Best in South Bank

Looking for a restaurant on the South Bank? We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to, and compiled a handy list of the best. Whatever your budget or taste, SquareMeal is here to help, with a selection of the best restaurants for every

Updated on 17 January 2018

Best in South Bank

Boasting some of London’s most iconic landmarks, Southbank & Shad Thames offer an abundance of great restaurants, all featured in this SquareMeal guide to the best restaurants in South Bank + Shad Thames. With the London Eye as its centrepiece and places such as the National Theatre, the London Aquarium and the Royal Festival Hall within its boundaries, Southbank is one of London’s top destinations. The riverside at Southbank offers a busy, cosmopolitan ambience with visitors from around the world flocking here to enjoy its riverside attractions. Just a short walk down the river, Shad Thames is London’s latest riverside hotspot thanks to the opening of Europe’s tallest building The Shard. Converted warehouse developments with a wide choice of bars and restaurants look out over the Thames and Borough Market, Tower Bridge and London Bridge are close by.

 

Both Southbank & Shad Thames offer an abundance of wonderful restaurants to choose from, many offering glorious riverside views and al fresco terraces. SquareMeal’s list of the best restaurants in Southbank + Shad Thames will ensure access to the very best restaurants situated in these vibrant riverside London areas. For further ideas on eating out in London, why not check out our guides to the best restaurants in Soho; the best restaurants in Covent Garden and the best restaurants in the City.


Sea Containers at Mondrian London

Sea Containers at Mondrian London

Sea Containers at Mondrian London
£50 - £79
International

20 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PD

Built in 1977, Sea Containers House was a landmark long before Mondrian, but the US-based boutique hotel chain has done a good job of enhancing the building’s grandeur with a cruise-ship sized dining room that’s wittily decorated with, among other things, a yellow submarine suspended above the bar. Since opening in 2014, the menu’s all-encompassing range has been reined in a little, and it’s now focused on doing fewer things well. Small plates might promise crab on toast with avocado and pickled jalapeños, while salads look particularly enticing – shaved mushrooms with pine nuts, cheese and brown butter vinaigrette, for example. We also like the idea of large ‘family’ plates to share, such as double-cut heritage pork chop or leg of lamb roasted in the clay oven (enough for three people). Desserts tend to be witty takes on the classics, from profiteroles to rhubarb tart with Champagne jelly. “Amazing service” earns bonus points.

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Union Street Café

Union Street Café

Union Street Café
£30 - £49
Mediterranean
Bars
Italian

47-51 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 0BS

With Gordon Ramsay's name proudly displayed in bright blue neon on the wall outside, there's no mistaking who's behind this eatery on Union Street. Warehouse chic, exposed brick walls and concrete floors might still be all the rage in Ramsay land, but this place also comes with a warm, friendly vibe and "fabulous" service – "it's just lovely every time we go", says one fan. The menu brings the Mediterranean to Southwark in the shape of, say, warm buffalo mozzarella wrapped in speck or refreshingly light gazpacho with raspberries and strawberries. Pasta is made fresh each day (our tagliolini with marjoram and mussels was spot-on), while whole lemon sole with peperonata and datterini tomatoes shows some serious skills. To finish, any mamma would be proud of the baked peaches filled with chocolate and amaretti. Round things off in the basement cocktail bar and you'll leave content.

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OXO Tower Restaurant

OXO Tower Restaurant

OXO Tower Restaurant
£50 - £79
British

Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, London, SE1 9PH

“Great place for the four Cs: celebrating, chilling, chatting and crowd-watching”, says a fan of the Oxo Tower’s restaurant – a perfectly located terrace venue on the eighth floor of the monolith, which still boasts “one of the best views in London”. The menu promises sophisticated dishes in the modern idiom, from seared peppered beef with smoked sweetcorn purée, tenderstem broccoli and roast asparagus to sea bream poached in vanilla anise accompanied by a stuffed courgette flower. To finish, why not share a cherry soufflé with vanilla ice cream and Black Forest gâteau. The wine list, from Harvey Nics, is a cracker (although you won't find many bargains) and afternoon tea also looks “very tempting” – no wonder fans say it’s “definitely a place to take a person you want to impress”.

