Get out of your date night rut with the pick of the new season’s dining crop
Words Sophie Jean-Louis Constantine
It’s easy to neglect new openings over the summer in London – frankly, a pot of hummus in a park will do – but with the start of a season comes a new hunger for interesting dinners out, and a swathe of new openings to satisfy it. So like the heroes we are, we’ve munched through the options to give you the creme brulee of the lot. Book now, dress up and chow down…
Cora Pearl, in the heart of London’s theatreland, is as decadent as the Parisian courtesan who gave it its name. The latest offering from much lauded Kitty Fishers, the townhouse is replete with velvet bottle-green banquettes, dark-wooden tables lit by candlelight and the ubiquitous tarnished mirrors. Covent Garden dining is no longer confined to the tired big-chain outposts, and Cora Pearl’s creative menu is a worthy addition to the area’s restaurant renaissance. Try the cow’s curd agnolotti to start, a kind of mini ravioli that sings with summer truffle and peas, and the veal fillet, doused in a rich red wine sauce. For an indulgent nightcap, head downstairs to the emerald cocktail bar, and order the ‘Chaine d’Or’, named after four men of note who made Cora infamous, starring gin, Chartreuse, Quinquina and lime. Louche and luxurious, this is just the sort of city-centre den of vice we’ve been waiting for.
Brigadiers is the newest culinary playground from the Sethi family of Gymkhana and Hoppers fame. An Indian barbeque restaurant and drinking tavern, it blends family heritage and Mumbai art deco design with charm and flair, from Grandfather Sethi’s swords hanging on the wall to the clan’s personal collection of vintage world cup posters. The main restaurant’s menu features delights with an Indian twist, like Achari Beef Shortrib and Guinea Fowl Reshmi Kebabs, dishes that have made the brothers famous on the London food scene. Overlook The Pool Room at your peril – it’s full of playfulness and primed for fun, with a whiskey vending machine and lacquered pool table. Brigadiers oozes camaraderie, so eat, drink and be merry over a classic card game late into the night.
The Neptune restaurant in Bloomsbury’s gorgeous new hotel The Principal feels like a flamboyant house party, where staff are ready to carouse with diners to the tunes of Pearl Jam, and anything goes. The décor can only be described as an intergalactic underwater grotto with a peach colour palette, a lustrous metallic oyster bar and pistachio velvet banquettes. The food is as exuberant as the décor – the chilled seafood platter is a veritable smorgasbord from the sea, bursting with oysters, langoustines, mackerel escabeche and sea trout tartare. Pair this with one of their biodynamic wines, or a post-prandial ‘Ziggy Plays Guitar’ cocktail, and the bacchanal is truly in full swing. The East London set have already started migrating to Russell Square’s hedonistic party palace, so let’s hope we can get a table.
The Library Bar at The Ned
The Ned hotel has added another string to its bow with the Library Bar, specialising in martinis and champagne. Slip behind the jacquard curtain, and you’ll find an intimate lounge fit for Bond, brimming with old cocktail books in a mahogany bookcase and a bespoke brass bar clad in oxblood leather. Sink into one of the sumptuous club chairs and await the martini trolley to arrive; staff will mix your drink to order from their list of gins, vodkas and vermouths. To accompany your shaken or stirred masterpiece, snack on the glorious wagyu beef tartare and the manchego and chorizo bon bons. At The Library Bar old-world escapism hangs in the air; it’s a dream spot to while away a September evening.
St. John at Hackney Brewery
St. John at Hackney Brewery is a ‘brewpub’, a US import that sells beers made on site with food. It’s ound in the arches of Bohemia Place, a spot in Hackney Central fast becoming a hot dining destination. Conviviality is king here – with handcrafted IPAs, lagers and pale ales from its brewery, and beers and wines from around the world, St. John is certainly not short on booze. The Taproom is the hub of the action, featuring a bar with industrial design accented by church motifs, like the wooden ceiling structure and pew seating. Their rotating menu kicks off with Ɛla – Greek-Cypriot charcoal grilled kebabs, from heavenly halloumi and pear to Devonshire pork. Truly, St. John is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.
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.