By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
It’s been another brilliant year for restaurant openings in London, and with the impending arrival of 2016, here’s a roundup of our favourite new restaurants to have opened within the city throughout the past 12 months.
Opened as a unique concept for up and coming North Greenwich, Vinothec Compass is adjoined to a golf driving range. As for the restaurant, there’s a particularly strong emphasis on wine, while the food menu is particularly Spanish and Basque-influenced. The décor is slightly reminiscent of an open, industrial-style canteen, yet the main feature is the prominent wine wall that offers some very reasonably priced wine, many of which are at least 20 years old and served with expert knowledge from the restaurant’s owners. As for the food, in stark contrast to many of London’s other new openings, the menu boasts outstanding value for money that’s joined by great quality ingredients and skilled cooking. With three-courses available for around £30 per-head, friendly service and an impressive selection of wines, Vinothec Compass is one of London’s best kept secrets.
Must try: Longhorn Onglet with bone marrow butter, £14.
Vinothec Compass can be found at Peninsula Golf Range, Tunnel Avenue, London, SE10 0QE.
Red’s True Barbecue
Tying in with the rise in popularity of American-inspired comfort food in recent years, Red’s True Barbecue – first opened in Leeds in 2012 – arrived in Shoreditch earlier this year, marking the restaurant’s first London opening. As is expected from the name, the main focus at Red’s is hearty portions of meat that’s smoked onsite, with a number of trays available with various assortments of carnivorous fare with Red’s own-brand barbecue sauces lined-up along each table – each specially crafted to accompany different dishes. There’s also a selection of burgers and sandwiches, notably including the donut burger (yes, it’s a beef patty sandwiched between two glazed donuts) and a wide selection of spirits and craft beers taking plenty of the menu’s weight. Red’s isn’t just one of London’s best openings of 2015, it’s also a strong contender for the city’s best BBQ restaurant.
Must try: BBQ Pit Beans, £3.95
Red’s True Barbecue can be found at 54-56 Great Eastern St, London, EC2A 3QR.
Following on from the success of Brett’s massively popular Elliot’s restaurant in Borough Market, The Richmond opened on the interchange between Hackney, Dalston, Haggerston and London Fields earlier this year. Taking over an old pub and former Egyptian restaurant (LMNT) the menu here is deeply rooted in comfort food and is heavily structured around produce from the sea. And not only does the menu contain plenty of delicious, very reasonably priced dishes, The Richmond also boasts East London’s first raw bar, a selection of natural Wines which includes red, white, rose, and orange. There’s also a particularly eclectic selection of oysters served with a homemade hot sauce and selection of garnishes to enjoy as an appetiser or to accompany some delicious cocktails.
Must try: Tuna tartare, aubergine, harissa & mint, £9
The Richmond can be found at 316 Queensbridge Road, London, E8 3NH. ‘Oyster happy hour’ runs from 6-7pm on weekdays and from 5-6pm at the weekend.
Named after a painting by animal artist Kate Boxer, this new opening from Russian restaurateur Arkady Novikov is a world away from his eponymous London flagship just a matter of streets away. Like Novikov, I Robert is also based in Mayfair, but although the former is a 500-cover temple of glitz and glamour with some exceptionally high prices, the latter is more of a neighbourhood restaurant with a warming homely feel to it. As for the food, it’s mainly simple, reasonably priced, and Mediterranean, with the kitchen headed up by Michele Granziera – formerly of Avista. The menu comprises the likes of homemade pasta and bread, charcuterie, and grilled fish and meat, but they are most certainly not marked up at Mayfair prices.
Must try: I Robert Tagliolini with rabbit ragout (pictured above), £12.
I Robert can be found at 54 Curzon Street, London, W1J 8PG.
Another addition to North Greenwich – housed within the round glass building on the concourse between the O2 Arena and North Greenwich station, Craft is the brainchild of British chef Stevie Parle. Championing local produce as the main attraction, the team at Craft cure, smoke and pickle their own ingredients, grow their own herbs, source honey from very local bees, and roast their own coffee (there’s also a coffee shop downstairs that serves some of the area’s finest, accompanied by a selection of snacks). And alongside the distinct focus on homegrown produce, there’s a real sense of exciting modernity, while everything is cooked with remarkable flair.
Must try: Smoked and grilled eel with malt vinegar and brine-pickled leek, £12.50.
Craft London can be found at Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0SQ.
The Hungry Donkey
Opened earlier this year, just a stone’s throw from Spitalfields Market and Liverpool Street Station, The Hungry Donkey is run by two brothers and focuses primarily on classic Greek street food dishes that are slightly reimagined and catapulted into the 21st century. Plenty of sharing plates are available, in accordance with the generally social atmosphere, as well as some delicious Souvlaki platters and ‘grab plates’ that also boast outstanding value.
Must try: Manouri & Ladotyri Cheese Balls, £3.50
The Hungry Donkey can be found at 56 Wentworth St, London, E1 7AL.
While London’s food scene manages to embrace a huge melting pot of cultures, there’s nowhere near enough good Egyptian food to be found in the city. However, one Egyptian import that’s recently opened in Kensington is something very special. Set up by Alexandrian restaurateur Aladin Barakat – Aladino’s offers a menu that adds an Egyptian twist to some more European dishes, with a real touch of luxury. And if the accomplishment of Barakat’s original 500-cover restaurant in Alexandria is anything to go by, Aladino’s is sure to become a huge success here in the UK.
Must try: Om Ali, £9
Aladino’s can be found at 38C Kensington Church Street, London, W8 4BX.
8 Mount Street
Having recently opened in Mayfair (no prizes for guessing the exact location) 8 Mount Street is a grand European Brasserie inspired restaurant. Decked out in earthy tones of shiny metal, with its brass flooring and bronze walls, it’s an exciting addition to an area that’s full of fine dining establishments. Created by chef Adrian Mellor, the menu is unbelievably plentiful – especially given that just one week was allowed for the creation process. The food, for the most part is relatively expensive, but it’s also impressive and the prices are explained by the quality of the ingredients, the cooking, and the postcode, naturally. What’s most impressive, however, is the fish – especially considering the neighbouring competition from nearby Scott’s and Sexy Fish.
Must try: Dover Sole, brown butter and chives (on the bone, of course), £34
The restaurant can be found at 8 Mount Street, London, W1K 3NF.