Best restaurants for weekend brunch in London

The idea of brunch is one that Londoners have taken to their hearts. But while many cafés and eateries are perfect for a working weekday breakfast, they don’t cut the mustard compared to our pick of London’s best restaurants for weekend brunches. We’re talking lazy, long and relaxed brunches where you won’t be ushered out to make way for the lunch crowd: brunches that gently help you re-energise from the night before, and set you up for the rest of the day. Be it eggs Benedict or smoked salmon on toast, hash browns or steak and eggs, Bloody Mary or Mimosa – you’ll find the ingredients for London’s best weekend brunches here. We’ve all the key districts covered, from Mayfair or Knightsbridge to King’s Cross or Hoxton, so check out the best restaurants for brunch in London below. Need a great weekend brunch in London? Look no further.

Posted on 02 November 2018

Best restaurants for weekend brunch in London


Bistrotheque

Bistrotheque

Once an insider’s secret on a seedy Bethnal Green backstreet, Bistrotheque has gone on to become a bona fide east London institution. Best known for its weekend brunch service, it’s always packed to the rafters and great raucous fun, thanks to the colourfully coiffed house pianist and decent nosh (plates of pancakes with poached rhubarb and pork chops with layered potatoes do it for us) and even better cocktails. The decor “just stays cool” and the clientele is a veritable Who’s Who of modern east London, with a host of designers, architects, artists and assorted locals using it for nibbles, drinks at the “magnificent” bar (“staff will make sure your glass is never empty”) and lively suppers – perhaps pressed lamb with spring vegetables, cod with romesco sauce, caramelised tomato tart with burrata or “the best steak tartare in the east End”. The food’s good, but the ambience is “amazing”.

Bistrotheque

Bunga Bunga Battersea

Bunga Bunga Battersea

Fun, flamboyant and fabulous, Bunga Bunga gets the party started – and knows how to keep it going. Named after the notorious romps organised by Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, it mixes all the clichés of Italian holidays with a sprinkling of euro trash to create a glorious tongue-in-cheek homage to the land that invented pizza. And seriously good pizza it is too: proper crispy bases loaded with quality toppings, such as the Julius Cheeser (gorgonzola, taleggio, mozzarella and goat’s cheese) or Po-pa-polla with sticky chicken, pancetta and barbecue sauce. Elsewhere, the menu runs to loaded antipasti boards, crisp zucchini fritti and creamy arancini balls, followed by gelato and classic tiramisu. To drink there’s Prosecco, Peroni and Aperol Spritzes, plus crowd-pleasing cocktails such as fruity, vodka-laced sharer The Vespa. Bunga Bunga is perfect for big groups, who can carry on the celebrations in Il Club upstairs at weekends, when there’s also a Saturday party brunch with karaoke. Private parties meanwhile can book L’Osservatorio or the top-floor Martini Prosecco Beach Bar, complete with parasols and its own photo-booth.

Bunga Bunga Battersea

The Gilbert Scott

The Gilbert Scott

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.

The Gilbert Scott

The Providores

The Providores

Peter Gordon’s double-decker fusion palace is supposed to be fun, and readers confirm that it’s a blast. At street level, there’s the no-bookings Tapa Room (named after a Rarotongan tapa cloth, which decorates the space): this noisy rendezvous is perpetually rammed with crowds who gather for breakfast (brown rice, apple, maple syrup and miso porridge with tamarillo compote, perhaps) and all-day dishes. Upstairs, the eponymous dining room pushes more boundaries, delivering multi-ingredient combos with a little more formality – think smoked Dutch eel with coconut and tamarind laksa, green tea noodles, soft-boiled quail’s egg, girolles and sweetcorn followed by Creedy Carver duck breast with figs, walnuts, grapes, sherry vinegar and membrillo. Every day’s a school day here, so ask if you’re not sure what something is (the staff are used to it) and reserve some time, money and attention to explore the seriously Kiwi wine list.

