Dining is no longer just about eating good food - it’s about experiencing new tastes and smells and exploring different cultures. Eating out has evolved to embody different elements of the cuisine, bringing to life these elements in the restaurant. 
 
2019 has been an incredible year for restaurant openings in London. At Lombok, we are big foodies so we thought why not compile our top 5 restaurant openings from the past year. 
 

Circolo Popolare, Fitzrovia

Image courtesy of @rosiecole93

Circolo Popolare is the definition of Instagram. It’s like walking onto the backdrop of an Insta-shoot, except there are no filters. (Psst! That’s actually how we discovered Circolo, thanks @popupslondon.) 
 
Circo Popolare is the hotly anticipated sister restaurant of Gloria, an extravagant Italian trattoria based in the heart of Shoreditch. Circo follows suit, boasting a forest of foliage outside the front,  it can’t be missed.     
 
Imagine being transported to Sicily, where white walls and faux flowers cover the ceiling, with long extended tables makes it feel like you’re part of a large Italian family. The alcoves are lined with 20,000 contemporary and vintage spirit bottles making you want to stay and try every bottle - salute! Nearly every inch of the walls is covered in some kind of Italian artefact, bringing to life the Sicilian dream. In fact, the service and staff emphasise its Italian authenticity. 
 
The menu offers an array of traditional Italian cuisine, expect truffle based pizza, Burrata and Ragu. The Emrata Burrata was a particular favourite: acting as a version of the margarita, its base is creamy burrata mixed with almonds. If this isn’t to your taste, try the Elizabeth Regina, a white based pizza with some of the most amazing prosciutto and mozzarella.
 
Circo Poplare is a must for everyone. If Italian is not your cuisine of choice, then go for the interior decor, it has to be one of the most beautifully designed restaurants in London.
 
Travel to Sicily here
 

Lucky Cat, Gordon Ramsay


Image courtesy of Dezeen

Fancy eating your way through Asia’s finest cuisine in one sitting. Gordon Ramsay’s latest addition to his culinary empire does just that - an Asian explosion in the heart of London. 
 
Lucky Cat has taken over the space formerly occupied by Ramsay’s Maze in Mayfair. After a 14 year stint, Maze closed its doors to be replaced by the first Ramsay restaurant opening in five years. Described as an "authentic Asian Eating House and vibrant late-night lounge, inspired by the drinking dens of 1930s Tokyo and the Far East", Lucky Cat was hotly anticipated as having one of the most exciting menus in London - it was worth the wait.  
 
As what is popular in most of Asia, Lucky Cat offers a salivating array of shared plates. Shared plates create an intimate dining experience, which encourages discussion around every dish. Unlike most fine dining restaurants, the food comes when it’s ready. Tasting the Al-Carte menu is much like traveling across the continent; from Monkfish Cheek Katsu and melt-in-your-mouth Saikyo Miso Black Cod, to Seared Diver Scallops and Bonito Fried Duck Leg Bao. Each dish is an experience, transporting you back to its place of origin.  
 
Will luck be on your side? Let fate decide. Ask for a Lucky Nigrini and you will be given a box with three dice. Each dice represents an element to your Nigrini, each number is a different type or flavour of that element - creating over two hundred Nigrini combinations.
 
Arfoditi Krassa is the creative mind behind Lucky Cat’s decor. As mentioned, the interior design was inspired by the 1930s late night drinking and dancing establishments known as Japanese kissa bars. Arfodit Krassa’s aim was to recapture their ambience. In an article in the Telegraph, she says: You should feel you’ve gone to a glamorous time in the past, not something cliched and bling... These were fun places where you could let your hair down, go into a slightly different world.” Arfoditi Krassa was also the interior designer for Dishoom, which shares many similarities. 
 
Lucky Cat is a definite if you’re looking for a stunning fine dining experience with an Asian twist. Make sure you don’t miss the Lucky Nigiri or Seared Diver Scallops. 
 
Book a reservation or explore the menu here. If you like the look of Lucky Cat’s decor, head over to Ochre House to see what they are doing. 

