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Review of the reviews

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Reviews

Your Mum’s Kitchen

After a tip from singer-songwriter Tom Rosenthal, Jay Rayner visited Korean restaurant Your Mum’s Kitchen near London’s Finchley Road tube station. At the “utterly delightful bare-bones café,” as Rayner describes it, he had seafood pajeon, stir-fried squid, kimchi and chicken wings that were “double fried to form a shatteringly crisp shell, then drenched in a sweet and fiery gochujang-based glaze.” The star turn was the yukgaejang, “a spicy beef soup with solid pieces of meat and cabbage in its endlessly sustaining depths.” The restaurant can be found in the basement of a Korean grocery store.

Address: 17 Goldhurst Terrace, South Hampstead, London NW6 3HX

Instagram: @yourmumskitchen_london

Oklava Bakery + Wine

The sharing-plate restaurant in Fitzrovia is the second of Selin Kiazim, with more of a focus on baking than her other modern Turkish Cypriot Oklava restaurant in Shoreditch. Lamb crackling buns, potato fritters, and grilled cheese sandwiches have all made their way onto the menu. Food critic Jimi Famurewa, in his latest review, praises the instagram-famous Black Sea cheese pide and the signature Oklava bread, “a gorgeously warm medley of squidgy olive muffins and fragrant, sesame-seeded sourdough alongside a salted medjool date butter that was like the spreadable quintessence of a hot cross bun.”

Address: 64 Grafton Way, Fitzrovia, London W1T 5DP

Instagram: @oklava_ldn

Amazónico

William Sitwell from The Telegraph visited Amazonico in Mayfair, a newly opened restaurant and bar that makes neighbouring flashy, fashiony Sexy Fish “look like a parochial chip shop.” He emphasises to walk past the large, swanky bar to the rainforest that is the actual restaurant, where you can “feel intimate, comfortable and in acoustic heaven.” The guacamole and raw prawns suited his taste as much as the chocolate fondant and “refreshing grilled pineapple.” But the star was the skirt steak marinated in chimichurri, which Sitwell admits he is obsessed with: “when it’s great, it’s worth an airline ticket and tons of carbon emissions.” We’re slightly perturbed by this statement, but we also get that nothing beats a pure local experience.

Address: 10 Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London W1J 6BR

Instagram: @amazonicolondon

Just opened

Wulf & Lamb

A second plant-based restaurant from Wulf & Lamb has opened its doors in Marylebone, and we’re especially excited about new dish Artichoke Pesto Pasta – linguine pine nut pesto with tarragon and hazelnut dressing topped with parmesan and chili flakes. Classics such as The Wulf Burger and Wulf Pie will still feature, with some other novel dishes such as zucchini tempura and smashed cucumber.

Where? 66 Chiltern Street, London, W1U 4EJ

Instagram: @wulfandlamb

14 Hills

London’s newest indoor rooftop restaurant is also a greenhouse with over 2,500 plant variations. Upon the 14th floor, a bar and restaurant area filled with plants, with 180-degree views of the city, is bound to leave an impression on you. The cocktails are the stars, with concoctions such as Butter Crunch – Bulleit Rye whiskey fat washed with peanut butter, homemade cacao nibs syrup and black walnut bitter. At Sax and the City brunch, you can enjoy dishes like hanger steak and risotto with Jerusalem artichoke and saffron arborio rice.

Where? 14th floor, 120 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 5BA

Instagram: @14hillslondon

Coming soon

Cafe Bao

A new breakfast café concept from restaurant group Bao is in the making, and it’s all you ever dreamed of for a novel, soul-warming breakfast experience. Taiwan’s oldest restaurant, Bolero, is the inspiration behind many of the breakfast dishes available the whole day. Japan’s kissatens, tea-drinking shops, are the other big influence over how the food looks and tastes like. Think savoury pancakes filled with bacon, egg and spring onion, pork pie Baozi, and a steamed cookie filled with chocolate. Of course, Bao’s traditional steamed buns will be on offer as well.

Where? 4 Pancras Square, London N1C 4AG

When? Spring 2020

Instagram: @bao_london

Cord

Parisian hospitality school Le Cordon Bleu is opening Cord, its first London restaurant, to celebrate its 125th birthday. The all-in-one concept includes not just a fine-dining restaurant, but also a cooking school, café and event space. Bond with your work colleagues over a corporate team-building short course or partake in short courses that specialise in food and wine pairing, worldwide cuisine and patisserie. The 17th-century Paris-inspired café is open for breakfast and lunch and specialises in French patisseries and viennoiseries baked daily on-site. We can’t wait to try the Anuria milk-fed lamb from the Pyrenees with polenta, sea herbs and broad beans that is one of many choices of the dinner tasting menu at The Cord restaurant.

