We update this list monthly with the restaurants causing the biggest stir in town - the ones which reviewers are thrilled about, where tables are like gold dust or places that are just serving the most interesting and inventive food in town right now. We know there are plenty of great classic restaurants (and we're covering them in our Top 40 - London's Best Restaurants feature) but these are the hottest at this very moment, in alphabetical order...
Where: 107 Upper Street, London, N1 1QN
In a nutshell: James Cochran comes to Islington
Buzz surrounging this Islington opening was high, even before a single pot had boiled. Not only was Cochran dealing with legal issues surrounding the trademarking of his own name, but he was also flying high in the current series of The Great British Menu. Good job then that the food more than lives up to the hype. So far the only review to be published is Tatler's who declared themselves "frankly floored by the potato spaghetti", but our Test Drive is incoming this week and - spoiler - we were hugely impressed.
Where: 39 William IV Street, London, WC2N 4DD
In a nutshell: Ex Locanda Locatelli chef does fresh pasta in Covent Garden
This Covent Garden pasta restaurant shows that there's still plenty of room for fresh pasta done well in London. It comes from Louis Korovilas, who has earned his pasta cred working for Georgio Locatelli. Expect affordable fresh pasta, some great counter dining action and, as Grace Dent puts it "Bancone’s gimmick is that you get a really lovely dinner and you don’t weep when the bill appears. It’s a trend that I hope will run and run."
Where: Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E1 6JJ
In a nutshell: Ex Kitty Fisher's chef Tomos Parry's Shoreditch restaurant
He was an instant hit when he started at Kitty Fisher's (after a successful stint at Climpson's Arch) so all eyes were on Tomos Parry for his next venture. An impressive open kitchen sets the scene, making the cooking over fire central to the restaurant experience. And a partnership with the people behind Noble Rot means that the wine's pretty decent too. Expect wonderful cooking - the turbot and the beef chop should both be on your list. And don't miss the small plates, as Keith Miller in the Telegraph says - "spider crab, one of many Basque touches on the menu, was tossed with cabbage – perfect with its slightly funky flavour – and fennel." Giles Coren was an instant fan, saying; "It’s that good. That different. That special."
Where:1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR
In a nutshell: Indian gastropub in the city (and much more besides)
The restaurants at Bloomberg Arcade have been a cut above the norm (due to the influence of Bloomberg's Richard Vines) and this continues with Brigadiers, from the people behind Gymkhana and Hoppers. With a huge menu of Indian dishes in a warren of rooms, it's really offering something that you just can't get anywhere else in town. As Frankie McCoy in the Standard says, it offers "a solid menu of Indian hits, brilliantly executed by brilliant operators."
Where: 1 Westgate Street, London E8 3RL
In a nutshell: P Franco open their first standalone restaurant
The much-loved Clapton wine bar was always a highlight of East London when it came to food. Then they went one step further, opening their first full restaurant in Netil House where Ellory used to be. Grace Dent raved about the restaurant, saying "They made me enjoy things I thought I hated and gave me tastes I’d never imagined before." James Ramsden (co-owner of Pidgin and Magpie) said their Cantonese style duck hearts were the "best thing I've eaten all year" and Instagrammer Felicity Spector found herself "literally gasping in admiration at a dish of crab in a kind of ajo blanco." The FT's Tim Hayward concurred, admiring the kitchen team's "quiet self-confidence".
Where: 32 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TU
In a nutshell: Upscale piri piri and more...
This Southwark Portugeuse restaurant is cooking up Algarvian-style chicken frango (hence the name) for a new spin on piri piri style chicken, with plenty of focus on their wood-fired grill for that real authenticity. That chicken has been winning praise from Michael Deacon in The Telegraph who called it "glisteningly succulent" while Jay Rayner says "This is an elbows-out, face-down job, which gently wafted me back to the summer of ’78."
Where: 30 Henrietta Street, London WC2E 8NA
In a nutshell: Kitty Fisher's team open a second restaurant
The Kitty Fisher's team follow-up was always going to be a hot ticket and Giles Coren was straight in there with a review that not only felt Cora had some of the naughty vibes of her Shepherd Market sister but that the chips were "the dish of the year. Dish of the decade. Dish of the effing century." BBC's Good Food magazine drew attention to a new trend - seafood on crumpets. The CP version is their brown shrimp Ranhöfer which Good Food described as "amped-up prawns on toast".
3 Prince Edward Road, Hackney Wick, E9 5LX
In a nutshell: Seasonal dining in Hackney
Tom Brown's had plenty of seafood experience, most recently at Outlaw's at the Capital - but now he's opened his own place in Hackney and there's still plenty of seafood on the menu. Food blogger Elizabeth Auerbach said she "was immediately impressed with his cooking from the first bite on" and Giles Coren declared the food "out of this world... I’ve never been one for tarama on veg. So I smeared it on their otherworldly sourdough toast with dripping and my eyes just rolled back in my head …". We also took it for a Test Drive.
316 Queensbridge Road, Hackney, London E8 3NH
In a nutshell: Tom Oldroyd's Hackney pub
It's early days for the Duke of Richmond, but there's been huge anticipation of the second Oldroyd restaurant, not least because the head chef is Rory Shannon, coming off a very well reviewed stint at Winemakers Deptford. Both the main dining room and the pub sound like they're worth separate visits, and we're hearing very good things about their burger. Not to mention the slow roasted duck on the Sunday lunch menu.
One Tower Bridge, 4 Crown Square, London SE1 2SE
In a nutshell: The City Indian favourite heads across the river
The original Gunpowder in The City opened quietly and grew into a huge hit. And now they've moved into the new Tower Bridge development, with a much bigger space. But they've lost none of what made the original gunpowder such a hit. The classics like Kashmiri lamb chops make a welcome appearance among many new dishes. And the place will get even better when the all-day bakery Custard kicks off in Autumn.
