Ten New London Restaurants With Great Affordable Food
So many restaurants open in London, it's difficult to keep track and impossible to write about them all. Here's a roundup of some of the best places where I have eaten in recent months, with the focus on great food that is generally affordable.
This London tapas bar has a new, third outlet, in Covent Garden, and it keeps getting better. Chef Nieves Barragan Mohacho is outstanding and it's a pleasure to sit at the counter and watch her at work with her team, pushing out great dish after dish. The prices are reasonable: Pimentos de padron are 5 pounds ($7.70), classic tortilla is 6 pounds and stuffed courgette flower is 7.80 pounds.
Barrafina won U.K. restaurant of the year a few months ago and it is no surprise. The ingredients are delicious, from a simple slice of ham through to beautiful vegetables and fish. This isn't cheap eats but it does represent value. The wine list is pretty good, too.
10 Adelaide Street, Covent Garden, WC2 4HZ
This basement restaurant in Soho serves chops cooked over charcoal. That's it really. The choice is between skinny chops (beef, lamb, pork) at 4 pounds or big chops, with different cuts daily. Oh, and nibbles of cheese and pickle, dripping ham or eggs and anchovy with crispbread, at 3 pounds.
If that is too much choice for you, you can pay 20 pounds and have the snacks and all the skinny chops. The flavors are deep. Some bread on my plate was soaked in such rich juices, I mistook it for a steak. Did I mention that cocktails cost 5 pounds?
24 Great Windmill Street, Soho, W1D 7LG; +20-3441-6996
This grill house under a railway arch in Haggerston is a scene: Cool music plays while trays piled with hot and spicy meat are served by young staffers. The mezze include cauliflower shawarma and tahini, starting at 4 pounds, and grilled baby gem, anchovy and parsley dressing.
It's a trippy atmosphere and the cocktail list features options such as pomegranate Manhattan and Haggerstoned. You might fear for the quality of the food somewhere so hip. No need: The cooking and spicing are spot on.
Arch 338, Acton Mews, Haggerston, E8 4EA; +44-20-7923-0829
Angela Hartnett demonstrates that her trattoria is ready to roll out with the second branch of Café Murano, which has opened in Covent Garden. It's a charming place, with a clubby feel on the ground floor and a room filled with natural light upstairs.
The food is what you would expect from this popular chef. It's accessible and unfussy, with quality ingredients . The starters and pasta dishes are particularly strong. Café Murano is a huge step up from the chains that dominate in Covent Garden.
36 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7PB; +44-20-7240-3654
This large (140 seats) and impressive Italian restaurant is squeezed into a site near Spitalfields market. There's an open kitchen and a few nods in the direction of modernity, with a menu that features a selection of raw fish options and modestly sized pasta dishes such as duck tortelli with borlotti beans & sausage (12 pounds).
But at the heart of all this is a focus on flavor that makes Canto Corvino one of my favorite Italian establishments. The bread, the salumi, the burrata, the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar are all top notch, before you even try anything cooked. This is more expensive than other places on the list. It's worth it.
1 Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, London, E1 7HA; +44-20-7655-0390
This is the baby brother (or sister) of Roti Chai, the single London restaurant I most often visit on my days off. I love the simple Indian dishes (many of them snacks) that reference classic spicing and flavor combinations without being subservient to tradition. I'm hooked on the chili paneer.
Chai Ki is divided into a restaurant out back and the Toddy Shop Bar, which is where I expect to hang out. There are new dishes on the menu, along with old favorites. The prices are modest, with most mains below 10 pounds, and there's a range of cocktails and craft beers.
Mall Level -1, Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf, E14 5AR; +44-20-7408-7630
This Marylebone neighborhood restaurant specializes in the charcoal and wood-grill cooking of the Basque Country. It's the sister of Donostia, and shares access to fine produce, including the meat of old dairy cows, with a memorable depth of flavor.
The menu also features a range of snacks, such as courgette flower with cod brandada (7 pounds) and mains that include Squid stuffed with prawns and chorizo with squid ink sauce (10.50 pounds). The service is friendly and the room is filled with natural light.
10 Seymour Place, W1H 7ND; +44-20-3620-1845
This restaurant and bar beside the O2 arena in Greenwich is the latest project from Stevie Parle, who is best known for Dock Kitchen and Rotorino. Parle is a graduate of the River Café and retains that focus on seasonality and quality ingredients.
Craft goes to the basics of food preparation, roasting coffee, smoking fish, curing meat and keeping bees, as well as growing vegetables in a kitchen garden. There's a 60-minute menu for 35 pounds. If you fancy it, better be quick: Parle is taking Craft to Tel Aviv next week for a pop-up.
Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0SQ; +44-20-8465-5910
A short strip of restaurants beneath railway arches in Bethnal Green, in East London, is becoming a dining destination. Paradise Garage is the new outpost of chef Robin Gill, who has already made a name for himself at the Dairy and the Manor, in Clapham. His dishes are focussed and unfussy, with clean flavors.
Gill uses a few seasonal ingredients to create British dishes such as a starter of Cornish crab, kohlrabi, apple and grilled lemon (7.50 pounds) and Tilley's farm egg, Roscoff onions, spinach and lardo. Sourdough is served with smoked whisky butter.
254 Paradise Row, Bethnal Green, E2 9LE; +44-20-7613-1502
Islington is home to this restaurant, which occupies a site on a street better known for drinking options than good food. Tom Oldoyd was executive chef at the Polpo group before opening Oldroyd, serving small seasonal dishes in an informal setting.
The place is tiny so you need to squeeze in to try options such as chicken liver parfait and poached provençal figs (5 pounds) and iron bark pumpkin, kohlrabi, wet walnut and cow curd salad (9 pounds). The service is friendly and the prices low.
344 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0PD. +44-20-8617-9010
Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines