb salad; Highland beef with ramson sauce; those famous confit potatoes; and broccoli with dripping breadcrumbs. And for dessert, don’t forget THAT treacle tart. A true London classic.

DA TERRA

8 Patriot Square, London E2 9NF, UK
Bethnal Green

One of our favourite new openings of 2019, we were very happy to see Da Terra make it into the 2020 Michelin guide with a shiny new star. Da Terra offers blind tasting menus, so the only choice you have to make is if you want the short (£73) or long version (£90) – whatever you choose, it’s all absolutely knock-out brilliant, with each dish beautifully presented and perfectly cooked. There are too many highlights to mention but particular standouts were some of the early courses such as the Isle of Mull scallop, which had been very thinly sliced and served with apple and fennel sauce; the amazing ‘panzanella’ of sweet tomatoes and stracciatella cheese topped with a tomato consomme; and bone marrow and parsley with sourdough. The food at Da Terra is technical and accomplished but the restaurant never loses sight of delivering fantastic dishes that you actually want to eat. The playful touches and amazing service from Rafael, who serves many of the dishes himself, ensures that an evening here is fun as well as showcasing a very talented bunch of chefs in the kitchen.

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BAO BOROUGH

BAO Borough, Stoney Street, London, UK
London Bridge

Bao has been one of the biggest success stories of recent years, going from street food to permanent sites with ease and commanding regular huge queues around the block. With two sites in central London plus their other restaurant Xu, they’ve gone south of the river for the third site, opening up Bao Borough right next to Borough Market. The food is absolutely knockout; it’s best to order one each of all the baos including the fail-safe classic pork and beef short rib plus our personal favourites, the deep fried cheese bao topped with curry sauce, and the prawn shia song, a mini finger bun stuffed with prawn and a buttery sauce. Other highlights can be found in the ‘Grill’ section of the menu, particularly the Xingjiang Miatake mushrooms, which came swimming in an almost drinkable cumin-laced rich sauce. The spiced beef butter scallops are also a must order as well as the aged beef slices which come on a bed of Taipei butter rice, which is almost creamy like risotto (almost).

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DARBY'S

3 Viaduct Gardens, Nine Elms, London SW11 7AY, UK
Vauxhall

We absolutely LOVE Darby’s, Robin Gill’s new restaurant next door to the new US Embassy in Nine Elms. Although it’s a big space in a brand new shiny building (which will soon have a sky pool 35 metres up) the designers AvroKO have done an incredible job making it feel like a homey, lived-in restaurant with a large central bar area and nice booth seating around the sides.

Robin, who’s an amazing chef and all round nice guy to boot, has also smashed it out the park on the food front. The menu is classic by nature – think oysters, grilled fish, and steaks – but it’s all been executed with great care and attention. And when the classics are done well, they’re really very hard to beat. With a big selection of oysters, a couple of these and a pint of Guinness or glass of champagne makes for an excellent start: we went for the black wild water oysters cooked over embers and topped with a seaweed-spiked butter. Darby’s has its own bakery in house so a round of sourdough and cultured butter is another must, as is the lobster roll which comes slathered in roe mayo and sandwiched in a glistening brioche bun. For dessert, you need to order the truffled Baron Bigod cheese which is melted over thin slices of sourdough and served with fig and walnut and the Pump Street chocolate mousse with Guinness gelato.

KILN

58 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9TL, UK
Piccadilly Circus

It was named the UK’s best restaurant at the 2018 National Restaurant Awards and we can confirm that Kiln defo lives up to the hype. The food is inspired by the Thai borderlands, including Burmese and Yunanese spices and flavours, and there’s lots of cooking over open fire. The jungle curry of brill is a winner (and spicy too) and the claypot baked glass noodles are an absolute must-order too.

OYSTERMEN

The Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen, Henrietta Street, London, UK
Covent Garden

Having started small in Covent Garden, Oystermen is now thankfully a bit bigger thanks to them getting the next door premises and knocking the wall down. Here you can get oysters and pretty impeccable seafood in smart but relaxed unpretentious surroundings without emptying your wallet either. They’ve got more than oysters of course and the other must-order snacks and starters for us include the anchovy toast with confit garlic and lemon; the smoked mackerel; and the Portland crab thermidor. Mains were spot on too and we can definitely recommend the Newlyn hake with Cornish mussels, devilled mussel veloute and lovage oil, and the braised cuttlefish orzo with braised onions, aioli and red butterfly sorrel.

Oystermen is an absolutely fantastic little place and easily one of the best places to eat out around Covent Garden.

