London’s best new restaurants
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Chef Padam Raj Rai of Islington’s Hot Stone opened a new experimental concept in Fitzrovia this month, where Kobe and Wagyu beef, Sanpuku nori and Koshihikari rice rub shoulders with cave-aged cheddar, Marmite, Wiltshire truffle, Scottish heather honey and Exmoor caviar.
This Anglo-Japanese fusion translates into dishes such as Scottish salmon tartare with yuzu miso, British pear and cave-aged Dorset cheddar, or hand-dived Orkney scallop sashimi, fresh plum, spicy Japanese plum and English truffle ponzu sauce. The food is served omakase-style, with the tasting menu priced from £110 per person. RAI, 3 Windmill Street, London W1T; rairestaurant.com
The Aubrey at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Knightsbridge
Succeeding Daniel Boulud’s restaurant Bar Boulud (which closed last year due to the impact of Covid-19), The Aubrey takes the five-star hotel’s culinary offering in a new direction with a Japanese izakaya experience. Its upmarket take on a Japanese pub will be a collaboration with Maximal Concepts, the Hong Kong restaurant group behind the high-end Chinese eatery Mott 32. The concept opens on 28 January alongside the hotel’s existing Heston Blumenthal restaurant. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X; mandarinoriental.com
Booking Office 1869, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Hotelier and developer Harry Handelsman conjures the same cosy-luxe feel within the landmark station’s 150-year-old ticket office as at his other smart city addresses including Chiltern Firehouse and The Stratford; the low-slung seating, eight-metre palm trees and gigantic brass chandeliers set a moody, dramatic tone. Since opening in November, the interior has proved to be a crowd-pleaser (although not all are fans of the subdued lighting).
Chef Patrick Powell’s modern-classic dishes have also been well received, from his poussin roasted over coal with cracked wheat, preserved lemon and green chilli (£21), to slow roasted lamb shoulder cooked in chermoula spices (£52 for two to share) and gingerbread and bourbon poached pear (£9). Booking Office 1869, Euston Road, NW1; booking-office.co.uk
The Sea, The Sea, Hackney
Having established his Chelsea fish shop and seafood bar as a go-to along foodie hangout Pavilion Road, restaurateur Alex Hunter has quietly opened a second outpost in Hackney offering diners a glimpse of how his fish – caught by fishermen in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, driven to the processing centre and sent to its restaurant clientele within the same day – are processed. Be prepared for the sights and smells of a busy working environment leading up to the main event: a 12-seat chef’s table led by executive chef Leo Carreira, served under the dramatic backlit railway arches of Acton Mews.
Here, the menu is strictly fish and shellfish (so those with special dietary requirements might be wise to book elsewhere) served omakase style. It’s a piscivore’s odyssey via dishes such as kingfish meringue, squat lobster and savoury custard, or dry-aged turbot and corno pepper miso, with sweets including almond custard, nasturtium and dry caramel (£60pp at lunch and £150pp at dinner). The Sea, The Sea, Arch 337 Acton Mews, London E8; theseathesea.net
Plant-based chef Matthew Kenney opens his new restaurant at the London department store with a menu and wine list focussed on seasonal, organic and biodynamic ingredients. Expect modern versions of classics, including starters of jackfruit “crab cake” with smoked red pepper remoulade (£11); sharing plates of baked raclette, toasted sourdough bread, house pickle and shichimi oil (£16.50); and mains of kelp-noodle cacio e pepe, served with snap peas, pea shoots and dehydrated black olives (£18).
The launch of the restaurant is part of Project Earth, the store’s sustainability drive to change the way we shop and offer more meat-free and plant-based options, with a commitment to only using meat from certified organic farms across its business by 2025. Adesse, Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, London W1A; selfridges.com
Cicchetti Piccadilly and Covent Garden are to be joined by an outpost in Knightsbridge this April. The Italian sharing plate menu will evoke traditional Venetian cicchetti bars or bacaro, with pasta dishes of ravioli lobster, pizzas with toppings such as porcini and mozzarella and classics like veal milanese. The 100-seat address, spread over two floors, has an additional private dining room with space for 18 people, while the interiors are warm and inviting, reflecting elements of Venetian architecture and Italian designers such as Carlo Scarpa. Cicchetti, 6 Hans Road, London SW3; sancarlo.co.uk
Fallow, St James’s
Fallow has opened as a 65-seat dining room, bar and terrace, following its success as a pop-up on London’s Heddon Street. Its cuisine is focused on whole-animal butchery and ingredients that are typically discarded, which makes for an innovative offering by chefs Will Murray and Jack Croft.
This includes salmon bellies, which are typically wasted, transformed into a whipped delicacy encased in marrow bone and served with a warm brioche roll laminated with the bone marrow (£16); and a fish-head dish, usually cod or turbot, covered in a homemade sriracha butter sauce (£16). Recycling informs the design of the interiors as well: existing fixtures were reused and repurposed where possible, and the walls clad in a terrazzo-style bespoke shellfish panel, crafted with leftover oyster and mussel shells accrued from the restaurant pop-up. Fallow, 2 St James’s Market, London SW1Y; fallowrestaurant.com