Restaurants with Gift Vouchers

You can spend your voucher at any of the participating restaurants here

Updated on 31 May 2019

Comptoir Gascon

Comptoir Gascon

61-63 Charterhouse Street, Farringdon, London, EC1M 6AH

Comptoir Gascon’s foodie ethos “comes straight from the verdant pastures of Gascony”, writes a fan of starry Club Gascon’s rustic upstart cousin. It’s all about la douceur de vivre (‘the sweetness of life’) as the kitchen delivers textbook versions of the regional classics in a shabby-chic setting of brick walls, blue velvet chairs and heavy timber tables. Duck, foie gras and truffles get top billing on a menu that’s noted for its “bounteous portions” and “really good value”: the famous ‘deluxe’ burger is an “elegant proposition”, while piggy treats, rillettes, confits and cassoulet turn the carnivorous dial up to 11. Elsewhere, dishes such as cuttlefish with chicory, Padrón peppers and Basque sauce pander to other palates, while everyone adores the duck-fat chips blasted with “speckled flavour-bombs” of salt. Fascinating regional wines and a ‘foodhall’ crammed with provisions are further reasons to visit this laid-back bolthole.

£30 - £49
French
Suda

Suda

5a Berners Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 3LF

This smart, modern Thai has won plenty of fans, thanks to a winning formula of friendly staff, great cocktails and dishes packed with authentic flavours. Reliable classics such as creamy satay skewers, fragrant green chicken curry, pad Thai and fiery tom yum soup are all present and correct, but we think it's far more fun to explore the rest of the wide-ranging menu. Highlights on our last visit included the richly spiced signature red curry with duck and juicy, tangy tamarind prawns. Suda's take on som tam (a classic, hot-and-spicy papaya salad from Thailand's Isan region) is always a favourite, packed with fresh and fiery flavours. Cool coconut ice cream and gut-busting banana fritters offer final temptation. To drink, there's Singha beer on draft and a decent selection of wines served from Enomatics.

£30 - £49
Thai
Courtyard Garden at the Sanderson

Courtyard Garden at the Sanderson

The Sanderson, 50 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 3NG

 

Every summer, the folks who frequent the Courtyard Garden award themselves a smug smile. The large, clear roof seems to make summer last that bit longer, keeping out the cold on those bright but breezy days. A good thing, too: the people who congregate in this Japanese-style enclave tend to have the sort of hair that doesn’t take kindly to inclement weather. Smartly dressed staff glide around the central pond, delivering Mad Hatter-themed afternoon tea (think Queen of Hearts rose and strawberry Jammy Dodgers) and heartier bites from the hotel restaurant, such as corn-fed chicken with bacon, and potato gnocchi with truffle. Come evening, any vestiges of Zen-like calm are blown away by the dangerously cool, cutting-edge sounds pumping out of the speakers.

Bars
Outlaw

Outlaw's at The Capital

The Capital Hotel, 22-24 Basil Street, Knightsbridge, London, SW3 1AT

NATHAN OUTLAW WILL LEAVE OUTLAW'S AT THE CAPITAL IN MARCH 2019 TO OPEN SIREN AT THE GORING

Widely accepted as the modern master of British seafood, Nathan Outlaw stepped away from his Cornish home turf to launch in London in 2012. Five years on, this venue still feels like a well-kept secret. Perhaps the menu lends itself more to the coast than a conservatively attired hotel dining room, or perhaps Londoners want more culinary fireworks, but one thing’s for sure: you won’t find better or fresher seafood in the capital. Our octopus starter paired magnificently with almonds and a sharp sherry vinegar bread sauce, while a glorious thick slab of sea bass came with breadcrumbed oysters, sweet baby leeks and a generous dollop of lime hollandaise. No fireworks, no fripperies: just clean flavours and exemplary technique. After that, elderflower cream with strawberries and verjus maintains the seasonal theme. Service is five-star slick and, to drink, we’d recommend something from founder David Levin’s biodynamic vineyard – perhaps Mr L, a barrel-aged Sauvignon Blanc.

