Best British restaurants in London

If you want to keep your dinner classic, head to a British restaurant. To discover the capital’s greatest, have a look at our pick of London’s best British restaurants. British food has shed its reputation for being dull and dreary and our list of must-try British restaurants in London proves it. Whether you’re looking for classic fish & chips or a hearty Shepherd’s pie, our choice of London’s best British restaurants has everything you’ll need. Scroll down to see the best British restaurants in London.  

Posted on 17 September 2018

Best British restaurants in London

Check out London’s excellent choice of British restaurants with SquareMeal’s selection. Every one of the restaurants featured in SquareMeal’s list of London’s best British restaurants has been tried and tested by food critics and our own customers, so check out the reviews and book a table with SquareMeal today.


Blacklock Soho

Blacklock Soho

£30 - £49
British

The Basement, 24 Great Windmill Street, London, W1D 7LG

As an affordable on-trend eatery with great food worth talking about, this cool basement chophouse is manna for West End diners on the prowl. Blacklock’s incognito street entrance adds to the allure, although it won’t prepare you for the rocking basement room that’s full to bursting with a garrulous young crowd. Vintage Blacklock foundry irons are used to press pork, lamb and beef chops on the charcoal grill, which also lends its smoky flavours to daily specials such as maple-cured bacon. Best of all is the menu’s all-in sharing option, which sees the day’s ‘skinny chops’ piled onto strips of toasted flatbread to catch the juices, with sides ranging from beef-dripping chips to courgettes with Doddington cheese. Cocktails start at a fiver, otherwise pick from a clutch of British beers and wines on tap. You can make a reservation (although Blacklock favours walk-ins), while the sought-after Sunday roast gets booked up months in advance.

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Hawksmoor Seven Dials

Hawksmoor Seven Dials

£50 - £79
Steak
British

11 Langley Street, London, WC2H 9JG

“The best steak in London, by a mile”, declares one reader, and we have to agree. The beefy Hawksmoor chain somehow manages to get everything right, from its glorious 35-day-aged steaks supplied by The Ginger Pig to its creative cocktails – all presented by staff with a genuine passion for service. It's easy to understand why there are now six branches in the capital (and another in Manchester), though this atmospheric site in the old barrel-vaulted Watney Combe Brewery is one of our favourites. Start with Old Spot belly ribs or sweetly caramelised roast scallops with white port and garlic, before taking your pick of the beefy cuts chalked up by weight on blackboards. Perfectly crisp triple-cooked chips, gut-busting macaroni cheese or grilled bone marrow make happy companions, but we urge saving some space for the addictive salted caramel Rolos too. The comfortable bar deals in burgers and lobster rolls as well as brilliant drinks, though between the hours of 3pm and 5pm Monday-Friday, you can dine from the full a la carte menu when booking in advance. Sunday lunch sees roast rump of Longhorn beef with all the trimmings for Sunday lunch. “Great for big groups and for couples”, notes one fan.

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Rules

Rules

£50 - £79
British

35 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7LB

As patriotic as a rousing chorus of Rule, Britannia!, this splendidly antiquated institution flies the flag for British dishes and ingredients with its proudly traditional menu. As London's oldest restaurant (opened by Thomas Rule in 1798), it would no doubt still be familiar to former patrons such as Charles Dickens, who looks down over the plush, panelled dining room from walls crowded with old sketches and paintings. Quality is consistent across the board, with confident renditions of staples such as potted shrimps, steak and kidney pie or golden syrup steamed sponge with custard. Game from the restaurant’s Lartington Estate in Yorkshire is a real draw in autumn, when dishes such as braised pheasant with lentils or roast grouse with game chips, bread sauce and redcurrant jelly make a perfect match for the savoury Rhône reds on the wine list. Expect to be treated like royalty from the moment you're greeted by the top-hatted doorman.

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Simpson

Simpson's in the Strand

£50 - £79
British

100 Strand, London, WC2R 0EW

Along with Rules (est. 1798) and Wiltons (1840), 189-year-old Simpson’s comprises a holy trinity of Empire-era, Rule Britannia British dining. It has just re-opened after a spruce-up, and entering the stained-glass and tiled lobby is like stepping into the booking hall of a gothic Victorian railway station. The dining room itself (or ‘Grand Divan’, to give it its proper title) is even more of a spectacle, a Grade II-listed showstopper of lustrous wood panelling and wedding-cake plaster moulding, oil paintings and leather banquettes, illuminated by chandeliers (there is no natural light) and, minus the cigar smoke, immediately recognisable to former patrons Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill. The food (from a British ‘bill of fare’ rather than a French ‘menu’) has been gently updated for modern appetites, losing some of its trencherman appeal along the way. A prettily presented pulled ham-hock salad, artfully arranged beef Wellington and a light gooseberry trifle all seemed aimed more at guests from the neighbouring Savoy (of which Simpsons is part) than Billy Bunter-ish City gents, although gently warmed potted shrimps to spread onto toast and sirloin with a slab of mushroom were in the comfort food tradition of old. And we were surprised that for a restaurant that prides itself on its trolley service (roast beef and Yorkshire pud, cocktails mixed tableside), the cheese selection turned out to be five pre-plated slices, presented without explanation. Overall, with Simpson’s-branded mustard and horseradish available to buy on the way out, we left with the impression that this is heritage-trail dining rather than a piece of living history. 

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Tom Simmons

Tom Simmons

£30 - £49
British
French

One Tower Bridge, 2 Still Walk, London, SE1 2LP

Former MasterChef: The Professionals runner-up Tom Simmons appears to have landed on his feet with this eponymous debut, having previously worked under the likes of Mark Sargeant (Plum + Spilt Milk) and Tom Aikens (Tom’s Kitchen). Part of the One Tower Bridge development, the two-floor site serves up an all-day menu of traditional British and French dishes with some intriguing Welsh accents (note the whipped leek butter, the cockle popcorn with seaweed mayo and the regional cheeses). The intimate ground-floor bar dispenses on-trend sips such as passionfruit and elderflower Martinis, while the charming low-lit space upstairs benefits from a relaxing soundtrack and cosy decor. Starters might see wood pigeon with beetroot and blackberries or a creamy mushroom velouté, pepped up with chives and truffle cream, while our pick from the generous mains was the short-rib of beef, served as a hunk of tender, melt-in-the-mouth meat on smooth pomme purée with beef jus and a scattering of smoky bacon lardons – a filling and big-flavoured plateful. If you still have room, finish with a handful of cocoa-dusted salted caramel truffles. With its smiling service and prices that are justified by hearty portions, we think Tom Simmons is one to watch.  

