Travel

What’s New & Great in London

London is changing at an increasingly insane pace: Everywhere you turn there’s a massive construction project under way—a dozen fancy new office buildings in Kings Cross, numerous restaurant refurbs throughout Central, entire neighborhoods like Greenwich and Camden under total upheaval. It’s all exciting, if a little hard to keep up with, so we’ve gone and done some serious research, eating, drinking and shopping our way through all the new spots we could find. Below, our list of the standouts from the last few months. For more of our London favorites, see our other personality-based guides: Classic, Hipster, Local, Foodie, Art & Architecture, and Kids.

155 Bar & Kitchen

155 Farringdon Rd., Clerkenwell | +44.20.3675.8847

The labyrinthine 155 has a lot going for it. First there's the space itself, which is split into several distinct, thoughtfully and meticulously decorated sections: a dining room, wine cave, piano bar, and martini bar. Then, there's the food, shepherded by Fifteen vet, Gavin Gordon, who has designed a seasonal, British menu that's heavy on the meat and fish, served up in a contemporary, visually arresting way. What's most impressive, though, may just be the restaurant's sheer versatility and the span of its opening hours: You could pop in here for an early breakfast just as easily as you could hit the Martini bar late night. It's the work of the Clerkenwell London collective whose design and clothing concept store is part of the complex on 155 Farringdon Road.

Casa Cruz

123 Clarendon Rd., Notting Hill | +44.20.3321.5400

This is Argentinian restauranteur Juan Santa Cruz's very first venture in London, a restaurant with a seriously clubby feel serving up European dishes with a slightly Argentinian bent—i.e., protein-heavy dishes like beef carpaccio and a perfect, blackened chicken. With dark, velvet-clad walls, a stunning copper bar as a central fixture in the middle of the dining room, and decidedly dim lighting, this newly-opened eatery has serious sex-appeal, and is a perfect venue to rent as a whole for a party. The upstairs, which includes a secluded and leafy terrace (for London's good weather) is also available for rent.

Gunpowder

11 White's Row, Whitechapel | +44.20.7426.0542

Fancified Indian seems to be the trend in London at the moment, with more and more modernized, gourmet offerings popping up right and left all over town. One of the standouts is this new spot that's serving up homestyle Indian in a cleverly restored ex-curry house. Here, small plates made for sharing like the Chettinad Pulled Duck and the Spicy Venison and Vermicelli Doughnut are the creation of their chef Nirmal Save of the Oberoi in Mumbai. Fun fact: The name Gunpowder is a fun twist as it happens to be located right near London's old artillery and is also a reference to the classic spice mix of the same name.

Homeslice

52 Wells St., Fitzrovia | +44.20.3151.9273

In London there are now many serious contenders on the best pizza list and the newest arrival, Homeslice, is on its way to the the top. They've got all the basics, a near perfect crust to ingredient ratio, a big, hulking, gorgeous pizza oven, and the juicy rags-to-riches, street-trader-turned-restaurant lore. The clinchers are they mostly don't serve cheese-based pizzas, the menu is teensy and perfect, you can order by the slice (unusual in London), and the topping combos are unreal. Don't miss the Goat Shoulder, Savoy Cabbage, and Sumac Yoghurt or the Pulled BBQ Brisket Pizza. So far they have three locations—Neal's Yard, Fitzrovia, and Shoreditch is coming soon—though they will surely expand quickly as all good things do in this city. Be warned, portions are huge.

M1lk

20 Bedford Hill, Balham | +44.20.8772.9085

This all-day café is as off-the-beaten path as you get on the London food scene, and so worth it. And don't let the line out the door stop you: The Aussie couple behind this spot don't take reservations and also happen to make one of the best breakfasts in town. In fact, so popular is M1lk that they had to double in size this year. Their brunch menu is tight and features delightfully laden dishes like The Sweet Maria, a sweetcorn fritter and halloumi extravaganza, or the equally popular Convict, an English muffin topped with sausage, bacon, egg, and hash browns. The coffee is pretty excellent, too. Dinner might be on the horizon as well: They've started to host a series of "lates" at the restaurant, recruiting chefs and cooks from near and far to come play.

