Ex-Fat Duck and Le Gavroche chef, Talia Prince, will be serving up the seafood at Lyon’s in Crouch End. With a focus on ‘fin to tail’ sustainability, married together with small-batch wines (which are carefully selected by award-winning sommelier Kelvin McCabe), this neighbourhood restaurant and wine bar is an off-the-radar gem. Lyon’s menu will be steered by the fresh catches of the day and diners can expect flavoursome charcoal-grilled fish for lunch and dinner. Shellfish platters will also be available to order, as will a single meat dish which will change regularly. Despite celebrating fish, there are plenty of vegetable plates available, including an absolutely delicious pumpkin satay and a barley risotto with celeriac, hazelnuts and bone marrow. Oysters are not my thing, personally, but for those huge fans, it is good news, as they will be celebrated on the menu – carefully sourced from renowned suppliers, Wright Brothers – and all of the fish on the menu will be from Henderson’s Seafood, so diners can be sure of the quality. Last, but not least, the wines showcased on the elite list will come from West Sussex and local winery, Renegade (based in Bethnal Green). A night of wine and seafood: what’s not to like?
Where: 1 Park Rd, Crouch End, London N8 8TE
2. Circolo Popolare
If you’ve heard about the restaurant everyone is raving about in Central London, believe the hype. Circolo is the latest addition to the Big Mamma Group – you might have visited its sister site in Shoreditch, Gloria – and it promises all guests a good time. From the moment you walk into the yellow-lit room, you’re transported into a Tardis of Italian cuisine and atmosphere. From the countless bottles of spirits that adorn the walls – I calculated there had to be hundreds of thousands’ worth of alcohol there – to the charismatic waiters that egg you on to order that extra burrata, it’s a fun place for all to enjoy. Pesto-filled burrata, frittatina (deep-fried mac ‘n’ cheese squares with minced meat and cheese) and the pork-rib bites are firm winners. The pizzas are not to be overlooked and you can even combine two types and create a metre-long masterpiece. But you know what to order: the carbonara cheese wheel. Dinner and a show, the carbonara is prepared with mounds of cheese in the wheel of goodness, right in front of you. It’s definitely a dish for two – and is worth waiting in line.
Where: 40-41 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1HX
3. Kym’s Brunch
If your Saturday brunch is needing more than eggs and avocado toast, pay attention because Kym’s has just launched its Lobster Brunch. Start the meal off with a Bloody Mary shot and smacked pickled cucumber (you’ll be craving these all day, I’m telling you) as your free-flow of wine, beer or the signature plum Bellini to commence. Eggs on toast has had a re-vamp as it’s now a sunny-side up sourdough prawn toast that hits your plate. You can choose to add smoked salmon or candied bacon, should you wish. And you should wish. For the veggies reading this, A Wong has not forgotten you: there is a wild mushroom and truffle version (dare I say this might possibly be better than the carnivore’s choice?). Then the main event arrives: the half lobster. While the poached Kym’s soy-style is a tangy delight, I’d opt for the roasted ‘Typhoon Shelter Style’, a seasoning party of fried garlic mixed with scallion, chilies and black beans. Kym’s does mushrooms in this style on the main menu and it was unbelievable. I’d suggest you choose the mini ‘Three Treasures’ which includes the crispy pork belly, the Iberico pork char siu and the soy chicken – along with Jasmine rice and greens.
Where: 19 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR
A stone’s throw from St Paul’s lies LINO, an aesthetically pleasing eatery which adopted its name from being a converted Linoleum factory. With a huge focus on sustainability, the decor and furniture has been created from sourcing old pieces and revising them in this new space. In terms of food, the baking, fermenting, pickling – you name it – is all done on-site and the ethos is to build upon old recipes and existing ingredients, rather than to source from the limited availability. New to the menu is the bottomless brunch, featuring Prosecco, Upright IPA or LINO’s signature brunch cocktail. All that drinking is thirsty work so there are some key dishes to order alongside your beverage of choice. The salt cod brandade with radishes and crisps was by far the most interesting thing on the menu – and a great alternative to the usual dips that tend to circulate restaurants nowadays. The bavette steak sandwich is cooked very well (but not well done, don’t worry), although I’d have liked a different bread. The buttermilk waffles and fried chicken really stand out – particularly due to the addition of candied peanuts and maple syrup, with the mix of sweet and savoury.
