2018 may have been many things, but it certainly wasn’t boring. It was also another great year for London’s restaurant scene: we’ve seen plenty of new dining destinations open, and watched on as vegan junk food, street-food halls and cauliflower steaks all became major talking points. In honour of this great year for food, we asked some SquareMealers to each name their greatest London meal of the year.
Fare Bar + Canteen, Shoreditch
Why: I like wine – a lot. So when I heard this new offshoot from the guys behind Sager + Wilde had a 250-strong list, I was worried that they might be overcompensating for the food. But, not the first time, I was wrong. The food is, frankly, exceptional: not only in flavour but in its simplicity – head chef Thomas Raymond may just be my new best friend. British with a hint of the Med, dishes such as smoked anchovies and peppers, moreish potatoes with brown butter hollandaise, trout roe and leeks, and whole grilled plaice with curry butter are the ones I’d go back for over and over again. Post-prandial cocktails on tap in the bar upstairs are also a must. Go.
Where: 11 Old Street, EC1V 9HL
Millie Milliken, associate editor
Imperial Treasure, St James's
Why: If I only had to eat one cuisine for the rest of my life, Chinese would be the front runner. And this glossy new import from China does Chinese food better than almost anywhere else in London. Classics such as kung po prawns and lemon chicken are invented anew, but it’s the dim sum that has me longing to return: individual prawn toasts made from a whole king prawn; perfectly steamed prawn and bamboo har gau; and, best of all, the snow mountain bun, a dome of sugary pastry filled with Iberico pork: sweet and savoury, not sweet and sour.
Where: 9-20 Waterloo Place, SW1Y 4BE
Ben McCormack, editor
Jidori, Covent Garden
Why: Jidori Covent Garden was definitely my best meal of 2018, which I must admit, I’m a bit surprised about. You see, you're likely to walk past it on the street, the first floor is tiny, the décor is distinctly minimal and the food doesn’t necessarily grab your attention presentation-wise. However, the flavour certainly does! Jidori showcases exciting ingredients such as chicken offal and raw hens’ eggs, as well as putting conventional ingredients to unconventional use – sweet potato crisp with your dessert anyone? My favourite dishes were the innovative katsu curry Scotch egg, and the yakitori shiitake mushroom skewer.
Where: 15 Catherine Street, WC2B 5JZ
Tonje Ødegård, content editor
Why: I’ve always liked Oklava in Shoreditch, so when I heard the team were opening a new site in Fitzrovia, I was desperate to try it out. Kyseri doesn’t disappoint – the menu changes regularly, but on my visit it was practically faultless: a canapé-sized lamb and loquat skewer was dainty, yet punchy, with the sweet and juicy loquat providing a perfect contrast to the intense spice-laden lamb, while manti (dumpling-style pasta parcels) are stuffed with sour cherry-flecked beef and served with a blend of yoghurt and a peppery red sauce, which I had to resist licking clean off the plate. It’s a little slice of Turkish heaven.
Where: 64 Grafton Way, W1T 5DN
Eamonn Crowe, news editor
Little Kolkata, Covent Garden
Why: If someone asked me to recommend them somewhere new to eat in London, I’d go for Little Kolkata. Firstly, because we don’t see enough Bengali influenced Indian food in the UK, and it’s worth going here for that reason alone. Prices are fairly reasonable, the Calcutta-style chilli chicken is devilishly moreish and the baby chicken in a creamy cashew, rose water and saffron sauce was indulgent to the max. Little Kolkata’s the kind of place that you want to go back to, just to try more of the menu.
Where: 51-53 Shelton Street, WC2H 9JU
Tom Gadd, editorial assistant
Can't wait for next year's openings? Get excited for 2019 with our list of restaurants coming soon.