Some of the Best, If Simplest, Restaurants in London
“Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
In our last post we talked about what it takes to write great copy, and the same rules apply to having a great restaurant – define your brand, make it simple and appealing, and convey that brand identity without sacrificing substance in the interest of style. We have found that restaurants with a clear message and a simple brand can often be the most successful. Take Tortellini Cup, for example, consistently in Trip Advisor’s top 10, it serves only six dishes – two types of pasta, two types of bread, a salad, and a dessert – all of which are authentic to the brand’s home town of Modena. Another good example might be MeatLiquor in Soho – which went from street food van to a chain of restaurants people queue to get into – all because of its famously first-rate burgers.
People like choice, it’s true, but with over 16 thousand restaurants in London it can all be a little overwhelming - even TimeOut can’t limit its Best Restaurants list to fewer than 100! Keeping it simple will help you stand out and helps customers know exactly what to expect. Fewer items on your menu also means you have time to perfect those dishes and achieve that ideal balance of substance and style. This week I’ve chosen three of my favourite places to eat in London who hit this nail on the head.
Zeret Kitchen - £ - Casual dining
This little restaurant in a – frankly – slightly dodgy-looking part of Camberwell has become a firm favourite with London-dwellers, and not just those from south of the river. Serving delicious, authentic food, as well as having some of the friendliest customer service I have experienced, Zeret Kitchen’s offering is simple – traditional Ethiopian food and a warm welcome. The menu is a good length (enough choice but not overwhelming) and caters for both vegetarians and meat-eaters, there are some excellent beer choices, and you can enjoy the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, complete with frankincense and popcorn, at the end of your meal.
Le Relais de Venise, L’Entrecôte - ££ - Smart dining
A restaurant which only serves one dish is pretty much the definition of simplicity. And, I have to say, for me it pays off. One of the London branches of this French favourite, Le Relais de Venise serves only steak and chips and both are delicious. The steak is served with the restaurant’s secret sauce and you also get a starter salad with mustard vinaigrette. There is a good, short wine list and a nice selection of French desserts and that’s it! The décor is nothing to write home about but there is still a queue out of the door most nights – why? Because they focus on making the perfect steak frites. Simplicity at its best.
Indigo at One Aldwych - £££ - Fine dining
On the surface, Indigo at One Aldwych looks like your standard, fine-dining joint. You know the sort, simple but elegant, shines a light on ‘seasonal British produce’, yadda yadda… but there’s a catch – everything is entirely gluten- and dairy-free. Not that you can tell – banish ideas of grainy sauces and cardboard cake, the main selling point for Indigo was that it went totally gluten- and dairy-free and – at least according to the Evening Standard – “no one noticed”. It also caters for both vegetarians and meat eaters. From a marketing perspective, this is excellent. Fancy a fancy meal but you’re coeliac or lactose-intolerant? One quick Google (say “dairy free fine dining restaurant London”) and Indigo pops up. It has a strong, simple USP and hasn’t sacrificed the quality for it.
Keeping it simple doesn’t have to mean only serving one dish or one cuisine – it means finding something that makes your restaurant unique, investing in that wholeheartedly, and making sure that it’s the best it can be. Not sure where to start? We know some people who could help you out…