A restaurant an eatery is a business that prepares and serves food and drinks to customers. Generally, meals serviced and eaten on the premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services. Restaurants differ in providing and presence, service models grazing from economical fast-food restaurants, with a wide variety of cuisines and cafeterias to mid-priced family restaurants, to high-priced luxury establishments.
Until the late 1990s, the City of London was pretty much a no-go area for serious foodies. Sure, there were wine bars aplenty and a handful of high-end lunch venues for client entertaining. But for anything in the slightest bit contemporary, fashionable or fun, Square Mile diners had to take their expense accounts to the West End.
How things have changed. Today the City is home to some of the most cutting-edge restaurants in London, located in some of the most dramatic settings. From the high-end thrills of skyscraper dining and haute-cuisine sophistication to more affordable sharing plates of tapas and dim-sum, here is Square Meal’s handpicked selection of the top restaurants in the City of London.
1. The Ivy City Garden
The Ivy City Garden is the second to possess the ‘Garden’ moniker after The Ivy Chelsea Garden. The Ivy City Garden was Vintage Salt under previous tenant Des McDonald, who himself used to be head chef at.
Located right by Liverpool Street station in serene Bishopsgate Gardens, space incorporates a restaurant, bar, private dining room, and the namesake garden, all decked out in the brand’s well-groomed, colorful interiors. A long, cuisine-leaping menu features everything from the famous shepherd’s pie to tuna carpaccio; ask one of the one-the-ball waiters for advice if you’re stumped what to order.
We’d recommend prawn tempura pepped up with a matcha tea sauce and sprinklings of green papaya, edamame beans and cucumber shavings, and a generously portioned main of perfectly-cooked lobster with a side of rich truffle-and-parmesan-topped thick-cut chips.
Dessert was a real showstopper, a chocolate bombe on a bed of milk foam, soft vanilla ice cream and sticky-sweet shards of honeycomb, melted at the table with a hot salted caramel sauce.
- Address: Dashwood House, 69 Old Broad Street, London, EC2M 1NA
- Phone: 020 3146 7744
- Website: https://theivycitygarden.com/
2. Sketch Lecture Room & Library
When the new Michelin guide was revealed in October, the only thing that surprised people more than The Araki losing all of its three stars was the announcement that the Lecture Room & Library at Sketch had acquired a third. Pretty good going for a restaurant that, when it first opened, received almost universally bad reviews and a barrage of brutally negative publicity. However, by becoming one of only five UK restaurants to hold that magic three-star rating, Sketch had finally fulfilled the vision of charismatic restaurateur Mourad Mazouz (who described the accolade as “winning the World Cup”) and his legendary executive chef Pierre Gagnaire.
And it is utterly deserving of the recognition. With a wonderfully extravagant sense of theatre, guests are welcomed through the large double doors on the first floor of the Sketch townhouse into a joyously flamboyant dining room where art meets indulgent elegance on a grand scale. There really is nowhere quite like it. And the food lives up to the hype.
If it is your first time, you have to try the tasting menu. Head chef Johannes Nuding’s dishes are obviously French-influenced, but there is European creativity and a playful sense of style at work as the course arrives in separate bowls and plates. It is clever, colorful and utterly delicious. Is it over the top? Of course, it is. This is destination dining at its glorious best. Unmissable and unforgettable.
- Address: 9 Conduit Street, London W1.
- Phone: 020 7659 4500.
- Website: sketch.london
This winter, you’d be hard-pressed to decide which has been the bigger seasonal London opening, Winter Wonderland or the latest outpost of Madrid-via-Dubai’s South American dining sensation Amazónico.
The room is big and the flavors are bold enough to match: owners Sandro Silva and Marta Seco having lured Vito Reyes from nearby Ceviche to expand on its Peruvian roots with a full-on conga through the South American flavor book. For light bites, there are oven-roasted chicken rolls and guacamole containing sea urchin, as well as Amazónico’s take on the tortilla chip – insanely moreish crispy plantains. But this place is really about the charcoal-grilled meats, hand-carved at the table and dripping in succulent juices. Our advice is to order the perfectly grilled picanha.
Despite running up alongside Richard Caring’s cool hunters haven Sexy Fish and the rightly revered Benares, husband and wife team Silva and Seco has managed to top them both with a five-room foliage-filled auditorium festooned with all the trappings of a truly “experiential” night out. It’s unreservedly grand, unapologetically glitzy and, astonishingly, the food is even more sizzling than the surroundings.
- Address: 10 Berkeley Square, London W1.
