Best restaurants in the City of London

Looking for a restaurant in the City? 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 in the City of London. This

Posted on 12 March 2019

Best restaurants in the City of London


Coq d

Coq d'Argent

£50 - £79
French
£30 - £49

1 Poultry, 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.

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The Ivy City Garden

The Ivy City Garden

£30 - £49
International

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.

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Luc

Luc's Brasserie

£50 - £79
French

17-22 Leadenhall Market, London, EC3V 1LR

Luc’s is as committedly French as Leadenhall Market is charmingly English, but the laid-back appeal of both market and bistro makes them natural companions. Above the ornate shopping arcades, Luc’s zinc-topped bar and Parisian prints conjure a “bustling atmosphere” that’s enhanced by close-quarters seating and a fragrant trail of garlicky snails and baked Camembert. Uncomplicated but carefully handled mains might include roast hake with pancetta and sauce vierge, entrecôte steak (“very good”) or Toulouse sausage with Puy lentil broth, while tuna niçoise is “excellent for a lighter lunch”. Capable staff help to make the experience a “pleasant” one – something to be valued just as much as the useful prix-fixe and blowsy puddings (try the îles flottantes scattered with pink praline). The wine list, put together with help from respected supplier Le Caves des Pyrene, is an all-French affair with the focus on small producers and regional gems.   

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1 Lombard Street Brasserie

1 Lombard Street Brasserie

£50 - £79
Modern European
£50 - £79

1 Lombard Street, London, EC3V 9AA

Next door to the Lord Mayor’s residence, 1 Lombard Street is firmly established in City diaries – although that’s not all down to the prime location or the handsome proportions of the Grade II-listed former banking hall. The Brasserie is both a habit and a pleasure for the local business community, who enjoy professional-grade people-watching under its high ceilings and Pietro Agostini cupola. Although 1776 (the fine-dining option) is well regarded, there’s nothing like a table in this buzzy all-day space for highly visible celebrations. The food might not steal the show, but standards are more than solid when it comes to crowd-pleasing iterations of Thai beef salad, grilled octopus with romanesco broccoli, veal milanese, no-nonsense steaks and curried fishcakes with lime yoghurt dip. Puddings are traditional standards, tidied up from the nursery and big on British fruit. By necessity, the wine list has got everyone covered, quick lunchers and big spenders included.

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Chiswell Street Dining Rooms

Chiswell Street Dining Rooms

£50 - £79
British

56 Chiswell Street, London, EC1Y 4SA

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

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Gatti

Gatti's City Point

Italian
Wine Bars

City Point, 1 Ropemaker Street, London, EC2Y 9AW

The original Gatti’s is no more, but its spirit has been successfully transplanted from Finsbury Avenue to Ropemaker Street. A casual wine bar/diner overlooking the square dishes out arancini and snacks, while the more formal basement room has echoes of sister restaurant Bolton’s with its red-leather banquettes and white tablecloths. Come here for familiar, easy-to-like starters of seafood salad, minestrone and San Daniele ham with Mozzarella (or melon), followed by calf’s liver with butter and sage, grilled Dover sole or homemade ravioli stuffed with chicken and veal. A sense of theatre means plenty of trolley action, from rib of beef to puddings galore, while a takeaway and delivery service soothes office workers in need of some casalinga-style comfort. Arrive early for Gatti’s convivial and sensibly priced City breakfast, or stay late if you fancy making inroads into its list of tasty Italian reds.

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Miyama City

Miyama City

£30 - £49
Sushi
Japanese
£30 - £49

17 Godliman Street, London, EC4V 5BD

With Toshiba’s UK headquarters nearby, it’s not surprising that this unreconstructed Japanese restaurant is popular with the local corporate crowd. Kimono-clad waitresses provide formal, ultra-polite service and the decor has hardly changed in nearly 30 years – so pull up a stool at the sushi counter or consider some theatrical, freshly sizzled teppanyaki prepared by knife-wielding chefs. For those who fancy something more elaborate, there’s a slightly-too-bright basement room where punters can work their way through soups, rice and noodle specialities, plus dishes such as chawan mushi (savoury egg custard), breaded pork tonkatsu, beef teriyaki or grilled sea bass fillet with salt. Bento boxes suit the lunchtime crowd and the sushi ‘happy hour’ brings nigiri from £1.50 a piece. To drink, check out the three-shot saké flights from a helpfully annotated drinks list.

