French cuisine just never goes out of fashion. It can almost be described as being the pinnacle of gastronomy. French cooking is an art that many skilled chefs have eagerly learnt at some point in their career, so luckily, you don’t have to go all the way to France to experience the delights of authentic French food. So what has London got to offer in terms of French eateries? After scouring the most celebrated restaurants, the critics’ favorites, and the peoples’ choices, it is clear that London is flourishing with cuisine creativity.
Launched in 1927 by the first television cook, Xavier Marcel Boulestin, the restaurant is still going strong and the menu delivers delicious dishes such as poached egg in aspic with ham, tomato, and tarragon; fillet de Cabillaud rôti, salicorne and sauce vierge, and a strawberry and pistachio coupe.
Galvin Bistrot de Luxe
A family run affair, the Galvin brand was founded in 2005 by Michelin-starred chef brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin. At Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, the prices are affordable and the service is welcoming, and the food can only be described as supreme. The red onion tarte tatin, caramelised walnuts and endive salad, steak tartare with toasted Sourdough, and luxurious soufflés are all stars of the menu.
L'Atelier De Joel Robuchon
With an atmosphere that is seductively dark and modern, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon's is all about luxurious dining and the French fusion restaurant has all the awards to prove its gastronomical expertise, including two Michelin Stars and three AA Rosettes. Have you ever tried smoked aubergine caviar with vegetables and spicy tomato coulis or crispy poached egg on a parmesan mousseline with Iberian ham? Well now is the time! The staff also knows a thing or two about wine.
Le Gavroche is the very epitome of fine French dining. Following recent renovation, there are additions such as a new kitchen, updated interior, and the innovative ‘Chef’s Library’. So what’s on the menu? The first restaurant in the UK to get two Michelin Stars serves delights such as foie gras eclairs; glazed lamb ribs; langoustines on hot stones, and Salsifi roti au beurre et amandes salees.
L’Esgcargot has been elegantly creating French cuisine ‘depuis’ 1927, and this long-standing Soho restaurant still has a lot to offer. Oliver Lesnik is head chef and you can expect a menu that is typical of traditional French cooking. ‘Bourgeois in style’, the menu has rich pleasures such as the Grand Marnier soufflé; lobster bisque; steak tartare; moules marinieres; duck confit; and of course ‘les escargots extraordinaire.’
Le Garrick Brasserie Restaurant
Run by couple Dominika and Charles, who met in Le Garrick 8 years ago, the restaurant serves traditional French food that has been inspired by Burgundy, Toulouse, and the Basque country. The service is friendly and the restaurant promises to deliver delicious authentic dishes that are reasonably priced. On its menu, the restaurant passionately serves fondue de vacherin pour deux and cassoulet de Toulouse, among many others.
La Petite Maison
With an explosion of colours and fresh flowers, Le Petite Maison evokes summertime and lots of zest. It has even been said that the food in Brook Mews is just as good as their Nice restaurant. Furthermore, many satisfied diners leave feeling the food is worthy of its price tag, and here’s why: onion tart with anchovies, and burrata with fresh Datterini tomatoes and basil are just a few of the dishes conjured up for hungry diners.
With an eclectic décor that is distinctively jolie, the atmosphere of the restaurant is warm and welcoming. Located in ‘the enclave of Bloomsbury, Clerkenwell, King’s Cross and Chancery Lane,” this French restaurant serves the classics like foie gras aux pistaches en terrine, and ravioles d’escargots à la Bourguignonne. Then there is its famous canard de rouen a la presse; the duck is sourced from the House Burgaud in Challans and it must be ordered in advance, but will be one of the most delightful dishes you have tasted in your lifetime.
The Lawn Bistro
Time Out London nominee for Best New Restaurant, The Lawn Bistro serves tasty fresh French food at great value. Think, poached duck egg with Jerusalem artichoke, pesto purée, and blackcurrant jus’ for £8.00, or the beautiful octopus ballotine with fennel purée, Avruga caviar and white anchovy mille-feuille for only £10.00. Previously headed by Ollie Couillaud, new talent Neal Cooper has just taken over. It is worth knowing that although largely inspired by French cuisine, there are also hints of Spanish and Italian influences in its menu.
A firm favourite for tourists and locals, Savoir Faire serves classic French dishes. The food is simple, tasty, really affordable, and generously portioned. The menu has offerings such as roast leg of lamb with rosemary and red wine jus; traditional beef Bourguignon, and pan fried foie gras with caramelized apple on warm brioche. There is also a tasty selection of vegetarian options. Perched on a busy road, it is in a strange location and you may have to wait a little longer than normal at times but that doesn’t stop loyal customers returning to the family-run business.
Seven Park Place by William Drabble
Launched in September 2009, the elegant Seven Park Place by William Drabble was awarded a Michelin star a year later, and was also awarded four AA Rosettes for its classic French cuisine menu. Drabble has honed his own style using the best British ingredients, such as poached native lobster tail with cauliflower purée; lobster butter sauce springs, and Best End of Lune Valley lamb with confit potatoes. With only 9 tables, the restaurant has a really intimate feel which makes the service that much more personal.
