Other awards come and go but no restaurant rating has lasted as long as the Michelin star. The categorisation dates back to 1926, when Michelin wanted to broaden the appeal of the guide it had launched in 1900 as a way of directing French drivers to amenities such as restaurants and garages. Michelin is first and foremost a tyre manufacturer, lest anyone forget, and the red guides are its most valuable marketing tool.
The second and third stars were introduced in 1933 and have been causing chefs sleepless nights ever since. Put simply: winning a Michelin star is the life’s goal of many chefs. And once one star has been won, the second and third stars are the next pinnacles of success to climb.
The UK has 187 Michelin star restaurants and there are 67 Michelin star restaurants in London. The longest-standing three-star restaurant in the Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland is The Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire, which is where you’ll also find Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is the London restaurant which has held three stars the longest, followed by Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. The pair of three stars were joined in 2019 by Sketch Lecture Room and Library - which won its first star way back in 2005, and in 2021 by both Hélène Darozze at The Connaught and Core by Clare Smyth.
London might not be the most Michelin-starred city in the world (that honour goes to Tokyo) but in Europe it is second only to Paris for the number of starred restaurants. One star means ‘a very good restaurant’, two stars ‘excellent cooking that is worth a detour’ and three stars mean ‘exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey’. So whether you’re travelling from near or far, read on for all of the Michelin star London experiences.
Three Michelin star London restaurants
Michelin defines a three-star restaurant as one that offers ‘exceptional cooking that is worth a special journey’. We’d define them as once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list restaurants; food that you wouldn’t want to eat every day (and probably couldn’t afford to) but which will linger long after you’ve taken your final mouthful of petit four.
Michelin itself elucidates the matter by saying: ‘To reach the coveted three-star echelon, it takes more than excellent food. For inspectors, what differentiates a two-star restaurant from one with three is emotion. Every three-star restaurant has a very unique signature and what the team looks for in a three-star meal is an emotional experience that is engraved in one's memory for many years to come.’
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Mayfair
What: The most famous name in global gastronomy delivers French fine dining of the highest order at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. Menus drip with luxury ingredients, at a correspondingly luxury price point. Service from impeccably polite staff is as silky smooth as the chic, cappuccino-toned dining room, with acres of space between tables and a leafy view over to Hyde Park.
Where: The Dorchester, Park Lane, W1K 1QA
Core by Clare Smyth, Notting Hill
What: The former chef-patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay has established herself as a star in her own right with her first solo restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth. It’s less formal than her previous digs, with Smyth and her team on show in the glass-walled kitchen producing a flavour-forward menu which gives as much emphasis to vegetables as meat and fish; smaller plates are available in the chic bar.
Where: 92 Kensington Park Road, W11 2PN
Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Mayfair
What: Classic haute cuisine is lightened up for the 21st century at Helene Darroze at The Connaught, where a 2019 refurbishment in flowing curves of soft pastels has lightened up the decor to match – as well as adding a brand-new chef’s table in the heart of the kitchen. Top-end produce from around the UK and the chef’s native Landes in France is treated to subtle spicing, while no meal here should end without a glass of vintage Darroze Armagnac.
Where: The Connaught, Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Chelsea
What: The flagship restaurant of the most famous chef that Britain has ever produced, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is an exquisite reminder that behind all the celebrity is a chef deserving of his fame. Matt Abe heads up the kitchen these days but classics such as the signature lobster and langoustine ravioli represent Ramsay’s modern French vision, while the wine list is a thing of beauty.
Where: 68 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HP
Sketch: The Lecture Room & Library, Mayfair
What: London’s newest Michelin three star set new standards of opulence when it opened in 2003. Sketch’s first-floor Lecture Room and Library is the capital’s most luxurious dining room and the modern French cuisine, overseen by French superchef Pierre Gagnaire, more than lives up to the setting with impeccably sourced ingredients reinvented anew.
Where: 9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG
Two Michelin star London restaurants
Many diners would struggle to detect any difference between a two- and three-star restaurant, not least because Michelin’s definition is so similar: a two-star restaurant means ‘excellent cooking that is worth a detour’. Generally, you’ll find more of a white-tablecloth experience than you would at one-star level; tasting menus of highly creative, beautifully presented food, often matched to wine pairings from a superb cellar and delivered by staff well versed on every aspect of the restaurant operation, usually feature, too.
