London’s New Restaurants Born in Lockdown
As we bid farewell to many bars and restaurants across the city this year, it opened up new space for innovative drinking and dining restaurants to make way. From art-deco drinking, to a fusion of pan-pacific flavours, transportation to the yokocho ‘alleyways’ of 1970’s Japan, the romance of Lake Como, and a contemporary new Japanese restaurant with a mission to be London’s hottest new urban sanctuary; here we highlight the city’s restaurants that have risen out of the ashes.
The Last Talisman Drinking House and Asian Grill: Bermondsey
As we stepped into December, Bermondsey Street welcomed a new addition to its culinary line-up with the opening of The Last Talisman Drinking House. With modern industrial ceilings and art-deco inspired furnishings, this newest addition delivers playful cocktails paired with innovative cuisine. With a central area ready to host regular DJs, The Last Talisman will also serve a refined bar snack menu with a focus on skewered meat, fish and vegetables cooked on a Japanese hibachi grill, accompanied by carefully curated but affordable wines, beers spirits and cocktails.
The venue will also be home to Mala Madre, a separate tropical cocktail bar. Translating as ‘Bad Mother’ the more laidback lounge with rattan furniture, tropical plants and verdant accessories, this ‘bar within a bar’ creation is the vision of mixologist extraordinaire Dré Masso. With 25-years of experience in the drinks business and a host of award titles, including UK Bartender of the Year, Masso has crafted some of the city’s finest alcoholic and non-alcoholic concoctions - each costing £10 or less. Twists on old favourites include the Ghost Negroni, Black Manhattan, Banoffee Old Fashioned, and the Nemesis Margarita.
Meanwhile, British-Asian sharing plates are inspired by the unconventional with texture-rich dishes that include a take on the ‘Grilled Cheese’ with crispy bean curd skin, mixed cheese and spicy tomato ketchup powder, the ‘Sausage Roll’: a flaky pastry stuffed with homemade traditional Chinese sausage and hoisin, the ‘Mini XO Black Pepper Burger’ a dry aged beef patty slathered in XO pepper sauce with green onions and crispy shallots along with the ‘Siu Mai Mini Burger’: with pork, prawn and miso butter. Set in one of the capital’s coolest culinary locations, The Last Talisman will throw an element of refined fun into the current mix of Bermondsey’s award-winning restaurants, quaint cafes, hipster market stalls and romantic dinner spots.
Los Mochis: Notting Hill Gate
This November, London eagerly awaited the opening of Los Mochis, a new restaurant pairing pan-pacific flavours from multi-award-winning restaurateur Markus Thesleff. A blend of Mexican spirit with Japanese elegance, two culinary powerhouses meet at Los Mochis. Expect hands-on fun with classic MexiCali dishes, taken to a new level with the clean, fresh flavours of Asia.
Here you will find a 22-strong ‘Gangster Taco Menu’. From Trailer Park KFC (korean fried chicken, napa cabbage, jalapeno, spicy pickled cucumber, pico de gallo, pickled onions, cheese and poblano sauce) to Miso Black Cod (den miso, pickled cabbage and crispy onions), the traditionally humble taco is elevated to gourmet levels. Complementing this line-up is an equally innovative and ground-breaking array of ceviches, tostadas, tiraditos and, of course, quesadillas. There’s even a selection of maki rolls inspired by the team’s extensive and award-winning Japanese experience. Desserts meanwhile will lean towards a Latin American heritage: from churro ice cream sandwiches, chocolate taquitos and a dulce de leche cheesecake. All of this can be washed down with one of the most interesting selections of small batch artisanal agaves in London.
The backdrop against which all of this can be savoured is equally compelling. The design of both the ground-floor dining room and the first-floor lounge is saturated with elements of rustic, authentic Mexican culture balanced with a fusion of elegant, warm and sophisticated Japanese touches. Rough surfaces are softened by subtle ambient lighting and stark finishes offset by warm timbers and cognac coloured leather.
Heddon Yokocho: Mayfair
Transporting guests back in time to the yokocho ‘alleyways’ of Japan is Heddon Yokocho, a place immersing diners in the vibrant Showa retro era of 1970s Tokyo. A downtown retro-style ramen bar that originally opened its doors on the popular pedestrianised food quarter of Heddon Street in October, the restaurant has now re-launched bigger and better than ever. Introducing basement seating and an all-new three course Christmas set menu for only £24.50, the fast-casual dining spot celebrates the history of ramen and the differences of this regional cuisine.