The best classic French bistro recipes to make this weekend
Parisian bistros – all rattan chairs, high ceilings and well-dressed waiters – are to my mind the perfect restaurant environments. Never stuffy, but smart enough to make you want to draw your shoulders back and sit up straight, and order another glass of wine. How I’ve missed them!
But who’s to say we can’t cook a menu such as this one and make-believe? Thanks to the rise of online food shopping (giving us access to previously hard-to-get ingredients), with a quick tap of the keys you can now have a net of mussels – a classic bistro option – delivered to your door, still sparkling with the Cornish waters in which they were grown and harvested.
Or choose to cook an easy cheese soufflé made with béchamel for height and wobble, and an accompanying salad that’s a French classic. As for pudding, who doesn’t love a trembling clafoutis bursting with cherries? Bon appétit.
Is there any noise better than the clacking of mussel shells against a pot filled with shallots, garlic, white wine and parsley?
Baked cheese soufflé with bitter leaves, lardons and Dijon vinaigrette
If you don’t fancy bacon in the salad, you can use a handful of walnuts, roughly chopped and added to the leaves before the dressing.
Bursting with bleeding cherries, a wobbly clafoutis is perfect with a dribble of cold cream or ice cream.
They say nothing compares to Paris in the spring. But if you can’t manage a trip to the City of Love, there’s still a chance to get a taste of France in London. Roundup your monsieur or mademoiselle du jour, and take them to one of these romantic French restaurants.
Michelin starred French restaurants
The creme de la creme of French restaurants in our fair city.
1. Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester
The only one of London’s French restaurants to rack up the maximum three Michelin stars, the seven course tasting menu here will set you back £140. But then again, quality rarely comes cheap…
2. Le Gavroche
It translates as “the urchin”, not that you’ll see many of them at this place. Le Gavroche is run by frequent Masterchef guest Michel Roux Jr, and currently holds two Michelin stars.
3. Hélène Darroze at the Connaught
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a fancy London hotel must possess an equally fancy dining option. So it goes at The Connaught, where Hélène Darroze heroes British ingredients to the tune of two Michelin stars.
4. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
A stylish restaurant with a distinctly modern approach to French cooking. L’Atelier exudes charm and elegance, which explains why it’s the only Michelin star restaurant in Covent Garden. Tackle the eight-course tasting menu if you’ve got the time (and funds).
5. Pied à Terre
Gorgeously gourmet, and surprisingly reasonable amongst French restaurants with Michelin stars. Pied à Terre’s lunch menu is £29.50 for a starter and main, or £37.50 for three courses, which is likely as cheap as you’ll get for this standard of cooking.
6. Galvin La Chapelle
The first of two award-winning French restaurants from the brothers Galvin. Under the high ceilings of St Botolph’s Hall, the seven-course Menu Gourmand will satisfy your appetite for £85.
Beautiful food to go with a rather beautiful room. The creative mind behind this place is Eric Frechon, who might be struggling under the weight of his scarcely believable FOUR Michelin stars.
8. Le Dame De Pic
Top of Tower Hill’s French restaurants, Anne-Sophie Pic has conquered the French cooking scene despite having no formal chef training. Her London joint earned a Michelin star by exploring the “encounters that take place throughout the sensory process”.
9. Club Gascon
South-west France is the dining destination here, with seasonal ingredients forming the backbone of the menu. As French restaurants go, this one is magnifique.
10. La Trompette
Bring on the trumpets for La Trompette, Chiswick’s answer to the 8th arrondissement. Fine French cooking with the cream of British ingredients make this spot the best of both worlds.
11. Galvin at Windows
The Galvin clan’s second Michelin starred offering is a confluence of everything fancy. Think Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, with views of Hyde Park from the 28th floor. Amongst the foodie highlights are a seven course dégustation menu from head chef Joo Won.
Other French restaurants in London
The Michelin guide may not have picked them up, but these French restaurants are amongst London’s best.
12. Clos Maggiore
It’s raked in the awards for most romantic restaurant in London, and the food ain’t bad either. Although a Michelin star eludes Clos Maggiore, the modern take on Provençal cooking is a delicious crowd-pleaser.
The name was enough to pique my interest, and with two lunchtime courses for £15, it’s intoxicatingly cheap too. It’s a charming bistro in Primrose Hill, with an intriguing dessert option called Absinthe Crème Brûlée…
14. Petit Pois Bistro
On a sunny day in Hoxton Square, this place will feel positively Parisian. Highlights include the steak frites and a deliciously indulgent chocolate mousse, and a trip downstairs gets you to Happiness Forgets, one of the best cocktail bars in the city.
15. Bon Vivant
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all on the cards at Bon Vivant, which also includes such delights as bavette steak and an Earl Grey crème brûlée. Yeah, we’re drooling too.
Blanchette is more of a pas de deux, for there are two restaurants to choose from. The Soho joint heads straight down the Parisian route, whilst their Brick Lane restaurant incorporates North African influences.