Where: 90 Bartholomew Cl, London EC1A 7EB
5. The Coral Room
Explore England with The Coral Room’s new cocktail menu. Each cocktail combines local ingredients such as Kentish cobnuts, Bramley apples, violets, rhubarb and rosehips – all of which represent the key elements of 14 of England’s most popular areas. Whether your drink takes you to Wordsworth’s lakes or Brontë’s moors, there’s something for everybody to try. My personal favourites include Sussex’s Garden Party (vodka, banana, rum, banana crème, cream caramel and tonkabean bitters) and Glastonbury’s Play the Pyramid (Irish whiskey, ginger, lime juice and pear cider).
Where: 16-22 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3NN
Another feather in the Italian chain’s cap as Chucs launch another site – this time, in Belgravia. Following the success of the South Kensington location, you can once more find truffle risotto and lamb ragu pappardelle in another area of West London. The breakfast menu will include classics such as eggs Benedict and fresh smoothies and juices but lunch and dinner serve the special dishes. Bigoli cacio e pepe, chicken Milanese with Amalfi lemon and pumpkin, sage and amaretti ravioli are all main events, while newcomers such as wild boar panelle and Dover sole are not to be missed either.
Where: 25 Eccleston St, Belgravia, London SW1W 9NP
Following the successful launch of the VIP hotspot Zela Ibiza, Mabel Hospitality, with the help of celebrity backers Christiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal and Enrique Iglesias, launched Zela London last year. They have chosen the perfect location within the super-trendy ME Hotel on The Strand, which is also the home to STK and one of my favourite bars in London; Radio Rooftop. It’s not for the traditionalists, but I loved the ambience. Low-lit, lively atmosphere and a live DJ playing laid-back house tunes just a few feet away from our table. The décor is seriously cool, it’s like a tropical rainforest with marble tables and bamboo furniture. There’s also a sushi bar and a stunning cocktail bar which runs the length of the restaurant. But does the food live-up to the hype? Well Zela does things differently and this is also the case for the menu which is described a ‘Meppon’ a fusion of Mediterranean and Japanese cuisines. Fresh fish and seafood from the Mediterranean and including their own unique style of raw dishes such as tatakis, tartares, sashimi, sushi, gyozas and tiraditos among others. The prawn and soft-shell crab tempura are delicious and, although it may sound a bit odd, spicy tuna temaki with quail egg deserves a special mention. I would also highly recommend the usuzukuri scallops with Ibicencan sobrasada. However, the star of the show is the 48-hour slow cooked wagyu beef, juicy, flavourful and moreish… it’s so tender that it can be eaten with chopsticks. Cocktails are a big deal here with over 20 classic and vanguard options on the list. The Coco Chanel appears, rather theatrically, in a cloud of smoke. Good drinks, great food and a dash of theatre – that’ll do nicely.
Where: ME London Hotel, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA
8. Double Standard
I’ve long been a fan and frequent visitor to Boom Boom Room and Le Bain in New York’s Standard Hotel and it’s my go-to spot whenever I’m in Downtown LA. Now The Standard Hotel has finally made its way to London and I couldn’t be more pleased: the perfect balance between a bar and a club and in such a prime location – right outside King’s Cross Station. Do not underestimate Double Standard; the lower key of the bars in the hotel, the music is always on point and the drinks are served with a sassy smile. It’s not hard to see why it’s my kind of place. It’s also a hit whatever day of the week you pay a visit – which makes a change for a lot of London hot spots. I’ll see you at the bar…
Where: 10 Argyle St, Kings Cross, London WC1H 8EG
From the team behind Pergola and The Prince is newcomer Bloom. There’s an aura of sophistication and style but without any unnecessary exclusiveness. Enter the playful atmosphere and enjoy a drink at either of the two bars. There’s also a resident restaurant which serves all your favourite snack food. Enjoy a selection of Korean fried chicken, crispy squid and duck bao. Lamb and tzatziki skewers, Bloom’s spicy ‘nduja burger and katsu curry are also on the menu if you need something more substantial. Food and drinks are served from 5pm but at 10pm the hidden dance floor opens via sliding doors. If you’re looking to make the night special, tables are available to book – free before 9.45pm, with a minimum spend of £750 after.
