Neighbourhoods

Fitzrovia

It’s not as iconic as Soho and not as bougie as Marylebone but Fitzrovia is still a buzzing central London ‘hood – with Oxford Street as its southern boundary it’s never gonna be quiet is it? Back in the day, much like its other neighbour Bloomsbury, Fitzrovia and its pubs like the Fitzroy Tavern (the pub is widely believed to have given the neighbourhood its name) and the Newman Arms was a bohemian area popular with artists and writers including George Orwell, Dylan Thomas, John Constable and George Bernard Shaw – nowadays the pubs are full of media types instead.

Fitzrovia is also known for having an impressive clutch of restaurants; on Charlotte Street alone there’s Sicilian-inspired Norma, rotating tasting menu concept Six By Nico, swish Japanese joint Roka and Greek spot Ampeli. There are also a fair few swanky salons nestled in amongst all the restaurants, like the huge Hershesons where you can beautify yourself from top to toe, and Glow Bar where you can sweat out your toxins in an infrared sauna and sip on elixir lattes.

As a prime piece of real estate, it’s not surprising that there’s been some slick development in Fitzrovia – in Rathbone Square, you’ve got the likes of Digme, Circolo Popolare and Omotesando Koffee. Yet there’s still room for a bit of old-school London like Bradley’s Spanish Bar and its original vinyl jukebox.

LISBOETA

30 Charlotte St., London W1T 2NG

Nuno Mendes is back in London and he’s brought a bit of Lisbon with him for his new restaurant Lisboeta in Fitzrovia. Taking over three floors of a townhouse on Charlotte Street, the restaurant is a love letter to Nuno’s home city and gives Londoners the chance to eat, drink and live life like a Lisboeta. The ground floor features a long bar made from repurposed tram wood and limestone from Lisbon, and is a place where you can dip into petiscos (aka little plates) and a glass of Portuguese wine. Upstairs in the main dining room, lunch and dinner is served ‘tasca’ style, with a menu including Goan spiced pork pies, Carabineiro prawns with garlic & piri-piri, chourico & beef tartare, slow-cooked lamb shoulder in a red wine stew, and egg yolk & pork fat custard with port wine caramel.

SANTA MARIA

92-94 Waterford Road, London

With a pizza oven made out of sand and dust from Mount Vesuvius, Santa Maria is defo a cut above the rest. The slightly chewy dough and THAT sauce made with San Marzano D.O.P tomatoes pre-ordered a year in advance make these pizzas what they are…bloody great.

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HAKKASAN

17 Bruton St, Mayfair, London W1J 6QB

Sister to Yauatcha, Hakkasan also knocks out some beautifully refined Chinese food at its two locations in Mayfair and Hanway Place. It loses minor points for the permanent nightclub soundtrack but the cooking more than makes up for it. A meal at Hakkasan doesn’t come cheap but there are a range of set menus on offer (with one at the Fitzrovia branch coming in at £39 per person) so you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to eat here. But if you’re going all out, don’t miss the venison puff, crispy duck salad, the roasted silver cod or the truffle roasted duck.

ATTENDANT

27A Foley Street, London W1W 6DY

Attendant is the kinda place where you can have a coffee at a urinal. Although this place is housed in a 19th-century public toilet it’s far from shit, and they do everything in house from roasting their beans to making cakes.

CIRCOLO POPOLARE

40-41 Rathbone Pl, London W1T 1HX

If you like your restaurants OTT then you won’t find anywhere better than Circolo Popolare. The second London restaurant from the Big Mamma group, after the equally extra Gloria, is massive and every inch of the interiors are decked out, from thousands of spirit bottles lining the walls to ceilings covered in plants. As you’d expect, nothing is subtle here and that includes the food – carbonara is served tableside inside a giant wheel of cheese, there are sharing size giant open lasagne and the mushroom pasta comes blanketed in truffles and a rich mascarpone sauce.

KAFFEINE

66 Great Titchfield Street, London

Taking inspo from Aussie coffee shops, Kaffeine is all about great coffee, good food and a friendly service. The coffee is spot on every time and with a weekly changing menu you’ll never get bored of the grub either; think breakfast brioches, tiramisu icing friands and healthy salads.