A charming French restaurant on the Kings Road, Medlar has wowed critics over the years. It’s a bit of a medley, with British ingredients and French cooking married to some distinctly international influences.
18. Les Nenettes
The only one of the city’s French restaurants to be run by an all-female staff, Les Nenettes does Gallic cooking right. The breakfast menu has an unbeatable range of egg dishes, whilst the highlight of the dinner menu is a 1kg steak (for two people, I might add).
Coco Chanel, Mick Jagger, and Princess Diana have all dined here, so you know it’s going to be good. A fixture in Soho since 1927, you can’t leave without trying the dish the restaurant is named after: the snails.
Despite being in Bermondsey, this place is so determinedly French that they don’t translate the menus here. They also change said menus every day, so your chances of ending up with the same thing twice are rather slim.
21. Bleeding Heart Bistro
A lovely laidback bistro in the heart of Farringdon, the Bleeding Heart is charmingly rustic. They boast a cute little courtyard, and a wine list of 450 bottles – you’re already on the way, aren’t you?
22. Le Pont de la Tour
Hidden amongst the warehouses and walkways of Shad Thames, Le Pont de la Tour gives you stunning views of Tower Bridge. The food is equally luxurious, blending traditional methods with modern innovation.
Wood-fired Southern French cooking is what you’ll get at Sardine, launched by Alex Jackson and Pastaio owner Stevie Parle. It also pulls double duty as an art gallery, so you can overhaul your flat decor whilst sampling their onglet steak.
24. Mon Plaisir
Somewhat bemusingly, it claims to be the oldest French restaurant in London despite only being founded in the 1940s. Still, the menu is brimming with classic French dishes, so we’ll forgive this apparent fib.
25. The Orrery
You’ll come for the giant cheese trolley, but you’ll also be seduced by inventive starters and a truly magnificent steak. The Orrery is a fabulous reason to make the trip to Marylebone.
Whilst French restaurants are often known for meat and cheese, Gauthier does things differently. There are two entirely vegan menus to choose from, including a seven-course vegan tasting menu for £65.
31 Healthy Restaurants in London That Serve Feel Good Food
With no weekend plans, you may candidly find yourself searching the web to find the best healthy restaurants in London.
But where to start? Whether you're craving something seasonal that supports zero waste, like the dishes at Native in Borough Market, eat plant-based and crave a hearty bowl of protein porridge from 26 Grains or fancy trying a sugar-free mocktail at Redemption Bar in Shoreditch, the City is bursting with restaurants serving both delicious and nutrient-dense foods.
To help you navigate the buzzing nutritional scene we've rounded up the WH approved restaurants. Keep scrolling to discover the the most Instagram-friendly matcha lattes in Central, and others for truly hidden gems where the lighting is poor but the vegetables are unforgettable. There's something for everyone. Happy dining.
This steak and seafood restaurant may have a limited, set menu of USDA prime beef and Norwegian King Crab, but what it does do has critics raving. The large dining room resembles a Viking feasting hall, with enormous oaken tables and dancing candlelight.
Beast is a restaurant that targets big spenders, but its use of incredible ingredients that are perfectly and painstakingly prepared makes it one you won’t want to miss.
Just make sure to come hungry. The portions are enormous!
The 15 best restaurants in Central London
There&aposs much more than pie, mash and liquor to London&aposs culinary scene, and Westminster is the capital&aposs traditional hub of top-end restaurants.
Whether you want to grab a bite to eat before the theatre, need a pick me up meal after a Covent Garden shopping spree, or want a romantic dinner for two, the options are almost endless.
That&aposs why we&aposve done the hard work for and compiled a fail safe list of the best restaurants in Central London .
From authentic Chinese to Indian, Italian, Thai, British, American, Vegan and fancy French cuisine, you name it, London has a restaurant for it.
So do not fear, there&aposs bound to be a place to everyone&aposs taste on our list of Central London&aposs 15 best restaurants.
The 15 best restaurants in Central London
1. Mildred&aposs, Soho
45 Lexington St, Soho, London W1F 9AN
Mildred&aposs was first established in a former 60s sex club on Greek Street. Back then the seedy, porn baron landlord would come to pick up his rent with a glamorous, fur-coated blonde on his arm. But now you&aposll be relieved to know the 18th century town house has since moved on. It now serves fresh, international vegan and vegetarian food in Soho, Camden, Kings Cross and Dalston.
For more information visit here .
2. Ormer, Mayfair
Flemings Mayfair, 7-12 Half Moon St, London W1J 7BH
Ormer was named London&aposs second best fine-dining restaurants in the Hardens gastronomy guide. It has a Michelin starred chef and serves up fresh seasonal British produce with high end gastronomic flair. This is a proper restaurant in the traditional sense and has the prices to match.
For more information visit here .
3. Thai Square, Trafalgar Square
21-24 Cockspur St, St. James&aposs, London SW1Y 5BN
If Thai food is your thing then you can&apost really go wrong with Thai Square. The Central London branch is one of many across the capital and serves up classics like Chicken Green Curry and Stir fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts. It claims to be the best Thai restaurant in London, we&aposll let you decide.