Serving up speciality bowls with different broths from across Japan, from the snowy northern islands of Hokkaido to the southern tropical archipelagos of Kyushu, favourites include the ubiquitous ‘Tonkotsu Ramen’ and regional specialties such as ‘Sapporo Miso’, a miso-based chicken & pork broth ramen, and ‘Hakodate Shio’ - a salt and miso-based broth ramen. For vegans, there is the ‘Vegan Napoli’, a tomato-based ramen with grilled tomato & mushroom topped with basil and vegan cheese along with the signature ‘Yokocho’, a soy-based chicken & pork broth ramen with slices of BBQ pork. Keep your eyes peeled as Yokocho will also be popping up serving up comforting bowls to West London at Japan Centre Ichiba in Westfield from early December.
Como Garden: Kensington
Opening its doors on 7th December is Como Garden, a new restaurant that will transport you from Kensington High Street to Lake Como: one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. From the brothers of Zuaya (the Latin American and Mediterranean restaurant and bar), the family duo has opened this latest Italian venture just next door.
With dishes as fresh as if you were eating in some of the most famous regions in Italy, the brothers were inspired to open this sister restaurant having fallen in love with Lake Como from an early age. Leading with handmade pasta alongside a combination of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, each is designed for sharing with a strong focus on seasonal produce and flavours. This is paired with classic Italian drinks such as Negroni, Aperol Spritz and Bellinis to reflect the romantic setting of Italy’s Lake Como. The green and white colour palate surrounds the botanical gardens of Como’s Lombardy region, accompanied alongside verdant indoor plants and statues influenced by the Italian renaissance era.
Bisushima: Trafalgar Square
Caught between restrictions, Bisushima – central London’s new modern Japanese restaurant was only open for two days before we were locked back up. Now back open, Bisushima is welcoming diners throughout the day from tranquil breakfasts, through to lively dinners.
Transforming high quality produce into well-balanced and flavoursome Japanese food, Bisushima will place an emphasis on harmony between the guests, environment and the food. The unique creation of sushi chef and restaurateur, Sergey Men, alongside his business partner Ruslav Ugarov, the menu promises to have only the highest quality fish and meat. Highlights include ‘Pork Tonkatsu’ with yuan sauce and ginger, ‘Dashimaki Tamago’ - a Japanese omelette which can be shared between four people with and fresh white truffle, grilled and butterflied seabream for two, along with a range of the chef’s signature selection of sashimi, maki, nigiri, donburi and a luxurious variety of Black Caviar.
Situated on the sixth floor of the newly refurbished Page8 hotel, 6,000 square feet of floor space includes a bar area and two large external roof terraces overlooking Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. With the mission to create a sanctuary in the city, the team have taken great inspiration from nature with plenty of light from floor to ceiling windows surrounding the restaurant. Accommodating up to 190 people, it is set to become one of the largest rooftop venues in the area.
Sycamore Vino Cucina: Covent Garden
Located on Great Queen Street, Sycamore is a new restaurant that launched back in October. Planning its grand revival next month, Sycamore offers a contemporary yet authentic slice of Italy in Covent Garden within Middle Eight: a new luxury hotel. Offering a slice of vibrant local life in an elegant and relaxing setting, Head Chef Paul Robinson has created a food offering that draws inspiration from his time in northern Italy. Using authentic and seasonal British produce, handcrafted menus have been inspired by regional Italian produce combined with contemporary flair. In true European style, dishes are designed for sharing with pizzas, small plates, and a delicious selection of cicchetti (Italian ‘tapas) as well as larger pasta and ‘secondi’ dishes.
Sycamore’s signature dishes include: ‘Sgombro bruciato’ (torched mackerel, horseradish, pomegranate) ‘Coda di rospo all amatriciana’ (monkfish tail, villani, coastal sea greens) and ‘Bistecca di manzo’ (35-day aged longhorn porterhouse steak, whipped potatoes, spinach).
Over and above the food and drink, Sycamore will be an urban local hang-out with the sharing nature of the dishes creating an atmosphere that is sociable, cool and informal: bustling during the day and buzzing by night with live DJs.