We’ve long suspected London is the adventure culinary capital of the world, with great new places and innovative dishes popping up on a weekly basis.
It can be hard to keep track, but the folks over at Bookatable are here to help. They've pulled together some of London’s newest, most adventurous and quirkiest dining experiences to inspire you to try something different the next time you head out on the town, whether for a birthday bash, business lunch or intimate dinner a deux.
So if you're in search of an experience that tantalises the taste buds, check out top 10 intrepid dining experiences right here.
1. Bull in a China Shop, Shoreditch
Must-try dish: Nikka whisky pulled pork bun
The Chan brothers, who are behind The Drunken Monkey, opened a second venture in April that appears to be the epitome of all that is East London right now. Taking over a pub opposite the Tea Building in the heart of Shoreditch, the all-day restaurant and whisky bar serves everything from breakfast to late night cocktails. Early morning risers can try breakfast bao buns - choose from classic pork, chicken and duck to a Chinese ‘Lap Chung’ sausage bun, a Nikka whisky pulled pork bun and a French coriander bun. Later in the day, the menu features whisky glazed rotisserie chicken, black charcoal brioche buns and superfood salads.
2. Kateh, Knightsbridge
Must-try dish: Saffron ice cream with fresh pistachio
Kateh is already being called one of the best Iranian restaurants in London despite having only opened six months ago. If you aren’t familiar with Iranian food – and even if you really are - then we urge you to give this restaurant a try. Some of our favourite treats on the menu include saffron ice cream with fresh pistachio, Persian rice noodle sorbet with fresh lime juice and Kashke Bademjan - grilled baby aubergines with dried mint, soured yogurt, fried onions and walnuts.
Located in a quaint mews off Warwick Avenue, this authentic little establishment has nailed a leisurely, sophisticated and adventurous experience. Booking is a must because they are consistently full, unless you don’t mind sharing the dining table downstairs in true Iranian style and acquiring some new friends.
3. Forge Bar, The City
Must-try dish: Spiced, spit roast chicken marinated in fennel seeds, cumin & coriander
Get yourself a handpicked selection of choice meats and enjoy seasonal specialities in the city of London’s newest playground. The Forge features a dining area with an open-plan furnace where you can watch the chefs prepare delicacies roasted in ‘the pit’ or from ‘the spit’.
Our favourite dishes include pig and fig terrine, a duck egg and chive mayonnaise served with warm grilled asparagus, shaved Lincolnshire Poacher and walnut bread. Don't miss the peanut butter, coconut, lemongrass and green chilli chicken skewer with a salad and lime yoghurt dressing. The artisan bread basket with red wine and shallot butter is a must, of course.
4. Bilbao Berria, Regent Street
Must-try dish: Grilled turbot with garlic dressing and confit leek
Bilbao Berria began in Barcelona in 1999 and has delivered a unique Basque dining experience in the capital ever since. Last year, Australian chef Ash Mair, winner of 2011’s MasterChef opened an outpost in London, with an open kitchen on each floor serving the Basque form of tapas pintxos (usually 'spiked' with a skewer or toothpick, often to a piece of bread) alongside an extensive selection of modern Spanish dishes roasted in the traditional charcoal parrilla.
Mouthwatering options include salt cod fritters, smoked Basque cheese, suckling pig with butternut purée and membrillo cheese and Catalan pasta with clams and prawns.
5. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, Shoreditch
Must-try dish: Lilac sweet lavender latte
Lady Dinah’s offers diners the chance to spend a day in the relaxing company of rescued felines while serving up quirky East London grub in the heart of Shoreditch. Despite serving traditional English afternoon teas, sandwiches and cakes, Lady Dinah’s has plenty of surprises on the menu, alongside the truly individual cats that you might brush shoulders with.
There are speciality drinks named after feline friends of the café - The Petra is all sweetness and spice, an 82% dark hot chocolate sweetened with delicious raspberry syrup and just a little bite from a dash of spicy chilli powder and The Donnie is a chai latte topped with salted caramel. There’s even some Genmaicha (popcorn tea). Whatever you do don’t miss the dessert menu which includes Guinness and chocolate cake, banana custard layer cake a - 100% free of animal products - and a pumpkin spice layer cake. A dining experience like no other.
