10 of some of the newest, finest additions to London’s restaurant scene

From a traditional Italian bistro in Clerkenwell to a Soho seafood joint, here are the places we’re making reservations for in 2022…

Unfurl your napkins! Loosen your belts! Prime your credit cards! Because now that the sun has finally arrived – and following the pandemic’s failed attempt in its ploy to polish off the capital’s restaurant scene – we’ve finally reached the light lunch at the end of the dark-spring tunnel. It’s an exciting time to be a hungry Londoner, so we’ve flicked through the menus and scoured the specials boards of some of the capital’s most promising new restaurants that have opened in the past twelve months. And, from a traditional Italian bistro in Clerkenwell to a Soho seafood joint, here are the places we’re making reservations for right now…

Trattoria Brutto, Clerkenwell

Where is it? Just down the road from Farringdon Station, and opposite the venerable Smithfield Market. Brutto, the modest-but-magnificent brainchild of restaurateur Russell Norman, occupies the site of the original Hix Chophouse. It is an upgrade.

What’s the cuisine? Classic Florentine dishes. This is a stripped-back, traditional trattoria of the highest, checkered-tablecloth order. Think antipasti with a crostini cornerstone, side dishes you’d happily lap up as mains, and £5 Negronis.

What should you order? A slew of those bitterly affordable, brightly-coloured cocktails — before sampling the Pasta e Fagioli, Salsiccia di Maiale and, of course, the Tiramisu. Then perhaps a couple more cocktails. 

10 of some of the newest, finest additions to London’s restaurant scene

Brutto, Clerkenwell

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The Maine, Mayfair

Where is it? 20 Hanover Square; an impressive site for The Maine’s first international location. It’s the only surviving Georgian Grade II-listed building in the area; and founder Joey Ghazal has split proceedings over three opulent levels — with five dining rooms catering for 350 guests.

What’s the cuisine? Sufficiently New England-y. Think lashings of hot Clam Chowder, Soft-Shell Crab with Lime Aioli and crispy-yet-juicy Lobster Rolls. And, of course, more meaty oysters than you can shake a shucker at.  

What should you order? For lunch, The Maine does a mean Steak Tartare. For dinner? Sink a bourbon-based Remember the Maine cocktail before delving into a bowl of Angry Lobster Pasta, a blend of bisque, bottarga and silky-plump seafood. 

10 of some of the newest, finest additions to London’s restaurant scene

The Maine, Mayfair

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Planque, Haggerston

Where is it? In the wild, woolly reaches of East London. But take a gentrified jaunt over to Planque and you’ll find it worth the trip. Within staggeringly close staggering distance of Haggerston Overground, this ‘wine drinkers’ clubhouse’ has taken over two railway arches.

What’s the cuisine? Principally liquid. But, despite a focus on natural and low intervention wines, chef Seb Myers (formerly of Chiltern Firehouse) has whipped up an alluring modern French menu; and made the 40-seat restaurant a spot for destination dining. 

What should you order? A bottle of the 2014 Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet Syrah, for starters. Then, it’s a toss-up between the Guinea Fowl, Swiss Chard & Sunflower Seeds and the Duck Offal Choux Farcis with Pepper Butter.

10 of some of the newest, finest additions to London’s restaurant scene

Planque, Haggerston

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MiMi Mei Fair

Where is it? A quick beeline from Green Park, MiMi Mei Fair also edges towards the opulence of Mayfair. The three-floored restaurant is flush with stylised rooms: the Wong Kar Wai-inspired ground floor, for example, is festooned with timber-screen salons and red leather booths; and the second-floor features a parlour, whose fireplace and soft-hued furnishings evoke a members’ club feel. 

What’s the cuisine? Chef Peter Ho, who cooks with Hakkasan pedigree, proffers an ambitious menu that draws upon traditional Chinese cooking techniques and fare, from regions such as Guangdong, Sichuan, Fujian and Hunan, as well as his roots in Singapore.

What should you order? As an entry point, consider its Baskets in Bloom, its weekly lunch menu that takes cues from the dim sum style of eating found in the kitchens of Guangzhou and Hong Kong. The selection of dim sum – Canadian-scallop dumplings with bamboo shoot; prawn and asparagus; and garlic-chive chicken dumplings, all wrapped in an array of kaleidoscopic dough – will fade either into a corn-fed chicken that’s been given texture by cashew nuts and heat via snips of dried chilli; or a clay pot of black-bean aubergine that has all the properties of what a good dish of its kind should have: ultra-soft texture to the point of collapse. 

