SquareMeal Award - Best New Restaurant

Updated on 19 June 2017

SquareMeal Award - Best New Restaurant

The SquareMeal Best New Restaurant award is only given to those restaurants that have impressed both our readers and our editorial team beyond measure. Each of the restaurants in our list of winners of The SquareMeal Best New award have been tried and tested by professional critics and everyday diners, so take a look at the reviews and then book a table online with SquareMeal today. 


Hoppers Soho

Hoppers Soho

Hoppers Soho
£30 - £49
Indian

49 Frith Street, London, W1D 4SG

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Social Eating House

Social Eating House

Social Eating House
£50 - £79
Modern European
One michelin star

58 Poland Street, London, W1F 7NR

“Great food, informal and fun” sums up Social Eating House, Jason Atherton’s regularly rammed Soho outpost – a noisy Michelin-starred hangout that mixes cool-dude vibes and moody lighting with cooking that bears all the chef and restaurateur’s culinary hallmarks. Chef/patron Paul Hood (previously at Atherton’s flagship, Pollen Street Social) oversees proceedings day-to-day and his seasonal menu shows a trademark commitment to native sourcing as well as a fondness for all things creative and cheffy – we’re huge fans of the mushrooms and toast, a richly flavoured, artful melee punctuated with pickled girolles, creamy cep purée and onion marmalade. In a very British twist on steak tartare, tender chunks of Buccleuch Black Angus are paired with beetroot, horseradish and egg-yolk jam, while baked Cornish hake is served with hispi cabbage gratin and textured slices of Tokyo turnip laced with saffron. Simpler pleasures range from aged native-breed steaks with triple-cooked duck-fat chips to the addictive mac ‘n’ cheese with chanterelles and luscious sundaes for afters. Social Eating House’s well-curated wine list and spot-on cocktails are further pluses, while staff are hip, happy and on point (well, most of the time). 

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Kurobuta Chelsea

Kurobuta Chelsea

Kurobuta Chelsea
£50 - £79
Japanese

312 King's Road, London, SW3 5UH

Aussie chef/founder Scott Hallsworth has moved on, but Korobuta is still a good-fun local in SW3 – even if service is a bit wobbly and some of the original spark has gone. By and large, it’s business as usual, which means stripped-back interiors, a raucous rock soundtrack, racy cocktails and a menu touting everything from jazzed-up sushi and raw salads to robata BBQ and ‘significant others’ (miso-baked aubergine with candied walnuts). Nothing is taken too seriously, so graze your way through the in-your-face flavours of 'junk food Japan' (tako-yaki octopus doughnuts, Wagyu sliders or Korean short-rib tacos with chilli oil and avocado, perhaps). Under the heading 'something crunchy', there’s black pepper soft-shell crab tempura with wakame, while the robata-grilled pork belly in a satay-loaded steamed bun is an unctuous, nutty treat. Also expect a strong showing of maki rolls, nigiri and sashimi – all at friendly prices. The bar is a destination in its own right, with cocktails matching the mood: anyone for a Drunken Samurai with sparkling yuzu saké?

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Elystan Street

Elystan Street

Elystan Street
£50 - £79
Modern European
One michelin star

43 Elystan Street, London, SW3 3NT

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Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental
£50 - £79
British
Two michelin stars

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA

With Heston Blumenthal’s name attached and a menu of eye-catching dishes that play with our perceptions of British cookery, Dinner was always going to be a hit with London’s gastro-tourists, and there are plenty of reasons for them to leave feeling satisfied – not least the beautiful daytime view of Hyde Park, the fun of the nitro-fuelled ice cream cart and the switched-on staff.

“Attention to detail is second to none”, observes a fan. Even if you don’t buy into the restaurant’s date-stamped reinterpretation of historical recipes, there’s a formidable cornucopia of gastronomic delights to relish – from the ‘meat fruit’ (c.1500) disguised as a mandarin with subtle citrus notes to the soft, juicy ‘tipsy cake’ (c.1810) with spit-roast pineapple. Also brace yourself for other extraordinary conceits ranging from ‘sherried’ scallop tartare with mushroom broth to chicken ‘oysters’ invigorated with horseradish cream and pickled walnuts. Sides are not to be sniffed at either – the mash is among the creamiest we’ve tasted. Obviously, such a “luxurious experience” doesn’t come cheap (especially if you commit to the wine flights), although set lunches offer a more accommodating prospect. Either way, prepare to be astonished. 

