Kolae. Credit: Ben Broomfield


Jason Allen 21/12/23

The 10 Best New Restaurants of 2023

In 2023, London’s chefs pushed the envelope so much it’s basically an origami swan.

We’ve had about three years’ worth of great restaurants stuffed into the past twelve months, and choosing the best of them was a near-impossible job. Honestly, our shortlist was more akin to an impossiblylonglist. But after a little arguing, name-calling, and quiet deliberation, we finally settled on the ten best among them. And so, in no particular order, here they are…


Mountain | The man behind Brat does it again

Mountain Soho upstairs

The expectations for Mountain were, well, mountainous.

Head chef Tomos Parry is one of those Midas-touch types who scored a Michelin Star with ten minutes of opening his first restaurant Brat, then followed it up with an equally impressive lockdown popup (which is now a permanent restaurant of its own). So when he announced a new, huge, open fire restaurant in the heart of Soho, tongues started wagging both in conversation, and in happy anticipation of the treat they were all going to receive. And what a treat it is. Mountain is everything we hoped it would be and more.

Address: Hardy House, 16-18 Beak St, W1F 9RD

Sune | A beautiful little escape next to the canal


Sune was opened by, no exaggeration, one of the world’s best restaurant managers, and one of the world’s best sommeliers (Charlie Sims & Honey Spencer, respectively). The only problem? Neither of them is a chef. So, they made sure to hire a really, really good one. His name is Michael Robins (he’s worked at places like Akoko and Acme Fire Cult) and he’s delivered a beautiful, British menu of creative seasonal dishes. And Sims & Spencer haven’t been twiddling their thumbs either – they’ve delivered a tranquil space with enough great wine & sake to suit any palate.

Address: 129A Pritchard’s Road, E2 9AP

Kolae | Stunning Thai from the Som Saa crew

Claims like ‘London’s best Thai restaurant’ are big claims, and we’re not saying that’s what Kolae is…but it would’t be insane to suggest it. It’s a lovely space, with sleek design elements and an inviting atmosphere, and all that – but, we’re here to have our tastebuds gently caressed and then brutally immolated in equal measure. And the menu here delivers both. You’ll find zingy kolae chicken, tender hogget, fiery red squash, steaming bowls of pepper curry, and more. And when your server asks you how spicy you like things, do NOT try to look brave. Because they aren’t joking when they say it’s ‘hot-hot’.

Address: 6 Park Street, London SE1 9AB

Dalla | Fresh pasta that will knock your socks off


It seems vaguely surprising that of the three people behind one of the best new Italian restaurants in the city – the Leone brothers and Mitchell Damota – it’s the Canadian one who is the one in the kitchen, and not the two born-and-bred-in-Naples brothers. But then, talent knows no nationality, and Mitchell Damota is a supremely talented chef. And it’s something of a mutual blessing for both him ad the city at city at large that he now has his own kitchen from which to preach his pasta-based gospel.

The space is small, the menu is barely a post-it, but the experience and the flavours are massive. It’s understandably booked out quite far in advance, but you can always take a punt on a walk-in. And if that doesn’t work, you can head up the road to 107 Wine (Damota’s old stomping ground) who only take walk-ins.

Address: 120-122 Morning Ln, London E9 6LH

Akara | Addictively good West African fine dining


West African fine dining is taking off in London in a big way at the moment, and it’s not exactly difficult to see why. Places like Akara are why. It’s a temple of sleek design painted onto space with a triple-height ceiling inside a beautiful brick railway arch in Borough. it’s not carrying an ounce of cliched cultural baggage to announce to anyone who wanders in that it’s West African – it just looks gorgeous. And the menu is loaded with punchy, fiery, fragrant, and utterly delicious treats – particularly the eponymous akara fritters.

