Food

Welcome to Britain's coolest restaurants

Published

Forget beige booths and understated walls, the latest places to eat are utterly unique.

In the middle of Mark Hix’s new restaurant, Tramshed in east London, sits a Damien Hirst sculpture of a cow, preserved in formaldehyde with a cockerel sitting on its back (helpfully pictured above). The restaurant, which capitalises on the current trend for two-dish menus (à la Burger and Lobster) and has only two main courses of chicken and steak (chickenandsteak.co.uk), is the epitome of east London cool – as is the very well-connected Hix. “I texted Damien, told him about the menu and said ‘Got any ideas?’” he explained. “This is what we got.”

Then people started talking about Mari Vanna (marivanna.co.uk), a new Russian restaurant in Knightsbridge which could have been beamed straight out of Tolstoy. With its ‘babushka’ Russian home cooking and clutter-kitsch decor, it sits somewhere between your grandma’s sitting room and a vintage car boot sale.

In Bristol, something equally different is going on at 40 Alfred Place (40alfredplace.net), the UK’s only permanent pop-up restaurant – a contradiction which combines a static base with a changing weekly roster of chefs, themed nights and events (think Peruvian supper clubs and Campari bars). It is a shell of a building designed to house its ever-changing dining. It’s yet another version of foodie decor diversity.

The trend has been cemented by a plethora of new openings, including Manchester’s Burgher Burger (chefs re-imagining the burger in secret locations; jellyandgin.com/events) to Shrimpy’s in King’s Cross (pictured above, second right); a Latin American eaterie in a disused petrol station (shrimpys.co.uk). Don’t know what you’re doing for dinner tonight? You do now.