The Providores

Roka Canary Wharf

Roka Canary Wharf

Serving up high glamour among all that bamboo and polished wood, Roka is the antithesis of a modest Japanese restaurant – and that makes it a natural victor among Canary Wharf’s suited-and-booted client-friendly offerings. Readers love the ambience created by a boisterous, enthusiastic crowd, not to mention the “very attentive service” and consistently top-notch food. The bar specialises in shochu (you can even keep a personalised jar for repeat visits), and there’s a terrace too, but the restaurant would argue that the heart of the operation is the robata grill with its line-up of fire-licked specialities such as sweet potato baked in a bamboo husk or baby back ribs in a spiced ‘master stock’ glaze. Elsewhere, you’ll find well-made modern-day sushi and sashimi, “wonderfully delicious” snacks (black cod, crab and crayfish dumplings, say), and specialities such as cedar-roast baby chicken. If you’re here outside the working week, try the all-inclusive koten brunch.

Roka Canary Wharf

Mews of Mayfair

Mews of Mayfair

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.

Mews of Mayfair

The Modern Pantry Clerkenwell

The Modern Pantry Clerkenwell

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.

The Modern Pantry Clerkenwell

Village East

Village East

"There's a nice friendly vibe in here", says a fan of Village East – an effortlessly cool factory conversion with echoes of New York's Meatpacking district. Despite cosy booths and urban mesh-style partitions, quiet tête-à-têtes are out of the question – so set yourself up with a cocktail from the regularly updated list (our favourite is the Tanqueray gin-based Earl of Bermondsey). The menu is a "real winner", packed with a savvy mix of comforting classics, cheffy ideas and healthy options: dishes range from Longhorn beef and bone marrow burgers to stuffed chicory leaves with braised lentils, pipérade and walnuts via pistachio-crusted hake with buckwheat groats, confit cherry tomatoes and lemon butter – all served with admirable bonhomie by "great staff". Getting a weekend table for brunch isn't easy, but it's worth the effort – if only for the buttermilk pancakes.

Village East

Joe Allen

Joe Allen

It was a dark day in Theatreland when it was announced that the unofficial actors’ canteen, Joe Allen, was going to close – not least because it was to make way for a boutique hotel owned by one of their own, Robert de Niro. But the move around the corner has re-energised this luvvies’ classic that first opened its doors on Exeter Street in 1977.  A tighter, less labyrinthine layout concentrates the hubbub of the room, while fittings that have been moved lock, stock and piano from Exeter Street look as if they have been here for years. And the American comfort food is the same as ever – adequate rather than amazing, but more than cutting the mustard if you’ve come to soak up the pre- and post-theatre atmosphere or for a boozy weekend brunch with friends; it’s also as well suited to feeding an eight- or eighty-year-old.  ‘Eggs Joe Allen’ is a nicely poached Burford atop a thick slice of potato cake, spooned with hollandaise sauce; well-timed calf’s liver comes with mash that is stodgy not smooth; apple strudel is a as sweet as something you’d want to end Sunday lunch. To drink, a well-priced wine list has bags of choice for under £40, while an evening spent at the bar with classic American cocktails would be a hoot. Remember your waiter’s face: like former staffer Graham Norton, he may well be a star of tomorrow.

Joe Allen

Berners Tavern at The London Edition

Berners Tavern at The London Edition

“I love this place!” chimes one reader – and rightly so. Jason Atherton’s 21st-century reinvention of hotel dining has made Berners Tavern one of the hottest tickets in town. Sporting “the most beautiful dining room in London” (think towering ceilings, mosaics, gilt-framed oil paintings and a soaring, yellow-lit bar), this place oozes glamour, pizzazz and grandeur, without feeling remotely “stuffy”. There are many foodie triumphs here, although the reimagining of the hotel dining-room trolley is one to really savour – watch as a giant, perfectly cooked pork pie is sliced tableside and artfully arranged with pickled carrots, fennel, piccalilli and mustards. Other classic British options include the “best prawn cocktail ever” (loaded with sweet lobster jelly, avocado and crispy shallots), but the menu’s versatility ranges from gloriously indulgent five-cheese macaroni topped with slow-cooked beef blade (“to die for”) to roast Cornish cod with crispy squid, basil fregola and soothing tomato consommé. For a final touch of theatre, go for the buttermilk Alaska, finished with flaming liquor, soft hunks of rhubarb and pistachio. Service at Berners Tavern is “second to none” – as we’ve come to expect from Mr Atherton. 