Where? 85 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1AE

When? Spring 2020

And more

Other new restaurants to bless us with their food are Eggslut, with its second London restaurant opening in Fitzrovia. It will be the US import’s tenth global location. The restaurant started life as an LA food truck in 2011 and is still serving its popular brioche bun sandwiches filled with scrambled eggs, cheese and bacon. Red Dog Saloon in Soho is also reopening after a fire forced it to put the business on hold. Now a more ‘refined’ barbecue concept, it will offer dishes such as fried catfish with tartare sauce, Nashville-style fried oysters, and the ’10 Year Burger’ with marrow butter glaze and pancetta.

There are plenty of pizzerias in London, but we have high expectations for Laboratorio Pizza on Great Portland Street. The restaurant is run by Neapolitan-born chef and pizzaiolo Ivan Simeoli, who trained up under Massimo Bottura at the Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in Modena, and opened his first pizzeria on Brick Lane two years ago. Look forward to deep-fried Pizza Fritta topped with Cicoli (pork crackling).

Eggslut

Where? 19 Percy Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1BZ

When? Spring 2020

Instagram: @eggslut

Red Dog Saloon

Where? 20 Berwick Street, London W1F 0PY

When? 19th March 2020

Instagram: @reddogsaloon

Laboratorio Pizza

Where? 10 Great Portland Street, London W1W 6PQ

When? 16th March 2020

Instagram: @laboratoriopizza

Reviews

Davies and Brook

Jay Rayner visited Davies and Brook inside Claridge’s and declared the cooking as “admirable” and “impressive” with “some show-stopping dishes.” He also mentioned the high price tag but wrote it off as something that one simply had to accept, like “the Pope being too religious or Rory Stewart being too annoying.” The restaurant belongs to Daniel Humm, chef of the three Michelin star Eleven Madison Park in New York. And Rayner does not forget to mention that “everything is coffee-table photography book pretty.” But it’s not just all looks, because “the main courses are simply two of the best plates of food [Rayner has] been served in London in many years.” Black cod with a touch of miso and grilled – we’re intrigued.

Address: Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR

Instagram: @daviesandbrook

The Melusine

“A small kitchen turning out magic,” is how restaurant critic Grace Dent describes The Melusine in St Katharine Docks, close to Tower Bridge. The restaurant’s menu “shifts with the tides.” When Dent went, she enjoyed fresh rock and native oysters, cherrystone clams, langoustines off the plancha and mussels with wild mushrooms and lovage. The catch of the day was plaice, a big one, 700 grams, which came from the Channel from a fisherman called Dean. We bet that connection Dent made to the food and its origin played a part in how she reviewed The Melusine.

Address: Unit K, Ivory House, St Katharine Docks, East Smithfield, London E1W 1AT

Instagram: @themelusine_skd

Just opened

Pollo Feliz

We love restaurants that have a history in another country – think L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, which originates in Naples and now has two branches in London. Pollo Feliz, which just launched in Hackney, first opened in Mexico in the 1970s. Its flour tortilla, traditionally fortified with lard, is made with a mix of vegetable fats, making it completely vegetarian. And not just that, it’s also a regional variety from the Sonora region of Mexico that does not exist anywhere else in London or the UK for that matter.

Instagram: @pollofeliz.ldn

Wildflower

Wildflower Irish fine dining restaurant has just launched in a shipping container in Camden. It is the debut London restaurant of 28-year-old Irish celebrity chef Adrian Martin. The intimate space provides seats for only 30 people and pays special attention to sustainability. The seasonally changing menus are inspired by the chef’s heritage and focus on locally sourced produce. There is also a communal Garden Terrace where the team grows herbs and shoots that are used in the kitchen. Food waste is composted and used to generate energy. It’s an unusual marriage of fine dining, sustainability and shipping containers, making it all the more quirky and exciting.

Where? Camden (Buck Street) Market, Camden High Street, London, NW1 8QP

When? 2nd March 2020

Instagram: @wildflowerrestaurantuk

Coming soon

Miguel’s Pizza

The man behind One Pound Meal cookbooks, Miguel Barclay, is set to open Miguel’s Pizza in Camden this spring. The pizza by the slice restaurant will be opening in the new Buck Street Market development and offer New York-style pizza, made fresh on-site every day. There will be T-shirts as well. Stay tuned.