£50 - £79
Vegetarian
British
Fish
The Grill at McQueen

The Grill at McQueen

55-61 Tabernacle Street, Old Street, London, EC2A 4AA

An ode to Steve, this restaurant, bar and club has suitably macho styling and former Hawksmoor chef Richard Sandiford in the kitchen. Brown leather, black walls and faux-fur rugs inform the bachelor-pad decor, which is peppered with references to McQueen movies. Continuing the theme, you’ll find cocktails including a Popcorn Old Fashioned (popcorn-infused bourbon) on the strapping list. Sandiford’s short menu deals in well-presented, quality Brit food: Our ox cheek and kidney pithivier was a lesson in crispy, creamy comfort food, while fried crab cakes were a winning combination of flaky flesh and crunchy breadcrumbs – if a slightly meagre portion. There’s no doubting value when it comes to the steaks however, as our rib-eye arrived perfectly cooked and full of flavour. Hawksmoor fans will be pleased to find stilton hollandaise sauce, as well as sides of triple-cooked chips and smoked mac ‘n’ cheese. Globetrotting wines include a small-but-varied range by the glass, while staff work hard to please. The Grill’s only problem is being hidden at the back of McQueen and therefore rarely full, but considering the efforts being made, word deserves to get out.

£50 - £79
Steak
British
RIVA Waterside Restaurant and Bar

RIVA Waterside Restaurant and Bar

Town Pier, Gravesend, Kent, DA11 0BJ

At Riva we pride ourselves on offering our customers fine Mediterranean cuisine served to you in a relaxing atmosphere. Situated directly over the River Thames on the oldest surviving cast iron pier in the world the panoramic views are as breath taking as the cuisine itself. Riva’s newly refurbished bar is a fabulous addition to the restaurant serving an extensive range o f stylish cocktails, wide range of Champagnes, wines by the glass and appetising nibbles. Located in the heart of Gravesend's Heritage Quarter, Riva is the perfect destination for that special occasion. Come in have a meal, drink some wine and relax. Have a conversation with friends, colleagues and family while you enjoy a calm pleasant surrounding taking you back to 1834. Whatever the occasion… From breakfast meetings, luncheons to gatherings of family & friends we have "that perfect place", offering an A La Carte and set menus as well as simple bar snacks, canapés, buffets and private lunch or dinner parties.

£30 - £49
Modern European
Bars
Artigiano

Artigiano

12a Belsize Terrace, London, London, NW3 4AX

There’s a modern sheen to this neighbourhood Italian joint, where a glass atrium boosts the sunlight factor in the daylight hours and moody lighting adds atmosphere as darkness descends. Old-school types will find plenty to satisfy, from deep-fried calamari to spaghetti with a fresh tomato sauce, but there’s more contemporary stuff too. Among first courses, a delicate timbale of crab, lobster and asparagus arrives wrapped in spinach leaves, and the brace of risottos could include a simple (and winning) combination of trevisano and Taleggio. Photos on the walls confirm visits from celebs such as Madonna and Kate Moss, but the waiters maintain equilibrium regardless of their guests’ status. We rate the simple main courses like seared tuna steak with zesty fennel salad, and for dessert, warm chocolate soufflé is perked up with an accompanying strawberry sorbet. 

£30 - £49
Italian
Under £30
Baranis

Baranis

115 Chancery Lane, Temple, London, WC2A 1PP

We can't promise you a year in Provence, but a game of pétanque is certainly on the cards at Baranis – home to London's only indoor court. Things can get competitive after you've kicked off with a few shots of Pastis Janot or a French-themed cocktail – perhaps Julie's Mamou (a gin and elderflower sparkler), Applejack & The Green Fairy (a punchy mix of Calvados, crème de cassis and, of course, absinthe) or Le Pagnol (lychee liqueur, vodka and anise). The 'carte des vins' has a brilliant selection of characterful Corsican and Provençal bottles, while the food is supplied by the kitchens at Cigalon upstairs, so you can expect anything from top-notch charcuterie and French cheeses to socca (crispy chickpea pancakes) and anchovy-topped pissaladière. Sadly, St Tropez sunshine isn't on offer, but brightly lit brick arches give the basement space a cheerful feel.