10 of some of the newest, finest additions to London’s restaurant scene

MiMi Mei Fair

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Sessions Arts Club, Clerkenwell

Where is it? On Clerkenwell Green, sitting pretty in Old Sessions House. A former courthouse, the paint is peeling now — but the food at this eclectically-decorated, decadent den has breathed new, lip-smacking life into the venue.

What’s the cuisine? Enrapturing. The magical menu is the work of Florence Knight, previously known for Polpetto. It’s majesty is in its simplicity; with Knight throwing together basic ingredients in never-before-seen ways.

What should you order? The Squid, Tomato & Calamarata would be a good start. Or perhaps the Eel, Rocket & Crème Fraîche. Maybe the Clams, Cortese & Fennel? Who knows? It’s all good. 

10 of some of the newest, finest additions to London’s restaurant scene

Sessions Arts Club, Clerkenwell

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Blacklock, Covent Garden

Where is it? Tucked away in a less-touristy corner of Covent Garden. You’ll find Blacklock’s latest outpost in a disused basement — all heritage brickwork and original floors — that used to house the King’s Coachmakers back in the 1600s.

What’s the cuisine? Once more, meat. The chophouse uses only the finest, sustainably-reared meat from farmer Philip Warren across all of its restaurants — transforming the cuts into honest, wholesome dishes.

What should you order? A bunch of starters. Start with the Pig’s Head on Toast and move onto the Cull Yaw Crumpet (it’s a type of mutton). Then, if you have room, the Pork Belly Bun has such cracking crackling that it’ll bump beef off your top meat spot. 

10 of some of the newest, finest additions to London’s restaurant scene

Blacklock, Covent Garden

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Langan's Brasserie, Mayfair

Where is it? Like you don’t already know. The legendary Stratton Street institution needs no (re)introduction — but you should hot-foot it down to the notorious celebrity haunt as soon as your schedule permits. 

What’s the cuisine? According to the brasserie itself, the chefs are seeing up ‘continental elegance with British flair’. This translates onto the tastebuds as hearty grub with the rough corners knocked off. Think roast chicken, fish pie or bangers and mash.

What should you order? That Fish Pie for 2 wouldn’t be a bad bet. Stuffed with salmon, scallops, haddock, cod and prawns, it’s a luxurious lunch. Alternatively, the Daube de Boeuf is served in a red wine sauce to die for.

10 of some of the newest, finest additions to London’s restaurant scene

Langan's Brasserie, Mayfair

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The Ledbury, Notting Hill

Where is it? Another re-opening, The Ledbury deserves all of your love. Since its inception in 2005, it has navigated stormy, inhospitable hospitality seas from its perch on Ledbury Road. Here’s hoping that head chef Brett Graham can steer things into calmer waters this year. 

What’s the cuisine? Award-winning. In the past, The Ledbury’s delicate delicacies have won Michelin stars and spots on world’s best restaurant lists in the past. Think thoroughly British; and thoroughly dainty.

What should you order? Your one and only option; the Tasting Menu. The bill may come in at £185, and your eyebrows may raise at the bite-size dishes you get in return, but it’s worth every penny. 

10 of some of the newest, finest additions to London’s restaurant scene

The Ledbury, Notting Hill

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Sarap, Mayfair

Where is it? Back in Mayfair, slap bang between Langan’s and The Maine — and so close to Savile Row that you can almost smell the tailor’s chalk. That is, of course, if you haven’t ordered the Mung beans….

What’s the cuisine? Created by chef Ferdinand ‘Budgie’ Montoya, everything is an exploration of his native Philippines — from the Fried Chicken Skin and Trout Kinilaw to the Kale Laing and Monkfish Escabache.

What should you order? The Sarap Lechon. It’s the hero dish; a whole suckling pig for the table. Pre-order it for £295, and eat it withs six to eight of your hungriest friends. It’s served with Truffled Adobo Pork Rice and stuffed with lemongrass.

10 of some of the newest, finest additions to London’s restaurant scene

Sarap, Soho

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Manzi’s, Soho

Where is it? Currently, on our ‘must visit’ list. Corbin & King’s latest luxury establishment takes up two floor in an old 1950s office building in Soho, and — when it opens this year — will offer an affordable seafood-focused menu. 

What’s the cuisine? Other than the fact that it’ll be a pescatarian’s paradise, we don’t know much. But, if it’s anything like the fish at Manzi’s big brother, Brasserie Zedel (Whole Lemon Sole, Brown Nut Butter), then we’re in for a treat.

What should you order? We’d heard whispers of Tiger Prawns Provençal with Rice and Poached Skate with Beurre Noisette and Capers. But we’ll wait until we have the menu in front of us; and can dive in.

10 of some of the newest, finest additions to London’s restaurant scene

Manzi’s, Soho

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