A few years ago you could reasonably keep up with new London restaurants. Following Hot Dinners on Twitter you could keep abreast of the new openings in your 'hood. Now, it is virtually impossible. The range of street food markets, vans, fine dining and casual establishments is dizzying. I sometimes feel sorry for the uninformed out of towner when they mention they are having dinner in Zizzi's or Strada. For the same price or cheaper you can get far far better options if you know where to look - say Pizza Pilgrims for example. Obviously we are not chain restaurant snobs( All hail Nandos!) but needless to say there is now so much choice for every budget and taste in London.
Here are a few new places we visited recently that we loved:
Portland Restaurant: A modern European restaurant on Great Portland Street. A limited menu done exceedingly well, Sympathetic Interior Design with modern clean lines. Everything has been thought through from the art work to the crockery and wine list. Perfect place for a work lunch date or a Saturday night double date dinner with old friends you catch up with every few months. This is a grown up establishment but not in a stuffy, old fashioned way.
The Ivy Chelsea Garden- this has had a fair bit of press and coverage by critics on account of its name and its proprietor Richard Caring who owns a number of high end establishment including Scotts & Le Caprice. We went for a spring breakfast here as that was the only time to get a booking. It is quite difficult to get a table. In all honesty, the food did not wow, maybe as it was breakfast however the service was not incredible either. Not a car crash but just nothing stellar either. I would still recommend this place purely for the ambiance, outdoor seating area and the gardens- they really are beautiful especially if you are lucky enough to get a sunny day. The people watching is entertaining too.
Ottolenghi Spitafields: OK, not exactly a new discovery as any London foodie will be aware of Ottolenghi's delis but we loved this because it is proper sit down restaurant with loads of seats. The food was as expected excellent and the service exceeded expectations. The front of house went out of her way to ensure everything was just right. If you enjoy Ottolenghi's food I would recommend the new restaurant.
Spring is a 'take your breath away' restaurant. We may have talked about it before but we still can't stop ourselves. Fresh Seasonal produce, a breathtaking light and airy dining room spectacularly designed. An amazing building- It is located on the West Wing of Somerset House in an old customs office. If you want to impress someone go here.
Granger Clerkenwell. This already existed in Noting Hill but recently opened in Clerkenwell. It has the type of menu where you want to order everything and does not limit itself to one type of cuisine but still everything is delicious. The interior is light and makes you feel like you are eating in a smart suburb of Sydney overlooking the beach. Unsurprisingly it is owned by an Aussie. Go for brunch at the weekend and have the ricotta hotcakes with banana & honeycomb butter
The Quality Chop House: If you want a taste of real old London try this place out. The roasts are excellent and it does modern British food with the best produce. The Quality Chop House was opened in 1869 and has been in existence every since. The interior is all authentic and don't forget to check out the shop next doors which has a butcher and sells amazing produce.
Gujarati Rasoi: For someone who loves meat as the above picture highlights, vegetarian Indian food has definitely shown that you can eat without meat and still enjoy it. Discovered atBroadway market, the menu is short and focussed and grew out of street-food stalls run by mother and son Lalita Patel and Urvesh Parvais It is a down a side street in Dalston and is quite small so you could miss it. You can tell how popular this place is by the amount of locals who come in to pick up takeaways. The food is excellent combining very different flavours; sweet, savoury, sharp with some unusual ingredients like pomegrantae. This is definitely not your average Indian curry house- the food is cooked in an open kitchen and everything is made fresh.