6. Garlic and Shots, Soho
Must-try dish: Garlic-marinated king prawns, with garlic honey shots
Described as "a kitchen full of garlic and a bar loaded with 101 different flavoured vodka shots", this Soho restaurant may not be ideal for a first date but is an essential go-to in London for a weird and wild night out.
If you are going to go, then you really have to commit to both the garlic and the vodka shots. No dishes are served without garlic, and their self-confessed "mission from god" is that "as you leave the restaurant you should feel like you’ve been marinated in garlic". Don't miss the garlic honey shots or the Harley Davidson Oil shot with Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort and Jägermeister, Not for the fainthearted...
7. Caboose, Brick Lane
Must-try dish: The Fat Controller, a blend of 10-hour pulled pork belly smoked over fruit wood
Caboose Brick Lane operates a BYO (bring-your-own) booze policy so choose your ideal tipple and make yourself at home in this rustically furbished wood cabin-style train carriage. Changing with the seasons, the Caboose menu is a nod to the classic American barbecue, with mouth-watering burgers and slaws paired up with rich sauces, cheeses and mash.
Paying homage to the origins of the setting, "The Fat Controller" is a sumptuous blend of 10-hour pulled pork belly, smoked over fruit wood and served with barbecue sauce, pickles and smoked cheddar.
8. The Magazine, Hyde Park
Must-try dish: Grilled courgette, Ras El Hanout and goats curd
Part of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in Hyde Park, this gem serves British- European food in a futuristic setting from head chef Emmanuel Eger. His contemporary style of cooking combined with architect Zaha Hadid's inspirational design creates a distinctive dining narrative with white dining room inside and out, a flowing membrane roof and columns that flood natural light into the room.
Stunning glass walls also give the impression of dining in the surrounding Kensington gardens. Open from breakfast through to dinner, the cuisine is married with the tastes of British and European fare. Grilled courgette, Ras El Hanout and goats curd, and sea trout served with carrot and citrus fruits are just some of the colourful and vibrant dishes on offer which will certainly tempt you into feast mode.
9. Bubbledogs, Soho
Must-try dish: The Breakfast dog with a fried egg and black pudding
Bubbledogs is a champagne and hot-dog bar in the heart of Fitzrovia. It teams up its best bubbly with some mouth-watering hot dogs and, in our opinion, it's a perfect combination.
First you pick your dog (choose from pork, beef or veggie) and then pick from around a dozen different styles, from "naked" to the more adventurous Korean-inspired "K-Dawg" or the Indian spiced "Trishna".
There's even a "Mac Daddy" dog – a hot dog with mac & cheese, crispy onions and bacon bits - if you're ravenous as well as brave.
10. BAO, Soho
Must-try dish: The Gua Bao (soy-milk-fried chicken in a steamed bun)
Trendy Taiwanese street food vendor Bao won backing to open their first restaurant of Soho in April. A Bao is a "pillowy soft cloudy steamed bun" and the signature Bao takes pride of place on the menu, created by head chef team Wai-Ting Chung, her brother Shing Tat Chung and his girlfriend Er Chen Chang, who have spent years developing their secret recipe.
The Bao is hand made every day at the restaurant, ranging from the classic (braised pork, peanut powder, fermented greens and coriander and Lamb shoulder. Prices of Bao range from £3 - £5 each.Our favourite is The Gua Bao (soy-milk-fried chicken in a steamed bun) A tick-style menu featuring a series of snacks, such as pig blood cake and trotter nugget, accompanies the dishes, along with small glasses of peanut milk which makes a perfect tipple for the food. And to finish, make sure you try a fried Horlicks ice-cream sandwich.
Tweet @Bookatable using the hashtag #AdventureYourTaste with any spots you've tried that need to be on the capital's culinary radar.
For more information, visit bookatable.co.uk/adventure-your-taste