My favourite restaurants: Jeremy Lee

The fearless leader of Soho stalwart Quo Vadis spills the beans on his favourite places to eat across the UK.

Updated on • Written By Pete Dreyer

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My favourite restaurants: Jeremy Lee

Wandering the streets of Soho in search of a restaurant is a London rite of passage - hidden away in the twists and turns, dank alleys and main thoroughfares of this central London box are an array of the capital’s best known restaurants, as well as hundreds of others you might never have heard of. If you’ve ever stood, bewildered by the endless options on offer, allow us to present you with an expert guide, and who better than the effervescent head chef of Soho’s Quo Vadis, Jeremy Lee? Not only does he champion his neighbouring restaurants, but also a handful of other great UK destinations in this pick of his favourite restaurants across Great Britain. 


Lee’s career began in earnest at Bibendum, where he worked with Simon Hopkinson at, what was at the time, one of the hottest restaurants in London. Working alongside the likes of Hopkinson and Alastair Little imbued Lee with a love of classic British food. As head chef of the Blueprint Cafe and then Quo Vadis, where he remains today, Lee has become one of the country’s foremost proponents of traditional, hyper-seasonal British cooking, injected with a dose of maximalism and fun. Slowly but surely, after decades of self-deprecation, the UK has rediscovered the greatness within British food, and Lee’s proud pies, comfort puds and seasonal salads have a great deal to do with that.

So, no wonder we’re intrigued to know what his favourite restaurants might be. ‘In times past I used to eat out for lunch four times a week, and dinner two or three times a week,’ he explains, ‘but it becomes perfectly clear when folks start seeing you in restaurants other than your own - an absentee landlord is not a good look!

He continues: ‘We’re right in the heart of Soho - Chinatown is down the road which I love passionately, and dim sum is a great Sunday tradition of mine, while we still remain closed on Sundays, which I hope is forever.’

Years of roaming London’s streets makes Jeremy just the expert we need, and his five favourite restaurants include a legendary dim sum spot in the centre of the capital, a couple of London’s British new-wave, and a brilliant inn on Scotland’s east coast.

The Kinneuchar Inn, Scotland

seafood dish at kinneuchar inn

Jeremy says: ‘If I was up at home in Scotland I’d beat a path to the Kinneuchar Inn, which I love. It’s just brilliant. That was such a genius move of James (Ferguson) and Alethea (Palmer) - they’re great pals from way back, much as we miss them here. Kinneuchar feels a lot like Rochelle Canteen but in Scotland, which I think is incredibly special and wonderful. It’s important that these things are far reaching. Much as I’m very capital-centric, it’s great to know that outside London there are more and more places with the confidence to run those sorts of menus.’
Where: 9-11 Main Street, Kilconquhar, KY9 1LF
Book now: The Kinneuchar Inn

Rochelle Canteen, London

rochelle canteen terrace

Jeremy says: ‘Rochelle Canteen is another obvious one to go on the list. The setting is so beautiful, the food is really great and the folk are grand. It’s just a wonderful place.’
Where: 16 Playground Gardens, Shoreditch, E2 7FA
Book now: Rochelle Canteen

Cafe Deco, London

lamb with green sauce cafe deco

Jeremy says: ‘I think Anna (Tobias, Cafe Deco’s head chef) does wonderful things very quietly and brilliantly in a gentle way, which is a reflection of her. She cut her teeth with me at the Blueprint Cafe many years ago, and then we lucked out that she could help us out at Quo Vadis before she opened Cafe Deco. She left quite a void when she left, she was brilliant. It was great for her because she could really flex her muscles and make bread, and the most amazing pastries! So many delicious things. I have a lot of love for that one.
Where: 43 Store Street, Bloomsbury, WC1E 7DB
Book now: Cafe Deco

Cafe Cecilia, London

vitello tonnato cafe cecilia

Jeremy says: ‘Max cooked here before they opened Cafe Cecilia I think! They were our first Quo Vadis and Friends dinner post-COVID, so it was all very special and quite a deep bond was created there. It’s a beautiful place and a magnificent room, the light is really extraordinary. The food is great and they have a lovely crew. That’s a great favourite as well. They’re a classic example of somewhere you have to book - you’ve got to be on your mettle! If you haven’t booked by at least the Wednesday before you’re dead in the water.’
Where: Canal Place, 32 Andrews Road, Hackney, E8 4FX
Book now: Cafe Cecilia

The Royal China Club, London

dim sum at royal china club

Jeremy says: ‘Dim sum at The Royal China Club is an absolute must. I love and adore it, and there’s a parcel of us that like to go there as often as possible! There’s Royal China which is a great old London legend, but two doors down is the Royal China Club which has, to my mind, the best dim sum in town.’
Where: 40-42 Baker Street, Marylebone, W1U 7AJ
Book now: The Royal China Club

Got a taste for dim sum? Check out our guide to the best restaurants in Chinatown, or this list of the best dim sum restaurants in London

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