Din Tai Fung
This superlative steamed bun emporium has been crafting its world-famous delicacies since the 1970s. Today, Din Tai Fung’s xiao long bao are still considered a delicacy — when the restaurant’s first European site opened in Covent Garden last week, customers queued for up to five hours to sample the goods. The Michelin-starred Taiwanese restaurant’s Henrietta Street outpost offers a selection of the group’s signature dishes, including the aforementioned xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings) made with a delicate dough skin, which is then pleated, twisted at the top and steamed. Comprising at least 18 folds, every bun is created with surgical precision: each passes through six separate stations manned by a different team of dim sum chefs. Further must-trys include the steamed chicken soup, which is simmered over six hours, and the shrimp fried rice. Spanning two levels, the sleek restaurant is fitted with original oriental pieces such as refurbished, handcrafted Chinese wood carvings, stone lions and Taiwanese-style feature walls, sculpted with grey curved brick roof tiles. Like what you hear? A second spot is due to launch at Tottenham Court Road’s Centre Point next year.
5 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8PT
The Dining Room
Hackney food, drink and design centre, Mare Street Market, has opened its long-awaited fine-dining proposition, The Dining Room. The 45-cover restaurant is the final addition to the indoor marketplace’s collection of local east London vendors. Head chef Dominik Moldenhauer, previously of Notting Hill’s The Shed, has taken over from Gizzi Erskine in overseeing the restaurant’s modern British menu, which features traditional techniques including brining, curing and smoking. The seasonal offering starts with dishes such as grilled scallop with miso butter, chilli and cavolo nero; and mackerel ceviche, clementine, crisp fava and coriander, while mains comprise duck breast with chestnut gnocchi, girolles and sherry butter; or pastrami braised ox cheek, parsley root puree and dill pickle. Expect a fully plant-based menu for veggies and an extravagant Sunday roast come the end of the weekend. Decorated with vintage chandeliers and art-deco furniture from Shoreditch antiques merchant Pure White Lines, the trinket-filled space contrasts against the restaurant’s contemporary menu. Better yet, each piece of décor is also available to buy.
117 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 4RU
The Senate Room
The Senate Room is an Italianate café by day, and an atmospheric bar by night — all in the beautiful surroundings of the Royal Academy. In a magnificent room overlooking Burlington Gardens, the restaurant has been restored and embellished by Sir David Chipperfield as part of the gallery’s 250th-anniversary renovations. New chef Stephen Beadle (previously of Michelin-starred River Café) has created an Italian-inspired small plates menu, offering lunch with cocktails. Highlights include delicia squash and ricotta pansotti pasta with Parmesan and crispy sage; wild boar and Parmigiano Reggiano with truffled honey; porchetta, chargrilled fennel, salsa verde; and smoked tuna, agridolce onions and rocket. By night, the lights lower and an aperitivo menu comes to the fore, offering a range of hams, cheeses, and an olive station. During the day, the space will also offer an Italian spin on traditional afternoon tea, featuring Italian sandwiches as well as cakes from esteemed baker and author Melissa Forti.
Royal Academy of Arts, 6 Burlington Gardens, Piccadilly, W1S 3ET
Tamarind Mayfair was the first Indian restaurant in the UK to be awarded a Michelin star. Following an extensive eight-month refurbishment project, the restaurant has reopened this month, doubling its capacity in the process. Now set over two floors, Tamarind’s lower ground floor revolves around its open-plan kitchen and tandoor ovens. This bright space is connected to the beautiful first-floor dining room by a glass fronted lobby and sleek metal staircase. Throughout, the interiors feature a subtle colour scheme of distressed gold, pale grey, pink and cream, with soft off-white leather booths, antler-style lamps and a bespoke glass ceiling, to mention just some of the design details. Back in the kitchen, there’s a new all-star line-up in the form of Karunesh Khanna (former head chef at Michelin-starred Amaya) and Manav Tuli (previously head chef at Michelin-starred Chutney Mary). Together the pair has created an exciting new menu, serving up a contemporary take on authentic Indian cooking. Highlights include tandoori quail with caramelised gooseberry and tandoori prawn balchao with spicy and tangy chilli marinade. Carole Brown, a former bar manager at Hakaasan and Park Chinois, is the force behind an impressive list of cocktails, which features a mix of Indian twists on both classics and original cocktails that use Indian ingredients and flavours. We predict another Michelin star in no time.
20 Queen Street, Mayfair, W1J 5PR
Peruvian restaurant Pachamama has branched out east with a new spot in Shoreditch. Mostly made up of small plates and a pisco-focused cocktail menu, this is a perfect place to get a real taste of South America. The menu is split into ‘Land’, ‘Sea’ and ‘Soil’ and portions are small enough to order around eight plates between two — great for trying a little bit of everything. We highly recommend the zingy tuna ceviche or the fried pork belly chicharrones — we’re still dreaming about them a week later. The 85-cover site is split over two floors and in the main restaurant area, where plants play a fundamental part in the aesthetic, there’s an open kitchen, providing guests with views of food in the making, such as sparking embers as the chefs cook over the open coal fire. A black-and-pink-tiled staircase leads guests down to a private dining room on the lower-ground floor, which seats 16 for private dinner parties and will host a series of pop-up chef collaborations throughout the year.
73 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3HR
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