London has long been considered the centre for culture in the UK, but in the past five years, the capital has seen an increase in tourist visits by 20 per cent, with visitors spending up to 35 per cent more than they did in 2010. This, of course, means that the restaurant sector has benefited, and with 31.5 million tourists visiting London in 2015 according to the ONS, it is no surprise that the number of restaurant openings in the city has boomed.
However, in the past year, the number of restaurant openings in London has hit a record. According to the latest edition of Harden’s London Restaurants, 200 enterprises opened in 2016, although closures are also up by a third, with 76 establishments shutting down. The Financial Times reports that these trends underline “the intense competition in the UK capital’s dining”, showing that “although there was a significant level of “churn”, the market is ever more crowded” for restaurant entrepreneurs.
Harden’s guide shuns the traditional method of ranking eateries by food critics’ recommendations, instead providing an overview based on surveys of 7,500 diners who submitted 50,000 reviews. Speaking to the Financial Times about the results, founder of the guide, Peter Harden, said:
“There is just so much supply now, so many places people can go. The bar is being raised all the time. If you go back 10 years, good restaurants always survived because people would flock to them. But today, even a really good restaurant, if they don’t quite get everything right, they won’t.”
Harden emphasised that although British and Italian cuisines were the most popular in new restaurants, Japanese food is an area to watch, due to “increasing health consciousness”, and the way it “tends to take the really good bits and present them in a really nice way” – perfect for the generation of diners who Instagram every meal.
But besides an increased demand for food choice in consumers, and the appeal of London as a business hub, what do these record levels of openings show us? These five up-and-coming new establishments demonstrate the sheer diversity of niches that London dining seeks to fill.
The best New restaurants in London right now
Anzu is the lovechild of Tonkotsu, a restaurant that is famous with consumers in the capital for its ramen. However, in this new venue, they’ve taken a step up, transforming one of the coveted spaces in the new St James's Market in Mayfair for a decidedly more upmarket affair. Whilst ramen will undoubtedly feature, it’s the wagyu carpaccio, crab dumplings and the teishoku set menu that are set to draw in crowds.
Providing London diners with something genuinely fresh is not easy, but it’s a feat that new Thai grill and furnace joint, Kiln, has achieved. Time Out described Kiln, in Soho, as a “thrilling place to eat”, complete with ’70s vinyl music and mouth-watering dishes. For London’s young hip scene, this is one to watch if you want to know how to draw in diners en masse whilst retaining an independent vibe.
Taking a charcoal kebab kitchen and turning it into something high-end, Bababoom has truly plugged into the street food fad of the moment. Situated in Battersea, this new restaurant features everything charred and flavoursome, from wraps to the dukkah whitebait. Families and groups of friends are already flocking to Bababoom to sample its tasty dishes and relaxed atmosphere.
There is no shortage of burger bars in London, so what makes new join Hopscotch different? Serving buns filled with intriguing ingredients like spiced nanny goat with warm spice as well as ‘bombs’ - bite-sized deep fried balls in a variety of flavours, Hopscotch in Brick Lane sets itself apart with its playful menu. A tempting cocktail menu also appeals to evening diners who are preparing themselves for a night on the town.
As Hot Dinners explains, “This restaurant has been a LONG time in the coming.” StreetXo in London is the creation of multi-Michelin starred chef, David Munoz, mastermind behind the incredibly popular restaurant, DiverXo in Madrid. A similar array of dishes are on offer here, all beautifully and inventively presented, proving an irresistible stop for London diners looking to impress guests or indulge.
Whether a business is catering to twenty-something party-goers or elegant luncheon connoisseurs, it is clear that London has something that both restaurant owners and frequenters desire – and that is variety, choice, and above all, a premium dining experience.