Bars
Caravaggio

Caravaggio

107-112 Leadenhall Street, London, 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.

£30 - £49
Italian
£30 - £49
Señor Ceviche Carnaby

Señor Ceviche Carnaby

Kingly Court, London, London, W1B 5PW

One of London’s more accessible Peruvian restaurants, this cramped Kingly Court resident is a miniature maelstrom of colour, flavour and sound. Trendy-looking staff set the tone and the vibe is fast-paced but “really friendly”, amid colourful graffiti and black-and-white snaps of Peruvian life. The main event is, of course, the ceviche list, which runs from sea bass via octopus and sweet potato purée to a veggie variant involving barbecued artichoke. There’s also much more to enjoy, including gloriously sticky piles of aubergine and sweet potato doughnuts (picarones), and a full BBQ contingent: the baby back ribs in a sticky soy, ginger and sesame sauce come highly recommended. Much of the menu is gluten-free, and there’s also a good-value lunch deal from Monday to Thursday. The cocktail list is ruled by Pisco (we recommend sticking to the traditional sours), while a short wine list makes room for Chile and Argentina.

£30 - £49
Peruvian
Vasco & Piero

Vasco & Piero's Pavilion

15 Poland Street, Soho, London, W1F 8QE

A resident of Poland Street since 1989, this unassuming low-key Soho Italian still exudes the comforting vibe of a well-loved neighbourhood restaurant. Tables are tightly packed in the long-narrow dining room (those at the rear are the best for privacy), while the kitchen delivers “comforting traditional food” with a strong regional slant. Expect a succession of delicately rendered Umbrian dishes from a menu that changes twice a day – perhaps handmade tagliatelle with a rich ragù or roast Tuscan sausages with black truffle butter and Pecorino. Elsewhere, a crisp endive salad with Gorgonzola, walnut and sweet mustard dressing shows the kitchen’s lighter side. The menu’s layout invites flexibility, although we recommend a conventional sweet finish – perhaps a serving of gooey bonet (chocolate, coffee and Amaretto mousse). Prices are modest considering the location, an all-Italian wine list explores the regions, and “superb” switched-on service will please West End diners looking for a mature, but thoroughly modern, Italian experience.

£30 - £49
Italian
Canto Corvino

Canto Corvino

21 Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, London, E1 7HA

This low-key Italian eatery is found just a few metres away from bustling Spitalifields Market. Canto Corvino is a restaurant full of well-heeled City types, but it’s also an inviting spot for more casual diners who seek a reasonably priced cocktail in a chic Shoreditch setting. The compact menu incorporates classic Italian dishes such as bread, olive oil, mozzarella and arancini but also includes some luxury takes, such as the lobster paccheri and truffled pig’s head linguine.

£30 - £49
Bars
Italian
Galley

Galley

105-106 Upper Street, London, N1 1QN

With 10 years as head chef of Randall & Aubin under his belt, Polish-born Marcel Grzyb is bringing his fish-led cookery to Islington’s bar-restaurant scene. His sister Oriona Robb, in collaboration with designer Mika Burdett, is behind the eclectic interior (green velvet banquettes, Moroccan tiles, vintage rugs) that provides an apt backdrop for the all-day menu of globally inspired small and large plates. A meal might start with a colourful tower of yellowfin tuna tartare, stacked with soft mango and avocado and drizzled with sticky teriyaki; or smoky-rich octopus and chorizo a la plancha. Mains span the ocean, from John Dory with saffron mussel sauce to a majestic-looking lobster pappardelle. We plumped for sea bass, which arrived emanating truffle-laced aromas atop plump gnocchi, bobbing in a moreish broth of wild mushrooms. Scottish venison provides a worthwhile meaty alternative. An enticing brunch list (duck Benedict, perhaps), prettily presented puddings (creamy pannacotta arrives with a scattering of honeycomb, flowers and sour blackberries) and a sound selection of Old and New World wines (though more options by the glass are needed) add to Galley’s appeal. At the front, a compact bar serves cocktails both traditional and contemporary; here, French windows opening on to Upper Street should ensure summertime crowds.