Berners Tavern at The London Edition

Bistro Union

Bistro Union

With its daily specials written on rolls of brown paper, a bar adorned with homemade preserves, and pegs on the walls for hanging your coat – Bistro Union evokes the make-do-and-mend Britain of yore. Much of the menu produced by Adam Byatt’s team harks back to a time when food was primarily for comfort, reassurance and high-calorie fuel: there’s a breakfast fry-up, fish pie and toad in the hole for lunch, and rhubarb fool for pudding. Nevertheless, you’ll also find more interesting dishes that have left the nursery (and school dinners) behind. Try the grilled squid with parsley salad, served with a punch-packing aïoli; and finish off with a blackcurrant and almond tart (in essence, a very fine version of a Bakewell). Drinks include a couple of British sparklers, craft beers and ciders, but fear not: the wine list makes it easy to escape Blighty should you wish.

Bistro Union

Floral by Lima

Floral by Lima

Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez first wowed Londoners with Michelin-starred Lima in Fitzrovia, following on from his world-renowned restaurant Central, located in Lima itself. This more accessible outpost is found within the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden, and features a blue and white hued dining room, boasting an extensive menu which focuses on the unusual indigenous ingredients that define Martínez's style. We’d recommend a cross-menu assault to make sure you get the most of your experience, and friendly, talkative staff are on hand to guide you through a menu of unusual yet well-executed dishes; take the deep-fried king prawn and squid marinated in spicy ají amarillo and served with gritty corn, or the seabream ceviche, pepped up with tuna and octopus cubes bathed in a vibrant and citrusy tiger’s milk, and topped with sweet potato purée and crispy corn. Other highlights include the trio, a rainbow-coloured plateful of strips of salmon, tuna and cobia fish marinated in a heady mix of tiger’s milk, cucumber and sesame. Meat lovers will also rate the seared beef loin, which is served cold and marinated with mild dried chillies and a drizzle of algarrobo syrup. Come dessert, the alfajores is a must-order; traditional Peruvian shortbread-style biscuits filled with thick and smooth dulce de leche and served with dulce de leche ice cream, mini macarons and a sticky caramel sauce. Don’t want the night to end? We’d suggest heading down to the basement bar for some post-dinner pisco sours. 

Floral by Lima

Hixter Bankside

Hixter Bankside

Mark Hix’s original Hixter in the City didn't last long, but this second branch seems to have hit its stride in time to survive the difficult first two years. Occupying a former metal box factory near the Tate Modern, it’s an unashamedly cool urban destination complete with Tracey Emin neon sculptures, girders, pendant lights and bare brick walls. Like its stablemate Tramshed in Shoreditch, the menu is all about chicken and beef, though they do serve fish and seafood too. Roast barn-reared chooks arrive at the table perched upright with stuffing and chips on the side, while the Glenarm carcasses (aged in Himalayan salt) yield all manner of ‘mighty-marbled’ steaks. To start, try ceviche with crispy lotus root or Wiltshire burrata with chilli and grilled sourdough, and save room for a helping of ‘credit crunch ice cream’. The “great bar” is as much of a draw as the dining room, though it's not as hip and frenetic as the Soho original – some might see that as an advantage, of course.

Hixter Bankside

Christopher's

Christopher's

Christopher's may have celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2016, but the handsome Grade II-listed Victorian building has a longer history than that and was once home to London's first licensed casino. There's no need to take a gamble on the menu, which is a selection of reliably good stateside staples: juicy Maine lobsters and prime steaks hailing from the US, Scotland and Australia are the winning bets, but you'll also strike lucky with moist Maryland crab cakes or slow-cooked pork belly and Ibérico chop served with Boston baked beans and creamed corn. Lighter choices include fresh salmon carpaccio with a zingy tequila and key lime dressing, but you're likely to lose all will-power when you see the line-up of decadent desserts such as New York cheesecake or chocolate, peanut butter and caramel tart with espresso ice cream. Brunch is always a big deal here too, with readers rating the 'build-your-own pancake' menu, "delicious options" and "really lovely atmosphere".

