HomeFeatures#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist
#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

After the #FtLionAwards 2021 Best Newcomer of the Year (proudly sponsored by the hugely impressive, family-run restaurant in east London’s Forest Gate, Kicthen 37), we come to our final category and this year’s Best Restaurant of the Year (winners to be announced on 1 January 2022).

As with every year, you have the chance of voting for your favourite on our Instagram and Facebook pages. We want you to either: 1) vote for the following nominees, or 2) let us know both your favourite drink and the place you had it, all on our Facebook and/or Instagram pages.

COLONEL SAAB

#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

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Having opened this year and become FtLion’s second restaurant to be rated a perfect 5/5 in 2021, Colonel Saab, aren’t just up for a newcomer’s award, but have a beverage, a main, a grill, and a dessert up for one too.

Owner, Roop Partap Choudhary, is also MD at boutique 5-star hotel Noor Mahal in India’s Karnal, and his debut restaurant in London’s Holborn is no less than his hotel. We were left astounded by the grandeur of this impressive looking establishment.

While it’s true that the menu here may have been mostly conceived by food personality Karen Anand, we believe that a very talented chef has newly arrived in London. Colonel Saab’s Head Chef, Sohan Bhandari, served us some exceptionally memorable dishes, some of which you simply will not find anywhere else in the capital or, dare we say, the UK.

DUSK

#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

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With a beverage, a main, and two seafood dishes up for contention, DUSK in Essex was voted a high 4.5/5 for the menu put up by their multi-award winning chef, who boasts 2 AA Rosettes, Stephen Gomes.

What made this menu such an exciting one is that it has been designed with one eye on a Michelin star. How many Muslim restaurateurs do you know of in this country that are literally aiming for the stars in this respect? It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when we tell you that no single menu has excited us more in all this time than DUSK’s. Chef Gomes has channeled all his years of gastronomic knowledge and wizadry into helping DUSK achieve the goal of becoming the UK’s first Halal Michelin restaurant.

EGGOLAND

#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

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Having been opened by pro-boxer Sohail Ahmad, Eggoland in central London’s Fitzrovia received incredible publicity; and already has three burgers up for consideration.

As the name suggests, this is all to do with eggs. As such, while the menu is a small one (you can only do so much with eggs, right?), it’s obvious that plenty of thought has gone into what’s been created here, with small, seemingly ingenious, ideas (like having the fried egg placed “face-down” to help properly lubricate things in the burger) evident of this fact. More importantly, the food we got to enjoy was just knock-out (couldn’t help the pun) and rated 4.5/5.

HERITAGE

#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

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With a starter, main, grill, seafood, veggie, and dessert up for consideration, Heritage in London Dulwich, which was rated a perfect 5/5 too, is also up for ‘Best Newcomer’.

They say lightning never strikes twice. In Chef Dayashankar Sharma’s case though, it struck us down once again! Not only has the good chef replicated the form and magic that earned his menu at Grand Trunk Road a perfect 5/5 rating back in 2017, but we concluded that “he’s bettered that with Heritage”. Some of the dishes presented during this review were, simply put, epic!

We’ve enjoyed Indian food at some exceptionally good restaurants over the years. And while some chefs may have shown greater technical ability than Chef Sharma, and others still superior knowledge of specific cooking styles and methods, none have managed to combine both to the standard required, while maintaining that high level of execution for a given menu throughout the duration of a review, to achieve FtLion’s coveted perfect rating. Chef Dayashankar Sharma hasn’t just done it once, but twice over.

KARAMAY

#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

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Karamay in London’s Hackney is one of the few genuine Uyghur restaurants in London, which didn’t just score a solid 4.5/5, but has a Signature Fried Noodle shortlisted for a ‘Best Main’.

This place is an exceptionally good place to visit; and one that’s run by a young Muslim family who are absolutely passionate and dedicated to flying the flag and flavours of Uyghur cuisine in the most authentic way. The added bonus to visiting Karamay, however, is that you also get to choose a variety of delicious Chinese dishes – all Halal.

MASALCHI

#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

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Masalchi in London Wembley is Double Michelin Chef Atul Kochhar’s adaptation to the changing clime. This isn’t so much fancy Michelin food as it is refined comfort street food. Currently, this restaurant has a veggie, main and grill in for the running.

Without being punchy and racy, or timid and shy, the dishes here are so well balanced that not only do they further underscore Atul’s mastery of Indian spices, but they’ll likely succeed in appealing to broader palate too. Therein lies the secret behind the 4.5/5 rating of this impressive new establishment.

MATHURA

#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

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Chef Atul Kochhar does it again with his fine dining style of cooking culminating in Mathura in Westminster being rated a 4.5/5, with a drink, starter, veggie, and two desserts up for an award.

As you can imagine, we were expecting big things from a restaurant as magnificent as Mathura; and we weren’t left disappointed. As per usual, some of the dishes we had the pleasure of trying at The Chef’s Table didn’t just have Atul’s mastery of spices indelibly stamped all over them, but will live long in the memory.

RAMO RAMEN

#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

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Having been the third and last restaurant this year to earn a flawless 5/5, Ramo Ramen have a dessert, main, seafood, and veggie in with a chance.

Between the time we first visited Ramo two years ago and our return, things in the world of restaurateuring have changed in a way no one would have envisaged. During this time, however, the team behind the brand, namely the Maginhawa Group, have succeeded in establishing a menu that isn’t just unique to this second restaurant, but an improvement on the first’s which we rated 4.5/5.

From the innovation put into their starters, to the careful thought invested into creating their Filipino-infused Japanese ramens, it’s evident that Ramo have pushed themselves to improve their brand and menu; and by golly did it show!

TASHAN

#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

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With a starter and a main, Tashan in London’s Hampstead was voted 4.5/5 and is the latest addition to a growing list of impressive restaurants by chef and restaurateur Naveen Dogra.

With a chef and restaurateur with another three successful Indian restaurant brands to his name, viz. Balham Social, Chook Chook, and [email protected] (the last ranked high on Tripadvisor), Chef Dogra’s evident knowledge and skill in being able to infuse a dish with strong spices, and yet temper them in such a way such that they remain palatably enjoyable, took us by surprise.

This place has only been open a few weeks; so it’s only a matter of time before they iron out any shortcomings. And yet, some of the dishes we had will again live long in the memory.

THE YELLOW CHILLI

#FtLionAwards 2021 Restaurant of the Year shortlist

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Indian celeb chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s The Yellow Chilli in London’s Wembley has done exceptionally well for these awards too having been finalised for two drinks, a starter, a main, a veggie, and being considered for ‘Best Newcomer’. This place provides a small glimpse of why Chef Sanjeev Kapoor maintains such a formidable reputation. With the brand having been around since 2001, and numbering over 80 sites across India and beyond, this restaurant indicates how the focus and drive for success is still firmly there.

Not only were the dishes here unique enough to help separate The Yellow Chilli as a sui generis brand in an otherwise crowded Indian market, but they also demonstrated the exceptional cooking skills of chefs not shy in authentically delivering bold and spicy flavours where needed. In short, this place offered more than enough to leave a big and lasting impression on us.

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