If you can’t stand the heat… make sure someone else is in the kitchen, duh. As the mercury shot skywards in the capital, our readers headed out to London’s restaurants – with mixed results. Read on to find out which places didn’t break a sweat during the heatwave, and which got into a hot mess. Join in next month with your own #SMDinerReview and you could be our next winner.
Words: Nicky Evans
As temperatures soared, our in-the-know readers made the most of the summer weather by seeking out under-the-radar terraces. Trouble is, most of them want to keep their alfresco discoveries to themselves. Lynn W thoroughly enjoyed a ‘hearty supper on the terrace’ of hidden gem Ognisko (above), while Sally H was impressed by the Battersea branch of Little Bird and hopes ‘the pretty, secret garden stays that way’ (we’re not holding our breath, Sally). Meanwhile, Gourmand Gunno walked just five minutes east from Tower Bridge tourist hell and nipped into the ‘still relatively undiscovered’ Blueprint Café for great terrace views. Top tip, that – it’s an oldie but a goodie.
June was also a month for special occasion dining, thanks to a flurry of reader birthdays and anniversaries. If you’re planning a memorable meal, Brendan G declares The Orange ‘a great place to be treated to lunch’, while Lesley T found the ‘innovative, delicious and beautifully presented’ vegetarian tasting menu at Alyn Williams at The Westbury Hotel (above) to be money well spent for her friend’s birthday treat. As for Tara H, her anniversary must have been a biggie, because she and her husband revelled in ‘a night to remember’ at The Ritz Restaurant, where they were ‘treated like royalty by every member of staff’.
Not all service received such high praise this month: the heat definitely got to some front-of-house teams. Silvina K gave Polpo Covent Garden the thumbs down due to lost drinks and a ‘confused waiter’; The Stranger found service at Bad Egg not just bad, but ‘really appalling’ when he tried to get his money’s worth at brunch; and Robert T’s bill problems at La Bodega were the last straw after a night of ‘incredibly slow’ service.
It wasn’t all bad: some waiters managed to keep their cool. Staff at Galvin at the Athenaeum (above) ‘went out of their way to help’ Petite A; ‘truly great, attentive service’ at Shackfuyu made Lloyd S’s visit ‘a real pleasure’; while restaurants that are swamped even when the sun isn’t out – that’s you Manicomio City and Camino King’s Cross – got pats on the back for their ‘professional’, ‘pleasant’ service. It pays to get service right: Charlotte C tipped big at The Clerk and Well, and says her generosity was ‘completely deserved’.
There are no complaints about service at London’s most prestigious restaurants, and that’s just one of the reasons our readers return time and again to the capital’s classics – and then tell us all what an awesome time they had. Mike S paid a second (lucky him) visit to Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (above) and called it ‘a welcome return to hands down the best restaurant in London’. Meanwhile Lotte K found the service, food and wines at Pied à Terre to be ‘absolutely outstanding’ once again – she vows to ‘keep coming back many times’. Nina K rates the ‘impeccable service’ and ‘stunning setting’ of Yauatcha Soho, and David O has added Pollen Street Social to his list of ‘special places’. These restaurants have stood the test of time – a terrific accomplishment in London.
To simpler pleasures now, and the never-ending quest for London’s best pizza. Three contenders were selected by readers this month: Laura P swears those at newcomer Quartieri are ‘the best ever’ (and – psst! – she also rates their alfresco tables), and Joanna C namechecked the ‘great pizzas’ in her gushing review of Tank and Paddle. But it was Matthew C who got the most excitable, calling the pizzas at Made of Dough ‘unreal… the best I have had in the UK’. That’s fighting talk, Matthew. Here, for the record, is our pick of the capital’s best pizzas– where gets your vote?
Whatever the weather, there are reasons to smile if you’re a SquareMeal reader reviewer: we’re always giving away prizes for our favourite reviews. Get writing about your latest restaurant experience – we want all the dirt as well as the nice stuff – and you could be the next winner of prizes including £250 to spend at a restaurant of your choice, a Lavazza coffee machine (above), cookbooks, bubbly and more. If you like restaurants (and if you don’t, why are you reading this?), there’s no reason not to get involved.
This article was published 14 July 2017