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London’s constantly evolving food scene means that no sooner does one venue depart than a new one takes its place.
Those restaurants that weather London’s challenging taste-tests make it to our list of much-loved institutions. Those that don’t survive, however, create an opportunity for a new potential institution to arrive once gone.
For us – Londoners and visitors alike – the change as one eaterie closes and a new one arrives presents a chance to delight in something new. Moreover, restaurants and bars alike regularly reinvent their menus, which means we get to explore the world of food through that new cocktail with hints of mint and liquorice or that bagel which left us wondering how they made it so blue.
At Vada, we have been actively seeking out new venues across the capital to unearth new food flavours and experiences. Here is what we found.
Number 90 Bar & Kitchen, Hackney
Visit for: healthy dinner and drinks and local events
Tucked away, this canal-side venue has recently turned two years old, so is strictly speaking not a new place to eat. However, Number 90 Bar & Kitchen has this year launched its #90 Gallery, which is used to showcase up-and-coming local artists, as well as act as a platform for established artists.
The menus this year have also shifted to focus on healthier and organic produce (e.g., the Vegetable Napoleon or the Super Spring Salad) while still retaining a few alternative burger options focussed on flavour.
Number 90, 90 Main Yard, Wallis Road, Hackney Wick, E9 5LN
Visit for: Weekend brunch and Sassy Saturdays drag shows
Counter, officially London’s longest restaurant, housed in a 200-foot-long arch, is an all-day bar and brasserie.
Late morning, we would opt for the one-pan fry-up (£9.50) for an ideal hangover cure. Weekend brunch includes the chance to Build your own Bellini on Sundays.
Where this venue really comes into its own is every second Saturday of the month, where the BackCounter hosts Sassy Saturdays. Hosted by Ivy Paige and Dusty Limits, the show promises to stage the most raucous performers – tickets are £30 for the show and a three-course dinner.
Counter, Vauxhall station, address: 50 S Lambeth Place, London, SW8 1SP
Cocktail Trading Co. Brick Lane
Visit for: Cocktails
This new Brick Lane venue compliments the existing space in the basement of Ask for Janice in Farringdon. The eclectic mix of trinkets and fabrics gives an adult playground-feel to the intimate space.
The bar menu has been developed since we last drank in the Farringdon establishment; however, the concept remains very much the same. A pocket-sized menu of drinks opens to a playful collection, from the Business Brace (sugar, bitters, Hennessy Cognac and Veuve Demi-Sec Champagne) to Instaspam (made from apple brandy, Morello cherry and hazelnut liqueur, orange blossom and lemon juice) – both £9.
Cocktail Trading Co., 68 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6GQ
The Alice House, West Hampstead
Visit for: The Liberty Sour cocktail, alfresco dining
This isn’t a new venue for 2016, but the owners of The Alice House have launched a new cocktail menu for the spring. There are eight new cocktails, which range from a Pear and Tarragon Bellini (£7) to a White Martinez (£9) – made from gin, vermouth, Kamm & Sons, elderflower, bitters and grapefruit.
Our favourite is the Liberty Sour (£9) made from Monkey Shoulder scotch, lemon, Liberty Spirit syrup, liquorice and egg white. This potent pleasure was crafted to be drunk in the afternoon sun, with the after-notes of liquorice and mint tingling teasingly on the tongue.
The Alice House West Hampstead, 283-285 West End Lane, London, NW6 1RD
Kansas Smitty’s, Bethnal Green
Visit for: Julep cocktails and live music
This jazz and julep venue has become known for the live music in its basement bar. Its house band mix-and-match with visiting artists for eclectic events throughout the week.
The relaxed and non-exclusive atmosphere means you can sink into your seat and sip your cocktail – a Julep (all £8) or one of the House Cocktails (£9 each). We’d recommend the Allotment Julep (gin infused with nettle, elderflower, carrot and coriander seed, apple pear and mint) or the Hard Times (made from Wild Turkey 81 bourbon, London Bold aperitif and walnut liqueur).
Of course, if bubbles are more your style, choose the First Dance (made from cognac infused with raspberry, almonds, tonk bean and peach, topped off with prosecco).
Kansas Smitty’s, 63-65 Broadway Market, London, E8 4PH
Zayane Restaurant, Notting Hill
Visit for: The scallops, Poussin Tagine and the Raspberry Clafoutis
Just off the north end of Portobello Road, made famous for its market, you will find Zayane, a venue that has recently reopened as a modern Moroccan restaurant. The head chef, Chris Bower (previously of Thackeray’s and The Ivy) combines authentic flavours with European influences to create a contemporary cuisine.
We highly recommend the scallops with chickpeas (£12.95) as a starter, and the beetroot and butternut squash salad (£8.95) or the poussin tagine (£14.50) as main courses.
Zayane, 91 Golbourne Road, London, W10 5NL