Provided the Prime Minister doesn’t further complicate things — and there is, of course, a chance he will — restaurants will stay open for New Year’s Eve.
While the beleaguered hospitality industry is struggling on, faced with both an increasingly empty London and an uncertain crowd remaining, there are still candles flickering at the end of the tunnel. This year’s New Years is set to be more muted than usual, perhaps, but even Boris Johnson can’t blacken the dawn, and 2022 will tick in.
The capital’s restaurants are responding as only they know how: by putting on their whites, firing up the hobs and keeping on keeping on. Here are 10 of our favourites.
Forty Dean Street
Nima Safaei’s Forty Dean Street is rightly beloved, as much for its Italian menu as its joyful, comforting welcome. It sits, unassuming in its way, a few doors up from the Groucho Club. It is not one of those shouting restaurants looking for attention, and yet it seems to always run full, which is a testament to its loyal crowd and its ability to make regulars of walk-ins. The menu is full of Italian staples, homemade pastas and there’s a decent wine list and classics-only cocktail menu, too. No special menu for New Year’s Eve — uncertainty over restrictions put paid to that — but Forty never fails for a fun night. Just the spot to see the New Year in at.
About £80 for two
40 Dean Street, W1, fortydeanstreet.com
Kutir and Manthan
Even in a crowded field, Kutir chef Rohit Ghai stands out as one of the capital’s most talented Indian chefs. Ghai has put together a seven-course New Year’s Eve “expedition” tasting menu, which draws from all regions of India. His outgoing but thoughtful menu includes the likes of lobster with apple and pakora chutney, butter chicken with truffle and slow cooked venison with green peppercorn and fennel. A vegetarian alternative is no less considered, making use of plantain, aubergine and halloumi, and both come with their own wine pairing. Ghai has another spot open, too, called Manthan (49 Maddox St, W1, manthanmayfair.co.uk), and pictured at the top of this page. Ever so slightly more relaxed than the Chelsea townhouse of Kutir, the five-course Manthan menu comes in at £50, with a wine pairing for £50. With dishes including masala prawns and osso buco, go for more of Ghai’s delicate but fiercely flavoured food.
£80pp, vegetarian £75pp, wine pairing £65
10 Lincoln Street, SW3, kutir.co.uk
One of the Standard’s best new bars of 2021, this little spot on Kingly Street is one of those dream spots to swing by for a glass of something swift. That said, the kitchen also turns out some cracking plates and will be doing so come the 31, with a five-course menu including poached oysters with a Champagne beurre blanc and sprouts leaves, as well as lamb en croûte plated up with celeriac and black garlic and a salted dark chocolate cake for pudding. Soho awaits.
19 Kingly Street, W1, barcrispin.com
A new opening for 2021, Sven Hanson Britt has had this place in the works for some six years; “labour of love” barely scrapes the surface. Britt’s restaurant is small; it is a deliberate ploy, keeping numbers down to perfect each service. The cooking is the detailed, nuanced, tricky kind; it is food intended to impress. New Year’s Eve is pricey, though it includes all wine as well as the food, plus a glass of good English fizz to start. Among the dishes on the night will be venison with Oxeye’s own XO sauce, pickled abalone, Kaluga caviar and a caraway bagel, as well as a chargrilled swede with a wild duck consomme, Charleston gold rice — considered the best rice in the world — white truffle and artichoke.
Embassy Gardens, 14 New Union Square, SW11, oxeyerestaurant.co.uk
The Duke of Richmond
The Duke of Richmond is your by-the-book local, if only your local has a thing for oysters. Restored by Tom Oldroyd in 2018, it offers opulent, hearty pub fare, only elevated some. The three-course festive set menu is a cracker; the highlighy must surely be the goose pie with goose dripping and a black pudding croqueta. You can offset the indulgence with a contribution to their charity drive — the Duke is providing 30 Hackney families with Christmas treats this year. New Year’s Eve has the opening hours listed as simply “open till LATE” and a DJ will be playing until 2am.
316 Queensbridge Road, E8, thedukeofrichmond.com
Kerridge’s Bar and Grill
Tom Kerridge is a dab hand at pushing the boat out: his restaurant here in the Corinthia is one of those well-run, elegant dining rooms that seems built around smartly-tailored comfort. There is a certain grandness here; this carries over into the food and the cocktails too (the bar is notably good). For New Year’s, Kerridge is laying on a five-course feast, with the likes of crab tart, beef Wellington and perhaps the ultimate surf n’ turf: aged cote de boeuf with a lobster fritter. Dress up for this one.
From £195pp; £295 post 8pm
10 Northumberland Avenue, WC2, kerridgesbarandgrill.co.uk
Little surprise that at Radici, charming chef-patron Francesco Mazzei has designed a New Year’s Eve menu to impress, with highlights including the truffled spit roast guinea fowl and their famous antipasti. For the vegetarians, there’s the likes of wild mushroom risotto — Mazzei is a master of risotto — an aubergine parmigiana. A strong wine list, plenty of Italian beers and a killer Negroni make this one a winner. Accessible, high quality food in an atmospheric open space. Do yourself a favour.
£65pp, including glass of Prosecco
30 Almeida Street, N1, radici.uk
See in the New Year with a view; the official fireworks may be off, but you can expect to see the sky lit up as the clock strikes midnight from a booth in City Social. Jason Atherton’s longstanding — and excellent — restaurant sits 24 floors up in Tower 42, and will be staying open late to welcome 2022. Atherton specialises in modern British cooking; here he gained a Michelin star for it. City Social is one of those places it’s far too easy to stay far too late in, slowly drinking away from the terrific bar, happily full and watching other diners in just the same state. Just the ticket for New Year’s Eve, then.
About £140 for two, including wine
Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, EC2, citysociallondon.com
Chotto Matte rarely fails and they’re making a hell of a day of it on the 31. From 11am-4pm, there’s a Hikari brunch (£60); the Japanese fare can be added to with unlimited Champagne and cocktails for an extra £50-a-head. DJs and live entertainment will run throughout: these will continue through the early supper (7-10pm) and on till the late night meal (10pm-3am). The entire place is being transformed into “the Forest of Hikari”, too; let New Year’s be a trip, forget London for a while.
11, 13 Frith Street, W1, chotto-matte.com