Seven of the best new UK restaurants to try in 2021

We highlight seven new restaurant openings in the UK, from a double-decker cheese barge on the Thames to a philanthropic Syrian restaurant run by a former Damascene restaurateur.

By Joel Porter
Published 12 May 2021, 08:00 BST, Updated 15 Jun 2021, 14:18 BST
The 96ft-long double-decker boat will offer dishes such as Cropwell Bishop Stilton ‘devils on horseback’ and medjool ...

The 96ft-long double-decker boat will offer dishes such as Cropwell Bishop Stilton ‘devils on horseback’ and medjool dates stuffed with stilton and wrapped in bacon.

Photograph by Nic Crilly-Hargrave

1. Heft, Lake District

Chef Kevin Tickle was previously head chef at the much-lauded Lake District restaurant Forest Side, which won a Michelin star just eight months after opening. His first solo venture, Heft, is located in a refurbished, 17th-century coaching inn in the heart of the Lake District and will include five guest bedrooms. Set to open imminently, it will serve up Kevin’s unique take on modern British food, using only the very best British ingredients, alongside a wealth of locally reared, farmed and foraged produce.

2. BIBO Shoreditch, London

Short-lived hotel The Curtain is to reopen as The Mondrian Shoreditch this summer with a new range of restaurants and bars. It includes the headline venue BIBO Shoreditch, will be the first UK restaurant for Spanish chef Dani García, who previously ran an eponymous three-Michelin-starred Marbella restaurant before closing it in 2019. Although this isn’t going to be a fine dining restaurant, we can still expect some seriously accomplished Spanish cooking from one of the country’s most celebrated chefs.

Having run some hugely successful pop-ups, Imad Alarnab is set to open his first permanent restaurant in Kingly Court, London, in spring 2021.

Photograph by Imad's Syrian Kitchen

3. Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, London

A happy ending for chef Imad Alarnab. The Damascene restaurateur fled the Syrian civil war and arrived in London in 2015, leaving behind successful restaurant businesses. Since then, he’s run hugely successful pop-ups in the capital, and is now set to open his first permanent restaurant, Imad's Syrian Kitchen, in the West End's Kingly Court on 19 May. The menu will feature dishes such as crispy baby aubergine stuffed with lamb and garlic cumin sauce; labneh topped with garlic, coriander and okra; slow-cooked marinated lamb shoulder; and roasted artichoke stuffed with vegetables. Imad will be donating £1 from every bill to the refugee charity Choose Love.

4. Unalome by Graeme Cheevers, Glasgow

Formerly at the helm of the Michelin-starred Isle of Eriska hotel, Glasgow chef Graeme Cheevers is returning to his hometown to open his first solo venture, Unalome by Graeme Cheevers, in the city’s trendy Finnieston area. There’s no word yet on the dishes that’ll be available, but expect a modern European menu that changes weekly, with lofty ambitions. With his fine dining background, Graeme has made no secret of his desire to bring an additional Michelin star to the city.

Food aside, NoMad is an early contender for the most beautiful new dining room of the year.

Photograph by Simon Upton

5. NoMad, London

Set to be one of the year’s biggest hotel and restaurant openings, New York’s smart NoMad Hotels brand is taking over the Grade II-listed Bow Street Magistrates Court building in Covent Garden. Opening on 25 May, NoMad will be run by chef Ashley Abodeely and is likely to feature a London version of the signature roast chicken with foie gras and black truffle, which has appeared on the menu of the New York restaurant since it opened in 2012. Food aside, this place is already an early contender for the most beautiful new dining room of the year — set in a triple-hight atrium with a glass ceiling, it’s sure to be seen on many an Instagram feed.

Read more: The best bars and pubs in London for outdoor drinks

6. The Bridge Arms, Kent

The team behind the Fordwich Arms, one of the country’s finest Michelin-starred pubs, has taken over another pub in the nearby village of Bridge. The Bridge Arms is already open for outdoor dining, and early menus have included dishes such as confit chicken and leek terrine; hake, mussels, courgette, and smoked butter sauce; and apricot cake with white rum and yoghurt sorbet.

7. The Cheese Barge, London

From the team behind The Cheese Bar and Pick & Cheese (aka the world’s first conveyor-belt cheese restaurant), comes the long-awaited Cheese Barge, which will finally be docking in Paddington Central this month and is taking reservations from 20 May. The 96ft-long double-decker boat will offer dishes such as Cropwell Bishop Stilton ‘devils on horseback’, medjool dates stuffed with stilton and wrapped in bacon, and Windrush goat’s curd with lamb scrumpets and pickled walnuts.

Love food and travel? Taste the world at the National Geographic Traveller Food Festival, our immersive culinary event that takes place every summer. Find out more and book your tickets.

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