THE BLOOMSBURY CLUB BAR

16-22 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN

Housed within the Bloomsbury Hotel, The Bloomsbury Club Bar is (as you’d expect) pretty damn swish. Taking influences from the 20s and 30s, the bar celebrates the golden age of cocktails. Inside you can expect leather armchairs, low lighting and wall-to-wall bookshelves, but outside is the real selling point, there’s an undercover terrace filled with fairy lights and greenery – perfect for that special date.

BRADLEY'S SPANISH BAR

42-44 Hanway St, London W1T 1UT

The best thing about Bradley’s is the original vinyl jukebox. The most annoying this about the jukebox is that it takes the old pound coins, so you’ll inevitably leave with a loads of gold you can’t use. However, this is a blinder of a pub. It’s tiny and hidden away just off Oxford Street where you’ll meet all sorts of people with enchanting tales of times of old. And it’s open late, obviously.

SIX BY NICO

If you’d have told us that you can get an experimental six-course tasting menu for £35 in Central London a year ago, we’d have laughed in your face. Now you might be the one laughing because Scottish chef Nico Simeone (who already has restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Manchester and Liverpool – sorry, but how did they get them first?) opened Six by Nico in London doing just that. The best part about this is that the food is themed around a place or an idea (New York, Chippie and Childhood have all been past themes) that changes every six weeks. The Chippie theme had some creative replicas of old school faves, like “chips and cheese”, a salt cod croquette with parmesan foam, brown sauce and vinegar powder; “scampi”, made with monkfish cheek, gribiche and beurre blanc; and mini steak pie made with beef shin and served with a burnt onion ketchup. For an extra £33 there’s the option to add on a wine pairing, or £5 extra for a couple of snacks pre-meal (though one of these to share between two is more than enough). But if you’re trying to keep it good-value, you really can’t go wrong with the affordable set menu cost, especially if you’re out to impress a date and want to look flasher than you actually are.

THE CHAMPION

12-13 Wells St, London W1T 3PA

Fitzrovia’s The Champion is a fantastic option for when you need a quick escape from the crowds of Oxford Street. It’s got the classic Victorian pub interior that we know and love plus Samuel Smith’s excellent selection of cheap beers and ales. It doesn’t usually get too busy either so it’s always a good option for when you just want a quiet pint – event if that does end up turning into six.

GEORGE NORTHWOOD

24 Wells Street, London W1T 3PH

There’s no other way to describe George Northwood’s salon than cool. As well as offering expert cuts, they do colour treatments and blow dries. And with Alexa Chung as a regular you know it’s gotta be good..

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THE LONDON EDITION

10 Berners St, London W1T 3NP

Home to Jason Atherton’s restaurant Berners Tavern, The London Edition is much more than just a hotel. The 170 rooms and pretty swishy penthouse have a Swedish feel to them with wood panelled walls, parquet floors and faux fur brown throws on the beds. Expect rain showers, Le Labo products and all the latest tech too. With a cocktail bar, basement club and pool table in the lobby, you’ll never want to leave.

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ARROS QD

64 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8NQ

Arros QD comes from Quique Dacosta who has three Michelin stars in Spain and is all about fire and rice. The two floor space located just off Oxford Street has an amazing open kitchen right at the centre where you can see a big wood-fired grill and lots of big paella pans over individual grills. The kitchen is being headed up day to day by Richard de La Cruz, who worked with Quique at Denia, helping it win its Michelin stars. Originally from Ecuador, Richard brings a few South American touches to the menu, which is otherwise very Spanish, with dishes like Iberian presa, red prawns and the signature paellas and aioli.

HERSHESONS

29-32 Berners St, London W1T 3LR

Hershesons has a shiny flagship salon in Fitzrovia and it’s pretty mega. Not only does the 5000 sqft space look great thanks to patterned floors, a real mix of seating, plants, and (of course) lots of lights and mirrors, and the open-plan design makes it feel more like a social space than a hairdressers. A host of top beauty talent has been brought on board, so you can also get your nails done by DryBy, facials from Sunday Riley (their first treatment offering in the UK), light therapy from The Light Salon and brows done by Suman Brows. Hershesons is known for their attention to detail and it’s the same here – when you get a hair wash and scalp massage, the chairs you sit in are massage chairs so your whole body gets a good rolling over, and you sit wherever you want too so you don’t have to move around between cut and colour. They’re all about making you feel comfortable.