Christopher's

Riding House Café

Riding House Café

Crammed with Fitzrovia’s media movers and shakers from morn till night, Riding House Café is still a trendy favourite hereabouts. Red-leather seating, parquet floors and frilly lamps are redolent of a gussied-up New York diner, though stuffed squirrels and panelled walls add some English eccentricity to the bustling room’s roaring atmosphere. Service is smart and speedy, but the cooking can be up and down: our buffalo wings were parsimonious, and sea trout (overcooked) was lost among fat slabs of tomato drenched in potent pistou, but – on the plus side – crisp salt beef croquettes, roast guinea fowl on ratatouille and a decadent hot chocolate fudge sundae hit the spot. Classy brunches spanning buttermilk pancakes, chorizo hash and lobster Benedict pull the crowds, while a pristinely tiled bar awash with laptops seems more about work than pleasure. Perhaps lone diners aspire to the compact wine list’s ‘reserve’ section.

Riding House Café

Jackson + Rye Soho

Jackson + Rye Soho

The New York flair for upscale brasseries is the inspiration behind this chain of inviting all-dayers. Their look perfectly captures their subject: a warm glow emanates from within, where a casual feel is achieved via cheerfully scribbled blackboards, close-set tables and uplit bar. The setting works whatever time of day you pop in: breakfasts and (blowout) brunches mix North American classics such as buttermilk pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, or pulled-pork hash, with Brit favourites such as a avocado Benedict and ham and cheese omlette. The rest of the day passes in a haze of caution-to-the-wind calories: king prawn linguini, lamb rump, mushroom risotto, plus a selection of chargrilled steak brushed with herb butter  – with pecan pie or vanilla cheesecake for anyone with an inch of room left. ‘Good food, atmosphere and service’ complete the pleasing picture.

Jackson + Rye Soho

Roka Aldwych

Roka Aldwych

Roka’s brand of high-gloss contemporary Japanese dining is showcased beautifully at its largest branch on Aldwych, where a stylish mix of natural stone, grey timbers and dried green oak creates a subtly sophisticated setting. Like its siblings across the capital, this outlet puts the robata grill centre stage, and many favourite items from Roka’s back catalogue are on display – from tender Korean-spiced lamb cutlets to black cod marinated in yuzu miso. There are also dazzling platters of sushi and sashimi showcasing impeccable sourcing – witness translucent slivers of yellowtail and morsels of sweet-fleshed shrimp with caviar. Elsewhere, top calls range from juicy grilled scallops with a textured wasabi topping to velvety Wagyu beef offset by pickled mushrooms. The high-end list of sakés, global wines and sexy shochu-based cocktails can also be sampled at the elegant bar, while smooth service is a hallmark throughout.

Roka Aldwych

Le Caprice

Le Caprice

“A classic, but still one the best” says a fan of Le Caprice, the vintage St James’s hangout that gave Caprice Holdings its name. Star-seekers, celebs and grown-up hedonists are easily seduced by its David Bailey photographs, riffing piano player and “fantastic customer service” (directed by legendary maître d' Jesus Adorno), while the food is “easy on the palate” – but irresistible in its own way. Whether you’re in the market for rigatoni with rabbit ragù, crispy duck salad, miso-marinated salmon with stir-fried shiitake mushrooms or a classic brasserie plateful such as slow-roast pork belly with black pudding mash, caramelised apples and Calvados sauce, this kitchen is a failsafe option – and decent value to boot. There’s also fun to be had when it comes to desserts such as rhubarb and custard pavlova or the Cru Virunga chocolate crunch bar with cherries. Flutes and bottles of premium fizz match the mood, or you can get your boozy kicks from the zingy cocktails and classy international wines. With weekend brunch and Sunday night jazz added to the mix, Le Caprice is “always perfect” – even after all these years.

