Lifestyle

WEST IS BEST | HOW W11 & W12 BECAME THE HOTTEST SPOTS IN TOWN

For such a diverse metropolis, London can be *very* tribal. The north-south divide is real, and just like it’s a battle convincing someone to cross over the Thames, going for dinner in West London when you’re at the other end of the Central Line is no mean feat, especially when west has built a rep for being a bit posh, a bit old school, dare we say, a bit stuffy.

West London had its heyday in the late nineties and early noughties, before the cool kids flocked east, swapping Georgian townhouses and well-heeled crowds for arty lofts and party people. Despite the rise and rise of East London over the last decade and a bit, the other side of the city is hardly a food desert with big-name residents like Core by Clare Smyth, The Ledbury, Orasay and Caractere, plus a big assist from White City House, pulling people in. 

But there has been something of a West London renaissance over the past few months, with several of the city’s hottest new spots – the type that wouldn’t be out of place in Shoreditch or Hackney – springing up in Notting Hill and its surrounds. That it’s home to TikTok-famous butter king Thomas Straker’s debut restaurant should leave you in no doubt that W11 is down with the kids once again.

Caia combined two of 2022’s big trends – open-fire cooking and high-fidelity sound systems – when it opened on Golborne Road last summer, and The Pelican, along with The Princess Royal and its menu from Ben Tish, led another, the revival of the posh pub. Dorian, the restaurant marketed as ‘an anti-Notting Hill bistro’ (whatever that meant) had no problem winning over locals thanks to a menu featuring crab rosti, liver parfait on toast, and huge sharing steaks. Soho spots Miznon and Creme took their cult cottage pie pitas and bulging cookies west, choosing Notting Hill over anywhere in East London, as the location for their second London sites, and the Pachamama Group picked Portobello Road for their foray into Greek food with Zephyr

And there’s plenty more to come; Fadi Kattan is heading for the ‘hood with his Palestinian restaurant Akub, which blends flavours and traditions of the Middle East with British ingredients, as is Empire Empire, a disco-themed Indian restaurant from Gunpowder founder Harneet Baweja. Japanese bakery Hachi is also joining a nice little collection of West London artisan bakeries, including Layla, Buns From Home and Kuro (the coffee shop also opened a restaurant late last year as part of its expansion). 

The new western frontier doesn’t stop at the A3220. The Hoxton’s newest design-led digs have opened in Shepherd’s Bush, with Chet’s, the Thai-Americana restaurant created in collaboration with Kris Yenbamroong of cult LA Thai spot NIGHT + MARKET, finding a permanent home inside the hotel. Smashburgers, blooming onions, and full moon bucket cocktails have officially landed in Shey Boo. The only question remains, what’s going to be next to make it out west?