The hottest open-fire restaurants in London

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 (Ekstedt )
(Ekstedt )

As fires begin to crackle in celebration of Guy Fawkes night, we’re reminded of the allure of the almighty flame. Though for many professional cooks across the capital, they don’t need their memory jolting, because there is a trend already ablaze. More and more chefs are cooking with fire for the depth of flavour it graces our taste buds with.

It’s easy to see why the ancient tradition is having a revival. For many, like chef-proprietor of Brat, Tomos Parry, who fell in love with cooking with fire while growing up in rural Wales, the thrill is in the unpredictability. ‘It’s different every day,’ he says. ‘The wood is different, the smoke is different, it adds a character and a freedom to the cooking. It’s primitive. It has a lot of soul.’

For others, such as established Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt, who recently opened Ekstedt at the Yard, there is a sense of duty about cooking with fire. ‘We Scandinavians have always loved electricity and modern science, and we forgot the way we used to cook. I think it’s my calling to make sure this culture is kept.’

Often misunderstood as plainly barbecuing, London’s growing number of live fire cooking establishments is proof that the technique is a versatile one. Cooks about town are producing everything from delicately balanced oysters to baked noodles and, of course, intensely smoky meats and fish. If you’re keen to sink your teeth into the action, these are the latest and the greatest.

BRAT

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard of this Basque-inspired haven. With one Michelin star under his belt, Tomos Parry’s calling card is the supremely succulent whole turbot, roasted over flames in an intriguing wire contraption, though the chops, smoked potatoes and burnt cheesecake are a treat, too. 4 Redchurch Street, E1 (bratrestaurant.com)

Brat’s fiery offerings (Brat)
Brat’s fiery offerings (Brat)

CARMEL

The team behind Berber & Q is opening this eastern Mediterranean and North African spot this month. Although it’s more polished than their previous ventures, expect to be dazzled by the warm, laid-back atmosphere and plates of grilled harissa-marinated prawns and Sutton Hoo chicken hot from the wood-fired oven. 23-25 Lonsdale Road, NW6 (carmelrestaurant.co.uk)

EKSTEDT AT THE YARD

After tremendous success in Sweden, last month Michelin-starred chef Niklas Ekstedt moved across the North Sea to impress us. Using no gas or electric appliances, Ekstedt cooks with a fire pit, a wood-fired oven and stove, transforming seasonal British ingredients into a menu featuring delectable beef fat-flamed oysters and a mushroom soufflé dessert. 3-5 Great Scotland Yard, SW1 (ekstedtattheyard.com)

ST LEONARDS

For bold, experimental flavours, book into this eatery by Jackson Boxer and Andrew Clarke. The hearth is the heart of the restaurant, which peppers the ever-evolving menu with a mix of mightily meaty and delicately balanced delights, including mackerel with pork fat daikon, pickled radish and citrus, and smoked lamb with burnt honey garum, beans and courgettes. 70 Leonard Street, EC2 (stleonards.london)

Dining at St Leonards (St Leonards)
Dining at St Leonards (St Leonards)

SMOKESTAK

Vegetarians: look away. For heaps and heaps of tender, flavourful, caramelised meat, head to this golden oldie by ex fine dining chef David Carter that is, frankly, barbecue at its best. The crispy ox cheek with anchovy mayo is simply divine. 35 Sclater Street, E1 (smokestak.co.uk)

FKABAM

This ever-cool hub of quirky, risk-taking deliciousness was formerly known as Black Axe Mangal until it reopened this September with a saucy new rebrand. Still headed up by Lee Tiernan, the revamped concept is now based on a weekly £45 set menu. Keep your eyes peeled for the infamous bone marrow and oxtail gratin with flame-grilled ox heart. 156 Canonbury Road, N1 (blackaxemangal.com)

KILN

You’ve probably heard us raving about this Thai-inspired grill before, but we’d be negligent not to mention it again. Bagging a reservation can be tricky at times, but when you get your bum on a seat, make devouring the clay pot baked glass noodles with Tamworth belly and crab a priority. 58 Brewer Street, W1 (kilnsoho.com)

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