Best Outside and Alfresco Restaurants in London

When the sun's out, Londoners spill out on to the streets (that also happens after the sun's gone down, but that's a different story). Ensure you make the most of those precious, fleeting rays by visiting one of London’s best outside dining options. If you want something more appealing than a chair on the pavement, then our pick of the best alfresco restaurants has got you covered. From hidden courtyards to rooftop vistas, you’ll find a tonne of great restaurants with outside spaces right here.

Updated on 22 May 2018

Although we aren’t blessed with the best weather in the world, London’s diners like nothing more than enjoying a meal outside. If you’ve been inspired by our list of the best restaurants with outside spaces in the capital, why not also take a look at our pick of outside London bars? Otherwise, we also have curated lists of the best rooftop bars in London, or make the most of those clear skies with our choice of London restaurants with views as far as the eye can see.  

Orrery

Orrery

55 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone, London, W1U 5RB

This D&D London-owned, Conran-era classic has celebrated its 21st birthday with a gentle refurbishment that has effectively kept the grey-toned colour scheme the same as before. It remains one of the most elegant dining rooms in London, especially pretty at lunchtime when light floods through the arched windows overlooking St Marylebone churchyard, and in summer when the rooftop terrace is one of the capital’s best-kept secrets. Chef-patron Igor Tymchyshyn has worked here since 2008 and hasn’t ever deviated from the restaurant’s modern French template. Starters of perky cured mackerel with cucumber and horseradish or a really excellent Dorset crab with mango and wasabi might be followed by a signature tournedos Rossini with almost as much foie gras as steak. A trolley whiffy with 30 well-kept cheeses has always been what the place is most famous for – as too a 22-page wine list with some big names among the two dozen by the glass, with fine wine prices slashed on Mondays. Service is as formal as the business-friendly setting of well-spaced, white-clothed tables demands, without losing sight of friendliness. A set menu (£39) with four choices per course avoids the stiff cost of the à la carte (£59), while the tiny bar is a rare for the area cocktail spot.

£50 - £79
French
Momo

Momo

25 Heddon Street, London, London, W1B 4BH

Opened in 1997, Mourad Mazouz’s all-inclusive Heddon Street bolthole introduced couscous, tagines and the exotic thrills of Middle Eastern/North African cuisine to a whole generation. Momo’s still here in all its ornate glory, with a restaurant, café, terrace and basement bar dealing in generosity and charm. For something homely, you can’t do better than the signature harira soup with lentils and tomatoes, followed by the house couscous with slow-cooked lamb shank, grilled lamb skewer and merguez sausage. Livelier flavours also pop up here and there – from a starter of baby aubergines with labneh, rocket pesto, broad beans and lemon confit to a risotto-style dish of green vegetables, rice and nuts with Parmesan emulsion. Brunch boasts a promising range of Maghreb pastries and mint tea, while offbeat afternoon teas are served in the café and terrace.

£50 - £79
Moroccan
Bleeding Heart Bistro

Bleeding Heart Bistro

Bleeding Heart Yard, Farringdon, London, EC1N 8SJ

Quirky and colourful, this classically styled French bistro could almost be a set from the hit movie Amélie. Inside, vintage posters line the ochre walls, table settings show off the tricolore palette and there are wine bottles everywhere; the outside area is a delight in summer, when lobster and rosé are the top shouts at tables on the cobbles. The offer may be a little corny but it "always delivers". Of course, the food is straight out of the bourgeois French repertoire, so expect the likes of moules marinière or asparagus with hollandaise sauce ahead of omelette aux fines herbes, lapin à la moutarde or salade niçoise. Retro also rules when it comes to desserts such as petit pot au chocolat with whipped cream. Wine lovers can take advantage of the full cellars at the Bleeding Heart restaurant across the way. "Top service" too.

£30 - £49
French
Coq d

Coq d'Argent

1 Poultry, City of London, London, EC2R 8EJ

Going for the gold standard on a street called Poultry, Coq d’Argent is near the top of the City’s pecking order. We reckon its status as an “all-time favourite” in business diaries is down to a considerable clutch of attractions including gorgeous roof gardens, a heavily diverting wine list and the good looks of a cruise liner in its pomp. The Coq also delivers “consistently good food” from breakfast onwards, taking in gluten-free and vegan menus plus a surprisingly mature children’s offer. Wherever you sit – in the restaurant, grill or bar – the French accent is as robust as the pricing, conjuring Gallic luxury with careful flourishes. Lunch in the Grill might mean cauliflower soup with a poached egg followed by spiced braised lamb shank with white coco beans and wild mushrooms, while the restaurant promises higher levels of complexity – perhaps black truffle and ricotta tortellini with Parmentier espuma or immaculately balanced wild roe deer with a plateful of silky seasonal trimmings. The service at Coq d’Argent is equal to the demands of a confident clientele.

£50 - £79
French
£30 - £49
The Frog Hoxton

The Frog Hoxton

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.   

£30 - £49
British
Caravan King

Caravan King's Cross

Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, King's Cross, London, London, N1C 4AA

The whizz-kids behind Caravan Coffee Roasters have come a long way since opening their first gaff on Exmouth Market. Now spread across the capital, each site follows the formula with urban-industrial interiors and a seasonally changing all-day menu bristling with ideas from around the world – including the jamon and smoked san simon croquettes with saffron mayonnaise. A sure-fire winner with vegetarians (try the green quinoa grain bowl with burnt grelots, grilled broccoli, miso verde, sprouts and cashews), this mini-chain also offers delicious pizzas at its larger sites, alongside the small-batch coffees that helped to kick-start London’s latest love affair with caffeine. Caravan set the bar high with its trendy brunch options too (we like the paprika and spring onion waffle with thick cut bacon and maple-date butter). A packed, convivial dining room is pretty much guaranteed, ably buoyed by reasonable prices and inexpensive Old World wines.

