Restaurants are opening so quickly in London you might expect a dilution of quality. There must surely be a limit to the number of talented chefs, waiters, sommeliers and other staff.
Yet somehow the dining scene is getting better as it grows. Here are 13 of the best I've tried so far this year, along with a spare 13 alternatives that mainly opened in the distant past of 2016, in case these are full. I've kept it alphabetical—for my convenience—but my favorite (buried low down) is Lorne, with high quality and low prices.
AsterFinnish chef Helena Puolakka serves Nordic-French dishes such as Arctic char, hot smoked, Greenland prawns, aubergine caviar and dill at her restaurant in Nova Victoria. There's also a cafe, bar and deli. Club sandwich with smoked reindeer, anyone?
This basement meat joint specialises in chops cooked over charcoal. They are juicy and packed with flavour. The £20 ($26) "All In" option is great value. It includes snacks and a pile of chops, along with flatbread and a side. The service is friendly and efficient. Alternative: Smokestak - Large and popular barbecue joint near Brick Lane.
Claude Bosi at Bibendum
French chef Claude Bosi makes no secret of the fact that he's going for three Michelin stars at this gorgeous restaurant. The food is beautiful and is expensive a la carte. The standout dish? Duck jelly with Oscietra caviar, spring onion, smoked sturgeon. It's £39. Alternative: Elystan Street - Unfussy food from a two-Michelin-star chef. Expensive.
Comptoir Cafe and Wine
This casual establishment near Bond Street Tube station is the latest from Xavier Rousset, one of the most respected sommeliers in the U.K. There's a basement wine shop, too, where you can pick up a bottle to enjoy with very decent casual plates. Alternative: Cabotte - French restaurant and wine bar co-owned by Rousset.
La Dame de Pic
Modern French food served in an historic hotel near the Tower of London. Chef Anne-Sophie Pic holds three Michelin stars at her flagship in France. Dishes include white millefeuille, Tahitian vanilla cream, jasmine jelly, Voatsiperifery pepper foam. Alternative: Bellanger - Grand Cafe in Islington, inspired by the Alsatian brasseries of Paris.
A touch of Melbourne-style dining comes to north London. Dandy serves brunch-type dishes such as smashed new peas with ricotta, garlic and mint on sourdough, along with great coffee. Service is friendly and informal and you are likely to find yourself sharing a table. Alternative: Perilla - Simply delicious modern dishes at low prices in Newington Green.
This modern Thai street-food establishment in Highbury is set for a six-month residency inside a former Italian restaurant. (Which explains why it says Ristorante Italiano over the door). Small plates include caramelised pork, prawn and chicken with peanuts and crispy shallots on sliced young pineapple. Alternative: Kiln - Counter dining at a modern Thai restaurant in Soho.
Game Bird at the Stafford
Accessible and enjoyable British food in a posh Mayfair hotel. The standout dish is steak-and-ale steamed suet pudding with gravy, served with mash or chips (£22). The wine list is excellent. There's also afternoon tea and Sunday lunch, each priced at £36. Alternative: Holborn Dining Room - British brasserie in a Holborn hotel.
Chef Jason Atherton's first stab at Italian-American cuisine, near Victoria train station. Hai Cenato serves pizza, pasta and other accessible dishes, along with cocktails and beer. Alternative: Sosharu - Atherton's first stab at Japanese cuisine, in Clerkenwell.
My favourite new restaurant of the year to date serves unfussy seasonal dishes using British ingredients. The set lunch is £15 for one course and £22 for two. The young chef, Peter Hall, is one to watch. The service from sommelier Katie Exton is a match for his fine cooking. Alternative: Anglo - My favorite new restaurant of last year: Modern British food in Clerkenwell.
This Fitzrovia restaurant of TV chef Monica Galetti blends classical French cooking with influences of her native Samoa. (Mere - pronounced Mary - is her mother's name.) Galetti previously worked at Le Gavroche with her husband, David, who is co-owner. Alternative: Jikoni - Kenya-born British-Indian Ravinder Bhogal draws on her heritage.
Chef Francesco Mazzei celebrates the country cooking of southern Italy at this trattoria. A short menu of mainly pizza and pasta dishes shows Mazzei's mastery of flavour. The grilled peas (£5) are brilliantly simple. Don't miss the Calabrese pizza with nduja and chili (£12). Alternative: Popolo - Casual and inexpensive Italian restaurant in Shoreditch.
Rick Stein at Barnes
Rick Stein is one of the best-liked chefs in the business, and it is good he now has a restaurant in London. His focus is on fish, served here in a dining room with a beautiful riverside location. Filming commitments meant Stein didn't show up for the opening. Sigh.125 Mortlake High Street, Barnes, SW14 8SN; +44-20-8878-9462.Alternative: Swan - Overlooking the river at Shakespeare's Globe, with a talented new chef, Allan Pickett.
Article by Richard Vines, chief food critic at Bloomberg.