14 Restaurants We've Loved Recently

Eleana Overett
By Eleana Overett Last edited 16 months ago

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14 Restaurants We've Loved Recently

In case you missed them in our daily things to do email, here are 14 restaurants the Londonist team loved recently.

The Clifton: hidden treasure in St John's Wood

After almost walking straight past The Clifton on a quiet residential street in St John’s Wood, this newly renovated contemporary pub had us oohing and aahing at the finely stocked bar, chic open dining room, vintage sofas by a picturesque fireplace, and beautifully light conservatory where we snagged our table. The brunch menu suits both meat lovers and vegetarians. The fluffy waffle with smoked streaky bacon, fried duck eggs and maple syrup with an extra side of sausage is a sumptuous mix of sweet and savoury, and the huge portion really set us up for the day. The fresh avocado and poached eggs on toast had a light chilli kick and perfectly runny yolk. Now we’ve found it, we’ll be back in a heartbeat; get in quick before the masses discover it. The Clifton, 96 Clifton Hill, NW8 0JT ★★★★★ Eleana Overett

Tea Room: dumplings by neon light

The irony's not lost on us: in the shiny throes of gentrification, Soho's newer establishments have often plumped for a seedy, neon-steeped vibe. Tea Room lands just the right side of the glowing gimmick, with its ersatz 1960s Hong Kong feel — a wardrobe-sized radio cabinet cooing out vintage cantonese pop, and menus moonlighting as newspapers. While the food's not on a par with the dai pai dong of Hong Kong, it is extremely good, the lacey dumplings providing a wonderful crispy/chewy texture, the pickled melon cutting through the pile of deep fried duck tongues, and the Cigarette & Palm cocktail playfully presented with a tin of candy smokes. It's surely a good sign that, despite being stuffed, we can't help picking at the char siu pork until it's gone. And, for anyone who hates over-bright restaurants and bars, the lighting conditions are perfect. Tea Room, 24 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 4DZ  ★★★★☆ Will Noble

Essence: sleek and stylish

Plant-based food is going through a real moment right now. A new vegan menu appears in London almost daily, so it’s no longer possible for a place to stand out by virtue of being meat, fish and dairy free. Shoreditch’s Essence knows that it needs to be special, to stake its place in a crowded scene. Right from the moment you enter, it’s clear this place is different. People sit side on to minimalist tables which fold out from futuristic cubes. Perhaps a tad uncomfortable for some, but it’s refreshing for somewhere to try something new. Then it’s onto the food, the standout is the wonderful heirloom tomato lasagna, beautifully presented — a jenga tower of vegetables and gorgeous pesto. The Caesar salad and raw pad Thai also deliver in a big way, the former so creamy you’ll be checking with the waiter to make sure it’s really vegan, the latter perfectly spicy. Dessert is equally as wonderful: the lime cheesecake bursts with citrus flavours that bounce around your mouth, while the raw macaroons crumble perfectly as you chow down on them. Follow that up with a lemongrass tea to cleanse all the toxins out and leave satisfied. Essence, 94 Leonard Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 4RH ★★★★★ Harry Rosehill

Butler's Wharf Chop House: top burger with a side of Tower Bridge

Snagging an outside table is an absolute must at Butler's Wharf Chop House — spend your evening munching on a deluxe burger with an incredible view of Tower Bridge. The thick, juicy burger comes in a brioche bun, fat potato-y chips and red pepper and tomato chutney, but of course we had to go the whole hog and add cheese and bacon as well. Some may feel £15.50-£19.50 for a burger is on the pricey side — even for London — but the sun setting over the Thames and the spectacular view make the cost worth it for a special evening out. We defy you to not spend the whole evening. For dessert we finished up with some deliciously cool vanilla ice cream which, as you might expect from Chop House, tasted richly of actual vanilla beans — no artificial nonsense here. There are a few other locations in their franchise, so if you’re tired of Thames-side dining, perhaps you'd instead like to chow down a burger at their St Paul's location — the setting for programme First Dates. Butler's Wharf Chop House, 36e Shad Thames, SE1 2YE ★★★★☆ Eleana Overett

Cojean: pretty good a manger

On paper Cojean doesn't sound that different to the rest of London's sandwich-and-salad chains: chicken Caesars, smoked salmon sandwiches, bright orange and deep green juices. But the Parisian import's doing some things differently, with 10% of its profits going to charity, via a foundation with projects ranging from training programs in Calcutta and nutrition programmes in Sri Lanka to emergency assistance for homeless people in France. There are also some refreshing differences on the food front. The juices are about the same as you'd find at Crussh and similar chains — fresh, zingy and pricey. But the generic-sounding lunch options come with interesting twists and French flair: the chicken Caesar's garnished with fresh raspberries, a cream cheese sandwich is spread with honey, and the vegetarian lasagne option — currently pumpkin, spinach and hazelnut — is surprisingly low-cal but feels thoroughly rich. There's just one branch in London for now, but if it multiplies here at the same rate it has in Paris that'd be très bien in our books. Cojean, 50-52 Ludgate Hill, EC4M 7EX. ★★★★☆ Lydia Manch