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Chiswell Street Dining Rooms

Chiswell Street Dining Rooms

£50 - £79
British

56 Chiswell Street, London, EC1Y 4SA

It’s all about subtle luxury at this slick best-of-British restaurant/cocktail bar from the ETM Group, which also owns the neighbouring Jugged Hare: lime-green leather chairs, dark-wood floors and mirrored walls define the dedicated dining area, while an accomplished chef is on hand to deliver a menu of seasonal, unpretentious food underpinned by carefully sourced regional ingredients. Devon crab is sweetened by pink grapefruit and further enhanced by avocado and pickled radishes, while generous mains might feature a Saddleback pork chop served alongside pulled shoulder, pickled plums and spring onion, with a side of double-cooked chips. To conclude, try the “spot-on” Guanaja chocolate and salted caramel tart with pistachios and boozy cherries. Service is “impeccable”, and knowledgeable staff are happy to chat you through the extensive, reasonably priced wine list. Afternoon tea and “superb” pre-theatre deals are also offered, making this hard-to-fault dining room equally popular with City suits and Barbican concert-goers.

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Roganic

Roganic

Over £80
British

5-7 Blandford Street, London, W1U 3DB

Simon Rogan has had a busy year with two new London openings. He has diversified his London offering, first with chef’s table Aulis in Soho, and now with this resurrection of his much-lauded pop up Roganic, which ran for two years in 2011 and takes some elements from the chef’s two Michelin-starred L’Enclume. Roganic’s focus is on supremely fresh ingredients, often sourced from Rogan’s own farm in Cumbria, with head chef Oliver Marlow (part of the original Roganic line-up) overseeing 10- and 14-course tasting menus of dainty but dynamic plates.

Everything we tried was near perfect, from the intensely creamy starting snack of a preserved raspberry tart rooted with an earthy beetroot base, to a dessert of apple slices caramelised into a bundle of sweetness that is almost too pretty to eat. More unconventional dishes include ice-cold scallops which first freeze the mouth before giving way to a topping of sour apple and gooseberry chunks, and a ramekin of unassuming-looking custard, which surprises with its savoury, saline notes of seaweed and caviar. The only dud is the dry-aged duck that is hyped up with a tableside visit from Marlow, but turned up minus the super-crispy skin we were promised.

France leads the European-focused wine list (good luck finding much below £45), while wine flights are supplemented by a dozen by-the-glass options, and there are also Cumbrian beers and gin. Service is positively warm and friendly. The restaurant’s understated interior (complete with 80s-style cane Cesca chairs) may not be to all tastes – not least given the not-very-understated prices – but Roganic excels at remixing the fine-dining of old in an exciting, and most importantly delicious, way.

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The Quality Chop House

The Quality Chop House

£50 - £79
British
Wine Bars

92-94 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3EA

There aren’t many Grade II-listed dining rooms in London, but this is one of them, with wooden booths and black-and-white tiled floors recalling its relatively humble Victorian origins. Of course, The Quality Chop House is now a thoroughly modern enterprise, with a second dining room, private facilities and an adjoining butcher’s/food store. The daily menu displays a touch of wanderlust – just like our Victorian forebears – so expect Gloucester Old Spot pork chops with rémoulade, or red mullet partnered by Tokyo turnip and bagna cauda. Mackerel crudo with crème fraîche and chickweed makes a feisty little starter, while desserts such as pear and apple crumble are just the sort of thing you’d hope to see on the menu. Service is perfectly paced thanks to staff who are “enthusiastic and knowledgeable”. The wine list is updated monthly (co-owner Will Lander is Jancis Robinson’s son, so no pressure), and it’s a “damn fine piece of work”.

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Cora Pearl

Cora Pearl

£50 - £79
British
French

30 Henrietta Street, London, WC2F 8NA

Covent Garden might not carry the same illicit cachet as Shepherd Market but the streets that would still be familiar to Nell Gwyn make an apt setting for this follow-up to Kitty Fisher’s, the most fashionable restaurant of 2015. Like Kitty’s, Cora Pearl is named after another of history’s good-time-girls, although the roles are reversed here: while Kitty’s has a bar above and a dining room below, here the bar is hidden away in the basement while the high-ceilinged, ground-floor restaurant is illuminated at both ends by big windows. Raffish without being scruffy and as suitable for romance as bromance, it’s the sort of room that is cosy in winter and sun-drenched in summer.

The menu might not have a must-order showstopper like the Galician beef that made Kitty Fisher’s the talk of the town, but there are several contenders. Starters of shrimp Ranhöfer – basically prawn cocktail on toast – and elegant-looking, naughty-tasting cheese and ham toasties are high-class canapés, begging you to lick your fingers.

To follow, ‘pork with onions’ turns out to be floppy slices of presa Ibérica draped with spring onions atop a deeply-flavoured onion purée, while veal fillet comes with an even better celeriac purée and a jug of Bordelaise sauce bobbing with bone marrow. Save this for dunking best-in-class chips made with layers of pressed potato: surely the most labour-intensive fries in London.

Cora Pearl is the sort of place where pre-theatre diners might consider missing the curtain-up for a creamy bowl of ‘milk and cookies’ and where tourists won’t believe their luck at having chanced upon that rarest of all pearls: somewhere in Covent Garden where both Londoners and anyone from out of town will feel right at home. 

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Roast

Roast

£50 - £79
British

Floral Hall, Stoney Street, London, SE1 1TL

“What’s not to like about ‘meat and vegetables’?” quips an admirer of Roast – a determinedly patriotic eatery dedicated to the glories of traditional British cuisine. Built on a mezzanine floor in Borough Market’s iconic Floral Hall, it promises “fantastic views” from its handsome, light-filled dining room. We’ve been many times for breakfast and never been disappointed, although booking ahead is essential. If you’re more interested in lunch or dinner, you’ll find “reliable” and expertly sourced dishes prepared with a fair degree of dexterity, from Portland crab salad or Scotch eggs with piccalilli to braised ox cheek on creamed onion sauce or whole grilled sea bass with fennel and capers. The menus are keenly seasonal, so also expect spring lamb, summer fruits and game too (“this is the only place to eat grouse after the Glorious 12th”, insists one fan). “Always enjoyable” Sunday roasts naturally get the nod, and the Brit-accented drinks list is also on the money.

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Restaurant Story

Restaurant Story

Over £80
British
One michelin star

199 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2JX

Tom Sellers gained a reputation as something of an enfant terrible when he opened his first solo venture, Restaurant Story, at the age of 26 in 2013; now he’s re-opened it with a refurb after a six-week closure. The whole place feels more grown-up; the stark Scandinavian look of the glass-walled room (Sellers spent a year at Noma in 2011) has been softened with tablecloths and sculptures, while the rather precious ‘story’ elements, such as guests being asked to bring a book to leave behind, have thankfully been pulped.

There’s no menu as such; guests are asked for any likes or dislikes before a procession of tasting-menu size dishes arrive, although they are likely to include story classics such as ‘Storeos’ – a savoury spin on an Oreo cookie filled with cheese – and Sellers’ signature dish of bread with dripping, in which a beef-fat candle lit at the table melts to become a dipping sauce for sour dough.

But it’s not all about the visual gags. Sublime turbot, Champagne and sea herbs, and chicken with morels and lettuce, bear witness to Sellers’ rock-solid training with some of London’s most famous chefs, while oscietra caviar, veal sweetbread and turnip showcased superb ingredients with every mouthful.

