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15 of the coolest restaurants in London

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Interesting and unique: these restaurants in London make for some of the best dinner spots in the city.

Trying to find the perfect dining spot is never easy. In fact, researching where to eat can be harder than choosing a film on Netflix, but don’t give up the search and fall back on your tried and tested favourite/un-enthusiastically pile into the nearest possible establishment to put an end to the ceaseless bickering.

We’ve found and eclectic mix of 15 bars and restaurants across London that all have that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. So, whether you’re kicking back after a long week at work, catching up with old friends, celebrating, dating or feeding before a night on the tiles, any one of these city-based venues are bound to make for a unique, interesting and cool setting for your evening.

  • Yeni

    Turkish chef Yeni Lokanta has brought his acclaimed skills from Istanbul to London’s Soho. The modern space is juxtaposed against the bustling street it overlooks and the menu is excitingly imaginative. Çig kofte tartare with sumac molasses is the standout dish, tangy and delicious. As for the lamb shank (complete with tamarind, spinach and porcini), it’s melt-in-the-mouth with a sharp, toothsome kick we’ll be dreaming of for weeks to come.

    Address: 55 Beak Street, Soho, London W1F 9SH

  • Bombay Bustle

    Bombay Bustle is the spot for vibrant Mumbai flavours, and Mondays at the Mayfair joint are now movie nights. The bar area will be transformed into a pop-up cinema, and for £52pp you can get a flavour-packed three-course dinner (including dishes like Chicken Tikka Makhini, Malabar Lamb and saffron-infused Jalebi Cheesecake) and a glass of champers while watching films such as The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Lobster on the big screen. Until 15 April.

    Address: Bombay Bustle, 29 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2PA

  • Cattivo

    You’re in Brixton on a Saturday night and need a plan that involves dinner, drinks AND a bit of a dance. Tick off all three at Cattivo, which is part-restaurant, part-cocktail venue, part-club. Inside the paint is peeling (albeit very chicly) and the tunes are bumping, so snuggle into a blue velvet booth and chow down on some Italian comfort food: assorted meatballs and delicious homemade pastas galore. The “slow and deep beef pappardelle” is something else. Thank us later.

    Address: Cattivo, 207 Ferndale Rd, Brixton, London SW9 8BA

  • Fare Bar + Canteen

    In the market for a gaspingly good Friday night? Check out the swanky, multi-level Fare Bar + Canteen. The upstairs pizza bar is airy and industrial, but we’d book a table in the underground restaurant, where candlelight flickers cosily off whitewashed walls. All of the food is sublime, but the juicy Denver red beef – sprinkled with mustard seeds and chargrilled around the edges – is to die for. Make sure to accompany with a whiskey highball.

    Address: Fare Bar + Canteen, 11 Old Street, EC1V 9HL

  • Pachamama East

    A short stroll from Old Street you’ll find a heavenly Peruvian-inspired spot that goes by the name Pachamama East – little sister to the OG Pachamama spot in Marylebone. We arrived at 7pm on a Thursday, and the atmosphere was already buzzing. 

    Below the bare bulbs that stream from the entrance towards a sparkly disco ball, the floors are rustic and the walls look as though they’re crumbling – and it all works, in the most tasteful way. And speaking of taste, the menu is divided into three categories: soil, land and sea (if you’re sharing – which you should – we recommend ordering two from each). 

    Don’t sleep on the crispy lamb belly, which is partnered with punchy green pepper and arrives sizzling and juicy, or the knockout octopus with black quinoa – truly tender tentacles. To finish, we recommend ordering a Chicharita cocktail; a tangy tequila and lime juice tipple hailing from Lima. That’s a lot of flavours for a single sitting.

    Address: Pachamama East, 73 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HR

  • LINO

    Looking for a new after-work go-to? You know, the place you gather every Thursday for excellent gossip but even better food? Well, we think we might have found it. 

    Situated in a (now immaculately stylish) old carpet warehouse, LINO boasts a sparkling modern menu that includes the likes of oxtail and potato hotpot (golden, glistening and delicious) alongside steamed pollock and seaweed butter (a blockbuster of a dish best washed down with a punchy Negroni). We’ll be back every week. Promise.

    Address: LINO, 90 Bartholomew Close, London EC1A 7EB

  • Berenjak

    Iranian-inspired Berenjak is a buzzy little bare-brick joint bursting with flavour. Once you’re done swooning over the mosaics and hanging foliage, get a spirit-lifting sharbat down you (a non-alcoholic Persian fruit cordial you can choose to spike – along with the other drinks on the menu – with apricot gin). Next, order the koobideh kabab (minced goat shoulder) with a side of saffron rice (complete with goat butter). Immediate thoughts will include – but are not limited to – “smoky”, “meaty” and “downright divine”.

    Address: Berenjak, 27 Romilly Street, Soho, London W1D 5AL

  • BUNS & BUNS

    A bread-themed restaurant? We must be dreaming. Turns out we were actually in Covent Garden, holed up in Buns & Buns. Fresh from Miami, the eatery is modern and plush, with smart booths and geometric tiles surrounding the grand marble bar that stands sleekly in the centre of the room. The menu here is an inventive testament to bread that’s best shared, with. highlights including the shiitake mushroom bao bun (sticky, sweet and scrumptious) and carbonara-topped pizza (seriously special). One of London’s most exciting newcomers in yonks.

