Continually expanding, ever exciting and always delivering diverse new cuisines, the dining scene in London just keeps getting better. Restaurants reflect the capital’s multicultural residents, as well as its hunger for the latest and greatest dining trends, while celebrity chefs and street-food heroes alike pour their passion into stylish new dining spaces. And with a profusion of new eateries on the cards for this year, 2016 is set to be bigger than ever. While it would be impossible to name each and every new dining destination, we’ve come up with our pick of the most hotly anticipated London restaurant openings in 2016.
Wild food and foraging is an enduring dining trend in cities worldwide, along with the more recent abundance of raw and free-from (taking the sugar, gluten and dairy out of popular staples) eateries, with a greater vegetarian offering, too. This more virtuous cuisine pairs well with the hunger for epicurean ingredients, as chefs marinade and pickle locally sourced seasonal produce, bringing less common foraged ingredients into their kitchens.
Bringing wild food to Covent Garden is the already lauded restaurant, Native. With its River Cottage roots – namely the chef, Ivan Tisdall-Downes – the restaurant champions nose-to-tail and foraged cuisine, with a particular focus on game. Tuck into beautifully plated dishes like wild rabbit with prune pastille and pickled walnut salad.
As chefs continue to advocate sustainable and locally sourced meat, prime cuts come slow-cooked, smoked and wood-fired, packing as much flavour as possible into each bite. Burgers have also been in the limelight, but in 2016 we’re now seeing the return of the hot dog. Joining London favourites like Bubbledogs, who pair hot dogs with Champagne, is the Chelsea outlet of Porky’s. Along with 18-hour slow-cooked pulled pork and Memphis ribs and tips, the eatery serves their amped-up version of the humble hot dog, Bockwurst sausage in a brioche roll. Look out for the monthly beer pong tournaments.
One of the newest entries to the barbecue scene is the Devonshire Square location of Pitt Cue Co. Expanding to replace the Soho restaurant of the same name, which was an offshoot of the street food shack on Southbank, the new, larger dining space serves as proof of the eatery’s growing popularity. Then, there’s the new cocktail bar and barbecue restaurant in Victoria, Low, Slow and Juke, which channels a southern states vibe with its platters of hand-rubbed, home-smoked and slow-cooked meat with smoked cocktails and southern-inspired décor.
With such a strong diversity of restaurants in London, diners are always on the lookout for something a little different. Pharmacy 2 in Damien Hirst’s Vauxhall gallery space certainly fits the bill. This newly opened eatery runs along the same lines as the artist’s previous restaurant, Pharmacy in Notting Hill – pills being the theme behind the décor. But this time, acclaimed chef Mark Hix is at the helm in the kitchen, putting classic British and European plates like Launceston lamb pie and linguine with Portland crab on the menu.
The newest addition to Jason Atherton’s restaurant portfolio, meanwhile, is the Japanese izakaya-style eatery Sosharu in Clerkenwell. Expect teppanyaki and robatayaki, along with other Japanese classics like sashimi, tempura and soba, which all utilise British ingredients. A tasting menu is on offer at the separate counter-seating space, Kisetsu.
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The Street food trend just keeps going strong, encompassing a global offering of cuisines. For Thai food, look out for the highly anticipated opening of Som Saa by Nahm-alumni chef Andy Oliver, which is scheduled for early 2016. In its Spitalfields setting, the restaurant will combine British produce and Asian ingredients to create classic Thai dishes. The greatly anticipated restaurant StreetXo by acclaimed three-Michelin-starred Spanish chef David Munoz is set to open in Mayfair in the coming months, too, as an offshoot of his street-food inspired eatery in Madrid.
Adding to London’s already outstanding tapas scene is the restaurant and bar, Counter Culture by popular Clapham eatery, The Dairy. Set up in the style of a San SebastiÃ¡n pintxos bar, Counter Culture will utilize many of the culinary techniques The Dairy has become known for, such as pickling, fermenting, ageing and curing, with sustainably sourced local produce. Set to open in April, Counter Culture will replace the neighbouring Deli that was previously a part of The Dairy.
In addition to the city’s meat joints, chicken – local, free-range and likely southern fried or wood-fired -restaurants are popping up, too. Although, hotly anticipated eatery Strut and Cluck, which is due to open in Shoreditch this June, will actual be championing turkey. The free-range meat will be combined with seasonal produce in Eastern Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
A new concept by the people behind Pidgin in Hackney is Magpie, a restaurant where all food and drink will be delivered by trolley for diners to pick whatever British small plates and pre-mixed cocktails catch their eye. The central London eatery is expected to open in the summer months. Alternatively, combine cocktails and street food with a game or two of crazy golf. Swingers, which will be opening near Bank in May, will encompass two nine-hole crazy golf courses (The Lighthouse and The Windmill), three street-food vendors (Pizza Pilgrims, Patty & Bun and Le Bab) and five cocktail bars, plus a clubhouse with a gin terrace.
Some of the city’s celebrity chefs will also be making waves with their latest culinary ventures. Monica Galetti, previously of Le Gavroche and perhaps best known as a judge on MasterChef, is set to open her first restaurant, Mere in Fitzrovia, in the autumn, focusing on seasonal ingredients-led cuisine. Meanwhile, Londoners will soon be able to step over the threshold of the newest restaurant from Theo Randall. Named Theo’s Simple Italian, the new eatery will be situated within Hotel Indigo Kensington, and will focus on rustic Italian recipes as seen in his latest cookbook, My Simple Italian.
With so many restaurants opening up in each corner of the city, these highlights are just the tip of the iceberg. But what we can say for sure is that the coming year holds plenty of culinary excitement for both visiting and local gourmands.
Virgin Atlantic operates daily departures to London from several US cities, making the journey to this gastronomic capital easy.
Have you been to any of these hot London restaurant openings? Do you have any favourites? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Lauren Hill