45 Jermyn St.
If food is thought to be the key to a person’s heart, then consider the chefs at 45 Jermyn St. to be the locksmiths. While we can wax lyrical about the service (incredibly friendly, by the way) or the ambience (far from stuffy and rather relaxed) of the place, it is the restaurant’s gastronomic genius that we’d rather rant about. London has many, many eateries with flawless signature dishes, but few can compete with 45’s beef wellington for two. Crafted from Glenarm 28-day-aged beef which is then encased in a thin crepe-like pancake and beautiful lattice pastry, this hearty dish is flambéed and served tableside to guest’s delight. The result? A beautifully soft, glandular masterpiece with just the perfect balance of meatiness and earthy quality. So, forget trying to impress someone with the showmanship and tweezer-precision that other restaurants might offer, and instead have them taste this culinary tour de force.
45 Jermyn Street
Of all the restaurants to hit London’s shores in recent years, Street XO stands tallest. Brought to the capital by Mohawk-donning superchef David Muñoz (the Spaniard also has a sibling restaurant in Madrid, DiverXO, which boasts three Michelin stars), this subterranean eatery is located off a quiet road in Mayfair and serves up some of the most exciting food London has seen in a long time. From the pass, famished diners are treated to an onslaught of inventive morsels, including the house specials, Pekinese dumpling and Steamed XO Club Sandwich (both of which are bite-sized treats oozing with flavour and comfort), and new additions such as the fillet of Cornish sole (this butter-soft fish is drizzled in Thai Meunière with pink peppercorn and charcoal grilled baby corn, and is, without doubt, unlike any other seafood delight that London has to offer). The music booms, the kitchen roars and, most importantly, the food has you longing for more. It’s brilliant. It’s genius. Street XO is a contemporary classic.
Sandwiched between two tourist hostpots (Covent Garden and Leicester Square) lies Tredwells – one of the most authentic restaurants that does fine-dining British gastronomy to an excellent standard. It’s headed up by chef Chantelle Nicholson so you know you’re in for a treat – and boy, does Tredwells deliver. The room is understated yet elegant; shiny tiles line the ceilings while rich, dark chocolate-coloured booths and seats welcome guests to perch down. And the food? Comforting and executed with both a homely, yet refined, touch. The venison, for example, accompanied with crapaudine beetroot, smoked bacon and a thin layer of lardo, booms in flavour and dances with your tastebuds. The desserts too, especially the Sweet Taste of Tredwells (praline chocolate tart, salted caramel soft serve, and marinated pineapple and coconut mousse) will convince the most stubborn of dieters to sin just for one night.
Once the preserve of renowned chef Phil Howard, The Square has recently undergone a revamp and a change of personnel. Heading up the kitchen is Clément Leroy (formerly of Guy Savoy) and inside the dining room lies a more minimalistic, art-driven space; somewhere where clients can broker deals while sipping on carafes of fine reds. The cooking has also seen a renovation; and an impressive renovation at that. Although the focus is still on French haute cuisine, Leroy gives things a lighter, cleaner taste – to this end, no butter or cream is used. A beautiful Orkney scallop is spliced like a delicate flower; a dish called “my childhood ravioli” is earthy, and tastes like it’s come straight from the terrain; the red mullet is crisp as a chip with a beautiful light saltiness to it. Leroy’s wife, Chef Aya Tamura, oversees the dessert selection, and her dishes are as equally precise and refined – the sweet potato confit with the honey ice cream, grapefruit and gardena is a particular standout, with both challenging and comforting flavours blending together.
Roaring with vivacity and booming with adrenaline-pumping energy, it’s easy to see why The Palomar boasts some of the most coveted seats in the capital. Taking culinary cues from North Africa, Southern Spain and the Levant, this London gem serves the food of modern day Jerusalem, with dishes flying from the open kitchen and customers hoovering up the piquant morsels like Dyson vacuums. From the extensive menu we’d suggest ordering the baba ganoush (creamy with beautiful pops of sweetness from the pomegranate), octo hummus (as tender as a silk pillow filled with butter), seared scallops (flaky and seared with precision) and the beetroot (perhaps London’s finest salad dishes). For the best place to perch yourself, ask to be seated at the counter top – from here you can witness the bustle and the roar of the chefs whilst they sizzle, grill and plate your dishes to perfection.