KOYA CITY

Koya City, Bloomberg Arcade, London, UK
Bank

At it’s heart Koya is all about the udon noodles. You can choose from hot noodles in hot soup; cold noodles to dip into hot soup; and cold noodles with cold sauce to dip or to pour. Hot noodles and hot broth is the most popular and has the greatest number of options. We went for one of the day’s specials a spectacular kedgeree-inspired number that had a thick curry coup, flakes of smoked haddock, and an egg. Koya’s menu of small plates are no after thought either. The tonkatsu (available at dinner only) we had here was exceptional, easily the best we’ve found in London and even rivalled many we’ve had in Japan. Other highlights were the crispy prawn heads (a regular special from Soho that have found a permanent home here) and the marinated mushrooms.

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CORA PEARL

Cora Pearl, Henrietta Street, London, UK
Covent Garden

We were already big fans of Cora Pearl, the second restaurant from the team behind Kitty Fishers in Mayfair. And then we went by for the Sunday Roast and we fell even more in love with the place. Any visit to Cora Pearl has to begin with the ham and cheese toastie aka the best toastie in London. This little beauty has ham hock and pig cheek wrapped up in a cheesy bechamel sauce and sandwiched in toasted white bread. The walnut pickle that comes across as a drunk, posh Branston is the clincher. Then there’s the roasts, thinly sliced medium rare beef or tender pork belly served with crispy potatoes, broccoli, Yorkshire puds, cauliflower cheese, carrots and lashings of an excellent gravy. They’re not the cheapest roasts in London but they are worth every penny. Simply one of the best out there.

SMOKESTAK

bbq
35 Scatler St, London, E1 6LB
Shoreditch High Street Old Street

After killing it on the street food circuit for years, David Carter’s first permanent Smokestak  is a dark, moody BBQ dream, complete with an absolutely huge custom built smoker, responsible for slow smoking all that meat (plus your clothes by the end of the night too). There’s some great snacks on the menu such as a giant slab of pork scratching dusted with chilli powder and BBQ pigs tails which won’t be to everyone’s taste but you should definitely try. A thick cut pork rib with picked cucumber is another favourite and even the veg dishes hit the spot – check out the coal roasted potato and the smoked girolles and beef dripping brioche toast. The snug basement bar is a top spot for cocktails too, perfect to help all that meat go down at the end of the night.

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ROGANIC

tasting menu
5-7 Blandford St, London W1U 3DB, UK
Bond Street

Simon Rogan, the chef behind two Michelin-starred L’Enclume in the Lake District, is back in London with Roganic – and it’s one of the best restaurants in London at the moment. Michelin thought so too and awarded it a Michelin Star in the 2019 guide, just a few months after it opened. Each dish of the multi-course menu is genuinely a beautiful creation to look at, backed up by impressive technique and flavours too. The menus change reglularly of course but you might be treated to some of the highlights of our epic lunch there, including a salty bowl of seaweed custard with caviar (better than that sounds we promise!), plus a fresh asparagus spear served with a bone marrow hollandaise.  The only proper meaty dish was 21-day-aged Cumbrian pork and it was certainly worth waiting for – two slices of loin covered in translucent lardo, served with a sweet carrot puree, fresh carrot and white broccoli. A fantastic restaurant from a fantastic chef.

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WILTONS

Wiltons Restaurant, Jermyn Street, London, UK
Green Park

“Since 1742” Wiltons proudly displays under its name, a fact that gives it fair claim at London’s oldest restaurant. It’s a bit of a fudge however – it’s only been in its current location since 1984, first beginning as an oyster cart before setting up in several locations not too far from where it is now on Jermyn Street. Impressive history aside, the food at Wiltons is still top notch. It’s a classic menu so the only way to start is with a plate of fresh oysters and a glass of champagne. From there, we can highly recommend the salmon from Londons’ Secret Smokehouse, as well as the smoked eel. Dover Sole with garlic and parsely sauce is an excellent pick from the fish mains. There are perhaps few surpises on the menu, and it’s not cheap, but if you’re looking for the finest seafood (and beef wellington!) in London, look no further.

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ROCHELLE CANTEEN

british
Rochelle School & Club Row, Arnold Circus, London E2 7ES, United Kingdom
Shoreditch High Street Old Street

Rochelle Canteen, run by Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold, has long been one of London’s favourite spots. Housed in a former school bike shed on Arnold Circus in Shoreditch, accessible only through an unmarked door that, when buzzed in, leads you through a pretty garden and to a small dining room, it’s always been a hidden spot for Londoners to enjoy. Aside from being an excellent setting to enjoy a leisurely weekend lunch, the cooking is really quite good too. Simplicity is the order of the day and although menus change daily we can highly recommend the Queenie scallops, grilled in garlic and butter; the skate wing with burnt butter and samphire; and our favourite, the incredible braised lamb with peas and mint.