Le Caprice

Foxlow Clerkenwell

Foxlow Clerkenwell

Foxlow is the kind of joint that every neighbourhood should have. Friendly service, a relaxed atmosphere and crowd-pleasing dishes are hallmarks of this mini-chain, which is a spin-off from the mighty Hawksmoor dynasty set up by Will Beckett and Huw Gott. The duo have a knack for creating venues with shared style, but without cookie-cutter sameness, giving each branch of Foxlow a unique character. Menus major on popular chicken and steak options - think finger-licking Tamworth spare ribs with green slaw, a juicy chicken burger with avocado, and perfectly cooked sirloin steak with fries and béarnaise - plus interesting veggie choices, such as spice-roasted cauliflower with chickpeas, wilted spinach and curried aubergine sauce. Separate kids’ menus, good value express deals (two courses for £12) and the popular brunch menu score further points with readers; with one fan declaring it “the best brunch ever!” Drinks meanwhile range from creative softs, like fresh grapefruit soda, to craft beers and well-priced wines. Meanwhile cocktails, including the Hawksmoor classic Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew, are impeccably made. 

Foxlow Clerkenwell

Nobu Shoreditch

Nobu Shoreditch

It’s 20 years since London’s first Nobu launched on Park Lane and almost as long since Shoreditch became a destination with a ragtag of cooler-than-thou bars clustered around Old Street. Now the two worlds collide with the launch of the Nobu Hotel Shoreditch. Come for quieter lunches and weekend brunches to appreciate the calm beauty of the design. A long staircase leads down to a dramatically high-ceilinged, concrete-lined space of glass walls and gauzy curtains, tricked out in 90s neutrals and with a four-stepped terrace leading off the large bar area for when it’s not raining. Inside, it’s raining men: we spotted a total of four female diners hidden among the big tables of City boys of every age group. A menu that’s about half the size of Nobu London’s nods towards time-pressed City diners and touts the brand’s greatest hits, from black cod with miso to yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño.  Springy rock shrimp tempura encased in light batter and slicked in addictive creamy jalapeño sauce, and crisp tacos stuffed with lobster smeared in wasabi mayo, do the classics proud, while ‘Shoreditch specials’ include excellent pork belly with a beautifully balanced spicy miso caramel sauce. For pud, squidgy mochi cakes are perhaps more of an acquired taste, while a chocolate orb twice failed to melt on cue under its torrent of hot sauce. Cynics may carp that the arrival of one of the world’s foremost luxury lifestyle brands in EC2 shows how corporate the Shoreditch scene has become, but Square Mile diners will be thrilled to have somewhere on their doorstep with such a palpable frisson of global glamour.

Nobu Shoreditch

Tom's Kitchen Chelsea

Tom's Kitchen Chelsea

With branches in Canary Wharf and St Katherine's Docks, Michelin-starred Tom Aikens’ boisterous, stripped-back brasserie side-line now has the makings of a mini-chain. Fans of robust British-inspired grub still congregate at the Cale Street original for bullish classics and seasonal dishes ranging from macaroni cheese, seven-hour confit lamb and shepherd’s pie to beetroot salad with pear and goats’ curd, roast wild duck with celeriac mash and port sauce or pumpkin cheesecake with spiced ice cream. Photos of ‘food hero' suppliers line the tiled walls, and the interior is a masculine (but not overbearing) mix of diminutive, tight-packed tables and long benches. Despite its clean lines and smart attributes, the place can be let down by braying noise and big bills – although premier-league Chelsea prices don't deter the crowds, who also pile in for full-English fry-ups (£13.50) and restorative weekend brunch. Photography credit: David Griffen

Tom's Kitchen Chelsea

Caravan Exmouth Market

Caravan Exmouth Market

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.

Caravan Exmouth Market

Caravan City

Caravan City

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.

Caravan City

Aqua Shard

Aqua Shard

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”.

Aqua Shard

34 Mayfair

34 Mayfair

Promising British hospitality at its finest, 34 is testament to the “slick”, “five-star” hospitality that marks out the Caprice Holdings stable. From the top-hatted doorman outside this former bank to the timeless art deco-style interiors – think table lamps, brown leather banquettes and a marble bar – every bit of the consummate experience is “perfectly executed”, cocktails included. The grill menu has steak at its heart, but also does a mean line in seafood – our sprightly lobster, shrimp and sea bass ceviche was a judiciously spiced appetiser for the oncoming meat fest. Yorkshire heritage breeds and top-end Wagyu both feature prominently, but it’s worth doffing your cap to the nearby American Embassy and opting for the USDA Prime chateaubriand – a glorious, “succulent”, hunk of beef for two served with truffle gravy and mushrooms. If you have space for dessert, a chocolatey peanut-butter crunch bar with blackcurrant sorbet is simple but satisfying. Dapper, ever-attentive staff earn due praise, and the sommelier is full of great recommendations (in our case, a gorgeous Los Vascos Grande Reserve 2012 Rothschild).  High prices reflect the postcode, but fans reckon 34 is “worth every penny”. 