Temakinho: where cuisines collide

Temakinho's fusion restaurant is where the worlds of Japanese and Brazilian cuisine collide... kind of. Caipirinhas, made with graviola for a sweet tropical twist, are crafted beautifully and pack a punch, as any good caipirinha should (you can also choose a sake based caipirinha). If you're not a seafood fan, menu choices are limited. Otherwise, choosing your dishes is plain sailing. A mixture of poke, tartare, ceviche and temakis makes for some delicious feasting — although we aren't sure which ones tick the Brazilian box; poke has Hawaiian roots and ceviche is a popular Peruvian speciality. Categorising aside, all the food is really flavoursome — the sushi rolls are beautifully created, and look almost too good to eat. The cod croquettes are melt in the mouth and an Inca Sour washes it down nicely.  It's worth mentioning that there are gadget charging facilities near every table — perfect for when all those sushi snapchats drain your battery. Temakinho, 10 Old Compton Street, W1D 4TF ★★★★☆ Harriet Davis

Alma Cafe: a must do for brunch fanatics

Bottomless brunches are now all the rage in central London, but sometimes it’s nice to get back to our brunching roots with some solid breakfast grub — and the company of some seriously cute poodles. We can’t guarantee the poodles will be there every time, but Alma Cafe is pet friendly and several canine friends came in and out while we chowed down on delicious runny yolk Eggs Benedict with oodles of tangy hollandaise sauce, and the chef’s special of smoked salmon on sourdough with little bursts of juice from pomegranate jewels. It went down a treat with the freshly made apple and mango juices. The light and airy cafe itself is a gorgeous little find in Barnes, and the deli offerings are worth a second visit for lunch. Alma Cafe, 2-3 Rocks Lane, Barnes, SW13 0DB ★★★★★ Eleana Overett

Tibits: not veggie? You might be once you've eaten in here

If you're teetering on the edge of vegetarianism but find can't quite commit, then an epic sitting at Tibits buffet should do the trick. After working up an appetite at Tate Modern (a mere five-minute walk away) we pile our plates high with meat-free sausage rolls (buttery and flaky without the gristle of traditional sausage rolls), perfectly spiced Indian Dal and red lentil and beetroot curry, deliciously moist soy chocolate cake and all manner of enticing salads (not an oxymoron on this occasion). With its lush, living walls and smart conservatory dining out back, this latest addition to the Tibits empire is certainly fancy but the food isn't, and that’s no bad thing. This is simple, flavoursome cooking done so well you'll want to replicate the dishes at home and return for recipe inspiration. Tibits is basically the gateway drug to you becoming a fully-fledged vegetarian (or vegan, if you show up on Vegan Tuesdays), you’ve been warned. Tibits, 124 Southwark Street SE1 0SW ★★★★☆ Kyra Hanson

Rosa's Thai Cafe: the rise and rise of Rosa's

Rosa's expansion is a good thing for anybody into reliable Thai food classics. And now Rosa’s ten London branches are branching out from the hits, with new regional menus specific to different locations. Soho's serving up southern Thai, and a new northern Thai menu has arrived at the Seven Dials restaurant. Showcasing flavours and dishes from Phetchabun — hometown of Rosa's co-owner, Saiphin Moore — you can see the northern, mountainous influences in the dishes. The Gaeng Hung Lay is rich, sticky and dense — a slow-cooked pork curry, simmered with tamarind, lemongrass, galangal and shallots. Good winter-is-coming food. Nam Prik Ong is a meaty dip of minced pork, cut through with chilli and coriander: perfect for scooping up with prawn crackers or dipping tiny broccoli florets into. Both make for a great introduction to northern Thai heat and meat, though we mix it up with non-northern fiery drunken noodles: four out of five dishes on the new menu are distinctly porky, so it's a relief their greatest hits are still available to give some variety. But this is a great way to explore some lesser-known regional Thai dishes, along with some old favourites. Rosa's Thai Cafe, 26 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LN. ★★★★☆ Lydia Manch

Hankies: Indian twist on afternoon tea

It's hard to find an afternoon tea in London that's kind on the wallet, or so we thought. Step forward Hankies, providing a gluttonous Indian twist on a British classic. We say gluttonous because once the dishes started arriving, they just didn't stop. The Paneer Hankies Rolls are stuffed with delicious spices and ricotta cheese, like a grilled spring roll. We had an extra dish of Kale and Halloumi Samosas which set our mouths on fire, but managed to abate it somewhat with a quick mouthful of syrupy sweet Ladoo Strudel. Grilled Bombay Sandwiches, Bhindi Bhel and Chicken Vadas, came thick and fast and we were stuffed before we even had a chance to tuck into the Bakharkhani Scones with strawberry cumin jam and thick clotted cream. The spiced Tea Cakes, Chocolate Kheer shot and Gulab Jamun Creme Brulee followed, which didn't quite match up to the strudel. Cocktails — alcoholic and virgin — can be added for a few additional pounds and the Nimbu Pani was an absolute dream. Definitely a value for money afternoon tea — note you must book ahead of time. Hankies, 67 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6EX ★★★★☆ Eleana Overett