£30 - £49
Fish
Taberna Etrusca

Taberna Etrusca

9-11 Bow Churchyard, London, London, EC4M 9DQ

Like some of the racing cars pictured on its walls, Taberna Etrusca has come to be regarded as a 1960s classic. The setting couldn’t be more Cockney (note the lovely courtyard almost beneath Bow Bells), but at heart this is a “typical” City trattoria with chummy service, good wines and “tranquil” evening sessions in contrast to busy lunchtimes. “Massive portions” satisfy on a basic level, but the kitchen has merits beyond mere sustenance: “full-flavoured” dishes often embrace international influences, as in a confit duck salad with peanut, orange and chilli dressing or anchovy tempura atop grilled Shropshire chicken with Caesar salad. There’s fresh homemade pasta too – try the chitarra spaghetti with sliced beef fillet sautéed in garlic, chilli and plum tomato. With its noticeable Italian tilt, the wine list provides gratifyingly wide choice at the lower end – a sensible approach to pricing that’s much-valued by regulars.

£30 - £49
Italian
Club Gascon

Club Gascon

57 West Smithfield, London, EC1A 9DS

Famous as one of the best places to eat duck and foie gras since opening in 1998, Club Gascon is moving with the low-waste and sustainable times, re-opening from a refurb with a ‘Garden’ section of the menu featuring six veg-focused starters and mains. Rest assured, however, that if slow-cooked egg with plankton, seaweed and bitter leaves doesn’t float your boat, all things duck still form the core of the menu – and are far and away the best things to eat here, foie gras especially: a smooth-as-butter terrine served with banyuls, fig and Argan oil to start or, spectacularly, served with a Bailey’s and mandarin sauce for pudding, beguilingly sweet and savoury; thick lobes of pan-fried foie gras sitting under a shell crammed with razor clams is another flavour bomb. Non-ducky options such as roasted sturgeon with leeks, bone marrow and Craster sauce, and roast grouse with popcorn, Guinness and oyster sauce seemed less appealingly individual and more fine-dining-by-numbers, but a kitchen that excels with pudding ensures things end on a high note, from a pre-dessert variation on prunes and Armagnac that left us wanting much, much more to a ‘millionaire’ dessert made from 72% Colombian chocolate with black olive, lemon gel and thyme ice cream, so rich it demanded to be savoured slowly. Eye-opening wine matching remains a strength, while the restaurant’s new look has a timeless modernity that should last for another 20 years. 

 

£50 - £79
French
One michelin star
£50 - £79
Mango Tree

Mango Tree

46 Grosvenor Place, Victoria, London, SW1X 7EQ

Mango Tree's extravagant entrance gives way to a small bar where spiky-haired Thai bartenders are ready to indulge their clientele with devilishly potent cocktails. Meanwhile, hungry guests descend into the enormous dining space, with its plush leather banquettes, showy floral arrangements and beautiful bamboo blinds. The kitchen serves up Thai classics, but with some added panache when it comes to flavour and presentation: a green curry of corn-fed chicken, aubergine and sweet basil arrives in a freshly cut pineapple, while pad thai is gussied up with spiky spring onions, red chillis and a mound of crushed peanuts. Otherwise, order from the chef's special menu, which takes a whistle-stop tour of Thailand. Mango Tree also delivers top-class service: sleek staff armed with walkie-talkies stay unshakably polite despite the high-decibel atmosphere.

