Best Riverside Restaurants in London

When the opportunity arises, you have to grasp good weather in London with both hands. A great restaurant next to the Thames or a pretty spot on a canal is always a winner, so our selection of London’s best waterside restaurants is the best place

Updated on 23 May 2018

Best Riverside Restaurants in London

Find your perfect waterside restaurant or bar in London with SquareMeal’s handpicked selection of the very best waterside restaurants and bars in London. There is nothing more relaxing than enjoying a meal or a drink next to the waterside and with the majestic River Thames running right through its centre; London has some spectacular waterside drinking and dining to offer. Every one of the restaurants and bars in London featured in SquareMeal’s list of London’s top waterside restaurants and bars has been tried and tested by food critics and our own customers so check out the reviews and book a table online with SquareMeal today.

 


The Bingham

The Bingham

£50 - £79
British

61-63 Petersham Road, London, TW10 6UT

With its stamped silver ceiling and picture windows overlooking serene gardens and the majestic Thames beyond, the bar at the boutique Bingham hotel is one of the loveliest for miles around – but there are plenty of reasons to eat in the pretty gold-hued restaurant too. At lunchtime, the dining room bustles with punters taking advantage of demon fixed-price deals, while dinner is more of a special-occasion affair. Expect grand ingredients sculpted into “elegant” modern Anglo-European dishes – from scallop ceviche with lime and chilli salsa to Black Angus rump with smoked aubergine, girolles and beer-pickled onions or turbot with sauce vierge, Alsace bacon and summer peas. The “fabulous” wine list includes plenty of oddities, which the sommelier is always keen to share with his customers. It’s a tad expensive, but “great service and great staff” ensure that The Bingham “never disappoints”.

More about The Bingham

Book now

London Shell Co

London Shell Co

£30 - £49
Fish

The Prince Regent, Sheldon Square, W2 6EP

If you love both seafood and dining with a difference, we suggest a trip with London Shell Co. Following several pop ups, the seafood specialist now resides aboard The Prince Regent, moored next to Paddington Station. Have a set lunch (in every sense), or wait until dinner for a return cruise to Camden on Regent’s Canal. The miniscule kitchen serves up sparkling, sea-conjuring Carlingford oysters and the seasonal likes of butter-poached hake or vegetable ratatouille. On our visit, hit-and-miss dishes ranged from a delicious mussel, cockle and cuttlefish salad imbued with the sweet tang of red onion, to a creamy combination of smoked cods’ roe and leeks with a chemical aftertaste. Tight tables and terrible acoustics are drawbacks but overall, the boat has a charming atmosphere buoyed along by its small crew. Drinks celebrate Britain via Somerset cider and sparkling Hampshire wine, alongside interesting European bottles to dilute your sea legs.

More about London Shell Co

Book now

Skylon

Skylon

£50 - £79
British

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

Positioned inside the Royal Festival Hall, with views onto the Thames and the Southbank below, swish Skylon is "fantastic if you want to celebrate in style" – although it's equally handy for a pre-theatre bite, a business lunch or something a little more leisurely. The kitchen's forte is uncomplicated dishes cooked to a high standard, although the ideas themselves strike us as rather safe. Our pan-fried scallops with coriander bhaji were more memorable than a starter of salmon tartare with cucumber salad and a giant quenelle of caviar, while mains included an exceptional plate of gilthead bream with thick slices of chorizo and garlicky aïoli. ?For afters, try treacle tart with marmalade ice cream. The decor is "stunning" (especially at night), staff "cater for your every need" and the drinks list is "out of this world" – in short, Skylon is a solid all-round performer.

More about Skylon

Book now

The Summerhouse

The Summerhouse

£30 - £49
Cafes

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

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

More about The Summerhouse

Book now

The River Café

The River Café

£50 - £79
Italian
One michelin star

Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London, W6 9HA

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

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

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

 

More about The River Café

Book now

The Lighterman

The Lighterman

£30 - £49
Modern European

3 Granary Square, N1C 4BH

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

More about The Lighterman

Book now

Cantina del Ponte

Cantina del Ponte

£30 - £49
Italian
£30 - £49

The Butlers Wharf Building, 36c Shad Thames, London, SE1 2YE

A resplendent painted mural runs along the back wall of this bona fide Italian, depicting the journey of provisions from port to marketplace to kitchen – a subtle nod, perhaps, to the philosophy of this riverside ‘cantina’ from the D&D London group. Low ceilings create a cosy atmosphere that chimes perfectly with the rustic Italian cooking on offer – imagine ‘Tuscany by the Thames’ or something similar. ‘Classics’ such as tagliolini with crab and chilli are always in demand, but also look out for refined seasonal specialities ranging from paccheri pasta with spicy ’nduja sausage and pecorino to polenta-crusted sea bass with fennel and caperberries. Italian breads are baked each day, the ‘menu del giorno’ is a steal (£12.50/15.50 for two/three courses), and the all-Italian wine list shows confidence in regional grapes, with plenty of good drinking below £30.