34 Mayfair

Granger & Co Clerkenwell

Granger & Co Clerkenwell

It may have been somewhat overshadowed by the new King’s Cross branch, but this sleek-looking, light-filled eatery from laid-back Aussie chef and adopted Londoner Bill Granger is still everything you might expect. Huge “dramatic” windows, chirpy staff and a quiet location away from Clerkenwell Green ensure this place brings a taste of the glamorous Antipodean lifestyle to EC1 – no wonder it’s hugely popular for catch-ups and all-day meetings. The kitchen deals in big sunny flavours with a heavy splash of South-East Asian colour and lots of “fresh, healthy” notes – perhaps beetroot with labneh, sumac and pomegranate, a sambal chicken salad with green papaya or steamed sea bass with green-tea noodles, samphire and soy mirin broth. Desserts such as white chocolate and pistachio pavlova are to die for, while Granger’s reputation as the ‘egg master of Sydney’ ensures that breakfast doesn’t disappoint.

Granger & Co Clerkenwell

Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe

Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe

This all-day British restaurant and bar seems to hold all the trump cards since its 2017 refurbishment, with an enviable Thames-side location, views of St Paul’s, guaranteed buzz from the neighbouring Globe and now, a star chef in Allan Pickett. Best known for his short-lived 2015 restaurant Piquet, Fitzrovia’s loss has been Swan’s gain because Pickett’s beautifully presented, best-of-British cooking feels right at home here. Sitting above a more casual bar and diner, the second-floor restaurant has been smartened up, with a few flashes of peacock-blue and plenty of bare wood, leaving the wall of windows to do the talking. The menus run the gamut from bacon brioche buns at breakfast to roast UK cuts on Sundays, with lunch and dinner offering the same array of classic British standards, all supported by a well-organised lineup of global wines. A disarmingly pretty dish of marinated scallops arrives dotted with jet-black squid ink mayonnaise, bursting with Granny Smith juice, while a potentially stodgy combination of faggot and venison haunch in gravy buzzes with the tang of pickled red cabbage and damson preserve. Of course, the seasonal menu changes often but Pickett’s delicate knack for maximising flavours should elevate Swan’s kitchen all year round. On the downside, vegetarians have little choice, while pricier, heartier mains are unfathomably served without adequate trimmings. These points aside, the Swan’s second act deserves to break a leg.

Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe

High Road Brasserie

High Road Brasserie

A row of west London townhouses makes a good home for this animated brasserie where everything from breakfast through to late dinner is provided, not to mention a Champagne cocktail or two. There’s an art-deco spin to the interior with its banquette seating and spectacularly colourful floor tiles, which all makes an energetic space for an English breakfast or a croque monsieur, before the all-day menu kicks in with sandwiches, salads and hot food such as pumpkin risotto or pork belly with crackling and apple slaw. Steak frites is a speciality, and there are “great” Saturday brunches and “superb” Sunday lunches, rounded off by the comfort of a plum crumble, perhaps. Drink draught Chiswick Bitter or European lager, or perhaps something from the short, well-rounded wine list. With “fab service”, terrace tables and a laid-back vibe, HRB is the complete neighbourhood package.

High Road Brasserie

Caravan Fitzrovia

Caravan Fitzrovia

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.

Caravan Fitzrovia

Dean Street Townhouse

Dean Street Townhouse

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.