Where? 180-188 Camden High Street NW1 8QP

When? Spring 2020

Instagram: @miguels_pizza

Larry’s

Been to the Big Apple recently? Or ever? Then you may appreciate the NYC-inspired spot to open in Peckham soon. Emulating Gotham City’s corner restaurants and delis, this all-day spots will serve coffee and pastries for breakfast, deli-style sandwiches for lunch, and a sharing plates menu for dinner. The team behind Larry’s is the one behind Salon and Levan, so expect good things.

Where? Unit 5, 12-16 Blenheim Grove, London, SE15 4QL

When? 19th March 2020

Instagram: @larryspeckham

NASI Economy Rice

You might have read recently how ghost kitchens are taking over, and NASI Economy Rice is just another example. The takeaway serving up affordable Malaysian rice boxes is an expansion of Mandy Yin’s Sambal Shiok in Holloway (famous and loved for its bowls of laksa). The menu will include a wide variety of hearty Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes, because it is Mandy’s mission to introduce as many people as possible to Malaysian food.

Where? 169 Holloway Road, London N7 8LX

When? March 2020

Instagram: @nasilondon

Club Mexicana Taqueria

Vegans who love Mexican food, listen up. There’s a new kid in town. Club Mexicana has been popping up across London, including in Seven Dials market, but it’s about to open a permanent restaurant in Carnaby. Menu items include the Cheezeburger burrito, Chipotle mushroom, and smoked tofu taco, and The MFC, a Mexican fried chick’n burrito.

Where? Kingly Court, Kingly St, Soho, London W1B 5PW

When? March 2020

Instagram: @clubmexicana

Tavolino

We’ve been hit by the pasta fever, and Tavolino is riding the wave with us. Expect a selection of pastas made by head chef Bancone Louis Koravilas and his team each morning. Dishes will be cooked with produce from across Italy and the UK. The restaurant is split across two floors, with interiors inspired by traditional coffee bars in Milan and trattorias in Florence. We’ll take freshly made pasta with views over the Thames any day.

Where? Unit 1, 2 More London Place, London SE1 2JP

When? April 2020

Instagram: @tavolinokitchen

The Cheese Barge

The creators of the Cheese Bar and conveyor-belt restaurant Pick & Cheese at Seven Dials bring you the double-decker Cheese Barge, scheduled to open in Paddington this spring. The floating restaurant will be highlighting the UK’s best small producer cheeses, such as Quicke’s and Cropwell Bishop. We’re ready for explorer mode.

Where? Sheldon Square, Paddington Central

When? April 2020

Instagram: @thecheesebarldn

The Yard

“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard” – sound familiar? It’s no surprise that Kelis once dedicated a whole song to a drink (we know you may disagree that this is what the song was about, but let’s not dwell on that now). She’s been heavily involved in the food scene for the last couple of years and in honour of her 20-year old record, she will be launching The Yard this month. All the milkshakes are based on songs from the Kaleidoscope album released in 2000, including Millionaire, a Millionaire shortbread milkshake topped with edible paper 100$ bills, or Good Stuff with plantain, jerk seasoning and frozen banana ‘ribs.’

Where? 46 Great Eastern St, Hackney, London EC2A 3EP

When? 18-19th March 2020

Instagram: @kelis

Six by Nico

The new-format restaurant in London’s Fitzrovia introduces a new six-course tasting menu every six weeks – and it’s affordable too. Costing only £35, Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone is committed to making his food accessible. Due to lower property prices, his Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool branches serve tasting menus for only £29. Menus are revealed two weeks before the launch date.

Where? 33-41 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1RR

When? Spring 2020

Instagram: @sixbynicolondon

Anan

Anan will be a supper club first, and a permanent restaurant later this year. The supper club’s founder, Eyal Jagermann, is co-founder and head chef of Covent Garden restaurant The Barbary, which opened in 2016 to brilliant reviews. The focus is on hummus, balanced with a variety of plant-based dishes such as golden cauliflower, served Jaffa style, Medjool confit beetroot with dukkah, or burnt sweet potato brûlée.

