Flaming great – London’s best restaurants cooking with live fire | Hot Dinners recommends

From barbecue to the mangal grill via the braai, London’s love of open fire cooking shows no signs of slowing down. Here we’ve brought together the best of the bunch from chefs taking their cues from their childhood family dishes to those freshly inspired by the challenge of cooking over an open flame.

 Acme Fire Cult

Dalston – Abbot St, London E8 3DP

Newest to the party over in Dalston, this sees chefs Andrew Clarke and Daniel Watkins team up with Dalston’s 40FT Brewery for a restaurant that’s all about cooking over fire. You’ll see their impressive (and huge) grill outside where they’re cooking an ever-changing menu of meat and veg, also making some very good use of the local beer.

Follow them on Instagram @acmefirecult

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Smokestak

Shoreditch – 35 Sclater St, London E1 6LB

One of London’s earliest proponents of cooking over fire, David Carter’s Smokstak’s steampunk-inspired Shoreditch spot serves many great dishes, but we’ll always love his original street food special, the brisket bun. The veggie dishes are also great here, including the coal-roasted aubergine.

Follow them on Instagram @smokestakUK.

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Brat

Shoreditch – 4 Redchurch St, London E1 6JL

The signature dish at Tomos Parry’s Shoreditch spot is whole turbot cooked slowly over coals on a low heat but there are also oysters roasted on seaweed, bread with burnt onion butter and smoked potatoes on offer here, all of which have encountered the kitchen fires. 

Follow them on Instagram @bratrestaurant

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 Berenjak

Soho and Borough

All the tools of an Irani chef are on display at Berenjak, from the tandoor oven to the mangal barbecue and rotisserie grill. Inspired by Tehran’s hole-in-the-wall kabab houses, the chicken or lamb kababs are the dishes to order here, nice and smoky from the charcoal they’re cooked over.

Follow them on Instagram @berenjaklondon.

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Mangal 2

Dalston – 4 Stoke Newington Rd, London N16 8BH

From its original roots down a side street in Dalston, Mangal II sees the humble ocakbasi reach new heights with Ferhat and Sertac Dirik, the sons of original owner Ali, now running the show. The menu may have changed and the wine list updated to reflect the brothers’ passion for natural wines but the ocakbasi grill is still where it’s at here.

Follow them on Instagram @mangal2restaurant

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Photo by Justin DeSouza

 

 Berber & Q

Hackney – 338 Acton Mews, London E8 4EA

Back in 2015, Josh Katz & Mattia Bianchi opened the first of their live-fire restaurants, the self-billed ‘fire and smoke shop’ Berber & Q Grill House in Haggerston. Tucked in under the railway arches the open mangal and smoker is at the heart of what they do here. Dishes could include a coffee-rubbed pork belly or wood-roasted prawns pil-pil. 

Follow them on Instagram @berberandq.

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 Coal Rooms

Peckham – 1a Station Way, Peckham, London, Rye Station SE15 4RX

What better way to repurpose an old ticket office than to turn it into a restaurant centred around meat and grilling? Not only does the restaurant focus on the open kitchen here with its robata grill and smoker, but the team also have their own on-site butchery so no part of the meat is wasted. Breakfasts and Sunday lunches are legendary. 

Follow them on Instagram @coalrooms.

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 Coal Rooms

Soho, City and Covent Garden

If your idea of a fine time is to watch a lovely rare breed steak cooking on a firepit in front of you, then pull up a seat at the counter at Temper to enjoy just that. The Soho branch, in particular, has a 6-metre long pit which they reckon is one of the biggest in London.

Follow them on Instagram @temperlondon

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 Kiln

Soho – 58 Brewer St, London W1F 9TL

Ever since Soho spot Kiln threw open its doors, folk have been jostling to get a seat up at the counter to enjoy founder Ben Chapman and his team’s take on Thai food. Fire plays a big part here, from the wood-burning kiln oven (hence the name) to the grills designed by Ben himself.

Follow them on Instagram @Kilnsoho.

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 Ekstedt

Victoria – 3-5 Great Scotland Yard, London SW1A 2HN

Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt built his reputation around wood-fired Old Nordic cooking. For a real demonstration of live fire cooking at his London restaurant, order the oysters flambadou which are cooked by having flaming hot beef fat poured all over them. 

Follow them on Instagram @ekstedtldn

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Black Axe Mangal

Islington – 156 Canonbury Rd, London N1 2UP

When chef Lee Tiernan took over this restaurant on Highbury Corner he installed (as the restaurant’s original name Black Axe Mangal says) a mangal grill and a Kiss emblazoned wood fired oven and started sending out dishes like the once-tried, never-forgotten squid ink flatbread with smoked cod’s roe. It’s more than worth crossing town for, it’s a move to London just to be near it kind of restaurant. 

Follow them on Instagram @fkablackaxemangal

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Oklava

Shoreditch – 74 Luke St, London EC2A 4PY

Oklava’s chef-patron Selin Kiazim was adamant when it came to designing her restaurant Oklava, as long as there was a proper Turkish wood fired stone oven and a mangal grill in the kitchen she’d be happy. From that, the kitchen here turns out exemplary pide and lahmacun along with grilled hellim and more.

Follow them on Instagram @oklava_ldn

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Kudu Grill

Peckham – 57 Nunhead Ln, London SE15 3TR

As the name suggests, Peckham’s Kudu Grill features a menu inspired by and devoted to their custom-built South African braai – a grill that uses sustainably sourced Sickle Bush and Camel Thorn wood. Dishes might include grilled flatbread draped in lardo or cauliflower all smokey from the braai with caper raisin and goat’s curd. 

Follow them on Instagram @kudugrill

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Humble Chicken

Soho – 54 Frith St, London W1D 4SL

Angelo Sato’s yakitori bar is comb-to-tail when it comes to using all parts of the chicken so you’ll find the wing and oysters cooked alongside the achilles and knee. Dishes here are cooked over Bincho-tan charcoal on a traditional Japanese grill that Sato imported all the way from Kappabashi in Tokyo. 

Follow them on Instagram @humblechicken_uk

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