What: Chef Andrew Wong has re-invented regional Chinese cooking for Londoners, at the casual Kym’s in the City and his Michelin-starred Pimlico flagship – though there’s little about A. Wong that could be considered formal. The Taste of China tasting menu is the best introduction to Wong’s approach, but you can also expect standout versions of high-street Chinese classics such as crispy chilli beef, as well as revelatory lunchtime dim sum.
Where: 70 Wilton Road, Pimlico, SW1V 1DE
What: French chef Claude Bosi made his name at Hibiscus in Ludlow (where he also won two stars) and continues his Michelin journey through England at Bibendum. The Chelsea landmark is a fitting setting – it used to be the HQ for Michelin tyres – and Bosi stays in top gear across menus that take in set lunch, a la carte, vegetarian and tasting options.
Where: Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, SW3 6RD
Da Terra, Bethnal Green
What: The playful brainchild of Argentinian chef Paulo Airaudo (Amelia in San Sebastian) and former Simon Rogan chef, Rafael Cagali, Da Terra continues the star-studded restaurant heritage of Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel. The tasting menu blends fine dining with playful touches in the likes of Lego figurines discharged from a bed of pebbles or beer brewed from surplus bread.
Where: 8 Patriot Square, E2 9NF
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Knightsbridge
What: The London outpost of everyone’s favourite molecular gastronomist, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal recreates historic British dishes for modern palates. The dining room may feel as hotelish as the Mandarin Oriental location but the view of Hyde Park is lovely and there’s plenty of theatre from the glass-walled kitchen. Don’t miss the endlessly photographed meat fruit, nor the tipsy cake for pudding.
Where: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs, Fitzrovia
What: A chef’s table hidden within Champagne and hot-dog purveyor Bubbledogs, Kitchen Table plays host to no more than 20 diners. They sit on high stools around an open kitchen where chef James Knappett and his team prepare and serve a daily changing menu, chalked up on the blackboard with one-word descriptions so that what arrives on the plate is an almost total surprise.
Where: 70 Charlotte Street, W1T 4QG
La Dame de Pic, Tower Hill
What: The first UK outpost of three-Michelin-starred French chef Anne-Sophie Pic is every bit as ambitious as that pedigree implies. La Dame de Pic is housed in the grand surrounds of the Four Seasons hotel in the City where highlights include Pic’s signature berlingots (pasta parcels of goats’ cheese and mascarpone) and her elaborate millefeuille dessert.
Where: Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ
Le Gavroche, Mayfair
What: A Gallic gastronomic experience like they used to make, Le Gavroche’s menu showcases over 50 years of Roux family classics. Michel Roux Jr took over the reins from his father Albert, but day-to-day cheffing duties fall to Rachel Humphrey and her team, who refresh the menu every season while keeping such legendary classics as the souffle suissesse, omelette Rothschild and artichoke Lucullus.
Where: 43 Upper Brook Street, W1K 7QR
Restaurant Story, London Bridge
What: Tom Sellors' Restaurant Story has a not-so-typical approach to fine dining, with no menu presented to customers on arrival. Instead, the chefs will build you a meal based entirely around your preferences, and without fail you will be guaranteed exquisitely presented dishes packed full of flavour, and the odd twist too.
Where: 199 Tooley Street, SE1 2JX
One Michelin star London restaurants
Michelin defines its one-star establishments as ‘a very good restaurant’. Typically, this is the level at which you’ll find more informality in terms of service and decor than you would at three- or two-star level, though this isn’t always the case – there are some very formal one-star Michelin restaurants out there.
What: Vibrantly spiced small plates prepared in an open kitchen are the calling card of Amaya, which is owned by the same family as Chutney Mary and Veeraswamy. Vegetarian dishes such as tandoori broccoli are a highlight, as too classic Western ingredients given an Indian makeover; the tandoori foie gras is better than any version you’ll eat in a French restaurant.
Where: Halkin Arcade, 19 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8JT
Angler, Liverpool Street
What: Chef Gary Foulkes turns the freshest fish into elegantly presented plates at Angler. House speciality tartares are a standout but cooked seafood, such as poached lobster with ajo blanco, is handled equally as well. The light-filled setting on the seventh floor of South Place Hotel is almost as much of an attraction as the food, not least for its summertime terrace.