Dean Street Townhouse

The Botanist Sloane Square

The Botanist Sloane Square

Tom and Ed Martin’s Botanist has been rocking Sloane Square since 2008, so its recent Russell Sage refurb seems rather timely – note the vibrant paintings of parrots and elephants that now provide a backdrop to the restaurant’s leather banquettes and snug upholstered booths. The adjoining art-deco bar buzzes throughout the day, while adjustable glass screens shield diners from the lively after-work crowd. A versatile all-day menu kicks off with breakfast (perhaps a full English or ricotta pancakes with bacon and berries), ahead of an international line-up spanning everything from tuna tartare with avocado, radish and macadamia nuts or succulent scallops partnered by crisp Serrano ham and burnt cauliflower purée to veal schnitzel, chicken with wild mushrooms and polenta, spinach tortellini and fish dishes such as cod with chorizo and bean stew. There are also steaks and a Longhorn burger from the grill, while imaginative salads keep the veggies happy. With pre-theatre suppers, weekend brunch, a sensible wine list and exceptionally friendly staff, The Botanist is in fine form for its tenth anniversary in spring 2018. 

The Botanist Sloane Square

Caravan King's Cross

Caravan King's Cross

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.

Caravan King's Cross

No.11 Pimlico Road

No.11 Pimlico Road

As pretty as a picture, with white walls, pots of herbs and zinc-topped tables, this big corner venue beguiles the eye even before punters have sat down, and with a broad line-up of all-day favourites, a tempting selection of sharing plates and a dedicated ‘little people’ menu, it seems to have everything going for it. Grown-ups can pick from an assortment that runs from burgers and steaks to moules marinière, or rump of lamb with crushed celeriac and apple, ahead of desserts such as baked vanilla custard with warm roast plums. Service is slow but sweet, but punters amuse themselves by making plentiful use of the wine list and the well-made cocktails. Whether it’s date night, a post-work catch-up or Sunday lunch with the kids, everyone seems to have a good time – even if some think the food is “fairly average at best”.   

No.11 Pimlico Road

The Garrison

The Garrison

Bermondsey favourite The Garrison is a stylish, relaxed venue that regularly plays to full houses. Mismatched chairs, slightly wobbly reclaimed tables and an eclectic array of lampshades make for a quirky space that serves eaters and drinkers equally well – there's even a highly recommended pocket-sized cinema in the basement. Sunday roasts can be rather hit and miss (we like our roasties crispy), but the evening menu shows more precise cooking – think crab on toast with watercress and samphire or glazed chicken breast with sweetcorn purée, crushed new potatoes, bacon and rosemary. To finish, the flourless chocolate cake is the stuff of pudding lovers' dreams. With decent prices, terrific breakfasts, all-day snacks, unusual beers and a decent wine list, it's easy to see why The Garrison is always packed.

The Garrison

Cut at 45 Park Lane

Cut at 45 Park Lane

Cut stands out from the steakhouse crowd thanks to its Park Lane pricing, glammed-up globe-trotting clientele and the clout of A-list chef Wolfgang Puck. Provided you’re financially prepared, you’ll find a surprisingly unpretentious vibe in the very attractive (if hotel-ish) dining room, where soaring drapes and wood panelling head northwards to a ceiling hung with starburst lights. Service could be slicker, but the kitchen pulls out all the stops to justify the prices. Cuts of USDA Prime, South Devon Angus, New York sirloin and dizzyingly expensive Wagyu are presented in all their raw marbled glory before being returned to the table charred and crusted from the grill. Sides include wickedly buttery potato purée and glistening nuggets of bone marrow, while top-notch starters range from maple-glazed pork belly to a very pretty crab and lobster cocktail with spicy tomato horseradish. Desserts, should you get that far, are all-American sweet treats. Upstairs, Bar 45 dispenses classy concoctions in large glasses.

Cut at 45 Park Lane

Lantana

Lantana

Australian-run Lantana built a bonzer reputation for its brunches, quickly expanding into adjacent premises. More recently the expansion has been in time, rather than space, with the advent of evening dining at ‘Shindig’. Here the “cosy and rustic” café – wooden tables, a coffee counter – is given night-time appeal by tea lights and a short, serious drinks list. Customers familiar with the daytime offering of high-quality breakfasts (from muesli to slow-braised beans with egg, chorizo and spinach) and Pacific Rim lunches (duck burger with kimchi mayo, say) can now tuck into a concise surf and turf dinner menu. Our baby back ribs were succulent and sticky, and a side of ‘hush puppies’ (corncakes with chilli mayo) made an indulgent feast – though a dish of octopus, squid and chorizo with smoked corn was variable. For pud, a large slab of chocolate brownie brought us back to café culture: underlined by excellent coffee.