For more information, visit here .
4. Bleeding heart, Farringdon
3 Bleeding Heart Yard, London EC1N 8SJ
Believe it or not, the gorily-named Bleeding Heart has been dubbed London&aposs most romantic restaurant by more than one publication. It serves fine French cuisine in historical settings - and was apparently named after a 17th century beauty, Lady Elizabeth Hatton, who was found murdered there (yikes). If the thought of murder darkens your date&aposs mood, then there&aposs an exceptional wine list to help you forget all about it.
Eating and drinking out in London
5. Ikoyi, Trafalgar Square
1 St James&aposs Market, St. James&aposs, London SW1Y 4AH
West African-inspired restaurant Ikoyi is a must. It serves West African cuisine with a twist in swanky settings. Dishes on the menu include Plantain, Smoked Scotch Bonnet and Raspberry and Jerusalem Artichoke Moin Moin, drooling yet?
For more information visit here .
6. Wild Food Cafe, Covent Garden
1st Floor, 14 Neal&aposs Yard, Covent Garden WC2H 9DP
Wild Food meals are made with freshly foraged wild and artisanal ingredients.
The vegan joint serves meals on large, communal tables that give the place a very relaxed, hippy vibe.
And they even have a Wild Food Cafe Cookery school that offers monthly raw food cookery classes and &aposwellbeing immersions&apos. We&aposre not sure what that is but it sounds very healthy.
For more information visit here .
7. Clos Maggiore - Covent Garden
33 King St, London WC2E 8JD
You can cosy up to a log fire while munching on modern French cuisine. Clos Maggiore is in the heart of London&aposs West End and diners can take their meal in a flower-filled conservatory (swoon.) Dishes on the set menu which is around £35 per head for three courses, include New Season Vegetable Casserole, French Peas & Green Asparagus and Pan Roasted Scottish Salmon.
8. Ceviche, Soho
17 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4RG
Ceviche serves tasty Peruvian street food. From tasty fish tiraditos to fresh salads and tangy Pisco cocktails, a meal here is bound to leave your taste buds tingling. it&aposs Soho branch is slap bang opposite Ronnie Scott&aposs famous Jazz Club and it&aposs the perfect place to have a meal before or after a show there.
For more information visit here .
9. The Palomar, Soho
34 Rupert St, London W1D 6DN
The Palomar serves modern day food from Jerusalem. From tasty dips for starters to Confit Duck Siske for mains you&aposre date is bound to be wowed by Middle Eastern flavours.
10. Bocca di Lupo, Soho
12 Archer St, Soho, London W1D 7BB
This restaurant gets its name from the Italian phrase for "good luck". And, you guessed it, it serves Italian grub. From artichoke salad to veal spaghetti and pasta, it favours hearty Italian classics over predictable pizza. It also boats an incredible wine list and is reasonably priced for a restaurant of its caliber.
11. Golden Hind Restaurant, Marylebone
71a-73 Marylebone Ln, Marylebone, London, W1U 2PN
This place serves some of the best fish and chips in London and has been doing so since 1914. Its fish is fried in groundnut oil or offered steamed with olive oil and oregano, so you have healthier options if you are counting those calories.
12. Quo Vadis
26-29 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3LL
The name may be Latin but Quo Vadis it serves British food. Dishes on its menu include smoked eel sandwiches, a whole artichoke and oysters . Ad it has a pie of the day -you can&apost get more London than that.
For more information visit here .
13. Spring, The Strand
Somerset House, Lancaster Pl, London WC2R 1LA
Spring at Somerset House is the ideal place for eco-conscious diners. It&aposs headed up by Australian chef and food writer, Skye Gyngell, who creates delectable dishes from seasonal produce. On the dinner menu are mains which include: Grilled leg of lamb with gratin of swiss chard and anchovy sauce (£34), wild halibut with sea beets, sea kale, hollandaise and salmon roe (£33) and guinea fowl with three-cornered garlic labneh, harissa and potatoes - phwoar.
14. Burger and Lobster
36-38 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 4PS
Lobster rolls, croquettes and classic beef burgers are all for the taking at Soho&aposs Burger and Lobster branch. This restaurant says what it does on the tin and is a popular hit with diners looking for a greasy food fix.
For more information visit here .
15 . Bob Bob Ricard, Soho
1 Upper James St, Soho, London W1F 9DF
All the tables in this Russian-inspired dining room are in booths, perfect for cozying up in. Oh, and there&aposs a "Press for Champagne" button on every table - yes please! Champagne-on-tap screams of romance, in case you had any doubts. The pink decor is an Instagram Queen&aposs dream and the hearty menu which includes dishes like lobster mac n cheese, could fill even the most empty of hearts.
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London Bridge foodie guide
Here are our favourite London Bridge restaurants. The best foodie spots include shopping at Borough Market, homemade pasta at Padella and French bistro Casse Croute. Check out our ideas for eating and drinking in London Bridge, from Borough Market to Bermondsey Street…
Stoney Street by 26 Grains, Borough Market – for seasonal small plates
Small plates that celebrate the very best ingredients is the order of the day at Alex Hely-Hutchinson’s second outpost, but if you’re not sure what YQ pastry or Baron Bigod is, flip your menu over to read the page dedicated to the people growing the food. Cheeses are sourced from neighbouring Neal’s Yard Dairy, while YQ (standing for yield and quality) flour comes from Wakelyns, a Suffolk farm.