Where: South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, EC2M 2AF
Barrafina Dean Street, Soho
What: London’s best Barrafina (there are offshoots at Adelaide Street, Drury Lane and King’s Cross) serves never-bettered versions of classic tapas cooked and served from behind the counter. Expect to queue at almost whatever time of day you turn up but cava and croquetas make the wait easier while faultless chorizo and calamari, tortilla and tuna tartare are the reward.
Where: 26-29 Dean Street, W1D 3LL
What: Intimate chef's table restaurant Behind, based in Hackney, is the brainchild of Jason Atherton's former development chef Andy Beynon. The fish-focused tasting menu on offer has sustainability at its heart and includes indulgent dishes such as Cornish blue lobster and yuzu served on an English muffin.
Where: 20 Sidworth Street, Hackney, London E8 3SD
What: Having been open since 2003, Mayfair's Benares has been serving up inventive plates of contemporary Indian food for the best part of 20 years. Using predominantly British ingredients, the restaurant manages to produce refined dishes which show off every ingredient on the plate, while also brilliantly balancing the different spices and flavours.
Where: 12a Berkeley Square, W1J 6BS
What: SquareMeal’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year is the first solo restaurant of Tomos Parry. The young Welsh chef blends Basque ideas of cooking with fire with in an open kitchen – the signature dish is turbot cooked whole in a cage – with a cool Shoreditch sensibility which has seen Brat become as popular with the fashion crowd as it is with foodies.
Where: 64 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
Casa Fofò, Clapton
What: This understated neighbourhood eatery may look rather unlikely from the outside, but Casa Fofò's daily set menu is not only packed full of intriguing and innovative dishes, but is also brilliantly priced given the level of cooking on show. The food here takes its influence from all over the world with everything from touches of Asian flare to big Meditarrean flavours on show.
Where: 64 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
What: Modern French cooking sprinkled with luxurious ingredients contrasts with prim-and-proper British surrounds at Celeste, the dining room at the super-swanky Lanesborough hotel. Impeccably sourced produce such as lobster and wild roe deer sit alongside some earthier veg-focused dishes. The suited-and-booted staff are as smart as the interiors but prices aren’t as scary as you might expect.
Where: The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, SW1X 7TA
Chez Bruce, Wandsworth Common
What: There’s a reason why Chez Bruce, one of London’s most-loved dining rooms, has been playing to full houses since 1995: quite simply, a meal here will leave you feeling better about the world. Lunch, especially, is exceptional value for money, while the intensely seasonal menus keep big flavours to the fore. Well worth the trip to Wandsworth even if you don’t live in south London.
Where: 2 Bellevue Road, SW17 7EG
City Social, City of London
What: Jason Atherton’s 24th-floor restaurant in Tower 42 combines skyscraping views with sky-high standards in the kitchen. It’s not all about the views at City Social, though, which is as worthy of its moniker as Pollen Street Social and Social Eating House: this is a restaurant that is as much about having fun as appreciating food, with a brilliant bar to begin (or end) your evening with.
Where: 24th Floor, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, EC2N 1HQ
The Clove Club, Shoreditch
What: Multi-course tasting menus thrill with daringly modern flavour experiences in a cool, laid-back space at The Clove Club. This was the restaurant that put Shoreditch on the map as a serious eating destination and it still wows with its radically experimental interpretation of contemporary fine dining. It sounds too cool for school, but the welcoming staff couldn’t be more charming.
Where: 380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT
Club Gascon, Smithfield
What: The restaurant that introduced Londoners to the joys of south-west France started life in the 1990s as a rough-and-ready bistro. Club Gascon is a lot smarter these days - but no less creative. All things duck still form the core of the menu (the foie gras with Bailey’s sauce is one of the most astonishing things we’ve ever eaten) but there’s also now a dedicated vegetarian menu while brilliant puddings end things on a high note.
Where: 57 West Smithfield, EC1A 9DS
Cornerstone, Hackney Wick
What: Tom Brown's delightful Hackney small-plates restaurant serves an enticing seafood-focused menu which oozes luxury. Expect to be treated to beautifully simple dishes at Cornerstone, but also expect every ingredient to be elevated to dizzying heights. You'll find chunks of lobster hiding beneath your sea bream and crumpets soaked indulgently in shrimp butter, and why would anyone complain about that?