CLIPSTONE

5 Clipstone St, London W1W 6BB

Clipstone is another restaurant named after the street its on, and whilst it may not be original it is simple with a hint of grandeur, which is exactly what you can expect from the food. The menu doesn’t overcomplicate things but delivers on big flavoursome dishes like scallop and walnut pesto flatbread, Cornish plaice with rainbow chard, fallow deer with carrots & pickled elderberries and lemon tart with creme fraiche.

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MORTIMER HOUSE KITCHEN

Inside the Art Deco building of Mortimer House, which is also home to a members’s club, events space and gym, is Mortimer House Kitchen, a Soho House-esque all-day set up open to the public where Tom Cenci (who heads up Nessa, the restaurant at the group’s other club 1 Warwick) is cooking up an Italian menu. Inspired by Cenci’s family summers in Piedmont and the Amalfi coast, the menu at Mortimer House Kitchen features dishes that reflect the simplicity of Italian cooking and pay homage to the classics, including the likes of crispy polenta and parmesan mayonnaise; zucchini caesar with parmesan and pangrattato; carne cruda and ‘nduja bruschetta; maccheroni with taleggio, truffle and black pepper; chicken or aubergine parmigiana with fresh spaghetti and cured egg yolk on the side; Torta 900 chocolate cake; and pistachio cannoli.

NORMA

Ben Tish, Culinary Director of The Stafford London, is also responsible for Norma the hotel’s first independent restaurant. Norma is all about Sicily, drawing influence from the island’s cafe culture, old-school Italian hospitality and morish flavours. Taking over a converted townhouse Norma is split across three floors; the ground and first floors are home to the restaurant and cocktail bar with a private dining space up top. As well as the namesake pasta alla norma, the deep fried spaghetti fritters, the beech-smoked anchovies and homemade cannoli are not to be missed. Naturally the drinks list leans heavily on Sicily too with Marsala wines and cocktails made with chinotto, vermouth and limoncello.

FLESH & BUNS

As well as slinging out the baos in Covent Garden, Flesh & Buns brings the same Japanese izakaya feel to Fitzroiva with its second site. It’s got a large bar, a spacious dining room and seating around the open kitchen, and it’s pretty swish thanks to lots of dark wood and mood lighting, with an entire wall of those gold waving good luck cats thrown in for a bit of fun. The Fitzrovia Flesh & Buns has branched out menu-wise from the original with a Nikkei Peruvian twist, so you also have a selection of ceviches and tiraditos alongside the sushi and sashimi – the yellowtail tiradito with pickled kumquat and tiger’s milk is a must – as well as dishes cooked using their wood smoker, like the chilli miso brisket. The Peruvian influence extends to the cocktail list, with tables being equipped with Press for Pisco buttons. They’re not quite as glam as the buttons in Bob Bob Ricard but it’s still a lot of fun especially when the bartender wheels his trolley to your table and shakes up a round of pisco sours.

LIMA

Lima, founded by Virgilio Martínez (whose Central restaurant in Peru is one of the World’s 50 Best), was the first Peruvian restaurant to win a Michelin star. It’s still serving up some of the best Peruvian food in town, showcasing native South American ingredients alongside the best British produce. The a la carte menu includes their excellent Nikkei style ceviches and tiraditos as well as dishes like octopus & prawns causa and wagyu beef saltado but the tasting menu is a great way to see what Lima is all about…with several rounds of pisco sours of course!

RAWR BEAUTY

Beauty salon brand RAWR certainly know how to make a statement, all you need to do is look at their decor to tell you that they don’t mess around. There’s an orange floor, blue walls and a strong jungle theme that extends from the palm print wallpaper to the foliage to the swinging monkey lamps above the nail bar. They specialise in brows, lashes and nails but with a team of expert therapists on hand, they also offer waxing, blowdries and massages. RAWR knows we’re all strapped for time, so the salon offers speedy treatments like threading, tints and file & polish manis that are ideal for squeezing in on your lunch break, as well as more intensive options like TLC pedicures and lash extensions for when you want something more glam.