£30 - £49
Fusion
The Modern Pantry Clerkenwell

The Modern Pantry Clerkenwell

47-48 St John's Square, Farringdon, London, EC1V 4JJ

Given that she was born in Canada, raised in New Zealand and has parents with Belgian/Danish roots, it’s no surprise that fusion queen Anna Hansen takes her foodie inspiration from far and wide. Like her former gaff, The Providores, this Clerkenwell townhouse eatery is a place of two halves, with a buzzy ground-floor café/traiteur and a serene upstairs dining room with clean-lined contemporary decor. Breakfast and brunch are popular shouts, although the kitchen delivers “tremendously flavoursome food from start to finish”. Aubergine dengaku is a Japanese favourite, served with pickled mushrooms, while other dishes take a more European approach – a salad of buffalo mozzarella, roasted fennel and roasted peach, perhaps. After that, expect a riot of flavours: chermoula-infused sea trout comes with pea and yuzu purée, onglet steak gets its oomph from miso and tamarind, and pavlova comes fired up with Asian flavours. As expected, the wine list is a fascinating globetrotting compendium.

£30 - £49
International
Fusion
Chiltern Firehouse

Chiltern Firehouse

1 Chiltern St, Marylebone, London, W1U 7PA

The fervour that surrounded André Balazs’ Marylebone hotspot has died down and you no longer need to be famous to secure a table, but Chiltern Firehouse still delivers in spades. Readers praise the outdoor-themed interiors as well as the high-decibel “party vibe”, and we’ve also been impressed by the all-inclusive attitude of the staff, who happily laugh and chat with diners. Meanwhile, in the open kitchen, chef Nuno Mendes and his team send out plenty of likeable big-time successes. Snacks such as bacon cornbread and the famous coral-dusted crab doughnut kick things off nicely, but there are other highlights too: char-grilled Ibérico pork comes with the unexpected additions of grilled peaches and red pepper kimchi, while a side of mac ‘n’ cheese is given a fiery kick with jalapeño peppers. Early risers pack in for breakfast (potted eggs with caramelised onions and curried potatoes), freelancers take advantage of the indulgent lunchtime offers (crab and lobster omelette, say), and we’d also recommend Chiltern Firehouse for a pre/post-meal trip to the botanically themed bar for cheekily named cocktails. Be warned – the bill (with impressive wines included) may have you reaching for the fire alarm.

£50 - £79
International
Ognisko Restaurant

Ognisko Restaurant

55 Prince's Gate, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2PN

“Food from my heritage!” purrs one Polish reader, but Ognisko also has much to offer those who aren’t part of the capital’s expat community. Its al fresco terrace (a marquee-framed space backing onto Prince’s Gardens) is one of London’s “undiscovered gems” and the vodka bar (with its long list of home-made flavours) is a riot, while the high-ceilinged former townhouse transforms into a wonderfully romantic spot at night. “Good-sized portions” of traditional Polish nosh offer “excellent value” and bags of choice. Start with zupa wisniowa (chilled cherry soup with nalesniki noodles) or a hot-smoked salmon salad with beetroot and horseradish dressing. The big flavours can start to stack up, so we’d recommend keeping things light where possible – perhaps caviar-loaded blinis or grilled sea bass with fennel, apple and caper salad followed by pulkownik (sorbet with a shot of frozen vodka). “Five-star treatment” and some top-end wines back everything up.

£30 - £49
Polish
Eastern European
The Ritz Restaurant

The Ritz Restaurant

The Ritz London, 150 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9BR

Nobody goes to the unimaginably opulent Ritz Restaurant on the off-chance – this is proper special-occasion dining, where chaps wear smart suits and ladies don their poshest back-of-the-wardrobe frocks. The pay-off is, of course, Michelin-starred food served in a “truly exquisite” fin de siècle dining room with cherubic pink-hued lighting and legions of tail-coated staff pandering to your every whim (service is “beyond this world”, drools one fan). Exec chef John Williams MBE is a master of the ever-present haute-cuisine classics (beef Wellington, Bresse duck, baked Alaska etc), but he’s no conservative – witness thrilling ideas such as poached langoustine topped with pickled fennel on crushed broad beans and verbena, veal fillet with girolles and Grelot onions or Dover sole with truffles and grapes and unctuous cauliflower purée. After that, there is much flambéing of crêpes Suzette in the grand Escoffier manner, although modernists might prefer coconut mousse with compressed pineapple and passion-fruit sorbet. If money’s tight (heaven forbid!), opt for the sommelier’s wine pairing; if not, indulge in the patrician glories of the full list. Either way, The Ritz Restaurant delivers “a night to remember”. 

Over £80
French
One michelin star
El Parador

El Parador

245 Eversholt Street, London, NW1 1BA

“A lovely tapas restaurant”; “fantastic food at great prices” – you’ll rarely hear a bad word spoken about El Parador, where classic flavours, effervescent vibes and rustic good looks combine to make one seriously seductive Spanish venue. With so much garlic and verdant extra-virgin olive oil on the menu, it’s hardly surprising that everything tastes so good. All the classics are here, alongside a few “interesting extras”: boquerones, calamares and albondigas share the billing with, say, bacalao al piquillo (baked salt cod with piquillo peppers, shrimps, garlic and wine) or panceta con cidra (rolled pork belly braised in cider). Vegetarians are treated to some big, bold flavours too, from textbook tortilla to grilled courgettes with spinach and sunflower seeds, while everyone can indulge in sweet treats of orange crème caramel or Santiago tart. El Parador also boasts a beautiful courtyard garden – “perfect for alfresco lunches in summer”.