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JOSE TAPAS BAR

tapas
104 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UB, UK
Borough London Bridge London Bridge

This is the original spot from one of London’s best, and nicest, chefs – José Pizarro. José Tapas Bar is all about simple dishes made with great produce and you can’t go wrong with a plate of Iberico ham and a glass of sherry to kick things off. From there, we can highly recommend the pan con tomate; croquettes filled with rich squid ink and prawn; tortilla; and beautiful boquerones, practically swimming in olive oil, garlic and parsley. There’s also larger plates such as thin slivers of Iberico pork neck, cooked medium rare and served simply with a sprinkle of salt and a few red peppers, and baked vegetables in tomato sauce, topped with a fried egg and goat’s cheese. And a cheeky side of patatas bravas never goes amiss too.

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YAUATCHA

Chinese
1 Broadgate Circle, London EC2M 2QS, United Kingdom
Liverpool Street Liverpool Street Liverpool Street

When it comes to the finest dim sum in town, Yauatcha is pretty hard to beat in our book. It now has two locations, the original in Soho and the newer one in Broadgate Circle, and we never tire of going in for some prawn and bean curd cheung fun, xiao long bao, or char sui buns. Admittedly it’s not the cheapest on this list but if you can get there between 2pm – 5:45pm Monday to Thursday you can have the Taste of Yauatcha menu for £19 per person, surely one of the most insanely good value eating experiences you can have in London. Aside from dim sum, Yauatcha makes some pretty mean cakes and macaroons too.

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10 GREEK STREET

10 Greek Street, London W1D 4DH, UK
Tottenham Court Road

Given the rate at which restaurants open and close in this city, anywhere that survives more than a couple of years can easily become a classic. It opened in 2012 (so not brand new but certainly not old) yet that’s exactly what it feels like at 10 Greek Street. It also massively helps that there’s some fantastic cooking and an effortlessly convivial atmosphere happening inside. The staff have nailed the art of relaxed service and diners are more than happy to talk across tables – it’s a small restaurant but you don’t actually mind being sat close together. The concept here is simple in that there is no concept; just a daily changing menu, broadly European in style, built around what produce is best and chalked up on the blackboard. The wine list at 10 Greek Street is as well curated as the food menu. It’s short but varied and lacking crazy mark-ups – you can get glasses under a fiver, which feels like a steal. Great food, great wine, zero pretension, all delivered without blowing a hole in your wallet.

THE BARBARY

middle eastern | north african
16 Neal’s Yard, Seven Dials WC2H 9DP
Covent Garden

The Barbary comes from the guys behind The Palomar. The food is inspired by countries that span the Barbary coast, from Israel to Morocco. Dishes are made for sharing, and you can expect deep fried pastry rolls filled with a spicy cod mix (a.k.a Moroccan cigars), Pata Negra neck with a sticky sweet marinade and the flaming lamb cutlets. The cauliflower Jaffa style is MUST order too. But with only 24 seats, expect queues…

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TANDOOR CHOP HOUSE

8 Adelaide Street, London WC2N 4HZ, UK
Charing Cross Charing Cross

Tandoor Chop House is upping the game for Indian food in the capital, combining a traditional North Indian communal eatery with a classic British chop house. The tandoor oven is the star of the show and you can expect dishes to include tandoori chicken masala, beef bolti, Amritsari lamb chops and tandoor masala pollock. Sides come in the shape of a Dexter dripping keema naan and crispy okra, and its hard to resist the sweet coal-roasted pineapple or chai brulée for dessert.

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THE GARDEN CAFE

british
Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB, United Kingdom
Lambeth North

Lambeth isn’t somewhere we’d usually think of when recommending restaurants but The Garden Cafe has changed all of that. The restaurant serves a small menu of beautifully presented, simple dishes that taste every bit as good as they look. We were wowed by cured sea trout, venison wellington and a buttermilk pudding topped with fresh rhubarb and honey. The menu changes daily and the bad news is at time of writing the restaurant is only open for lunch and on Friday evenings – although we’re hoping that might change!

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NEST

tasting menu
177 Morning Lane, London E9 6LH, United Kingdom
Hackney Central Homerton

Nest is the perfect neighbourhood restaurant, offering brilliant food at affordable prices. At £28 for the tasting menu (yep £28) it offers amazing value given the quality of food on offer. It’s super cute inside too, the kinda place you can take a new date, impress them with your local food knowledge and generosity (“yes, of course you can have the tasting menu”) and leave with change from a ton.

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