A good place to start is with a few slices of the soda bread – slather it first with whipped salted butter, then a top layer of punchy confit garlic butter. Share a wholegrain spelt tart, the nutty pastry crumbling under the weight of sweet roasted squash, Colston Basset stilton and shavings of russet apple. If you only fancy a nibble, there’s Greek unpasteurised olives and plates of silky charcuterie.
Santo Remedio, Tooley Street – for vibrant Mexican cooking
This lively Mexican restaurant bursts with colour and fun vibes, from the uplifting Latin beats bouncing off walls papered with tropical patterns to the multicoloured broken tiles creating a focal point in the mezcal and tequila bottle-lined bar. Go classic and order a zippy margarita, or be adventurous and try the delicate hibiscus or smozy mezcal varieties, the latter complete with zingy chilli salt round the rim.
Start with guacamole topped with fried krickets (think crispy onions more than critters!) and a citrusy tuna tartare on crunchy tostadas, finished with creamy chipotle mayo. Next, order a one of the slow-cooked, bone-in sharing dishes for the table (fall-apart lamb barbacoa, short ribs slathered in an intense mole negro sauce, or whole grilled mackerel with pineapple) to shovel into soft, handmade corn tortillas along with refried black beans, crunchy slaw and jalapeño potato salad.
Loyal Tavern – for decadent pub grub
Chicken-skin crackling with hot sauce and blue cheese dip, and fondant potatoes filled with molten Stinking Bishop fondue – these are the drinking snacks that dreams are made of. They are also a happy reality if you step into the warm embrace of the Loyal Tavern on Bermondsey Street. The latest venture from Tom Cenci (former executive chef at Duck & Waffle ) and Adam White (of Riding House Cafe), the buzzy restaurant and bar gives traditional pub food a kick up the proverbial. Seasonal British ingredients are translated into the likes of grilled flatbreads topped with chicken fat butter or parsnip hummus, or blackened cauliflower with sesame yogurt and chilli. Don’t leave without trying the buttermilk-poached cod with ’nduja and white bean stew and hot pan brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream the size of a hockey ball.
Native, Southwark Street – for an intimate tasting menu
A two-minute walk from bustling Borough Market, Native brings a welcome note of calm to busy Southwark Street. Stems of flowers cast delicate shadows on white-washed walls while grey stone tables are generously spaced. Low-hung filament bulbs and wooden bench seats strewn with cosy blankets bring warmth to the spacious room.
Two and three-course menus are on offer along with a tasting menu. Zero-waste snacks are brought out to begin, that might be creamy labneh on crisp crackers, followed by home-grown courgette stalks with a tangy mushroom ragu and fresh ricotta, and slices of scorched mackerel lifted with cucumber and whey foam. For mains, try tender Sussex veal with al dente discs of courgette and buttermilk sauce, or dukkah-dusted roasted carrot served with crisp tempura carrot tops. Dessert options are limited to two, so try both – rich white chocolate crémeux with nutty granola and Kentish strawberry and mugwort sauce, or meadowsweet and sunflower seed cake.
A small selection of aperitifs are on offer, so go for a Melilot Mule made with Native’s own vodka, lime and fiery ginger beer to start. Although not exclusively English, the wine list celebrates wines grown in the UK – we enjoyed a smooth Three Choirs Winchcombe Downs with peachy notes.
Padella, Borough Market – for pasta
Padella’s short menu features eight handmade, fresh pasta dishes, inspired by the greatest hits that have made Padella’s sister restaurant Trullo in Highbury one of the most accomplished and respected neighbourhood restaurants in London. With a laidback atmosphere and reasonable prices, Padella is the perfect place to escape the tourists at Borough market.
Showcasing classic Italian techniques, the simple menu is built around slow-cooked sauces and ragus from the owners’ travels around Italy. Traditional pici cacio e pepe, a simple, yet brilliantly executed dish of parmesan, lemon and black pepper is an example of how confident the team are in their products. Made without egg, for a slightly doughier texture, the pasta acts as a magnet to the sauce. We loved it so much we asked them for the recipe, try it here.
Padella’s signature dish though, is pappardelle with eight-hour Dexter shin beef ragu, and it’s easy to see why. The rich and succulent flavour of the slow cooked, fall-apart beef combined with the juicy fresh tomatoes and just the right amount of garlic makes the sauce the real hero here.
With traditional Italian flavours at the heart of the menu, from Dexter beef carpaccio to bruschetta with baked borlotti beans, there’s plenty to please. Burrata fans won’t be disappointed – the Italian classic is sourced by artisan supplier L’Emporio fine foods and simply drizzled with Tuscan Chiarentana estate olive oil.
Finish off with an espresso, the only coffee Padella serve, or add a shot of grappa or sambuca for a caffe corretto, in true Italian style.
