Eating & Drinking inLondon

Few culinary capitals can offer such good food right across the board - a remarkable achievement given that just a couple of decades ago London’s (and the UK’s) culinary efforts were subjected to international scorn. Now its top-end restaurants are ranked among the world’s best, some spearheaded by overseas talent, but our best chefs (Heston Blumenthal, Jason Atherton, Simon Rogan, Clare Smyth) are home grown, delivering cooking that is ambitious, inventive and sophisticated. In addition, emerging new talent (Chris Denney at 108 Garage, Isaac McHale at the Clove Club, James Knappett at Kitchen Table), reinforce the city’s reputation as having some of the best restaurants in the world.

But London is not just about fine dining. It’s an ever-expanding scene, defined by creative food startups, supper clubs, pop ups, underground restaurants and dining events. With food trends sweeping the capital – from Asian-inspired small plates, barbecued meats, and bao (Taiwanese steamed buns), to freshly made pasta, Japanese ramen, Mexican tacos and Sri Lankan hoppers (crisp pancakes) – it’s an affordable and lively mixing of cultures, seen in such restaurants as El Pastor, Hoppers, Kiln, Padella and Temper.

Four of these restaurants are located in Soho – which is currently experiencing something of a foodie revival – but the latest standouts are often found in neighbourhoods beyond the West End. Exorbitant rents have contributed to a geographic shift in London’s dining scene, with ambitious young restaurateurs and chefs heading for the residential outer zones to open neighbourhood restaurants where they can get a lot more for their money. Robin Gill’s Dairy in Clapham, Perilla in Newington Green, Sparrow in Lewisham, The Laughing Heart in Hackney, all capture the city’s unique, creative and often eccentric flair.

It’s impossible not to embrace the exuberance of the London restaurant scene, it evolves so fast it can be hard to keep up. But from celebrity haunts to down-to-earth cheap eats – we are completely spoiled for choice.

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