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish
Boulestin

Boulestin

5 St James' Street, London, SW1A 1EF

Inspired by the eponymous French restaurateur, Boulestin is Gallic to its bones, but keen to demonstrate a wider perspective. After 10 minutes amid its striking interior (all black-and-white tiles, muted swish and lovely aromas), you’re unlikely to go for quinoa salad over oeuf en gelée, but the option is there; likewise, miso-blackened cod challenges the likes of artichoke risotto with girolles and baby leeks or ballottine of chicken with pea purée. Earlier on, breakfast is so popular that they continue the brunch theme on weekday afternoons with huevos rancheros or bacon and egg brioche. “Very accommodating” service begins at the booking stage, and a French-dominated wine list scores with a decent choice by the glass and ‘pot’. Outside, the little patio is, apparently, the site of the last duel to have been fought in England, though these days the main rivalry is for a table.

£30 - £49
French
Ham Yard at Ham Yard Hotel

Ham Yard at Ham Yard Hotel

One Ham Yard, Piccadilly Circus, London, W1D 7DT

Taking over a previously deserted site on the western edge of Soho, Ham Yard Hotel is the latest addition to the Firmdale Hotels chain. The venture has a distinct ‘urban village’ feel, with a tree-filled garden providing the focal point – complete with a specially commissioned bronze sculpture by Tony Cragg. In addition to the Ham Yard Restaurant, the hotel also has its own self-contained bar where punters can sip drinks while nibbling on chorizo sausage rolls with rapeseed mayo, BBQ octopus with pickled white cabbage, truffled mascarpone and ham melts, pulled pork sliders and other small plates. And if you need cooling down, one of their ice-cream sandwiches should do the trick.

£30 - £49
Afternoon tea
International
Angler

Angler

South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, Moorgate, London, EC2M 2AF

From the moment you arrive for drinks on the gorgeous roof terrace, it’s clear that Michelin-starred Angler knows how to host its diners. Given that it’s located on the seventh floor of the South Place Hotel, superb views come as standard – thanks to a giant sloping window that looks out onto the busy street below. “Great seafood in a calming atmosphere” sums it up, with comfy striped chairs, light colours and an impressive foliage-motif mirror running along on wall of the opulent dining room. The kitchen matches the sophisticated vibe with a menu of precision-tuned contemporary dishes ranging from roast octopus with taramasalata, chipirones and spicy salsa verde to light-textured John Dory accompanied by coco beans, bacon and sardines. Meat eaters might go for smoked chicken wings with chanterelles followed by a tasting of Iberian pork, while dessert could bring a rich, warm chocolate cake with banana-milk ice cream and crunchy peanut butter. Service is impeccable, and a devoted sommelier is on hand to pair each course with wines from the varied list. Pricey, but highly recommended.

£50 - £79
Fish
One michelin star
Cinnamon Kitchen City

Cinnamon Kitchen City

9 Devonshire Square, Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 4YL

Aptly located in an old spice warehouse, the “beautiful” City offshoot of Vivek Singh’s ever-expanding Cinnamon group is a style-conscious contemporary space tailor-made for the neighbourhood. Industrial-chic design features, subtle clubland beats and an open kitchen serve as the cool backdrop to a menu that delivers modern food of “amazing quality and flavour”. There’s plenty of inspired stuff on the carte, from tandoori cod with carom and nigella seeds or Indo-Chinese stir-fried chilli paneer to char-grilled duck breast with spiced confit roll or pan-seared hake with yellow lentils, masala roast potatoes and green mango pickle. Although spicing is rather restrained compared to some places, the freshness and class shine through: it’s “quite simply heaven on a plate”, drools one fan. Desserts also spring a few surprises, from roast white chocolate and cardamom cream with buttermilk sorbet to ‘reverse malai’ (milk doughnuts, milk ice cream, berries and pistachio). The six-course tasting menu also comes highly recommended, while impressive service and an Asian-infused cocktail list cement the restaurant’s excellent reputation.

£30 - £49
Indian
Hush Mayfair

Hush Mayfair

8 Lancashire Court, Mayfair, London, W1S 1EY

Tucked away in the heart of busy Mayfair, with a spacious outside terrace and a menu which isn’t eye wateringly-expensive, Hush is somewhat of a rare find. Once inside, leather banquette seating, a marble-topped bar and backlit displays remind you where you are, but the buzzy atmosphere remains warm and unpretentious. Friendly staff are happy to recommend picks from the lengthy menu, which includes adventurous dishes like the hearty confit duck shepherd’s pie, and an impressive cacio e pepe pasta, which is made in a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese at the table. We’d also suggest making a beeline for the monkfish which successfully combines a fiery topping of grilled chorizo with the gentle, clean flavours of the fish and a helping of earthy white beans. Be sure to save room for the stand-out mars bar cheesecake, which is an intense, velvety dream. When the sun’s shining, make the most of Hush’s cobbled courtyard by enjoying a Peach Spritz and some deep fried, feta-stuffed olives, just be sure to book ahead for an outdoor table. Afternoon tea, a private dining room and a separate upstairs bar complete the picture.

 

£50 - £79
Afternoon tea
International
£50 - £79
No 197 Chiswick Fire Station

No 197 Chiswick Fire Station

197-199 Chiswick High Road, London, W4 2DR

The latest venture from independent bar group Darwin & Wallace has an open, naturally lit, stripped-back feel – in keeping with the building’s fire station history. Emergency call-outs have been replaced by relaxed all-day eating and drinking, helped by a colour scheme of soft pinks, chalky whites and pale greys, plus seasonal British cooking. The menu ranges from small and sharing dishes – pig’s cheek and black pudding croquettes, perhaps, or crispy peppered squid – through to more substantial main courses. We enjoyed delicately spiced ginger chicken cakes coated in a light golden crumb with zingy lime coriander mayo, and mini sausages smothered in a sticky-sweet honey and mustard glaze. Next, an accurately cooked sea bass (soft flesh, crisp skin) arrived with baby artichoke, buttery new potatoes, asparagus and a crème fraîche tartare sauce; chicken Kiev was satisfyingly crunchy, the tender meat stuffed with garlic butter. Pudding of bitter dark chocolate tart was accompanied by a fluffy mousse and a nostalgic slice of chocolatey Rice Krispies cake. To drink, the selection of classic cocktails is boosted by various spirit infusions, house-made syrups and sherbets. Rounded off by an attractive courtyard space, this elegant venue makes a welcome addition to leafy Chiswick.

