Square Meal's Best Restaurants of 2014


Posted on 23 December 2014 • Written By Dominic Rowntree

Square Meal's Best Restaurants of 2014

The last 12 months have been as exciting a year as we can remember on the London restaurant scene. So to help you decide where to eat in 2015, we’ve selected our favourite 20 restaurants of 2014. The list showcases the remarkable diversity of the capital’s dining scene as we head into the new year, from thrilling newcomers to established classics. We’ve compiled the list using a combination of sources: in-house critical opinion, traffic to our website – and, of course, feedback from our readers, canvassed through 8,000 responses to reader surveys throughout the year and comments left at SquareMeal.co.uk

We hope our top 20 gives you inspiration as well as food for thought: if you disagree with our selection, let us know on Twitter @SquareMeal

1. Gymkhana
We said: It's a rare thing: a restaurant that is as much of a critical darling as a popular smash hit.
You said: “I ate like a member of the East India Company.The service was subtle but very attentive.”

2. Chiltern Firehouse (pictured below right)
We said: Celebrities sprinkle stardust through the dining room, while staff prove they are far more than a cast of pretty faces.Chiltern Firehouse
You said: “The crab donuts really are as good as they say and the rest of the menu is pretty outstanding.”

3. Galvin la Chapelle
We said: The contemporary renderings of classic French cuisine thrill.
You said: “Sublime service, excellent food, old fashioned glamour.”

4. City Social
We said: Dark, earthy tones, soft lighting and the maitre d’s natty tweeds lend a sophisticated air to Jason Atherton’s Tower 42 eyrie.
You said: “Starters of quail with pearl barley and sweetcorn with crisp pancetta rashers came smartly presented, deftly done and very good to eat.”

5. The Palomar
We said: Friendly, expert staff encourage you to experiment, and there’s plenty to enjoy.
You said: “I’m struggling to find enough superlatives to praise the place.”

6. Le Gavroche
We said: Diners come here to revel in fine food, luxurious comfort and perfectly choreographed service.
You said: “The food brings conversations to a halt as one savours each and every mouthful.”

7. Duck & Waffle (pictured below right)
We said: Spicy ox-cheek donuts covered in paprika sugar provide an interesting contrast between sweet and meat.
You said: “The magical glass Charlie and the Chocolate Factory lift which whizzed up to the 40th floor was worth the £67-a-head bill in itself.”View from dining room at Duck and Waffle

8. Kurobuta (Chelsea)
We said: Totally addictive food, bursting with punchy flavours and eye-catching presentation.
You said: “The buzzy surroundings and exuberance of the team means you have to give it a try.”

9. The Ledbury
We said: In 10 years chef Brett Graham has achieved two Michelin stars and global renown, yet this young Aussie maintains his drive for perfection.
You said: “Hands down the best food in London.The bacon and onion bread sets the mood for the scrumptious courses to follow.”

10. Fera
We said: This restaurant is a dazzling confirmation of Rogan’s arrival in gastronomy’s international big league.
You said: “Great British produce enhanced by Simon Rogan’s style of utilizing herbs and flowers.”

11. Hakkasan Mayfair
We said: The kitchen’s trick is to refine and reinvent the familiar classics of Cantonese cooking without rendering them unfamiliar.
You said: “The food is exquisitely presented using lots of colour from exotic and native ingredients.”

12. Barrafina (Soho) (pictured below right)
We said: Judging by the way Barrafina is performing these days, we reckon it could teach its Spanish progenitors a thing or two about cooking great food.Barrafina - Full length of bar
You said: “The eat-at-the-bar concept really suits the light, bright, informal atmosphere.”

13. L’Anima
We said: Such unusual flavour combinations show the kitchen’s confidence and they produce delectable mouthfuls, both sweet and piquant.
You said: “Fritto misto; rack of lamb; crab with asparagus: the cooking was faultless.”

14. The Wolseley
We said: Like its smooth-as-silk owners Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, the menu fits suavely between Britain, France and Austria like some dapper 19th-century diplomat.
You said: “The Wolseley is rather like Pippa Middleton’s bottom – it’s come to epitomise London.”

15. Bocca di Lupo
We said: The regional Italian menu’s breadth and depth is virtually unsurpassed in London.
You said: “Authentic regional food that lets you explore Italy from the comfort of a relaxed restaurant in Soho.”

16. Clos Maggiore
We said: A menu of intricate, contemporary French dishes is delivered with assured skill.
You said: “This is the real deal: superb French food with exotic Caribbean influences.”

17. The Clove Club (pictured below right)
We said: A journey of gastronomic delights.Clove Club shoreditch dining room and kitchen photo
You said: “Fried chicken that kicks KFC’s butt!”

18. Zuma
We said: Sushi is a must, especially the lip-smacking dynamite spider roll with softshell crab.
You said: “Consistent excellence for over a decade. A special experience.”

19. Kitchen W8
We said: This restaurant comes modestly dressed as a genuine local for smart, savvy west Londoners.
You said: “Dishes consisted of both bold and subtle flavours, with a particularly divine spiced bread purée with the quail.”

20. Daphne’s
We said: This Chelsea darling still attracts a sparkling clientele, with trophy wives and business suits by day and the international crowd at night.
You said: “Food portions are mostly generous and the wine list is actually quite exciting. There’s often a bottle of something I’ve never heard of before.”

Read the latest reviews of the restaurants in the Square Meal 2015 London Restaurant and Bar Guide. Click here to register for your free copy.