Coupette: go for the brunch, stay for the cocktails

Coupette is first and foremost a très chic cocktail bar, headed up by Chris Moore, the former head bartender at The Savoy's Beaufort Bar. They've purposely left the old signage up outside the 160-year-old building so you'll just have to trust Google Maps has brought you to the right place. And it's oh-so trendy: think obligatory exposed brick walls, pendant lighting and a bar top covered in 10-franc coins (in case you missed the French theme). If you're smart you'll skip the new brunch menu and head here in the evening when the dim lighting and artfully mixed cocktails combine to create an ambience which is lacking during the day (through no fault of the staff, who are super attentive). With that in mind brunch starts with a bellini, two in fact — the refreshing pureed peach and fizz is pure heaven in a flute. On to the food, which is locally sourced and French inspired. The croque aux Lyonnais consists of melted gruyere, nutty roasted mushrooms and a tart, creamy Lyonnaise sauce, which oozes out of two crisp loaf slices — OK it's a glorified toasted cheese sandwich but it hits the spot. Our companion is less convinced by the truffled eggs, which err on overpowering, but we concede that if you're paying £8 for scrambled egg you probably want to be able to taste the truffle. If your ears pricked up at truffled eggs and champagne bellinis then Coupette is a worthy brunch destination. If mid-morning fry ups are more your thing, you're probably better off at E Pellicci down the road. Coupette. 423 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN. ★★★☆☆ Kyra Hanson

Lao Cafe: a vibrant Laotian feast in Covent Garden

Chances are you're familiar with the coconut curries and chicken satay hailing from Thailand — but have you ever sampled the cuisine of neighbouring Laos? The stunning Lao Café in Covent Garden is the latest venture from the owners of Rosa's, and is one of the few places in London to offer an authentic taste of Laotian cuisine. Starters including rice crackers with minced pork chilli dip — originally created as a way to use of leftover rice, — pave the way for a spice feast (Lao Café is not one for chilli-phobes). Tom Zaan Gai Gnar Dum, a comforting chicken soup with toasted black sesame served in a clay pot, is the perfect mix of spicy and sour, and a herbal curry with white fish steamed in a banana leaf (Mohk Pla) is a phenomenally tasty yet delicate introduction to the region's curries. Traditional papaya salads popular in Thai joints are also on the menu, but with twists such as salted eggs or pickled clams. If you're feeling brave, there's a chance to try crispy fried bugs (surprisingly nice), or top your dishes with ants' eggs. Accompaniments include sticky rice grilled in a cake-like form, perfect for mopping up sauces and soups. Inspired by traditional village dishes, Lao Café's menu is not for the faint-hearted — the spice game is certainly big here. Lao Café, 60 Chandos Place, WC2N 5HG. ★★★★★ Hari Mountford

Club Zetter: this meal gets zetter and zetter

Let's start at the very end, a very good place to start. Though we don't have the sweetest tooth, Club Zetter's dark chocolate mousse — a dense cricket ball of a thing, flanked with pellets of boozy black cherries and vanilla ice cream — is one of the finest desserts we've had this year. Matched with a bone dry manzanilla, it's the perfect conclusion to a meal that gets better as it goes on. While the sea bream tartare starter's tasty enough, it lacks zing, and the borage flowers add little but colour. The veloute's good too, but practically drowns the haddock (if it's possible to drown haddock). Things really pick up with the Hereford rib eye — simple as you like, but cooked just how we like it, and sided with an unctuous bayonnaise that makes us go 'mmm' every time we dunk in a chip and eat it. Our companion scoffs down his salt marsh lamb with glazed aubergine before anyone else has had a chance to taste it. Must be good — and his cheese platter (which we do get to taste) comes in surprisingly generous hunks. For us though, it's all about that ballsy mousse. Club Zetter Wine Room & Kitchen, 86-88 Clerkenwell Road, Clerkenwell, EC1M 5RJ ★★★★☆ Will Noble

Oslo Hackney: rustic roast hits the right notes

A playlist of smooth jazz sets the tone for a chilled Sunday as we sit under filament bulb lamps draped with cloth — an interesting decor choice, but we dig it. Two plates arrive at the nearby kitchen hatch and we're staggered by the tower of food that is brought towards us. If there's one word that describes the look of this roast, it's probably 'epic'. A huge Yorkshire pudding sits atop medium cooked beef, roast potatoes, parsnips, kale, and carrots, and a small personal jug of gravy is placed to the side. The nut roast looks and proves to be equally delicious and filling. The carrots are sweet and practically caramelised, and you can tell it's a fabulous roast by the fluffy potatoes cooked in goose fat. We did try to think about dessert, but there was just no room by the time we got to the bottom of our plates. Oslo Hackney, 1A Amhurst Road, E8 1LL ★★★★★ [Available Sundays] Eleana Overett

Last Updated 28 September 2017