Even diners who have an allergic reaction to tasting menus are likely to be won over by the joy and invention on show here, although what elevated the meal for us from high-end rivals was the relaxed service led by witty and down-to-earth maitr’d Joe Paulinski who, for all his good humour, learnt his trade at the very serious Per Se. All in all, this is a Story that now knows how to put a smile on its customers’ faces, and if you haven’t returned since it first opened, it more than merits a re-visit.

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Hide Above

Hide Above

Over £80
British

85 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7NB

Hiding in plain sight with a vast three-story location on Piccadilly, Hide is the hugely ambitious restaurant that chef Ollie Dabbous has seemed destined to open since his self-titled debut picked up every award going in 2012. Hide is actually three spaces – Above, Ground and Below – though it may as well be called Upstairs Downstairs for the hierarchies of exclusivity involved.

Below is a cocktail bar overseen by long-time collaborator Oskar Kinberg; Ground is an all-day modern British restaurant, affordable by Mayfair standards; while a swirling oak staircase leads to Above, which has the sylvan view through sound-muffling windows over the London bus rooftops to Green Park. Tables up here are spaced so you never need make eye-contact with your neighbour, let alone hear what they are saying, while inspired design touches include not only the expected handbag stools but mobile phone chargers hidden in the table and a leather-bound iPad that can access the 6,000 wines from Dabbous’ backers, Hedonism Wines, and have them delivered within 15 minutes and served with a £35 mark up. Well, what else would you expect in a restaurant rumoured to have cost more than £20m?

To eat, there’s a 10-course tasting menu for £95 (plus a four-course lunch for £42), bursting with inventive visuals such as charcuterie speared on the end of a feather, caviar-beaded tuna tartare prettily heaped at the centre of an ornamental, inedible leaf, and Dabbous’ signature ‘nest egg’ of coddled egg and smoked butter, a sort of savoury Creme Egg served in the shell on a bed of hay. Things didn’t get truly exciting for us until halfway through, though, with the arrival of a breathtakingly subtle red mullet in a bread and saffron sauce, and a gamey, dry-aged Goosnargh duck breast. Puddings were also best-in-class, from the ‘garden ripple ice cream’ that looked like a slice of Twister, to a swirl of coconut cream fashioned into a white rose petal.

Criticisms? Even allowing for 10 courses, we found the pace of the meal dragged, and while staff can’t be faulted for their enthusiasm and expertise, the constant interruptions and explanations a tasting menu necessitates does not make for the most relaxing experience. For make no mistake, this very much is an experience – albeit one that might remain in the once in a lifetime bracket.

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Quo Vadis

Quo Vadis

£30 - £49
British

26-29 Dean Street, London, W1D 3LL

Founded back in 1926, this quintessential “Soho sanctuary” isn’t drifting quietly into old age: autumn 2016 saw the ground-floor dining room reduced by two-thirds to make space for Barrafina Soho (both are owned by the Hart brothers), following the latter’s eviction from nearby Frith Street. The room looks the same, with brown-leather banquettes, “beautiful fresh flowers” and jewel-like stained glass windows, although there’s less all-round hubbub than before. Head chef Jeremy Lee’s menu is still a joyful celebration of the seasons, so expect anything from a warm salad of grouse and elderberries to a strapping leg of lamb garlanded with a pick-and-mix of gently cooked mushrooms. Lee’s refined repertoire also makes room for simple comforts such as chunky, lightly fried chips or steamed lemon pudding with rhubarb, while the trademark smoked eel sandwich is a must-order. None of this comes particularly cheap, but thanks to great service, really good Martinis and a dash of British eccentricity (John Broadley’s distinctive illustrations are a hoot), we reckon it’s great value.

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Lorne Restaurant

Lorne Restaurant

£50 - £79
British

76 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1DE

Ex-River Café sommelier Katie Exton has taken full advantage of Victoria’s blossoming food scene with this 48-cover modern Brit, in collaboration with chef Peter Hall (formerly at The Square). Light-filled Lorne is a calming oasis of washed-out colours, with house plants lining the walls and a menu dedicated to seasonal, local produce. Dishes change daily, but we were impressed by an unashamedly rich starter of cuttlefish seasoned with fennel and pickled onions, coated in a creamy romesco sauce. Mains saw a generous serving of tender, corn-fed chicken, supported by a side of onion tart and a hunk of roasted cauliflower. 

Finally, a chocolate crémeux dessert avoided excessive heaviness thanks to refreshing drizzles of passion fruit and crisp mouthfuls of honeycomb: typical of what one reader calls “great on-point cooking”. Meanwhile, Kate Exton’s oenophile expertise shows in a globe-trotting list with some “spectacular” food-matching opportunities – there’s also a downstairs bar and wine cellar that’s worth perusing. With its chatty staff and truly relaxed atmosphere, Lorne is a very welcome addition to the neighbourhood.    

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The Game Bird at The Stafford London

The Game Bird at The Stafford London

£50 - £79
British

The Stafford London, 16-18 St James’s Place , London, SW1A 1NJ

The Stafford hotel in St James’s has replaced the fussy and flouncy Lyttelton restaurant with something that very few London five-stars offer any more: a dining room serving traditional British food. Despite a very attractive re-style involving cherry-red leather, turquoise velvet and floral fabrics, The Game Bird feels less like a restaurant and more like a hotel lounge, but the food is well worth a visit from non-guests. Traditional is the way to go, such as the gently flavoured oak-smoked salmon, carved from a trolley. We also enjoyed a duo of sweet and savoury puddings: steak with rich gravy in a pliable suet crust, with a Lyle’s golden syrup sponge doused in custard to finish – the pistachio soufflé, dolloped with white chocolate ice cream, is a good shout too. Lighter options are every bit as good, from dressed crab piled with sweet, white meat, to an equally sweet jumble of thornback ray with brown shrimp, beurre noisette, grilled leek and red wine sauce. The most fun is to be had with the chicken Kiev however, loaded with so much garlic butter that it comes with a bib to tie around one’s neck. Prices are what you’d expect from a luxury hotel in St James’s, though a three-course Sunday roast for £40 is a local bargain – spend your saved pennies on the rather less kindly priced wine list, with its regal collection of Bordeaux and Burgundy stored in a 380-year-old cellar. 

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Rotunda

Rotunda

£30 - £49
British

Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG

Long before Coal Drops Yard upped King’s Cross’s cool factor, Rotunda was drawing in the crowds with its farm-to-table ethos and charming canal-side terrace. The restaurant underwent refurbishment in the summer of 2018 and while most of the cosmetic changes are subtle (splashes of orange in the colour scheme, a new hanging cabinet on display near the entrance), the biggest difference is the introduction of a buzzy chef’s counter. With much of the kitchen moved from downstairs into the restaurant, diners can now watch the chefs at work, while asking for their cooking tips of course.

Rotunda makes full use of its owner’s farm in Northumberland, while all beef and lamb on the menu is dry-aged, hung and butchered on site. Seasonally changing specials are also a fixture: on our visit, we devoured a tremendously decadent baked camembert, drizzled with honey and truffle oil and served with St John bread.

