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Kiln as Scorpio: Dark and compelling
Kiln as Scorpio: Dark and compelling
Michaël Protin

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London Restaurants as Star Signs, the Definitive List

Let the signs of the Zodiac be the guide to dining out in London. 

Everybody knows they should eating seasonally where possible — but why limit that to four when there could be 12? Let the signs of the Zodiac be the guide to dining out in London.

Naïfs

Aries (21 March – 19 April)
Aries are honest and direct. They know what they want and are unafraid to just get on and do it. If they weren’t so beautiful and right all the time, they could be seen as self-righteous. Enter Naïfs, a vegan restaurant tucked away in a suburban Peckham street, run by a small family team. It is the courageous, adventurous Aries of the restaurant world, an attitude that needs a touch of naivety (or you’d never go on the adventure in the first place.) Aries are a fire sign, but one that is deeply compatible with other fire signs — so less ego and more passion, drive, and a need to never be bored. This attitude is written all over the weekly changing menu at Naïfs, where each mouthful is a “wtf, how is that so delicious!?”

Brigadiers
Brigadiers: Arguably JKS’s most Taurean venue.
JKS Restaurants

Brigadiers

Taurus (20 April – 20 May)
In the 14 years that JKS Restaurants has been going, the group has overseen a staggering number of high-profile London restaurant launches — Gymkhana, Bao, Hoppers, Lyle’s, Sabor, Arcade, just for starters. It’s a feat of productivity of which Taurus would be very proud, and Brigadiers is arguably JKS’s most Taurean venue. It’s in the City (check; Taureans love the cut and thrust of deal-making), in the bullish Bloomberg Arcade (check), and serves the best kind of big, bold drinking food (guinea fowl ‘sizzlers’; beef shin and bone marrow biryani; butter chicken wings; check, check, check).

Pophams Hackney

Gemini (21 May – 20 June)
A game of two halves, Geminis never stand still — just like Pophams’s easterly outpost. By day one of London’s most consistent bakeries, it ducks into the proverbial phonebox at 6 p.m. and emerges as Pophams the pasta restaurant, with a virtuoso menu. Think toasted sourdough passatelli, chicken brodo, and maple-roasted pumpkin gnocchi in a smoked scamorza sauce. A good time is guaranteed — just don’t get too comfy.

Towpath Cafe in east London is back open on the canal near Haggerston
“A little slice of heaven.”
Micaela Philippo

Towpath Café

Cancer (21 June – 22 July)
Astrology Instagram loves to bully Cancers. “Oh did you bake for all your colleagues? Are you secretly holding grudges against them all? Look, there’s a puppy! Why are you crying AGAIN?” In fact, what matters most to Crabs is comfort — and they find it in abundance at the little slice of heaven that is Towpath, with its soul-soothing menu of toasties, things for dipping and dunking, and rich chocolatey desserts. Closing for half the year to recover from being busy is also very Cancer, as is being on a parade built for dogs to walk past in need of quick pats.

A lamb offal flatbread and pork crackling at Black Axe Mangal, featuring flowery tablecloths
A lamb offal flatbread and pork crackling at FKABAM.
Ola Smit

FKABAM

Leo (23 July – 22 August)
This spot is dark and moody, metal, and goth but enlivened by technicolour tablecloths. The oven is currently dedicated to cult film The Warriors (a beautiful gritty NYC 70s film), previously it was The Kiss, which should explain the aesthetic. It is a riot of flavour, with chef-owner Lee Tiernan’s skill, attention to detail and vast experience keeping everything on point and not chaotic — it doesn’t get more Leo than that. The lion is the King of the jungle and here the food is certainly the centre of attention, but with love and warmth that brings everyone into the fold to party; even someone’s nan would enjoy being part of this pride. A restaurant where anything can happen, so don’t be surprised at singing along to Metallica and Orville Peck, then dancing on table tops to Britney Spears.

The amount of organisation and technique that goes into a 100ml pour of liquid is what gets a Virgo going.
tayer_elementary/Instagram

Tayēr + Elementary

Virgo (23 August – 22 September)
Nothing gets more finely tuned than an excellent cocktail; fat-washed, triple-distilled, foraged, aged, infused… The amount of organisation and technique that goes into a 100ml pour of liquid is what gets a Virgo going. In true Virgo form, Tayēr + Elementary (which is No. 2 50 Best Bars 2022; No. 1 is in Barcelona, a sexy and flamboyant spot, probably a Leo) knows that precision of flavour goes beyond the drink. Aesthetics are also important for pleasure, and so there are custom lights, moulded from charcoaled wood inspired by an ancient Japanese tradition, and glassware so refined and delicate it’s barely there. The bar was designed bespoke, obvs, through virtual reality tech, so that before a single thing was built co-founders Alex Kratena and Monica Berg knew it was highly functional. And for those that insist a meal means food, there are sophisticated bites of nostalgia such as gildas, corn dogs, and cheesecake.

Elliot’s Borough

Libra (23 September – 22 October)
The only star sign that’s compatible with all the others, Libras move through the world in a bubble of bonhomie, pausing only occasionally to lie down in a darkened room. A truly Libran restaurant needs to be a great all-rounder that everyone loves, as good for a big group brunch as it is for a meet-the-parents dinner. Step forward Elliot’s, an oasis with a jolly striped awning in the weekend chaos of Borough Market. The menu is packed with crowd-pleasers like Isle of Mull cheese puffs, garlic butter calzone and wood-oven-baked cheesecake, and the biodynamic wine list might convert even hardened funk haters. Reliably lovely.