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Chutney Mary

Chutney Mary

Chutney Mary
£50 - £79
Indian

73 St James's Street, London, SW1A 1PH

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Balthazar

Balthazar

Balthazar
£50 - £79
French

4-6 Russell Street, London, WC2B 5HZ

According to one reader, Balthazar could be “the best brasserie in London for atmosphere and service". Elsewhere, abundant praise for the lively buzz and "happy, friendly staff" is proof that this London outpost of Keith McNally's upscale bistro lives up to the reputation of his NYC original. By and large, the food wins approval too, with particular mentions for the "delicious afternoon tea" and "just the best dauphinoise potatoes". Order them alongside wickedly rich duck confit or coq au vin, preceded by chicken liver parfait, steak tartare or garlicky escargots. The all-day offer also includes delectable pastries from Balthazar’s boulangerie next door, omelette Arnold Bennett for brunch, plateaux de fruits de mer from the seafood bar or eggs mimosa followed by roast hake with bouillabaisse soup on the prix fixe. "It's a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner and business meetings" concludes one ardent admirer; another simply says “sit back, enjoy the buzz and don’t worry about your wallet”.

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Scott

Scott's

Scott's
£50 - £79
Fish

20 Mount Street, London, W1K 2HE

Under the awning or amid polished oak panels, glamorous Scott’s is a top choice if you want to take clients out for some “sublime” seafood and a thorough spoiling, backed by service that’s “second to none”. Staff “really care”, so rest assured that the “best fish in town” will be delivered with seamless care and attention. The sight of glistening crustacea displayed at an ice-heaped bar serves as a reminder that it’s sometimes best to leave well alone. In that spirit, purists also enjoy potted shrimps, lobster mayonnaise and dressed crab, while more elaborate starters might bring tempura langoustine tails, char-grilled squid with ‘nduja or “delicious” sautéed monkfish cheeks with snails and bordelaise sauce. ‘Turf’ is always an option (try the chicken, mustard, bacon and quails’ egg pie), but many customers return to the sea for halibut with dashi broth and shrimp gyoza, battered haddock or fish for two on the bone. Despite the obvious luxury, Scott’s is widely judged to be “great value for money” – something to bear in mind when leafing through the wine list. In short, a “unique experience”.

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The Providores

The Providores

The Providores
£50 - £79
International
Fusion

109 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 4RX

Peter Gordon’s double-decker fusion palace is supposed to be fun, and readers confirm that it’s a blast. At street level, there’s the no-bookings Tapa Room (named after a Rarotongan tapa cloth, which decorates the space): this noisy rendezvous is perpetually rammed with crowds who gather for breakfast (brown rice, apple, maple syrup and miso porridge with tamarillo compote, perhaps) and all-day dishes. Upstairs, the eponymous dining room pushes more boundaries, delivering multi-ingredient combos with a little more formality – think smoked Dutch eel with coconut and tamarind laksa, green tea noodles, soft-boiled quail’s egg, girolles and sweetcorn followed by Creedy Carver duck breast with figs, walnuts, grapes, sherry vinegar and membrillo. Every day’s a school day here, so ask if you’re not sure what something is (the staff are used to it) and reserve some time, money and attention to explore the seriously Kiwi wine list.

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Locanda Locatelli

Locanda Locatelli

Locanda Locatelli
£50 - £79
Italian
One michelin star

8 Seymour Street, London, W1H 7JZ

Eating at Giorgio Locatelli’s Michelin-starred flagship brings you one step closer to la dolce vita – so writes a fan who adores this polished purveyor of “old-school glamour” and pure-bred Italian regional cooking. Beaded curtains, cream leather and dramatic domed mirrors create just the right amount of chic elegance, while neatly designed alcoves offer privacy for those who are at Locanda Locatelli for discreet assignations. Meanwhile, the kitchen delivers value, authenticity and culinary cred as it fashions an array of vivacious dishes inspired by provenance-led cucina rustica. Superlative hand-crafted pasta is the undisputed headline act (ring-shaped calamarata with monkfish, samphire, dry capers, chilli and lemon, for example), but everything at Locanda Locatelli is imbued with seasonal freshness – from a grilled vegetable salad with stuffed peppers, pine kernel and basil to roast grouse with stewed lentils and game chips. To round things off, try the Neapolitan ‘baba’ with Chantilly and orange cream or gorge on some artisan cheeses, offered lovingly with Italian honey. Service seldom falters and prices are “not ridiculous” – although you’ll need to shell out a pretty penny to do the patrician wine list full justice. 