The kitchen’s commitment to process is evidenced in triumphs such as the 8oz beef burger. So often an uninspiring choice on restaurant menus, this perfectly cooked burger is gratifyingly greasy without overdoing it and is complemented by toppings of smoked bacon and Ogleshield cheese. If you’d rather eat fish, try the likes of fleshy, citrusy grilled Cornish scallops slathered in seaweed butter and topped with crispy samphire.

Things get a little odd come dessert, with some rather random combinations on offer (blueberry Eccles cake with espresso coffee choc pot anyone?). Nonetheless, our more conventional chocolate and almond lava cake with cherry compote was a warm, comforting end to a delicious meal.

Friendly staff and a fairly-priced wine list are further reasons to take a trip to King’s Place – it might have more competition now, but Rotunda’s still got it.

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The Clove Club

The Clove Club

£50 - £79
British
One michelin star

380 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LT

It’s all happened so quickly for The Clove Club. From supper club to pop-up to successfully crowdfunded launch in the space of three years, Isaac McHale’s Michelin-starred Shoreditch destination now rubs shoulders with the high flyers on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. It has achieved its success by doing things differently, such as adopting a pre-paid ‘ticketed’ booking system for dinner reservations (a first for London). The food’s experimental, with multi-course tasting menus promising a cavalcade of thrilling, enthralling and seriously on-point seasonal cooking along the lines of flamed mackerel with gooseberry and English mustard, Aylesbury duck ‘three ways’ (consommé, breast and smoked sausage) or apricot sorbet with burnt honey and bee pollen – all offered with imaginative wine pairings. Some find it precious, some too challenging, but nobody could fault McHale’s commitment. The dining room is chilled-out and surprisingly serene, with the bar even more so serving on-trend cocktails and racy snacks: we love the venison sausages with greengage ketchup and the buttermilk fried chicken with pine salt. In short, an unmissable one-off that chimes perfectly with cosmopolitan 21st-century London.

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The Frog Hoxton

The Frog Hoxton

£30 - £49
British

45-47 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6PB

MasterChef alumnus Adam Handling has moved his debut The Frog E1 restaurant from the Old Truman Brewery to a large, multi-purpose site on Hoxton Square.

His biggest operation yet, this Frog comprises a dining room, a buzzy basement bar called The Iron Stag and an adjoining coffee/beer shop called Bean & Wheat. As before, it’s kitted out with contemporary artwork and graffiti, while you’ll even find Handling’s blown-up face looming over you in the loos.

The food offering, too, remains reassuringly similar to the old address, including two multi-course tasting menus. Butter whipped with chicken fat, topped with crispy chicken skin and served with sourdough, was a particular highlight and typical of the high-octane combinations; we also loved the signature warm savoury doughnuts, oozing cheese and topped with a heavy dusting of earthy truffle. New additions include a crisp, lightly-spiced brown shrimp tartlet.

Desserts are intriguing and effective; we loved our white chocolate paired with refreshing cucumber and dill, a triumphant marriage of sweet and savoury. Cheeky cocktails such as the Scottish Porn Star (made with Irn Bru, no less) are impressive, but there are non-alcoholic sips available too, as well as vegetarian and vegan versions of the tasting menu. Our only complaint overall was the slightly disorganised (though very friendly) service.

If you enjoy your fine dining without white tablecloths and waistcoat-wearing waiters (the chefs serve up each course), we’d recommend leapfrogging your way to Hoxton.   

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Lyle

Lyle's

£50 - £79
British
One michelin star

The Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ

James Lowe of Lyle’s counts half the capital’s chefs and critics among his admirers – small wonder, since his stark, understated restaurant is a true original that dances to its own minimalist tune. Whether you’ll be nodding along is down to preference; we felt mildly chastised for not wishing to share and for requesting our filter coffee white (!), but came away wholeheartedly onside because Lowe’s beautifully rendered Michelin-starred food never fails to impress. Flavours are true, pure and intense, whether you’re grazing through the lunchtime small-plates menu or relishing the fixed-price evening deal. The former might range from lamb’s heart with gherkin, ramsons and capers to smoked eel with hispi cabbage and dulse seaweed, while the latter could take in mackerel with gooseberry and crab apple as well as a glorious seasonal plate of grouse with girolles and mulberries. Desserts are also on a roll at the moment: our caramel and espresso meringue almost trumped the signature treacle tart. To drink, expect some interesting picks from the new school of winemaking.

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The Five Fields

The Five Fields

£50 - £79
British
One michelin star

8-9 Blacklands Terrace, London, SW3 2SP

“Still on the up and up” confirms a regular visitor to Five Fields – an elegant but homely neighbourhood restaurant that “really does feel very special”. Muted grey and beige colour schemes set a soothing tone in the bijou dining room, although all eyes are on the gloriously fresh-flavoured food coming out of chef/proprietor Taylor Bonnyman’s kitchen. Much depends on seasonal pickings from the owner’s Sussex garden – floral tributes and herbal embellishments that make an impact in dishes as diverse as Lindisfarne oyster with green herbs, sea lettuce and radish or a disarmingly simple ‘late summer’ plate of tomato, pea and watermelon. Bonnyman’s sense of adventure and his culinary intelligence also show in unexpected pairings such as beef with peanut, broccoli and tamarind or red grouse overlaid with the contrasting flavours and textures of carrot, yoghurt and cucumber. To finish, ‘chocolate, sesame and smoke’ sounds darkly dramatic, but there’s fruity freshness too – as in Charentais melon with orange flower blossom, raspberry and praline. Staff are gracious, genuine and accommodating – a real boon when it comes to picking from the comprehensive 500-bin wine list. “Surprising and charming in equal measure” says a fan – a verdict we’re happy to endorse.

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Aqua Shard

Aqua Shard

£50 - £79
British

Level 31 The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, , London, SE1 9RY

Swankily appointed Aqua Shard has one astonishing USP – 31 floors up on the Shard, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering spectacular views, mainly across the urban sprawl leading to the North Downs. The views and the location alone should just about guarantee a full house every night, but it would be remiss to minimise the sterling contribution made by current head chef Dale Osborne (ex-Terroirs). With some mains breaking the £40 barrier, eating here isn’t cheap, but in return you’ll be offered some skilfully rendered and reassuringly seasonal modern British food: jellied ham hock with pickled heritage carrots and parsley oil; fillet of John Dory with Scottish girolles, sea beet, pickled samphire and lentils; Merrifield Farm duck breast with seared duck hearts and slow-roasted Evesham beets; cherry Bakewell tart with cherry sauce. Useful tip: they’re also open for breakfast, weekend brunch and afternoon tea, though prices are as sky-high as the views. Readers also reckon that drinks are “somewhat expensive”.

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Kerridge

Kerridge's Bar & Grill

British

10 Northumberland Ave, Westminster, London, WC2N 5AE

After a false start with the Jumeriah Carlton Tower in Knightsbridge, Tom Kerridge has finally opened his first London restaurant at the Corinthia hotel. It’s in a slightly no-man’s-land location between Embankment tube and Trafalgar Square – both central and off the beaten track – but Kerridge’s fame and the skill of his kitchen should ensure this London outpost becomes every bit as hard to get into as his two Michelin-starred Marlow gastropub The Hand and Flowers. 