- Phone: 020 7404 5000.
- Website: amazonicorestaurant.com
A newcomer to Dalston, Oren is the Tel Avivian love affair from chef Oded Oren, offering Mediterranean sharing plates that feel loving rather than stingy.
The intimate setting – a 35-cover restaurant and bar – is set up like a Brooklyn rental flat, filled with concrete and low lighting. It’s no-frills dining, with the emphasis fully on high-quality ingredients and accomplished cooking.
Highlights from the menu include the perfectly simple stone-baked flatbread, tomato, and olive oil and the burnt aubergine with mount Gerizim tahini, which is both creamy and sweet. The baked hispi cabbage – buttery-soft inside and chargrilled on the outside – with sweetened romesco and raw tahini is outstanding, while the lemon sole in the Libyan “Chraime” is rich and deep in flavor from the tomato sauce, deceptively fiery from the background heat of the chilies and balanced with pops of sour from the capers.
With its high-quality section of low-intervention wines to its elevated home-cooking-style desserts (try the chocolate mousse with almonds), Oren is a new East End gem.
- Address: 89 Shacklewell Lane, London E8.
- Phone: 020 7916 6114.
- Website: orenlondon.com
5. Fatt Pundit
Fatt Pundit specializes in Indian-originated “Hakka” cuisine. This vibe is a combine of Soho-sharing-plates buzzy and Indian café chic: long and narrow, exposed concrete, small tables, large dining bar, never quite enough space for all the plates that will arrive and decorated with a strong influence from Tangra. The signature dish is the momos, juicy steamed dumplings that boast influences everywhere from Bhutan to Nepal to Tibet. Other essentials include their signature spicy “lollipop chicken” (sounds gimmicky; actually remarkable) and crackling spinach with a yogurt topping and a pomegranate zing. But perhaps best are the rabbit wontons – tangy, gamey, spicy, hard to place and utterly sublime. Go before the Insta-food crowd takes it over.
- Address: Fatt Pundit, 77 Berwick Street, London, W1F.
- Website: fattpundit.co.uk
6. A Wong
Founded by Andrew Wong, GQ’s Restaurateur Of The Year, A Wong specializes in classic Chinese cuisine – warm, informal and extraordinarily good. The food is oddly reassuring, in that you recognize all the flavors no matter how many dishes you try – it’s just that the Peking duck, sweet and sour ribs and crab claws are better than any version of these classics you’ve had before. The tasting menu is theatrical without being gimmicky (it takes three hours so give yourself time) and the à la carte is broad enough to make the best. FYI – the sauce from the lobster on rice makes a memorable dish in itself. The final surprise was the desserts, with the poached meringue with fruit textures emerging as a luxurious and refreshing coda. Basically, this is the Chinese food of your dreams.
- Address: 70 Wilton Road, London SW1.
- Phone: 020 7828 8931.
- Website: awong.co.uk
7. The Araki
A mere nine diners can be accommodated at the counter of this remarkable sushi establishment, assuming they secure a reservation in the first place. If you’re present, you’re treated to a chef’s table demonstration of one of the most arcane food-preparation rituals in the culinary world. Mitsuhiro Araki has intense respect for his ingredients, and his customers, for that matter. He cultivates a symbiotic relationship with you while cooking, and the simplicity of the restaurant’s design mirrors his simple approach to food. It’s only when they come together that it becomes Araki sushi”, he says. Araki has an unparalleled reputation for a reason, and there’s only one way to find out why.
- Address: 12 New Burlington St, Mayfair, W1S 3BF.
- Phone: 020 7287 248
- Website: the-araki.com
In 2017, chef-restaurateur Claude Bosi took charge of the kitchen at the legendary Bibendum. This la carte menu is included both indulgent, adventurous and sophisticated but also gutsy, comforting and playful. Opt for the amuse-bouches – two shiny black olives on spoons beneath crunchy globes of caramelized onion and anchovy.
Here the chicken skin scratchings are lighter than air and, thanks to the moreish mayo dip, disappear from the table as if inhaled. From the mains, there is Brittany rabbit, Cornish turbot, Lincolnshire duck and de Bresse roast chicken. If you are feeling adventurous, try Bosi’s mother’s tripe and cuttlefish gratin. It is over 30 years since its opening, Claude Bosi has helped this historic restaurant recapture its former glory.
- Address: Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London SW3.
- Phone: 020 7589 1480.
