Mother’s Day comes round once a year but here at SquareMeal we reckon that treating your mum to a meal out is for life, not just for March. Whether your mum is one cool mother or her taste in eating out is more traditional, here are the best restaurants in London to take your mama out tonight.
What: An elegantly upmarket French brasserie hidden down a cute Mayfair mews
Why: Treat your mum like the queen she is at this classy Mayfair restaurant where The Queen herself has dined. If it’s good enough for Her Maj, it’s good enough for your ma. Flawless attention-to-detail is paid to everything from service to presentation and, of course, food quality in the comforting likes of prawn and avocado cocktail, magret of duck and The Queen’s personal favourite, Dover sole. Don’t have a royal-sized bank account? There’s a three-course table d’hôte menu for £29.50.
Where: 18 Bruton Place, W1J 6LY
What: Expect hip surroundings and some of London’s best fish dishes at Tom Brown’s impressive debut
Why: If your mum still has her finger on the pulse of cool London then chef Tom Brown’s debut restaurant, in an off-the-beaten-track location near the Olympic Park, will earn her bragging rights. Brown was head chef of Nathan Outlaw’s restaurant at The Capital hotel but here in Hackney he proves that he can cook just as well for hip east Londoners as blue-blooded Knightsbridge residents. Crumpets dripping with buttery potted shrimps is his Instagrammable signature dish; other small plates might include sensationally fresh oysters or a strip of bream concealing chunks of lobster.
Where: 3 Prince Edward Road, E9 5LX
Hutong, London Bridge
What: The best of the restaurants within The Shard offers stunning views and top-notch Chinese cooking
Why: If your mum’s visiting from out of town, a table in The Shard means you can combine eating with sightseeing. Take in all of London’s landmarks with a wander around Aqua Shard bar before heading upstairs to 33rd-floor Hutong, where your table will give you a prime view up the river from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Houses of Parliament. The menu is a sophisticated mix of Szechuan and northern Chinese, with some exquisite Cantonese dim sum and a full-on version of Peking duck carved tableside.
Where: Level 33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY
The Ivy, Covent Garden
What: A Theatreland classic where you still have the chance of sitting next to a famous face
Why: It might be easier to get a table here than it was in its 1990s heyday but there’s still a thrill to being treated to dinner at what remains one of London’s most famous restaurants. Staff have the knack of treating civilians like celebrities, the stained glass-enclosed dining room feels deliciously exclusive while the menu of classics combines familiar comfort with contemporary touches: shepherd’s pie or scorched yellowtail sashimi, say. Pre- and post-theatre menus (three courses, £28.50) make The Ivy a brilliant place to take your mum before or after a West End show.
Where: 1-5 West Street, WC2H 9NQ
What: Cruise along the waterways of north London in the cosy dining room of this refitted canal barge
Why: If you want to give your mum a meal to remember then London Shell Co really does offer dining with a difference. The Prince Regent sets sail from its mooring by Paddington Station for candlelit dinners and weekend lunch cruises, with five-course menus conjured up from a miniscule kitchen as Little Venice and Camden Lock float past the windows. Expect the likes of beer-battered Dorset oysters or Cornish monkfish cassoulet washed down by a similarly patriotic drinks list of sparkling wine from Hampshire and Somerset cider.
Where: The Prince Regent, Sheldon Square, W2 6PY
What: Monica Galetti’s Charlotte Street restaurant showcases a Masterchef at the peak of her powers
Why: Supermum Monica Galetti combines running her restaurant with presenting MasterChef and raising her daughter Anais (all with the support of husband David, who heads up front of house). Galetti called her debut Mere – pronounced ‘Mary’ – because it is the French word for ‘mother’ and the name of her own mother. So it’s safe to say that the chef knows a thing or two about what your own mum might like when you’re showing your appreciation for all her efforts, from striking, sumptous design to modern-style haute cuisine.
Where: 74 Charlotte Street, W1T 4QH
What: Afternoon tea at its most sedate and nostalgic served in spectacularly opulent surrounds
Why: The jacket-and-tie Ritz is one of London’s supreme celebration venues, from Champagne cocktails and caviar in The Rivoli Bar to the Versailles-style splendour of The Ritz Restaurant. But it will forever be most famous for the Palm Court's afternoon tea, a three-tier event stacked in silver. At the bottom are childhood sandwiches, all crustless and finger-sized; above them, scones of unparalleled lightness with abundant clotted cream and jam; and at the top, a treasure trove of patisserie. Crowning it all is tea itself, proffered in suitably ornate and weighty pots.
Where: 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR
What: One of London’s best Italian restaurants remains an icon of good living
Why: Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray have nurtured some of the UK’s top chef talent since The River Café opened in 1987, from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Theo Randall to Moro’s Sam and Sam Clark and Jamie Oliver (who was spotted shaking the pans and propelled to TV stardom). Dining on the riverside terrace surrounded by pots of herbs and plots of veg is gorgeous in summer but whatever the time of year, the platefuls of ingredient-driven Italian cooking offer one of London’s ultimate feel-good foodie experiences. And if the eye-watering prices don’t make your mum feel valued, nothing will.
Where: Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA
What: Skye Gyngell's chic Somerset House restaurant is a favourite with the fashion crowd
Why: Aussie chef Skye Gyngell believes that men and women cook in different ways and everything about her Somerset House dining room feels unapologetically feminine. The disarmingly simple cooking is unafraid to let the quality of ingredients speak for themselves in the likes of delicate queen scallops coated in velvety lemon butter or a zesty sorbet made with mandarins grown on Mount Etna. Then there’s the chic setting, a Grade II-listed space transformed into an airy oasis of calm overseen by staff in pale uniforms – it’s no surprise to learn that Gyngell used to be the cookery editor of fashion bible Vogue.
Where: Somerset House, New Wing, Lancaster Place, WC2R 1LA
What: Beautifully presented seafood fits the restrained elegance of the Sethi family’s first restaurant
Why: JKS Restaurants are behind some of London’s hottest places to eat right right now (Gymkhana, Bao and Brigadiers, to name but three) but the success story began for siblings Jyoti, Karam and Sunaina at this elegant, Michelin-starred Indian in Marylebone. Their mum must be very proud – as yours will be too if you treat her to the likes of pink prawns with chilli, garlic and smoked tomato chutney or the famous tandoori hariyali bream in a vivid green paste of chilli and herbs. Oenophile Sunaina Sethi has devised some exceptional wine pairings to match the complexity of the food.
Where: 15-17 Blandford Street, W1U 3DG
Treating your dad, too, or your mum's new partner? Check out our list of London's best restaurants for taking parents out
Image credits: The Ivy – Paul Winch-Furness; Monica Galetti – Laurie Fletcher; Skye Gyngell – Carol Sachs