Two chefs move inside the kitchen at Kiln, with a charcoal burning range.
The kitchen at Kiln in Soho.
Michaël Protin

Kiln

Scorpio (23 October – 21 November)
In 2020 a woman was bitten by a shark in Queensland, Australia. “I still love sharks!” she shouted, as she was stretchered off the beach to the nearest hospital, bleeding heavily. This response pattern, as the meme goes, will be familiar to anyone who has dated Scorpios — or foolhardily ordered a second dry red herring curry at Kiln after nearly expiring while consuming the first. Dark, compelling, this place is enough to turn anyone into a glutton for punishment. Sting when you’re winning, baby.

Noble Rot Lambs Conduit Street

Sagittarius (22 November – 21 December )
The YOLO/fuck it star sign. The first anyone will know about a Sagittarius packing their bags and heading off on a round-the-world trip is upon getting their out-of-office. The original Noble Rot famously lends itself to bunking off and throwing caution to the wind. One might go there with the intention of getting the sensible set lunch menu and one glass of wine, but before you know it, it’s 5:30 p.m. and you’re staring at an empty £300 bottle of Puligny-Montrachet. The bank will call asking if your card has been stolen. You will regret nothing.

Manteca

Capricorn (22 December – 19 January)
They’re the Zodiac’s spreadsheet enthusiasts, and everyone always knows where they are with a Capricorn. Ditto Manteca: now in its permanent home in Shoreditch after a hugely successful series of residencies, dining here feels like being in the teeth of the best kind of well-oiled machine. Service is slick without being impersonal and the menu confidently serves hit after hit: brown crab cacio e pepe, fazzoletti with duck ragu, a kale salad that’s actually good. Its nose-to-tail approach is very Capricorn too; they abhor wasted anything, whether it’s time or food.

Chandelier-decked, reclaimed furniture-adorned Brunswick House conveys the right amount of mystic to embody esoteric Aquarius.
Chandelier-decked, reclaimed furniture-adorned Brunswick House conveys the right amount of mystic to embody esoteric Aquarius.
Ola Smit

Brunswick House

Aquarius (20 January – 18 February)
Aquarius are the “no thoughts, just vibes” of the zodiac, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have substance, it just means that they don’t want to be stuck in a box, defined by others. It also means they want beauty, and to be able to philosophise about said beauty. And so, chandelier-decked, reclaimed furniture-adorned Brunswick House — with Jackson Boxer’s food anchored in the seasons — conveys the right amount of mystic to embody esoteric Aquarius. Baroque opera, Max Richter, or 90s German techno wouldn’t feel out of place as the soundtrack to beautifully presented, creative-but-unfussy dishes like pickled fennel, kohlrabi and shiitake; ember roast beetroot, burrata, and sea buckthorn; or raw dexter beef, smoked bone marrow, and crispy shallot.

Café Deco

Pisces (19 February – 20 March)
Dreamy and feelings-first, Pisces is a perfect fit for the pastelcore trend, which continues to go from strength to strength in the London restaurant world. It finds its fullest expression at Anna Tobias’s Café Deco, opened in partnership with the (dream) team behind 40 Maltby Street. With its childhood summer-hued tiles and tactile, poetically phrased menus — “A little artichoke and Berkswell tart” — it’s a gorgeous napkin sketch of the loveliest possible Bloomsbury restaurant. Steamed halibut in a verdant pool of sorrel, lettuce, and herb sauce is Pisces on a plate.

Arcade

103 New Oxford Street, , England WC1A 1DD Visit Website

Bloomberg Arcade

Bloomberg Arcade, , England

Sabor

35-37 Heddon Street, , England W1B 4BR 020 3319 8130 Visit Website

Brunswick House

30 Wandsworth Road, , England SW8 2LG 020 7720 2926 Visit Website

manteca

49-51 Curtain Road, , England EC2A 3PT Visit Website

Gymkhana

42 Albemarle Street, , England W1S 4JH 020 3011 5900 Visit Website

Bao

83 Rue De La Gauchetière Ouest, Ville-Marie, QC H2Z 1C2 (514) 875-1388

Café Deco

43 Store Street, , England WC1E 7DB 020 8091 2108 Visit Website

Kiln

58 Brewer Street, , England W1F 9TL Visit Website

Borough Market

8 Southwark Street, , England SE1 1TL 020 7407 1002 Visit Website

Roasted

76 Churchfield Road, , England W3 6DH 07466 648737 Visit Website

40 Maltby Street

40 Maltby Street, , England SE1 3PA 020 8076 9517 Visit Website

Towpath

42 De Beauvoir Crescent, , England N1 5SB Visit Website

Hoppers

77 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 1QE Visit Website

Brigadiers

1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, , England EC4N 8AR 020 3319 8140 Visit Website

Towpath Café

42 De Beauvoir Crescent, , England N1 5SB Visit Website

Tayēr + Elementary

152 Old Street, , England EC1V 9BW Visit Website

Noble Rot

51 Lamb’s Conduit St, London, Greater London WC1N 3NB +44 20 7242 8963 Visit Website

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