Some of the dishes we treasure from The Hand are reproduced here. The signature glazed omelette of smoked haddock and Parmesan is pimped up with lobster and even better for it, the meat so sweet that the fabulously decadent concoction eats like a souffle. Other dishes were new to us, but demonstrated Kerridge’s trademark of lifting classic British cooking with sophisticated technique without losing any of its lip-smacking gutsiness.

So while a pig’s cheek pie was basically a pork pie, the buttery pastry lifted it into another realm entirely, with a devilled sauce (taking the place of mustard) to cut through the richness. Brown butter tart with buttermilk ice cream, meanwhile, was a straightforwardly sweet delight.

Vegetarians get three starters and mains apiece, set lunch and pre-theatre menus should appeal to theatregoers from the nearby Strand (or anyone put off by the steep pricing), while bar snacks such as venison sausage rolls and Welsh rarebit are another budget-minded way in.

To drink, draught beers, gins and 20 English sparklers keep the flag flying for Britain; elsewhere, grower Champagnes join the classic houses while there are more big names from France and highlights from the rest of the world on a wine list that shows the benefit of hotel funding; a long trek to the loos across the hotel lobby is, however, a downside.  

David Collins Studio has done its best to make the high-ceilinged space (formerly Massimo’s) feel more intimate, with diners grouped around clubby horseshoe leather banquettes, but clattery acoustics can make conversation hard to hear. But make no mistake: this really is food to shout about.

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Corrigan

Corrigan's Mayfair

£50 - £79
British

28 Upper Grosvenor Street, London, W1K 7EH

It’s hard to imagine Richard Corrigan seated in the restaurant that bears his name – at first glance, the blue-toned dining room and polished expanses seem too elegant to contain him. But there’s something of the chef’s robustness in a heartily seasonal menu, the odd visual pun and a chef’s trolley which might proffer shoulder of suckling pig or Dover sole meunière. Corrigan’s puts nature’s larder on the table in a way that suits “occasions when you want to be spoilt”. Influences are wide-ranging, so you might find chicken congee with scallop or roasted boneless quail with red curry and prawn toast ahead of perfectly timed Cornish cod with stuffed baby squid or one of the justly renowned game specialities: if you’re going to have hare in Mayfair, have it here, or try roast wild duck with pumpkin, celery and walnut. Presentation is appealing, but a fair distance from fussy – and the same can be said of a wine list grouped loosely by style.

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Plot

Plot

£30 - £49
British

70-72 Broadway Market, Tooting High Street, London, SW17 0RL

Tooting locals Mark Kimber and Harry Smith celebrate the best of British at super-casual Plot, where the ingredients are sourced as locally as possible (Chadwicks butcher on Tooting High Street and Clapham fishmonger Moxon’s, for example). Sit on wooden benches, or pull up a stool at the marble-topped counter for a prime view of Giles Elstob. The chef has created a deceptively simple, seasonally changing menu of small plates that put individual ingredients in the spotlight. White flakes of roast cod are served with a clashing, curried tartare sauce, while sweet cubes of confit pork belly are pointed up by an intense shallot purée and pickled mushrooms. Vegetables are a particular highlight: hispi cabbage is roasted with hazelnuts, packed with flavour and texture; rich slivers of sherry-pickled onion add extra depth to creamy, charred cauliflower cheese. The local theme continues with the drinks list, so look out for craft beers such as Wolfie Smith Amber IPA from Wandsworth microbrewery By The Horns, while English sparkler Nyetimber Classic Cuvée takes the place of Champagne. There's also a short, eclectic wine list, all available by the glass or bottle. Plot’s all-day offering adds considerable kudos to Broadway Market's burgeoning food-and-drink offering.

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Rabbit

Rabbit

£30 - £49
British

172 Kings Road, London, SW3 4UP

Having found fame with The Shed in Palace Gardens Terrace, the three brothers behind Rabbit deserve real plaudits for launching such a unique, characterful and youthful offshoot. From the liberal use of rough-cut timber to the odd pair of antlers, the style is emphatically country-meets-city, while the kitchen is set up to get the best from ample produce arriving from the family’s Sussex farm. Start with a ‘mouthful’ of confit rabbit and chervil on crispbread, then move on to sharing plates of seasonal ingredients imbued with flashes of cheffy creativity: big dollops of broad bean hummus studded with shards of brittle lemon-and-ale crisp; seared ox liver with rainbow chard and a punchy peppercorn sauce; a pork chop with fennel salsa, nasturtium leaves and crackling dust. For dessert, we recommend the chunks of honeycomb on mascarpone with tarragon sugar. To drink, try a seasonal cocktail or a vintage from the family’s own Sussex vineyard.

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Lutyens Grill at The Ned

Lutyens Grill at The Ned

British

The Ned, 27 Poultry, London, EC2R 8AJ

Formerly members-only, this formal steakhouse at Soho House’s gargantuan hotel and dining complex, The Ned, is now open to the public. An air of old-school clubbiness pervades the dining room: a wood-panelled former bank manager’s office populated by green leather chairs and chesterfields. ‘Cardinal’s hat’-style lighting (of the type designed by architect Edwin Lutyens) illuminates the place. As the name suggests, the main menu is all about grills – from pork cutlets, lobsters and Shorthorn rib-eyes to vast 1kg T-bones to share (with appropriate sauces all round) – though you can also opt for daily roasts carved from perambulating trolleys (think rack of veal or salmon en croûte). Our choice, Hereford rib-eye, was juicy and tender, and we can also recommend the side dishes: creamy dauphinois potatoes, roasted portobello mushrooms and crisp, golden chips. For dessert, the ‘chocolate nemesis’ may well be your diet’s enemy, but the gooey bar of thick chocolate served with refreshing pomegranate ice cream is worth the calories. Big-ticket wines from around the globe suit the clubby atmosphere, and there’s also an enterprising choice of beers: try the local Hoxton Stout or Brick Lane lager. Attentive staff, a slick atmosphere and a well-heeled menu ensure Lutyens Grill is perfectly matched to its suited-and-booted City clientele.

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Wiltons

Wiltons

British
Fish

55 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6LX

Archaic, determinedly old school and one of the few restaurants where that outmoded jacket-and-tie policy still seems wholly appropriate, this impeccably groomed restaurant looks right at home among the streets of St James’s. Wiltons is a handsome fellow indeed, “a restaurant with purpose and life” – so switch off your electronic devices and tap into the velvety richness of it all. As fish sellers of yore, with a family tradition dating back to Georgian times, Wiltons still majors on the finest British seafood – some of the best oysters in town, dressed crab, Dover sole meunière, lobster Newburg et al. Meanwhile, those with other palates and preferences might prefer a bowl of beef consommé or a twice-baked Stilton soufflé ahead of a trencherman mixed grill or fallow deer with roast shallots, fennel and cherries. Lunchtime trolleys are weighed down with gargantuan roasts and other pleasurable repasts, while desserts mine a rich vein of nostalgic comfort – apple crumble with custard, bread-and-butter pudding, etc. Service is deferential to a fault, and the upper-crust wine list is generously endowed with vintage clarets and Burgundies from the great years – although its “astronomical” prices are unlikely to trouble the old brigade in their Savile Row suits. 