£30 - £49
British
Bars
The Belvedere

The Belvedere

Off Abbotsbury Road, Holland Park, London, W8 6LU

Beautifully positioned and immaculately maintained, the enchanting Belvedere comes complete with rose gardens, lawns, fountains and peacocks – plus one of our favourite terraces, within listening distance of the Holland Park Opera. Once a ballroom, the main restaurant feels rejuvenated following its makeover by the late David Collins – a romantic, double-height space with mirrored screens, silk curtains and a huge baroque mirror, plus the odd piece of modern Brit artwork. The kitchen sends out scrubbed-up Anglo-European starters including asparagus with poached quails’ eggs ahead of classic mains ranging from plaice meunière with sauce choron to grilled veal cutlet with gratin dauphinoise, mushroom and Madeira jus. It’s not cutting edge, but desserts such as raspberry and almond tart with clotted cream prove that cooking like this can last the ages.

£50 - £79
Modern European
£50 - £79
Yauatcha City

Yauatcha City

Broadgate Circle, Spitalfields, London, EC2M 2QS

One of the standouts on Broadgate Circle’s foodie hub, this deceptively large offshoot of Soho star Yauatcha makes an immediate impact with its stunning interiors and white marble bathrooms, although the biggest gasps are reserved for the sweeping curved glass wall that follows the contours of the building. Highlights from the line-up of meticulously crafted dim sum include spicy Szechuan pork wontons and warm, crunchy venison puffs, while bigger plates range from truffle pork belly ribs and stir-fried beef rib-eye with sticky black bean sauce to steamed halibut with chilli and salted radish. Yauatcha is also known for its gorgeous desserts, so peruse the patisserie counter before sampling, say, the milk chocolate pudding with crunchy breton sablé and lusciously thick dulche de leche crème. It’s undoubtedly expensive, although those in the know rave about the “fantastic-value” ‘supreme Saturday’ offer. In fact, fans think Yauatcha City is “just divine” – despite high decibels and close-packed tables.

£50 - £79
Chinese
Dim Sum
The Ivy Chelsea Garden

The Ivy Chelsea Garden

197 King's Road, London, SW3 5ED

Richard Caring doesn’t do things by half. Not content with moving his burgeoning Ivy brand to the King’s Road, he has duly bagged one of the best sites around, taking over a vast Edwardian building near the fire station. Caring’s eye for opulence has given the cavernous space real character, from the stately, panelled front room to the verdant Orangery and an “amazing”’ manicured garden that’s perfect for “lazing on a sunny afternoon”. The kitchen delivers “great” renditions of the Ivy’s trademark “cosy but sophisticated classics”: a Brit take on carpaccio charged with horseradish and mustard cream; crispy duck salad with five-spice dressing; the iconic shepherd’s pie loaded with slow-cooked lamb shoulder, plus desserts such as blackberry sundae. Juices and healthier salads please Chelsea’s fashionistas, breakfast brings in the early birds, and the set menu is “surprisingly economical”. We’re pleased that service seems to have smoothed out after a few early blips.

£30 - £49
Modern European
Sager + Wilde Restaurant

Sager + Wilde Restaurant

250 Paradise Row, Bethnal Green, London, E2 9LE

This wine-centric spot is just as cool as its trend-setting wine bar sister, Sager + Wilde on Hackney Road. Positioned just round the corner from Bethnal Green station, it’s joined by several other restaurants (including Arepa & Co) which all share a long dining terrace, making for a secluded, foodie community.

From the kitchen, you can expect a seasonally changing menu of on-trend European dishes, which are beautifully presented, and largely lean towards comfort food territory. On our dinnertime visit, we enjoyed a plate of sweet kohlrabi studded with fleshy crab, creating a bundle of sweetness, while silky ribbons of pappardelle matched with stomach-warming chunks of venison, is a perfect example of the ways in which Sager’s menu adapts with the seasons.

Expertly matched fine wines by the glass and bottle abound, naturally, with a separate, single bottle list adding extra interest and a strong selection of botanical cocktails inviting experimentation. Pricing angles this towards the middle of the market, while a classic interior of dark wooden chairs and gentle lighting reinforce this as a mature option for clued-up Londoners.

£30 - £49
Modern European
Bars
Wine Bars
Boundary Rooftop Bar & Grill

Boundary Rooftop Bar & Grill

2-4 Boundary Street, London, E2 7DD

The change in mood as you step out of the lift that takes you to Boundary Rooftop is tangible: from the concrete jungle below to an inviting area complete with big, comfy settees, a garden abundant with vines and wild herbs, and great views across east London. The gloriously languid feel rubs off on the assembled company, many of whom are here for the booze – including cocktails, Breton cider and Meantime beer. There’s also a generous assortment of food with a robata grill delivering lobsters, spatchcock poussin or lamb cutlets with parsley and black olives. Opening times used to be governed by the seasons, but a nifty redesign has now put paid to that, with a heated glass-roofed, glass-walled pergola keeping diners and drinkers cosy in winter – a feature that is opened to the elements come summer.

