clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Five Restaurants to Try This Bank Holiday Weekend

London Fields’ hottest new restaurant, perfect dim sum in New Cross Gate, Sri Lankan breakfasts in Victoria Park

Andrew Leitch/William Gleave

Fontaine’s Bar

Part-tropical, part-art deco, with cream sofas and vintage tables bought off EBay — plus palm trees and a peacock-feather-printed carpet that are too classy to be tacky — this is a gem of a bar, offering keenly-priced drinks on an unassuming stretch of Stoke Newington Road. Would suit anyone looking for classic cocktails or getting up to mischief: try a Charlie Chaplin, which brings a sloe gin blast. Oh, and it’s run by former burlesque dancer Ruby Fontaine, who only hires female bartenders. —Victoria Stewart
176 Stoke Newington Rd, N16 7UY

Hong Kong City

New Cross Gate on the East London Line is the venue for this cavernous restaurant where the service is erratic, but the dim sum is divine. Classic dumpling offerings such as har gau and siu mai rival those in Chinatown, and the illustrated menu contains more unusual treats such as decent xiao long bao and cheung fun rice noodle rolls packed with scallops. Their roast pork puffs are a must-order with warm, flaky pastry encasing rich, sweet meat and their crispy pork with mustard is a delight. After dining, jostle with others for a photo on their beautiful wedding throne, and then order a bubble tea to take away. The most astonishing thing? It’s difficult to spend more than £20 a head. —MiMi Aye
43 New Cross Road, SE14 5DS

Pharmacy 2

What’s happened to Pharmacy 2? The restaurant certainly hasn’t acquired the same Cool Britannia hype its predecessor enjoyed. Maybe because it’s in Vauxhall instead of early 2000s Notting Hill, which was, apparently, the peak of convivial glamour. Still, to Pharmacy 2’s credit, it has not become a “very, very shit restaurant”; the Damien Hirst installation is still there, formidable in its clinical lines and near hallucinatory colour scheme. The food, gently overseen by Mark Hix, is reflective of its year 2000 art gallery aesthetic: forensic and simple; corporate but fun. These days, you might enjoy potato gnocchi with Peter Hannan’s guanciale (the Irishman is well known for the quality of his meat) and wild garlic. Of course, no boundaries are pushed, but Pharmacy 2 does hint at modernity at times: it now serves cockle popcorn, which is slowly gaining ubiquity. On Saturday lunch times, there’s “free-flowing champagne” for £25 a pop. Which sounds quite 2001 Notting Hill. —Josh Barrie
Newport St, SE11 6AJ

Bright

It’s a safe bet that when the June edition of the Hottest Restaurants in London Right Now comes out, Bright will be in it. The eyerolling conspiracy-theorist anti-East London crowd will point to a Venn diagram of P Franco personnel and London Fields location and scream fix!, offering the usual platitudes about small-plated hipster cuisine and brackish natural wine, but this overlooks the precision and quiet confidence of what William Gleave, Phil Bracey and co are doing here. The wines may tick all the low-intervention boxes but they are first and foremost delicious; much the same could be said of the food, especially the katsu sandwich and grilled scarlet prawns. There is truly nowhere better to explore the cutting edge of London’s Copenhagen-meets-Melbourne new wave; there is truly nowhere better to explore natural wine, funky skin contact macerations and all. To put it another way: the future’s orange; the future’s Bright. —George Reynolds
1 Westgate St, E8 3RL

Pavilion Bakery

A Victoria Park institution, a London icon, a Bank Holiday essential. Pavilion has three London sites, but this one is unmissable: a haven of a lakeside pavilion that gets away with cacophonous ruckus and occasional chaos. The coffee is from pioneering London roasters Square Mile; the Nordic-inflected buns are faultless, whether soft turmeric yellow or flecked with black cardamom seeds. The cinnamon ones are fine too, but this is not the place to play safe. Best of all are Sri Lankan influenced plates — queue-worthy hoppers; ferocious sambals; occasional appearances from Cornish mackerel; eggs, duh. The whole thing is meat-free as of July last year, so those in search of bacon can make like the park’s sweat of runners and jog on. —James Hansen
Victoria Park, Old Ford Rd, E9 7DE

Pharmacy 2

Newport Street, , England SE11 6AJ 020 3141 9333 Visit Website

Pavilion Bakery

130 Columbia Road, , England E2 7RG Visit Website

P Franco

107 Lower Clapton Road, , England E5 0NP 020 8533 4660 Visit Website

BAO

590 Valencia Street, , CA 94110 (415) 658-7453 Visit Website

Hoppers

77 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 1QE Visit Website

Bright

1 Westgate Street, , England E8 3RL 020 3095 9407 Visit Website

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater London newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world