Chain Reaction

London's Newest and Best Chain Restaurants

There’s something happening in the food world of late. Restaurants keep multiplying. Cult pizza joints rising from a tiny van to a three-tiered mini empires. Familiar steak joints showing up in every suburb. Forget a cheeky Nando’s, with the number of London eateries launching multiple sites across the tube map, ‘going chain’ need never be a guilty pleasure again. Lucy Self rounds up some of our favourites…

With the mantra ‘Steaks, Cocktails, Brunch’ and it being the little (and cheaper) sister of the mighty Hawksmoor group, it should really have been obvious that Foxlow were going to roll out. But even by London standards the speed in which they’ve done it is impressive (four in total, three this year). Are the diluting the brand? We visited the newest addition in Balham for a mid-week dinner and from what we sampled (a bouncy burrata with garlic-rubbed toast; slip-off-the-bone short rib and a teeth-jangling bourbon caramel sundae) and saw (low-lights, leather banquettes, cheerful waiting staff, Ginger Pig specials) the standard is still pretty damn high. As they so helpfully state in the slogan, go when you want a well-priced steak, a reliable cocktail or a step-up brunch from the usual on your street.
Which outpost? All that decadence requires a long walk before/after and there’s no better place for that than country-village-like Chiswick.

Meat Liquor 
One of the early adopters of the recent roll out trend, the Meatliquor team have been building their burgeoning empire over the past few years. Despite it feeling like we’re overrun, there are technically only two Meat Liquors in London (the original behind Oxford Street and the newbie in Islington which opened in November). However, the variations are many (Chicken Liquor, Meat Market, Meat Wagon, Meat Mission) plus outposts in Brighton, Leeds, Bristol and Singapore. Whilst we’re not going to say the standards haven’t slipped slightly since the heady days of Meat Easy, or that its even the best burger in London, we still maintain that the food is filthily good and that every restaurant has an equally raucous vibe.
Which outpost? Islington. Because sometimes shiny and new is good.     

London's Newest and Best Chain Restaurants

Tom’s Kitchen 
Founded by the flame-haired chef Tom Aiken, Tom’s Kitchen now has a whopping four restaurants and three delis across London (plus a slightly random outpost in Istanbul). Whilst the last, St Katharine Docks, opened a while back in 2014, we’ve included the set of British-style brasseries on the basis of them being a) a totally bankable choice for friends, dates and grandparents b) seasonally abiding which means you’re likely to get something new provided you’re not in there every weekend. On our last visit we sampled some fantastic scallops with cauliflower and caper plus; roast monkfish tail and an unforgettable side dish of white beans smashed with bacon and mustard seeds.
Which outpost? Go for the cosy original on Cale Street in Chelsea.

London's Newest and Best Chain Restaurants

Pizza Pilgrims 
It feels like just yesterday that Pizza Pilgrim boys were just two men with a serious love of Neapolitan dough and a van. But with their recent third Exmouth Market site launch long gone are the days that you’d have to chow down one of their slices on the street. We’ve adored their blistered crusts with just the right stretch from the beginning, and have applauded every step – from the second site on Kingley Street with that fried calzone to their utterly brilliant Sohocello. For Exmouth, they’ve introduced a Pizza Soup menu (pizza ingredients served in liquid form) giving us yet another reason to stay on the Pizza Pilgrimage…
Which outpost? Downstairs at Dean Street is cosy and cramped (in a good way) so just the ticket for a cold winter’s eve. 

London's Newest and Best Chain Restaurants

Blue’s Kitchen 
The Blue’s Kitchen promises Londoners the three ‘b’s’ of BBQ, Blues and Bourbon and, following its recent Brixton opening, now has three sites in which to spread them. Known as much for the brilliant club nights as the food, what this trio of restaurants celebrating the Deep South can promise you is a good time. Having popped into the new Acre Lane site last month, we can assure you the food and booze holds its own too. Whether you get your Blue’s fix in Camden, Shoreditch or Brixton, we’d recommend their much-loved ribs and treating yourself to one of their extensive range of rare and vintage bourbons.
Which outpost? The new Brixton venue is on the former site of Electric Social and keeps up the party vibes of its predecessor.

Words by Lucy Self, our new girl about town and restaurant writer. She is an all round food obsessive and has been writing about food in London for several years, as well as having a steady day job in restaurant PR.

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