£30 - £49
Modern European
Bars
Casita Andina

Casita Andina

31 Great Windmill Street, London, W1D 7LP

Combining a taste of the Andes with a predominantly gluten-free menu, this well-judged, vivacious restaurant is the latest offering from Peruvian champion Martin Morales (of Ceviche fame). The steep staircase and close quarters might suggest a house party, with bright accessories providing flashes of colour, though the neutral walls and furnishings help ease any claustrophobia. If the idea of gluten-free doesn’t inspire you, rest assured that flavour isn’t sacrificed. The menu is packed with intriguing and delicious-sounding possibilities, from chilli-marinated cauliflower to lamb’s sweetbreads with dark beer sauce, but don’t miss the mildly spiced black pudding on quinoa toast or chilli-pressed watermelon and black quinoa salad – an addictive balance of fruit juice and chocolatey accents. Well-trained staff can navigate you through these honestly priced small plates, although the Peruvian chocolate ball is a must-order finale, filled with elderberry gel and scattered with puffed chocolate rice. To drink, we reckon exemplary Pisco Sours are preferable to the more experimental cocktails.

£30 - £49
Peruvian
The Narrow

The Narrow

44 Narrow Street, London, E14 8DP

At the last count, Gordon Ramsay had 14 restaurants in London and an even more fluid number overseas, so you're probably unlikely to meet him nursing a pint in this one-time watering hole by the Thames. In fact, you're unlikely to find anyone at the bar these days, which has dwindled while the dining side of things continues to expand. The menu here is hardly pushing any gastronomic boundaries, but so long as dishes such as scallops with rosemary mash and crisp pancetta are competently made, no-one's complaining. Vegetarians always have interesting options (perhaps orecchiette with roasted ceps, squash and pecorino), while the carefully considered wine list offers a wide range of styles, as you would expect from Ramsay. It's not going to win him any more Michelin stars, but if you're eating out in Limehouse, narrow your choice down to this one.

£30 - £49
Gastropub
The Summerhouse

The Summerhouse

60 Blomfield Road, Little Venice, Warwick Avenue, London, W9 2PD

Don’t be fooled by the seasonal moniker: The Summerhouse is now open right through the year – by popular demand. Dreamily located by the banks of Little Venice, just a skip from its sibling The Waterway, this breezy venue offers canal-side dining “with a Cape Cod influence” and sunny echoes of a Long Island beach retreat. Seafood is the main culinary event, with New England clam chowder and popcorn shrimps alongside seared scallops with truffled leeks and pancetta crisps, Canadian lobster with potato salad or beer-battered haddock and chips. Salads, mezze and steaks also get an airing, along with some “outstanding” desserts – perhaps pear and almond tart or spiced rice pudding with caramelised bananas. Drinks include international wines and seasonal refreshers such as River Cruise (Grey Goose vodka, Southern Comfort, amaretto, orange juice and grenadine). The Summerhouse has its own moorings, if you fancy turning up by boat.

£30 - £49
Mews of Mayfair

Mews of Mayfair

10 Lancashire Court, New Bond Street, London, W1S 1EY

Offering four floors of fun in two 18th-century townhouses (head downstairs for dancing), Mews is not the place to nurture your inner wallflower. Readers love the atmosphere created by lavish, offbeat design quirks, not to mention the sheer thrill of finding a ‘hidden’ courtyard bar off New Bond Street. No trend is left unturned here (or in the upstairs brasserie), making it an effortless choice for groups who are happy to see superfood salads and self-proclaimed dirty burgers rubbing shoulders with Brit bistro fare such as Jerusalem artichoke soup with mushroom toast and black truffle, venison suet pudding with braised red cabbage or apple and blackberry crumble. From parties to themed afternoon teas, seasonal events also keep things interesting for the frequent Mews-goer, while the top-floor chef’s dining room, lined with antique maps, is one of several cachet-heavy private spaces.

£50 - £79
British
The Drapers Arms

The Drapers Arms

44 Barnsbury Street, London, N1 1ER

It may look gentrified, but The Drapers Arms is a lively place, with the ground-floor bar humming like a good ’un when the locals flock in. The Georgian building’s fine features have been left well alone, which makes for spaces of generous proportions and classic design. To drink, there are real ales at the bar and a wine list offering glass and carafe options. Head upstairs to the serene dining room to escape the hubbub (assuming it’s not booked for a private party). A patio garden provides another alternative in summer. The kitchen satisfies with its mix of modern comfort food, such as the house cheeseburger, but is equally happy knocking up duck breast with roasted black plums, or packing guinea fowl, bacon and mushrooms into a pie. To finish, gingerbread pudding competes with Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses with crab apple jelly (is it OK to have both?).

£30 - £49
Gastropub
Petersham Nurseries Cafe

Petersham Nurseries Cafe

Church Lane, off Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey, London, London, TW10 7AB

Give yourself time for lunch at the Nurseries. In our opinion it’s a kooky, lovely place, though getting there isn’t easy – driving is discouraged, public transport is slow, and once there, service, though gracious, can be ditzy. It has been years since Skye Gyngell moved on, and the kitchen has never scaled the same heights since. Still, with many ingredients sourced from the beautiful walled garden of Petersham House and a River Café-esque team in the kitchen, you can expect up-to-the-minute seasonal cooking. 

Langoustine might be teamed with a colourful salad of dandelion, pistachio, fennel and nasturtiums, while ‘today’s game’ could appear with an autumnal assembly of horn of plenty, cavolo nero and polenta. Prices are high, yet this is a unique spot. If time or budget are important, try the tea room in the next-door glasshouse, which has great simple food at half the cost and without the wait.