    Address: BUNS & BUNS, 5c Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 8RA

  • Hicce x Wolf & Badger

    Hicce (Latin for ‘current’ and pronounced ‘ee-chay’) is a new spot on the top floor of Wolf & Badger’s flagship store; entirely separate to the shop, but with a parallel sense of curation and calm. The food here (spearheaded by Murano’s Pip Lacey and designed to be shared) revolves around using the barbecue to grill, steam and smoke, so each dish is layered with flavour. The ‘jars’ of pickled loveliness, like carrot and cardamom, are a refreshing way to start; the wild red prawn ‘hotsticks’ with Hicce butter are moreish and juicy. 

    For mains, no matter what meat or fish you order (though we do recommend the mackerel with radicchio and kumquats) you must try the Brussel sprouts – cooked with hazelnuts and kohl rabi, they’re unrecognisable from the Christmas sort. The drinks menu is equally delightful, with plenty to appease Dry Janners, but the Bagleys cocktail (Don Julio Reposado, campari, passionfruit and grapefruit sherbet) stayed on just the right side of sweet.

    Coal Drops Yard itself is a transporting place, filled with boutiques, bars and brands that all fit a very sleek, minimal, norm-luxe aesthetic – if you sold all your worldly possessions and re-bought them all here, you’d probably look like the living embodiment of a New Year’s resolution. But please, save your money… and spend it in Hicce instead.

    Address: Hicce, Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4DQ

  • Grays and Feather

    Acclaimed purveyor of sparkling wine, Grays and Feather (who you may know from Southbank Food Market) now have a bricks and mortar establishment. And heck, is it something. You’ll find it at 26 Wellington Street, where Charles Dickens once held offices, taking over the bright and airy ground floor and the basement – a bigger, but more intimate space. On our visit we settled into The Snookery, a low-ceilinged, warmly lit room with cushions and curios – and about as cosy as you can get in central London.

    We suggest asking the sommelier for advice on your wine choices (and the stories that come with them), but we can merrily recommend the house sparkling white and the honjozo saké to surprise your taste buds. The specialists work with small and lesser known winemakers; even if you only go for a glass or two, there’s a real feeling of uncovering something special with each one you try. 

    There’s also food, served to share – the roquefort, honey & waldorf salad with salt apple crisps was a surprisingly refreshing delight. In fact, you get the feeling that the whole experience has been designed around the sense of discovery – and it is well worth finding out for yourself.

    Address: Grays and Feather, 26 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7DD

  • Kinilaw & Buko

    Decked out like a little dive bar, Kinilaw & Buko specialises in the Filipino versions of the ice cream and ceviche it’s named after. But that’s not all on offer, there’s a hot menu too, and the pork rolls are a great starter to kick things off with. We followed them with vinegar-soaked oysters – scrumptious enough to bring even a lifelong oyster-phobe over to the slippery side. 

    Want more? Finish up with a scoop of Pop Star Buko, lychee-flavoured ice cream peppered with sumac popping candy, or a Soju Bubble Tea – spiked with Soju, amaretto and maple syrup.

    Address: Kinilaw & Buko, 104 Hoxton Street, N1 6SG

  • Kym’s

    Kym’s was one of the hottest restaurant openings in 2018. Sleek, low-lit and beautifully punctuated by a Japanese cherry blossom tree that sprouts tranquilly from the bottom of a very stylish staircase, Andrew Wong’s latest venture certainly looks the part. Luckily, everything that comes out of the kitchen is also a work of art. 

    The menu is inspired by the ancient craft of Chinese roasting meats, so mouth-watering, fire-crackled cuts are the order of the day. The crispy duck pancakes aren’t just delicious, they good enough to rival any others in the capital. We recommend pair them with a delicious Plum Bellini and a tingly side portion of Sichuanese spiced aubergine; it’s a masterpiece. But no matter how full you are, don’t leave without ordering a pineapple and custard bun. Freshly made in Chinatown, they’re a real treat.

    Address: Kym’s, 19 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR

  • May Fair Kitchen

    It would be wrong to end the year without a spot that ticks off industrial lighting, natural wood and marble table tops. At May Fair kitchen, you get all of 2018’s most popular aesthetic, as well as an unexpected and exciting melding of flavours from Spain, Italy, Peru and Mexico. The food offering is reliably delicious, but make sure to sample cocktails too; the signature El Diplomat, with rum, byrhh, sangue morlacco and chocolate bitters is a warming delight.

    Address: May Fair Kitchen, Stratton Street, Mayfair, London W1J 8LT

  • Brera Riverside

    Brera Riverside is Canary Wharf’s knockout new Italian restaurant and we can’t commend it enough. Decked out like the sort of eatery you might find on a Napoli side street, the floors are beautifully tiled and a grand deli counter sits at the restaurant’s front, from which you can pluck fresh Italian produce. The menu is wonderfully simple and strewn with Italian classics, but the Brera lasagna reigned supreme. How good was the tiramisu? There are no words.

    Address: Brera Riverside, 31 Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, London E14 8RR

  • MILK BEACH

    MILK BEACH is a taste of Bondi Beach in (much less sunny) Queen’s Park. With bright décor full of marble tables and plants, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a lesson in style over substance. Not so. With coffee beans that can be traced back to the farm and organic wines from independents, everything has been consciously considered. MILK BEACH doesn’t take bookings so we recommend arriving early on a weekend, and definitely order the coddled eggs and sweet potato purée.

    Address: MILK BEACH, 19 Lonsdale Road, Queen’s Park, NW6 6RA

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