£30 - £49
Thai
Under £30
M Victoria Street

M Victoria Street

Zig Zag Building, Victoria Street, Westminster, London, SW1E 6SQ

The second behemoth establishment from Martin Williams (ex-Gaucho) has landed in chain-heavy Victoria Street, incorporating cavernous basement dining rooms, public and private members’ bars and a mezzanine wine shop upstairs. As at the original City operation, dining is divided into two distinct areas: M Raw serves Japanese and Peruvian small plates from an open-kitchen; M Grill is devoted to meat, complete with an amphitheatre-style dining room. Choose either the raw or grilled route before taking your seat. A muted slate colour palette, softened by dusky blues and copper finishes, will please the corporate crowd, as will a standalone bar serving wallet-busting cocktails. The raw-bar menu of sushi and sashimi has been boosted by Wagyu steak tartare, which arrives under a smoke-filled cloche, laced with sweet-sour apple and topped by a glowing orb-like egg yolk. Over at M Grill, punters can opt for beef from one of six countries (Italian is a new addition); our rosy slab of USDA black Angus fillet (£49) sliced like butter. Delve further into the meaty menu and you’ll discover pig’s head served as salty crisp pulled-pork croquettes, slow-cooked cheek and moreish pig’s ear crackling. The dessert list is short yet not especially sweet; dulce mousse with buckwheat, bacon and sweetcorn ice cream is an acquired taste. Oenophiles fare better, thanks to a varied global wine list and the option to try before you buy. M looks set to nail the corporate market, but whether locals too will meet here remains to be seen.

£50 - £79
Steak
Le Bar

Le Bar

59 West Smithfield, Barbican, London, EC1A 9DS

Lovers of all things Gallic should swing by Club Gascon's ‘annex' , a sophisticated cocktail bar offering French small plates. The menu is proudly regionalist, with a great line in charcuterie, artisan cheese and all manner of ‘piggy' and ‘ducky' delights: pick from snacks of pig’s trotter cake and truffled cheese baguette, or go for heartier options, such as oyster, mushroom and black pudding salad, or foie gras with mussels. The ‘express lunch’ menu remains a steal for a dish of the day, plus a starter, glass of wine and pudding such as baked brandy custard. Other deals, including monthly wine dinners and oyster evenings, are also well worth considering. “Great for date nights”, says a fan.

Bars
French
£50 - £79
M Threadneedle Street

M Threadneedle Street

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

£50 - £79
Steak
The Den

The Den

St Martins Lane Hotel, 45 St Martin's Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4HX

This classically British, oak-panelled snug within St Martin’s Lane Hotel is an ideal meeting place, with its comfortable leather sofas and warm lighting. Majoring in afternoon tea, the selection includes fresh savoury bites such as focaccia topped with roasted courgettes, piquillo peppers, feta and mint. Sweets-wise, nibble on raspberry and matcha tea tarts and clotted cream-slathered scones. In summer, the terrace is an excellent place to try out the G&T selection, which is inspired by the vibrant artworks on the walls inside.

Under £30
Bars
Afternoon tea
The Restaurant at Sanderson

The Restaurant at Sanderson

The Sanderson, 50 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 3NG

The restaurant at this Berners Street hotel hasn’t gained such a reputation as a hip hang-out as the bar has, but it’s still worth a look. The room and the menu have an international feel (in a good way). Start with crispy pig's head with burnt apple puree and move on to a seriously good beef fillet and a side of triple-cooked chips. It may not be original, but it takes a confident chef to serve this sort of food in such a high-end restaurant, and the quality of the cooking and ingredients don’t let it down. Those looking for wackiness should instead head for the afternoon tea, where English tradition has been given a makeover by the Mad Hatter. Expect the unexpected – marshmallow mushrooms tasting of strawberries and cream, a mocha chessboard gateau and an adorable cinnamon, apple and peach “Drink Me” potion.