Molé

16 Picton Place, Mayfair | +44.20.7486.1995

London's newest Mexican spot has landed in Mayfair and befitting of its upscale neighborhood, this taco shack has been tricked up to the max with Mexican memorabilia. The nicely concise and well-edited menu of tacos—from traditional baja fish tacos, to cochinita (marinated pork) to their signature chicken molé, to Peruvian anticuchos (skewers), which are a slight departure—come accompanied by a slew of tequila-based cocktails (and a few choice wines and basic drinks for the faint of heart), which makes Molé the perfect start to a big night out in Central London.

Pachamama

18 Thayer St., Marylebone | +44.20.7935.9393

This snappy underground Peruvian spot is part of Marylebone's recent reinvigoration. It's great for cocktails—specifically their endless variety of Pisco sours and Pisco based drinks—in addition to lunch or dinner. The food is a fusion of English and Peruvian flavors and inspired by young chef Adam Rawson's trip to Lima a few years ago. Among our favorites are any of the ceviches, this being a Peruvian joint, and the Peruvian Fried Chicken, though there are lots of hits on the menu that come, thankfully, in small, shareable portions. It all adds up to be a great spot for a large group of friends. Pachamama also wins points in our book for its contemporary design.

Shotgun

26 Kingly St., Soho | +44.20.3137.7252

When American Chef Brad McDonald and his wife Molly first arrived on the scene in London, they moved into a space behind Selfridges and started making the best Southern food the city had ever known at the Lockhart. The only thing was the space: It was cute, but it wasn't much more than that. With their new spot on Kingly Street (which is making a major comeback) they really do have it all, plus cocktails by Matt Whiley, a.k.a. The Talented Mr. Fox. Brad is serving up a new batch of fantastic dishes, and really taking the BBQ up a notch with baby back ribs, fried chicken, and more, along with some killer sandwiches for the lunchtime crew.

Blixen

65a Brushfield St., Shoreditch | +44.20.7101.0093

This wonderfully versatile, brasserie-style restaurant in Shoreditch comes from Clive Watson, previously of Riding House Café and Bermondsey's Village East fame. Much like them, Blixen is an all-day sort of place, where the local workforce might come for a breakfast or lunch meeting in one of the leather booths, or crack open a laptop at the long bar table, while others might take advantage of the stellar cocktail list and bistro-style dishes—served in conveniently shareable small plates, of course—and make the night of it. Adding to its versatility is the cozy, wood-clad private dining room for 18, where you can choose your set menu ahead of the event.

Modern Pantry

Alphabeta Building, -18, Triton Court, Finsbury Square, Whitechapel | +44.20.7553.9210

While the word fusion might not have the best connotations these days (conjuring up visions of poor attempts at mixing cuisines back in the '90s) at Modern Pantry the Kiwi chef Anna Hansen is doing a lot to change that. She liberally mixes modern British touches with Indian and her native antipodean ingredients to create a lovely, seasonal all-day menu and a phenomenal brunch, that includes coconut and cassava waffles and a Persian chicken burger that's not to be missed. A meal at either of her restaurants—the second Modern Pantry just opened on Finsbury Square, where the décor is much splashier—is a delight, and for special occasions you can take over the private dining room in either location, both decked out in wooden tables covered in white tablecloths in Hansen’s trademark, simple style.

Sexy Fish

Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, Mayfair | +44.20.3764.6000

Yes, that's correct, Sexy Fish is the name, and it happens to be the sceniest opening of the moment. Fittingly, it's part of Caprice Holdings, Richard Caring's growing empire of upscale restaurants and clubs in town—Annabel's, Marks Club, The Ivy, J Sheekey, and so on. Basically, he can name it anything and the power lunchers, celebrities, and international VIP's will turn up. And to his credit, it is sexy and it is fish. Dishes with a Japanese twist like sashimi yellowtail, prawn gyoza, and miso-glazed Chilean sea bass roll out of the kitchen and off the robata grill and are not just beautifully plated, but served in the bistro-style dining room that basically oozes gold with a side of Damian Hirst and Frank Gehry (their mermaid, fish, and crocodile sculptures dot the room). This is one for a special night out.

