The London Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In London guide image


The London Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In London

We checked out these new restaurants—and loved them.

The Hit List is the guide to our favourite new restaurants in London. We track new openings across the city, and then visit as many as we can. While the Hit List is by no means an exhaustive list of every great new spot, one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have genuinely checked out.

Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the city—inclusive of a wide range of cuisines, price points, neighbourhoods, chefs and owners of all backgrounds, and the many communities that make up London's restaurant industry. If you think we missed a great new London restaurant, we want to hear about it. Shoot us an email at

New to the Hit List (09/06): Leo's


Leo's review image



59 Chatsworth Road, London
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Every hour feels like golden hour at Leo’s, a glorious, carefully curated Italian cafe, bar, and restaurant in Clapton. The espresso machine hisses as often as porchetta crackles over wood-fire. And the whitewashed dining room demands everyone tries their very hardest to fit in without trying at all. This isn’t aiming to be London’s coolest new restaurant. It instantly is. The front space retains brown mid-century tones and angles while adding a little dolce vita to them. But with rabbit agnolotti that will make you weep, an indecently fingerable 60-month-aged parmesan whip, and walnut ice cream that has every table spoon jousting, Leo’s hasn’t just got the looks. It’s got the works.

photo credit: James Moyle

The Compton Arms imageoverride image

The Compton Arms

​​As the first flirtations of summer shine through, a blissful pub lunch with a side of rustic-feeling Italian cooking is just what the doctor ordered. The Compton Arms has long been a firm favourite and in Tiella, its latest kitchen residency, it has a 10-dish menu of gorgeous simplicity. Getting a spot on the patio of this Islington pub is one of the best things you can do for the foreseeable future. Particularly once you throw in a plate of crunchy sage and anchovy fritti with perfectly unsociable aioli. Sunshine, a hunk of bread, and a scoop of sheep’s ricotta smothered in honey and Calabrian chilli is the kind of combination that makes you think that everything is going to be alright after all.

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Ploussard has got the kind of quiet luxury look that’d make Gwyneth Paltrow proud. On the quieter, darker tables at the back of the Clapham spot, couples lock eyes over Lincolnshire poacher éclairs. But for groups it’s all about the booths, where orb lights hang over wooden seats that wouldn’t look out of place in an impossibly expensive chalet. The food is excellent too. Standout dishes from the modern European menu include rich, fall-apart lamb and salty anchovies on a fluffy crumpet and a light, airy chocolate mousse with salted caramel ice cream. This is an impressive place but not in a shouty, gold Rolex kind of way. It’s a brown cashmere sweater and suede leather clog of a restaurant.

Darjeeling Express is technically a new Indian restaurant on the top floor of Kingly Court. We say technically because, yes it opened in February, but it’s also existed in some form—an intimate supper club, a Soho pop-up—since 2012, including formerly occupying this same space. A meal here feels more like your really cool friend's dinner party, with chef-owner Asma Khan welcoming guests and offering to bring raita to cool the excellently spicy Bengali aloo dam. Our favourite time to visit is in the evening when the royal thali set menu is served. It’s a highlight reel of Darjeeling Express’ best dishes, from a comforting kala channa to the creamy paneer korma.

Sometimes all you need is a warming open-fire kitchen, clay-coloured walls, and course after course of well-balanced, deeply satisfying small plates to remind you why London is so great. Rambutan—a long-awaited Sri Lankan restaurant in Borough Market—has all that, and so much more. A seat at the counter involves watching on as rotis are expertly scrunched and whizzed off to lucky diners. Prawns are cooked in a silky curry sauce over the fiery aduppu. All the while, the cosy room fills up as the evening goes on, as another round of addictively doughy gundu dosas are ordered. The hidden downstairs dining room has an almost identical layout but the dimly lit, moody corners are ideal for an unhurried two-hour catch-up kind of meal.

Glassy, new build flats are the poster child for a bland, sanitised version of London. But Papi, which set up home in the ground floor of a London Fields apartment block, brings big house party energy and creative, European-leaning small plates. The walls are bare but the disco ball is hung, and there’s a red chaise lounge in the loo. Staff are excellent hosts, flitting around and pouring tasters from the extensive wine list. Fun and nostalgia runs through dishes like the cheeseburger-inspired tartare with a red plastic bowl of hot fries. But there’s also elegance in tender pollock with leeks and a piquant apple sabayon. The best place to be is at the bar by the chefs at work.