More about Cantina del Ponte

Book now

River View

River View

£30 - £49
Chinese

New Crane Wharf, New Crane Place, London, E1W 3TU

There are few tables in Wapping more impressive than those on the River View’s terrace, particularly when the sun’s shining & your bottle of Chablis & whole sea bass are beckoning. Over the last two decades, this Thames-side Chinese has built up a loyal following for its seafood & more besides: soft-shell crabs with chilli & salt, monkfish hotpot with ginger & spring onion or scallops in black bean sauce take some beating, though crispy duck with pancakes, spare ribs & spring rolls doubtless sneak onto many an order. Set lunches & ‘early bird’ specials (£15.60 for three courses) should leave you with change to spend on the fine wine list. It can seem a little dreary inside, although the blue & black interior is more alluring by night.

More about River View

Book now

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”.

More about OXO Tower Restaurant

Book now

Gaucho Richmond

Gaucho Richmond

£50 - £79
Steak
Argentinian
£50 - £79

The Towpath, Richmond Riverside, London, TW10 4UJ

Swaggering and staggering distance from central Richmond, this branch of the Argentinian grill chain proves popular with the area’s macho men and their glamorous WAGs. Keep to the light, zingy fish ceviches and tiraditos for starters, to leave space for the main attraction. The steaks are beautifully cooked, with minimal fuss. Frankly, ordering anything else (sea bream with serrano ham, prawn risotto) is to miss the point. Puds are substantial, very sweet and largely unnecessary. The drinks list is full of punchy Argentinian wines and much-admired cocktails, so it’s a shame this beautifully sited venue on the Thames towpath no longer serves drinks to non-diners.

More about Gaucho Richmond

Book now

Gotto

Gotto

£30 - £49
Italian

27 East Bay Lane, Here East, London, E15 2GW

A great location for a summery meal, this low-lit, casual Italian restaurant near the Olympic Park boasts canal-side alfresco tables and outstanding Negronis. Inside, an open kitchen with counter seating (plus table service) makes for a buzzing atmosphere. The short daily changing menu is divided into sharing plates, pastas and risottos, alla brace (barbecue) and dolci. Expect hearty seasonal pasta dishes such as courgette-flower ravioli, alongside many Italian tapas including silky burrata and Venetian-style soppressata (dry salami) – order five or six of these small plates as a starter for two, with pillow-soft homemade focaccia. Gotto’s must-order dish is its rosemary risotto with wild mushrooms: thoroughly delicious and full of unusual flavour. Another highlight is the simple-sounding goats’ milk ice cream, the mousse-like dessert matched with sweet blackberries and counterbalanced by sharp balsamic vinegar. Drink cocktails or allow the friendly staff to guide you through the all-Italian wine list. 

In a city brimming with casual Italian eateries, Gotto takes the biscotti.

More about Gotto

Book now

The Grapes

The Grapes

Under £30
Pubs
British

76 Narrow Street, London, E14 8BP

With ‘not a straight floor, and hardly a straight line’ in its whole constitution (as Dickens put it in Our Mutual Friend), The Grapes has ‘olde-worlde’ charm in spades (as Dickens didn’t put it). It’s a real pleasure to introduce friends and out-of-town visitors to this diminutive and refreshingly child- and telly-free riverside boozer – a matchless, vintage ‘London’ setting for a pint (Adnams Bitter, Landlord or London Glory, say) or a glass of wine and a lunchtime sarnie.

Bar meals of devilled whitebait, curry or prawn salad are served downstairs, with classic grills and old-school seafood dishes on the menu in the petite fish restaurant upstairs (think dressed crab, potted shrimps, whole plaice and so on). One for the traditionalists.

More about The Grapes

Book now

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.

More about Sea Containers at Mondrian London

Book now

Le Pont de la Tour

Le Pont de la Tour

£30 - £49
French

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

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

More about Le Pont de la Tour

Book now

Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe

Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe

£50 - £79
British
Bars

21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT

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.