45 Jermyn St.

45 Jermyn Street, Mayfair | +44.20.7205.4545

Fortnum & Mason, which had, of late, started to fall into the "tourist trap" arena, is making a comeback, and a major one at that with their splashy new restaurant, 45 Jermyn St. Suddenly, F&M is a destination for (well-heeled) locals again as well. Once inside the palatial Martin Brudnizki-designed bistro and seated at one of the luscious orange booths, the stuff of old-fashioned storybooks awaits: You can summon a cart of caviar and have your pick of the best, or ask for an ice-cream sundae (spiked, if you like) with the works. Of course, all the basics are available as well from British classics like rib steak to modern favorites like avocado on toast. It's the sort of place you go on a special occasion and wear your "Sunday Best."

Park Chinois

17 Berkeley St., Mayfair | +44.20.3327.8888

After months and months of construction and delays, Alan Yau's Park Chinois is finally open. He's known for creating incredible restaurants and then selling them (Wagamama, Yuautcha, the list goes on) and this may just beat them all. At Park Chinois, as they're more than happy to explain, the theme is the 1930's, the era of the Cotton Club, Big Band Jazz, and Shanghai's golden age. After a dinner of Shanghai-style delights like Bang Bang Chicken Salad and Shabu Shabu, it's time to dance to some live big band swing in the gilded ballroom—it's the stuff of pure fantasy.

Poco

Broadway Market, Hackney | +44.20.7739.3042

Poco is a Bristol transplant that's arrived on Broadway Market full of good intentions and innovative tapas. You won't find any stale classics on this menu, and if you do happen to find some croquetas or fritto misto on the ever-changing list they will certainly be made with a twist and only the most local of ingredients. The whole local, seasonal thing may seem a little like an afterthought these days but over at Poco, it's the real deal—their mixologist forages some of his ingredients, they work with awesome growers and producers like Growing Communities and Kappacasein Dairy, and they also happen to cater eco-friendly sustainable meals for weddings and festivals. In short, they're doing things right.

Jago

68 Hanbury St., Spitalfields | +44.20.3818.3241

Chef Rosie Healey (an Ottolenghi alum) mixes Middle Eastern and European influences to create a short menu of casual, homey dishes, from a lovely selection of seasonal salads to a super simple yet totally mind-blowing combo of nduja sausage on toast with honey and thyme (a highlight). And while the flavors are homey and comfortable, everything else is anything but: Everything from the presentation—dishes that look like beautiful, Modern Abstract paintings—to the building itself, which looks like it's straight out of Stanley Kubrick's2001:A Space Odyssey, are unflinchingly sleek and modern.

Taberna do Mercado

Old Spitalfields Market, 107b Commercial St., Whitechapel | +44.20.7375.0649

Chef Nuno Mendes shot to fame with the opening of the ever-so-scene-y restaurant at the Chiltern Firehouse—namely for his crab-filled doughnuts. At Mendes' follow-up, Taberna do Mercado, the concept is almost the antithesis of his glitzy, star-filled restaurant at the Chiltern. Here, in a whitewashed space decorated (or rather, undecorated) in simple wooden, country-style furnishings, Mendes and head chef Antonio Galapito are re-creating the food of Mendes' childhood memories in his native Portugal. In a sense, it's homestyle cuisine, but served up anew in the chef's trademark molecular gastronomy style. It's a tiny, well-priced menu accompanied by an extensive selection of excellent Portuguese wines and fortified wines.

