|Wine by the carafe and good things to eat at Polpo. Russell Norman takes out two spots on my top ten list.|
Anyway, finally I have pulled together my top ten London restaurants.
It is always hard to narrow down a list of favourites and there have been so many great openings in the past year that I have included lots of new restaurants on here. While it is hard to resist the thrill of the new I have also included some stalwarts that have been going strong for years and have been on this list since I first compiled it. I’ve also tried to include a mix of budget eats alongside high end and Michelin star dining options however if money is tight my list of the best cheap eats in London might be a better bet.
|The famous meat fruit at Dinner|
Heston Blumenthal arrived in London with a bang with the opening of Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental this year. Each dish at Dinner is sourced from historical recipe books and references but displays Blumenthal’s unique take. The food is intriguing but also damn delicious and much more easily approachable than Blumenthal’s fare at The Fat Duck. The must orders are the meat fruit as a starter which subverts all expectations of what a mandarin should look and taste like and the utterly delicious slow roasted Tipsy Cake for dessert.
Details: Dinner by Heston, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, Knightsbridge SW1X 7LA (Ph 020 7201 3833) Tube: Knightsbridge
If only other restaurants could learn from Koya. It just does one thing but does it so well. The thick, meaty Japanese udon noodles here are perfect for slurping and the restaurant itself is an austere shrine to all that is noodle. Be prepared to queue as the low prices here attract big crowds.
Details: 49 Frith Street, Soho W1D 4SG (Ph 020 7434 4463) Tube: Tottenham Court Road
|Slurping up noodles at Koya|
3. The Ledbury
Fine dining in London does not get better than at Australian chef Brett Graham’s The Ledbury. The sheer effort and care that goes into each dish is immediately apparent and Graham constantly surprises diners with his inventive cooking and fastidious sourcing which includes shooting trips to the Scottish moors. Beware of the bread basket, it is addictively good.
Details: 127 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill W11 Tube: Westbourne Park
4. City Caphe
I jumped on board the banh mi bandwagon in London with the tiny City Caphe and have not looked back since. The banh mi features baguettes made to City Caphe’s specifications with a hard, crispy exterior then soft, fluffy lightness inside. Chargrilled pork filling tender made with good quality meat and there was plenty of thinly sliced cucumber, carriot, daikon and fresh coriander to add some crunch and clean, fresh flavours to the roll. The steaming bowls of pho are also a treat.
Details: City Caphe, 17 Ironmonger Lane, London City EC2V 8EY (Tube: Bank)
|Banh mi at City Caphe|
5. Pollen Street Social
Another new opening this year, a stool at the dessert bar at Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social has to be one of the hottest seats in town. The food is playful and inventive ranging from starter designed as a full English breakfast with a base of sweet tomato puree and a slow poached egg adorned with crispy pieces of bacon and mushrooms to the legendary desserts created before diners eyes.
Details: Pollen Street Social, 8/10 Pollen Street, Mayfair W1S 1NQ (Ph 020 7290 7600) Tube: Oxford Circus
6. Polpo (-5)
My number one pick last year, Russell Norman’s Polpo still impresses despite its numerous sibling restaurants. I love the small plates of simple Italian food, the buzzing, intimate atmosphere and the wine by the beaker or carafe.
Details: 41 Beak Street, Soho W1F9SB (Ph 020 77344479) Tube: Oxford Circus
7. Tayyabs (+1)
It’s impossible to leave Tayyabs off any list of best London restaurants because the food it delivers is just so good and at such a brilliant price. Toasty fresh naan bread, smoky seek kebabs which arrive sizzling on a iron hot plate and the slightly fiery, tender lamb chops are all flavoursome and incredibly moreish.
Details: 83-89 Fieldgate Strret, E1 (Ph: 020 772479543)
|Burrata with blood orange at Nopi|
I’m a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cafes and cookbooks so I welcomed the chance to experience his food in a glamorous Soho setting. The restaurant is elegant and chic and the toilets have to be seen to be believed but it is Ottolenghi’s food which leaves the lasting memory. The picks of the menu on my visit were the fat, juicy scallops adorned with slivers of pickled daikon and apple and baby chicken twice cooked to a moreish smokey charr and served with a wedge of lime, kaffir lime salt and a hot chilli sauce.
Details: Nopi, 21-22 Warwick Street, Soho W1B 5NE (Ph 020 7494 9584) Tube: Oxford Circus.
9. Vinoteca (-7)
Vinoteca has become something of an institution in London and never fails to deliver, comfortably straddling the divide of wine bar and restaurant. I actually dream about the bavette steak there.
Details: 7 St John Street, Farringdon EC1M 4AA Tube: Farringdon
|Scotch egg and soldiers at Spuntino|
Russell Norman’s eateries get two guernseys in this list as a sign of the man’s genius for knowing what the people of Soho want. The classic mac and cheese and decadent truffled egg toast at Spuntino are both deserving of the excessive amount of praise they have received in newspapers and the blogosphere.
Details: Spuntino, 61 Rupert Street, Soho, W1D 7PW (There is no telephone and Spuntino does not take reservations).