Where: 3 Prince Edward Road, E9 5LX
Davies & Brook, Mayfair
What: Head Chef Daniel Humm brings the distinct style of cookery that has won him three Michelin stars at his New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park to Claridges. Davies & Brooks' elegant dishes sparkle on the plate and include Humm's signature dry-aged suck glazed in honey and lavendar.
Where: Claridge’s, Brook Street, W1K 4HR
The Dysart Petersham, Richmond
What: A former pub, The Dysart Petersham was transformed into a destination restaurant in 2012 thanks to the cooking of 2010 Roux Scholar Kenneth Culhane. Locally sourced ingredients include produce from the restaurant's garden and nearby woods while the classically French cooking is brought up to date with Asian twists; good-value wines, too.
Where: 135 Petersham Road, Richmond, TW10 7AA
Elystan Street, Chelsea
What: Phil Howard’s casual follow up to The Square, Elystan Street places a heavy emphasis on comfort, both in the cooking and the chic surrounds. The twice-baked cheese soufflé exemplifies an approach that places as much importance on greedy deliciousness as gastronomic fireworks. Knowledgeable staff deliver friendly, personal service while the wine list is a thing of unusual beauty.
Where: 43 Elystan Street, SW3 3NT
Endo at Rotunda, Shepherd’s Bush
What: Endo Kazutoshi is the former exec sushi chef for the Zuma group and this restaurant on top of Television Centre is even more high end. Endo at Rotunda serves a mere 15 diners an à la carte menu split into sushi, hot dishes and tempura, washed down with an international wine list and a short list of signature cocktails.
Where: 101 Wood Lane, Shepherds Bush, W12 7FR
Five Fields, Chelsea
What: Chef Taylor Bonnyman’s fine-dining restaurant The Five Fields cossets guests with welcoming staff, top wines and creative cooking. Starters are practically a feast in their own right while much of the super-fresh produce comes from Bonnyman’s farm in Sussex and there’s a terrific, contemporary wine list from a top team of sommeliers.
Where: 8-9 Blacklands Terrace, SW3 2SP
Galvin La Chapelle, Spitalfields
What: The Galvin brothers’ City outpost, Galvin la Chapelle, serves sumptuous modern French food in the Grade II-listed surrounds of St Botolph’s Hall; try the signature dish of lasagne of Dorset crab. Service is attentive without being in-your-face while wine pairings make choosing from the showstopper of a list a cinch.
Where: 35 Spital Square, E1 6DY
The Glasshouse, Kew
What: Easier to get into than its siblings Chez Bruce and La Trompette, the light and airy Glasshouse showcases seasonal British ingredients cooked with an eye to the future rather than the past: salmon and sea bream carpaccio dressed with lime and chilli, or Welsh lamb with crispy sweetbreads, say. There’s some good value to be had in the serious wine cellar.
Where: 14 Station Parade, TW9 3PZ
The Goring Dining Room, Belgravia
What: Famous as the local of Her Majesty the Queen (and also Harry and Meghan), this hotel dining room has impeccably regal connections but there’s nothing stuffy about the on-trend cooking at The Goring, such as cured sea trout tartare with seaweed vinaigrette and specialist tomatoes. Spare some time for a cocktail or glass of fizz in the hotel’s supremely comfortable bar.
Where: 15 Beeston Place, SW1W 0JW
What: Re-opened and refurbed after a fire, Gymkhana is back and better than ever. The ground-floor looks much the same but the basement is now chicer and sleeker. The food, meanwhile, still wows with superlative biryanis, curries, small plates and the best tandoori grills and chops you’ll eat in London. To drink, there are well-chosen wines and expertly mixed cocktails.
Where: 42 Albemarle Street, W1S 4JH
Hakkasan Hanway Place, Fitzrovia
What: The restaurant that redefined the potential for what Cantonese cuisine can achieve, the groundbreaking original of the international chain was the first London restaurant to make Chinese dining truly cool. Hakkasan Hanway Place is a surefire bet for impressing clients over dim sum lunches or evening dates romanced over silver cod in Champagne sauce or the best sweet and sour pork you’ll ever taste.
