In the first of a regular column James Clark takes a bite-size look at some of the recent London restaurant openings.

It’s an exciting time in the city as doors are thrown back open and we are able to socialise again. Now there’s no denying the fact that when it comes to food options, we are spoiled here in London. We have thousands of restaurants, cafés, and pop-ups to choose from, offering every culinary delight imaginable. Yet still the London food scene continues to grow.

London Restaurant Openings: The Cheese Barge

London restaurant openings
London Food and Drink Photography – The Cheese Barge Paddington Menu London 2021, Nic Crilly Hargrave

The founder of Pick & Cheese and The Chesse Bar has added a new venue to his list and this time it’s on a boat. It’s named The Cheese Barge, and Londoners are flocking to the double-decker vessel moored at Paddington Central in their droves.

As expected, cheese is the predominate feature. Baked to order Baron Bigod, made especially by Fen Farm Dairy for the barge is on board, goat’s curd with lamb scrumpets and pickled walnuts, prunes stuffed with stilton wrapped in bacon and fried Quicke’s cheddar curds, curried, and tossed in chilli honey are our favourites, but there’s loads more.

Le Bab, Old Street

Le-Bab-Old-Street-JustinDeSouza-20
Le Bab Old-Street, one of the great London restaurant openings, photo Justin De Souza

I’ve never been a fan of kebab. Even as a teen stumbling out of bars on Old Compton Street, I refused to entertain it. Yet two-and a-bit decades later Le Bab arrived in the capital and the ‘kebab renaissance project’ was born.

Le Bab does meat really well. Leave any pre-misconceptions you have of kebab at the door. If there was a Michelin star handed out for shawarma, shish and adana, then Le Bab would win it hands down.

Le Bab already has restaurants in Soho, Covent Garden and Dalston. But Old Street has needed a late-night venue for some time. Le Bab Old Street is open until 5am.

The menu includes a mouthwatering pepperoni pork shawarma with a pepperoni pizza, and vegans have not been forgotten with the new dirty vegan kebab made with beyond meat, house-pickled cucumber, sweet chilli relish, crispy fries, vegan mayo, sumac, vegan fondue sauce and cress.

El Pastor Soho
Spiced Crispy Duck Tacos, Charred Habanero and Pineapple Salsa, Jason Lowe
Spiced Crispy Duck Tacos, Charred Habanero and Pineapple Salsa, photo by Jason Lowe

El Pastor Soho is the fourth El Pastor in London. It’s a known fact that the tacos are amazing, but what isn’t so well known is the founders spent a decade running a cult nightclub in Mexico City before arriving in London.

The ground floor of the Soho venue is the perfect place to tuck into crispy duck taco sharing plates, Baja California scallop tostados, short ribs with roasted bone marrow and beer-battered fish tacos. With a full stomach it’s time to head down into the basement for the night of your life as El Pastor Soho is the full package.

HUŎ

There’s been some hype around Chelsea for a while about HUŎ opening a new restaurant on Park Walk. The day has come, and restaurateur Michael Lim promises a gentle Chinese and Southeast Asian menu, that thankfully is not gentle on flavour. Snacks are on offer, small plates and main dishes, made using traditional Chinese, Thai, Malay and Singaporean cooking techniques. The Mongolian beef is excellent.

In addition to the restaurant, there’s a separate bar area stocked with Japanese whiskies, vodkas and craft beer.

Madhu’s at the Dilly

The Dilly exterior
Edwardian splendour, The Dill will host Madhu’s at the Dilly pop-up

I’ve been waiting for Madhu’s of Mayfair to open its new pop-up for a while. An evening in the Oak Room at The Dilly, one of the city’s first grand hotels, dating back to Edwardian times is exactly what I need right now. Opening on 29 June Madhu’s at the Dilly pop-up delivers Punjabi cuisine with a Kenyan twist with recipes handed down over four generations. I’ve already booked a table.

Keep your eyes open for the review of Madhu’s at the Dilly at London Begins at 40. It’s coming.

Until next month when I will suggest more London restaurant openings happy eating!


Main image: London Food and Drink Photography – The Cheese Barge Paddington Menu London 2021, Nic Crilly Hargrave