Over the last 27 years, Harden’s has tracked the trends of London’s dining scene using one of the country’s most in-depth annual diner surveys—so we can say with some authority that this year’s Taste of London line-up represents the unrivalled diversity of the capital’s restaurant scene.
According to our 2017 poll, the very eco-unfriendly trend of meat-focused openings showed no signs of slowing down, with a plethora of burger bars, steak houses and grills starting up last year, especially in East London postcodes. Even so, Italian and Modern British remained the most popular cuisines for 2016 debutantes.
The popularity of Japanese cuisine also continues to be a major trend. Nipponese openings again exceeded those from the next most popular dining cultures: French, Indian and Spanish.
All this and more can be found at this year’s Taste of London festival in Regent’s Park from 14-18 June. If you can’t resist an indulgent meat fix, find it at M Restaurant or Ember Yard if you fancy Spanish-influenced charcoal cooking. Or try Tom Oldroyd’s “innovative”, “wonderful” British tapas creations at Oldroyd before you head to Sartoria, where you’ll find Francesco Mazzei (previously of L’Anima) serving up dishes inspired by his Calabrian roots. For “sumptuous sushi and sashimi”, as well delights from the Robata grill, get thee to Roka’s festival booth.
Inspirational Indian cooking remains part of London’s unique culinary DNA, and visitors to this year’s Taste have a wealth of choice – from the quirky small plates of Brixton pop-up-turned-permanent restaurant Kricket (now with a Soho outpost too) and Cyrus Todiwala’s “exotic and intriguing” Parsi flavours at Café Spice Namaste, to Vivek Singh’s perennially classy cuisine at The Cinnamon Club and the quirky approach of Mayfair’s new Jamavar.
There is also plenty of fine French and Spanish cooking to be tempted by – check out Club Gascon, Les 110 des Taillevent and L’Autre Pied for Gallic gastronomy. José Pizarro provides “seriously good and authentic Spanish tapas”, while Ametsa with Arzak Instruction is the place for more experimental Basque cuisine with its “incredible taste combinations”.
Taste of London’s line-up reminds us, if we needed any reminding, that the capital thrives nowadays on its multi-cultural restaurant heritage. Migrants from Europe make a vital contribution by both boosting the quality of London dining and providing the passionate and often undervalued workers on which the trade depends. Let’s take the opportunity to celebrate one of the ‘crown-jewel’ features of London’s culture – it’s diverse dining scene.
For the last 27 years Harden’s has produced an annual guide to London restaurants, reviewing over 1,600 places – from gastropubs and pop-ups to temples of gastronomy. Our reviews are based on some 50,000 reports collected in our annual restaurant survey. Anyone can contribute a report to the survey, all you have to do is visit hardens.com and review your favourite gastronomic experience of the last 12 months. You will automatically be entered into a prize draw to win dinner and a night’s stay at Raymond Blanc’s incomparable home of French haute cuisine, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire. Review five restaurants or more and receive a free copy of our UK guide upon publication.