85 Piccadilly, London W1J 7NB
In a nutshell: Dabbous mk II. And then some.
Of course, the pre-opening buzz surrounding Ollie Dabbous' new venture with Hedonism Wines was crazy, but then the Standard review came out and it was a good 'un. The place looks completely amazing, and it's definitely one to put on any self-respecting London foodie's list. And if your budget is tight, go for breakfast instead. Frankie McCoy gave it five stars in the Standard, saying "Don’t overthink it. Dabbous is knocking out his most fabulous five-star food yet." And Fiona Beckett in The Decanter said; "It’s worth ordering the extra course of what is simply described as ‘Cornish Fish in two services’ to experience one of the best fish stews you’ll ever have eaten."
64 Grafton Way, London W1T 5DN
In a nutshell: Selin Kiazim's Oklava follow-up
Selin Kiazim's Oklava in Shoreditch has been a quiet, consistent hit, so there was always going to be a lot of attention on their follow up. This Fitzrovia restaurant sees her once again teaming up with Oklava's Laura Christie for this Turkish restaurant. And it's already impressed The Standard, as David Sexton said: "Kyseri is a treat of the kind that only a restaurant culture as vigorous and varied as London’s makes possible."
18 Phipp Street, London EC2A 4NU
In a nutshell: Michelin-starred Ellory moves to Shoreditch
A big hit in London Fields - and Michelin-starred to boot - there have been changes for Ellory. They've moved from their original digs into the heart of Shoreditch and changed the name in the process (it was the nickname of the original). With that comes more of a bistro focus. David Sexton was a fan of their asparagus dish - "This felt like a delicious rebuke to the sloppiness of asparagus with hollandaise, an impressive composition more than it was commonplace food." And Grace Dent declared the move a total success saying: "Ellory was good – we all loved Ellory – but Leroy is much, much better."
9 Russell Street, London WC2B 5HZ
In a nutshell: New York chinese import
There are two Red Farms in New York, praised for a modern take on a Chinese Dim Sum menu. And the thing they're really known for are their Pac man dumplings. They look undeniably impressive, but there's much to love about the rest of the menu - including the amazing shrimp-stuffed chicken, which Fay Maschler described as with "ravishingly crisped, magically seasoned skin and a Vi-Spring mattress of juicy prawn." And look out for the hidden bar on the top floor too.
74-76 York St, Marylebone, London W1H 1QN
In a nutshell: Duck and Waffle's Dan Doherty opens a pub
All eyes were on Dan Doherty when he left his previous restaurant overlooking the city, Duck and Waffle. He has a New York restaurant on the way too, but it's the London base that we're particularly interested in - and this is is. He's taken on the Royal Oak in Fitzrovia and will be gradually refining the menu over the next few months - and there's still the promise of something extra special to come in the space upstairs. If you want to see a chef in his element, watching the development of the menu, this is the place to come. And expect a mean scotch egg too.
55 Wells Street London W1A 3AE
In a nutshell: Ottolenghi does fire and fermentation
Poor old ROVI had barely opened before a bust extraction system caused it to close again. But now it really IS open for business. The "perfect place to take one of your oldest semi-vegetarian, fully gluten-intolerant friends without even the merest sprinkle of resentment at missing out," enthused the Guardian's Felicity Cloake on Instagram. An "outstanding dessert" was Instagrammer Felicity Spector's take on Rovi's apricot clafoutis with fig leaf ice cream.
171 Holloway Rd, London N7 8LX
In a nutshell: Laksa and more as this Malaysian restaurant goes permanent
Sambal Shiok has been popping up in various locations all over town for five years, serving up great Malaysian food - and most importantly what's viewed by many as the BEST laksa in town. Now owner Mandy Yin has set up a permanent position on Holloway Road, and she describes it as "like a ramen bar but instead focusing on Malaysian Nyonya laksa". In a visit to the pop-up, Jay Rayner said " It’s powerful, satisfying and for me at least, the very stuff of memories." And visiting the new restaurant, Giles Coren said: "Sambal Shiok is a place of joy and great cooking."
70 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4QX
In a nutshell: Brunswick House's Jackson Boxer teams up with chef Andrew Clarke in Shoreditch.
With hits like Brunswick House (and the much-missed Rita's), all eyes were on Jackson Boxer's next opening, St Leonards which has taken over the big Shoreditch space vacated by Eyre Brothers. Teaming up with Andrew Clarke, they've the very best mix of raw bar delights mixed with flaming cooking (and a spacious bar space that is much-needed in the area). Jay Rayner hints that it may divide people - "Dinner at St Leonards, lubricated by well-priced, classic French wines, is not so much a meal out as a funfair ride." However, Marina O'Loughlin is in love: "To my “ideal restaurants” list, I’m now adding St Leonards. It has all the hallmarks of a classic in the making."
Ones to watch...
From London's recently-opened restaurants here are the ones who aren't quite ready for the list but are worth keeping an eye on...
- Crispin - The people behind Ludenwic have opened this new cafe in a crazy looking building in Spitalfields.
- The Coal Office - from one of the chefs who opened The Palomar, this is the first restaurant to open in Coal Drops Yard.
- Borealis - This is Soren Jessen's latest Nordic restaurant, opening in the Fora workplace building in Borough.
- Screwdriver - everything's on la plancha at this Dalston restaurant focused on grilled Spanish food.
Where's Hot, mapped.
Here's how the Hot Dinners "Where's Hot" restaurants are spread across town.