If you don’t like paying marked up prices for booze in restaurants, take a look at SquareMeal’s pick of the best restaurants where you can bring your own wine. To avoid those pesky charges or the risk of a restaurant not having the wine you like, with our selection of great London restaurants which let you bring your own wine. Every one of the restaurants featured in SquareMeal’s list of the best London restaurants where you can bring your own wine have been tried and tested by critics and our own customers so check out the reviews and book a table online with SquareMeal today.
Ex-Caprice Holdings CEO Des McDonald now has his name above the door at this sleek City offshoot of his Fish & Chip Shop in Islington. Beyond the steel and glass exterior, a mixture of mushy pea-green counter tops and saucy cartoons of 50s-style pin-up girls conjures up British seaside nostalgia – minus the greasy spoons. Refined idiosyncrasy defines the menu too, with straight-talking descriptions making light of top-quality seafood: our textbook fish pie was generously filled with hunks of soft salmon, while deep-fried haddock came encased in delicate, crisp batter. The varied line-up also incorporates crab on toast with avocado, shrimp burgers, fishcakes, curries and the odd meat dish such as Lancashire hotpot, while the cocktail list has maritime overtones – think Stolichnaya vodka paired with anchovy brine. Tricky to find, but handily placed alongside Liverpool Street station and good for lunchtime takeaways too.
The Fish & Chip Shop City
“I love the space” declares an advocate of this multifunctional bar-restaurant, which fuels Shoreditch’s creatives from breakfast until bedtime. The ground-floor bar acts as a café/workspace (with plug sockets) during office hours, but at night the cases holding teas and coffees behind the bar swing around to reveal spirits. Diners head for the huge basement, which feels cavernous when quiet. Here, a carefully edited menu of international crowd-pleasers awaits. To start, spiced crispy squid with chilli pepper sauce and lime mayonnaise is a masterclass in texture and tang. The Josper grill dominates main courses, working its magic on meat from the renowned Ginger Pig butchery, including prime steaks and rump of spring lamb. Fish specials are cooked daily, while weekends bring brunches and roasts. Correspondents report variable service, so best use any waits to peruse the wine list where the impressive choice includes more than 25 by the glass.
The Jones Family Project
"If street food is your thing, this is the place”, says a fan of this popular refuelling point on Brixton Village Market. Kaosarn is praised as “authentic, fast and tasty”, with refreshingly small bills and punchy food without frills or frippery – as you might expect from an outfit that evolved from the first Thai cafés in London. The menu covers all the essentials, but also ventures beyond the satays, green curries and pad thai noodles to offer everything from gai tod (deep-fried garlic and pepper chicken) to larb (a salad of spicy minced pork with ground roasted rice, chilli and lime). Service is pretty basic – it’s worth having a plan to go on somewhere afterwards, because the management is likely to want your seats back the moment you’ve finished. Our advice is bring your own wine and your own company to enjoy Kaosarn at its best.
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.
Standing in line at venerable Tayyabs, it’s impossible not to wonder if it’s all worth it. But, once the queuing is over (factor in an hour), you’ll soon forget the hassle as the sound, smell and (finally) the taste of those sizzling hot tandoori lamb chops assails you. Since this “manic” family-run canteen started life on its east London backstreet in 1972, it’s been gussied-up just a little (the new bronze chairs and latticed screens actually look pretty smart), but it remains one of London’s favourite low-budget eateries, as popular with families and students as it is with rowdy City parties and mates on the town. Of course, you must have the lamp chops, but don’t overlook the biryani specials, “amazing” pumpkin curry and the better-than-it-sounds ‘dry meat’. Tayyabs is BYO, so choose something spice-friendly to go with your nosh. “Quick service” is exactly what’s required too.
Ten years on and everyone now has their favourite Hawksmoor. For us, this subterranean Knightsbridge rendezvous is certainly in with a big shout. The handsome art-deco and wood-panelled interiors are noticeably more grandiose than some of the group’s siblings, but it’s the South-East Asian seafood riffs that we really love. Few dishes in London are quite as joyfully messy as the Singapore-style lobster served up in a spicy, coriander-infused tomato sauce – be warned, you’ll need at least three napkins to clean up afterwards. Pair this with one of Hawksmoor’s famous British-reared steaks (still as magnificent as ever), and you’ve arguably got the best surf ‘n’ turf combo in town. Special mentions should also go to the crispy shallot-topped Vietnamese-style oysters, the Old Spot pork belly ribs with vinegar slaw and the ‘ambassador’s reception’ – a gloriously decadent take on a Ferrero Rocher. As we’ve come to expect, service is a perfect mix of informality and assurance.
From turf to surf: the forecast at Will Beckett and Huw Gott's sexy deco den is meaty with a chance of seafood. The Hawksmoor signature of excellent British beef with boldly indulgent sauces and sides (Stilton hollandaise, macaroni cheese, grilled bone marrow) is still in evidence, but at Air Street, the price-by-weight beef is supplemented by a seafood selection devised in cahoots with restaurateur (and fish fanatic) Mitch Tonks. Expect anything from char-grilled Dartmouth lobster and turbot to steaks priced per 100g – although readers insist it's still "a treat place". Desserts such as a 'Crunchy bar' and strawberry and lime pavlova don't take themselves too seriously – an ethos that also applies to drinks in the "delicious" art deco-styled bar. Friendly, knowledgeable staff, a happy ambience and a wine list full of possibilities combine to ensure that Hawksmoor is "totally worth it".
Hawksmoor Air Street
“The best steak in London, by a mile”, declares one reader, and we have to agree. The beefy Hawksmoor chain somehow manages to get everything right, from its glorious 35-day-aged steaks supplied by The Ginger Pig to its creative cocktails – all presented by staff with a genuine passion for service. It's easy to understand why there are now six branches in the capital (and another in Manchester), though this atmospheric site in the old barrel-vaulted Watney Combe Brewery is one of our favourites. Start with Old Spot belly ribs or sweetly caramelised roast scallops with white port and garlic, before taking your pick of the beefy cuts chalked up by weight on blackboards. Perfectly crisp triple-cooked chips, gut-busting macaroni cheese or grilled bone marrow make happy companions, but we urge saving some space for the addictive salted caramel Rolos too. The comfortable bar deals in burgers and lobster rolls as well as brilliant drinks, though between the hours of 3pm and 5pm Monday-Friday, you can dine from the full a la carte menu when booking in advance. Sunday lunch sees roast rump of Longhorn beef with all the trimmings for Sunday lunch. “Great for big groups and for couples”, notes one fan.
Hawksmoor Seven Dials
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?