The London restaurant scene is like an ocean, each wave brings a new closure and a new opening, a change of chef or a new concept and it is hard enough to keep up if you live in the city, let alone if you are an infrequent visitor. So to make it easy for those planning a visit to the capital in 2016, here are some new kids on the block that are definitely worth an inclusion in your itinerary.
Darbaar (1 Snowden Street, Broadgate Quarters, EC2A 2DQ)
The newest venture from award-winning Chef Adbul Yaseen (previously of the Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen), this is truly a treat for the senses. Expect exceptional modern Indian cuisine inspired by the royal courts of India. The Nawabi slow-roasted leg of lamb just melts in the mouth, while the tandoori paneer is a healthy treat. The kitchen is open for diners to watch Yaseen himself (who regularly features on ITV and BBC2) overseeing the preparation of the mouth-watering dishes. For a quick lunch, try the ‘nanza’ – a cross between a pizza and naan, or the deconstructed samosas served with delicate pomegranate and salad. Just a short walk from Liverpool Street station, keep your eyes peeled because the door is unobtrusively marked.
Polpo (Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge Fifth Floor, 109 – 125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ)
The newest addition to the top-floor eating scene at this smart shopping address is the Venetian small-plates restaurant Polpo. This is just the sort of place you need to refuel in the midst of a busy Knightsbridge shopping trip. The menu is packed with tasty Italian morsels that can be ordered to share. Some weight-watching women at the table next to us ordered plates of zucchini, parmesan and basil, while we tucked in to Lamb osso buco with saffron risotto, little pizzas called pizzette with green olive and white anchovy, and a plateful of fritto misto. If you just want to come for the Spritz (the Venetian cocktail of Aperol and prosecco), then go for the Cicheti, mouth-sized bites of arancini (rice balls) and crostini.
STK (ME London, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA)
For the budget conscious, there has been an exciting development at the swanky American steakhouse STK, located on the ground floor of the ME London hotel. They have just launched a £30 pre-theatre set menu that enables you to sample their exquisite cuisine and glamorous surroundings without breaking the bank. The three-course meal includes a number of STK London’s signature dishes, such as a starter of the Lil Brgs, delightful bite-size burgers made from prime Japanese Wagyu beef, topped with STK’s signature sauce and the option of their famed 28-day-aged USDA prime rump steak for main course – an experience not to be missed – or crispy bass with gnocchi. If you have room then plump for the sticky toffee pudding from the dessert menu, or go for the lighter mango cream with sorbet. Served from 17:00 to 19:00, there is no rule to say you have to be going to the theatre afterwards. Instead hang out in the bar and enjoy the DJ and the high-energy vibe of the place.
Del’Aziz (11 Bermondsey Square, London SE1 3UN)
A bright refurb of this neighbourhood restaurant has resulted in an social hub where you can sample authentic Middle Eastern cuisine by executive chef Mahrez Loucal, who previously worked at Michelin-starred Chez Bruce. Or perhaps just pop in to grab a bottle of Sardinian wine from the wine shop. Or meet a friend for a Long Moroccan Mint cocktail. Or indulge in a huge slice of cake and a pot of mint tea in the bakery. Order a plate of mezze to share or a rich chicken tagine with preserved lemons and feel like you’ve been transported to a North African souk.
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