Combining rustic Italian cuisine with elegant décor, Banca is a new breed of Italian restaurant that can rival any fine-dining establishment in the city. Housed in a former bank, it has a dark colour scheme accented with gold and bronze, complemented by quirky original features such as the vault door in the private dining room and safety-deposit boxes at the entrance. The food is served on sharing plates. Start with a selection of freshly baked bread with mozzarella; for dessert the lime sorbet with apricot is wonderfully refreshing.
Banca, 30 North Audley Street, London W1K 6ZF, +44 (0)20 7647 2525
Lutyens Wine Bar
A new venture from Prescott & Conran, Lutyens Wine Bar excels at blending old and new in its décor as well as its extensive wine list. The interior takes cues from the art deco era with bold, clean lines, a monochrome tiled floor and statement curved bar, while the wine list is in two halves; one dedicated to Young and Exciting vintages and one showcasing Fine and Rare wines from a selection of the world’s most acclaimed estates. A complementing food menu accompanies the wine list; charcuterie and a wide range of cheeses are offered alongside open sandwiches, freshly prepared salads and chilled oysters.
Lutyens Wine Bar, 85 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1AE, +44 (0)20 7583 8385
At Buddha Bar eastern opulence meets western tastes, combining pan-Asian cuisine with a European lounge bar ambience. The menu draws on Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines, with flavours modified to suit a Western palate; its London branch offers smoked duck and foie gras gyoza and pan fried sea bass with shiso butter alongside its signature chicken salad. The atmosphere is laid-back and the décor luxuriously exotic; be sure to stay for dessert, the ginger lime cheesecake with sweet pineapple salsa comes highly recommended.
Buddha Bar, 145 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7PA, +44 (0)20 3667 5222
The latest opening by the Hakkasan Group, HKK offers a Chinese restaurant experience unlike any other. Chef Tong Chee Hwee presents a 15-course tasting menu that pushes the boundaries of oriental cuisine, adding modern flair to complex Cantonese dishes and using a variety of old and new cooking techniques. British influence can be seen in the ingredient choice, which places particular emphasis on local, organic produce and coastal seafood. The décor is more traditional in tone, taking inspiration from China’s heritage, landscape and ancient symbolism while the open kitchen gives diners a privileged view of the chefs at work.
HKK, Broadgate West, Worship Street, London EC2A 2DQ, +44 (0)20 3535 1888
With its industrial-style interior featuring exposed brickwork, sheet metal and copper pipes, Dabbous is a world away from a typical luxury dining room. In contrast to the unpretentious decor, Ollie Dabbous’s cuisine is exquisite; characterised by clean flavours and simple presentation, it makes the most of ingredients’ natural assets. The menu is seasonal but expect to find dishes such as fennel salad with lemon balm and pickled rose petals, or beef tartare with cigar oil, whisky and rye, paired with wines known for their crisp flavour.
Dabbous, 39 Whitfield Street, London W1T 2SF, +44 (0)20 7323 1544