- Website: bibendum.co.uk
Taking influence from Nepal, China and Bangladesh, Atul Kochhar’s Kanishka offer a unique taste that should surprise and excite even the most experienced of palates. Here you can find a few delicious dishes – for a starter, the kachela maas is rich and light. Then there’s the Tibetan guinea fowl thukpa, an aromatic meaty noodle soup that packs all the flavor of a potent Chinese hot and sour broth, without the burn. The famous seafood Alleppey curry is sensational: pan-seared fish and shellfish in a coconut and turmeric sauce that looks as good as it tastes. Oh, and don’t forget to order a side of daal and egg curry. Kanishka pushes the boundaries on what we know about Indian food and the result is deliciously different.
- Address: 17-19 Maddox Street, London W1.
- Phone: 020 3978 0978.
- Website: kanishkarestaurant.co.uk
Located in the corner of East London Gloria is light and loud, chintzy and charming, vibrant and vivacious – it’s as if you have teleported from Shoreditch to Naples. To start, make sure to order a portion of “Filippo’s Big Balls” (slow-cooked meatballs in San Marzano tomato sauce) and the smoked stracciatella (the gorgeously gloopy heart of burrata). Next up for mains, you’ll be in pizza and pasta heaven – big portions and full flavors. For dessert, plump for the pistachio gelato. With a friendly atmosphere and comforting food, you’re bound to enjoy dining at Gloria – an antidote to all the sterile, fun-free zones you’ll find on every corner of the capital.
- Address: 54-56 Great Eastern Street, London EC2
- Website: bigmammagroup.com
STK is amazing dining out in the chrome-hard ambiance of a Saint Tropez night club. As for the food, a new autumn/winter menu is in place, and it’s all about the meat: USDA grain-fed steaks, Irish moss fillets, burgers, American sirloins. The prices are expensive, there’s a lot of people taking pictures (of themselves and their food), but if you’re not one for a traditional dining experience, this one is for you.
- Address: 336-337 The Strand, London, WC2 1HA.
- Phone: 020 7395 3450.
- Website: togrp.com/venue/stk-london/
12. Fancy Crab
Fancy Crab is an airy and light dining room (with a sexy subterranean floor beneath) that offers a sensitively priced set lunch and an intriguing USP – namely that it specializes in red king crab. If you want you could order the House Platter, the Premium Platter or the Deluxe Platter – all containing crab, of course. We’d recommend the king crab burger, the Singapore chili crab and the red king crab pappardelle. If you’re a fan of its leading specialty, it won’t disappoint.
- Address: 92 Wigmore Street, Marylebone London W1.
- Phone: 020 3096 9484.
- Website: fancycrab.co.uk
Kutir may be the best new Indian in Chelsea. It’s located on a tiny back street off King’s Road, and was opened by ex-Gymkhana and Jamavar chef Rohit Ghai: those are some exceptional culinary credentials. Kutir offers heritage-inspired cuisine of the most appetizing kind: stone bass served on a bed of squid ink “tagliatelle”, 24-hour roasted lamb rogan josh and a quail biryani that’s perfect for colder days. Don’t leave without tasting the cocktails either.
- Address: 10 Lincoln Street, London SW3.
- Phone: 020 7581 1144.
- Website: kutir.co.uk
14. Kin + Deum
Kin & Deum offers a marvelously modern interpretation of classic Thai cuisine alongside smart street-food specials. Including an interior and contemporary menu, the dishes are punchy but still acknowledge the roots in authentic Bangkok cuisine and family meals. Crispy battered garlic squid starters, pork-and-herb larb balls, The Himmaparn and Countryside Pork Belly and the tamarind crispy eggs.
- Address: 2 Crucifix Lane, London SE1.
- Phone: 020 7357 7995.
- Website: kindeum.com
15. Sumosan Twiga
The destined to go to for delicious food and an atmospheric evening the best place is Sumosan Tiwga. This Knightsbridge restaurant provides an Italian and a Japanese menu, with a restaurant on the first floor and a cocktail bar on the second. GQ’s standout dishes? The California rolls, Smoked eel and the ‘Black Miso Cod’ from the Japanese menu. Even when the dishes are long finished, it’s worth staying for the great tunes and a spot of dancing.
- Address: 165 Sloane St, SW1.
- Website: sumosantwigalondon.com
Located in the heart of Covent Garden, Balthazar is one of the best French restaurants London has to offer. This restaurant is inspired by the original Balthazar in New York, and impeccable service it is perfect for a romantic dinner or a special occasion. Make sure you try the scallops, which are baked to perfection, or the Lobster spaghetti and Côte de boeuf to share.
