We’ve eaten in lots of restaurants this year. Some have been good. Some have been bad. And some have asked, “How hungry are you? That’s quite a lot of food”. Look, we just want two types of potato, okay.
This year our best new restaurants list has been a bit of a slog. Cue violins. Not because all of the 11 spots below aren’t excellent, but because there have been lots of other restaurants - namely big, flash, hotel-ish types, full of dishes made for sharing, and shiny surfaces made for cleaning, that were probably meant to amaze, but made us sigh. They took up way too much of our time.
The restaurants that have made our list are the best because they’ve got more than one standout plate of food, or one OH-EM-GEE room that you have to get a selfie in. They’re all restaurants that feel like they’re here for the long-term, be it down to the food, the feel-good atmosphere, or the fact that you’re still there when all the staff are smiling at you through eyes that say “please, please let me go home”.
And those are the important things, right? At least, we think they are. So say hello to London’s Best New Restaurants of 2019.
All restaurants on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. London’s Best New Restaurants Of 2019 is presented by Æcorn. For details on where you can drink Æcorn in London, click here.
Endo at the Rotunda isn’t just one of the best restaurants we’ve been to this year, it’s one of the best restaurants we’ve ever been to. Everything from the food, to the aerial London-wide view, to the performance-like experience, makes this 16-seater omakase one of the best dining experiences in London. You’re basically high up, eating high-quality sushi, getting high off the brilliance you see and taste. Admittedly, it is going to cost you. Especially if you want the full 18-course dinner experience. But, really, £180 is a small price to pay for a truly memorable experience. As well as a pair of handmade chopsticks.
If you’re someone who hates Hinds since you heard them on a car advert, or gets annoyed at your friends who still haven’t watched Euphoria, then you might think that Levan shouldn’t be on this list. Technically this all-day spot opened at the end of last year, but we’re making an exception because it arrived too late in the game for our 2018 list, and we need to acknowledge that this Peckham wine bar and restaurant is quite the keeper. Their wine list, ahem, book, is both helpful, varied, and exciting. Their dark blue walls, friendly service, and stack of vinyls, make it feel like your coolest mate’s flat if they finally, finally got a cleaner. And everything from the comté fries to their bigger sharing plates are so good that all you’ll really be thinking about when you leave, is how they possibly could have made a celeriac ravioli taste quite that good.
If you were to look at our receipts from all the meals we’ve eaten in the last year, you’ll probably think one of two things. Either, a) someone get them to a healthcare professional, or b) wow, they eat at Master Wei a lot. Since this casual Chinese spot in Bloomsbury opened, we’ve been with best mates, colleagues, out-of-towners we want to impress, siblings, and by our sorry selves, mid-week, with our headphones blasting some podcast, and a foul mood we’re ready to fix with some salt and pepper squid. As with sister restaurant, Xi’an Impression, both the beef biang biang noodles and The Power Of Love-inducing traditional liangpi noodles are essential here, but everything from the spicy smacked cucumber salad to the cumin beef ‘burger’ are worth travelling for.
Of all the restaurants on this list, Bubala is one of the most straightforward. Which is absolutely to its benefit. This neighbourhood vegetarian spot in Spitalfields serves Middle Eastern food that is just plain, old fashioned, delicious. We aren’t lying when we say that pretty much everything off the menu is worth ordering. The warm laffa flatbread? Definitely. All the dips? Yes, yes, and yes. Fried aubergine? Of course. That honey-glazed slab of halloumi? It would be rude not to. Look, you get the gist. Even better is that food aside, Bubala is a lovely, low-key place to be, and one that feels perfectly London.
If the Great Gatsby lived in 21st Century Britain and had a whole lot of luxury blue leather on his hands, Bob Bob Cité is the restaurant he would build, with a perfect île flotante on standby just in case Daisy shows up. This huge brasserie inside the City’s Leadenhall skyscraper is an entirely OTT, mildly dazzling restaurant that not only makes you feel like you’ve stumbled into the final act of Succession, but also happens to serve the best steak tartare we’ve ever had. Period. It also comes as no surprise that a place that serves -18c vodka shots as aperitifs, specialises in seriously decadent, slightly ridiculous food - yes, we’re looking at you lobster macaronis aux quatres fromages - but for the right occasion, those big prices are totally worth it.
We’ll admit that Tayer and Elementary is a little complicated on paper. It’s a bar, a chef’s table, and also another bar - that all serve different things. You don’t need to go all Beautiful Mind to understand that you need to eat here though. And, specifically, you need to eat at the four-person kitchen counter. Though the people cooking, Tata Eatery, are best known for London’s most famous katsu sandwich, it’s the food from their always-changing tasting menu that makes it one of the most unique eating experiences you can get in London right now. It’s a £60-a-head, five-course menu that will take you to places and flavours far away from reality, with reality being you, licking a bowl of cold lobster bisque next to Old Street roundabout.
There will come a day, not far from now, when you’ll find yourself in Shoreditch. You might be hungry, tired, alone, in a group, or full of commuter rage, and in that moment, we want you to remember this: go to Officina 00. It’s been a minute since a restaurant that’s this useful, affordable, and tasty has opened in London. You can come here with a big group and share some squid ink tagliolini, brown butter pumpkin gnocchi, and some raviolo over negronis. You can come here with a date and say some endearing crap about how the dark green tiling brings out the colour in their eyes whilst eating a braised pork genovese with occhi that has the potential to make it into your memoir. Or you can walk in alone, sit at the counter, and pretend the man carefully feeding pappardelle through a hand-cranked pasta machine is your own personal chef. Basically, Officina 00 is a restaurant that’s got your back.
No one, least of all us, realised that the thing London needed most was a chintzy Italian trattoria that feels like the set of a perfume advert where everybody is two bottles of prosecco deep. Everything about this Shoreditch restaurant is best viewed through Aperol-tinted glasses. Like, everything. Your eggs alla Fiorentina at 10am, your plate of San Daniele ham at lunch, or your giant profiterole at 11pm - all of it should be taken with both a pinch of salt, and with a couple of fingers of booze. Not because it’s necessary, but because Gloria is a good time restaurant, and everyone needs those.
An all-day bakery in an industrial space that transforms into a candlelit handmade pasta restaurant at night. Don’t listen to the haters 2019, we like you just the way you are. And odds are, you’ll like Pophams in Hackney too. Not only is the space a perfect morning or daytime hangout - with an almond croissant or a bacon and maple pastry by your side - but its night-time pasta persona is one of the most intimate and enjoyable we’ve had.
Bao have been London restaurant stalwarts for quite some time now. But rather than sit on their cushy, pillowy, bun-like, laurels, they’ve decided to keep going, keep pushing, and open a restaurant in Borough Market that serves deep fried cheese in a bun, and has a karaoke bar downstairs. And that is why we love them. This isn’t one of 2019’s most earth-shattering restaurants, but nor does it have to be. It’s a place we’re very happy exists. When we’re alone, on a date, or wanting to introduce someone to that aged beef and butter rice.
It wouldn’t be an Infatuation Best New Restauant list if there wasn’t a wine bar involved, and of course, the folks from P. Franco and Bright have duly delivered. Peg is their third and most Japanese-influenced spot yet. It’s a bums-on-stools or standing wine bar in Hackney Central serving up all manner of things on sticks, yakitori-style, as well as changing small plates that include a deceptively addictive sesame and cabbage salad. Despite the cool atmosphere (see: vinyl, orange wine, and eco-friendly terrazzo) it makes for a brilliantly casual place to spend an hour or two.