AKOKO

West African restaurant Akoko, founded by Aji Akokomi with Ado Adeyemi in the kitchen, takes influence from across West Africa but also makes the most of British ingredients to deliver food that showcases fire, umami and spice. Highlights include smoked goat with mustard seeds & burnt cucumber, jollof rice with BBQ native blue lobster, butternut squash with mackerel & honey, and the West African fruit aridan served with a Ghanaian bofrot doughnut & uda ice cream. The menu is a fantastic experience all in all, and if you want to try something new, Akoko is a very clever, creative restaurant showcasing brilliant West African flavours – definitely Michelin star quality.

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OMOTESANDO KOFFEE

We know all about the Italian stuff and Vietnam’s pretty famous for it too. But Japanese coffee, what’s all the hype about? Japanese coffee chain Omotesando Koffee has a whole cult following of its own. Omotesando started life as a one man band with owner Eiichi Kunitomo serving each customer on his own, focusing on the ritual of the brewing. After gaining a huge following and expanding the range across Asia, the first European set up arrived in Rathbone Square in 2018. It’s very Japanese with a pared back and minimal design and serves up coffee, bubbly iced cappuccinos and egg sandos.

ROKA CHARLOTTE STREET

If you’re into Japanese food then this place might just Roka your world (sorry). Robata dishes like black cod in yuzu miso, salmon fillet teriyaki and lamb cutlets with Korean spices are at the heart of the menu but there’s a lot of quality sashimi, sushi, maki rolls and tempura to get stuck into too – yes a meal at Roka can get very spenny but it’s worth it. Of course it’s not a serious Japanese spot without sake and they’ve got several options to whet your appetite, plus the usual champagne and wine offerings, and they only stock the good stuff.

LAKSAMANIA

There are no prizes for guessing what the signature dish is at this Malaysian spot and there’s a lot of laksa on offer, from Ipoh Curry to Penang Assam to Singapore Curry, alongside other Malaysian classics like satay and Nyonya curry chicken. The menu actually stretches out to other parts of Asia, meaning you can also tuck into bao, char siu lo mein, yakisoba and ma po tofu. Laksamania is a pretty unassuming place but it’s a good one to have up your sleeve, especially as it caters well for vegans.

RIDING HOUSE CAFE

Riding House Cafe has been a Fitzrovia favourite ever since it opened in 2011 largely because it works for just about any occasion – a leisurely breakfast, a business lunch (remember those?) or a dinner date. It’s brasserie-style food and although the menu is a little weirdly divvied up into small, sticks, bowls and mains, there’s something for everyone from truffled mac & cheese to coconut & cardamom dhal to miso-glazed salmon with dashi broth.

PORTLAND

Portland is part of the Woodhead Group (along with Clipstone and Quality Chop House) so that should give you a pretty good idea of what the restaurant is all about – bloody good food and wine. Michelin-starred Portland does contemporary fine dining, meaning no stuffiness or white tablecloths, just great, relaxed service, tasty dishes like kohlrabi & crab roll with dashi mayo, squid ink linguine with cockles & trout roe, roasted duck with beetroot & cherry and black figs, with tonka bean mousse & fig leaf ice cream. You can lunch here for £39 for three courses, which is a bit of a steal, but the tasting menu is also a winner.

GAUCHO CHARLOTTE STREET

Eco-friendly and steakhouse don’t typically end up in the same sentence, but Gaucho on Charlotte Street has gone green. CEO Martin Williams launched the Sustainable Steak Movement in late 2021 and kicked things off at the group’s Charlotte Street branch, which now serving strictly carbon-neutral beef and wine. On top of that, they’ve also introduced a zero-food to landfill and green energy policy. Alongside the steaks, expect the likes of shrimp ceviche, empanadas, vegan gnocchi with kale pesto and Argentine alfajores. Also exclusive to Charlotte Street is the four-cover Beef Bar where guests can enjoy an Argentine beef tasting menu and chef’s counter experience.

CARAVAN

1 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AA

Caravan really knows what it’s doing when it comes to all-day dining. The globally-inspired small plates menu features a mash-up of Asian, European and Middle Eastern flavours. That means you can tuck into everything from stilton & peanut wontons to broken lamb meatballs to sourdough pizzas, and that’s before you get onto their bangin’ brunches – hello baked eggs, hello jalapeno cornbread, hello pork belly on kimchi pancakes. Caravan also takes their coffee very seriously, so not only can you buy it freshly poured but you can order a whole range of blends and kit to improve your own coffee game.

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