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London's buzziest restaurants: from Chishuru to Morchella, the 11 hottest tables in town

West End allure: Chishuru is a huge success story (Press handout)
West End allure: Chishuru is a huge success story (Press handout)

There are restaurants that have been around for decades but still draw crowds. Bentley’s is one, Sweetings another. The original M.Manze pie shop in Tower Bridge has been there since 1902 and remains as good as ever.

Then there are new places that everyone’s talking about: the hottest tables from the most exciting chefs, places in line to join restaurant royalty and — hopefully — we’ll still be visiting 20 years from now.

In 2022, we published a list of London’s buzziest restaurants. It included Sessions Arts Club, Brutto, Manteca, and Plaza Khao Gaeng. All remain top tables and could slide comfortably into a list such as this one again.

But there are many more — contenders, perhaps — we must recognise. Last year, London restaurant openings hit their highest level since before the pandemic, with 253 launches, up from 243 in 2022. This despite rampant economic uncertainty.

And so here are ten of the buzziest venues right now. It is not an exhausting list, but it is a considered one. Good luck getting a table.

Chishuru

 (Chishuru)
(Chishuru)

Chishuru founder Adejoké Bakare became the first black female chef in the UK to win a Michelin star in this year’s awards. She opened her West African concept in a small space in Brixton Village in 2021 but today cooks at a two-storey restaurant in the West End. Her dishes, whether pepper soup with shellfish or Cornish cod with fermented tomatoes, chilli and okra, are an education to many. West African food is finally in a limelight.

3 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 8AX, chishuru.com

Kolae

 (Credit Ben Broomfield)
(Credit Ben Broomfield)

A Thai bar and grill from the team behind the ever-popular Som Saa, Kolae focuses on food from Thailand’s southern provinces. One, kolae, is a cooking style after which the restaurant is (now) obviously named: fish and meats are slathered in a curry-like, coconut marinade and cooked over flames. Dishes are fun and traditional: crispy prawn heads, mussel skewers, and a fragrant combination of minced venison with lemongrass and cumin leaves. Expect proper heat, so absolutely one for those hoping to impress a Hinge (sorry, Raya) date.

6 Park Street, SE1 9AB, kolae.com

Morchella

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Perilla fans will rejoice at Morchella, a new restaurant and wine bar from the same people. Here the food is modern, London-aware and inspired by the Mediterranean, but moves past the casual concepts of East London by returning to their origins. At Morchella, an experimental vitello tonnato sits next to prawn pil pil; there’s spanakopita, salt cod churros (order two, three, four portions of these), and mushroom panzerotti. It’s a menu that could be distributed at Giraffe World Kitchen but thankfully the produce is glorious and the chefs accomplished.

84-86 Rosebury Avenue, EC1R 4QY, morchelladining.co.uk

The Devonshire

 (Adrian Lourie)
(Adrian Lourie)

If you haven’t heard of The Devonshire by now you may as well move to Swindon. It’s that big green pub in Soho where footballing legend Peter Crouch might be seen nursing a Guinness and James Blunt films music videos by throwing paper aeroplanes off the roof (he sweeps them up afterwards). It isn’t just see and be seen: in the upstairs dining room are plates of unparalleled langoustines, an exceptional pea and ham soup, and old school steak and Guinness puddings as soft as the passing of time. See also the brilliant sub-£30 set menu.

17 Denman Street, W1D 7HW, devonshiresoho.co.uk

Bouchon Racine

 (Simon Brown)
(Simon Brown)

Here is a restaurant that opened soon after we published our original list. And so it isn’t new as such, but it is buzzing, proving longevity in its magnetism. The food is the work of the esteemed chef Henry Harris, who inspired many when he cooked years ago in the original Racine on Brompton Road. His cooking remains timeless and precise, and the Lyonnaise-inspired restaurant, above the adjoined Three Compasses pub, is a place to drink champagne, eat sheets of lovely ham, then enjoy rabbit in mustard sauce.

