2010 was a good year for eating. (And drinking.) So add them to your list of places to hit in 2011, if you haven't been already.
Hawksmoor Seven Dials, Covent Garden
While the original was already widely regarded as London’s best steakhouse, the arrival of Hawksmoor Seven Dials has secured domination on the London scene. Like the original in Shoreditch, the menu reads like a meat-eater’s dream, but it’s the look that makes all the difference with the new venture, along with the great bar area with ample space for pre-dinner cocktails.
Les Deux Salons, Covent Garden
Situated in Covent Garden on William IV Street, Les Deux Salons is a spacious, traditional French brasserie with a mix of brasserie fare and other European classic dishes. Les Deux Salons is the sister restaurant to Arbutus and Wild Honey, both of which have a Michelin star for their modern European cuisine.
Koffmann’s at The Berkeley
Pierre Koffmann made a triumphant return to the kitchen with his eponymous restaurant Koffmann’s at the former Boxwood Café site at The Berkeley Hotel in mid July, offering hearty, robust French cooking, bringing back old favourites such as the pig’s trotter and the pistachio soufflé.
Polpetto is the new venture from the team behind Polpo, the successful Venetian ‘bacaro’ in Soho. Polpetto is located above the French House pub on Dean Street and offers ‘cicheti’ – small plates of classic ventian dishes. Like its sister restaurant, Polpetto has a no reservation policy for dinner, so expect to queue as this place is always busy, or try to secure a much coveted lunch booking.
Bar Boulud, Knightsbridge
Daniel Boulud, one of the most coveted chefs in the US, has opened his first restaurant in the UK at the Mandarin Oriental with Bar Boulud, which was already a big success across the pond. The room may lack real character, but the mix of rustic French brasserie fare and a New York style buzz has been an instant hit. With almost universal praise for the charcuterie boards and the burgers, Bar Boulud has certainly made its mark.
From the former chef at The Providores, Caravan has been the surprise hit of the year. Offering a weekend brunch menu to rival any in London, along with an excellent evening menu that is ideal for sharing, Caravan is a relaxed and effortlessly cool newcomer on Exmouth Market. The New Zealand influenced restaurant has its own coffee roaster, so flat whites are very popular too.
Viajante, East London
Following the success of The Loft, his supperclub in Dalston, Nuno Mendes opened Viajante in Bethnal Green’s new town hall hotel earlier this year. Nuno’s cooking is described as experimental with echoes of the grand master, El Bulli, and while not every dish gets it just right, Viajante is seen as a breath of fresh air from a chef with real passion.
Bistrot Bruno Loubet, Clerkenwell
The Zetter hotel in Clerkenwell has welcomed Bruno Loubet back on to the London scene with his restaurant, Bistrot Bruno Loubet, having spent the last eight years in Australia. The space may be a bit crammed, with tables packed in next to each other, but the crowds keep flocking here for the rustic French cooking with intense flavours.
Gauthier Soho, Soho
Alexis Gauthier, who achieved a Michelin star at Roussillon, has opened his eponymous restaurant at Lindsay House, once occupied by Richard Corrigan, in Soho. Gauthier’s cooking is classic French with a large focus on vegetables and, despite the rather sedate mood, the restaurant brings a touch of refined class to Soho.
Zucca is a bright and bustling modern Italian restaurant in Bermondsey, described by many as a River Café at half the price. The reasonable prices and generous portions mean that the restaurant is usually booked up, so book far in advance or try your luck on one of the stools at the bar. Zucca was closely followed by many other high quality mid-priced Italian restaurants, including Tinello in Pimlico, Trullo in Islington and Tempo in Mayfair.
The last few weeks of 2010 saw the arrival of a few new restaurants that could be the ones to watch for 2011, but we thought it was too early to include them in the 'best of 2010' list as they have not had enough time to establish themselves properly. These include Brawn, the new venture from the team behind Terroirs, which is already receiving great reviews; The Savoy Grill, Gordon Ramsay's latest venture at The Savoy; and Roux at The Landau at The Lagham hotel.
Heston Blumenthal’s first foray into the London restaurant scene will be at the Mandarin Oriental from January 2011 with ‘Dinner’ by Heston, Marcus Wareing will open The Gilbert Scott, a British brasserie at the St Pancras Renaissance hotel in February, and Jason Atherton (formerly of Maze) will open Pollen Street Social in March, which will have its own dessert bar.