The Grand Duchess, Paddington 

Image courtesy of Londonist

Step aboard an old fisherman’s boat and head out into the Cornish atlantic to catch the day’s fish. Doesn’t that sound like the dream? The Grand Duchess offers just that (well, almost), it’s a new floating restaurant moored in the Grand Union Canal behind Paddington station. The menu is predominantly fish (surprise!), with 90% of the fish coming from Cornwall the morning before serving -  you couldn’t get fresher unless you went out and caught it yourself.
 
The Grand Duchess comes from the London Shell Co and is the sister restaurant of much-loved Prince Regal, which is still cruising up and down the canal and provides some escapism from everyday London-life. As the Grand Duchess is a floating canal boat, it adds a completely unique dining experience. The boat’s interior is lined one side with tables and the other with chairs looking out onto the river, helping to bring the outside in. Much of the original features and decor have remained, with the restaurant itself sitting below water level, creating a much larger space than expected from the exterior.  
 
We’d highly recommend the Deep Fried Oyster with Pea Soup and Chalk Stream Trout, Gem, Cucumber, Medjool Dates with Creme Fraiche. Although, the downside to offering a menu which is fresh out-of-the-water is that today’s menu might not be tomorrow’s menu. But, this adds an element of surprise and uniqueness to the experience which is unlike most other restaurants. 
 
Step aboard the Grand Duchess here
 

Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals

 

Image courtesy of Imbibe

Mr Fogg’s recently opened its sixth bar in London. And it’s not one to be missed. Showcasing a collection of Mr Fogg’s flora from his travels around the globe. It’s not only a watering hole, but an exotic experience which promises to transport you to the most extravagant and adventurous corners of the globe.  
 
OK, it might not technically be a restaurant, but we had to include it in our list; being so close to Lombok’s London Showroom it’s a popular destination with the Lombok family, it also mirrors Lombok inside and out. A match made in… heaven?
 
The choice of cocktails are as varied as the interior. Accompanied with a menu, your table will be given an array of flora-infused test tubes. The tubes highlight aromas from Mr Fogg’s expansive cocktail selection, adding the sense of smell before you taste - a delightful addition to your experience and travels. 
 
If you want to spend an evening exploring the exotic delights of a botanical garden in central London, Mr Fogg’s is an ideal destination. Expect taxidermy, aroma-induced flora, and exceptional service. Fitzrovia’s (not-so) hidden gem is a must. 
 
Drink of choice: Gypsophila 
Make a reservation or explore the menu here

Gunpowder, Tower Bridge

 
Image courtesy of  London Lecool
 

Gunpowder has opened its highly anticipated second restaurant. Sitting alongside the riverside next to Tower Bridge, this new addition is much larger than its counterpart, boasting two floors with a vibrant atmosphere and stunning Indian themed interior. 
 
Gunpowder is an Indian restaurant unlike any other. It offers up home-style sharing plates. Imagine walking through the streets of Mumbai and being invited to eat dinner with an Indian family. That’s what it’s like eating at Gunpowder. 
 
Expect Indian classics with a twist. Don’t miss the Egg Curry Masala, Seabass Paturi Maach, Gunpowder Aloo Chaat, or Duck Leg with Andhra style Tomato Samba.
 
Experience the home-style cooking for yourself, here
 
Restaurants to watch out for: 

 

  • Nutshell: an Iranian restaurant in Covent Garden, July 2019 
  • Mo Diner: a 1930’s style American diner with a Med mix in Heddon Street, July 2019 
  • Eggslut: eggs in buns are finally coming to London (Portobello Road), August 2019 
  • Silo: zero-waste restaurant, Hackney Wick, September 2019 
 

The easiest way to explore new tastes, smells and cultures without leaving the comfort of London, is to eat your way around the city. Dining is no longer about the food, it’s about the experience and there’s a whole load of new restaurants that recognise that. 
 
If you have any restaurant recommendations you think we’ll love, tag us on Instagram and we’ll give it a go.