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Cecconi

Cecconi's City of London at The Ned

£50 - £79
Italian

The Ned, 27 Poultry, London, EC2R 8AJ

Cecconi’s second London restaurant (following Cecconi’s Mayfair) finds its home in Soho House’s City hotel and dining complex, The Ned. The menu will be familiar to anyone who has eaten in one of Cecconi’s sister restaurants around the world (there are siblings in Berlin, Barcelona and Miami, to name just a few): light bites of cicchetti and salads, tartars and carpaccios as well as indulgent Italian staples of the veal milanese and lobster spaghetti ilk. The cooking impresses, whether puffy-battered calamari dipped in tangy tartar sauce, or a main of crab ravioli involving juicy shredded crabmeat wrapped in delicate parcels of pasta and bathed in a rich tomato sauce. Sides such as zucchini fritti and sautéed spinach are not to be missed, but be sure to save space for indulgent desserts such as profiteroles filled with creamy pistachio ice cream and drizzled with a warm chocolate sauce. While Cecconi’s City might not have the intimacy of the Mayfair original it definitely has all of the buzz, and if you want to prolong the fun of your evening you can head to The Nickel Bar, just a hop, skip and jump across the room. 

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City Social

City Social

£50 - £79
Modern European
One michelin star

24th Floor, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HQ

It may share the signature low-key glamour of Jason Atherton’s other Social restaurants, but the “most incredible views” from Tower 42 elevate City Social to statement status. With the fitting air of a 1920s boardroom, this dining room is custom-built for “business entertaining” – although it has a surprising intimacy given the scale of the setting. Minor grumbles, including music that’s “too loud” in the bar, are dwarfed by readers’ enthusiasm for executive chef Paul Walsh’s oh-so-pretty plates of Michelin-starred food – from cured Scottish salmon with watermelon, saké, cucumber carpaccio, soy and wasabi to tarte Tatin with caramel sauce for sharing. In between, he brings considerable experience to bear on interest-piquing main courses such as saddle of Lincolnshire rabbit with Parma ham, trompette mushrooms, spelt, lovage emulsion and black garlic, line-caught halibut with fondant potato, turnips, crispy prawns and tenderstem broccoli or heritage potato and caramelised onion terrine with Jerusalem artichoke and walnuts. Cocktails are classy, and the wine list is designed to accommodate high rollers – without putting everybody else off.

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Cinnamon Kitchen City

Cinnamon Kitchen City

£30 - £49
Indian

9 Devonshire Square, 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.

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Angler

Angler

£50 - £79
Fish
One michelin star

South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, 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.

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Duck & Waffle

Duck & Waffle

£50 - £79
International

110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY

Although it’s only two floors above Sushisamba, and shares the same incredible views, Duck & Waffle has a noticeably more relaxed vibe compared to its Japanese-fusion neighbour – and with 24/7 opening as its trump card, it’s also a shoo-in for “active Londoners” living la vida loca. Food-wise, the “creative menu” plays fast and loose with the world larder, and the daring, innovative flavours are guaranteed to please (and challenge) the taste buds. Irresistible snacks of sweet/savoury bacon-wrapped dates and crispy polenta with Parmesan and truffle get things rolling, while goat meatballs in thyme broth or warm ox-cheek doughnuts with apricot jam maintain the gutsy theme – although “nothing beats the eponymous house speciality”, a mouth-watering pile-up of waffles, confit duck leg and a fried egg. If you make it to dessert, we recommend the rich salted caramel choux buns. Chatty, knowledgeable staff are also happy to advise on the ‘wham-bam’ cocktail list: “Worth every penny”, concludes one fan of Duck and Waffle.

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La Dame de Pic at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square

La Dame de Pic at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square

£50 - £79
French
One michelin star

Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, London, EC3N 4AJ

This highly ambitious French from Anne-Sophie Pic has proved its worth by gaining a Michelin star in the 2018 guide. Combine that with its location in the grand former London Port Authority building, and this restaurant is a mighty proposition. The high-ceiling dining room is divided up by towering, mirror-clad pillars and handsome banquettes, and populated by hushed, affable staff serving City types and gastro-pilgrims. It could all be quite intimidating, but is softened by white surfaces and delicate paper art pieces.