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Anchor & Hope

Anchor & Hope

Anchor & Hope
£30 - £49
Gastropub

36 The Cut, London, SE1 8LP

The ‘no reservations’ policy, dishevelled interiors and jam-packed tables aren’t enough to deter south London’s dining cognoscenti from patronising its best-known gastropub – although recent reports suggest the Anchor & Hope is getting ‘tired’ and ‘trading on its longevity’. Once you’ve negotiated the scrum at the bar and secured a coveted spot in t he no-frills dining room, you’ll be rewarded with a short (and rapidly depleted) blackboard menu of unreformed grub with a trencherman British accent – perhaps a ‘flavoursome’ warm salad of snails and bacon, Middle White pork faggot and mash, grilled lemon sole with samphire, or fried ox cheek. The enticing wine list has plenty below the £25 mark, although not everyone is happy drinking out of cheap tumblers. You can book for Sunday lunch, with a single sitting at 2pm sharp (very civilised).

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Tate Modern Restaurant

Tate Modern Restaurant

Tate Modern Restaurant
£50 - £79
British

Switch House, Level 9, Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG

This vast dining room is now Tate Modern’s flagship restaurant, on level nine of the twisted, off-kilter pyramid that is the Switch House. Boasting fabulous views (which disappear as you sit down), the stripped-back room is dressed in raw oak and bare concrete, leading to a minimalistic, canteen-style feel. A concise menu of carefully sourced Brit dishes includes line-caught wild sea bass and Swaledale lamb rump. Continuing the theme, our starter of Hampshire’s Chalk Stream trout was delicately assembled on roasted onions, white asparagus and pea purée: the slight bitterness of the asparagus married beautifully with sweet onions and soft flesh. The lamb is the star dish however, with heritage beetroot, celeriac purée and a knock-out white port sauce. For dessert, be sure to try the lemon brûlée tart with a glass of French Muscat. The service is well informed and the à la carte isn’t prohibitively expensive, but certainly comes at a ninth-floor premuim. The pièce de résistance is Hamish Anderson's 100-strong wine list, an oenophile's dream packed with both classic and unusual bottles. 

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OXO Tower Brasserie

OXO Tower Brasserie

OXO Tower Brasserie
£30 - £49
British

Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, London, SE1 9PH

High up on the eighth floor of the Oxo Tower, this fashion-conscious, brasserie-style eyrie offers the same great views as the posh restaurant next door, but prices are a fair bit cheaper and you can rub shoulders with the throngs of beautiful people in more convivial, easy-going surroundings. The vibrant menu ranges far and wide, picking up the likes of soft-shell crab with watermelon salad and black-bean dressing, Korean-style roast duck leg with a spring-onion pancake and kimchi, or grilled baby chicken with soft polenta, balsamic pickled onions and Gorgonzola butter. ‘Faultless service’ and the chance to dip into the neighbouring restaurant’s top-drawer wine list are undeniable plus points, while cool live jazz or mellow piano music adds extra sparkle in the evening – especially if you’re lounging on the terrace overlooking the river.

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Skylon

Skylon

Skylon
£50 - £79
British

Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX

With views overlooking the Thames and the South Bank, as well as its soft lighting and chic interiors, Skylon has long been a favourite among Londoners. But while the setting might tick all the boxes for destination dining, the cooking wasn't quite hitting the same high notes as the Royal Festival Hall location – which is why owners D&D London have drafted in Skylon’s original chef Helena Puolakka to overhaul the kitchen.

Puolakka, who also acts as chef patron of Aster in Victoria, comes up trumps with a menu of classic comfort food. The cooking might be uncomplicated, but ingredients are fastidiously sourced and executed to high standards – think a heap of fresh and sweet Devonshire crab served on toasted bread and smothered with brown crab mayonnaise, or a warming bowl of velvety white coco bean soup, accompanied by a slither of toast piled high with chopped mushrooms.

The best thing we ate was a classic dish of fish & chips from the pre-theatre menu: flaky Brixham haddock wrapped in a deep-fried casing of batter and served with mushy peas, tangy tartar sauce and never-bettered thick-cut chips, golden and crisp with every bite.

For afters, try sticky toffee pudding served with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream, or opt for Skylon’s upmarket take on a slice of apple pie, a disc of pastry crowned with slices of stewed apple and a scoop of milk ice cream.

Sweet staff and a wide-ranging international wine list are further draws, while a variety of menus (brunch, lunch, Sunday roast) solidify Skylon’s status as a reliable all-round performer in London’s ever-evolving restaurant scene.

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