Probably the most dynamic food scene in the world with concepts from all around the world.
For the last seven years I have been experiencing restaurants both on a personal and professional mission.
In 2014 I curated Alain Ducasse's book about his favourite food spots in London.
Here are my own favourite ones from new concepts to good old ones.
Carousel started as a pop-up and has now been open nearly 2 years. It is a creative food hub where guest chefs from all over the world come and cook for one to two weeks time. This is an amazing opportunity to taste some of the most talented chefs' cuisine. They include the likes of Oaxen Krog from Stockholm, Francis Malman from Argentina, ...The experience starts at the bar with specially crafted cocktails or a glass of Champagne, and is followed by a tasting menu enjoyed on 2 communal tables. The ambiance is super friendly and fun. The lovely Ollie, one of the founders and a resident chef, cooks lunches most of the week. Check their schedule.
Frenchie opened in 2016 in Covent Garden and is the brain child of chef Gregory Marchand who cooked in London at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen and Mandarin Oriental and first opened Frenchie in Paris in 2009. I really enjoyed my lunch there as I thought it was the perfect mix of refined, creative and relaxed food, decor and service. Freshly baked warm madeleines come with coffee at the end which is a lovely touch. Go for the set lunch menu if you want to keep the bill down and sit at the counter for a more fun experience.
Oklava started as a street food concept and is now a lovely contemporary Turkish restaurant in Shoreditch. The starters and vegetarian sections are exciting with creative dishes such as Chilli roast cauliflower, red onion, parsley & pistachios. More traditional recipes such as pides (the Turkish pizzas) are also available. The Turkish wines are well selected and well priced. Again, sitting at the counter is to me the best option and you can watch the cooks at work.
Berber & Q is another proof that Middle Eastern cuisine is booming in London. This is one of my favourite casual concepts. It is hip, very good and is ideally located in Haggerston so that you can enjoy a fun night out in the neighborhood. It is a rather indulgent experience but you can keep the calories a bit down by sharing a pulled lamb shawarma, a dip and a mezze such as the Cauliflower with tahini. The music is great and the staff seems to really be enjoying working there.
Established and must try
Towpath Cafe is a simple joint on Regent's canal close to Haggerston station. It is the place to go to if you want to hang out with hipsters especially on weekends for brunch. The food is surprisingly very good, with dishes like cauliflower couscous; warm sandwiches or homemade tarts. In the summer, there is no better place really and the service is warm and friendly.
Hansen & Lydersen is the brand from a unique character named Ole Hansen, a tall and charming Swedish smoked salmon specialist who has established a strong reputation amongst restaurateurs and foodies in London. The salmon is smoked in an artisanal way and cut in segments like sashimi in such a way that each segment has a different taste, saltiness and texture according to the part (tail to nose) it is been cut from. You can find small pre-cut packs at Daylesford Organic (his business partner), at Broadway market and Maltby Street market on weekends or you can order online. A whole salmon is brilliant for a dinner party.
Lima and its sister restaurant Lima Floral led the trend of Peruvian cuisine in London 5 years ago and still offers the best of its kind. Created by two brothers passionate about this cuisine along with Peruvian star chef Virgilio Martinez, Lima brings Peruvian culinary culture through refined and colourful dishes, beautiful tableware and relaxed atmosphere.
Yashin and Dinings are two of my favourite Japanese restaurants. I have been to more refined and more casual ones that are also very good but these two have a cosy and local feeling about them whilst producing creative and refined dishes.
Taste of London is an institution in London, taking place every June in Regents Park. It is a 4-day food feast where you have the chance to taste many dishes from successful concepts in London. Usual suspects include MEATliquor, Club Gascon, Duck & Waffle when new comers usually are the hotest tickets in town: Hoppers, Bubbledogs, Santo Remedio, ...
I could go on for pages but I will just give a few more recommendations to enjoy great food.
Ottolenghi and Nopi : the delis and restaurants from Yotam Ottolenghi, probably the best one in London for fresh Mediterranean food.
Jose : the lovely tapas joint by chef Jose Pizarro in Bermondsey. The quality of the produce is amazing and consistant .
The Hillgate pub : my local in Notting Hill. Great burger and very good food and great ambiance.
Viva : a small cocktail and tacos bar, ideal before a night out in Dalston