It goes without saying that prices are steep (all starters hover around £20) but, thanks to Pic’s pedigree and sheer inventiveness, the food is on the money. Head chef Luca Piscazzi (Pic visits monthly) takes British produce and combines it with supreme ingredients and techniques from across the world to conjure arresting, inventive flavours. Mackerel is delicately seared teppanyaki-style then combined with matcha dashi and sherry vinegar, for example, resulting in a beautifully presented balance of intense fish and light, tart flavours. Highlights include Pic’s signature berlingots (pasta parcels of goats’ cheese and mascarpone) and her fantastically constructed millefeuille dessert, although during our meal everything delivered eye-widening flavours. The staff will capably lead you to engaging wine pairings, which leaves our only criticisms being the hushed reverence of it all and slightly drafty dining room (unsurprising, given its dimensions). If gastronomic thrills are what you seek however, we doubt you’ll notice these quibbles.

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Yauatcha City

Yauatcha City

£50 - £79
Chinese
Dim Sum

Broadgate Circle, 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.

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Café Spice Namasté

Café Spice Namasté

£30 - £49
Indian
£30 - £49

16 Prescot Street, London, E1 8AZ

High ceilings, Victorian brass lamps and swagged curtains in spicy shades create a blend of east and west that's as seamless as the fusion in Cyrus Todiwala's "lovely, unusual Indian food". The high-profile chef is also a renowned champion of British produce, which appears in everything from the homemade pickles and chutneys to the prime fillet from the Duke of Buccleuch's estate that goes into a fiery beef tikka. Elsewhere, Goan flavours are to the fore in dishes such as a classic 'white' king prawn curry with organic red rice or spicy Chiltern pork vindalho, although regional riffs range from a luxurious Parsee-style chicken curry with puréed nuts and coconut to tamarind-marinated duck tikka from Kerala. Café Spice Namasté has long championed the pairing of wine with spicy food and there are helpful tasting notes on the list, which includes a Soul Tree Shiraz from India's Nasik Valley.

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Sushisamba City

Sushisamba City

£50 - £79
South American
Japanese

Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate (38-39th floor), 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.

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Oklava

Oklava

£30 - £49
Turkish

74 Luke Street, London, EC2A 4PY

Lauded as a “great modern take on Turkish food”, cosy Oklava takes its culinary inspiration from chef Selin Kiazim’s native roots. Sophisticated small plates are the order of the day, from complementary bread with Medjool date butter or nibbles of chilli-roast cauliflower studded with “jewels of pistachio” to meaty braised octopus with ricotta, green olives, honey and “tangy” pickled caper shoots or well-seasoned char-grilled chicken with Kayseri pastirma dressing and thyme. We also rate the herb-flecked lahmacun (Turkish ‘pizza’) and the crispy pomegranate-glazed lamb breast with yoghurt, although desserts such as a rather unimaginative peach and vanilla borek with hot white chocolate and poached peach can let the side down. Prices are affordable, friendly staff are happy to guide novices through the menu, and the well-curated wine list features some “very interesting” Turkish tipples. Also check out innovative cocktails such as Smoky Mangal (Cypriot brandy, charcoal syrup, lemon and bitters).

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Goodman City

Goodman City

£50 - £79
North American
Steak

11 Old Jewry, London, EC2R 8DU

"Great steak how it should be" is the big selling point at this "reliable New York-inspired steakhouse" – an upmarket City carnivore, where USDA 150-day corn-fed Angus beef takes pride of place. "Absolutely faultless" T-bones, rib-eyes, sirloins and the like are priced by weight or you might choose to luxuriate over a surf 'n' turf of USDA fillet with lobster and king prawns. Upcycled side dishes include mac 'n' cheese with truffle or lobster, and everything from corn to plum tomatoes is given the grill treatment. Starters aside, pickings are thin if you're not here for steak: a burger, a chicken dish, the day's fish, and that covers it. The beef-friendly selection of wines includes Bordeaux from the Enomatic and classy Californians at elevated prices, while knowledgeable service "takes care of everything". The darkly sexy decor looks more cheerful after dark, when red leather and soft lighting create an inviting ambience.

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Bife

Bife

£30 - £49
Steak
Argentinian

40-42 Middlesex Street, London, E1 7EX

The Square Mile is fuelled by steak but this newcomer has a warmth and homeliness often absent from the City’s more corporate-focused steakhouses. This has less to do with the standard-issue  masculine, moody interior – think dark wood tables and deep red leather banquettes – and a lot to do with the incredibly friendly staff. The restaurant is run by a team of three brothers who’ll greet you like an old friend and perhaps even take shots with you at the end of your meal.