Where: 8 Hanway Place, W1T 1HD
What: London’s second Hakkasan ramps up the glamour of the original with a ground-floor bar perfect for daytime dim sum and night-time cocktails (not least the legendary strawberry and basil martini). For something more sultry, head down the stairs at Hakkasan Mayfair to the blue-hued dining room which is a scaled-down version of the original.
Where: 17 Bruton Street, W1J 6QB
Harwood Arms, Fulham
What: London’s only Michelin-starred gastropub comes from the same stable as Brett Graham's former two-Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury. The Harwood Arms is a proper pub, though, with real ales on the pump, roasts on Sunday and some exalted British food the rest of the time: Herdwick lamb with creamed courgettes and basil, say, or proper puds like strawberry and camomile trifle.
Where: Walham Grove, SW6 1QP
Hide Above, Mayfair
What: The top-floor segment of Ollie Dabbous’ three-floor restaurant and bar, Hide Above offers boundary-pushing modern British cooking: charcuterie wrapped around a bony feather, or a coddled egg served in the shell. The surroundings are just as visually pleasing (not least the view over Green Park) and full of clever design touches, while wines come from Dabbous’ backer Hedonism.
Where: 85 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 7NB
What: The flavours of West Africa are the touchstone for Ikoyi, an agenda-setting restaurant which deals in small plates of boldly spiced food in which the familiar melds with the unexpected thanks to chef Jeremy Chan’s assured use of spice. Chargrilled octopus tentacle with spicy ndole, a bitter-leaf and spinanch mix, is one of many standout dishes.
Where: St James’s Market, St James’s, SW1Y 4AH
What: London’s first Michelin-starred Chinese, Kai Mayfair offers supremely refined dishes that you won't find anywhere else served up in smart interiors that stay just the right side of kitsch. There are some classics of the sweet and sour pork ilk but mostly it’s all about the creative likes of pan-fried foie gras with caramelised cashews, white pepper, spring onion, grapes and passionfruit dressing.
Where: 65 South Audley Street, W1K 2QU
Kitchen W8, Kensington
What: Part of the same stable as Elystan Street and Church Road Barnes, Kitchen W8 touts an outstanding take on contemporary European cuisine whilst transmitting the vibe of a neighbourhood restaurant. This neighbourhood being Kensington, that means tastefully muted interiors, Old World wines, good-value set lunches and smoked eel and, to eat, grilled mackerel with golden beetroot and sweet mustard sauce.
Where: 11-13 Abingdon Road, W8 6AH
La Trompette, Chiswick
What: A template for what civilised neighbourhood dining should be like, La Trompette is smart, serene, sophisticated and civilised – somewhere you might equally come for a light lunch or a celebratory supper. Daily changing menus could bring caramelised calf’s sweetbread with girolles, almond and hyssop followed by wild sea bass with summer beans, octopus and salsa verde.
Where: 3-7 Devonshire Road, W4 2EU
What: As much of a wine bar as it is a restaurant, Leroy’s semi-open kitchen sends out flavour-forward cooking for generous prices. Expect the likes of ricotta dumplings with peas and artichokes, and lamb sweetbreads with morels mushrooms and wild garlic sauce, eaten at counter seats and washed down with a 100-bin wine list.
Where: 18 Phipp Street, EC2A 4NU
Locanda Locatelli, Marylebone
What: Giorgio Locatelli’s flagship is no longer the hot ticket it was in the early noughties but Locanda Locatelli is probably now the restaurant it was always meant to be, a chic space of gracious hospitality where all the attention is focused on what’s on the plate rather than who is on the next table. It remains a must-visit for superlative pasta and one of the best bread baskets you’ll ever come across.
Where: 8 Seymour Street, W1H 7JZ
What: Chef James Lowe was part of the same hospitality collective that produced The Clove Club and although Lyle’s bare and spare restaurant is clearly influenced by the aesthetics of new Nordic cooking, the ultra-seasonal ingredients are fiercely British. No-choice dinner menus might yield pork belly with anchovy and baby-gem lettuce, while lunches get an a la carte.
Where: The Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
What: Chef Nuno Mendes might have moved on from this kitchen and wine room but Maos is still worth a look for its intriguing set up. Set within the Blue Mountain School interdisciplinary space, 16 guests sit around a communal table for a three-hour seasonal menu that feels more like a private dinner party than a restaurant experience – until the bill arrives.
