These are London's coolest Industrial restaurants
Few things are more difficult to accomplish than finding the perfect balance between distressed cool and cosy charm. We know there’s a very specific sweet spot where untreated concrete meets contemporary style; and London is full of special little nooks that are changing the way we look at the typical neighbourhood dining spot. Whether it’s exposed industrial pipes paired with a welcoming fire pit, or whitewashed walls providing a backdrop for sleek counter dining, we’re sharing our top picks for neighbourhood eateries that are both shabby and sophisticated.
When the team behind Michelin-starred Shoreditch favourite, The Clove Club, announced they were opening up a Modern American restaurant in Shoreditch, we didn’t really know what to expect. Two Lights on Kingsland Road has everything a good neighbourhood spot should have: a laid-back atmosphere, welcoming staff, and good grub. The decor is unfussy, pared down, and dare we say it — light. White-washed brick walls, window counter dining, and simple ceiling light fixtures make for a dining experience that’s as easy as the decor.
Led by American transplant Chase Lovecky, the kitchen has been busting out some ace dishes like wood oven-cooked artichokes, crab on beef fat chips, or the famous sardine katsu sandwich. Lovecky tells Hot Dinners: “Two Lights is a dynamic space. Cornish clay plaster and open design give it a fun and buzzy atmosphere. The kitchen is open, so you can see us working, particularly with the wood fire oven."
Chef Kian Samyani has made a name for himself by bringing in bold flavours via Indian restaurants Gymkhana and Brigadiers. His newest venture Berenjak takes him back to his roots. Tucked away on Romily Street in Soho, Berenjak is modelled after the hole-in-the-wall kabab houses found on the alleys of Tehran and upon stepping foot inside, diners are immediately transported to Persia. There’s an explosion of colours and textures with cracked plaster and brick walls, colourful tiles, Persian carpets, and overgrown foliage, yet despite everything going on, the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming.
“Our offering is traditional, but it’s elevated by using better produce. The cuisine is simple and produce-led. The food takes time to prepare and to cook and it’s from the heart. We’ve just tried to recreate some nostalgia in a fun and accessible environment and hope that translates to our guests when they dine with us,” Samyani explains to Something Curated. We love Berenjak so much, it’s actually made it to our Best of 2018 hit-list.
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Right in the middle of the gastronomic hub that is Bermondsey, Londrino is the project of acclaimed Portuguese chef Leandro Carreira, who trained at Michelin-starred Mugaritz in San Sebastian. Londrino is one of the many Portuguese restaurants (along with APLO favourite Casa do Frango) which have been gaining popularity across the capital.
‘‘Londrino’ means ‘Londoner’ in Portuguese and we want it to become a real neighbourhood restaurant. Somewhere you can pop in for a glass of wine and a snack, or sit down and celebrate with friends over dinner”, Carreira tells The Evening Standard. That neighbourhood look and feel is communicated by design firm Rare Architecture as poured concrete walls add roughness and texture to the otherwise sleek interiors with traditional Portuguese tiles providing pops of colour.
Carreira is firm that guests can expect more non-traditional dishes on the menu. Though Portuguese flavours and ingredients are used, he wanted to give Londoners a different angle to the cuisine. You’ll find menu items such as native rock oysters with samphire vinaigrette, sardine tartare with sourdough crisps, and clams bulhäo pato with bolo do caco.
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Marcis Dzelzainis and Michael Sager may have had a runaway hit with their restaurant and wine bar Sager + Wilde, but the duo wasn’t ready to stop just yet. Their new Clerkenwell joint, Fare Bar + Canteen, is already getting rave reviews for their bespoke cocktails, speciality coffee, vast wine list, and tasty dishes. Pan-fried lamb sweetbreads with curry and cucumber yoghurt, roasted artichokes with spicy romesco, and a walnut pavlova with bitter chocolate and blood orange are the sorts of bites you’ll find on their menu. There’s also a large focus on coffee as the duo want to ensure that guests treat the new venture like a neighbourhood local that they can enjoy from day ‘til night.
Sager tells Sprudge, “In this new location, it’s in the most exciting area of London where all design is based: web design, architects, branding, you name it.” The split-level restaurant and bar is located in an old Moorlands building and has a modern warehouse feel to it. The exposed ceiling vents are reminiscent of a school canteen whilst the many plants scattered around the space keep it soft around the edges. Wooden floors, a marble bar, Holophane lighting, and white pillars all make for an industrial yet open space. Whether it’s City workers popping in for some grab-and-go coffee to a group of friends expertly swishing some wine in their glasses, Fare Bar + Canteen is the perfect example of an industrial chic space you want to while away in on a daily basis.
Words by Ina Yulo