66 Cowcross Street, EC1M 6BP, bouchonracine.com

Dimsum & Duck

 (@missjessicamw)
(@missjessicamw)

Also not new and some “food people” reading this might even suggest its enchantment has somewhat passed. Nonsense. Visit in peak hours and tables are extremely hard to come by, not least because the restaurant isn’t bookable and you have to queue a la 2012. Anyway, it is a paradise of dim sum and Cantonese dining. The xiao long bao are extraordinary, the crispy wontons come with a traditional salad cream for dipping (please finish reading this before googling), and the cheung fun, their thin curl of tofu still crisp beneath the rice noodles, are so smooth and soft and moreish. Ingredients not often used in the UK are shipped in from Hong Kong.

24 King’s Cross Road, WC1X 9DS, @dimsumandduck

Akara

 (Adrian Lourie)
(Adrian Lourie)

Akara is restaurateur Aji Akokomi’s second project. His first, Akoko, specialises in high-end West African cuisine. Akara, in Borough Yards, is a little more casual and inspired by a dish of the same name: a type of fluffy, crispy bean fritter found throughout West Africa and in northern Brazil. Here they are inventive interpretations and might come filled with prawns, scallops, or braised ox cheek. The menu is expansive. See also Lagos chicken with Senegalese hot relish, and cabbage with abunu-abunu, a Ghanaian green sauce.

18 Stoney Street, SE1 9AD, akaralondon.co.uk

Crisp W6

 (Adrian Lourie)
(Adrian Lourie)

Neapolitan pizzas are alive and well but the vibe of the moment is more Roman in origin: thin, crispy pizzas from a baker called Carl McCuskey, who has opened a formidable venture down by the river in Hammersmith. Though newly aflutter, he actually launched his concept in 2020 after taking over his grandma’s old pub in lockdown. Today he’s operating one of London’s most talked about restaurants and it’s at least partly down to the fact that he uses different quantities of flour and water, among other tricks, to achieve a different style to the dominating floppy numbers of the last decade.

25 Crisp Road, The Chancellors, W6 9RL, @crisppizzaw6

Mountain

 (Benjamin McMahon)
(Benjamin McMahon)

Mountain is another restaurant less than a year old with a Michelin star already to its name. Welsh chef Tomos Parry made a similar splash when he opened Shoreditch space Brat and grilled juicy turbots in front of everyone. Mountain is in Soho and has become a certified celebrity hangout. The food is about Welsh produce and Basque techniques, a dining room for warming pots of lobster caldereta, slabs of charred beef, and a spider crab omelette bored of being called pillowy.

16-18 Beak Street, W1F 9RD,  mountainbeakstreet.com

Gymkhana

 (Gymkhana)
(Gymkhana)

A curveball here because Gymkhana has been around for some time. The thing is, it — alongside Opheem in Birmingham — just became the first Indian restaurant to be awarded two Michelin stars, and that is notable. It is as thrilling as ever, with Delhi-born executive chef Sid Aduja overseeing a masterful menu that skips from Goan salmon tikka to kid goat keema, to a wild muntjac biryani that might be one of London’s most important dishes of the past ten years.

42 Albemarle Street, W1S 4JH, gymkhanalondon.com

Arlington (open soon)

Arlington is Jeremy King’s first restaurant under his new gastro-umbrella, Jeremy King Restaurants. It is soon to open. When it does, diners will find an echo of where it all began: Le Caprice, in the same location and looking much the same as it did with its glitzy mirrors and tones of black and white. There are old dishes from the 1980s — classics, you could say, like bang bang chicken and generous salmon fishcakes — and the restaurant boasts London’s most famous and charming maître ‘d in Jesus Forno. His team is exceptional and the whole thing is impeccably chic.

20 Arlington St, St. James's, SW1A 1RJ, arlington.london