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Wild Honey

Wild Honey

Wild Honey
£50 - £79
Modern European

12 St George Street, London, W1S 2FB

An abundance of “old world charm” distinguishes Anthony Demetre’s gregarious Mayfair hotspot, especially when crowds are packed in for the cracking ‘working lunch’. At first glance, the long, panelled dining room (hung with contemporary art) might suggest a certain fussiness, although nothing could be further from the kitchen’s collective mind. Stylish flavour-forward simplicity is the mantra, with seasonal produce shaping the daily menu – witness hand-chopped beef tartare with Maldon oyster mayo or an autumnal broth of kale, sweet onion and artichoke. Wild honey is used to lacquer roast Goosnargh duck and to enrich an ice cream (with honeycomb and meringue wafers) – although one reader reckons nothing can trump the English custard tart. Game is a speciality in season: you can try slow-cooked hare, grilled venison haunch and other niche goodies without needing to know which way to pass the port. The wine list could benefit from a similarly accessible approach.  

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Amaya

Amaya

Amaya
£30 - £49
Indian
One michelin star

Halkin Arcade, 19 Motcomb Street, London, SW1X 8JT

A clever combination of flattering lighting and a genius design spec that brings the ‘theatre’ kitchen unobtrusively into the slinky dining room would be enough for most restaurants to make a fashionable leap into the limelight, but Amaya has its Michelin-starred food and brilliant service too.

Readers confirm that this glamorous venue is up there with the Indian big boys thanks to spot-on cooking, “wonderful variety” and a menu that cherry-picks influences from across the subcontinent. Plenty of “superior” high-end ingredients are woven in too: foie gras gets the tandoori treatment, and lightly stir-fried lobster masala also features. Don’t miss the subtly spiced chicken tikkas, the tandoori ocean prawns or the sizzling specialities from the tawa hotplate and sigri grill (white sweet potatoes, wild venison, stonkingly good lamb chops fired with smoked chilli).

Most dishes are designed for sharing and arrive from the open kitchen as and when they’re ready. A spice-friendly wine list matches the food in every department, but it would be a mistake to overlook the cocktails.

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City Social

City Social

City Social
£50 - £79
Modern European
One michelin star

24th Floor, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HQ

It may share the signature low-key glamour of Jason Atherton’s other Social restaurants, but the “most incredible views” from Tower 42 elevate City Social to statement status. With the fitting air of a 1920s boardroom, this dining room is custom-built for “business entertaining” – although it has a surprising intimacy given the scale of the setting. Minor grumbles, including music that’s “too loud” in the bar, are dwarfed by readers’ enthusiasm for executive chef Paul Walsh’s oh-so-pretty plates of Michelin-starred food – from cured Scottish salmon with watermelon, saké, cucumber carpaccio, soy and wasabi to tarte Tatin with caramel sauce for sharing. In between, he brings considerable experience to bear on interest-piquing main courses such as saddle of Lincolnshire rabbit with Parma ham, trompette mushrooms, spelt, lovage emulsion and black garlic, line-caught halibut with fondant potato, turnips, crispy prawns and tenderstem broccoli or heritage potato and caramelised onion terrine with Jerusalem artichoke and walnuts. Cocktails are classy, and the wine list is designed to accommodate high rollers – without putting everybody else off.

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Bentley

Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill

Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill
£50 - £79
Fish

11-15 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4DG

More than a century down the line, Bentley’s still offers “the freshest oysters in London” with all the conviviality you’d expect of a restaurant owned by Richard Corrigan. Downstairs, shuckers get through Carlingford, Jersey and West Mersea bivalves like they’re going out of fashion, with support from celebratory seashore platters, fish and chips and even a sushi salad bowl. Things are noticeably less hectic in the upstairs grill, where punters have time to anticipate and savour sea bass carpaccio with langoustine and lime, ‘royal’ fish pie or grilled sirloin of Irish Hereford beef with salted bone marrow and black pepper onions. Dessert could be a seasonal trifle or a tropical arrangement of pineapple, mango, chilli, ginger and coconut, while the wine list matches these fulsome flavours with plenty by the glass and a global outlook among the bottles. When it comes to the bill, “Corrigan knows how to charge, but can be excused given the overall quality,” says one regular.