Where: 2a Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 4PT
Pan-Asian restaurant ULI was originally opened by Michael Lim in 1997 on All Saints Road in Notting Hill, where it became a local favourite before closing a few years ago. When a bereft customer returned from his travels to discover his favourite haunt had closed, he contacted Lim to drag him out of retirement, resurrecting the restaurant nearby at its new location on the trendy Ladbroke Road, a five-minute walk from Notting Hill Gate.
The interior is equally trendy; natural limed oak, soft tones of blue and contemporary art. No red, black and gold combos and certainly no lanterns or dragons. However, the big draw is the elegant al-fresco dining area, a gorgeous enclosed space with a hanging garden full of greenery and lights.
The menu is impressive, like a greatest hits of traditional Chinese, Thai, Malay and Singaporean dishes. It’s also flexible and we opted a four-course option as our waitress recommended.
A sharing starter of prawn-andchive dumplings, crispy calamari and scallops garnished with chilli and chopped spring onions was a great way to start. We swiftly followed with the Crispy Aromatic Duck, opting for a full half; we only needed a quarter.
Next was sea bass fillet and, what was to be the star of the show, the black cod, pan-fried in teriyaki sauce creating a sweet, sticky and crispy exterior. Nobu eat your heart out.
The wine list is decent, and I would recommend the Lychee Martini cocktail and the Coedo Japanese craft beer. To end the feast, we went for sticky toffee banana fritters and coconut mochi (rice cake stuffed with balls of ice cream) and both just the right size to squeeze in. And it was a squeeze.
Where: 5 Ladbroke Road, London, W11 3PA
11. Breakfast at Searcys
It’s not Tiffany’s and you’re not Holly Golightly – but you’re also eating breakfast out of more than a paper bag. It’s a peaceful setup, a the top of the Gherkin in the morning, where – providing the clouds comply – you can gaze upon all of London. Helix’s Champagne breakfast is the signature here – slices of soda bread with avocado, smoked salmon, poached eggs and a thick Hollandaise with a glass of Laurent-Perrier to wash it all down. Other dishes to start the day include a stylish Full English with streaky bacon and Cumberland sausage, as well as homemade waffles with berry compote.
Where: The Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP
12. SW7 Brasserie
Kensington welcomes a new brasserie and bar, offering up to 74 diners quality British cuisine and cocktails. Head Chef Javier Rodrigo Alviz has worked in restaurants at the Waldorf Hilton and Claridges and, even more recently, Frog by Adam Handling. SW7 will see the fusion of Mediterranean cuisine with a hearty, British style of cooking. Both the decor and the bar take inspiration from William Morris wallpaper, with drinks including fresh-flavoured gin, elderflower liqueur and apple syrup, and spiced bourbon, maple syrup and cinnamon cocktails. Start your meal off with burrata with pine nuts and Kalamata olives and langoustines before moving onto herb and pine nut-crusted lamb rack or the classic burger with gorgonzola and figs. Relax and indulge simultaneously in this stylish, sophisticated addition to London.
Where: 61 Gloucester Road, South Kensington, London SW7 4PE
Known for its party brunches in New York, Bagatelle is owning themed brunches in London. With every restaurant introducing a brunch menu, one often wonders how restaurants can entice guests to dine at their establishment. It’s not only the food that will fill the tables, it’s the ambience too – and that is one thing that Bagatelle has zero problems with nailing. Dancing on stiletto-proof sofas and ordering Dom Pérignon that arrives via Superman, it’s easy to get sidetracked by the delicious cocktails and extensive Champagne list. Still, the food is not to be missed either. Devour lobster Benedict, truffle pizza and tuna tartare as you keep the stomach somewhat lined during this six-hour round of hedonism, otherwise known as a “lively brunch”.
Where: 34 Dover St, Mayfair, London W1S 4NG
14. The Perfect NYE Party
The beginning of December feels too early to start talking about New Year’s Eve; we have Christmas to get through yet! But given the calibre of party you can expect you don’t want to miss out, especially if it involves 12 hours of non-stop partying with 360-degree views, 24 floors up. That’s the modus operandi for London Sky Bar. In a shindig fit for Gatsby, expect martini glass burlesque, roaring 20s tap dancing, an acrobat duo with a gangster twist and live DJ performances. There’s food from around the world to help soak up the free-flowing drinks and a 300-seat movie theatre, with popcorn, obviously.
Where: London SkyBar, Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, SW1P 4QP
Bookings: Tickets are going quick so book yours at www.londonskybar.com