Brothers Sam and Eddie Hart not only serve some of the London’s finest Spanish food through their go-to tapas restaurant Barrafina, but they’re also claiming a stake over the capital’s Mexican offerings thanks to new cult classic, El Pastor. Situated near restaurant-saturated Borough Market, this no-reservation, queue-heavy restaurant serves up tacos that are made on the premises every day. But why all the fuss? Put simply, the food is a worldly, palate-pleaser that gets better as the courses progress. The sesame tuna tostada bursts with fresh, marine goodness; the 24 hour marinated pork shoulder (otherwise known as the al pastór) is made with a sublime, subtle taste with a beautiful hit of caramelized pineapple; and the short rib (complete with salsa, coriander, pickled onions, tortilla wraps and bone marrow) slides straight off the bone and on to your tongue with glandular-pleasing delight. The atmosphere – lively and energetic – is worth the visit alone.
As a one Michelin star eatery, you know that a visit to Yauatcha will be worth your buck; but this Soho institute is a more than just a restaurant with the highest gastronomic accolade in the industry – it’s also a high temple of perfectly-executed Chinese fare with a vibrant ambience and a sleek interior (the ground floor is bright and airy with low banquets whilst downstairs is more moody and dark). For the best that Yauatcha has to offer, we’d recommend the signature dim sum menu as this showcases Chinese cooking at its finest, with beautiful flavours and textures that contrast to your tongue’s delight. The sesame prawn toast is bulbous with juicy flesh; the puffed pieces flake and melt on the palate; the aromatic duck is as crispy as an autumnal leaf; while the baby pak choi is one of the finest veggie dishes you’ll ever eat.
Dining at Benares is – put simply – a London must-visit. First, it doesn’t have the stuffiness that other Mayfair joints unfortunately possess; rather, it’s a restaurant that welcomes in all sorts of clientele, from families to couples on a romantic rendezvous. Second, the staff, unlike other joints in the nearby vicinity, strike the right balance between convivial and professional. And third, the food, which is overseen by twice Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, is made with a delicate touch, a deft use of spices and a hit of zingy flavours – the lamb cutlets in particular, with their butter soft texture and brilliantly balanced sauces, are a true tour de force. For somewhere in the capital where you truly know you’re in for a guaranteed night of flawless fare, this is the place to go.
La Famiglia, Chelsea
Trends have come and gone on London’s iconic Kings Road, but one jewel remains in the crown that is the World’s End, the restaurant known as La Famiglia. Created by the godfather of Italian chefs, Alvaro Maccioni, it first opened over thirty five years ago. This is as authentic cuisine as anyone will get outside of Tuscany.
From Antipasti including Rucola con Parmigiano and Prosciutto Toscano con Melone, through mains such as Pasta E Fagioli, Risotto Con le Seppie and Pappardelle al Cinghiale, to sumptuous deserts including Dolci Dal Carrello and Frutta Fresca, this is food to die for. And, being a bastion of Italy, wash it all down with the finest espresso this side of Turin.
Tower 42 is a pretty nondescript building in the Square Mile, but pessimists should remember that age-old belief that real beauty lies within. And here, chef restaurateur Jason Atherton has achieved just that, as his slick, high-end City Social is the culinary spark that injects gastronomic splendour inside the tower’s below-ordinary facade.
Dimly lit at night and furnished with a dark chocolate interior, it’s everything you’d expect from an affluent-style restaurant, and, although it may be a bit pricier than other joints with majestic panoramas, one should pay any bill to dine here. Why? Besides the fact that the Gherkin is within eyeshot, the cuisine – a modern British fare with Mediterranean and Asian influences – is refined, perfectly balanced and provides a flavourful depth that really satisfies.
To start, opt for the orkney scallops with cep fregola, smoked pancetta and lardo di Colonnarta (a beautiful, soul-soothing and moreish dish); then move onto the potato gnocchi with fried hen’s egg and confit chicken leg (rich and decadent); opt for the tender venison as your main (the accompanying red cabbage and fig give a piquant and earthy quality); and finish the feasting with the signature hazelnut plaisir sucré. With worldly dishes and equally impressive views, City Social possesses the necessary components that are needed in order to be a London go-to.
The Wolseley, St. James's
Beautifully designed and discreetly hidden, the undeniable jewel in the crown of the Wolseley is the Private Dining Room, which seats up to 14 guests and available to book for both lunch and dinner. Open from early in the morning until late at night, and serving food and drink the entire time, this landmark of London is a classic eatery, and one that’s never lost its cool.
