“All food prepared with the minimum of fuss”. It’s difficult to get a clearer and – for a restaurant inspired by Spanish tapas bars – more authentic ‘mission statement’ than the one brothers Sam and Eddie Hart have set for themselves. In its first few months of operation their efficient Fitzrovia basement restaurant has already made itself a great hit.
John McClements first set up shop as a ‘bistrotier’ 17 years ago, but the quality of his cooking was such that his establishment soon moved ‘upmarket’. Having a successful restaurant under his own name, he recently decided to let his young chef take over… and then discovered that he positively missed the kitchen! So much so that he decided to set up a real old-fashioned bistro next to his established restaurant to instant acclaim.
Yogesh Datta’s very individual Indian cooking has slowly been gathering a devoted following for this stylishly-furnished modern restaurant in a quiet Chelsea backstreet. Why? Because like very few other chefs offering the cuisine of the subcontinent, his menu is written freshly every day, to make best use of ingredients at their seasonal prime. It is chefs like Yogesh that keep London at the forefront of the evolution of subcontinental cuisine.
Street food from around the world is often delicious, and few people seemed more likely to bring Londoners the best of Greek street food than the team which had established The Real Greek to great acclaim four years ago. They have not disappointed, and this Farringdon souvlaki bar has taken the area by storm.
You can’t make top-quality sushi without the very best fish, and head chef Bubker Belkhit has spent years developing relationships with top fish suppliers across the world for this Mayfair restaurant. His efforts are complemented by those of owner Janina Wolkow, who has created a suitably stylish setting for an establishment which is winning growing recognition.
The Swan prides itself on its completely unpretentious charms, aiming to surprise (and hopefully delight) customers with the sheer quality of what it does, rather than by any ‘fireworks’. In fact, it aims to offer “the charm you’d expect from a busy ‘local’”: this is a gastropub, where ‘gastro’ and ‘pub’ are treated with equal respect!
Thyme’s philosophy is about “time and space”, which they endeavour to give customers by moving away from the traditional three-course meal concept towards a more European style of eating. The style perhaps took a little while to establish itself in the pysche of London diners-out, but – now it has – the place is an ever more recognised success.
Ni Lenette and Ken Sam see the evolution of this Japanese restaurant (which, like Thyme, is also in emerging Clapham) as a “journey of becoming”, and their establishment is certainly becoming one of the key destinations south of the river. The emergence of such a place emphasises how presumptions about ‘suburban’ London restaurants not matching West End standards are progressively becoming out-of-date.
Can it survive? Hampstead has always frustrated local residents and visitors with its mystifying inability to sustain quality eating places. There’s every hope, though, that this new gastropub – or really a pub with smart dining rooms above – is set to break the mould. With its menu changing twice-daily, its interesting and eclectic menu, and its use of top-quality ingredients, it emphasises just how far ‘pub’ eating has come in London over the past decade.