London’s restaurateurs can always be relied on for a unique take on the latest food trends. Now, it’s all about the concept restaurant – raw food, wild food, allergen-free dishes! Whether you’re a health-conscious non-drinker or a decadent diner, we’ve found a table for you…
Words: Madeleine Howell
1 SEVENTIES: Coin Laundry
First, the Seventies vibe hit the catwalk, and now it’s making its way onto our plates. Coin Laundry in Exmouth Market specialises in nostalgic comfort food. There’s a retro (and slightly ironic?) prawn cocktail, cow cheek balti and chicken kievs, with a side of chips and curry sauce. The cocktails are ‘unashamedly’ kitsch. The 70s Porn Star is a case in point, with vodka, mango, passion fruit, vanilla syrup and Babycham, as is the Snowball with Advocaat and lemonade. They also do breakfast – there’s a mean rhubarb porridge and an intriguing corned beef and Bovril bake.
70 Exmouth Market EC1R 4QP; coinlaundry.co.uk
2 RUSSIAN STREET FOOD: Zima
When I think of Russia’s greatest exports, vodka springs to mind. Cuisine is a much less well-explored aspect of Russian culture. Now, Zima is bringing its tapas-style Russian street food to a Soho basement right next to the eponymous Ronnie Scott’s. Opening for business on the 31st March, dishes will be based around herring, scallops, and venison. Specialities are to include crab claw with red caviar, and Medovik, a honey and sour cream cake.
45 Frith Street, Soho W1D 4SD; @ZimaLondon
3 WILD: Eat Native
Game for game? Head to the newly launched Eat Native in Neal’s Yard for the best produce the countryside has to offer. Expect venison, pheasant and duck served with seasonal, foraged foods like brambles, berries and fresh lovage. We love it that co-founder Imogen, a self-professed hunter gatherer, used to help out with her family falconry business and counts plucking and skinning poultry among her many talents, while Ivan learnt his craft River Cottage HQ in Devon and also knows a thing or two about wine.
3 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden WC2H 9DP; eatnative.co.uk
4 POULTRY: The Chicken Shop
The Chicken Shop has one main course and one only: Tender, juicy, free range chicken fresh from the spit, whole, halved or quartered, depending on your appetite. They also do a good side order of crinkle cut fries and buttery corn on the cob, and hearty American-style puds of chocolate brownie and deep filled apple pie best with a bottle of London’s own Camden Pale Ale. As a south London girl, you’ll find me in Balham or Tooting – but there’s also Whitechapel and Kentish Town for those north of the river.
7A Chestnut Grove; Balham SW12 8JA; chickenshop.com
5 CHINESE BANQUET: HKK
Forget soggy noodles and cheesy fortune cookies – the clever people at HKK will take you on a mystical journey through China’s culinary traditions, from Zhejiang to Fujian and along the ancient Silk Road. For lunch, try Sichuan mala lamb or roasted cherry wood Peking duck followed by cardamom cake. Guzzle on a Kochi Charlotte – a winning blend of Diplomático Reserva Rum, Yuzu sake, ginger, lychee juice, honey and natural almond extract.
88 Worship Street, the City EC2A 2BE; hkklondon.com
6 ALLERGEN-FREE: Yorica Soho
Yorica Soho opened this week on Wardour Street and promises to be London’s first totally allergen-free vegan restaurant, free from gluten, dairy, nuts and wheat (although not everything is soy-free). There’s 12 unique ice cream flavours such as nut-free peanut butter, matcha green tea and dark chocolate with beetroot. Customers can enjoy frozen yoghurt made with rice milk, seaweed and vanilla bean paste and the team are working on a smoothie range. Watch this space…
130 Wardour Street, Soho W1F 8ZN; yorica.com
7 RAW: Nama Foods
This little oasis on Notting Hill’s Talbot Road has cleansing juices and raw food goodies galore. Nama first came to my attention on Instagram with their naughty-looking chocolate ganache, turmeric lattes, wholesome Mexican wraps and beautiful antipasti platters filled to the rafters with healthy courgette rolls, olive tapenade, pepper carpaccio and caper berries. The seaweed salad is a mega-nutritious bowlful of dulse, wakame and nori, and unsurprisingly, the raw smoothies make for a glorious dessert.
110 Talbot Road, Notting Hill W11 1JR; namafoods.com
8 TEETOTAL: Redemption
If you’re not a big boozer or its just time you had a night off – without forgoing socialising, of course – then Redemption’s delicious concoctions are waiting for you along with a creative main menu. The kelp noodle and lemongrass laksa is bursting with flavour. Far from puritanical, the mocktails will wash it down a treat: Try zesty Bombay Love with turmeric root and ginger, or refreshing Lettuce Spray with wasabi and aloe vera. For afters, let the dark chocolate cheesecake with cashew nut cream lead us not into temptation…
6 Chepstow Road, Notting Hill W2 5BH; redemptionbar.co.uk
9 SCANDI: KuPP
There’s not a meatball of the Ikea variety in sight at Scandi-style KuPP, and oh, how we love their smӧrgåsbords! Let us count the ways: The smoked fish with crisp breads and lemon is perfectly presented, as is the roasted venison with beetroot. The colourful dish lends itself well to sharing, and we also rate the décor – copper tables and low-hanging pendant lights enhance the urban party atmosphere. It’s a London take on Nordic cuisine right next to Paddington Basin – and it’s far from minimal or boring.
5 Merchant Square, Paddington W2 1AS; kupp.co
10 CABARET: Circus London
The show must go on, and the cabaret scene has been revived at Circus London. Dress code? ‘Make a wonderful effort.’ No troublesome hen or stag parties are allowed, although dancing on the tables is encouraged as the evening progresses, complete with acrobatics and fancy dress. Head chef Andrew Lassetter serves up pan-Asian recipes, such as chicken truffle shumai, maki rolls and a cheesecake bento box best paired with champagne or sake. For a more raucous night, give the house punches a go – the Bloody English is composed of Beefeater gin, blood orange, lemon and Chinese syrup.
27-29 Endell Street, Covent Garden WC2H 9BA; circus-london.co.uk
11 DESSERT ONLY: The Café
Café Royal at Hotel Café Royal is the first dessert-themed restaurant to open in London. The dangerously delectable menu has been created by pastry chef Sarah Barder, and includes optional wine pairings. There will be five-course tasting menus such as the ‘Sarah in Wonderland’ with Alice in Wonderland inspired courses: savouries like Chicken Foie with quince and brioche, and such delicacies as the ‘Eat Me, Drink Me’ Snickers and chocolate malt shake.
68 Regent Street, London W1B 4DY; hotelcaferoyal.com