Image credit: Niall Clutton

£30 - £49
Modern European
Il Convivio

Il Convivio

143 Ebury Street, London, SW1W 9QN

The name alludes to Dante’s unfinished masterpiece, and there are quotes from the great poet all around this modern Italian – although most diners simply appreciate the ‘convivial’ atmosphere and admirable space between tables (“one can truly have a private conversation here”, notes a fan). There’s also some “excellent” Italian regional cooking to be had, from indulgent plates of San Daniele ham accompanied by bouncily soft burrata, or crunchy octopus with a rich nduja sauce, to a risotto with roast quail and red onion purée, or veal chop with fresh artichokes (“as good as I get in Venice”, notes one traveller). Handmade pasta is a sound shout for those that want it (we suggest pappardelle with seafood and raw Sicilian pachio tomato sauce), while zabaglione semifreddo drizzled with espresso coffee sauce make a fine finish. The “reasonably priced” wine list lacks informative notes, but staff are more than happy to suggest a decent Italian match for food and pocket.

Under £30
Italian
Cigalon

Cigalon

115 Chancery Lane, Blackfriars, London, WC2A 1PP

With its olive trees, ivy-clad trellises and airy glass-roofed dining room, Cigalon transports diners to sunny southern France – you’ll even hear a soundtrack of chirping cicadas in the background. Local legal eagles and regulars from the nearby French Chamber of Commerce choose from a first-rate regional menu that includes Provençal specialities such as pissaladière Niçoise alongside Corsican charcuterie and cheeses, plus excellent seasonal dishes ranging from red-mullet carpaccio topped with shavings of poutargue (pungent smoked mullet roe) to rustic lamb shoulder with artichokes and trompette mushrooms. Pretty desserts might include nectarine poached in rosé wine with lemon verbena and blackcurrant sorbet, while the drinks list is stuffed with rare regional tipples. Cigalon does most of its business at lunchtime, thanks to wallet-friendly set menus and an express ‘plat du jour’ (£12 for two courses), although service ‘could improve’.

£30 - £49
French
Galvin La Chapelle

Galvin La Chapelle

35 Spital Square, Spitalfields, 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.  

£50 - £79
French
One michelin star
Kahani

Kahani

1 Wilbraham Place, Belgravia, London, SW1X 9AE

Peter Joseph is the latest brave soul to try his luck with this challenging site tucked behind Cadogan Hall (RIP Le Cercle and Canvas), though as the former head chef of Tamarind in Mayfair, he already knows a thing or two about enticing well-heeled customers into basement dining rooms.

 

Kahani’s website describes how Joseph wanted to fuse Indian recipes with British ingredients and Spanish-sized portions of tapas, though when the staff asked the inevitable question of whether we were familiar with the menu’s concept, this information was not forthcoming; a shame, as advance knowledge of the Indian-European approach would be a useful preparation for the restrained spicing in much of what we ate.

 

While we enjoyed pairs of chubby lamb chops, cigar-shaped seekh kebabs and chunks of chicken tikka, we weren’t left with the impression of eating food that tasted especially Indian; better, perhaps, to instead order dishes such as creamy butter chicken, silky tarka dal or slow-cooked lamb shank that rely on richness of flavour for effect and can be scooped up with excellent breads, warm from the tandoor oven.

 

Prices reflect the Sloane Street location, although on our visit, some of the well-meaning staff lacked the knowledge and polish to back that up, and while the high-ceilinged space looks glitzy, not all of the finishes bear close scrutiny. Basement dining rooms are a hard sell at the best of times, and even Belgravia diners want bang for their buck.

£50 - £79
Indian
Benares

Benares

12a Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London, W1J 6BS

A beacon for Asian fine dining since 2003, Michelin-starred Benares brings French-inspired refinement to spice-based cooking “without depleting the authenticity of Indian flavour”. The kitchen delivers “awesome food” and “real creativity” across the board, although tasting menus are the undoubted showcase for the kitchen's talents – from pan-seared scallops with broccoli couscous and pine-nut podi (dry powder) to a crisp, puffy chicken tikka pie or tandoori lamb cutlets with rich, rogan-inspired jus and creamy black dhal makhani. Inventive set lunches might include piri-piri quail with smoked beetroot or prawn curry with Bengali-spiced kimchi, while a dessert of tarte Tatin infused with anise and fennel typifies the crossover approach. Kindly, engaging staff deliver “spotless service” in the slick, smart, white-on-black dining room, while street food and quirky cocktails are the main business in the lounge bar. Wine picks tackle the spicing admirably. “Pricey, but perfect for special occasions”, says a fan.