 

Free-range prime Argentinian beef arrives from a central charcoal grill as marbled, smoky ribeye and lean and tender rump, among other cuts. Pep up your steak with sauces such as béarnaise or chimichurri and add sides such as sweet potato fries and mac ‘n’ cheese. It’s not all about the steaks though, with other options including chicken escalope with salsa and cheese, slow-cooked short ribs and a peppering of veggie and vegan dishes such as grilled aubergine with brown miso, couscous, chilli and spinach.

 

Fiendishly sugary desserts include Nutella-stuffed crêpes topped with vanilla ice cream and heavenly dulce de leche, while the Argentinean-focused wine list has a good showing of Malbec. There’s a G&T menu too, featuring 16 different kinds of gin.

 

Reasonable pricing, a buzzy atmosphere and a handy location just a few minutes’ walk from Liverpool Street make Bife a worthy City pit stop for a steak, and is a restaurant where you’ll truly feel welcomed, whether you’re suited and booted or not.  

 

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The Mercer

The Mercer

£50 - £79
British

34 Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AY

Built for business, The Mercer’s black-and-white dining room has all the comforts required to sustain a working lunch or dinner, without the pretence of a leisure destination. It’s a balance that works for regulars who value straightforward British cooking and smartly paced service over gentle design and oodles of innovation. The menu offers some fond nods to the past including London ‘particular’ soup, rotating daily specials (corned beef hash means it’s Monday) and savouries listed alongside the cheese. Some ideas such as oysters with cucumber, gin and dill dressing are a little lighter, while mains major on simple grills, roast fish or venison, plus the house beef and Guinness pie. To conclude, desserts of vanilla rice pudding with roasted nectarines or white and dark chocolate mousse with clementine are largely of the soft and comforting variety. A neat selection of English bottles is a point of interest on an otherwise rather straight-laced list.

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Hawksmoor Guildhall

Hawksmoor Guildhall

£50 - £79
Steak
British

10 Basinghall Street, London, EC2V 5BQ

Owners Huw Gott and Will Beckett play knowingly to the City crowd at this branch of their beefy Hawksmoor chain. Dark panelling, acres of parquet and a distinct lack of embellishment conjure up an old-fashioned chophouse vibe, though service is satisfyingly modern – ensuring “no fuss or disappointments”. “Fantastic” breakfasts are done with a level of commitment that makes booking advisable for sharing platters of bacon chop, sausages, black pudding and trimmings or cornflake milkshakes with an optional slug of bourbon. At lunch and dinner, flawless British steaks (“always cooked to perfection”) are further enhanced by the likes of anchovy hollandaise, buttered sprout tops or beef-dripping chips. On either side, there might be roast scallops with white port and garlic, plus desserts such as a chocolate and honeycomb ‘Crunchy Bar’. Dive into the cocktail list and you’ll know all about Hawksmoor’s good, strong spirits, while a short bar menu caters to time-pressed carnivores.

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Coya Angel Court

Coya Angel Court

£50 - £79
Peruvian

31-33 Throgmorton Street, London, EC2N 2AT

Mayfair, the UAE… and now the Square Mile: diners in the world’s well-heeled honeypots can’t get enough of Arjun Waney’s Peruvian spin on his phenomenally successful Zuma concept. Here in the Square Mile, softer acoustics make for a more-relaxed mood than at the ear-splitting original on Piccadilly, but otherwise the formula is pretty much the same: a bar serving lethal cocktails, a dining room decorated in a colour supplement approximation of South American chic, and a menu of small sharing plates that ticks off the continent’s culinary greatest hits: ceviche and steak, tacos and tiraditos. But while there was no faulting the quality of any of the ingredients we ate, much of the subtlety was drowned out by the sort of assertive seasoning that suggested that this is food that needs to shout through the fog of a third Pisco Sour. Skewers of springy ox heart with red pepper and parsley, and spicy beef fillet with shallots and star anise, both alas tasted mainly of their very savoury accompaniments. Our fish dishes were better: soft-fleshed tuna ceviche with sesame, and a pretty arrangement of kingfish tiradito with truffle oil, had been dressed with restraint. Best of all were tender tamarind-glazed pork ribs stacked like a pile of Jenga and festooned with fresh chilli and cashew nuts – as well as the avocados pounded together in a pestle and mortar at the table to make fresh guacamole. But the most memorable thing about our meal was the friendliness of the staff, especially our charming sommelier who was as happy to recommend saké as Sauvignon to match the riot of South American flavours in the food.  