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Cornerstone

Cornerstone

£50 - £79
Fish

3 Prince Edward Road, E9 5LX

When a chef with a background in Michelin-starred kitchens chooses a location for a solo debut, Hackney Wick is unlikely to top the list – but it has for Tom Brown. The former head chef at Outlaw’s at The Capital has sited Cornerstone, his thrilling new small-plates venture, just a few minutes’ walk from the railway station among a little group of recently developed retail spaces.

Don’t be disheartened by the locality: there’s ample space for diners, and the vibe in the restaurant is cool, with black tabletops, retro wicker chairs and black walls (complete with requisite scribbles). Mercifully, the place avoids crossing over into hipster-satire territory thanks to the friendly young team at the helm. Guests are greeted by the central dining counter, behind which you’re likely to find Brown beavering away. Unsurprisingly, given the chef’s pedigree, his regularly changing menu champions seafood. The run of small plates we sampled, served in terracotta tapas dishes, were exceptional.

Our bubbly waitress recommended eight plates between two and the meal kicked off with a pair of sensational oysters, pickled for two hours in gherkin vinegar and served with a subtle horseradish cream. Next up, a mound of juicy potted shrimps arrived piled high on a warm crumpet, soaked with shrimp butter that melted into the holes. A perfectly cooked strip of succulent bream followed, elevated to luxury by hidden chunks of lobster and saffron. Desserts, too, are a force to be reckoned with. A light, fluffy pistachio cake with vanilla cream and a sticky mess of raspberries preceded a heavenly peach crumble well worth the 20-minute wait time: its crispy top layer breaking to reveal tangy cubes of fresh peach, completed by a dollop of cream and hints of lemon.

The drinks list provides admirable back-up, informed by on-trend cocktails and classy European wines, but prices as a whole can add up (£10 desserts are rare in Hackney Wick), and some diners might consider Cornerstone rather out of the way. Nevertheless, this is an accomplished, exciting debut from one of the capital’s most promising chefs – we can’t wait to see what Brown does next.

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The Gilbert Scott

The Gilbert Scott

£50 - £79
British

St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, Euston Road, London, NW1 2AR

Matching the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel’s awe-inspiring grandeur would be a tall order for any restaurant, but on current form, Marcus Wareing’s team can compete with the architectural splendour of this fabulous dining room. We swooned over plates of cooked-pink duck hearts and perky chanterelles on smoked bone marrow, before chomping on red mullet and roasted prawns perched on creamy brandade, and a dish of silky hake with pickled egg purée, summer vegetables and black pudding. As for pud, we’d advise saving room for the gorgeous praline tart with caramel ice cream. Lunchtime set deals such as mackerel with gooseberries and runner beans followed by lamb shoulder with glistening pea broth are worth it just to gawp at the room’s vast architraves, glorious art and gold lamé pillars, while suited service hits an informed (but informal) sweet spot. Linger over the chunky wine list or indulge in a swift flute of something English before the train.

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Brat

Brat

£30 - £49
British

64 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ

'Brat' is the Northumbrian vernacular for a turbot but it’s also a knowing wink from Tomos Parry. The Welshman won the Young British Foodie Chef of the Year award in 2014, wowed in his first head chef gig at Kitty Fisher’s in Mayfair and has opened his first solo restaurant in a former strip club in Shoreditch, with a logo whose font blends Celtic and Basque typefaces. While Kitty Fisher’s had David Cameron as its most famous regular, now it’s the likes of fashion designer Henry Holland and a nightly brigade of Parry’s curious chef peers (Fergus Henderson and Jeremy Lee on our visit) trouping up the stairs above Smoking Goat to see what all the fuss is about.

The house speciality turbot is cooked Basque-style in an iron cage over a wood grill until the flesh is almost melting; it’s already had more rave reviews than Hamilton but is a struggle for two people to finish, so we went instead for smaller plates followed by a beef chop. Some of the flavours were happy memories from Kitty Fisher’s – the smoked cod’s roe that is the perfection of taramasalata, piped on to a finger of toast like a savoury éclair; the almost gamey flavour of the beef – and some were new revelations: a sort of puffed-up naan bread slathered with oil, flecked with chives and draped with three intensely flavoured anchovies; oysters roasted to draw out their sweetness, topped with pickled seaweed.  

The flip side of the menu is printed with 35 wines by the glass, including seven sherries; there’s further fascination in in the wine list proper. It is, without a doubt, very enjoyable cooking – Parry has an innate sense for how to extract the maximum natural flavour from high-quality ingredients – but what sets the place apart is the mood. The blurring of kitchen and dining room feels completely democratic, as too the eating counter and tables packed so closely they may as well be a communal bench, while right now the atmosphere crackles at that febrile pitch of diners who know they are in London’s hottest restaurant.

True, some may find the workshop machismo of cooking with fire in plain view a tad preposterous (it reminded us of Henry VIII’s kitchens at Hampton Court), and the sight of fanboy diners queueing up to congratulate Parry is cringe-inducing. But, overall, we were captivated by the spectacle.

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St John

St John

£30 - £49
British
One michelin star

26 St John Street, London, EC1M 4AY

St John’s utilitarian simplicity was revolutionary back in the day, and its ‘nose-to-tail’ concept raised a few eyebrows too. Once ahead of its time, it’s now of its time – and is still relevant. The industrial minimalism of the starkly white interior places the focus firmly on matters gastronomic (and the company you’re keeping, of course), while the menu reads like a foodie’s dream – “oh, the bone marrow and parsley”, sighs one fan. Alternatively, play it safe with a damn fine pea and ham soup or go for broke – braised cuttlefish and alexanders, lambs’ tongues with chicory and anchovy, or braised hare with swede, kid liver with turnips are “simply great”. As for pud, take your pick from the likes of quince and hazelnut pavlova or apple and blackberry pie. “Everything is good, I never know what to eat”, sums up readers’ heartfelt enthusiasm for Fergus Henderson’s trailblazer turned Michelin-starred City treasure. The wine list is exclusively French, with interesting options by the glass and bottles to take out too.

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Native

Native

£30 - £49
British

32 Southwark Street, SE1 1TU

Native’s move from Covent Garden to Southwark hasn’t diverted its kitchen from its mission of serving foraged British ingredients and game, with a zero-waste ethos wherever possible. To get a taste for the approach, order a portion of the ‘chef’s wasting snacks’, which change daily according to whichever ingredients are left over.

We loved the salty grouse tostadas, sticky-sweet bao buns with beef heart and the impressively crispy focaccia, and also the fact that diners the following evening might be served something completely different.

We were also impressed by an especially good grouse with sweetcorn and black pudding, which showcased a great mixture of tender game with a crunchy twist. We were less taken with buttermilk-fried grouse, which was claggy rather than crisp. The puddings to follow were excellent, though, including a sweet but subtle sea buckthorn and carrot curd.

Interiors reference the foraging theme with faux-derelict brick walls and industrial pipes on the ceiling, with clumps of vegetation here and there – not the most original setting, perhaps, but in keeping with the urban-rustic vibe of the menu. Throw smooth service and comforting array of drinks (such as the Native gin and tonic) into the mix and Native is a great find for a relaxing but slightly experimental dining experience.

