Feast on coal and wood-fired mezze dishes at Coal Office, then sample the yakitori-style dishes at Peg
Words Sophie Jean-Louis Constantine
Staying put this July? Fear not, London’s latest foodie openings offer plenty to keep your senses well and truly pricked. Whether you prefer retro American glitz in Soho or a classic French brasserie by way of St. John’s Wood, here’s our pick of the new restaurants to keep you well fed and watered all summer long.
With its glittering disco ball, burnt orange brushed silk wallpaper, seductive artwork and palm trees, Martha’s brings retro American glamour to Soho. The menu is full of Stateside classics, too, with a selection of steaks, mac ‘n’ cheese, oysters, shrimp cocktail and fried chicken in a lip-smacking honey truffle sauce. Vegans fear not, there are options for your delectation too, such as the primavera pasta dish and burger. Drinks reflect the upscale mood of the surroundings, like the indulgent ‘Lady of the Night’, a combination of raspberry gin jam, plum liqueur and egg white. Plus, there’s live jazz and drag performances to keep you entertained into the wee hours.
The Little Yellow Door
This Notting Hill favourite has gone from pop-up to permanent. Set in the living room of a neighbourhood flat, it has the feel of a house party – but with exponentially better drinks. Jewel-toned velvet armchairs, pouffes and DJ decks make for an inviting, convivial spot. Hot from the kitchen come homemade fish tacos of woodfire sea bream, crunchy salt and pepper squid, truffle-laden cheeseburgers, peanut-glazed pork belly bao buns and smoking hot chicken thunder thighs. From the cocktail menu, try ‘Coffee + Cigarettes’, a blend of vanilla-infused vodka, salted caramel and coffee, served with a candied cigarette. Or ‘Our Man in Havana’, with Plantation 5 rum, Martini Rosso and Gifford Banane, all served in a coupe with a chocolate plantain chip. A playful, intimate, soul-food filled riot.
6-8 All Saints Rd, Notting Hill, London W11 1HH
The latest restaurant from dynamic duo Corbin and King reimagines a grand Parisian brasserie while simultaneously paying homage to the artistic roots of the local area, with murals depicting the neighbourhood of St. John’s Wood. The café-bar and more formal dining room use beautiful wood throughout, while painted tiles and antique lighting give the space an old-world opulence. A menu of classic French dishes comes sprinkled with a little Corbin and King magic – choose whole globe artichoke as an hors d’oeuvre, the confit de canard with braised puy lentils as the plat principal, and for dessert the tarte fine aux pommes. The wine is good value, the cocktails punchy – a special mention to the French Negroni with gin, lillet and sweet vermouth. A thoroughly Gallic and thoroughly charming time.
This new restaurant and wine bar in Hackney is brought to you by the team behind Bright and P. Franco. With a contemporary design, counter seating and no formal online menu to speak of, Peg feel stripped back in style. The small-plate dishes are best described as Japanese with a twist. There are several grilled options, some served yakitori-style, all bursting with flavour. The smoked eel rice cakes and the wings coated in togarashi, a Japanese chilli pepper, are fantastic, as is the ‘mapo’ tofu in a spicy sauce and crab chawanmushi, a sort of savoury custard. The wine list sees more unusual alternatives take centre stage, like an unfiltered Sauv Blanc with only indigenous yeast used, from Moravia in the Czech Republic. Peg is nothing less than magic, an exceptionally cool spot to keep coming back to.
120 Morning Lane, London E9 6LH
Located next to Granary Square in King’s Cross, Coal Office is the brainchild of chef Assaf Granit of Palomar fame and design extraordinaire Tom Dixon. Set over two floors with an outdoor terrace, it’s a hub of sleek marble, metallics, open kitchens and beautiful dinnerware from the Dixon-designed interiors. Granit’s menu gives a nod to contemporary Middle Eastern cuisine, which has become his calling card. Dishes are divided into sections denoting size and style of cooking, like ‘coal and wood’, ‘in between’ and ‘big plates’ to create a kind of mezze. We sampled the baked bone marrow with shawarma and caramelised onions, the freekeh (a type of green durum wheat) risotto with skordalia cream and jet black aubergine, and the Manakish, a Levantine mini pizza ‘from the past’ with msabbaha, a variation of hummus. Accomplished, distinctive cooking served in an informal yet design-savvy setting.
Sophie Jean-Louis Constantine
Sophie is a freelance fashion, lifestyle and travel writer. An alumna of the University of Manchester, where she earned a BA in English Literature, Sophie went on to work at Conde Nast Traveller. She is a fervent North Londoner and happiest curled up with a book.