£50 - £79
Modern European
Boisdale of Canary Wharf

Boisdale of Canary Wharf

Cabot Place West, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4QT

A reassuring alternative to the polished glass and hard edges of its Canary Wharf neighbours, Boisdale is positively tartan-tastic – there’s even a patterned rug for every knee out on the heated cigar terrace. It might sound doddery, but a businesslike crowd and live music (overseen by ‘sommelier of sound’ Jools Holland) add considerable verve – as does an enlivening selection of over 900 single malt whiskies. The Scottish skew continues on the menu, which opens with fine shellfish, pressed pheasant terrine and a mini roast haggis with neeps ‘n’ tatties – although mains widen the net to include, perhaps, chicken curry with winter squash dhal, poached Cornish sea bass or the house Aberdeenshire steak (served with Thai chilli mayo and the “obligatory” chips). Fittingly, a favourite wine order is “a bottle (or two) of the house claret”, polished off with something from the trolley of British farmhouse cheeses.   

£50 - £79
British
The Gun

The Gun

27 Coldharbour, London, London, E14 9NS

“If the sun comes out on the terrace, there’s nowhere better”, declares a fan of The Gun and its striking riverside position. Pints have been poured at this Docklands site for 250 years (famous drinkers include both Lord Nelson and Tinie Tempah), but the boozer passed into London food history as one of Ed and Tom Martin’s first gastropubs. Now owned by Fuller’s brewery, it’s still an “amazing location” full of possibilities for lazy Sundays – try the whole roast Suffolk chicken for two. Otherwise, bangers and mash are a speciality in the bar, alongside beer-friendly snacks including devilled whitebait. The restaurant set-up is smarter, with posh dishes such as seared scallops with brown onion consommé, charred button onions, grilled leeks and white onion purée followed by roast Yorkshire pheasant with sour pear jus or cod fillet with braised fennel fondue. Beers reflect the pub’s ownership, and there’s a full roster of food-friendly wines.

Under £30
British
Gastropub
Frederick

Frederick's

106 Islington High Street, Camden Passage, London, N1 8EG

“One of my all-time favourites for over 25 years now!” enthuses a dedicated follower of Frederick’s – an Islington “classic” with more than four decades of honourable service under its belt. The airy interior still looks dapper, the lovely alfresco space is “one of life’s pleasures” (especially with glass of rosé in hand), and the location amid the antique shops of Camden Passage is as endearing as ever. Meanwhile, the food has moved with the times, without ever chasing fashion or sacrificing consistency: stuffed courgette flowers ‘three ways’ is a modish opener, but also keep an eye out for the likes of organic salmon tartare with avocado, sesame soy dressing and pan carasau, curried monkfish with pappardelle and sautéed cauliflower or gigot of Welsh lamb with chips. It isn’t cheap, although affordable lunch/pre-theatre deals, Saturday brunch and kids’ menus deserve a cheer. There are also some “lovely wine choices” to peruse.

£50 - £79
Modern European
£30 - £49
Holborn Dining Room

Holborn Dining Room

252 High Holborn, London, London, WC1V 7EN

Boasting an all-day menu that stretches from filling hot breakfasts to late-night suppers, this versatile brasserie within the smart Rosewood London receives generous praise for "amazing ambience, very good food and great service". The grand, marble-pillared room previously housed the underwriters at Pearl Assurance, and Martin Brudnizki's makeover captures that sense of heritage with a clubby look whose russet leather, reclaimed oak and antique mirrors are both traditional and on-trend; outside, meanwhile, the courtyard houses a tastefully elegant summer-only terrace.

Recent highlights from a crowd-pleasing menu included a juicy shrimp burger lifted with lobster thermidor tart, cornish crab toast and indulgent sticky toffee pudding, all preceded by exemplary White Negronis. Elsewhere, you'll find classic seafood dishes and a decent wine list to boot.

£50 - £79
British
The Ivy City Garden

The Ivy City Garden

Dashwood House, 69 Old Broad Street, London, EC2M 1NA

There’s something very full circle about this Ivy site, which is the second to possess the ‘Garden’ moniker after The Ivy Chelsea Garden. It was Vintage Salt under previous tenant Des McDonald, who himself used to be head chef at – you guessed it – The Ivy.

Located right by Liverpool Street station in serene Bishopsgate Gardens, the space incorporates a restaurant, bar, private dining room and the namesake garden, all decked out in the brand’s well-groomed, colourful interiors. A long, cuisine-leaping menu features everything from the famous shepherd’s pie to tuna carpaccio; ask one of the one-the-ball waiters for advice if you’re stumped what to order.

We’d recommend prawn tempura pepped up with a matcha tea sauce and sprinklings of green papaya, edamame beans and cucumber shavings, and a generously portioned main of perfectly-cooked lobster with a side of rich truffle-and-parmesan-topped thick-cut chips.

Dessert was a real showstopper, a chocolate bombe on a bed of milk foam, soft vanilla ice cream and sticky-sweet shards of honeycomb, melted at the table with a hot salted-caramel sauce. Vibrant surrounds (including a DJ) help this incarnation of The Ivy keep up with its younger City counterparts, and for big groups there’s a 32-cover private dining room upstairs which overlooks the garden.

£30 - £49
International
Le Pont de la Tour

Le Pont de la Tour

Butlers Wharf, 36d Shad Thames, Bermondsey, London, SE1 2YE

With its riverside views of Tower Bridge and close proximity to The City, Le Pont de la Tour has won a legion of fans since it was opened by Terence Conran back in 1991. Previously known for its classic French menu featuring favourites such as crêpes Suzette, new chef Julien Imbert has taken a more modern approach that reflects his experience as head chef at Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred City Social. While the Bar & Grill offers traditional French brasserie fare, the Restaurant now serves up elaborately plated, intricate dishes that draw on international influences and tap into current food trends. Witness cured salmon with miso mayonnaise and pickled cucumber or halibut with curry velouté. Our starter of smoked and pickled baby beetroot with blackcurrant was a well-judged blend of punchy flavours, while Gloucester Old Spot pork belly was perfectly paired with a smoked apple purée. Creative desserts such as lemon curd with thyme shortbread, meringue and liquorice ice cream are a highlight, while the lengthy wine list and smart service continue to impress. The changes to the format here weren’t necessarily needed, but they are more than welcome.

