London for foodies

London for foodies

This month’s specials: our pick of the coolest hangouts and buzziest restaurants opening in London.

A 19th century train station next to Hackney Central has just been converted into East London’s latest hipster haunt. Oslo ( is split over two floors: upstairs is a live-music bar and downstairs, a restaurant. The menu is fishy, influenced by the East End and Nordic cooking: cod, smoked eel, crushed potatoes, clams and parsley liquor, for example. And live-music nights are varied – you could be listening to anything from forlorn indie bands to bleepy beats by Berlin record labels – so check what’s on before you go.

Back in Hackney for 10 weekends from 17 January is Street Feast’s Hawker House ( It’s a paper-plates-and-plastic-cup affair, with street food stalls dishing up everything from Sicilian arancini to octopus and coconut curries from the Seychelles. Be prepared to queue (both to get in and once you’re in).

Not something you see often: a pick and mix tasting menu. At Marylebone restaurant Canvas by Michael Riemenscheider (, you design your own three- to ten-courses from a menu of 15 dishes. There’s a touch of mystery to Riemenscheider’s menu, which includes scallop with cauliflower “a little different”, caramel and juniper, and pigeon with chocolate, beetroot and ‘the golden egg’. You can also go for the ‘surprise menu’ – a selection of six dishes made using whatever the chefs pick up from the market that morning.

The Experimental Cocktail Club empire has introduced its Parisian wine bar Compagnie des Vins Surnaturelsto Covent Garden ( The mostly French wine menu features small producers, and the odd bottle of something from Hungary. Bar snacks are more like little meals – Iberian ham, calamari, sardines – but the food is unfussy and the atmosphere unpretentious.

At last, after Polpetto ( left its cosy home above the French House on Dean Street in May 2012, it is emerging bigger and brighter at a new location on Berwick Street. Head chef Florence Knight will be in the open-kitchen serving up her take on “simple and seasonal” Venetian dishes from the end of January.

Also in Soho is House of Ho (, TV chef Bobby Chinn’s first restaurant outside Vietnam. Hanoi street food it is not, but the concise menu comprises small plates (some substantially smaller than others) of familiar dishes: summer rolls, crab and pomelo salad, lemongrass fish and chicken curry.

Pictured: Oslo, Hackney

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