Where: 41 Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ
What: Marcus Wareing’s vision remains the touchstone for the cooking style and sophisticated surroundings of this Belgravia classic. Despite the chef’s classical training, there’s a refreshing internationalism to the menus at Marcus, so that crab parfait is flavoured with lemongrass and accompanied by a satay sauce, while meticulous attention to detail means that ever aspect of a dish merits close investigation.
Where: The Berkeley, Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL
What: She may have a slowly expanding group of more casual cafés to her name but Angela Hartnett’s Murano proves she can still do fine dining with the best of them. The setting – all starchy tablecloths, suited staff and the namesake Murano glass – might look intimidating but Hartnett’s natural warmth shines through every aspect of the operation, not least in the Italian-inspired cooking.
Where: 20 Queen Street, W1J 5PP
Muse by Tom Aikens, Bloomsbury
What: Tom Aikens isn't a chef short of experience when it comes to Michelin star kitchens, but having taken a five-year break from the London fine-dining scene Muse once again sees him awarded a star. The intimate 25-cover space serves a series of tasting menus which take their inspiration from different points in Aikens' past.
Where: 38 Groom Place, SW1X 7BA
The Ninth, Fitzrovia
What: Two bare-brick rooms are the contemporary backdrop for cooking from chef Jun Tunaka, whose ninth kitchen is his first solo project. The Ninth’s sharing concept might yield rabbit lasagne, oxtail croquettes or, for something lighter, ‘raw and cured’ and ‘vegetable’ sections of the menu. Bargain set lunch, too.
Where: 22 Charlotte Street, W1T 2NB
Pétrus by Gordon Ramsay, Belgravia
What: From the circular wine store loaded with the titular Bordeaux château to the supremely elegant cooking, Pétrus by Gordon Ramsay is gastronomic gold. Part of Ramsay’s empire but a restaurant with its own personality, Pétrus delivers a noughties-style fine-dining experience of formality and good manners, from tasting menus enjoyed at perfectly set tables to the expertise of the knowledgeable front-of-house team.
Where: 1 Kinnerton Street, SW1X 8EA
Pied à Terre, Fitzrovia
What: A fixture of London’s high-end dining scene since 1991, Pied a Terre is the most famous restaurant on one of London’s most famous restaurant streets. The kitchen continues to dazzle with inventive modern cooking – tasting menus are a speciality, the wine list is as thick as a bible while innovations such as the first-floor chef’s table demonstrate a restaurant that isn’t content to stand still.
Where: 34 Charlotte Street, W1T 2NH
Pollen Street Social, Mayfair
What: The restaurant that made Jason Atherton into a chef and restaurateur to rival his former mentor Gordon Ramsay, Pollen Street Social established the Atherton template when it opened in 2011. Traditional British recipes and ingredients are re-invented through playful technique (try the ’fish and chips’) in an infectiously upbeat environment that is the very definition of social.
Where: 8-10 Pollen Street, W1S 1NQ
What: A more upmarket sibling to Clipstone and The Quality Chop House, Portland serves high-end cooking in dressed-down surrounds but with the same emphasis on interesting but approachable wines. Expect clever pairings of in-season ingredients and great-value set lunches: confit chicken wings with sweetcorn, lemon thyme and black truffle, say, or Cornish skate with baby parsnips, mussels and sea herbs.
Where: 113 Great Portland Street, W1W 6QQ
What: The restaurant within the London outpost of India’s Taj Hotel group delivers a dining experience every bit as prestigious as that heritage suggests. Quilon is a south Indian specialist, which means that seafood is the menu’s highlight, but thoughtful vegetarian options are almost as strong. Meat eaters aren’t neglected either, though, and there’s a spice-friendly wine list.
Where: 41 Buckingham Gate, SW1E 6AF
The Ritz Restaurant, Piccadilly
What: Chef John Williams isn’t afraid to match the luxury of the setting with luxury on the plate in this jaw-droppingly opulent room at the legendary Ritz hotel. Menus in The Ritz's restaurant drip with the likes of lobster and caviar, turbot and foie gras, while venison Wellington or crepe suzette prepared tableside add an extra flourish of theatre. The summertime terrace is one of London’s best-kept secrets.
