New Restaurants & Bars on our Radar

Banish the January blues with these tempting new restaurants and bars:

A taste of Athens at Ampéli, Charlotte Street

Greek wine often gets a bad rep, something the wonderfully smily Jenny Pagoni is seeking to rectify with her new restaurant, Ampéli that’s just opened on Charlotte Street. Athens-born Pagoni roped in Greek Master of Wine Yiannis Karakasis for the job, and together they have created an entirely indiginous wine list. On her recommendation we tried a delicious Greek equivalent to Prosecco – Tselepos, Amalia Brut from the Peloponnese that proved light and not as sweet as its Italian sister, followed by Lyrarakis, Daphni – a white wine from Crete with laurel and herbs that was utterly reminiscent of a fragrant island hillside and not expensive either (£20 for a carafe).

To go with all that drinking there’s delicious food from Head Chef Oren Goldfeld, previously at Ottolenghi’s Nopi, and a menu scattered with exciting things we’d never heard of like the Spiced potato Burik – a very fine pancake filled with runny egg and spiced potatoes, and Loukoumades (aka baby donuts) with sticky mountain tea syrup. The tender lamb chops are a must-order, along with anything Josper-smoked like the aubergine with tahini and walnuts. With olive-grove green seats, warm lighting, and an airy split-level space, Ampéli offers a slice of contemporary Athens in Fitzrovia, and it’s most welcome. 18 Charlotte Street, W1T 2LZ

Hoppers joins the steady stream of openings in Kings Cross

Hoppers seems to be slowly expanding from a strip of a restaurant in Soho to a two-floor space in St Christopher’s Place and now a huge opening in Kings Cross (from 11 February 2020). Here the focus will be on drinks with a central bar with two own-brewed beers, Hoppers Sri Lankan pale lager and a Toddy Ale, as well as cocktails inspired by 60’s Tiki-drinks. The Sri Lankan menu we have come to know and love with hoppers, dosas, karis and sambols will lean towards the southern coast of Sri Lanka at the Kings Cross restaurant – think barbecued snacks like Negombo Crab Kari, Mini Isso Vade, and Black Pepper Curry Leaf Prawn Skewers. Bookings are now live via this link. Unit 3, Building 4, Pancras Square, King’s Cross N1C 4AG

Smokey Kudu, Peckham

We’re great fans of Kudu, Peckham’s smart South African-influenced restaurant from Amy Corbin and Patrick Williams. Exciting news that they’re about to open a cocktail bar, Smokey Kudu underneath the arches of Queens Road station with a horseshoe bar and a menu of 15 cocktails and bar snacks. Opening 22nd January it would make the perfect place to celebrate the end of dry January. Little Kudu, a casual tapas restaurant is coming too later this year. Arch 133 Queens Road, SE15 2ND

Ember Yard, Soho gets a downstairs cocktail bar

Ember Yard has had a re-vamp with a new head chef, new interiors and a new cocktail bar but the same smokey, wood-fired vibe. It’s the kind of useful Soho restaurant to have up your sleeve that actually takes bookings, but also stays open late for walk-in’s (until 1am Thursday – Saturday) and would be fun post-theatre for drinks and small plates of charcuterie and whole fried boquerones. If you’re settling in, the Taste of Ember Yard menu is the thing to order where delicious things just keep coming – think tomato braised squid with cannelloni beans, n’duja and migas, iberico presa with ado Bianco and a sweet dulce de leche cheesecake for pud. Influences of Spain and Italy are reflected in the wine list, but don’t miss out on the smokey signature cocktails served at the buzzy new Ember Bar downstairs where there’s a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights. 60 Berwick Street, W1F 8SU,


— Daisy Allsup
16th January 2020