- Address: 4-6 Russell St, WC2B.
- Website: balthazarlondon.com
17. The Hind’s Head
The Hind’s Head really one of the best pubs in Britain, what you’re treated to here is British favorites with added character: the pea-and-ham soup comes in an egg cup because of course, it does. Better still is the Sunday roast beef and its accompanying duck-fat potatoes and vegetables.
- Address: The Hind’s Head, High Street, Bray SL6 2AB.
- Phone: 01628 626151.
- Website: hindsheadbray.com
18. Outlaw’s at The Capital
Looking for some exquisite seafood in London? You can’t do much better than Outlaw’s. Outlaw’s does iconic dishes with aplomb to hake with cider clotted-cream sauce which from the Porthilly rock oysters. .All the fish is sustainably sourced so you can even dine without the guilt of depleting the oceans.
- Address: 22-24 Basil Street, London SW3.
- Phone: 020 7591 1202.
- Website: capitalhotel.co.uk
Gazelle located in the culinary wonderland Mayfair’s Albemarle Street, packs in a stunning cocktail bar and elegant European-themed restaurant across two floors of an Edwardian townhouse. Small, punchy plates are the order of the day here, so every dish- whether that’s pork press with salted carrots or the white chocolate with green tea- is crafted to leave a lasting impression.
- Address: 48 Albemarle Street, London W1.
- Phone: 020 7629 0236.
- Website: gazelle-mayfair.com
20. Kerridge’s Bar & Grill
There are many who have tried to give a fresh twist on Britain’s culinary classics, among them few have accomplished the task quite as successfully Tom Kerridge with his new Bar & Grill, Kerridge is one of them. Here you’ll understand just what a treat you’re in for simple dishes that are carried off with wit and expertise. Whether that’s the “lobster thermidor” omelet or rib of beef, there’s plenty to delight and have you coming back for more. Other establishments might serve up a little more originality, but when the food here is so consistently exquisite it’s impossible to complain.
- Address: 10 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2.
- Phone: 020 7321 3244.
- Website: kerridgesbarandgrill.co.uk
Alphabet is a Mediterranean eatery where the experience is as important as the food with music, food, and cocktails. It opens until 2 am. After you have devoured the sticks of confit duck pastille and the halloumi quinoa fries, Dave Tregenza the co-owner insists on pulling the tables aside to open up the dance floor. With some of the best R&B tracks ever made on their playlists, Alphabet will take a humble dinner date to the next level.
- Address: 56 Upper Street, N1 ONY
- Website: alphabet-bar.co.uk
Wiltons is the oldest restaurant in London. It promises the finest in old-school dining. An education in quintessential Britishness, head chef Daniel Kent offers everything from meat-filled carving trolleys to lobster omelets. Wiltons have unexpectedly tight to its roots and we are delighted it has. Their seafood cocktail is a timeless classic.
- Address: Wiltons, 55 Jermyn Street, St James’s, London SW1 Phone: 020-7629 9955.
- Website: wiltons.co.uk
23. Min Jiang
Min Jiang is one of the best views in London and an amazingly delicious food provider, it promises to keep you coming back for more. Use their 48-hour wood-fired Beijing Duck, served three ways and carved table-side, and your local takeaway’s version will be ruined forever. It is amazing news to all that Min Jiang is celebrating its 10th year at the top of The Royal Garden Hotel, as the most authentic Chinese restaurant in London, it’s a recurring favorite.
- Address: Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High St, London W8 4PT
- Phone: 020 7361 1988
- Website: minjiang.co.u
24. La Dame De Pic London
La Dame De Pic London is located sited right next to the Tower Of London. It is Anne-Sophie Pic’s first installation in the UK. It is a family restaurant, Maison Pic in Drôme – proud owner of three Michelin stars, given consecutively to her grandfather, father and her. Now the London branch has one too, with a menu – in Pic fashion – that mixes the most unusual flavors to create dishes that have been generationally recognized as spectacular.
- Address: Four Seasons Hotel, 10 Trinity Square, EC3.
- Website: fourseasons.com
25. The Greyhound Café
The bustling streets of Bangkok are brought to you in this equally bustling Thai-fusion restaurant, just off Berners Street. You must need to make a plan on whether its crab meat wok rice or a colossal hunk of pork knuckle from its magazine-cum-menu, with pictures to aid your choosing. It is a fresh, fun, delicious Fitzrovia must-see.
- Address: 37 Berners Street, W1
- Website: greyhoundcafe.uk