Many of London's restaurants are praised widely for their genuine brilliance, while others are over-hyped. But what about those which tend to fall under the radar? Here’s a list of London restaurants we think deserve more of the spotlight.
Despite receiving a rave review from Marina O'Loughlin in the Guardian and a smattering of attention elsewhere, this Japanese restaurant remains relatively under the radar. It can be slightly hit and miss but the misses are tiny blips compared with the general standard here. The sushi, in particular, is some of the best in London. It's not Sushi Tetsu standard, certainly, but it's up there. Our advice is to avoid the hot, meat dishes and desserts and stick to the fish. We also ate a stunning mushroom dish, the like of which we've not seen elsewhere — a segmented Portobello sitting in a bath of what was basically flavoured oil, each piece slippery and perfect, topped with green chilli and truffle. It sounds odd and you know what? it was. Odd but also one of the most interesting things we've eaten in ages.
Takahashi, 228 Merton Road, SW19 1EQ
Ciao Bella doesn't tick many trend boxes with its giant pepper mills and live piano music but really, what's not to like about those things? So it's an old school trattoria — a dying breed, really — and it's just so much fun. Sit down, order a bottle of chianti which will arrive in one of those wicker holsters and order one of the frankly ginormous portions of pasta. It's impossible to leave here feeling anything less than satisfied.
Ciao Bella, 86-90 Lambs Conduit Street, WC1N 3LZ
Bernardi's is a solid Italian neighbourhood restaurant that gets a bit of a hard time for no apparent reason. Critics have called it a little dull, but the kitchen here actually pays more attention to detail than it's given credit for. Ingredients, like burrata and tomatoes, come from Italy and pasta is made in house. It's open all day and evening, too, so is many things to many people; it's always impressive when a restaurant can pull this off successfully without letting standards slip. Bernardi's 'just' serves simple, seasonal Italian food. If we lived nearby, we'd go all the time.
Bernardi’s, 62 Seymour Street, W1H 5BN
Heliot Steak House
Heliot really does divide people, mostly due to the fact that it's located within the Hippodrome, overlooking the main casino gaming floor. American USDA meat (which they use) is also controversial, but you can do a lot worse in so many steak restaurants in London, particularly in this area. Heliot is one of those restaurants you should file in your mental restaurant list, just in case you're in need of a half decent steak with truffled mac n cheese before heading for a spot of roulette.
Heliot, 14 Cranbourn Street, WC2H 7JH
TĀ TĀ Eatery
Ta Ta Eatery really is a unique restaurant in London, simply because the food is so difficult to define. They basically call it "good things served with rice". A duo of chefs have come through some impressive kitchens to arrive at their own, unique style; expect umami-heavy dishes of aubergine doused with fermented miso sauce or tofu, dusted with katsuobushi (flakes of dried fish). There are so many influences at work here which is what makes the food so exciting. Go with an open mind.
TĀ TĀ Eatery, 258 Kingsland Road, E8 4DG
Le Relais de Venice
Le Relais de Venise is a restaurant that just keeps plodding along; it’s dependable and about as predictable as it gets since they only serve a few things — steak, chips and salad. You choose how you'd like them to cook your steak, then they bring you salad, you eat it, they bring you steak and chips, you eat that too. Then you order from a short dessert menu. A simple concept that has stood the test of time.
Le Relais de Venice, 50 Dean Street, W1D 5BQ