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The Don Restaurant

The Don Restaurant

The Don Restaurant
£50 - £79
Modern European
£30 - £49

The Courtyard, 20 St. Swithins Lane, London, EC4N 8AD

Step off atmospheric St Swithin’s Street into The Don’s spacious foyer and prepare yourself for the sort of assured, personable and utterly grown-up experience that is a rarity among independent restaurants these days. Much of this is down to owners Robert and Robyn Wilson, who have been at the helm here for more than 18 years and in whom a veritable army of loyal City lunchers still place their trust.


With its vivid bursts of abstract artwork from John Hoyland, the well-spaced dining room has a personality that many of its corporate neighbours lack – and it’s adroitly manned by an ever-smooth team of waiting staff. The kitchen covers all bases, from the impressively inventive (tender octopus with different textures of tomato, lemon oil and saffron aïoli) to the reliably classic, such as buttery, deboned Dover sole meunière and a perfectly executed crème brûlée. Our only complaint is that portion sizes don’t always do justice to the City prices – our tiny pieces of monkfish with mussel ragoût and saffron cream left us needing to fill up on new potatoes.


The Wilsons are Kiwi vintners, and their love of wine is reflected in a lengthy global list, including bottles from their Trinity Hill vineyard in New Zealand. For a less formal experience, the Don Bistro downstairs has steak tartare and coq au vin, while the bar serves 30 wines by the glass alongside Adnams beer and croque monsieurs. We’d also suggest calling in at their sister site, St Swithins Wine Shippers, where four dozen wines are available to sample from an Enomatic machine.


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Chiltern Firehouse

Chiltern Firehouse

Chiltern Firehouse
£50 - £79
International

1 Chiltern St, Marylebone, W1U 7PA

The fervour that surrounded André Balazs’ Marylebone hotspot has died down and you no longer need to be famous to secure a table, but Chiltern Firehouse still delivers in spades. Readers praise the outdoor-themed interiors as well as the high-decibel “party vibe”, and we’ve also been impressed by the all-inclusive attitude of the staff, who happily laugh and chat with diners. Meanwhile, in the open kitchen, chef Nuno Mendes and his team send out plenty of likeable big-time successes. Snacks such as bacon cornbread and the famous coral-dusted crab doughnut kick things off nicely, but there are other highlights too: char-grilled Ibérico pork comes with the unexpected additions of grilled peaches and red pepper kimchi, while a side of mac ‘n’ cheese is given a fiery kick with jalapeño peppers. Early risers pack in for breakfast (potted eggs with caramelised onions and curried potatoes), freelancers take advantage of the indulgent lunchtime offers (crab and lobster omelette, say), and we’d also recommend Chiltern Firehouse for a pre/post-meal trip to the botanically themed bar for cheekily named cocktails. Be warned – the bill (with impressive wines included) may have you reaching for the fire alarm.

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Zuma

Zuma

Zuma
£50 - £79
Sushi
Japanese

5 Raphael St, Knightsbridge, London, SW7 1DL

Fifteen years on and London is still deeply in love with world-class Zuma: “fabulous” says one fan, “can’t beat it” exclaims another avid supporter. And the waves of adoration stretch far beyond the capital itself: this high-gloss, big-money rendezvous draws in a global cast of A-listers and jetsetters, all attracted by the age-defying industrial-Zen interiors and the sleek designer mix of rough-hewn wood, polished granite and shiny steel. Tables are predictably hard to come by, but we prefer chancing our arm with the no-bookings ringside seats by the kitchen. Kick off with a trend-setting cocktail (perhaps Wild Yasei, a macho yet graceful blend of rye bourbon and wild-cherry tea syrup), and expect to pay top dollar for the food. In return you’ll be offered some of the finest Japanese cuisine in the capital: sliced seared tuna with chilli, daikon and ponzu; warm aubergine in sweet miso (an umami-laden masterpiece); robata-grilled jumbo tiger prawns with yuzu pepper; marinated baby chicken roasted on cedar wood, and – of course – the much-imitated, but never-bettered black cod. Service is flawless, and for the final flourish, we suggest asking the dedicated saké sommelier for a tour of his exquisite list. In a word, awesome.


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