Glorious food: Restaurants of the Year
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Glorious food: Restaurants of the Year

Louisa Walters, founder of The Restaurant Club, names her (and our) favourite eateries of 2018

Louisa Walters is a features writer

Some of the restaurants featured!
Some of the restaurants featured!

BEST FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS

Winner: 34 Mayfair

No matter how many times people ask on the group ‘what’s the best place for a special occasion?’ this is always mentioned in the responses. This beautiful, intimate restaurant, with a live pianist, white tablecloths and silver service, manages to be ‘fancy’ without being formal,  special without being stuffy, lively without being loud. Perfect for meat eaters and fish lovers alike, and very much worth getting dressed up for.

34 Mayfair

RUNNER UP: Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden

BEST OLD FAVOURITE

Winner: Oslo Court, St John’s Wood

This much-loved institution brings home this award for the second year running. It is a place we return to time and again for multigeneration celebrations. The ‘time warp’ décor, menu and dessert trolley are unparalleled and make us feel as special and loved as if we’d gone to grandma’s for Friday night dinner.

Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden

RUNNER UP: Villa Bianca, Hampstead

BEST NEWCOMER

Winner: Bob’s Café, Mill Hill

This bijou space in Mill Hill has only been open since May, but has already become a firm favourite with the locals and is everything a neighbourhood café should be. Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner dishes are all tempting and tasty, served up with a warm, friendly smile. Dogs and children are welcome.

Ham, West Hampstead

RUNNER UP: Ham, West Hampstead

BEST FOR COCKTAILS AND NIBBLES

Winner: The Swing, West Hampstead

Are you old enough to remember the 77 Mill Lane wine bar? It is now The Swing – an inviting and imaginative neighbourhood pan-Asian tapas experience with a delicious cocktail
menu, all around the £10 mark. Do check out the tuna tacos.

RUNNER UP: Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone

BEST ACROSS THE BORDER

Winner: Tom, Dick & Harry’s, Loughton

This stylish new all-day dining restaurant has signature dishes in the form of Nibbleinis – moreish, modern small plates – and more substantial plates from the charcoal oven with dishes such as chargrilled tuna with romesco, spring onion and almonds, 20 day-aged steak in a variety of cuts and the classic ‘Tom’s burger’. The build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, live music and the Sunday Roast Club all add to the popularity.

Tom, Dick and Harry

RUNNER UP: Green Owl Canteen, Loughton

BEST KOSHER RESTAURANT

Winner: Sami’s, Hendon

There’s been a slew of new kosher restaurants opening in recent months, but Sami’s in Hendon remains the firm favourite with its distinct note of 21st century Tel Aviv – modern and lively with gorgeous looking people, exciting menus and great food. Sami’s is a meat-lover’s maven, a shwarma-lover’s sanctum and a poultry-lover’s paradise.

RUNNER UP: Delicatessen, Hampstead

BEST GASTRO PUB

Winner: The Royal Oak, Bushey

This family- and dog-friendly gastro pub in the heart of Bushey serves the very best in British and global cuisine, paired with exceptional customer service. There is a great selection of wines, spirits and beers, a large garden and a beautiful dining room. Everything is made in-house, with fresh and seasonal ingredients influenced by executive chef Wayne’s travels around the world.

The Royal Oak,

RUNNER UP: The Rising Sun, Mill Hill

BEST LOCAL RESTAURANT FOR TEA

Winner: Mabel’s Vintage Tea Rooms, Bushey

A delightfully old-fashioned tea room full of charm, serving fresh sandwiches and warm scones on beautiful bone china, plus cake stands full of gorgeous bites. Refillable tea and coffee is an added bonus.

Mabel’s Vintage Tea Rooms

RUNNER UP: St James, Bushey (this restaurant has just started doing afternoon tea midweek)

BEST FOR KIDS

Winner: Quartieri, Kilburn

You can tell yourself that pizza is for kids, but at this buzzy, warm, softly lit restaurant smelling of freshly-baked dough and truffle oil, you will absolutely be going for it yourself. There are classics such as margherita, and ‘different’ ones featuring things like black truffle salsa and pistachio pesto (not together, but you could probably ask!). There are pasta dishes, risottos, and a couple of salads, plus zucchini fries, bruschetta, arancini and more on the menu. Kids eat for just £1 before 7pm. Finish with the Straccetti Quartierella –sugar-coated doughnut pizza strips covered with creamy chocolate hazelnut sauce. 

Quartieri

RUNNER UP: Tootoomoo, Whetstone/Crouch End/Highgate

BEST FOR SHARING

Winner: Fayre Share, Hackney

The sharing plates concept seems here to stay, but the truth of the matter is that no one actually likes sharing their food. At Fayre Share, every dish is available for one, two or four people, meaning that a table could all share the same dish, as they would at home. There’s an emphasis on British pies and other British favourites such as Arctic roll with jelly. G&Ts are served in teapots for sharing.

Fayre Share

RUNNER UP: La Lluna, Muswell Hill

MOST ANTICIPATED NEW OPENING

Winner: Hudsons, Borehamwood

After resounding success in Whetstone and Mill Hill, this popular American-style brasserie will be bringing its exciting dishes (and the best onion loaf in town) to the former Delisserie unit in Borehamwood later this year.

Hudsons

RUNNER UP: Corbin & King’s new venture, St John’s Wood

THE BEST OF THE REST(AURANTS)

The Restaurant Club Facebook group has
more than 22,000 members with strong, informed opinions on restaurants all over the world, but mainly in London. If you want to know about new openings, local gems, where to go for a special occasion, a good place to take your mother-in-law, your kids, or even your dog, this is the group to join.  

Facebook.com/TheRestaurantClub  

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