More about Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe

Book now

Elephant Royale

Elephant Royale

£30 - £49
Thai
£30 - £49

Lockes Wharf, Westferry Road, London, E14 3WA

On the southernmost point of the Isle of Dogs, this elegant and upmarket Thai is worth seeking out for the views of Greenwich from its large alfresco terrace ("a great outdoor option in summer"). One fan reckons Elephant Royale serves "the best Thai curry in London"; we're not so sure, but it certainly delivers food a few notches up from the high-street norm. Complex and layered flavours should be in balance in a Thai meal, so order a mix of styles: a salad (shredded green papaya, for example); some noodles; a seafood dish such as fried grouper with tamarind sauce, and a curry (dry red pork, say). Vegetarians have plenty of choice, and there are several good deals including a business lunch and Sunday buffet. "Friendly staff" are also appreciated at this stylish Thai contender.

More about Elephant Royale

Book now

Northbank

Northbank

£30 - £49
British
£30 - £49

1 Paul's Walk, London, EC4V 3QH

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

More about Northbank

Book now

Blueprint Café

Blueprint Café

£30 - £49
British
£30 - £49

28 Shad Thames, London, SE1 2YD

“On the button… I really rate this place!” enthuses one fan of the Blueprint Café – a bright, airy eatery floating above the Thames. A row of tables along one wall offers “fabulous” river views, although the main draw is top-notch cooking at prices that “don’t even break the bank”. The seasonal carte kicks off with crowd-pleasers such as potted duck with piccalilli or beetroot and goats’ curd salad, while mains have a sturdy patriotic feel – think chicken and leek pie, whole plaice with chips or Colne Valley lamb rump with cockles and samphire. There are “fabulously creamy” risottos too, while desserts offer yoghurt pannacotta and lemon cheesecake alongside lemon posset and Eton mess. The overall feel is sleek, efficient and a tad corporate (as you might expect from a D&D London outlet), although there’s no strain on the wallet: “go for their lunch menu!” recommends one price-conscious fan.

More about Blueprint Café

Book now

Chelsea Riverside Brasserie

Chelsea Riverside Brasserie

£30 - £49
International

The Chelsea Harbour Hotel, Chelsea Harbour, SW10 0XG

 

Occupying an enviable position overlooking Chelsea Harbour, this likeable European brasserie has plenty going for it. The clean-lined dining room is a comfortable place to be, but if the weather allows it’s even nicer to sit on the sunny terrace at breakfast, for a smart full English or a croissant. As the day goes on, the menu takes on a distinctly Italian flavour: Seared beef carpaccio with capers and Parmesan or crab and avocado salad are likely precursors to the likes of grilled meats, black ink seafood tagliolini or an elegant, oven-roast chicken breast with saffron quinoa. Finish up with a tiramisu or chocolate fondant and pistachio ice cream, or grab a decent cocktail at the bar. With discreet and friendly staff too, what more do you need?  

More about Chelsea Riverside Brasserie

Book now

Bistro Vadouvan

Bistro Vadouvan

£30 - £49
French

30 Brewhouse Lane, London, SW15 2JX

It may boast Indian owners (including the guy behind Hammersmith’s Potli), but don’t be fooled: Bistro Vadouvan deals in classic French dishes masterfully elevated with Middle Eastern and Asian spice. The room gives nothing away – electric-blue banquettes, a big open kitchen and quarry-tile flooring are welcoming yet unspectacular. However, from the first dish, we sat up and paid attention. Our steak tartare ranked among the most original we’ve had – adroitly seasoned chopped steak with diced spring onion and pickled chilli, layered on soft slivers of aubergine and topped with crunchy sliced almonds. Chef Durga Misra worked at Brasserie Chavot (RIP) and it shows in dishes such as soft brill with prawn ravioli in an umami-packed coconut broth, a creation that wouldn’t look out of place in a swanky West End destination. For dessert, we recommend Bistro Vadouvan’s pitch-perfect île flottante with candied nuts and caramel sauce. Excellent brunch and alfresco tables astride the river complete a tremendous package – “finally Putney Wharf has somewhere worth visiting”, cheers a fan.

