14 places that are redefining dining in London.Less
Ring a bell, be invited in by a polite server, and have one of the best sushi experiences in London. Roji, a 10-seater omakase spot in Mayfair, is the kind of special place that comes to mind when we get the inevitable “what is your favourite restaurant in London?” question. The intimate setup, with wooden wrap-around counter seating, gives you a front-row seat to the open kitchen. The cost is also pretty serious at £150, but it feels like a fair price to pay for a meal so memorable.
2022 really did bring the drama and Harry Styles’ spit is responsible for 99% of it. Tatale, a pan-African restaurant in Southwark, is the kind of place where you can nestle into a big comfy cushion and feel the London-sponsored stress slowly evaporate from your body, quicker than you can say chin chin cheesecake. The drama here is provided by flavours—the slap of scotch bonnet, the zing of fermented locust beans in a hug of a stew, the dusty hot pepper rub on the fried chicken.
The first half of 2022 remains a complete blur, but Plaza Khao Gaeng, with its harsh strip lighting, neon cocktails, and fiery klua kling muu, acts as smelling salts to our senses. It’s still a little surprising that this homage to khao gaeng (curry over rice) canteens all over Thailand is above Arcade Food Hall on Tottenham Court Road. To its enormous credit, Plaza Khao Gaeng continues to feel like a brilliant and impassioned tribute as opposed to something novelty.
On paper, Apricity reads like a snooze fest. A small fine dining restaurant with a focus on locally foraged ingredients, a low-waste approach to cooking, and a Mayfair address that will give your bank account the shivers. Forget all that because this is a warm, let-me-live-here place, where no one will judge for you big-belly laughing in the midst of butterhead lettuce salad that has the consistency, and moreish charm, of a cake.
London has a tonne of restaurants for brilliant slap-up Indian meals, but only one of them is in a former pub off of Caledonian Road. It is one of the great collaborations of our time. Given the head chef of The Tamil Prince was in the kitchen at Roti King beforehand, it’s little surprise that the Indian spot is so good. The reality is 99% restaurant and 1% pub, but that isn’t to its detriment.
Caravel understands the importance of that indefinable ‘specialness’ that going out for dinner should make you feel. The candlelit, can-I-squeeze-past-you-sized restaurant in Islington is the kind of place that serves potato rösti and caviar alongside jelly and cream. It’s intimate, it’s cool, and it’s also on a boat. Yes, it’s a bistro-ish restaurant on a bobbing barge, and it’s easily one of London’s most unique openings of 2022.
Joining a cult has never ranked particularly high on our list of things to do—who knows if the prospective leader will let us eat KitKats. Alas, we have found a charismatic leader that we’re willing to follow—and in a plot twist no one saw coming, it’s Marmite butter on sourdough. That’s just the power of the live fire cooking at Acme Fire Cult in Dalston. This place has officially entered our rotation of ultimate places to gather a few mates for good times and great food.
Few modern restaurants understand the profound power of combining excellent food with a healing soundtrack of pan flutes. Hong Kong Restaurant is one of them. A haven of dim sum and juicy whole roast duck on Upper Street, this place is the closest you’ll ever get to being able to eat hypnotically chewy beef ho fun and glistening siu mai at a spa. Don’t be deceived by the laid-back approach though, this place is home to some of the best cheung fun in London.
Carousel is a tale of two parts and they’re both fantastic. Up front is the intimate and zero side-eye natural wine bar—the kind of delightfully casual space Fitzrovia has needed for forever. At the back is the dining area where the chef residencies take place. Much like its namesake, this part of Carousel is always moving with a rotating line-up of chefs from around the world. The pre-paid set menu will usually set you back around the £70 mark, but each residency is entirely unique.
Sudu means spoon in Malay—and that’s exactly what you’ll be encouraged to do at this charming, cosy restaurant in Queen’s Park. Spoon mouthful after mouthful of tender, rich beef rendang into a pillowy, egg-filled roti, or straight into your mouth. But it’s not just the excellent versions of Malaysian classics that make Sudu a stand-out spot. The homely, laid-back, neighbourhood restaurant invites intimate catch-ups and romantic date nights.