It takes a lot to make an impression on London diners but 2018 has seen the city welcome an extraordinary array of artfully appointed and appetite piquing restaurants.
This crop of collaborations between chefs, proprietors, architects and designers provides a veritable feast for both stomach and eyes. All that’s left is to decide whether one’s mood leans towards a surprising supper in an industrial funhouse or an intimate pasta lunch amid pastel surrounds…
Here are our top picks for the best London restaurant openings of 2018.
Nestled within the epicentre of Tom Dixon’s new HQ, Coal Office Restaurant shares the playful yet perfectionist ideals of its grandmaster’s studio. And the contemporary Israeli menu by the acclaimed maximalist chef, Assaf Granit is fittingly geared towards the experimental of palate.
From its pretty pistachio tiles, awning and upholstery to its barely white-washed walls, Red Deer architects have carved out a truly charming home for the new restaurant outpost of Soho’s beloved, 75-year-old Italian delicatessen. As for the food, with a menu full of delights such as ravioli di Zucca, burro salvia e nocciole del Piemonte DOP, by chef Masha Rener, it’s as authentically Italian as it gets in London.
Undeniably the year’s swankiest opening, Hide is the domain of endlessly lauded, sustainability-minded chef, Ollie Dabbous, in partnership with Hedonism Wines. Its crowning feature, the willowy, laminated oak ‘StairStalk’ staircase was fashioned by architects Atmos Studio, with design company These White Walls contributing further earthen and floral reflections of nearby Green Park via choice floorboards, fixtures and flourishes.
Casa Do Frango
A-nrd Studio has parlayed the feel of early 20th-century Portugal into an airy Victorian loft for a contemporary crowd via eye-catching touches such as hand-painted, Lisbon tram-inspired motifs and suspended ceiling fans. The perfect backdrop to over-indulge in classic Algarvian Frango com piri piri.
This once-cavernous site by Newington Green is reborn as a cosy, candle-lit haven within which to devour butter-laden pastries and nourishing breads by day, and (delicate) stacks of tantalising small plates eg saffron spelt, rosemary and orange gremolata, washed down with fine natural wines come nightfall. The London restaurant’s texture-softened, raw interiors are the handiwork of proprietor, Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim.
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Restauranteur Margaret Crow worked with Russell Sage Studio to transform this Grade II-listed dining room within the opulent Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel into a beatific ode to the ocean. The resultant peach-ceilinged, graphic wood-floored space overflows with pleasing features large and small, including a pewter oyster bar and cute, hand-drawn branding by Craig & Karl. The duly gorgeous, seafood-centric menu served within is by Crow’s co-proprietor, Brett Redman.
The second Chinese restaurant by celebrated chef, Andrew Wong is a marginally more casual sister to his eponymous Michelin-starred original and lies within Foster+Partner’s Bloomberg Arcade. Michaelis Boyd designed the elegant interiors, making a star of a cherry blossom tree – a Chinese signifier of female power and beauty. Further pink and plum furnishings assures unity between the site’s dual speckled terrazzo floors, as well as providing an energetic counterpoint to Kym’s macho surrounds.
This airy, Bauhaus-accented, all-day dining space by the architecture and design studio of renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s longtime collaborator, Alex Meitlis, is bedecked in pale oak and travertine stone. Whether perched at the oval cocktail bar or tucked along its jolly red, elongated banquettes, a memorable vegetable and ferment-focused feast is guaranteed.
Brasserie of Light
Unabashedly glam, Caprice Holdings’ latest London restaurant is awash with light. Martin Brudnizki Studios led the conversion of this prime sliver of Selfridges’ floorspace into a chichi, Art Deco brasserie dominated by Damien Hirst’s gargantuan crystal-encrusted Pegasus sculpture. Once the dazzle abates (and the selfies have been snapped), the menu of international classics with a 2019 twist promises to safely sate all-comers.
Recent diners at ingenious chef Nuno Mendes’ (relatively) secret, Japanese and Portuguese cuisine-influenced, supper club have feasted upon the likes of smoked native lobster and enoki mushrooms, having watched their preparation through the canny glass wall that separates boutique dining space from kitchen. Still, whatever’s being served at any given 14-course tasting repast, rest assured project leaders 6a Architects’ bespoke table and a Barra D’oro light will render it even more appealing.
Gridiron by Como
Much has already been made of the ex-Met Bar location of this live-fire grill house by Hawksmoor don Richard Turner, and Christina Ong of COMO Hotels and Resorts, so let’s focus instead on interior designers Macaulay Sinclair’s smart use of dark woods, marble, and green and red leather to a conjure a convivial atmosphere within which to marvel at the brigades’ flame-cooking theatrics.