Where? Allpress, 55 Dalston Lane, London E8 2NG

When? 12-14th March 2020

Instagram: @ananlondon

The Good

Bong Bong Manila Kanteen

Grace Dent, writing for the Guardian, praises the “slightly chaotic but warm-hearted Filipino street-food joint” for its pleasing bowls of aubergine kare kare (a turmeric, coconut, and peanut curry) and crispy pata (pork hock with liver sauce), daikon noodle salads, and other dishes. She recommends it as a place to take friends and family to and warns that at this “get stuck in kind of joint” it might get messy. The “childlike […] but also very confident” restaurant serves hot, crisp banana and cinnamon spring rolls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Address: 460 Hackney Rd, London E2 9EG

Oklava Bakery + Wine

This Fitzrovia joint is not new but it has been renamed, redesigned and reopened. A high table in front of the restaurant is now used in the morning to roll out pasta and at night for more space for dining. Try Tottenham-based Kupros Dairy’s feta three ways or some oklava bread with Medjool date butter. Künefe for two with clotted cream and pistachios is the perfect sweet culmination to a scrumptious meal.

Address: 64 Grafton Way, Bloomsbury, London W1T 5DP

Circolo Popolare

“Intoxicatingly cheeky Italian is the hottest place in town,” writes Jimi Famurewa about Circolo Popolare in the Evening Standard. The 280-cover Sicilian plaza with climbing plants, spirit bottles stacked to the ceiling, and twinkling festoon lights offers diners meter-long rectangular pizzas, fruit-clogged fishbowl cocktails, and one-liter sundaes. Famurewa is won over by the “mad, thrusting spectacle of it,” by the atmosphere of “boisterous, cluttered, Italianate razzle-dazzle.” He recommends the Orlando Blue pizza with an inner tube of speckled, chewy crust and a topping that packs a “balanced blast of sunshine” with its speck ham, fresh peaches, and gorgonzola.

Address: 40-41 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1HX

Muse

The “delicious talking therapy” Grace Dent experiences at Muse is “the sort of pretentious [she lives] for.” Diners have to wire a £200 deposit before their booking is honoured, because dinner for two with 10 courses, a cocktail and several glasses of wine each will cost in excess of £400. Each course, inspired by nostalgia and pivotal moments in chef Tom Aikens’ life, is given a title such as “Conquering the Beech Tree.” But Dent feels to dissect each dish in print would be impolite, it would ruin the surprise. You’ll just have to go yourself (or have someone take you) to realise why Muse is “a cathartic rumination on life.”

Address: 38 Groom Pl, Belgravia, London SW1X 7BA

Bar Douro City

The second Bar Douro restaurant from Max Graham, Bar Douro City is larger than the original, with tables as opposed to stools. Women predominate at the stoves, notes Fay Maschler in the Evening Standard. The dishes on the menu, divided into Snacks, Garden, Sea, Land, Clay Pots, Cheese, and Desserts, are for sharing. The suckling pig in bolo do caco, a Madeiran sweet potato circular bread is “lush, juicy and finely balanced.” The most expensive dish is Arroz de Sapateira (crab rice) in a clay pot for £20. We’re excited by the pastel de nata and the Tarte de amêndoa which Maschler describes as having “the lightest of the casing and a winningly chewy filling” – both served with ice cream.

Address: 1 Finsbury Ave, London EC2M 2PF

The Questionable

Madera

Fay Maschler is not impressed by the Mexican restaurant Madera in Marylebone. The £17 Los Muertos cocktail her party orders is “unthinkably, undrinkably sweet,” while pico de gallo with warm tortilla chips is so bland she has to ask for salt and pepper. Maschler struggles through the mains and realises that “any link to real Mexican cooking seems tenuous.” A restaurant with “the air of a chain restaurant in the departure area of an airport,” it seems like one to avoid until they make some changes and get back in the game.

Address: 14-15 Langham Pl, Marylebone, London W1B 2QS

The Yard by Robin Gill

The Guardian’s Jay Rayner gives Yard by Robin Gill a poor review, calling it “the worst new restaurant from a critically acclaimed chef [he has] ever reviewed” – ouch! A £14 bowl of cavatelli pasta on a sweet pumpkin sauce with amaretto and “under pickled shallots that are more sugar than acid” is the dish he finds “most infuriating.” Even though the context isn’t well-suited, Rayner at least acknowledges the restaurant’s laudable attempt of rehabilitation through art with its display of paintings and sculptures by current UK prison inmates. An expensive exhibition, it seems.

