Whether it was the arrival of the world’s best pizza, the explosion of incredible Indian eateries, or the continuing revolution of affordable dining, one thing’s for sure: London’s restaurant scene got off to a flying start in 2017. We separate the trailblazers from the flash-in-the-pans to bring you our guide to the best new restaurants London has to offer.
L’Antica de Pizzeria da Michele
L’Antica de Pizzeria da Michele pitched up in London with more pomp and circumstance than a state wedding, with the capital’s media outlets unanimously hollering that “the world’s best pizza” has arrived. Could it ever live up to the heights of such a bestowal? The short answer is you betcha.
The accolade, far from resulting from the spin of PR wheels, had been earned from over a century of honing a family recipe spanning just two items: the margarita and the marinara pizza. In an era of trendy one-dish menus L’Antica de Pizzeria da Michele were literally a hundred years ahead of us.
Unfortunately, pizza this vaunted doesn’t come without the obligatory queue time, even if it is based out in Stoke Newington. Last time the Taste team checked, queues were around the 1.5 hour mark, so get there early and bring a chatty friend, or plump for takeaway.
To the main event: the pizza. There are two things that are the markers of true Neapolitan pizzas: the base, and soupy tomato sauce. This is definitely knife and fork territory. Delightfully misshapen and sporting enticing circles of crunchy black bubbles, the base at L’Antica is soft, chewy and fiendishly moreish. Haunt your dreams moreish, to be precise. Approaching the centre is an oozing mess of luscious mozzarella and tangy tomato sauce so delicious you’ll wonder why we ever bothered with all those unnecessary toppings to begin with. Accompanying drinks and decor are simple, satisfying and concise, allowing the pizzas to do all the talking.
With pizza this good, it’s no wonder L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele tops so many best new London restaurants lists, even when you factor in the obnoxious queues. Our only complaint? That we may never be able to look at other pizza in the same way again.
So many of the best new restaurants in London right now are taco joints, you’d be forgiven for thinking the capital had got its Cinco de Mayo party on supremely early this year. To avoid taco fatigue, we got ruthless and cut the competition down to a clear winner: Breddos Tacos in Clerkenwell.
These days, the street-truck to bricks-and-mortar restaurant path is well trodden, but it is still a good signifier that delicious things are afoot inside. Breddos is no different, obligingly doing the Street Feast and residency rounds before settling down to accommodate us haughty folk demanding tables and proper loos.
A wood grill and a few desserts smatter the menu, but let’s not pretend it’s not all about the tacos here. Classic Mexican combinations are waltzed and wooed with off-piste additions such as Kung Pao pork belly or Masa fried chicken, which stole the show on our visit and had us rolling up our sleeves for another round. Other highlights include a joyously rich, spicy tostada of seared octopus with black vinegar, rich bone marrow and splashes of punchy Sichuan.
If it all gets a little hot under the collar, the small but perfectly-formed cocktail list is on hand to bring you back down to earth. Any venue that serves a Paloma (tequila, fresh grapefruit and soda) for brunch is worth its salt in our books.
When a chef appears on the scene boasting credentials as star-spangled as stints at Noma and backing from Philip Howard, it comes as a surprise to find the resulting venture taking up a modest corner plot in residential Newington Green instead of the usual Soho gambit. This is by no means a criticism, as Perilla flourishes in its ‘neighbourhood restaurant’ apparel. When we pitched up on a dreary Friday the restaurant hummed with activity, service was pitch-perfect and the room glowed with soft wood furniture and bronze accents.
Set menus are the order of the day here, although you can opt for a la carte if you’d prefer. We’re big fans of the democratisation of fine dining menus currently rippling across London restaurants and at £38 for five courses, Perilla doesn’t just epitomise this trend, it is quite frankly an absolute steal.
The cooking is confident, uncomplicated and undulating with complex, marriage-material flavour. An opening morsel of roasted kale smothered in should-be-sold-on-street-corners smoked cod roe kicked off proceedings, followed by a dish of potroast broccoli with hung yoghurt and pickled cucumber that had us practically licking the bowl in appreciation. Accompanying wine is well-pitched and modestly priced, rounding off an impeccable night that we know will be first of many.
Perilla is hands down one of the best new restaurants London has conjured up this year, and is well worth the journey no matter where home is. We can imagine the scenes in Newington Green as locals fist-pump with collective smugness; if only all neighbourhood outposts could whip up dishes at this standard.
Kricket are another entry in our best new London restaurants roundup to have started life as a pop-up, this time originating in a shipping container in Brixton. After causing sufficient a hullabaloo in the street food world, Kricket have transferred to rather swanky surrounds in Soho’s Denman Street with aplomb.
The vibe in their new home is considerably fancier, with sleek leather booths and monogrammed bar stools that wouldn’t look out of place in a West London hotel. The kitchen stays true to its roots, however, and Kricket purists can breathe a sigh of relief that favourites such as the Keralan fried chicken have weathered the journey north of the river.
It is accompanied by another knockout dish from the Brixton original, the bhel puri, a fragrant rice dish layered with raw mango and tamarind, which provides the perfect counterpoint to our stand out dish of the night: the kid goat raan. A heartening stew of mouth-meltingly tender goat topped with a drizzling of pomegranate seeds bursting with sweetness, it was the ideal anathema to the chilly London night we were faced with. Although that won’t put us off scoffing it all up again when the weather improves, this is cooking worth getting flushed over.
We’ll be straight up: Temper is another taco-touting establishment, after we promised not to go too heavy with the Mexican delicacies. But hear us out, Temper is foremost an unabashedly meat-first outfit, and for that we allowed it to slink sultrily into our best new restaurants in London line-up. You’ll thank us later.
Neil Rankin is a man who knows his way around a carcass. He had the barbecue game cracked before we could even see the smoke, which his early tenure at the trailblazing Pitt Cue Co can attest to. Next came Smokehouse, then Bad Egg, and now the crowning jewel, Temper. Housed in a large Soho basement, the vibe is raucous, heady, and feels perpetually on the brink of a party.
The meat literally takes centre stage at Temper, with a huge barbecue occupying the middle of the room. Issuing from its depths are smouldering chunks of pork, goat and lamb, all served proudly atop charred homemade flatbreads. Tacos may be the supporting act but that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. Rolled out in front of you, they are rougher than most tacos but packing a punch of corn and filled with such staggeringly excellent combinations as the soy-cured beef, which is muddled with apple and homemade sriracha and roars with flavour. Pair it with a cocktail from the accomplished Mezcal cocktail list, or be brave and try the stuff neat, its smokey depths are a match made in heaven.
Make sure to leave room for dessert, the kouign-amann cake has been kicking up a storm across the internet and you can see why: rich flaky pastry doused in butterscotch sauce and topped with intense dulce de leche is the stuff dreams are made of. Or maybe don’t, it will give you another excuse to return.