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Great Queen Street

Great Queen Street

£30 - £49
British

32 Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5AA

Seasonal flavours, quality native ingredients and a laid-back vibe set the tone at this “unpretentious and good value” Covent Garden favourite. Like its gastropub siblings (including The Anchor & Hope and Camberwell Arms), immense care goes into the no-frills menu here, showcasing back-to-basics British cooking, with well-judged nods to the continent. The menu changes daily, but choices might include earthy wild mushroom and Parmesan polenta, hake fillet with shrimps, leeks and a vibrant saffron mash, or melting braised pig's cheek with cider and quince. Friendly staff make well-informed recommendations and keep service skipping along at a brisk pace, though hearty sharing dishes such as suet-crusted steak and ale pie or seven-hour lamb shoulder are worth lingering over. The cracking drinks list includes interesting wines and well-chosen craft beers, plus seasonal cocktails and homemade ginger beer, making the downstairs Cellar Bar a useful rendezvous.

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Bird of Smithfield

Bird of Smithfield

£50 - £79
British

26 Smithfield Street, London, EC1A 9LB

Tommy Boland (Almeida, Tom Aikens, The Square) heads the kitchen, producing an alluring menu of modish British cooking. Our baked beetroot with celeriac and goats’ curd was a good-sized, well-balanced plate, as was the dish of fat, perfectly cooked scallops with squash purée and Jerusalem artichoke gratin. Mains tend to be big and rich: pan-fried sea bream with chanterelles and Parmesan gnocchi was delicious but intense, while roasted turbot arrived in a similarly generous portion. For pud, we recommend waiting for the light, creamy pistachio soufflé with bitter-chocolate ice cream. Open from breakfast, the five-floor establishment also houses a lounge bar, cocktail bar, private dining room and roof terrace. Service is attentive – sometimes overly so, as unnecessary top-ups filled our glasses to the brim (albeit with delicious Portuguese Chardonnay from a list starting at £20). There are worse crimes.

Anglo

Anglo

£50 - £79
British

30 St Cross Street, London, EC1N 8UH

Anyone bemoaning the increasing dominance of big restaurant groups in London should visit this Farringdon newcomer. Anglo is a pocket-sized, pared-back British bistro serving high-end food in simple surrounds at just £45 for a no-choice, seven-course dinner (lunch is à la carte). It’s overseen by rising star Mark Jarvis, whose eclectic CV ranges from The Bingham, to Le Manoir and Zuma. He has no airs and graces, though: delivering food to the table himself and giving mercifully brief explanations of the dishes, followed by a touching smile. You’ll be smiling, too: the tasting menu brings big plates of small portions – exciting, beautifully fashioned assemblies of rare intensity. The flavours of each course segue harmoniously into the next, but we were particularly smitten by the bracingly acrid edge of a burnt leek tartlet; a delicate, petal-scattered scallop tartare with a deeply flavoured dashi; and the contrast between the saline tang of fat little mussels and the rich meatiness of ruby-red Devon beef – not to mention the cloud of house-whipped butter to spread on soft sourdough. To drink, nearly everything on the snappy European wine list costs less than £40 and is mostly available by the glass; there are beer and cider pairings, too. Our only complaint concerns the long waits between courses and glasses being topped up. On the other hand, the pleasure of not feeling rushed is yet another reason to cherish this endearingly independent one-off.

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The Goring Dining Room

The Goring Dining Room

£50 - £79
British
One michelin star
£30 - £49

The Goring, 15 Beeston Place, London, SW1W 0JW

A quintessentially British restaurant for a top-class family-owned British hotel, the Goring Dining Room is a real experience. Decked out in cream and gold, it manages to stay the right side of pompous thanks to whimsical cherry-tree chandeliers and keen-as-mustard service – a mood of “unrushed efficiency” prevails. Grilled Dover sole and beef Wellington are still there for the old guard, but elsewhere more on-trend dishes delight such as confit egg yolk with chicken wings and prosciutto (“a winner”), and delicate, cured sea trout tartare with myriad specialist tomatoes and seaweed vinaigrette. Roast chicken with truffled potato salad has also “pleased greatly” and we’ve been blown away by the perfectly timed cod with razor clams and shrimps. As you might expect from a Michelin-starred kitchen, it’s all very sophisticated and pretty, although “flavours and textures are a highlight”. The “incredible” cheese trolley gets rave reviews, and the wine list has everything you would expect of such a grand establishment.

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Rivington Grill Greenwich

Rivington Grill Greenwich

£30 - £49
Steak
British

178 Greenwich High Road, SE10 8NN

Whether you’re chomping burgers in the bar before a film at the Picturehouse next door, or literally going the whole hog with a suckling-pig feast for 45 on the comfier mezzanine level – this modern brasserie offers a safe pair of hands in genteel SE10. Clues to the Rivington’s pedigree (owners Caprice Holdings also run The Ivy and J Sheekey; the original branch is in Shoreditch) come with a 60-strong gin list and a roll-call of British comfort food. The place-mat menu features an ‘on toast’ section (think devilled kidneys or buck rarebit) alongside the likes of a sturdy Highland venison steamed pudding, or beer-battered haddock. To match the fuss-free food, a concise wine list incorporates good-value bottles from Oregon, Lebanon and even Morocco. Weekend breakfasts, BYO Mondays and free kids’ meals also keep Greenwich folk loyal. “A perfect local restaurant for all occasions” as one reader puts it.

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Boisdale of Belgravia

Boisdale of Belgravia

£50 - £79
Scottish
Steak
£50 - £79

15 Eccleston Street, London, SW1W 9LX

Boasting tartan chairs, kilted waitresses, hunting trophies and a selection of whisky to make any crofter sing, Boisdale of Belgravia clearly isn’t shy of trumpeting its Scottish heritage. There’s plenty of Caledonian flag-waving on the menu too, from haggis in various guises (try the mustardy Scotch egg riff with neeps ’n’ tatties) to beef from Buccleuch Estate, salmon, “wonderful” oysters and seasonal game. With classic sauces such as béarnaise and green peppercorn to go with steaks “cooked exactly as requested”, it’s not exactly cutting-edge stuff, but the jolly crowd are mainly here to enjoy themselves in surroundings that make them feel as if they’ve “stepped back in time”. Many scoot upstairs for a snifter whilst smoking something from the walk-in humidor after they’ve eaten; nearly all stay for the easy, lively jazz session that kicks in at 10pm. It can seem a tad expensive, but no one seems to mind. 

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Core by Clare Smyth

Core by Clare Smyth

Over £80
British

92 Kensington Park Road, London, W11 2PN

Since leaving the three-Michelin-starred world of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Clare Smyth has “forged her own special path” – much to the delight of readers who have fallen head over heels in love with her new venture. Core is cor-blimey brilliant rather than a hardcore, haute-cuisine ordeal, complete with the sort of high-end interiors that covetous Notting Hillbillies dream about – think cute handbag stools, feather-light Zalto glassware and Bridget Riley artworks. Unclothed tables, meanwhile, indicate we’re in casual-luxe territory, while “gracious” staff do their very best to make the whole experience extra-special.

