Le Bab At long last, it’s here: a place where you don’t get that instant, soul-shaking bout of remorse upon finishing a kebab. These gourmet ones, cooked by former Le Gavroche chefs, do away with all the infamous conventions: they’re served open, for starters, and the meat (like roe deer shish) is done on a wood and charcoal-fired robata, not shaved from The Big Slab. Perception-altering cooking.
Honourable mention: any of the kebabs at Mangal 1.1
Gunpowder A tiny Indian eatery, seating just 24, but one that feels welcoming and cosy rather than sweatily claustrophobic. There’s a jolly atmosphere, with infectiously cheerful staff and family recipes – a place where you always feel on the brink of a group singsong. The venison doughnut’s rightly had some Instagram buzz, but the real magic is in what they’ve done to broccoli: wet moss has been turned into a smoky BBQ sensation.
Honourable mention: the butter chicken curry at Darbaar
The Ninth Just when you thought Charlotte Street had totally surrendered its soul to the most heroically bland chains, The Ninth – debut solo venture from TV chef Jun Tanaka – comes along to keep it relevant. The layout feels refined – a good one for a date – but you can sense the meticulousness that’s gone into making the fishy Mediterranean cuisine so vibrant and flavoursome. Try the sea bream with lemon and miso.
Honourable mention: the scallops with chorizo at 45 Jermyn Street
Bellanger Like its mega-popular sister restaurant Brasserie Zedel, Bellanger is ornate and cosmopolitan, but never imposing or stuffy – it knows you’ve got a pack of Space Raiders in your bag, but it’s not judging. The French/German menu peaks with the tartes flambees: slim, crispy pizzas with crème fraiche, onions and lardons – great value at £4.95. And while schnitzel’s not having the moment it was two years ago in London, the veal one here is as good as any.
Honourable mention: the venison at Piquet
Canto Corvino A lot of the restaurants around Liverpool Street station know what they’re there for: basic pre-train journey sustenance, or double-quick Stella-soaking after work. Perfunctory stuff. Canto Corvino aims beyond that, an Italian that dares to show some flamboyance with its meat-blasting gizmos – the Josper grill yields a terrific veal T-bone.
Honourable mention: the slow-roasted veal at Il Cudega
Yep, we can exclusively reveal details of the secret menu at Le Bun's residency in Birthdays
Those kids can bang on our door all they want, we'll be out
Delve beyond the nine million "limited-edition pumpkin cocktails" and you'll find some first-rate stuff coming up