As a melting pot of cultures, London’s culinary scene is like no other. Varied and vibrant, you’d be forgiven for visiting just to sample the delicacies of the exquisite British capital. From fine dining to quirky bars and tiered afternoon tea, if you only have space in your stomach for twelve visits in London, make them these.
The Grill at The Dorchester
Best for Romance
Superstar chef Tom Booton’s interpretation of a modern-day British grill is the ultimate spot to impress a date. The Grill is course after course of gastronomic delight based on fresh local ingredients hand-picked by the man himself; dinner’s Ribeye and Suckling Pig for example; rich in flavor, unique by design, and the presentation of dishes like the chilled almond soup, offer talking point between romantic acquaintances. Dessert pushes the experience further – the restaurant’s botanical-stacked Pudding Bar offers an opportunity to sit up close and watch your sweet creations come to life. Who knew a soft serve machine could do so much? Meanwhile, award-winning bartender, Lucia Montanelli, shakes up an array of beautiful pours including Gentleman Tom made with Old Tom gin, or bubbles will make their way to the table via trolley for your selection. If you both have space for a little more, stroll around the hotel and stop off at one of its stunning bars or seasonal pop-ups. Your date will be swept off their feet.
Best for: A tropical vibe
In the heart of Mayfair amidst a Rolls-Royce stacked square sits one of London’s trendiest restaurants, Amazonico. Here, you’re promised a trip through Latin America, minus the humidity. A promise with a twist; Chef Vitelio Reyes and his team carefully refine each and every dish to reflect the flavors of the Amazon region, with drops from Asia spilled into the potion. Take for example the Salmon Tiradito – sushi-grade raw king salmon, merged with exotic fruit, purple potato crisps, and tonka bean, transporting diners to the breezy coasts of Peru, or their grilled meat selection, largely in the name of Wagyu, but served Brazilian style. You’ll notice pineapples on the rotisserie en route to the table which should be taken as a hint – the Piña Rostizada (Roasted caramel glazed pineapple, corn cake, coconut sorbet) is their show-stealing dessert. Afterward, join the festivities as resident DJs both in the main bar and exclusive invite-only ‘Club’ at the back provide for an A-List jungle rave.
Best for: A friendly local vibe
Greek bistro, Suzi Tros, is a cozy-casual affair in Notting Hill, helmed by a husband and wife team who package the flavors of Mykonos with sustainability and seasonality in mind. The menu is designed to be shared, from the refreshing ‘raw’ Sea Bream Carpaccio to the ‘butcher’ Grandmama Meatballs, and even the dessert is well-portioned for two knocking spoons. This doesn’t feel like going out to eat, this feels like a visit to see family; family who you’re not really related to but somehow miss and want to see more than your American siblings. The Smoked Aubergine with tahini and thyme honey deserves a second visit (or two plates if you have the space). Warm, local, unpretentious, and delicious, Suzi Tros is a regular Londoner Rendez-vous to pop in and out of between arrangements.
The Botanical at Kew Gardens
Best for Nature lovers
The Botanical is like a step back in time to a glorious British period drama; perched at the core of the famed Kew Gardens (a UNESCO World Heritage site) within a former museum, it offers patrons a sophisticated garden dining experience. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available, facing Palm House and the garden’s grand lake, where you’ll tuck into tiered sweet treats or modern English fare among a chic family atmosphere of Londoners who’ve graduated from the bustle of Soho to the elegance of West. The seasonal menu features herbs, plants, and flowers foraged from the garden, as well as locally sourced produce. This combination of fresh ingredients, fresh air, and a landscape you must explore after, is rejuvenating (even after scones). Note that there’s a separate entrance fee if you intend on dining on Kew grounds, and The Botanical will be refurbished this fall.
Best for: The adventurous
What do you get when you combine Japan with the Middle East? A spectacular dining concept is called Jiji. Islington’s newest restaurant is already the talk of London town thanks to its out-of-this-world (but lucky for us in this world) creations, the mastermind of renowned restaurateur Janina Wolkow. She fuses her two beloved cuisines to demonstrate the power of pairing. Think sushi dishes that make you forget tradition like the blow torched scallop nigiri with creme fraiche and ikura – it’ll blow torch your mind; and smoked aubergine sashimi, with Israeli salad, feta, and blueberries (best sided with the house flatbread) – pure genius. Who would have thought such a celebration of culinary cultures could exist on the back streets of demure Esther Anne Place? Jiji is a must for the tourist wandering off the beaten path and loving every minute of it.