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Mei Ume

Mei Ume

£50 - £79
Japanese
Chinese

10 Trinity Square, London, EC3N 4AJ

A hotel restaurant offering Chinese and Japanese dishes on the same menu might sound horribly like a food-court buffet, but this super-swish dining room in the City’s Four Seasons is a delight for deep pockets. With senior chefs culled from the kitchens of Royal China, Sake No Hana and Yauatcha, diners are in very safe hands.

Finely turned-out sushi ranges from classic eel maki to the addictive umami hit of spicy tuna with truffle karashi and parmesan flakes. Elsewhere, the menu divides into conventional starters (‘small eats’) and mains. From the small eats, go for springy squid deep-fried in a subtly flavoured batter of salted egg, and steamed diver scallops, still soft and quivery; then from the bigger plates, Szechuan chicken and wasabi king prawns, both the right side of spicy. Chinese cooking done to this high a standard is a rarity in the City, but be warned that you’ll pay handsomely for it: a basket of eight prettily pleated dim sum clocks in at £18, and small portions overall meant that we cast envious looks every time the house speciality whole Peking duck was paraded around the room.

Still, no one expects dinner at the Four Seasons to come cheap, and the setting is stunning, with soaring pillars and embroidered silk screens making the most of the high ceilings. To drink, a neighbouring bar is stocked with saké, shochu and Japanese whisky, while the Euro-leaning wine list has suggestions for specific dishes. Along with La Dame de Pic next door, the Four Seasons has brought gastronomy and glamour to a neglected corner of the Square Mile.

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José Pizarro Broadgate

José Pizarro Broadgate

£50 - £79
Tapas
Spanish

36 Broadgate Circle, 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.

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The Don Restaurant

The Don Restaurant

£50 - £79
Modern European
£30 - £49

The Courtyard, 20 St. Swithins Lane, London, EC4N 8AD

Step off atmospheric St Swithin’s Street into The Don’s spacious foyer and prepare yourself for the sort of assured, personable and utterly grown-up experience that is a rarity among independent restaurants these days. Much of this is down to owners Robert and Robyn Wilson, who have been at the helm here for more than 18 years and in whom a veritable army of loyal City lunchers still place their trust.

 

With its vivid bursts of abstract artwork from John Hoyland, the well-spaced dining room has a personality that many of its corporate neighbours lack – and it’s adroitly manned by an ever-smooth team of waiting staff. The kitchen covers all bases, from the impressively inventive (tender octopus with different textures of tomato, lemon oil and saffron aïoli) to the reliably classic, such as buttery, deboned Dover sole meunière and a perfectly executed crème brûlée. Our only complaint is that portion sizes don’t always do justice to the City prices – our tiny pieces of monkfish with mussel ragoût and saffron cream left us needing to fill up on new potatoes.

 

The Wilsons are Kiwi vintners, and their love of wine is reflected in a lengthy global list, including bottles from their Trinity Hill vineyard in New Zealand. For a less formal experience, the Don Bistro downstairs has steak tartare and coq au vin, while the bar serves 30 wines by the glass alongside Adnams beer and croque monsieurs. We’d also suggest calling in at their sister site, St Swithins Wine Shippers, where four dozen wines are available to sample from an Enomatic machine.

 

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Lutyens Grill at The Ned

Lutyens Grill at The Ned

British

The Ned, 27 Poultry, London, EC2R 8AJ

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

Attentive staff, a slick atmosphere and a well-heeled menu ensure Lutyens Grill is perfectly matched to its suited-and-booted City clientele.

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M Threadneedle Street

M Threadneedle Street

£50 - £79
Steak

2-3 Threadneedle Walk, 60 Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8HP

Bold in scale, ambition and outlook, Martin Williams’ multifaceted restaurant is a hotbed of unashamed consumption – from its full-throttle cellar to the meat room lit up like a boutique window: “the layout lets you see and be seen”, notes one reader (we advise using the online ‘table tour’ to pick your preferred spot). Beyond the buzz, there’s good food to be had, so prepare to be surprised by a selection of “rare dishes cooked to perfection”. The ‘raw’ menu might yield red prawns with black curry, coconut gel and coconut crumble or smoked Wagyu tartare with apples and foie gras, while grills are (for the most part) a steak-collector’s delight – at a price. Martin Williams used to run Gaucho, which explains why Argentinean rump and an international ‘kilo’ board are offered alongside Japanese kobe fillet at £1 per gram. “Personable, well-intended service” gets the nod, and cocktails come “highly recommended”.