£30 - £49
French
The Lighterman

The Lighterman

3 Granary Square, King's Cross, London, N1C 4BH

An impressive, three-storey modernist addition to Granary Square, this new pub-cum-dining room is furnished in an inviting, understated style with abundant natural wood and stylish leather. It is owned by a sister company to upmarket pub group Cubitt House – as evidenced by a menu incorporating many gastropub favourites. Even on a Monday, the street-level bar was abuzz with chatter, though the first-floor restaurant is a more formal proposition with wraparound terrace, floor-to-ceiling windows and friendly staff. Fish & chips and lamb shank are main-course fixtures, but the wood-fired grill is clearly the intended star, producing various seared cuts of meat, seafood dishes and burgers. Starters are generous; our cured trout with cucumber, spring onion and spiced mayo was wonderfully fresh-tasting, if heavily spiced. Unfortunately, a main course of Aberdeen Angus beef fillet arrived distinctly less rare than requested, paired with an over-seasoned peppercorn sauce. Roasted cod with celeriac purée, fennel and pumpkin seeds fared better, being flavoursome and light. The large drinks list has an eye on current trends, encompassing orange wine, craft ales and seasonal cocktails. But in a space already hosting the dependable likes of Caravan, we reckon there are better gastronomic options than the albeit attractive Lighterman.

£30 - £49
Modern European
The River Café

The River Café

Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London, London, W6 9HA

Although artisan competition is fierce these days, we side with the fan who reckons that The River Café serves “the best ingredients-driven Italian food in London”. This convivial Hammersmith evergreen (30 years young in 2017), which is rightfully so happy in its skin, is a very slick operation and certainly in the capital’s gastronomic ‘Serie A’, although it gains added kudos by virtue of its entrancing views and seductive riverside terrace (an absolute must-do on balmy days) as well as its decor, which some say is “dated but iconic”.

The rustic glories of Italian regional cuisine are writ large in a seasonal menu that majors on daisy-fresh salads, glossy pasta and specialities from the imposing red log-burning oven: in summer, that might mean poached langoustines with aïoli and pea salad followed by clam risotto dressed with zucchini flowers or wild salmon baked in sea salt; in winter, Tuscan bread soup with Swiss chard could precede whole Anjou pigeon wood-roasted in Chardonnay with speck, smoked celeriac and watercress. Further classics might be turbot with the greenest of beans, lobster risotto or char-grilled calamari with rocket. To conclude, chocolate nemesis is still the go-to option, but fruity tarts, grappa-laced pannacotta and the citrusy almond and polenta cake are also delicious.

Prices are top lire (a bowl of cherries is £10), although “exceptional service” is as friendly and engaging as it gets in London. Meanwhile, a list of pedigree Italian wines served at the correct temperatures in the correct glasses makes The River Café is the most well-rounded of treats.

£50 - £79
Italian
One michelin star
José Pizarro Broadgate

José Pizarro Broadgate

36 Broadgate Circle, Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 1QS

Hot on the heels of his Bermondsey debut, José Pizarro’s City outlet is part of Broadgate Circle’s “egalitarian crescent of on-trend restaurants”. Dark brown chairs, “clean metallic lines” and slate-grey walls give the place a distinctly warm and relaxed vibe, while the menu mixes pitch-perfect renditions of the tapas classics with more “enterprising” contemporary ideas: we recommend the spicy chicken skewers, the house croquetas and the sugar-cured salmon with PX, lime mayo and capers, but don’t miss the carved-to-order jamón ibérico or the “close to perfect” octopus a la plancha. If something bigger is required, go for the “full-flavoured” rabbit stew, hake with green beans and dry sherry sauce or something veggie (perhaps a goats’ cheese pastry with parsley oil), before rounding off with apricots in cava or “fluffy” cinnamon fritters. With cracking breakfasts, lunches to go and an all-weather terrace figuring in the mix, José continues to impress the Square Mile.

£50 - £79
Tapas
Spanish
La Famiglia

La Famiglia

7 Langton Street, London, SW10 0JL

As a “traditional, family-run Italian”, La Famiglia is a proud little vestige of Old Chelsea – a friendly, locals-orientated spot that has been trundling along for nearly 40 years. Blue-and-white tiled interiors channel the spirit of provincial Italy whatever the weather, while the sun-trap terrace is much sought after come summer. Over the decades, the kitchen has watched the culinary whims of the capital come and go, safely rooted in dishes from late founder Alvaro Maccioni’s beloved Tuscany – all ‘cooked the way mama taught us’. First-rate ingredients and Italian knowhow combine in regional classics such as pappa al pomodoro (bread and tomato soup), chopped chicken livers with capers and garlic on toast, rigatoni with Gorgonzola sauce, or roasted veal with Swiss chard. For dessert, the kitchen’s fresh fruit platter is a stunner, or you could try one of their creamy confections. Service gets strong reviews and the Italian wine list is fun to explore.

£30 - £49
Italian
£30 - £49
Northbank

Northbank

1 Paul's Walk, London, EC4V 3QH

Crowned by a “gem” of a terrace, Northbank serves up a panorama of London that reflects modern-day developments, the Tate Modern, Millennium Bridge and all. Mind you, the view is equally appealing inside, where booth seating and dressed-up tables provide the backdrop for a contemporary menu that makes much of its Cornish connections. The county’s award-winning Yarg cheese appears in a tart flavoured with saffron, and there’s a terrine of rabbit and foie gras, pointed up with raw fennel and vermouth cream. Maritime hotspots such as Falmouth Bay and Helford provide much of the seafood on offer (monkish in a Thai green curry, say), while Devon Red beef is a cross-border interloper (try the deliciously tender brisket in a clear parsley broth). Desserts such as hot fudge sundae also hit the spot. A selection of mead cocktails hammers home the Cornish theme, and “it’s all in the best possible taste”.

