21 August 2014

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London’s best late-night restaurants


La Bodega Negra - La_Bodega_Negra_2012_-_BN016.jpgWe’ve all been there: a show ends too late, drinks run on too long, or work keeps us in the office, and we can’t get to a restaurant in time to eat. Thankfully, a handful of restaurants throughout the city operate late kitchen hours for those of us with inconvenient schedules. If you’ve ever found yourself stuck for somewhere to grab a late-night bite, here’s our pick of the best restaurants in London that keep their doors open for rumbling stomachs.

by Casey Rackham

Brasserie Zédel, Piccadilly Circus (pictured, right; kitchen closes at 11.45pm)

With a midnight closing time and ample tables set aside for walk-ins, this Parisian-inspired brasserie is just the cure for a night gone long. The menu is full of traditional French food from duck-leg confit to starters of escargots or foie gras. And for those who are looking for a sugary hit, crème brûlée or chocolate mousse are sure to do the trick.

Café Bohème, Soho (kitchen closes 2.30am)

For those who aren’t ready to go home just because the show’s over, this Soho brasserie and bar is open for business until 2.30am. The late-night menu delivers duck rillettes, steak baguettes, and deep-fried Camembert. Wash it all down with punchy drinks from the cocktail menu.

duck and waffle 2012 - Duck_Waffle_view.jpgDuck & Waffle, City (pictured, left; kitchen closed from 5-6am)

Perfect for anyone who loves a good sunrise or sunset, this towering restaurant, perched on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, is open around the clock and offers stunning views of the capital. The eclectic menu is filled with sharing plates, such as the signature dish of duck and waffle with mustard-maple syrup; for those who are too hungry to share, there is everything from mutton sliders to mackerel tartare.

Fornata, Soho (kitchen closes 12M Mon-Wed and 1am Thur-Sat)

While the main kitchen may close at 11pm, evening munchies of calzones, bruschetta and pizzette are available until midnight during the week and 1am on Friday and Saturdays. With two-dozen savoury and sweet dishes to choose from, it’s hard to decide on a bedtime snack to finish off the evening.

J Sheekey, Covent Garden (restaurant closes 12M Mon-Sat)

Open Monday to Saturday until midnight, this ever-fashionable seafood hotspot is a short skip from many West End theatres and cinemas. Top-notch dishes such as lobster thermidor, Cornish fish stew, or monkish and tiger-prawn curry knock spots off the competition.

J Sheekey Oyster Bar - J_Sheekey_Oyster_Bar_2008_-_Full_bar.jpgJ Sheekey Oyster Bar, Covent Garden (pictured, right; bar closes 12M Mon-Sat)

This bijou oyster bar, and younger brother of J Sheekey’s next door, is best for a post-theatre dinner (or even a pre-theatre meal if you’re feeling peckish). Enjoy Cumbrae rock oysters, a decadent plateau de fruits de mer, or opt for a shrimp-and-scallop burger. Add even more extravagance to your evening with some bubbly from the cellar’s 13-strong Champagne list.

La Bodega Negra Café & Taqueria, Soho (restaurant closes 1am Mon-Sat)

From tuna tostaditas with chipotle, avocado and jalapeño to prawn ceviche with salsa verde, this chic Mexican eatery is just the ticket for those who can handle spice late at night. Almost as impressive as the food menu is the trailing list of Tequilas and cocktails; try the margarita, made with passion fruit, hibiscus or watermelon.

Le Mercury, Islington (Kitchen closes 12.30am)

After a late – and possibly expensive – night out, the resoundingly low prices at this French bistro always draw in plenty of guests. The menu boasts dishes such as crayfish-and-lobster ravioli with spinach-and-shellfish sauce, and roast saddle of lamb with grilled courgettes and rosemary jus, with all mains leaving you change from a tenner.

Nobu Berkeley St, Mayfair (last seating 11pm Mon-Wed and 12M Thur-Sat)

This younger, trendier sibling of Nobu London puts on a show of its own with its ultra-modern dining room and slew of footballers and pop starlets flouncing around. However, the South American/Japanese-inspired food is anything but a sideshow. The menu offers everything from crisp pork belly with spicy miso to octopus carpaccio with bottarga, or you can skip the decision-making process altogether and choose the set-dinner menu.

Sophiescoventgarden2012image03.jpgSophie’s Steakhouse, Covent Garden (pictured, left; kitchen closes 12.45am Mon-Sat)

Only a stone’s throw from many of the theatres near Covent Garden, this steakhouse is perfect for pre-/post-theatre dining. A simple set menu offers a three-course meal with mains of rump steak, char-grilled chicken breast, or deep-fried scampi. And don’t fret about reservations: the 220-seat dining room is well suited to welcome a flood of post-show diners.

St John Hotel, Soho (Kitchen closes 12M)

The decor might not be the most inspired, but the late closing time and welcoming atmosphere make up for this restaurant’s whitewashed walls and municipal fittings. For dinner, try the potted pigeon with pickled quince, or the pork chop with turnip tops; for a midnight dessert, it doesn’t get any better than chocolate terrine with Armagnac ice cream.

Sushisamba, City (kitchen closes 12M Sun-Thur and 1am Fri-Sat)

Nestled right below Duck & Waffle on the 39th floor of the Heron Tower, this Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian-inspired fusion restaurant has a diverse menu ranging from fried plantains to rock-shrimp tempura with black-truffle vinaigrette to sashimi. Prices may be a little high, but then again, so is the view.

This feature was published in December 2012.

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