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London Restaurant Guide

Rohan Vasa, Writer

Give London a break. It has great food, and its reputation for mediocrity in the culinary scene is as outdated as a 1970s avocado-colored kitchen. Here are the restaurants that need to be on your list next time youre in town. And yes, they do serve more than fish and chips — but those are pretty good too.

Thanks to the diverse cultures and people that have made this city home, London has some of the most eclectic food and restaurant choices in the world. What’s even better, the London culinary scene features chefs who are bringing a new and innovative approach to dining. This applies not only to their dishes but also to the atmosphere when you enter the restaurants. Here’s our guide to the not-to-miss dining experiences in all of London.

The Restaurant: The Main

The Location: Mayfair

Overview:

The Main is set in a restored historical townhouse that merges the old world with the new. In fact, The Main gives four options in one. For dining during the day, there is The Drawing Room, which overlooks Hanover Square. The Drawing Room is a reimagining of the original space, which belonged to the Duke of Montrose in the 18th century. Decorated in a mid-century modern aesthetic, this is the perfect place for larger gatherings and private events.

Another option is The Terrace, covered in foliage but still filled with light. It has a glass enclosure that allows it to serve food year round. For dining at night there is The Brasserie. The Brasserie has a cabaret-style feel where all the tables face a stage for live jazz and burlesque shows. There is a great raw bar with a selection of seafood and caviar, in addition to a wood-fired grill. There is also the Tavern, a speakeasy-style watering hole located in the cellar, with elegant drinks and lighter snacks. But some of the favorites from The Brasserie menu are served here as well. 

The Restaurant: MiMi Mei Fair

The Location: Mayfair

Overview:

MiMi Mei Fair takes diners on a culinary journey through different places in Asia, with a focus on China. The menu is inspired by the fictional Empress MiMi’s travels through Hong Kong, Singapore, and Mainland China. This creates an eclectic overview of the best dishes from each place. Chef Peter Ho leads the kitchen, bringing his experience from Lei Garden Singapore (Michelin-starred), My Humble House Beijing, and Hakkasan London. MiMi Mei Fair has a variety of dining rooms.

On the first floor there’s The Hall and The Drawing Room, which feature antique cabinets, upholstered booths, and marbled flooring. The Peacock Room can be booked for private parties and intimate celebrations. On the second floor there is The Library, outfitted in emerald green and featuring a fireplace. In addition, there’s The Parlor, which includes coral screens and a lacquered chandelier. With each dining option, you can choose from an à la carte or dim sum menu.

The Restaurant: Core by Clare Smyth

The Location: Kensington

Overview:

Core opened in August 2017 and went on to win numerous awards, including three stars Michelin stars in 2021. Clare herself went on to win the World’s Best Female Chef Award, presented by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Core isn’t about wooing its audience through performance and presentation, but rather showing what you can do with natural, sustainable food sourced from the U.K. Consequently, Core has three kinds of tasting menus. There is the classic menu with features like Scallop Tartare and Hedwick Lamb. The seasonal menu has dishes like a Cornish turbot and a crispy veal sweetbread. Finally, the à la carte options includes items from both the classic and seasonal menus. 

The Restaurant: Ruya London

The Location: Mayfair

Overview:

Ruya takes its inspiration from the Turkish heritage of its restaurateur, Umut Özkanca. He’s on a mission to elevate and promote Turkish cuisine to the rest of the world. With Ruya, Özkanca offers contemporary takes on dishes from the Anatolian regions. Ruya focuses on seasonal plates and has partnered with various British farmers to source local fresh ingredients. These ingredients are prepared in a variety of ways, from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. Furthermore, Ruya has a variety of menus to fit all dietary restrictions. The Mekan Bar serves cocktails, wines, and anise from the seven regions of Anatolia. Be sure to try the signature cocktail here, the Nazar Sour. 

 

The Restaurant: The Twenty-Two

The Location: Mayfair

Overview:

The Twenty-Two is one of the most happening places in London right now. It’s both a hotel and an exclusive club, with a restaurant that’s equally as enticing. Put together by chef Alan Christie, the menu combines British and Mediterranean influences. The focus here is to let the ingredients speak for themselves with minimal intervention. Subsequently, this lends itself to creating a lighter menu accompanied by great cocktails in a creative environment.

