After a week of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the ninth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the biggest impression on all 24 Eater cities over the past 12 months.
Here are the places — from a Basque-inspired grill restaurant in Shoreditch to a summer pop-up in a Kensal Green wine shop that inspired an unprecedented east-west migration — that have taken the London food scene by storm this year. Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of both the readers’ choice and editor’s choice awards. Here’s a little more about this year’s best of the best.
Restaurant of the Year 2018
The standout restaurant opening of the year is the solo debut from chef Tomos Parry. Brat, which opened above Smoking Goat in a former strip club on the corner of Shoreditch High Street and Redchurch Street in March introduced east London to a very voguish style of grill cooking inspired by the seaside restaurants of the Basque country in northern Spain. Parry’s dedication to that cooking style — slow-grilling and the use of a wood oven — for whole turbots, mallards, and seasonal vegetables, together with outstanding service and a wine list developed by Noble Rot, earned the restaurant both a Michelin star and the status of the city’s hottest restaurant in 2018.
Reader’s Choice Restaurant of the Year — Brat
Chef of the Year
Clare Smyth, Core by Clare Smyth
For a chef to open their first restaurant in London is never easy. To do so having been in charge of one of the country’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurants — while working for Britain’s most famous chef — for eight years, means that expectations might hinder rather than help the effort. For Clare Smyth to open Core and earn two Michelin stars at the first available opportunity, with a fine dining restaurant in Notting Hill that is table-clothed without being claustrophobic, and to earn a controversial title by same awards body that overlooked Core itself, indicates that she remains firmly among this country’s and the world’s greatest chefs.
Reader’s Choice Chef of the Year — James Cochran, 1251
Design of the Year
Jolene’s beauty didn’t really come as a surprise. The owners of London’s coolest bakery and one of the year’s hottest new restaurants have form. Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell have in their portfolio two of the city’s prettiest restaurants: Primeur in Canonbury and Westerns Laundry in Holloway. The pair elect a style that finds a niche between chics both industrial-utilitarian and a kind Gallic-pastoral. The duo also reconfigured the space formerly occupied by Newington Table and Dandy — giving it a bigger bar, better bathrooms, and, based on the evidence to date, a much more successful and sustainable business.
Readers’ Choice Design of the Year — Neptune
Restaurateur of the Year
Iré Hassan-Odukale, Ikoyi
Ikoyi — though having opened in 2017 — cemented its place as London’s most creative and captivating restaurant this calendar year. Not only did it narrowly avoid closure in the summer, in part because of such a challenging location in St James’s Market, it courted the attention of the World’s 50 Best milieu and earned a fully justified Michelin star when the guide was announced in October. As the writer Riaz Phillips has observed, West African food in London is not new, but has over the past 18 months, thanks to Hassan-Odukale and others from a new generation, garnered a deeper understanding and a wider appreciation. And although Ikoyi is not explicitly a West African restaurant, its use of ingredients from that region has demonstrated — as Phillips notes — their complexity and flexibility at the highest technical level.
Readers’ Choice Restaurateur of the Year — Iré Hassan-Odukale, Ikoyi
Chef(s) Without a Restaurant of the Year
Zijun Meng and Ana Gonçalves, TāTā Eatery
TāTā Eatery’s Zijun Meng and Ana Gonçalves have been around for some time; the duo closed a long-term pop-up restaurant at Curio Cabal in Dalston last August, and did not meaningfully resurface until this summer, when they took over the small kitchen and makeshift dining room at Borough Wines in Kensal Rise. For the duration of their residency, they delivered some of the most thrilling, clever, and delicious food in the city — dishes which drew inspiration from Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Japanese culinary traditions. Iberico pork, panko-crusted and katsu-sandwiched between lightly toasted brioche, with sliced white cabbage, raspberry brown sauce, and a base note of umami-rich chilli, shallots, and fermented red pepper paste was probably — definitely, according to Instagram — the dish of the year. It is London’s hope that the materialisation of a first proper restaurant is a case of when and not if.
Readers’ Choice Chef Without a Restaurant of the Year — Anna Tobias, Leila’s Shop, P. Franco