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Caravaggio

Caravaggio

£30 - £49
Italian
£30 - £49

107-112 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3A 4DP

For two decades Caravaggio has been a favourite with Leadenhall locals, not least on account of its grandiose, art deco-style setting, much appreciated by readers as an “exceptional” place for discussing the day’s affairs. It’s a very well-proportioned room, with its own sense of drama provided by big windows, a flamboyant central staircase – leading to a mezzanine floor – and a stylish marble bar. On the culinary front Caravaggio’s “good-sized” dishes chime with the sort of up-to-date offerings served in trendier surrounds across town. Start with Jerusalem artichoke soup, al dente asparagus with quail’s egg and hollandaise, or octopus carpaccio and you’ll get the measure of a kitchen that challenges the stereotypes of the City Italian. To follow, there’s a comforting saffron risotto with asparagus, grilled calf’s liver with luganica sausage, or nicely sauced caramelised breast of Gressingham duck with celeriac mash. Desserts include Amalfi lemon tart with soft meringue, and a glass of Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos ’08 – a bargain at under a fiver. There’s further value in a set menu for under £20.

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Hawksmoor Spitalfields

Hawksmoor Spitalfields

£50 - £79
Steak
British

157a Commercial Street, London, E1 6BJ

Spitalfields is where it all started for Hawksmoor founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott in 2006 and while their newer restaurants became ever-more glamorous, this blueprint was still recognisably a City steakhouse. A recent refurb has brought it into line with its glossy siblings with acres of green leather and an all-round sheen, but what still sets Hawksmoor apart from the competition it spawned is the hubbub of happy diners anticipating some of the best steak in London, smoky from the chargrill and imbued with more character than the cast list of Game of Thrones. Non-carnivores should investigate such fresh-tasting treats as a mound of white crab meat piled on to thin crumpets, or three breadcrumb-scattered scallops served in the shell with a white port and garlic sauce. There’s no denying that Hawksmoor is expensive, but portions are so big that a steak and a couple of sides (treacle-sweet bacon, squeaky spring greens) should hit the spot for most appetites – though who could resist the lure of peanut butter shortbread topped with a smooth scoop of salted-caramel ice cream and concealing a well of syrupy sauce?

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New Street Grill

New Street Grill

£50 - £79
Steak

16a New Street, London, EC2M 4TR

“You’re treated so nicely and not rushed at all”, notes a fan of the New Street Grill – the “calm and cosy” flagship of D&D London's prestigious Old Bengal Warehouse development. Rich warm tones, soft lighting and comfy leather booths set the tone, with views over the street adding to the restaurant’s appeal. The kitchen prides itself on “great-value” Josper-grilled steaks, with knowledgeable waiters talking diners through the different cuts on offer: take your pick from, say, a 42-day dry-aged Hereford rib-eye or 40-day aged USDA Black Angus sirloin. While veggies might struggle, fish lovers have plenty of choice – dressed crab, grilled lobster and roast cod with Josper-smoked Jerusalem artichoke are all available. Seasonal desserts are also a hit – we recommend the poached pear and pecan sundae with butterscotch and cinnamon ice cream. Weekend brunch and a children’s menu get the thumbs-up, while the 500-strong wine list is sure to keep everyone happy.

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Sweetings

Sweetings

£50 - £79
Fish

39 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4N 4SA

The world turns on, but Sweetings refuses to turn with it – and that’s why it’s still the centre of the restaurant universe for a certain breed of customer. One of the City’s clutch of fabulous old-timers, this veteran has been around for more than a century, offering shellfish, seafood and savouries in two basic but likeable dining rooms. There are some things the owners couldn’t change even if they wanted to, and the time-warp factor accounts for a few missteps – although it also yields a sense of clandestine luxury that persists from days gone by. To start, West Mersea oysters or dressed crab are the safe options, ahead of simple but generous plates of fish (either grilled, poached or fried). Puddings are straight out of the mythical nursery, while cheese or savouries beg to be ordered from a menu headed ‘bill of fare’. The wine list is suitably French.

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Gunpowder Spitalfields

Gunpowder Spitalfields

£30 - £49
Indian

11 White's Row, London, E1 7NF

On a backstreet behind Spitalfields Market, this cosy no-bookings Indian may be small and unassuming, but the menu is certainly explosive. “Great food, lovely atmosphere, fantastic service”, exclaims one fan – and we share his enthusiasm for Gunpowder’s spicy offer.