Bar Douro, Flat Iron Square – for Portuguese small plates
This wine bar/restaurant fuses traditional Portuguese cervejaria interiors with original industrial features from the London Bridge railway arches – pretty blue and white tiles line the marble-topped bar that provides the only barrier between diners and the small open kitchen, while exposed aluminium piping in the curved railway arch roof becomes part of the decoration. A mezzanine level cleverly utilizes the space at the top of the arch’s curve to showcases the owner Max’s impressive Portuguese wine collection.
Max speaks with great knowledge and enthusiasm about wines from Alentejo, Lisbon and The Douro Valley, along with lesser-known Portuguese winemaking regions that he aims to put on the map.
Small plates at Bar Douro are true to Portuguese traditions, with a few of chef Tiago’s modern twists – tender grilled octopus tentacle was served with sweet potato as it is in tabernas across Tavira in the Algarve ( try our Portuguese fish stew for a taste of this kind of cooking ), bitter grelos (turnip tops) were sautéed with wafer-thin slices of fried garlic, and suckling acorn-fed Bisaro pig was cooked sous-vide then pressed and served, true to tradition, with homemade crisps. Another standout dish was a delicate mix of wild mushrooms (king oyster, Portobello, shiitake) served with roast chestnuts on a silky chestnut purée and topped with a delicate tempura spinach leaf.
Save room for pudding. We had a preview of a super light olive oil cake, beautifully presented with jewel-like pieces of quince and swirls of whipped requesón (a Portuguese ricotta-like cheese). But, go all out with baba de camelo, a bowl of thick, creamy dulce de leche mousse decorated with wafer thin pieces of dark chocolate, or keep it traditional with gooey warm pastel de nata and lightly spiced cinnamon ice cream.
Casse Croute, Bermondsey Street – for French bistro vibes
You’ll be lucky to bag a table at this tiny French bistro on foodie Bermondsey Street. From the moment of calling up to book, you’re greeted with French charm and a friendly “Bonsoir”. Bookings are scribbled across white paper covers to save the gingham table cloths beneath from crumbs and butter. Which the chefs at Casse Croute don’t hold back on. A whole sole comes drizzled in the stuff, lamb shoulder with slow-cooked ratatouille has a generous helping, and the mash is whipped up with more butter than potato, just how we like it.
In true neighbourhood bistro style, a short menu of French classics is chalked up on the black board. The selection of three starters may feature refreshing salades nicoise, chunky game terrines and silky salmon rillettes. Mains are simple yet well executed, focusing on the classics – bavette with creamy gratin dauphinois potatoes, hake on a bed of fennel, roast chicken with crunchy green beans – while the indulgent, cream-heavy desserts are worth leaving room for. Try mille feuille, crêpes suzette, apple tart, and luxurious chocolate fondant.
Nestle in to a red leather banquette, sink a carafe of French wine, and give an in-the-know nod of appreciation to your neighbour (you may be touching shoulders, after all).
José Tapas Bar, Bermondsey street – for tapas
A sublime, if tiny, tapas bar where compulsive ham croquetas are creamy and full of jamón, this was the first of chef José Pizarro’s growing stable of Spanish restaurants. Find a corner to burrow in and enjoy a glass of sherry and a game of padron pepper roulette (who will find a spicy one?), along with some patatas bravas and tortilla for good measure. The blackboard menu’s daily selection might include rich, boozy chorizo al vino, crisp baby chicken and potatoes with punchy Romesco sauce, and fresh pisto with delicate duck egg. Puddings are excellent – try the creamy rice pudding or the rich, velvety chocolate pot that’s given a savoury finish with olive oil and sea salt.
Tap & Bottle wine bar, Flat Iron Square – for wine
Wine enthusiast Ned Neville-Rolfe has brought a unique concept to London Bridge with a selection of wines available on tap in a Georgian townhouse in Flat Iron Square.
At any given time Tap & Bottle will boast four reds, four whites, two rosés and even the odd sparkling wine on tap, ensuring drinkers are getting great value in an eco-friendly way. Try rich Spanish reds or floral, citrussy viognier from Ventoux in France. If you want to stick to buying by the bottle, Ned has a carefully curated cellar list catering to all tastes, from young and flinty Loire whites to prestigious reds including bold Barbaresco.
Ned has kept a rustic feel to the Grade II listed Georgian townhouse – exposed brick walls adorned with gilt-framed mirrors wrap around higgledy piggledy rooms furnished with wooden pews, wonky stools and vintage velvet chairs. Tap & Bottle’s hidden outdoor deck nestles between the pretty brick townhouse and Flat Iron Square’s thriving railway arches. Cosy up in a nook with a glass, or take a bottle to the terrace and soak up the sunshine.
There’s no food at Tap & Bottle but the terrace connects to Flat Iron Square’s food court, and Ned encourages punters to grab food from one of the street-food stalls to bring back and enjoy with a glass of wine. We recommend Ekachai’s wok-fried noodles or Spanish pork belly bao buns from contemporary Spanish joint EDū.