Address: 3-5, Great Scotland Yard, Westminster, London SW1A 2HN

Lina Stores

According to Grace Dent, Lina Stores at King’s Cross is let down by “forgetful service and forgettable food.” Although the new branch is “undeniably beautiful,” a cool, retro, mint-green diner with a sit-up bar, the food is everything but. The problem seems to lie in the failure of time management in this big space that seats 100 diners. Polenta is overcooked, brioche is served semi-stale, and the pasta with its stingy sauce is equally disappointing. To top it all off, on Dent’s visit “the mood of the staff was a war of attrition against the public.” She will continue going to the original branch in Soho, because sometimes “smaller really is better.”

Address: 20 Stable St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4DR

The Ultra-Delicious

Mei Mei

The counter café in the style of a Malaysian or Singaporean Kopitiam coffee shop which opened in October 2019 sits inconspicuously under a railway arch at London Bridge’s Borough Market. It is the product of Michelin star-winner Elizabeth Haigh, has only 14 seats and barely a dozen items on the menu, but it already has glowing reviews.

UK restaurant critic Jimi Famurewa writes in the Evening Standard that despite its perhaps uncomfortable seating situation and position under the clatter of a railway bridge, Mei Mei “might be one of the best new operations of any size currently trading in the capital.” A “small, smiley team of chefs” tend to the place, with food that makes “everything else melt away.” The less instagrammable Hainanese chicken rice does not get lost on Famurewa either, but he decides to focus on how it “only amplifies the life-changing flavour.”

The Financial Times’ Tim Hayward describes Mei Mei’s Kaya toast as “flat-out, howl-at-the-moon filthy good” and he’d sell his mother, or at least a younger sister, for a whole meal of the carrot cake, a radish dish with “something halfway between hard scrambled eggs and a disintegrating omelette.” Hayward fears that London may initially have difficulty understanding the beauty of cold, barely cooked poached chicken with hot white rice, which could be the very definition of bland, but is, “as they say, so not.”

Ibrahim Salha from The Independent is on board as well. He makes sure to tell us that the poached chicken, which “is wonderfully tender, yet has the firmness of an older, properly raised bird,” is from neighbouring butcher Ginger Pig. For Salha the real crowd-pleaser is the nasi lemak, a rice dish cooked in coconut milk which comes served with peanuts, sambal, tiny fried anchovies, and a fried egg. He highly recommends to order a fried chicken cutlet to go with it, it’s the food he can’t stop thinking about: “crispy on the outside but cooked so you can cut it with just a spoon.”

Address: Mei Mei Unit 52, Borough Market Kitchen, Jubilee Pl, London SE1 9AG

Casa do Frango

In the Sunday Times, Marina O’Loughlin calls the Southern Portuguese restaurant’s chicken and chips dish the best in town.

Address: 2 King John Ct, Hackney, London EC2A 3EZ

Coming soon

Big Jo

Jolene’s new Big Jo bakery is set to open in North London’s Hornsey Road in May this year. It will be huge, with everything from grain silos to pizza ovens and even a small fermentation lab for drinks.

D&D

For those of you in the Stratford area, get ready for another gigantic opening, the ‘flying saucer’ restaurant which will welcome diners at the entrance to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park within the next year. The new landmark building, called The Pavilion, will be a three-floor restaurant with a ground floor café and brasserie, first-floor restaurant, and a rooftop bar with views over the park.

Park Row

A new immersive dining experience of hitherto non-existing grand proportions is coming to London town this spring. And it’ll be Batman-themed, along with inspiration in décor, food and 3D projections from the other movies set in Gotham City (Superman, The Joker, you know the drill).

Talad

This Northern Thai ‘perma pop-up’ to open in Chelsea next month draws on the ‘flavours, textures, and memories’ of owner Natalie Tangsakul’s upbringing in Chiangrai, at the northern most tip of the South East Asian country of fragrant, mouth-watering foods. We’re excited about the fresh clams with basil chili jam and tum lao shiitake papaya salad that will be on the menu.

A Slice of Blue

Brace yourselves, Clapton will be home to a pizza pub by the end of this month. A Slice of Blue is the culmination of the founders of Santa Maria and Firezza getting together and focusing not just on the food, but also the beer, music, and atmosphere to go with it.

Black Box

Comic book fans rejoice, Seven Dials’ Orbital Comics is due to get a new late-night café and dessert shop addition to its store. At Black Box, you’ll be able to enjoy tiramisu, brownies and coffee kanten, a Japanese coffee jelly, with cakes using local flour from Windmill in Brixton.