Set against an unfussy backdrop of exposed brickwork and steel chairs, the concise menu is rich in rustic Indian sharing dishes inspired by family recipes. Readers have singled out the venison and vermicelli ‘doughnut’, the aloo chat and the “sticky and sweet” Nagaland pork ribs with crunchy tamarind kachumber, but we’re fans of the ‘chutney cheese sandwich’ and the organic baby chicken char-grilled in tandoori spices.

The short dessert list also offers something for everyone: molten spice chocolate cake, comforting ‘old monk’ rum pudding or refreshing passion fruit and mint granita. Wine straddle the globe, but don’t ignore the Asian-inspired cocktails, made with ingredients such as masala Coca-Cola. “Reasonable prices” seal the deal.

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Bravas Tapas

Bravas Tapas

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

St Katharine Docks, London, E1W 1AT

It may be softened by candelabra and fresh flowers, but the robust, artfully faded brick-and-iron marina setting is unlikely to put anyone in mind of Spanish sunshine, almonds and piquillo peppers. Nevertheless, Bravas Tapas lives up to its name, even though it beats to a vaguely avant-garde drum. Artisan snacks are what you’d expect (pickles, anchovies, Ibérico ham), but the interest builds as the kitchen rolls out its specialities – perhaps foie gras ‘crema catalana’ with cherries and Bellota ham, Malaguena salad with pineapple, fennel and sherry or blue cheese croquetas with pickled carrot salpicón. BT’s seafood speaks of wider, cleaner waters than the Thames, but dishes such as grilled octopus with toasted garlic and olive oil feel just right. Whipped-to-order alioli has been a signature since day one, as have the tongs with which you’re expected to pick everything up – not recommended with the caramelised brioche pudding and passion fruit sorbet.  

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Brigadiers

Brigadiers

£50 - £79
Indian

1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, London, EC4N 8AR

The headlining act of the Bloomberg Arcade, Brigadiers is the hotly anticipated new restaurant from JKS, aka siblings Jyotin, Karam and Sunaina Sethi, who have a Midas touch for whatever they choose to invest in (Lyle’s, Sabor, Bao, Bubbledogs) or front themselves (Hoppers, Trishna, Gymkhana – and now Brigadiers).  

Brigadiers is an Indian barbecue restaurant and sports bar, pitched in mood midway between the cheap thrills of Hoppers and the Mayfair flash of Gymkhana (prices, however, are definitely more Gymkhana). And like all the Sethis’ projects, it is precision-tuned to the location. Here in the City that means two bars, three private rooms, a pool room with a self-service whisky dispenser, plus TVs locked to Sky Sports. The inspiration is apparently the army mess bars of India, although it may as well be the fantasy of a teenage boy.

Except this being JKS, the food and drinks are far more sophisticated than that. The long menu is tailor-made for sharing in groups, not least because you’ll want to order as much as possible from the half-dozen sections, from ‘beer snacks’ and ‘sizzlers and kebabs’ to ‘steak, ribs and chops’ and ‘rotisserie and wood oven’.

There are two show-stopping must-orders. Beef chuck bone-marrow keema, sloppy and slippery, is scooped up with chilli-cheese kulcha, which taste like a stuffed pizza crust. We also put these to good use chasing the sauce left over from barbecue butter chicken wings, smeared with ghee and cashew cream like sublime, softly flavoured satay.

Other highlights included the flavour riot of masala chicken skins with lime pickle, and from the more substantial end of the menu, rib-eye steak beautifully spiced in a dry tandoori masala. Lettuce dressed in yoghurt and mint provided fresh relief.

To drink, there are lagers and stouts on tap, cocktails on draught, and 15 wines by the glass from a global list that quickly ascends past the £40 mark all the way to a pay-cheque blowing fine wine selection that, for once, doesn’t focus on Bordeaux and Burgundy – like everything else in this raucous newcomer, a hot blast of fun for City dining, especially if you’ve a glass in hand on the terrace when the sun hits at 5pm.   