More about Bistro Vadouvan

Book now

Gaucho Canary

Gaucho Canary

£50 - £79
Steak
Argentinian
£30 - £49

29 Westferry Circus, London, E14 8RR

"Summertime fun" is guaranteed at this branch of the Gaucho chain, especially when its alfresco waterfront space is rocking. In the less clement seasons, step inside, sit back in a cowhide chair and peruse the South American wine list with its multitude of hearty Malbecs and subtler Torrontes whites (many offered by the carafe). As for the food, "an Argentinian restaurant that can't do good steak is like the Shard's window cleaners not liking heights", so allow the well-informed waiters to explain the various cuts available. Lomo (fillet) and ancho (rib-eye) are popular, although we like the added flavour of spiral-cut churrasco, marinated in garlic, parsley and olive oil. Portions are ginormous, so don't overdo the starters, however tempting the tuna ceviche or tostadas might be. Some diners get as far as the dulce de leche cheesecake before admitting defeat – don't say we didn't warn you.

More about Gaucho Canary

Book now

The Gun

The Gun

Under £30
British
Gastropub

27 Coldharbour, London, E14 9NS

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

More about The Gun

Book now

The Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect of Whitby

Pubs

57 Wapping Wall, London, E1W 3SH

Probably dating from around 1520, this riverside pub claims to be the oldest on the Thames: Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens reputedly drank here, and it was once a handy spot for a pint before or after an execution at the adjacent gallows, where pirates were regularly hanged. The gallows may have gone, but the uneven flagstone floors, dark rooms and a few of the old East End characters remain – although they've been joined by throngs of camera-toting tourists. It's now owned by Taylor Walker, so you could bend your elbow with a pint of 1730 Pale Ale while admiring the wood-panelled interior and pewter-topped bar, before sidling out to the small terrace for a view of the Wapping shoreline. The menu is full of traditional trencherman stuff – think pies, roasts, fish and chips or sausage and mash.

More about The Prospect of Whitby

Book now

The Ivy Tower Bridge

The Ivy Tower Bridge

£30 - £49
Brasserie

One Tower Bridge, London, SE1 2UP

The extraordinary development of the Tower Bridge district keeps getting better. Alongside a brand-new 900-seat theatre, a branch of the Ivy Brasserie has opened as part of the Berkeley Homes mixed-use development close to City Hall. The riverfront-facing restaurant is a more casual version of the Covent Garden original, but the stunning views of Tower Bridge add to its wow-factor. An intimate alfresco terrace (which comes complete with blankets for colder nights) is perfect for those looking to get the full riverside experience. Once inside, you’ll find the brand’s well-groomed, colourful interiors. On our visit, polished waiters talked us through a huge, cuisine-leaping menu that features everything from the famous shepherd’s pie to a truffle chicken sandwich with chips. A starter of scallops came served in a sweet and creamy pea purée, topped with broad beans and lemon zest. Our main also impressed – a thick and rich helping of crab linguine, which we had with a side of indulgent truffle-and-parmesan-topped thick-cut chips. Come dessert, we skipped the Instagram-baiting chocolate bombe for a more traditional crème brûlée, with crisp shards of caramel cracking to reveal a thick custard base. With its super-slick service and stunning location, this incarnation of The Ivy has a slight edge over its counterparts – while critics may moan that The Ivy is predictable, at least it’s predictably good. 

More about The Ivy Tower Bridge

Book now

High Timber

High Timber

£50 - £79
Modern European

Paul's Walk, 8 High Timber Street, London, EC4V 3PA

A wall of glass gives a view across the Thames to Tate Modern, but if you look the other way there are some interesting South African artworks on the walls of this sleek contemporary space – although High Timber’s Cape connection really shows when it comes to the wine list, since the owners’ portfolio includes the Jordan wine estate. Homemade biltong is one of a few nods to the motherland on a menu that offers the comfort of a burger as well as Asian-inspired five-spice duck with pistachio yoghurt. It’s a broad church, with a fashionable salad to start alongside more luxurious seared foie gras with carpaccio, plus “very good” steaks from grass-fed herds leading the line among main courses. The walk-in wine cellar is home to an impressive collection, with good options by the glass and a few greatest hits from around the world supporting the South African majority.   

More about High Timber

Book now

Butlers Wharf Chop House

Butlers Wharf Chop House

£30 - £49
British

36e Shad Thames, London, SE1 2YE

There’s a decidedly nautical feel to this riverside restaurant with its oak panelling and enamelled ship’s pendants. Although the menu pays homage to the watery setting with oysters, potted shrimps and fisherman’s pie, the real draw is slabs of 28-day-aged beef, their juices locked in from the blisteringly hot charcoal grill. The fillets, sirloins, rib-eyes and T-bones all come at a price, with hand-cut chips an extra three quid, but there’s financial relief in more affordable mains such as grilled ox liver with mustard mash and onion gravy, or roast rump of lamb with beetroot, carrot and red-wine sauce. For afters, puddings are in the comforting nursery mould of lemon posset or apple crumble and custard. The adjoining bar is a good spot for a pie and a pint at wallet-friendly prices.

