LONDON LIFE • August 2018
With scone-filled goodie bags, bee pollen beignets and seaweed custard, the capital’s dining scene has never felt so inventive. Proving this year’s buzziest openings are worth the hype, The Club team takes a tour of London’s most impressive restaurants to try right now
Who: Hannah Ralph, content editor
Why: Set in London’s well-heeled west, Roganic stands like a terracotta-hued terrarium – glassy and pulsating with a quiet wilderness, as if owner and Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan dreamt up the menu on a walk through the forest. Following in the style of Rogan’s Lake District hit, L’Enclume, his latest endeavour provides a tasteful trifecta – thought-provoking plates, one-off wines and charming staff. City slickers can tuck into the set business lunch menu (£35) by day, while long evenings are made for the full tasting menu experience (£95). Here, savoury stars include a salty-sweet seaweed custard, flavoured with Japanese sea stock; a crispy, squid-ink chicken creation, and a pickled-onion broth, dotted with soft Westcombe cheddar ‘dumplings’. The sweet finish? A complimentary breakfast goodie bag to take away, complete with fluffy scones.
Who: Charlotte Swift, group editor
Why: If your idea of an Indian meal is a chicken korma, pilau rice and a bottle of lager, this is not the place for you. Indian Accent has put such a spin on traditional subcontinent cuisine that rice didn’t even appear on our menu. Chef Manish Mehrotra leads the kitchen, having already taken the New Delhi branch into the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and a third branch is wowing diners in New York. A miniature blue cheese naan and a sublime dolls’ house-sized jug of pumpkin and coconut soup set the scene for what was undoubtedly the most innovative Indian food I have ever tasted. Stand-out dishes include a tofu masala that would win over even the most hardened meat eater, magnificent Kashmiri morels with walnut powder, and a clay-pot of soy keema with quail egg. After a spice-packed, dazzlingly full-flavoured nine courses we left feeling triumphant, and just the right side of full.
Who: Ross Clarke, consultant editor
Why: When Nieves Barragán announced she was leaving London stalwart Barrafina (where she was awarded a Michelin star), the city’s gastro-gentry held their breath for what she would do next. The answer? Sabor, just off Regent Street. The menus mix the recognisable (tortilla, croquetas) with alternative but no less wonder-inducing plates, such as black tomato with confit artichoke and a salad with the spicy Spanish sausage, txistorra (£6.50). Specials are reeled off with enthusiasm by waiting staff, who dance around the kitchen in a sort of culinary ballet with chefs, transporting you on a journey through Spain. The night’s best dish? Oxtail cooked in red wine (£14.50), paired beautifully with a glass of gutsy Colegiata red wine (£5.50 per glass). You’ll be thinking about it all the way home.
Who: Marisa Cannon, content editor
Why: BRAT was one of the year’s more rousing openings, headed by rising young chef Tomos Parry, whose inspiration came from the simple fire cooking he saw in beachside towns of the Basque country. Parry’s no-fuss, flame-cooked dishes have been extolled by critics across the capital, most emphatically of all his sensational whole turbot (£55-£70) and the restaurant’s namesake (brat means turbot in colloquial old English). Slowly seared, the fish is fleshy, flavoursome and worth the praise, but there’s plenty else worth sampling if you can’t quite commit. The menu is compact and to the point, so much so that trying most of what’s on offer is less strenuous than you’d imagine. Try the spider crab with cabbage and fennel (£9.50) for a multisensory knockout, or the smoked cod’s roe (£3.50), piped through in unctuous ribbons on crusty bread.
Who: Matt Richardson, picture editor
Where: Green Park
Why: Led by Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous, Hide is another opening that has prompted plenty of chatter. With smooth wooden floors and nature-inspired design, there are two restaurants, Above and Ground – the latter is more affordable, though no less impressive. An at-seat Champagne trolley leisurely tours tables, while London’s largest wine list is presented to diners on iPads. Dabbous’s refined British flair pervades the menu, featuring solid favourites of fresh ricotta and black olive agnolotti (£14) and a tender Herdwick lamb (£36). The dessert menu is a thing of wonder – try the succulent bee pollen beignets (£9) and the remarkable warm acorn cake (£12) served with smoked caramel, rum and clotted cream.