Today we announce the winners of the tenth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs, restaurants, dishes, and designs that made the biggest impression on all 24 Eater cities over the past 12 months.
Here are the places — from a Xi’an Chinese solo debut in Bloomsbury to a third site for a cult brand in London’s most famous food market, and a single dish that caught the city’s food-loving imagination — that have taken the London food scene by storm this year. Thank you to everyone who voted over the last few weeks, and congratulations to all of this year’s winners. Here’s a little more about this year’s best of the best.
Restaurant of the Year 2019
The Xi’an Chinese cooking that has made Wei Guirong — an alumnus of Sichuanese restaurant Barshu in Chinatown — a star of London dining, this year got a new home in Bloomsbury. Master Wei is Guirong’s first solo project — following her joint venture, Xi’an Impression by the Emirates Stadium in Highbury, a tiny restaurant which has rightly earned cult status among lovers of regional Chinese food in the capital. Guirong’s trajectory is extraordinary — she trained, among thousands of men, with only three other women at culinary school in Xi’an, later going on to work in prestigious restaurant as the province’s only professional female chef. At Master Wei, like at Xi’an Impression, the focus is on the region’s flour-foods, mianshi: peerless biang biang noodle dishes, with vegetables or beef and hot chilli oil; fine liang pi, cold skin noodles with a cool, refreshing, umami rich dressing, and the chef’s inimitable ‘burgers’ with a cumin-spiced beef or pork filling. That more restaurant goers in the the city now know and can access Guirong’s cooking is one of the industry’s very good good news stories this year.
Design of the Year
The best designed restaurant in London this year is awarded to the Borough Market outpost of Bao, London’s favourite Taiwanese gua bao specialist. All Bao venues — in Soho, Fitzrovia, and Xu in Chinatown — are carefully and elegantly designed; design-minded operators — Erchen Chang, Shing Tat Chung, and Wai Ting Chung — are remarkable in their field. But Borough stands out. It is a project led by Samuel Hosker, now employed as the group designer director at JKS Restaurants, who brought to life a space which appears to have taken as much inspiration from Tokyo as it did from Tapei: a triumphant interpretation of those cities’ nightlife culture. Together, the Chang, Chung, Chung, and Hosker have created the coolest and most original restaurant, bar, and karaoke venue of the year.
Dish of the Year
Pig fat cannoli at Quality Wines
Quality Wines, the wine bar annexe to the much-loved Quality Chop House is one of the standout venues of the year in London, full stop. Chef Nick Bramham’s menu changes weekly, with the exception of three things: gildas, jamon Iberico, and pig fat cannolo, which come either with a chocolate or sour cherry filling. The latter holds all of the confected thrill of a single cherry drop or a shot of Disaronno Amaretto, offset by the lactic tang of ricotta and cased within a biscuity, lardo-rich curved brittle dusted with icing sugar. It’s the perfect end to what is almost always a perfectly complete meal at a venue boasting all the hallmarks of the best kind of eating and drinking in London in 2019.