Bandol

6 Hollywood Rd., Chelsea | +44.20.7351.1322

In an ultra-feminine, light-filled space punctuated by large olive and clementine trees, a living wall of ferns, and plenty of copper accents, Bandol evokes a somewhat modern take on the airy, relaxed (yet totally upscale) restaurants of the French Riviera. Chef Zsolt Ferencz's food achieves that very same feel, with a menu of large, family-style sharing portions of Provence's greatest hits—everything from a perfect salade niçoise to a warming bouillabaisse and a delectable duck confit. And then, of course, there's brunch, featuring all the classic egg dishes along with a select menu of tartines. The sharing platters are made for large parties, so it makes sense they have two coppered-up private dining rooms, too. Even in the dead of winter, this homey, gleaming spot makes you feel like you've walked straight off the beach in St. Tropez.

Ellory

Netil House, One Westgate St., Hackney

Helmed by Chef Matthew Young (formerly the head chef at the Wapping Project and Mayfields) and Sommelier Jack Lewens (of Spring fame) this new-ish space at the Netil house is a big deal. The pair have teamed up to create a menu of seasonal dishes that's heavily focused on wine pairings. Lewens curates the wines so that the selection is always changing, and then Young works around the wines to create his beautifully constructed dishes—he tends to think first about presentation and then about ingredients, which makes for a beautiful meal, whether it's for a dish and a glass of wine, or the full tasting menu (£38) and wine pairing (£30) experience.

Social Wine & Tapas

39 James St., Marylebone | +44.20.7992.3257

This gem-like taperia and wine shop is the latest addition to Jason Atherton's growing "Social" concept of dressed-up bars turned eateries. Here, the kitchen—led by Atherton and long-time side-kick Frankie van Loo—dishes out small, Modern interpretations on classic tapas like croquettes, chipirones and cod brandade along with wine sommelier Laure Patry's heavily researched list of wines spanning Europe from Hungary to France. If you like a bottle, you can buy it too from the wine shop, and if you want to dig deeper into a region, there's a schedule of wine tastings and master classes often held in the restaurant's private rooms for 10.

Hoppers

49 Frith St., Soho

When the venerable Sethi family, of Gymkhana fame, opened up a new Sri Lankan spot, at lighter prices than those of its sister restaurant, Londoners came in droves. The new space has been beautifully transformed into a Sri Lankan establishment of yore, with busy tiled floors and dark teak seating, ready for the Sethi's super-simplified menu of "Hoppers, Dosas, Rice, Roast" and more traditional foods from Sri Lanka and the Tamil Nadu region of India. The Hoppers—a thicker dosa, basically—are the obvious choice, though the roast section of the menu brings some welcome surprises like a Buffalo Biriani and an incredible Lamb Roti. Peace has been restored, and so too have the lines up the street.

8 Mount Street

8 Mount St., Mayfair | +44.20.7491.7078

This splashy new brasserie is on one of Mayfair's most exclusive streets, near the Berkeley hotel, the Celine flagship, and a number of other upscale shops and institutions. The cozy space practically glistens, covered in bronze tiles and a long leather banquette that spans the room. The menu is equally comforting, as it's certainly not out there to break any boundaries with its familiar dishes and mediterranean bent—there's lobster linguini, grilled langoustines, and a phenomenal Dover Sole. It's a welcome addition to the area which needs more lunch/dinner/drinks spots.

German Gymnasium

1 King's Blvd, King's Cross | +44.20.7287.8000

The D&D group (of Terence Conran & company fame) has gone and created another classic a la Skylon, Bluebird, etc. This time it's in King's Cross which is going through a major regeneration with Google among its new tenants-to-be. In what used to be the German Gymnasium—the first purpose-built gym in the UK from way back in the 1860's—they've set up an eponymous all-day restaurant that's perfectly placed to serve all the EuroStar travelers heading to Paris from St. Pancras across the street. Fittingly, it feels like a gateway to old Europe, where the Sekt and Champagne flow and Schnitzel and Sauerkraut is served in what feels like an elegant Viennese café (with a modern twist). The hulking space has been beautifully reinterpreted.