The Restaurant: Lurra

The Location: Marylebone

Overview:

Lurra was started by Melody and Namanja, who, after visiting San Sebastian, fell in love with Basque cuisine. With Lurra, they focus on cooking traditional Basque dishes rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. The food is influenced by the charcoal- and wood-fired grill that’s a staple in Basque dining. Lurra means “land” in Basque, and the name was chosen because of the mission to source local, organic products. Signature dishes include a whole grilled wild turbot, octopus with piquillo, and burnt cheesecake. Lurra also has a stellar wine list, with bottles that come from Spain and particularly the Basque country. 

The Restaurant: Frog by Adam Handling 

The Location: Covent Garden

Overview:

Frog by Adam Handling is a Michelin-starred restaurant that is as much about theatrics as about food. As a result you get to see the kitchen and interact with chefs and other members of their team. The tasting menus feature top-notch British ingredients sourced from regional farmers and fishermen. Each dish is personal to Adam, who got his start at the prestigious Gleneagles Hotel at the tender age of 16. From there, chef Adam went on to winning one culinary award after another, eventually garnering the Michelin star in 2022. In addition, beneath Frog by Adam Handling, there is the luxury Eve Bar, which serves cocktails and snacks. Although chef Adam has gone on to open other restaurants in London, Frog by Adam Handling was his first, and it remains his crowning achievement. 

The Restaurant: Gold

The Location: Notting Hill

Overview:

Gold is an informal yet happening spot for dining and drinks in the neighborhood. Whether you’re coming in for lunch or late at night for drinks, Gold has an ambience that welcomes both. In addition, there are private rooms and spaces perfect for events or parties. For food, there are large, sharing-style plates with dishes that are cooked in wood-fired ovens. This live-fire process allows for roasting, charring, and slow-cooking different kinds of ingredients. For drinks, Gold serves organic natural wines as well as cocktails that are simple and flavorful. Gold aims to use minimal intervention and let the ingredients speak for themselves.

The Restaurant: Clarke’s Restaurant

The Location: Kensington

Overview:

Clarke’s Restaurant opened its doors in 1984, a few days before Christmas. Since then it has become a staple and has gained a steady influx of both new customers and loyal fans. This is largely due to owner Sally Clarke, whose dedication makes the restaurant what it is. The menus are inspired by British and Mediterranean cuisines and change twice a day. The lunch menu is a set, two-course meal with à la carte options. But the dinner menu has a wider selection, which allows the restaurant to showcase more of their ingredients. Clarke’s has relationships with an array of farmers and fisherman both in the U.K. and abroad. In addition, Sally bought out space across the street and opened a great bakery with a small café in the back. 

The Restaurant: Casa Cruz

The Location: Notting Hill

Overview:

Casa Cruz is a great neighborhood spot in Notting Hill. It spans two floors and has a lovely terrace. The menu focuses on South American and Latin cuisines, bringing together a variety of dishes from these influential cultures. Both the interior and exterior blend traditional layouts and ornamentation with a newer, modern approach to spice up the environment. The core of Casa Cruz’s mission is to bring people together to enjoy a meal. The interior dining is set up in a chic, intimate space with warm lighting and sophisticated décor. In addition, the terrace is braced by trees and greenery set on a wide wooden deck. 

The Restaurant: Isabel

The Location: Mayfair

Overview:

Isabel has a great atmosphere no matter what time you visit. The food and drink menu is inspired by Latin and Mediterranean cuisines, but with a fresh approach. The building dates back to 1905 and is a classic example of Beaux Arts architecture. Isabel celebrates the decadence of that past while giving the atmosphere a contemporary feel. In addition to a stellar à la carte menu, the place offers a select Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Food and cocktails change seasonally and are focused on bringing together unexpected ingredients to create inspiring tastes. 

The Restaurant: Amazonico

The Location: Mayfair

Overview:

Amazonico takes its name and gastronomical influence from the cultural diversity of the South America’s Amazonian region. The interior of the restaurant also reflects this. Its immersive greenery and lush canopies have become its signature and were designed by the artist Lázaro Rosa-Violán. The dishes reflect not only a Latin American influence but also different cultural communities that have impacted these regions. This can be seen in the Peruvian sushi and various other dishes. Amazonico has a live band that plays to the dining hall, as well as a resident DJ for its lounge. In both the food and the drinks, the tropical mixes with the modern. 

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