The room may be gorgeous in its own right, but everyone is here for food – and rightly so. Readers already have their favourites from Core’s carte and tasting menu: for some it’s the ‘potato and roe’ (actually a dish of skin-on charlotte potato topped with herring and trout roe sitting in a slick of seaweed beurre blanc), while our tip for signature status is the whole carrot topped with braised lamb served alongside a dollop of sheep’s milk yoghurt. These are “smile-inducing” dishes that extract almost unbelievable flavour from the humblest of ingredients.

Elsewhere, brilliant hits abound: a sweet Colchester crab doughnut alongside a glass of crab consommé; an even sweeter Roscoff onion stuffed with rich oxtail to accompany beef short-rib; countless nibbles including crispy smoked duck wings and jellied eel misted with a malt vinegar spray. And then there are the ravishing desserts – exquisitely reimagined versions of cherry Bakewell or warm chocolate tart, for example. Quite simply, this is “the epitome of thoughtful, stylish and technically brilliant gastronomy”.

The “fabulous” French-led wine list is a real head-turner, with plenty of fine drinking below £50, and you can also eat in the handsome bar, which is a cocktail destination in its own right. We’re in no doubt that Core is headed for the very top, and its many fans agree: “One of the best evenings we've ever had in a restaurant. Superb, understated excellence from start to finish”.

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Stem

Stem

£50 - £79
British

5 Princes Street, London, W1B 2LF

Chef Mark Jarvis’s third restaurant in as many years occupies a plum spot a minute from Oxford Circus. Neutral interiors are smarter than at Jarvis's Clerkenwell dining room Anglo, and prices are higher, too, although at around £25 for a main course, it’s par for the Mayfair course. 
 
Mains were the highlight of our meal: pan-roast halibut with fennel, grapes and celery, and roast saddle of lamb with artichoke, courgette and basil were both humdingers of distinct flavour and precise technique; starters and puddings such as asparagus (picked at the peak of seasonal ripeness) teamed with a smooth whip of duck egg and a gentle tarragon cream, and roast peach in a raspberry sauce with toasted almond, didn’t strike us as quite so compelling, although they’re beautifully plated.

Service was excellent, particularly on the finer points of an intelligently assembled wine list with an eye for the unusual, and the whole set-up feels very business-friendly – not least the three-course set lunch for £27. 

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Hereford Road

Hereford Road

£30 - £49
British

3 Hereford Road, W2 4AB

As comfortable as your Uggs but twice as stylish, this trusted neighbourhood favourite is now an essential part of Notting Hill’s DNA, appealing to old hippies and new money alike. Tom Pemberton’s cooking nods to his background at St John, but it’s very much his own distinct take on things. Starters of Jerusalem artichokes with hazelnuts, quail with medlar jelly or lightly cooked duck livers tossed with capers, tarragon and green beans suggest British food handled with flair and integrity. To follow, there might be a tranche of hake with roast cauliflower and nutty brown butter, devilled kidneys with mash, roast game birds or steak and kidney pie to share, while wonderfully old-fashioned desserts include treacle tart, fruit crumble and custard or warm rice pudding with jam. Regulars make as beeline for the snug red-leather seating by the busy open grill, although there’s more space at the back with larger tables and illumination from the huge circular skylight. A few street-side tables are much in demand, whatever the weather.

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Ormer Mayfair at Flemings Mayfair

Ormer Mayfair at Flemings Mayfair

£50 - £79
British

Flemings Mayfair Hotel, Half Moon Street, London, W1J 7BH

Mayfair was a sound choice to open a second site for Jersey chef Shaun Rankin’s restaurant Ormer (the original has since closed). A glance around the luxuriously appointed basement dining room within Flemings Hotel reveals diners who are doubtless as familiar with Jersey’s exclusive restaurant scene as they are with London’s. Yorkshire-born Rankin, with his wealth of experience (Longueville Manor, Bohemia, Charlie Trotter’s), knows how to cook for this crowd and has a network of Jersey suppliers providing stellar produce: oysters, lobster, crab, fashionable sea vegetables and, of course, Jersey royals.

Ormer explores such ingredients in a repertoire that includes £29.50 lunch, £75 tasting menu, à la carte, and both vegetarian and vegan menus. Rankin’s ‘signature’ plates are the best place to start, whether a classy dish of poached oysters with caviar and saffron linguine, or assertively flavoured lobster ravioli with an Asian-style shallot salad. Newer plates such as ibérico pork ‘secreto’ with squid and Asian pear are just as beautifully executed. The rather pedestrian treacle tart, a winner for Rankin on BBC’s Great British Menu, feels incongruous in such company. Flemings has backed a thoroughbred in Ormer, but whether this plushest quarter of W1 has space for another top-rankin’ restaurant is another matter.

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Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental

£50 - £79
British
Two michelin stars

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA

With Heston Blumenthal’s name attached and a menu of eye-catching dishes that play with our perceptions of British cookery, Dinner was always going to be a hit with London’s gastro-tourists, and there are plenty of reasons for them to leave feeling satisfied – not least the beautiful daytime view of Hyde Park, the fun of the nitro-fuelled ice cream cart and the switched-on staff.

“Attention to detail is second to none”, observes a fan. Even if you don’t buy into the restaurant’s date-stamped reinterpretation of historical recipes, there’s a formidable cornucopia of gastronomic delights to relish – from the ‘meat fruit’ (c.1500) disguised as a mandarin with subtle citrus notes to the soft, juicy ‘tipsy cake’ (c.1810) with spit-roast pineapple. Also brace yourself for other extraordinary conceits ranging from ‘sherried’ scallop tartare with mushroom broth to chicken ‘oysters’ invigorated with horseradish cream and pickled walnuts. Sides are not to be sniffed at either – the mash is among the creamiest we’ve tasted. Obviously, such a “luxurious experience” doesn’t come cheap (especially if you commit to the wine flights), although set lunches offer a more accommodating prospect. Either way, prepare to be astonished. 

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Dean Street Townhouse

Dean Street Townhouse

£50 - £79
British

69-71 Dean Street, London, W1D 3SE

Recently bolstered by nearby Café Monico, Soho House’s presence hereabouts is pretty strong, with its backbone being this classy British workhorse. Dine in enticingly soft armchairs, amid an abundance of heavy fabrics with low ceilings helping to absorb the chatter that constantly zips across the glowing room from the rammed wooden bar. Atmosphere is Townhouse’s trump card, so the menu plays it simple with lots of comfort on offer – from delectable lamb rump with grilled artichoke or partridge and oxtail on toast (lifted by the juice of blackcurrants), to salads of perhaps chicory, squash and walnut. It’s all thoroughly hearty, seasonal and rather pricey, although a full English for less than a tenner explains why breakfast is so popular here. Service is predictably cosseting, and a broad wine list should reveal something for most tastes. There’s an adjacent, cloistered room for those seeking a more muffled evening, but this “always entertaining” restaurant is best for higher tempo occasions.

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