West and Central London’s Best New(ish) Lunch Spots

WEST – Shola

After receiving rave reviews of her Gourmet Karachi Supper Club, the talented Aida Khan has opened her first restaurant in the BBC’s former headquarters in White City.

Putting Pakistani food on London’s culinary map and proving that it can be light and healthy, Aida has drawn from her childhood memories and used family recipes on her menu. There are some instant classics here. The Khattee Daal is a mixture of slow cooked lentils that gives a little kick from the curry leaves and whole red chillies, while the lamb shoulder (offering hints of pepper, cinnamon and cardamom) is nicely tender thanks to be charcoal grilled on the Mibrasa oven. The highlight though is the chicken pakora. So tasty and moreish, I wish there had been more! Don’t miss the Doodpathi Chai either – otherwise known as a Pakistani builder’s tea. It’s very comforting and definitely gives off those nostalgic vibes Aida pays homage to.

For more information visit www.sholakitchen.com

WEST – Artisan

After the well deserved hype surrounding UKAI in Notting Hill, the same team have launched a new venture on Portobello Road – Artisan, a contemporary Italian restaurant. Executive Chef at UKAI, Alessandro Verros has alongside Artisan Head Chef, Roberto Vezzani, composed a menu influenced by their Italian roots, complete with a modern touch.

Artisan’s offering diners an alternative taste of Italian food with influential flavours coming in from across the globe. Expect grilled octopus with artichoke salad, squid-ink hummus and tarragon chimichurri, or an exciting take on Vitello Tonnato, with sous vide veal, a tart mayonnaise dressing and tuna tartar, as well as signature dishes such as the Pancetta-wrapped hake with confit tomatoes and basil dressing, and the Yuzu mustard baby chicken with roasted vegetable panzanella.

All pasta is made in-house by Roberto, with standout dishes including chittarra spaghetti with clams, and bonito flakes, and a saffron risotto with roasted bone marrow. There’s also an impressive selection of wood fired pizzas with classics such as Napoletana and Diavola, as well as gourmet pizzas such as tiger prawns with pesto and sun dried tomato, which works wonderfully.

This will be your new favourite dining spot for people watching.

For more information visit www.artisanrestaurant.co.uk

WEST – Romulo Cafe

It’s said that Meghan Markle adores the Philippines’ national dish, chicken adobo, so you’ll pleased to know you can get your very own royal fix from Romulo Cafe on the edge of Kensington High Street. Some Londoners may be familiar with one or two Filipino street food stalls, others may have watched BBQ Dreamz wowing viewers on BBC’s Million Pound Menu, but it’s Romulo Cafe you should really be focusing your attention on.

The first Romulo restaurant was opened in Manila in 2009 by Rowena Romulo’s sister and brother-in-law as a tribute to their grandfather, General Carlos P Romulo. The Kensington restaurant opened its doors in March 2016 and is currently going through some changes, including complete interior and exterior redesigns.

Filipino cuisine is very much Asia’s best kept culinary secret, as the food is a huge melting pot of influences from the Pacific Rim, Malaysia, China, South America and Spain; the legacy of a rich history and colonial past.

Executive chef Jeremy Villanueva previously worked at Le Gavroche under Michel Roux Jr, so the Romulo family recipes are in very good hands.  Meghan Markle may love chicken adobo, but try the Dingley Dell Pork Belly Adobo (Adobong Baboy) here, it’s fantastic. You’ll truly be spoilt for choice when selecting from the menu of sharing plates (platos), but notable standouts include the Sizzling Chicken Inasal Sisig (this is honestly sensational), the Braised Grass Fed British Rib of Beef with Honey Chilli Glaze (melt in the mouth good), the Kalamansi-Cured Tuna Ceviche (very fresh and zesty) and the Young Jackfruit and Coconut Stew (which will remind you of a Thai Green Curry).

For more information visit www.romulocafe.co.uk

CENTRAL – Pho & Bun

Ok so maybe not so new, but next time you need a break from shopping in Soho, stop by Pho & Bun for lunch. It’s one of the city’s best Vietnamese restaurants. It might be cramped in here, but that only lends to the authenticity. And the pho noodle soups are bloody good!

The Shaftesbury Avenue drop in’s healthy broths are left to simmer with beef shin bones for 24 hours, which results in this incredibly flavoursome soup. Order your choice of meat/veggie (the red wine braised beef is honestly sublime) and it’ll be made with fresh rice noodles and arrive with bean-sprout, lemon, chilli and fresh herbs for you to season to taste.

If that’s not your thing then try a burger Vietnamese style. The steamed bao burgers are made fresh in-house everyday and you’ll get the choice of beef, chicken, pork and veggie options. The home-made mayo is a nice touch.

For more information visit vieteat.co.uk/pho-bun