Where The Pancakes Are, Flat Iron Square – for brunch
This is a pancake house with serious style. Following various residencies in London, Dutch Patricia Trijbits is happy to finally welcome diners to her first permanent space in Flat Iron Square, a collection of newly converted railway arches near London Bridge. A custom-built oak bar and kitchen area along with wooden tables and seats based on retro Dutch school chairs give the space a calming Scandi feel. The railway arch is warmed up with a whole wall of white felt cut outs and ceiling planters that brim with greenery to intermingle with modern light installations.
As it says on the tin, this clean and bright spot specialises in stacks of buttermilk pancakes. Where The Pancakes Are takes pride in its sourcing of ingredients, with high welfare eggs from Kent, organic flour and 100% pure maple syrup, hand-tapped in Quebec, Canada (plus, it’s packed with minerals and antioxidants). A 1,000 Baby Greens might sound overly healthy for a pancake joint, but in reality it’s a wonderfully fresh, flavoursome dish that incorporates green chilli, spring onions and cumin into a buttermilk pancake batter. There’s a pleasant underlying heat that woke us up just as much as a morning coffee would, and a knob of melting coriander lime butter on top of our stack added zing.
Hawksmoor, Borough – for a special occasion
Although he worked at Michelin-star level with the likes of Marco Pierre White and Pierre Koffmann, former British soldier Richard Turner’s name is now synonymous with barbecuing . “I first started cooking over live fire 10 years ago in the gardenof my pub, The Albion in Islington,” says the executive chef of the Hawksmoor restaurant group, which has sites in London and Manchester.
“I bought a huge barbecue to cope with the seasonal fluctuations of the pub and acquired a reputation as a live-fire cook.”
He prefers to use fruit woods, particularly apple and cherry, although the restaurant group’s decision to cook this way was “a happy accident” as their original Spitalfields site inherited a charcoal grill from the previous Turkish restaurateurs.
“To be honest, as a business, it is rather expensive. A live-fire restaurant needs state-of-the-art extraction and filtration, which can add hundreds of thousands of pounds to the cost of your kitchen build.”. thehawksmoor.com
Vinegar Yard, London Bridge – for al fresco drinking and street food
From the folks behind London Bridge’s popular foodie destination Flat Iron Square, this amalgamation of drinking terraces, bars and street-food trucks is a great al fresco hangout. Sip on a gin and tonic or a botanical spritz under the greenery-wrapped pergola of the Tanqueray terrace, choose an Atlantic IPA from the bar that shares a space with artist Joe Rush’s workshop (check out his installations made from scrap metal scattered around the space), or order a glass of fizz from the pastel-pink prosecco van.
Take your drink of choice to the grassy area of benches and tuck into street food from Baba G’s (chicken tikka burgers, loaded masala fries and poppadom nachos slathered in Indian salsa and fresh mint raita), Up in My Grill (perfectly pink flame-grilled bavette or picanha steak on beef dripping fries with chimichurri) or Nanny Bill’s (burgers and croquettes galore).
Bala Baya – for Middle Eastern food
Tucked down The Old Union Yard Arches, in a brick-exposed railway arch, Bala Baya is a new Tel Aviv-inspired restaurant in Southwark. It’s the first solo venture from Eran Tibi, who cut his teeth at Ottolenghi. Like Eran, who had us ‘sampling’ bitter orange vodka shots on a school night, it’s lively and energetic, and I have no doubt that over time the restaurant will become a staple on the London dining scene.
Arthur Hooper’s, Borough Market – for market produce
Set up in a former Victorian fruit and veg wholesaler’s premises, known by the same name, restaurant and bar Arthur Hooper’s celebrates what once was with innovative fruit- and veg-centric European small plates, with ingredients sourced from and via the market on its doorstep.
Under arches, on the periphery of London’s Borough Market, Arthur Hooper’s small restaurant and bar spills outside to a seating area facing energetic street vendors and the general market area. Inside its tall ceilings, illuminated floor-to-ceiling glass cupboards, cool grey and black walls and dimly lit decor sets the scene. Black banquette seating with separate tables are surrounded by high tables and chairs, while at the corner bar you can grab a drink or dinner.
Having cut her teeth at London Italian minimalist restaurant Zucca, chef Lale Oztek ‘s menu suits the venue to a tee with a selection of 15 or so small plates divided into meat, fish and vegetables with the latter holding the most options and variety, as well as permanent cheese and cured meats plates and ‘bites’ buttery Nocellara olives, Vinci olives, smoked almonds for £3-4, and a short specials board.
The cheese and cured meats plates serve two-three slices of each with a couple of pieces of crostini and a pickle or chutney made in house. There’s a choice of four cheeses and the same number of meats, and the selection is a cut above the norm: we had Welsh blue cheese Perl Las and a Welsh salami-like lamb merguez.
Changing around four times a season, the menu takes into account what’s available in Borough Market and includes a wine list detailing mostly European wines with some interesting choices from Slovenia and Portugal.
