Following the huge success of Aquavit’s two Michelin-starred outpost in New York, which is overseen by Emma Bengtsson – only the second female chef in the US to hold two Michelin stars – Aquavit London’s menu has been crafted by both Bengtsson and Henrik Ritzén, the executive chef here in the capital. That both chefs are Swedish hints at the influences in the cuisine, which takes a tour of the very best that the Nordic countries have to offer.
Don’t make the mistake of ruling out the smaller plates – living up to the true definition of smörgåsbord here – in favour of the starters, because some of the most delicious morsels this side of the North Sea are showcased. Shrimp Skagen is a Swedish classic (essentially prawns mixed with seasoned mayonnaise served on toast), while the liver pâté is parfait-like smooth with a delicious hint of sweetness. Both starter and main dishes feature fish as the star of the show, but the Swedish meatballs with mash, lingonberries and pickled cucumber is beautifully judged.
With Bengtsson’s background as a pastry chef, it would be unwise to forfeit dessert. Try the Arctic Bird’s Nest – a nest of honey tuile filled with ‘eggs’ created from white chocolate and goat’s cheese parfait featuring sea buckthorn-curd ‘yolks’ – to set pulses racing. Aquavit London is a delight from start to finish.
Master sommeliers Xavier Rousset and Gearoid Devaney have joined together for a restaurant championing the cuisine of the Burgundy region. Cabotte, the French word for a small cottage, boasts traditional and contemporary dishes created by head chef Ed Boarland, a protégé of Gordon Ramsay. Francophiles will love his classic dishes such as beef cheek Bourguignon served en cocotte, and the simpler oeuf meurette. Its smart interior includes two private dining rooms – and the wine list is, of course, vast.
Any restaurant at the Design Museum, recently reopened in its prestigious new location in Kensington, would have to be noteworthy. Thankfully, Parabola doesn’t disappoint. Overlooking the museum’s spectacular atrium space and Holland Park’s treetops, the light-filled restaurant boasts an innovative guest-chef programme, with a rotating showcase of established Michelin-star names and young guns of the culinary world. The all-day dining menu features sharing platters and hearty mains, and there’s an adjoining cocktail bar.
The dining hub of Heddon Street welcomes this Japanese restaurant, a collaboration that includes Michelin-starred restaurant The Araki. Specialising in washoku (traditional Japanese) dining, stylish Sakagura is set on two floors, with intimate booths and a basement with a traditional wooden kappo counter. Here, guests can watch the chefs prepare dishes such as hakata yakitori (robata-grilled dishes) and Wagyu beef steak served with hojiso. Accompany it all with a cocktail from the huge sake collection.
Old Spot pork, Highland beef and more carnivorous delights from top UK producers are masterfully cooked at Neil Rankin’s new restaurant, Temper, in Soho. A renowned barbecue expert, Rankin was inspired by the simplicity of neighbourhood Turkish barbecue restaurants, with no cheffy tricks on the plate – just meat, bread and veg. However, don’t think that lack of pretension means no flavour. Expect well-seasoned, tempered leg shawarma, smoked whole rib and grilled joints, all prepared in the energetic open kitchen.