Lantana

Holborn Dining Room

Holborn Dining Room

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.

Holborn Dining Room

Chiltern Firehouse

Chiltern Firehouse

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.

Chiltern Firehouse

Quaglino's

Quaglino's

Once a stunner, always a stunner. With its “all-encompassing” ambience and a shape that evokes a cruise ship’s lavish ballroom (an effect emphasised by the stage at one end), revamped Quag’s carries its glamorous past with it. Aware that the bleeding edge of London’s restaurant scene is now far off in the distance, owners D&D London concentrate on easy-to-like food with a satisfying element of flash. There are oysters, caviar and a pile-it-high lobster and langoustine cocktail, plus braised veal breast with truffled Comté mac ’n’ cheese, and big beefy grills. “Very attentive” service gives the experience some soul, and a striking central bar, topped with glowing marble, is a source of pleasant bustle, particularly at night. After 10pm, DJs, house bands and guest artists hit the stage, which may be a reason to arrive or leave; if it’s the former, a late-night menu on Fridays and Saturdays keeps things kicking into the wee hours.

Quaglino's

Balthazar

Balthazar

According to one reader, Balthazar could be “the best brasserie in London for atmosphere and service". Elsewhere, abundant praise for the lively buzz and "happy, friendly staff" is proof that this London outpost of Keith McNally's upscale bistro lives up to the reputation of his NYC original. By and large, the food wins approval too, with particular mentions for the "delicious afternoon tea" and "just the best dauphinoise potatoes". Order them alongside wickedly rich duck confit or coq au vin, preceded by chicken liver parfait, steak tartare or garlicky escargots. The all-day offer also includes delectable pastries from Balthazar’s boulangerie next door, omelette Arnold Bennett for brunch, plateaux de fruits de mer from the seafood bar or eggs mimosa followed by roast hake with bouillabaisse soup on the prix fixe. "It's a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner and business meetings" concludes one ardent admirer; another simply says “sit back, enjoy the buzz and don’t worry about your wallet”.

Balthazar

Aqua Kyoto

Aqua Kyoto

As far removed from the Zen minimalist school as it gets, Aqua Kyoto does high-end Japanese with a bit of razzmatazz. Feel the vibe as you circumnavigate the central bar, past gorgeous kimono silk-padded booths, to reach the dramatic dining room with its showpiece sunken sushi bar crowned by an oversize red lantern. The clubby mood conjures up shades of Tokyo’s swanky Ginza district, likewise the menu’s luxurious bent. Go for broke by ordering king crab tempura with crab miso, Wagyu maki rolls and agedashi aubergine with roasted foie gras, or discover original creations ranging from chilli yuzu lamb teriyaki with Japanese artichokes to rabbit with green peach, pumpkin tofu and mustard ankake sauce. By contrast, lunchtime bento boxes and sashimi selections are gentler on the wallet. The terrace is perfect for a sundowner.

Aqua Kyoto

The Delaunay

The Delaunay

Like its sibling The Wolseley, this "lovely buzzy restaurant" bears all the hallmarks of a Corbin & King success story, from "spot-on" service to please-all cooking for a big-city crowd. No wonder The Delaunay has become a perennial favourite on all counts: the welcome is "always friendly" and the David Collins interior "impresses straightaway" with its glossy dark wood, gleaming brass and polished stone floors. There's an "old-school Viennese" vibe here, so expect to find wiener schnitzel, choucroute and rich borscht, as well as traditional dishes from elsewhere in Europe such as chicken Kiev and the ever-popular kedgeree. Tempting patisserie and viennoiserie – including an exemplary sachertorte – are worth a visit alone: luckily the adjoining Counter at The Delaunay sells many of these goodies to go. We urge you to book ahead for the phenomenally popular pre-theatre slot, or start your day in splendid fashion with a gut-busting breakfast. In short, "a great London institution".

The Delaunay