155 Bar & Kitchen (Closed)
155 Farringdon Rd., Clerkenwell
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.
30 St. Cross St., Clerkenwell
Beautiful, Modern British is what you can expect at this new Farringdon joint. The dark, spare space, decorated almost exclusively with black Tom Dixon hanging lights, is a perfect blank canvas for the artfully plated, Instagram-worthy cuisine. Go for dinner, where a delectable daily changing set menu is served each night, at a very affordable—by London standards—£45. And definitely don't skip out on the sourdough bread with yeast butter at the start.
Berber & Q Shawarma Bar
46 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell
Levantine grill joint Berber & Q's first foray out west is with Shawarma Bar, serving up their masterful take on the elevated kebab. And what they mean by kebab is melt-off-the-bone lamb or perfect rotisserie chicken served in a rice bowl or on warm pillowy pita. These, accompanied by their next-level pickles, hummus, tahini, and burnt eggplant dips, makes for an insanely flavorful—and intensely filling—meal. Middle Eastern-spiked slushies and their own house-made za'atar ale are on hand to help wash it all down.
82 Goswell Road, Clerkenwell
Pretty much anyone in London with a passion for a gourmet taco puts Breddos at the top of their list. Having spent years on the London street-food scene, the guys behind Breddos finally opened up this brick-and-mortar in December, boasting a fancy new tortilla machine imported from Mexico and their own interpretation of authentic Mexican-style Coca-Cola (made with real sugar cane). The guys behind this laid-back joint—where vinyl is played loudly at all times, the art on the walls veers more hipster than kitsch, and every foodie in London seems to flock—have spent years traveling throughout Mexico and the US, and it shows: They've mastered their own brand of Mexi-meets-Cali cuisine. Go with a friend and order one of everything to share—the tacos and tlayudas merit all the hype. Their mezcal list, split between permanent fixtures and guest varieties, might just be the best in town, too.
11-13 Exmouth Mkt., Clerkenwell
The scrumptious, simple, yet interesting food (squid pancakes, for example) and hip yet relaxed Exmouth Market vibe make this one of our favorite places for brunch. It's also a great place to go for a coffee (which is roasted on-site) to linger over and enjoy with a book. This spot became so popular that they opened up a much bigger, industrial-inflected space at Kings Cross that serves the same great mix of small plates.
47-48 St. John's Sq., Clerkenwell
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.
32 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell
This was once the casual next door restaurant to husband and wife Sam and Samantha Clark's Exmouth Market hit, Moro, but it has since taken on a life of its own, in many ways surpassing its predecessor, and expanding into a new, much bigger space in Hackney. Morito is their take on the tapas bar, with a short but excellent list of wines, sherries, and strong cocktails, accompanied by exquisite small sharing plates of everything from Padron peppers, to baked cheese, to traditional tortillas. This isn't your typical tapería, though: All the food comes infused with an extra dose of North African flavor and the vegetable dishes, like their crispy aubergine and beetroot borani, tend to steal the show.
34-36 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell
15 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell
Like all good things in London, this burgeoning chainlet is growing fast. Once a beloved food truck with a cleverly built-in pizza oven, it now has not one but two (as of last week) bricks-and-mortar outposts. The thin-crust pizza at all their charmingly lo-fi locations is superb, as are the negronis and affogato. At the new spot off Carnaby, we’re looking forward to fried pizza courtesy of their first authentic Neapolitan fryer—the guys spent a couple of weeks in Naples recently to learn the art of frying pretty much everything. There's also a location in Soho.
64 Turnmill St., Clerkenwell
This Tokyo-style Izakaya spot is the most recent addition to Jason Atherton's growing restaurant empire, which also happens to be perfect for the business lunches and dinners of its Clerkenwell denizens. Here, inside a lacy wooden structure that envelopes the space, everything from traditional rice bowls, to Tonkatsu, to their must-order tuna temaki is served up with an added dose of artistry on beautiful serve ware that appears designed for each individual dish. Aside from the cozy leather banquettes for intimate dinners, the best seats are at the bar, watching the action in the kitchen. Before or after the meal, head down to the bar for wabi-sabi inspired cocktails and a long list of sake to choose from.
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