London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our top 10 Restaurants 2012

Right now, London can lay claim to be one of, if not the best city in the world for restaurants. The sheer number of new openings this year has been astonishing, with fresh venues popping up in all parts of town covering all cuisines. Old favourites have maintained their high standards and continued to provide creative and innovative cuisine making every night out in London a real treat.

We've put together the top 10 restaurants we've visited this year, places that have served us sensational food, provide great value and excellent levels of service. Debate between writers has been fierce and many other restaurants could easily have made the top 10. And if you want to know why your favourite isn't in our list, it's probably because we've not got around to going yet, but we'd love recommendations for January...

10. Big Easy

Serving up some of the best BBQ ribs we've had this side of the Atlantic, Big Easy on the Kings Road has been serving up classic Americana for years and have perfected the unsophisticated comfort food synonymous with the southern USA. Big portions for big appetites, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

9. Evans & Peel Detective Agency

Earls Court
Not strictly a restaurant, Evans & Peel is a prohibition-style speakeasy hidden beneath Earls Court. The food here is good, particularly the sliders but what has secured them a place in our top 10 is their exquisite cocktails made by knowledgeable bartenders who are not afraid to offer personal recommendations and an atmosphere of old school decadence.
8. The Square
Restaurants don't win two Michelin stars without being able to cook a bit, and Phil Howard has been serving up award winning dishes here for over twenty years. Cooking as high art, this is a place for serious food lovers to indulge their every passion.

7. Chooks 

Muswell Hill
2012 has been the year dominated by three big trends; no reservation policies, ultra-limited menus, and luxury fast food. Chooks does all three and can hold claim to be one of the most on trend restaurants of the moment. Hidden away off the map in Muswell Hill, it's worth a trip to North London to check out the pare-down shabby chic dining room and first class buttermilk fried chicken.

6. Ben's Canteen

Quality neighbourhood restaurants don't come much better than Ben's Canteen in Clapham. Ethical and sustainable but never at the expense of quality combined with a relaxed, casual atmosphere. A venue to spend hours in, perhaps over brunch with the weekend papers. Also, look out for their occasional themed meals!

5. Chutney Mary

Forget everything you think you know about Indian cuisine, Chutney Mary is reinventing the wheel. Modern Indian fine dining is very different to the tandoori or balti that we have become used to in Britain. Delicate flavours and creative, innovative combinations make Chutney Mary stand out even amongst the other fantastic restaurants on the Kings Road.

4. Opera Tavern
Covent Garden
The Salt Yard group of modern tapas restaurants have been consistently brilliant, serving their fantastic take on Mediterranean cuisine at their three branches. Our personal favourite of the three, it's intimate atmosphere sets it apart from its sister restaurants. Worth visiting for the fantastic stuffed courgette flowers alone.

3. Gilgamesh
Camden Town
Camden Town is perhaps not best known for fine dining but Gilgamesh can claim to be one of the best in all London. Despite having a reputation as a mecca for Z-list celebrities, ignore the glitzy club at the rear and enjoy the sumptuously decorated main dining room. The sushi is presented with real theatre over dry ice while the crispy duck tastes as good as any we've ever had.

2. Bukhara

It seems slightly odd to have a pop-up restaurant on this list, somewhere that is no longer available to visit but our visit to Bukhara at the Sheraton Park Tower hotel was so good that we couldn't leave it off the list. One of India's finest restaurants, they made a fleeting appearance in London this summer and we only wish it was permanent so we could go back.

1. MeatLiquor 

Believe the hype. You've heard how good it is, and it's not exaggerated. It takes a lot for us to queue in the cold winter air for a burger, but this is not just any burger. The Dead Hippy burger is just about the most pleasant thing we have ever put in our mouths, and the cocktails are second to none. This is essentially fast food, but perfected. Every guilty calorie is worth it, order all you can and regret none of it. The rock n roll atmosphere just adds to the sense of rebellion against everything a great restaurant should be and makes MeatLiquor our restaurant of the year 2012.

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