Shangri-La at The Shard – for a special occasion with city views
If The Shard had toes, they would tickle Borough Market, from where the splendidly high-rise hotel sources much of its produce. Initial impressions of main restaurant, TING (on level 35), are magnificent: the lift doors open onto a spectacular and uninterrupted panorama of London, dominated at first by St Paul’s Cathedral. Low tables and armchairs are sensibly arranged to soak up as much of the view as possible.
The food lives up to the view: Dorset crab, cucumber, mango, passion fruit and tomato to start organic lamb loin with sake, soy, Erengi mushroom, apple and shiso to follow. Sommelier Anne Lomas is unstuffy and approachable despite the glam surroundings. The ground floor’s Lang sells yuzu cheesecake to eat in or take away.
Don’t leave without visiting Gong, the highest bar in London and with a pool, too. Try The Big Smoke, a gin, sherry and vermouth cocktail served in a dramatic, smoked-at-table martini glass.
TING at Shangri-La also does a fabulously exotic twist on afternoon tea. I f you’re open-minded, enjoy Asian food, and would prefer to gaze across a sparkling city rather than a Victorian dining room, then you can’t get much better.
Diners have the choice of a traditional afternoon tea or an ‘Asian-inspired’ afternoon tea … the latter reigns supreme, with fat, moreish steamed prawn dumplings and delicate crab soft rolls in place of finger sandwiches. Service is spot on – after loudly complimenting our dumplings, we were quickly presented with another piping hot batch to enjoy.
Baz & Fred, Flat Iron Square – for pizza
Baz and Fred’s pizza started as a mobile catering company but has set up a permanent residence at Flat Iron Square. The stone-baked pizzas are cooked using a Chadwick Oven, designed by Dan Chadwick in the Cotswolds, resulting in fluffy, crunchy crusts.
Set away from the high-rise office blocks of Southwark you’ll find the busy Flat Iron Square food market with long, communal wooden benches, exposed brickwork and mismatched vibrant metal furniture.
The menu is short, with five options plus a special, and are mostly meat focused, with only one veggie option. Choose between a classic tomato and mozzarella a spicy chorizo, ‘nduja and mozzarella a Napoli salami, pesto, chilli and mozzarella a prosciutto, Portobello mushroom and mozzarella or goat’s cheese, caramelised onion, rocket and balsamic. There’s only San Pellegrino (blood orange or lemon) on offer to drink, but you can order something stronger, should you wish, at the bar opposite.
Elliot’s, Borough Market – for bistro vibes
Since opening in 2011 in the buzzing surroundings of Borough Market, Elliot’s has focussed on working with small-scale producers for both its drinks and produce, much of it sourced from the market itself. The bar adopted an all-natural or low-intervention wine list early on and has worked with Master of Wine Isabelle Legeron on its wine list.
All the wine producers share the same mindful approach to wine-making as chef-owner Brett Redman does to cooking simple dishes such as grilled sweet and sour squash with chicory and Tunworth cheese, or cauliflower caponata and flaked almonds. Elliot’s also makes its own soft drinks and seasonal infused spirits.
6. Chin Chin Labs
If there’s a food equivalent to feeling really, really old, it’s the realisation that Chin Chin Labs has been around for eight years. That remarkable longevity is in part due to innovation (their custard bases are churned with the aid of clouds of liquid nitrogen), and in part due to the inexorable rise of Instagram, but it’s also because their rich, dense ice creams are fantastic. Offerings are short, sweet and always tasty, with tonka bean and valrhona chocolate permanent fixtures nods to gourmet leanings abound in toppings like fleur de sel caramel and bee pollen honeycomb.
Chef Jason Atherton can do no wrong at the moment. The one-time Ramsay protégé won over London with Pollen Street Social and now has a mini-empire of restaurants including Social Eating House, Berners Tavern and this small spot near Regent Street. Here, Atherton has created a menu of French bistro classics with modern — and often British — twists. Think Cornish cod with cockles, terrine with smoked duck, ox cheeks with bone marrow, or a cottage pie ‘Bourguignon’. The look is pure Paris, with leather banquette seating, a long copper bar and walls decked in arty advertising posters.
Little Social, 5 Pollen Street, W1S 1NE
Akoko is the first restaurant from William JM Chilila, who made it to the final of Masterchef: The Professionals. The restaurant is centred around West African cuisine and they say their aim is to "pay homage to the country's culinary heritage by using recipes passed down through generations and traditional cooking techniques of smoking, curing and fermenting".
30 Best West End Restaurants in London
West End is the ‘Theatreland’ of London, with more than forty theatres where magic and drama takes place on stage every night. Comparable to Broadway of New York City, West End is where the glitz and glamour is! Located in the West End of London, the theatre district covers areas like Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Soho, and Piccadilly Circus. It is one of the most premium locations in London and hosts a range of businesses including restaurants that are frequented by theatregoers.
We have curated a list of Top 30 Best West End Restaurants where you can stop for dinner before heading to a show at any of the West End Theatres. The restaurants span a range of cuisines including British, Mexican, French, Italian, Peruvians and Asian, that truly depicts the cosmopolitan nature of London city. The restaurants will suit every palate and pocket!