£30 - £49
British
£30 - £49
Rotunda

Rotunda

Kings Place, 90 York Way, King's Cross, 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.

£30 - £49
British
Bentley

Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill

11-15 Swallow Street, London, London, W1B 4DG

More than a century down the line, Bentley’s still offers “the freshest oysters in London” with all the conviviality you’d expect of a restaurant owned by Richard Corrigan. Downstairs, shuckers get through Carlingford, Jersey and West Mersea bivalves like they’re going out of fashion, with support from celebratory seashore platters, fish and chips and even a sushi salad bowl. Things are noticeably less hectic in the upstairs grill, where punters have time to anticipate and savour sea bass carpaccio with langoustine and lime, ‘royal’ fish pie or grilled sirloin of Irish Hereford beef with salted bone marrow and black pepper onions. Dessert could be a seasonal trifle or a tropical arrangement of pineapple, mango, chilli, ginger and coconut, while the wine list matches these fulsome flavours with plenty by the glass and a global outlook among the bottles. When it comes to the bill, “Corrigan knows how to charge, but can be excused given the overall quality,” says one regular.

£50 - £79
Fish
Madison

Madison

One New Change, London, London, EC4M 9AF

Spectacular views of St Paul’s and the lure of alfresco drinks high above the City ensure that queues for the lift to Madison build early on summer afternoons. Crowning Parisian architect Jean Nouvel’s One New Change development, this complex comprises a modest tapas and cocktail bar (beware the oppressive crush in fine weather) and – across the way – an altogether more spacious restaurant with flashy Murano glass, lots of shiny leather and a second terrace, complete with low couches. Sip wine or fizz by the glass, slurp a pornstar martini with vanilla vodka and passion fruit or explore the secret garden (Hendrick’s gin, cucumber and rosemary). The menu runs from small bites and charcuterie boards to salt-marsh lamb with roasted tomato and salsa verde – although quibbles over prices and service can dull Madison’s charms.

£50 - £79
Modern European
Stecca

Stecca

14 Hollywood Road, London, SW10 9HY

Chef Stefano Stecca was last seen at Toto’s on Walton Street (now Dinings SW3) but hasn’t moved too far away for this first solo restaurant. Stecca is very much a SW10 local rather than a London-wide destination, in spirit a contemporary update of the low-key Italians that were Chelsea’s bread and butter in the 1960s and 70s, all white walls and tablecloths, and dark wood chairs and floors. The uncomplicated cooking fits the bill for mid-week lunches and casual suppers, though be warned that portions are not overly generous for the reasonable-looking prices. The best thing we ate was a spin on cacio e pepe involving thick-cut rings of mezzi paccheri pasta cooked al dente and with the cheese and pepper flavours both boldly to the fore. We also enjoyed a junior-sized Dover sole, though a rather tough apple tart was not a good end to the meal; perhaps a bowl of Italian cherries would have been a better fit for Stecca’s simplicity. There’s decent choice under £40 on the all Italian wine list (plus some SuperTuscans if you want to push the boat out), and a dozen by the glass. A courtyard garden at the back, interspersed with planted trees and with ivy tumbling from the fencing, is a summer secret worth knowing about.    

Italian
Manicomio Chelsea

Manicomio Chelsea

85 Duke of York Square, Chelsea, London, SW3 4LY

Those looking to escape the frenetic pace of the King’s Road need look no further than upmarket Italian restaurant Manicomio, a stalwart of Chelsea’s Duke of York Square. Its expansive, floral terrace is perfect for people-watching in all seasons and can definitely be counted among the best spots for alfresco dining in the capital.

Freshly-baked focaccia served promptly by smart staff set the standard for an evening of beautiful food and wine, starting with creamy burrata with prosciutto, peach and fennel, and zucchini flowers with stracchino cheese. From a choice of good-looking mains, our smoked aubergine, broccolini and cashew quinoa was a winner, perfectly complemented by a smoky Chardonnay.

As with the rest of the menu, desserts don’t come cheap, so choose wisely. Our dark chocolate mousse with salted caramel and milk ice cream was as decadent as it sounds, but the strawberry meringue was underwhelming. A patriotic wine list showcases bottles from all parts of Italy, including the islands, plus a small selection from elsewhere.

£30 - £49
Italian
Sushisamba City

Sushisamba City

Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate (38-39th floor), London, London, EC2N 4AY

“It’s all about the experience” at Sushisamba, from the moment the lightning-quick glass elevator whisks you up to the 38th floor of the Heron Tower. Once inside, you can’t miss the incredible floor-to-ceiling views or the covens of noisy young City types splashing serious amounts of cash at the bar. The “fabulous atmosphere” spills over into the restaurant, where the menu promises a thrilling fusion of Japanese and Latino cuisine – from shrimp tempura with snap pea julienne, spicy mayo and black truffle vinaigrette to refreshing crispy lobster taquitos with avocado, aji amarillo, jalapeños and morado. Other standouts on our list include the multi-coloured sushi rolls, sweet potato noodles served with egg yolk and gold shavings, and a drool-worthy chocolate banana cake with maple butter, plantain chip and rum-spiked ice cream. Samba music blasts from the speakers, while innumerable staff are on hand to deliver “the best service ever”. It’s not everyone’s cup of saké, but high-octane Sushisamba is spot-on for City revellers with deep pockets.

£50 - £79
South American
Japanese