Address: 18 Stoney Street, SE1 9AD

Papi | One of the most creative menus in the city


The kitchen at Papi is headed up by chef Matthew Scott. He hasn’t won any Michelin Stars or appeared on Saturday Kitchen, but what he has done is taken a dive off the creative-and-well-executed-dishes tree and hit every branch on the way down. He’s one of those chefs who works relentlessly hard at his craft, constantly innovating, and constantly coming up with new (and frequently delicious) ideas. He’s one of the pioneers of the zero waste movement, and at Papi he finally has his own personal fiefdom from which to test out his myriad ideas. The space is small and Spartan, but the food is big and bold – dishes like oysters decorated with iced rhubarb; hot & sour tomatoes; mushrooms in truffle custard; tempura elderflowers with anchovy & lemon; brown butter waffles with cheese ice cream, we could go on – the menu changes with the breeze, but whatever you end up with, it’ll be delicious.

Address: 1F Mentmore Terrace, E8 3PN

HUMO | The city’s hottest live fire cooking place

HUMO is one of a new breed of restaurant that’s catching on rapidly, and with good cause: the live fire kitchen. In here, they don’t cook with gas or electricity. Everything is made using just wood & fire. And at Humo they are stoking the flames of greatness. Pull up a chair at the bar, overlooking the open kitchen and you’ll be in for a show as the chefs produce the occasional balloon of flame to prepare the food. Each new course is another step along the line of open fire cooking, which starts with raw seafood (chef Miller Prada spent time as the protégée of Endo Kazutoshi), then progresses to smoked, then seared, then scorched, and finally charcoal-baked. It’s not cheap, but it’s ridiculously good.

Address: 12 St. George Street, W1S 2FB

Akub | Stunning modern Middle Eastern in Notting Hill

Akub interior image

Over the course of the past few months, Akub has cemented itself in the London dining scene as one of the finest Middle Eastern restaurants in the city, and for a good reason: because it is. Set in a tranquil three-story Notting Hill townhouse, it’s a love letter to traditional Palestinian food that manages to push it forwards too, with local British ingredients going into sharing plates like slow-cooked fava beans with tomatoes, garlic, and parsley, and Rye Bay skate flavoured with loumi and coriander tahina wrapped in grape leaves. If you’ve saved some space for pudding, we highly suggest ordering the baba, which is a delicate brioche-style bun soaked in fenugreek and cardamon syrup topped with cream and pistachios… it probably won’t stay on the table for too long.

Address: 27 Uxbridge Street, W8 7TQ

Rambutan | A haven of fiery Sri Lankan flavours

Debut restaurants aren’t usually this good.

But Cynthia Shanmugalingam has been preparing for this her entire life, and she’s come out swinging with Rambutan, which is a wonderful Sri Lankan haven of punchy flavours & fiery curries.

She was born in Coventry but, crazily enough, it was her Tamil heritage that inspired her cooking, and she spent summers exploring markets, milling spices, and cooking over fire in her mother’s north Sri Lankan village. She soon started running acclaimed pop ups & street food stalls here in London, publishing an award-winning cookbook, and picking up fans like Yotam Ottolenghi & Anna Jones along the way. So it might almost feel like a foregone conclusion that her debut restaurant would reach for greatness. And lo & behold, it has. The menu is a love letter to the unique ways that Sri Lankan food likes to use your tastebuds for kindling, with fiery red pineapple curries, zingy sambols, and  lamb ribs dusted with a dry rub that sings soprano highs of Jaffna spices. And all told, it’s thoroughly reasonably priced, too.

Address: 10 Stoney Street, SE1 9AD

Bouchon Racine | British pub, French food, amazing place


Chef Henry Harris is probably thanking his lucky stars that his landlord evicted him, because it was one of the greatest things that ever happened to him. His restaurant Racine lasted for about 10 years in Knightsbridge before the rent cheques started to bounce, so he moved the whole operation across town to Farringdon, reopened in an old pub, and swiftly became one of the hottest restaurants in the city.

Now, the place is near impossible to get into, but it’s worth the effort. The food is all classic Lyonnaise-style goodness, with bacon, butter, and smoked sausages elevated to an art form. Oh, and try the creme caramel.  It’s one of Henry Harris’s signatures, and he’s cooked so many he could probably slip, trip, and accidentally make one better than any you’ve had before in your life. And the one on the menu here could go toe-to-toe with any you find across the Channel.

Address: 66 Cowcross St, EC1M 6BP


Want something to drink with that? Check out the best bars of 2023