A shorter than usual wine list is better than usual – and entirely derived from Europe – and accompanies one of the finest menus you can find in London. Oysters, steaks and coq au vin may not sound too exciting – but don’t judge before you try these dishes. Additionally, the Schnitzels and caviar, a little more exotic, are equally as delicious – simplicity, perfected.
Untitled Restaurant and Bar
Headed by former elBulli chef Rob Roy and located far from the glitz and glam of Mayfair and Soho lies Untitled, an assuming restaurant in the heart of Dalston. Chiming in with its it enigmatic name, the décor here is almost like a blank canvas that allows you to interpret the ambience yourself. In the middle lies a gargantuan stone slab of a table; the walls sparkle akin to glinting tin foil; and the room is lit like a Berlin avant-garde art exhibition. It’s unlike any other place in the capital (in a good way). It feels futuristic and forward-thinking. And the food is as innovative as the interior.
For a full flavour on what’s on offer at Untitled, we suggest eating the whole menu. The lamb brioche with ginger and shiitake is deep with umami; the boneless chicken wings with kimchi is comfort food for the soul; the aubergine that’s deep-fried with chamomile honey is crispy and perfectly balances savoury and sweet qualities; and the mochi with lychee and rose is a playful morsel that’ll end the night on the right tone. Throughout the meal you’ll experience a sweeping vista of bitter, sweetness, saltiness, umami and sourness; and it’s for this reason why Untitled is the restaurant to watch right now.
When you walk past a restaurant that’s been opened by the people behind Bao, it’d be rude not to pop in. XU (pronounced ‘shu’), is situated a three-minute walk away from the tourist-central Piccadilly Circus, and is a two-tiered teahouse that throwbacks to the Thirties era with its wooden, colonial accents and Oriental-style music. Booths are bijou and intimate, the service is humble and calm and the food is, well, damn delicious.
Make sure to head there for the afternoon when you can sample the plethora of bitesize dumplings on the recently launched lunch menu. From the Taiwanese sausage taro dumpling (a comforting mouthful of goodness with kow choi oil) to the handcut rabbit and pork dumplings in jade sauce (while the dumplings themselves are incredibly moreish, the sauce glistens with a regal, jade-green quality), everything is par excellence. Also, don’t forget to sample the Shou Pa chicken in all its pillow-soft tender glory.
Le Caprice, St. James's
The classic St James’s restaurant, Le Caprice is close to the Royal Academy, Burlington Arcade and Bond Street and moments from Piccadilly, Mayfair and the West End. A full à la carte menu is served from midday throughout the afternoon, featuring classic British, European and American favourites, prepared with carefully sourced seasonal game, meat and fish, and boasting a renowned list of desserts.
Le Caprice’s timeless black and white interior is complemented by a collection of iconic photographs by David Bailey and features a long dining bar where the full menu is available – including Lemon sole on the bone with caper and lemon butter, Creedy Carver duck breast with caramelised figs, salt baked celeriac and chestnuts, and the iconic Hispi cabbage side, with caramelised onions and hazelnuts.
Harry’s Bar, Mayfair
A dress code is a good way to establish timelessness to your establishment, and the suit and collared shirt rule in place at Harry’s ensures that the clientele and atmosphere remain sophisticated at all times. As one of the most elegant and sophisticated private members’ clubs in London. Harry’s Bar is famed worldwide for both the beauty of its décor and the quality of its food. Venetian chandeliers and Fortuny fabrics, Murano glassware and a polished wooden floor create an atmosphere of relaxed luxury – and that’s before we even get to the food.
Fresh ingredients and generous portions make this a must-visit bar and, even though expensive, the veal is the best you’re ever likely to try.
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Colbert appears to have slowly expanded over the last nine decades from one room to three to accommodate le patron’s ever-growing collection of art & local memorabilia. True to the spirit of traditional French cafés, Colbert, with its prime position on Sloane Square next to The Royal Court Theatre, is the perfect spot to while away a few hours over drinks, snacks or a full meal.
Their classic Parisian all-day café menu takes in breakfast to morning coffee through to lunch, mid-afternoon snacks, early evening drinks and a full dinner service – including Steak Hache, Grilled Paillard of Corn-Fed Chicken and Cassoulet de Toulouse. Divine.
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