It’s not only the plethora of Michelin-starred restaurants in London that we can boast about, but also the quality and quantity of top British chefs creating modern British cuisine. And this number is growing.
Although there’s a long list of stalwart chefs, names like Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal, 2010 was groundbreaking. It was a year that three young British chefs—James Lowe, Ben Greeno and Isaac McHale, who called themselves the Young Turks—hosted a series of pop-up dinners in London to great acclaim. Their philosophy was this: to use well-sourced British ingredients to create clean, flavoursome dishes.
Their success has since been immense: McHale is head chef of East London’s esteemed Clove Club (Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St, EC1V 9LT) and Lowe heads up Michelin-starred Lyle’s (Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St, E1 6JJ). And there are many more inspiring, passionate young chefs who have worked their way up in an industry that’s notoriously unforgiving.
Add to that list Ollie Dabbous. He opened the eponymous, boundary-breaking Dabbous in 2012 on Charlotte Street, that quickly earned him a Michelin star. His latest restaurant is Henrietta (14-15 Henrietta St, WC2E 8QH) in Covent Garden, nestled in the stylish boutique hotel of the same name.
Henrietta also champions British cuisine and is part of a recent craze of pretty-as-a-picture plates of petal-strewn, delicious dishes. Chef Dabbous uses a fresh concept of leaves, sprigs of fresh herbs and rainbow-hued flowers in his seasonal dishes; starters such as a rich beef tartare with nasturtium and grilled flatbread with sesame labne with spring blossoms. Should you eat it or Instagram it?
Eat it, and then choose a main, perhaps seven-year grass-fed Simmental sirloin with crushed green herbs or charred salmon with cockles, cucumber and lovage. A flaky custard tart packed with whole raspberries and pickled rose petals keeps the floral theme going— and is divine.
Another new opening to look out for is Magpie (10 Heddon St, W1B 4BX) from Sam Herlihy and James Ramsden. These 30-something chefs co-founded Pidgin, a Michelin-starred supper-club-turned-restaurant in Hackney.
Their new Mayfair is a modern interpretation of a dim sum restaurant, complete with trolleys laden with small plates, wheeled around the restaurant to each table. It’s easy to get into the groove here, picking up dishes to share, such as mackerel crudo with fennel pollen, and grilled celeriac with a watermelon barbecue sauce. Save space for desserts, like strawberry panzanella with olive oil ice cream.
And if you want your day to start well, Magpie also serves breakfast—but nothing predictable, of course. Enjoy your morning coffee with a Danish pastry with coffee icing and candied bacon or caramelised miso and almond croissants with raspberry and lime jam. For a pick-me-up, the ‘not-so-virgin-Mary’ is a mix of Pedro Ximenez and porter, with an oyster on the top.
With exciting new restaurants such as these, it looks like the British chefs will always make their mark on the city—whatever their age.