Mission is from the guys behind Sager & Wilde, a hackney wine bar that is generally raved about. Mission is cut from the same cloth. You know its got to be super trendy ‘cos it’s based in a Bethnal Green railway arch. And there are palm trees. Indoors. But, and this is important, it might be hipster, but it’s not pretentious. It’s actually a really nice place to go and drink a great selection of Californian wines and well-priced and eat some pretty good food designed for the drinks. There’s a neat little outdoor area with artfully-distressed chairs and tables for when the weather allows, which is an added bonus. Mother Kelly’s, the craft beer shop next door also makes for a great spot to wait out a queue for a table, though this place takes reservations (hallelujah), so in theory you shouldn’t ever have to wait.
Foxlow is from the guys behind Hawksmoor. Aha, you’re probably thinking, I know the drill: big hunksa meat at big prices, washed down by high-class cocktails. Well yes, that does about cover it. Sort of. Foxlow is kind of like a Hawksmoor-lite. You’ve still got on-trend tiling on the walls and plush booths, but the light’s a bit brighter and it feels a bit less like you’re sitting in a bar in the middle of the day. Hell, there’s even a salad bar, sort of and more affordable(ish) slow-cooked ribs have usurped steak on the menu. If you think you’re getting bargain-Hawksmoor though, think again. £16 for a (really excellent) bit of rib sounds reasonable, but that’s literally all you’re getting. Factor in the sides and the bill mounts quickly.
You have two questions to ponder when you enter Le Relais de Venise, or l’Entrecote as it’s generally known: what would you like to drink and how would you like your steak cooked??? It’s good to come prepared with answers since the waitstaff aren’t the most patient bunch – don’t be surprised if the bill arrives in tandem with your last bite of food. On the plus-side for busy diners, this is the fastest steak and chips you’re likely to get this side of Calais. You start with a mixed leaf salad served with a tangy mustard dressing and bread before moving on to the main event: Steak Frites, l’Entrecote style. That means you get half of your meal in the first round and the other half in the second round – yes you heard it greedy guts, this is a double sitting!!! You know they must be doing something right, because this place has spread from Paris to London to NYC. In London, the Marylebone branch remains a firm favourite, but the City and Canary Wharf spots are big hits for business lunches. The only problem: no reservations. Go figure.
Perched at the top of Tottenham Court Road’s Centre Point, Paramount offers dinner with a view in a skyscraper situated, literally, in the centre of London. A long, metal bar, parquet floor and leather furniture keeps the place swish, but the place doesn’t get the same tourist footfall as sky-high restaurants in places like the Shard. The food doesn’t have quite the same wow factor as the view, but lubricated with a few cocktails still makes a great accompaniment. Take a date, take your rents or take your colleagues, they’re all sure to be impressed.
Berners Tavern is a bit of a showstopper. But would you expect any less from a collaboration between hotelier extraordinaire Ian Schrager and darling of the kitchen, Jason Atherton? You would not. Let’s start with jaw-dropping decor – we mean, this room oozes glamour from the sexed-up stucco (yes, that’s right, sexy stucco) to the dangling chandeliers (which also happen to shine the most flattering of lighting). Then you have the food, which is more than fitting of the fabulous ambience. The menu has mediterranean undertones, but that hardly matters because you’re just going to want to gobble it all up anyway. The operation is slick from start to finish so don’t be surprised when this place becomes the hippest hangout in London.
The Delaunay sits regally bang in the centre of Aldwych. It’s big glass windows, tastefully swaddled in curtains to protect diners privacy, wink invitingly and inside everything is hustle, bustle and bon vivant. It’s classic Corbyn and King (you know, that lot what did the Wolseley and Brasserie Zedel) and it’s up our street. The food is tasty, but isn’t going to blow you away. It’s simple Euro-bistro fare (schnitzel, weiners, goulash, eggs various ways), good , solid comfort food. It won’t win any Michelin stars, but it will leave you feeling satisfied and ready to come back.
A former public toilet in Bermondsey might not be the first place you’d look for first class cooking, but it’s where Tom Sellers (formerly of Noma and Tom Aitkens) decided to set up shop with Restaurant Story, his whimsical solo venture. Now Sellers is churning out his own stuff in a striking, state of the art building, featuring massive glass windows and a peekaboo kitchen (not a whiff of the WC about it) and it’s all pretty spectacular. We love this place for the high-end food put together with tongue-in-cheek nod to childhood stories. Signature dishes include a beef dripping candle and three bears’ porridge. Unusually for this style of cooking, the setting is relaxed and slightly playful with chefs joining diners at the table to explain the story behind the food. Guests are treated to a flurry of ‘pre-starters’ before tucking into either the 6 or 10 course tasting menus, priced at £45 and £65 respectively – pretty reasonable for this quality of cooking – we reckon it’s only a matter of time before the Michelin man awards a star or two – but beware, booze will inevitably bump up the bill.
Take a breath, close your eyes, roll the dice, pick a cuisine, chow down. Not necessarily in that order, though you may want to build up some winnings at the casino before looking at the price list at the Colony Club’s restaurant. On the other hand, this high-end Mayfair establishment serves some of the best late-night food on offer in London. There aren’t many other places you could have your pick of lobster, steak or sushi at 3 in the morning. And the list doesn’t stop there. The cocktails aren’t half bad either – beware too much Dutch courage though, the gaming tables aren’t far off.
Scoffler was a guest at Colony Club.
From the guys behind the much-loved Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park (there aren’t many more pleasant places to do a weekend brunch), this unpretentious little wine bar/restaurant on the outskirts of Borough Market ups the game a little bit to pack a punch alongside heavyweights like Brindisa and Wrights. Exposed brick walls and a big, raised bar give it a casual feel, so licence to pig out then. The menu transforms daily to align with whatever looks exciting in the market that day – my kinda personal shopping! The format’s very St John Bread and Wine – you can do a selection of little plates to share or just each have one big main. Go with your gut, it all tastes good and comes with heaps of freshly-baked bread (literally still steaming fresh last time we went) to mop any plates clean with. If you go on a week-day lunch, we hear the burger’s very good. Curse the working week, we haven’t had a chance to sample it yet. Of course the pint-sized place packs out, but you can reserve (hallelujah), so make sure you do.
In this modern era of social media and self-promotion it’s rare not to find a place blare out its presence from multiple platforms. But while some wage Twitter campaigns, Picture just gets on with making great food. Arbutus and Wild Honey alums Colin Kelly and Alan Christie head up the kitchen which serves small plates that have an uncanny knack of hitting the spot in all kinds of interesting, fusion-y ways. Think Lebanese fried chicken with yogurt and sumac, meatloaf with tomatoes and white peach and slow-poached egg with mushroom marmalade. Best of all, they don’t charge an arm and a leg for a few mini plates of risotto. You could easily leave full for £30 a head, and that’s with a glass of wine to see you on your way. This place won’t stay under the radar for long, so shimmy on down before the crowds cotton on!