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Blacklock City

Blacklock City

£30 - £49
British

13 Philpot Lane , London, EC3M 8AA

Considering the popularity of the original Blacklock in Soho, it’s no surprise that the chophouse has added to its portfolio. This City branch takes a larger form, seating 100 covers in an industrial-style basement of exposed brickwork and concrete floors with a crowd-pleasing, eclectic soundtrack. Founder Gordon Ker has made room on the menu for some new additions, such as the tangy pig’s head on toast to start, topped with gherkins, chilli pepper and lashings of gravy. Blacklock’s signature ‘all in’ option has wisely not been messed with and remains a must-order: a perfectly cooked stack of beef, lamb and pork chops served atop crisp, herb-flecked flatbreads, which have soaked up the meat juices. Cocktails can be found at the bulky brass bar upon entering, with sips including the Pink Lady (cider brandy, cider syrup and Prosecco) impressing, and all for just £5 each. Meanwhile, desserts add to the homely feel with vanilla cheesecake atop a crumbly biscuit base, served tableside out of a tray. Friendly, fun staff, reasonable prices and the option to book (unlike the original) cement Blacklock City’s position as a cut above the rest – we wouldn’t be surprised to see more.

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Temper City

Temper City

£30 - £49
Steak
South American
Barbecue

2 Angel Court, 30 Throgmorton Street, London, EC2R 7HJ

Temper Soho opened to rave reviews in 2016, so we’re not surprised that BBQ-loving chef Neil Rankin has produced a sibling site in City development Angel Court. Next door to Coya, this much-larger Temper sticks to the meaty formula, serving up a range of tacos and flatbreads to share.
The name refers to Rankin’s commitment to tempering his meats, whether it’s Essex beef, Yorkshire pork or Welsh lamb. Take your pick from a high-octane cuisine-hopping menu that runs from must-order blowtorched mackerel tacos freshened with sweet white miso and mashed avocado to little bowls of Thai-style larb combining roasted rice with ‘burnt ends’ for a spicy clash of textures. We recommend ordering the full quota of sauces and finishing off with a gooey-centred cookie, baked in a cast-iron pan.
The wide-ranging selection of gins will entice booze hounds, but there are also soft options including a tart apple and grapefruit spritz. A pop soundtrack adds to Temper’s appeal, while enthusiastic, committed staff seal the deal at this thoroughly modern BBQ joint.

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Som Saa

Som Saa

£30 - £49
Thai

43a Commercial Street, London, E1 6BD

Andy Oliver might be best known from the 2009 series of Masterchef, but he worked with David Thompson at Nahm – still the best Thai restaurant London has ever had – as well as spending two years at Bangkok’s even more highly rated Bo.Lan.

Oliver’s calling card is authentic northern Thai cooking, producing flavours unfamiliar to most Londoners. Lon gapi relish of shrimp paste with wild ginger and coconut cream was oily-rich, and satisfyingly dripped off crunchy crudités. Tamarind dipping sauce for a plump grilled chicken leg was worlds away from the usual sweet gloop, simultaneously sharp, sweet and sour. Burmese-style pork belly and shoulder curry arrived as a comforting pot of melty meat, but there was no hiding from the slap-in-the-face sour heat of som tam Isaan, a green papaya salad with snake beans, tomatoes and fermented fish sauce. 

Too full for dessert (palm-sugar ice cream with grilled banana, say), we opted for a Dragon’s Milk cocktail (a heady combination of sticky-rice rum, Kahlúa, coconut cream, condensed milk, salt and sesame) from a list boasting interesting takes on the classics. Previously a no-bookings joint, Som Saa thankfully now takes bookings for parties of any size.

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Galvin La Chapelle

Galvin La Chapelle

£50 - £79
French
One michelin star

35 Spital Square, London, E1 6DY

Set in the “atmospheric” surrounds of a grandiose converted Victorian chapel, this Michelin-starred, Grade II-listed high flyer from the Galvin brothers comes complete with stone archways, iron chandeliers and awe-inspiring “ecclesiastical vaulted architecture”. As such, it provides a suitably lavish backdrop for a menu of highly worked, “expertly prepared” and intricately presented dishes culled from the lexicon of modern French cuisine – from the signature Dorset crab lasagne with creamy beurre nantais and pea shoots or pressed terrine of Landes guinea fowl, foie gras and Bayonne ham with sauce gribiche to tagine of Bresse pigeon with couscous, confit lemon and harissa sauce or poached chicken breast with herb gnocchi, kale and sauce suprême. To conclude, the perfectly caramelised tarte Tatin with Normandy crème fraîche is a must, while the enviable cheese trolley provides the perfect excuse for a glass of Hermitage La Chapelle from the mighty French-led wine list – although a few more “modestly priced” offerings would be appreciated. Some dissenters find Galvin La Chapelle “bland and deeply earnest”, relying on “snob value and French-derived gravitas”, but we’re with those who reckon it’s a triumph in the City.  

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