We checked out these new restaurants—and loved them.Less
Back when 11 Highbury Park was Famous Chicken N Pizza, you might trudge in post-match to bemoan Arsenal over a few hot wings and fries. Now, it’s Saltine—a light-filled and gallery-feeling space, where you’re more likely to drink pét nat and eat crab on toast as your friend absent-mindedly rocks their newborn. The front bar-cum-coffee shop is ideal for pop-ins after a wander across Highbury Fields, while the back dining room is best used for lazy lunches and midweek date nights.
Bébé Bob comes from the same restaurant group that brought London the ‘Press For Champagne’ button and this shiny spot on Soho Square is similarly extroverted. The carpet, chairs, and walls are all glowing red and we wouldn’t be surprised to learn there was a caviar-fuelled conversation pit in another room. Chicken is the sole main on the menu and the Landes one (French, yellow, fancy) is pushed to the highest scale on the juice-o-meter while wearing an impressively crisp overshirt.
There is something about Mystic Burek, a Balkan spot in Sydenham, that makes you feel like Shania Twain has just drawled, “let’s go girls”. The gaggle of warm staff who sing along to the pop anthems playlist, the excellent burek served on silver trays with pink parchment, and the granny-core aesthetic all make you feel like the hot slice you’re eating. And these slices of burek are good enough to cross London for.
Those who can feel a bout of S.A.D creeping up, should probably get head down in a bowl of handmade noodles. It is what the doctor would recommend. At Dr.Noodle you can do exactly that, complete with a jian bing and a deep-fried sausage on the side for good measure. Wander in on a weekday lunchtime and you’ll find yourself in a small white-tiled room of nourishment, where bouncy noodles swim in beefy broth or are fried off with slices of juicy duck on top. Come evening, things liven up a bit.
Bambi settled into the airy London Fields space formerly occupied by Bright (RIP) and is guaranteed catnip to an east London crowd—it serves zippy pickle juice martinis and skinny fries with aioli, and has flickering candles and a DJ booth. But the warm, welcoming hospitality gives the place a lot of heart. The modern European dishes, which dot around cauliflower cheese arancini and chicken parm ciabatta, are excellent drinking food, whether you’re knocking back funky wine or great mocktails.
Is it a wine bar? Is it a pizza place? Is it a charming little space in Notting Hill where you’re likely to see a dog wearing a £48 COS sweater? Yes, yes, and (if you’re lucky) yes. Ria’s combines excellently fluffy Detroit-style pizza and the energy of a cosy wine bar. Quiet chatter fills the small, baby blue room, as friends lean back on the cushioned oak benches—pét nat in hand, whipped ricotta and tomato slice on the mind.
In normal circumstances, we would have let Chishuru settle into its new Oxford Street home, after relocating from Brixton. We would have waited longer than its first week of opening and we would’ve watched others drain their bowls of peppersoup broth dry with the patience of a dangerously hangry saint. But not this time. The modern West African spot is simply too thrilling and too needed in London right now. Moi moi with duck liver and a sour, pungent duck egg sauce stands out.
Done right, French cooking is a delight. And it’s only a matter of time before lots of people sit down at 64 Goodge Street, take tear of warm complimentary (yes, complimentary) bread, swipe up the remains of their luscious beurre blanc sauce, and realise that this is some of the finest French food in London. The corridor-sized, dimly lit room knows its crowd—those who welcome food so rich it’s debaucherous and duly delivers. A snail, bacon, and garlic bon bon here, a glass of crémant there.
Slicing into the gooey, oozing slice of jamón tortilla at Broken Eggs, a Spanish spot in Fitzrovia, is the most chic we’ve ever felt eating eggs. The restaurant is like a Kinfolk shoot come to life. Walls have deliberately unfinished plaster brushstrokes and net baskets dangle from wooden hooks with the carefully orchestrated un-doneness of an interior design store. Come during the day for excellent tortillas filled with smoky meat, grilled courgettes, and soft, buttery potatoes.
Not a huge amount has changed at 107 Wine Shop & Bar since the site’s incarnation as beloved P. Franco closed earlier this year. It’s still a cosy Clapton wine bar, shop, and small plates restaurant. The single sharing table remains. The former manager remains. But when a place has perfected the atmosphere of an open-door dinner party, the lack of change isn’t a bad thing. Drop in for a glass and a lean if the handful of stools are taken.