Where: The Ritz London, 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR
The River Café, Hammersmith
What: London’s feel-good restaurant par excellence, nothing beats a summertime table in The River Café’s garden, with the Thames flowing past beyond the wall, trees swaying on the other side of the riverbank and plant-filled pots providing fresh pickings for the ultra-seasonal menus. It’s not cheap, but we’d recommend you go for the full four courses to get the most out of Ruth Rogers’ intensely flavourful cooking.
Where: Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA
What: Simon Rogan’s Roganic – once a pop up, now a permanent feature of London dining – echoes the chef’s two Michelin-starred L’Enclume in Cartmel with tasting menus and supremely fresh ingredients, many from Rogan’s Cumbrian farm. Vegetables are to the fore and the wine list, like the menu, puts natural and British products centre stage.
Where: 5-7 Blandford Street, W1U 3DB
What: Choose between a ground-floor tapas counter and upstairs restaurant at Nieves Barragan Mohacho’s Sabor. The chef takes diners through a culinary odyssey of her native Spain, from a feast of whole suckling pig to share upstairs to more bitesize morsels at the counter, where the bombas de chocolas – a trio of chocolate doughnuts – is the crowning glory of a brilliant meal.
Where: 35 Heddon Street, W1B 4BS
Seven Park Place, St James's
What: Chef William Drabble delivers French food of the highest order at Seven Park Place, an intimate hotel dining room that is largely unknown beyond the foodie cognoscenti. A souffle for pudding was the highlight of our most recent meal, though tasting menus mean you have a whole series of highlights. Oenophiles, meanwhile, should devote some serious time to the 47-page ‘wine book’.
Where: St. James's Hotel & Club, 7-8 Park Place, SW1A 1LS
What: It's all in the name when it comes to serial restauranteur Victor Garvey's Soho offering SOLA, which brings a slice of LA to Central London. Showcasing wonderful produce to its fullest potential, a huge amount of effort goes into every dish here and it shows not only in the fantastic flavours on display but also in the striking presentation.
Where: 64 Dean Street, W1D 4QQ
St John, Farringdon
What: Chef Fergus Henderson can transform even the most unpromising-sounding British ingredient into the finest thing you’ve ever eaten, which is why the signature dish at St John is bone marrow with parsley salad: often imitated, never bettered. A kitchen that really knows how to cook elevates pies and puddings into new realms of wonder, while a devotion to seasonality ensures that even the simplest dishes taste completely divine.
Where: 26 St John Street, EC1M 4AY
What: Icelandic chef Agnar Sverrisson’s Texture offers a taste of the Nordic north. Seafood and vegetarian options are especially strong – think Norwegian king crab with coconut, ginger, lime leaf and lemongrass, or beetroots with Gorgonzola, walnuts and ‘snow’. And if you’ve only ever tried supermarket skyr, wait till you get a taste of the homemade version here.
Where: 34 Portman Street, W1H 7BY
What: Adam Byatt's Trinity is one of the best restaurants not just south of the river but anywhere in London. British ingredients are given a subtly French accent but the only definition cooking this individual needs is ‘delicious’. If you’re not fussed about the Michelin star, Upstairs at Trinity is less formal. Nice terrace in summer, too.
Where: 4 The Polygon, SW4 0JG
What: The first London project from JKS (Gymkhana, Brigadiers, Hoppers et al), Trishna serves highly accomplished cooking free from the daintiness that can afflict some modern Indian food. Fish and seafood are particular strengths – try the vivivdly green tandoori hariyali bream – though meat biryanis are just as good and, like all of the food here, authentically spiced.
Where: 15-17 Blandford Street, W1U 3DG
What: Elevating Japanese food to the highest level, Mayfair's Umu provides a quirky yet luxurious experience from the off as you have to press a discreet button on the front door to access the restaurant. The artistically presented dishes at Umu are matched by the quality of cooking and can be perfectly paired with many a glass of sake.
Where: 14-16 Bruton Place, W1J 6LX
What: London’s oldest Indian restaurant is as essential a part of life in the capital as it was when it opened in 1926. Veeraswamy’s blingy room might not be to all tastes but there’s no faulting the depth of flavour nor elegant presentation of classics such as chicken tikka, duck vindaloo or slow-cooked lamb shank. Wine matching and dessert cocktails are further pluses.
Where: Victory House, 99 Regent Street, W1B 4RS
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