Salon De Thé at Mariage Frères
Best for Afternoon tea
Whilst afternoon tea options in London are aplenty, we’ve got to hand it over to Mariage Frères’ new(ish) London tea emporium. The legendary French retailer brings a tea-savoir to the capital within a stunning Georgian townhouse in Covent Garden that’s part shop, part restaurant, part glam event space, and art museum. For afternoon tea, head up to the Salon De Thé, an atrium, and the gallery was taken straight out of a Parisian postcard. There are two tea sets to choose from; each with delicate savory canapés, fruit scones sided by Gelées de Thé, and tea-infused sweet creations that are an impressive work of art. Both sets are paired with a brew from an extensive list of luxury teas (try the signature Marco Polo if it’s your first time) prepared by a diligent and passionate staff. Tea cocktails and champagne are also available.
Steven Edwards Restaurant at Bingham Riverhouse
Best for A city escape
What’s special about Richmond is that it offers Londoners a city escape without leaving the city. Bingham Riverhouse is the just medicine for serenity. On-site restaurant by MasterChef: The Professionals winner, Steven Edwards, is an English storybook brought to life. Enter the charming mansion perched along the waters and lush flora, and indulge in an astounding taster menu showcasing the very best in local, seasonal produce. Dishes include fresh asparagus soup with crushed peas and mint and slow-cooked duck egg yolk with a wild garlic puree and nasturtium. All artistically positioned and with fresh-from-the-garden touches to complement natural surroundings. The outside grounds and member’s lounge overlooking the river invite for a post-meal beverage.
Brasserie of Light at Selfridges
Best for Shoppers
Shopaholics in London all know where to burn plastic: Selfridges voted the best department store in the world. It has literally everything under one roof, so there’s no surprise that this includes excellent dining destinations. Brasserie of Light is designer-glitz from floor to ceiling. In its heavens is London’s largest scale artwork, a 24ft crystal encrusted Pegasus by Damien Hirst which towers over patrons, reflecting light across three stories of window. Seriously, everything down to the mirrored bathrooms and the bar shelving has sparkle. The food is all-day classic British and international-inspired fare, including weekend brunch and champagne afternoon tea. Dinner is worth sticking through till dessert because the finish is social media gold (tip: go for the Eton Cheesecake for two if your camera roll is especially hungry).
Best for Views
There are two things we can’t forget at Hutong; the views and the Peking duck. Let’s start with the views. The restaurant is situated on floor 33 of the modern icon, The Shard, soaring above all the postcard landmarks from Tower Bridge to St.Paul’s Cathedral. What you see depends on where you’re seated, and thankfully we’re in a city peeping with famous sights at every angle. The journey to your observatory-worthy seat is likewise photogenic, inspired by old Beijing alleyways with generous use of dark oak décor and traditional Chinese red lanterns hanging from the walls. Don your finest because this is absolutely an occasion. Head chef Sifu Fei Wang and his team bring Sichuan province recipes and beyond to match. We can’t recommend the Peking duck enough, authentically prepared, stylishly presented; it can be ordered a la carte or discovered as part of the signature lunch and dinner menus. Riesling goes especially well with its sweet hoisin sauce.
Rondo at The Hoxton, Holborn
Best for An all-day hang out
Looking to unwind with pals? Our top pick goes to The Hoxton in Holborn. The ground floor lobby and restaurant are all-day chill zones for young urban professionals and creatives. In the day, you can flip open your laptop with a coffee on the big comfy couches facing the bustling old streets of London, come evening catch up with a friend or two at the bar over a glass of wine or cocktail, and when the gang arrives stroll into Rondo for more casual fare and fun. It’s the kind of bold British restaurant you’d frequent if you lived down the street, with seasonal bistro dishes like summer salads, barbecue lamb, and buttery lemon soles. Not venturing into Holborn? There are Hoxton outposts in Southwark and Shoreditch with equally happening hangouts.
Netil360 Rooftop Bar and Sauna
Best for Quirky Fun with friends
For fun times with the gang, with an experience incorporated, check out East London’s Netil360. On their rooftop bar, you’ll discover beautiful hand-crafted Finnish saunas, complete with a hot rainfall shower, cold waterfall, and fire pit seating area. Parties will enjoy the healing and relaxation of the traditional sauna interspersed with breaks around the fire pit to chat, hydrate and take in glorious city views. After the sauna, continue festivities out on the faux lawn among the creative crowd. The summer season runs from April to September (when the ice-cold showers are a blessing) and the winter season is from October to March. Check the website for updates and slots.
Best for Detox Brunch
Japanese fusion restaurant TOKii’s brunch can be what you make of it; we suggest going down the detox route if you’ve overindulged in the week. Their famed Akaokti Breakfast is a Japanese-style presentation of tamago omelet, grilled salmon, egg tofu, white rice, steamed vegetables, and a wonderfully brothy miso soup. Light and healthy, yet filling, it pairs nicely with their detox green juice and ends bitter-sweetly a with Matcha latte. Feeling festive? Heavier alternatives include a full English, Eggs Benedict, and pancakes. TOKii’s brunch menu runs Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am until 3 pm, and bottomless sparkling sake or Prosecco options are also available.