More about Butlers Wharf Chop House

Book now

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.  

More about Bravas Tapas

Book now

Rick Stein Barnes

Rick Stein Barnes

£50 - £79
Fish

Tideway Yard, 125 Mortlake High Street, London, SW14 8SN

Despite being synonymous with Padstow, the home of his most prestigious restaurants, Rick Stein has expanded his empire far beyond Cornwall, to venues including Winchester, Marlborough and even Barnes, plus enviable coastal settings across the south west. Each restaurant offers something different, but anyone dining à la Stein can expect to find fish and seafood centre-stage, with signatures such as his Dover sole à la meunière, and seaside classics such as proper fish and chips alongside more exotic dishes inspired by the chef’s TV travels. There are exceptions: further inland and at pub-style venues, Sunday lunches and meaty game dishes get the Stein treatment. At everywhere bar the flagship Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, the vibe is casual and convivial – in general, you can turn up unannounced with your dog or kids and still receive a warm welcome from seasoned staff.

More about Rick Stein Barnes

Book now

Dokke

Dokke

£30 - £49
International

Ivory House, London, E1W 1LA

This relaxed, open-plan all dayer is a real hidden gem amid the chain-heavy landscape of St Katharine Docks. Dokke functions as a high-end, yet unfussy café during the day, before becoming a sharing plates-centric restaurant in the evening. The dining room is a stylish mix of walnut floors, polished concrete surfaces and an open kitchen, but we’d recommend dining on the terrace overlooking the dock, if weather permits. The globetrotting menu combines seasonal flavours of the Silk Road, Africa and the Americas. On our lunchtime visit, we enjoyed a steady stream of very pretty snacks and sharing plates, with innovative twists: a zingy Asian lobster salad peppered with super-fresh edible flowers, edamame beans and tenderstem broccoli, a red-hot mini-burger served in a charcoal bun and stacked with fiery chillies and fried egg, and nicely crispy kosho-fried panko chicken wings served with earthy shitake ketchup. Prices are fairly reasonable considering the location, while the chilled vibe is a breath of fresh air in the City.

More about Dokke

Book now

Rotunda

Rotunda

£30 - £49
British

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Rotunda

Book now

Royal China - Westferry Circus

Royal China - Westferry Circus

£50 - £79
Chinese
Dim Sum

30 Westferry Circus, London, E14 8RR

"Perfect views of the Thames" are a given at this branch of the Royal China chain, which occupies a prime site facing a wide sweep of the river: with the Thames Ferry Pier next door, they've also put the terrace to good use. The group is famed for its tip-top, "extremely well-priced" dim sum, so be ready to work your way through exemplary steamed pork and radish dumplings, stuffed beancurd rolls, honey-roast pork puffs and a splendid rice pot of spicy chicken's feet and spare ribs. At teatime, the kitchen switches to a fancier menu of Hong Kong-style food, complete with helpful photographs. Cantonese classics such as crispy aromatic duck and lobster with ginger and spring onion line up alongside lemon chicken, stir-fried Dover sole with spicy salt or stewed pork belly with preserved cabbage. "Excellent service" makes the grade too.

More about Royal China - Westferry Circus

Book now

The Old Ship Hammersmith

The Old Ship Hammersmith

£30 - £49
Gastropub

25 Upper Mall, London, W6 9TD

Built in 1850, this is perhaps the pick of the pubs on that picturesque stretch of the Thames from Chiswick Village to Hammersmith Bridge. In 2018, a major refurb on a nautical theme further upped the appeal of this riverbank villa. Drop in for quality cask-conditioned beers by owners Young’s and Beavertown; sensibly priced wines such as a super Slovenian white Pinot; paired gins and tonics; and in a cosy upstairs lounge, Monkey Shoulder Old Fashioned or a Little Bird Negroni from a bijou bar. On fine days, nothing beats dining alfresco on the Ship’s pretty front terrace or on its smart upstairs verandah, where tables (annoyingly) are non-reservable. Choose from numerous veggie and beefy brunch options, Brit pub-grub staples, sharing platters and Sunday roasts. A private dining room accommodates up to 40, though the pub’s lawn was filled with five times that number on a hot Bank Holiday weekend.

More about The Old Ship Hammersmith

Book now

The Narrow

The Narrow

£30 - £49
Gastropub

44 Narrow Street, E14 8DP

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

More about The Narrow

Book now