After London has lost two of its great wine bars and restaurants (RIP P. Franco and Bright), it feels fitting that a cosy new hybrid has got our heart beating once more. Lulu’s is just outside Herne Hill station, on a little cul-de-sac where lights hang from the trees and people skip into the pub for a pint and meaningful conversation. Ostensibly a shop and deli, but really a dinky candlelit bar serving effortless and warming food—Lulu’s goes to show that stringent definitions are a thing best left in the past. A little pile of salted shoestring fries is wordlessly brought to everyone who sits down. It’s a touch of class that belies our exit from the EU. In fact, everything here is. From a snack of crispy hasselback potatoes topped with trout roe in herby crème fraîche, to an exquisite salad of courgettes, fennel, and asparagus. Don’t worry about what Lulu’s is, just go.

Not so much a reinvention as a swish new hairdo, Ikoyi’s move to a new space in 180 The Strand has seen the unique fine dining restaurant maintain its own wondrously high standards. The new space is objectively better than its previous St James’s location. There are elegant curved metal fixtures, glimmering bronze walls, and the sense that you’ve stumbled into a gourmand’s nuclear bunker. Time is thrown out the window in Ikoyi’s new world and course after course from its blind tasting menu will leave you hopeful that perhaps it will never end. There’s still some familiarity in the shape of that stupendous, lobster custard-topped jollof rice, as well a final bite in the form of a suya-covered chocolate truffle.

There’s a uniquely London type of infatuation for a French restaurant sat on top of a boozer and, in Bouchon Racine, the city has another spot where it will be love (and a pint of Guinness) at first sight. You can’t help but be immediately wooed by the old-school elegance of this bistro above The Three Compasses in Farringdon. Light pours into the loft-like space during the day, lanterns glow at night, and chalkboard menus lean against the wall like Gallic butter-worshipping scriptures. There’s a confidence to Bouchon Racine that you can taste in every impeccable chip dunked into your rabbit’s mustard sauce. The staff exude wiseness and we’d take a tête de veau or burgundy recommendation from them like we would a prescription from a doctor. For all of its newness, the nicest thing about it is its familiarity. Like it’s been hiding above this pub, waiting to be discovered, its entire life.

For a British restaurant that is proudly built off the TikTok fame of its head chef and namesake, there is something compellingly old-school about Straker’s. Forget eye-catching interiors, catchy soundtracks, or even an excess of butter. Thomas Straker has, in this completely cramped, utterly overbooked, and contentiously ‘cosy’ Notting Hill restaurant made something that is quite straightforward in its deliciousness. The mini-pizza flatbread with blitzed cavolo nero and stracciatella is a sensation, while grilled langoustines with claw sauce are so good that they could, conceivably, be sold separately. The room itself is a tight knit, racing green corridor that suits anyone who can beg, steal, or borrow a table. It’s less about comfort and more about concentrating on the food in front of you.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Saltie Girl review image

Saltie Girl



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“Expectations often lead to disappointment. Which is why I usually try to keep them low when visiting a new spot. Except in the case of Saltie Girl, a seafood restaurant in Mayfair, with an original spot in the US that our Boston colleagues loved so much that it made that whole zero expectations thing kind of hard. But this slick, under-the-sea themed spot with mermaids coming out of the walls and shell-shaped lamp shades, blew any expectations out of the water (yep, shameless pun). The energy of this place is laid-back and fun, with aqua-coloured walls that whisk you far away from Mayfair. Even the dishes are hit after hit—especially the lobster roll with an industrial amount of butter and a side of homemade salt and vinegar crisps. Save some stomach space for dessert because the freshly baked milk chocolate cookie might just be one of my favourite desserts in London.” - Rianne Shlebak, Staff Writer

“Once you look past the Picasso on the wall, the Matisse behind you, and the silver butt plug-shaped salt and pepper shakers, Mount St. Restaurant is a totally normal place to eat. The Marylebone restaurant is from the people who own Hauser & Wirth gallery, so it’s little surprise that even the beautiful, multi-coloured, terrazzo floor is a work of art. What’s more surprising is that this place isn’t all looks. The omelette Arnold Bennett is a decadent, gooey, and cheesy mix of smoked haddock and egg. Admittedly, the £96 lobster pie for two is almost too rich, but it suits the champagne-popping surroundings. Of course, any restaurant with servers who point to a small Lucien Freud oil painting of prawns when you ask for more details on a starter, isn’t exactly down to earth.” - Jake Missing, Senior Staff Writer

"Koyn is a restaurant with two moods. There’s the light and relaxing upstairs dining room where you’ll catch a glimpse of the yellowtail being sliced in front of the stunning sushi counter. And downstairs is where you’ll find a moody, black and red den that says “seduce me with sashimi”. That’s enough reason to come to this upmarket Japanese spot in Mayfair, but the other—and most important—is that wherever you're sitting, the food is so pretty you won’t want to eat it and satisfying once you do. From the golden crispy rice topped with minced tuna and a zingy jalapeño, to the seaweed-wrapped spicy salmon roll that I could’ve done with a second round of—the dishes here are all the things you’ve heard of before, just done extremely well.”- RS

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