£50 - £79
Indian
Halal
Blind Spot

Blind Spot

45 St Martin's Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4HX

If you’ve got it, The St Martin’s Lane Hotel’s bar is where to flaunt it. This sister to The Mondrian and The Sanderson has a ‘secret’ door behind its lobby’s tea counter, which swings open to reveal a late-night speakeasy. The cocktail list comprises 25 world-inspired flavours, from a Peruvian pisco blended with lavender syrup, to a thoroughly British earl grey tea-infused beefeater gin with raisin syrup and pimm’s. Similarly eclectic snacks, including Thai chilli crackers and crispy baby squid provide the nourishment but, it really is all about the booze. Effervescent with bling bubbles, Blind Spot is where to bender it like The Beckhams.

Hotel Bars
Galvin HOP

Galvin HOP

35 Spital Square, Spitalfields, London, E1 6DY

When Galvin Hop first opened its doors, it was a pub de luxe serving up gourmet hot dogs and draught beers. Now, it’s switched gears to become a modern bistrot, with updated interiors which are funkier than before (note the brightly coloured chairs). From the daily-changing menu, guests can dine on a selection of small plates, including chorizo croquettes with saffron aioli, before moving on to the heartier likes of baked halibut with Kalamata olive, fregola and saffron.

 

To drink, there are copper tanks above the bar which house unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell, while the fridges are stocked with a wide range of craft beers from popular London breweries such as Truman’s and Beavertown. If your preferred tipple is vino, a selection of red and white wines is available on tap, or by the bottle. 

£30 - £49
Modern European
French
Mere

Mere

74 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 4QH

Matching her food to the setting, masterchef Monica Galetti’s HQ displays restrained elegance throughout. The unassuming frontage of a Charlotte Street terrace conceals a ground-floor bar that is a destination in its own right, though star billing goes to the basement dining room, cleverly opened up to daylight by a double-height window and furnished with cool blue upholstered seating, mirrored walls and gold-edged tables that somehow look subtle.

She might have a reputation on TV as ‘Scary Monica’ but Galetti is lovely in person (she comes out to greet diners when she’s in the kitchen) and her front-of-house team, marshalled by husband David, offer easy manners and helpful suggestions when needed – and they know David’s wine list inside out.

The menu, meanwhile, reads like a shopping list you wish you made weekly: lobster, white anchovies, softshell crab, black garlic and heritage tomatoes might all feature. Sweet roast scallops are seasoned with salty, crispy chicken skin, paired with cauliflower and the gentle warmth of curried mayonnaise.

Butter-poached lobster is another triumphant layering of flavours and textures, dressed with heritage carrots, a crispy claw and coconut shavings and perfectly complemented by a mild peanut dressing and rich lobster bisque. It is generously portioned to boot – a whole crustacean per person.

Elsewhere, wild Cornish cod was moist and perfectly cooked, while veal sweetbreads were glazed in an umami-rich sauce cut through by the freshness of peas. Veggies who feel underserved by only one option per course might be better off with the six-course vegetarian tasting menu. 

A killer line-up of puddings makes it hard to choose just one, but we’d recommend going for the lemon baked Alaska, delivered with a flourish of theatre. Vodka is warmed at the table before being set alight and poured over the meringue casing, toasting it as the alcohol burns off.

Make time to finish in the bar upstairs, with its rich petrol-coloured velvet seating and mixologists who give as much care to the drinks they serve as the kitchen does to the food it presents. There’s also a small menu of bar snacks that makes a comfortable start to any evening, whether dining at the restaurant or not.

£50 - £79
Modern European
SquareMeal Gold List
The Jones Family Project

The Jones Family Project

78 Great Eastern Street, Old Street, London, EC2A 3JL

“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.

£30 - £49
International