With the UK reopening bars and restaurants on December 2, it's time to book a table for Christmas drinks or dinner. We round up the best restaurants and bars in London to drink and dine, so that you can follow in the footsteps of superyachts Big Fish and Eilean by docking your yacht on the Thames and visiting London’s nightlife hotspots ashore.
The Best Restaurants and Bars in London
Sumosan Twiga is a favoured celebration spot for Londoners thanks to its vibrant atmosphere and unique Italian-Japanese fusion menu. Mixing east and west with finesse, dishes including creamy burrata and truffled risotto alongside duck confit gyoza or king crab maki rolls will ensure that all guests at the table can find something to their liking. The bar also serves an exciting amalgamation of concotions, from European cocktails or Italian limoncello, to sake and Japanese beer, as the perfect pairing to your indulgent meal.
Located inside luxurious London hideout hotel The Marylebone, 108 Brasserie is a dining spot for all seasons. In summer, glass doors are opened for diners to take in the city buzz from a leafy terrace, while in winter, roaring fireplaces and seating adorned in crimson-coloured leathers and burnt orange mohair provide a cosy ambience to welcome guests in from the cold. The menu is modern European, offering British classics like battered haddock as well as fusion or Mediterranean-inspired dishes for lighter options. Opt for the miso-blackened cod to awaken taste buds with oriental flavours, and finish off with a warming Bramley apple crumble for dessert.
City busybodies can be found unwinding after work at this refined restaurant, which has locations in Bishopsgate and Covent Garden. The menu is inspired by South American and Japanese cuisine, so expect everything from salmon and tamarind ceviche to Kobe beef served on a hot Ishiyaki stone. The cuisine is undeniably enhanced by the vibrant interiors and buzzing atmosphere at both branches.
100 Wardour Street
Rock and Roll aficionados should already be acquainted with this Soho Venue. When it was known as the Marquee Club in the 1980s, legends such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix performed. Crowds are drawn to witness new music acts being introduced, but chef Kim Woodward serves up sumptuous dishes too, such as pappardelle with venison ragu. The health-conscious should enjoy Woodward’s vegan chocolate and cherry parfait dessert.
Surrounded by St Paul’s cathedral and The Gherkin, this imposing bank building from 1924 was reopened as a city-serving hotel in 2017 by Soho House founder Nick Jones. Eight excellent eateries span the historic 3,000 square metre former banking hall, but brunch at The Ned is the main event. Every Sunday, a feast is spread out across Millie’s Lounge, The Nickel Bar and Lutyens Grill for a decadent brunch. Expect unlimited servings of lobster, oysters, roasts and trimmings, plus a Bloody Mary cocktail and Mimosa trolley.
Benares is named after India's holy city and perfectly captures the culture of its namesake with its exotic interior decor, lacquered woodwork finishes and ambience-enhancing water features. The menu marries daring modernity with Indian culinary traditions, featuring dishes such as hand dived scottish scallops in coconut curry and sweet treats like rasmalai mille fuille with fresh mango and mascarpone cream.
High-end Peruvian restaurant COYA brings Latin American flavours to Mayfair courtesy of chef Sanjay Dwivedi. It sits in prime position next to Green Park, just down the road from Buckingham Palace. The plush underground spot boasts flamboyant décor and a lively atmosphere that embraces its South American theme and Inca-inspired menu. Try the tacos stuffed with Cornish crab, yuzu-infused flying fish roe, and creamy avocado.
Soho basement bar Ronnie’s Scotts has been hosting jazz nights since the 1950’s. It’s reputation has remained well in tact since then, as music lovers of all ages still descend on the speak-easy style club almost every night for music and a meal. Enjoy the tunes with a side of Imperial Oscietra caviar or Ronnie’s famous fish pie.
The Grill at The Dorchester
Historic Park Lane hotel The Dorchester has seen its Grill rejuvenated with the introduction of Chef Tom Booton, the youngest ever to run the restaurant. British ingredients are used in dishes such as Cumbrian beef tartare or Prawn Scotch egg. House specialities include the lobster thermidor tart and a beautifully presented wellington, but make sure to leave space for the dessert too.
If you’re in the mood for dumplings, Yauatcha is the place to go. This gourmet Chinese restaurant specialises in delicious dim sum and (almost) too-pretty-to-eat sweet treats. Yauatcha is also part of the Hakkasan group, so has echoes of the sleek décor and imaginative menu seen at its sister restaurant. Try the Lobster dumpling with Tobiko caviar, ginger and shallots, followed by a mouthful of Strawberry wasabi macaron.
Shoreditch stalwart Lyle’s is a masterclass in modern British cuisine, using simple, traditional ingredients for maximum impact. Head chef James Lowe values seasonal cooking so the menu changes almost daily, depending on which ingredients are the best on any given day. During the summer, the Lyle’s team drives to the south coast each week to hand-pick fruit. Set inside the old Lipton factory on the Bethnal Green Road, Lyle’s is only a stone’s throw from buzzy Brick Lane and features brutalist poured concrete floors and minimalistic white elm furniture to make for quintessential East-London-cool dining.
Words by Alicia Glenn
Brunch is simply grander when eaten in The Wolseley’s distinguished dining room. Vaulted ceilings and monochromatic marble give the British institution an elevated European flair, but the restaurant also serves probably the best Eggs Benedict in town. Pair breakfast with a decadent hot drink such as an Affogato (espresso poured over vanilla ice cream) or a Mozart (coffee with hazelnut liqueur, hot chocolate, crème chantilly and almond flakes). Then walk off your meal with a stroll around nearby Green Park.
Madera at Treehouse London
The sister branch of Toca Madera in Los Angeles, Madera at Treehouse is a verdant oasis amidst the rooftops of Marylebone. Panoramic views of London’s skyline, combined with wicker furnishings, hanging botanicals and the soft lighting of lanterns creates an atmospheric and romantic restaurant for dining on sumptuous Mexican cuisine. For something with a kick, order the tequila-marinated prawns, or, if you’re meat-free, try the vegan ceviche made with hearts of palm, shaved coconut and mango.
Carlo Scotto takes diners on a culinary adventure with his inspired tasting menu at Xier. The freshest of seasonal produce is transported to the gourmet kitchens of this elegant Marylebone eatery, and used to create indulgent dishes influenced by the chef's journeys through Europe, Scandinavia and Japan. Menu highlights include the black truffle seasoned gruyère fondue with brûlée brioche and fizzy grapes, or the crispy artichoke served inside a cirtrus-flavoured pancake.
Artist’s retreat Sketch has become a trendy Mayfair hangout famed for its whimsical décor. Each dining room has a distinct design theme that’s been elaborately realised through artwork and furnishings, from a forest glade eatery to a paint-splattered parlour. Visitors will likely recognise the Afternoon Tea Gallery from Instagram; a kitschy, blush-pink tearoom that looks akin to a Wes Anderson film still. The food at Sketch is just as quirky as the surroundings, with dishes on the menu like verbena-infused lobster fricassé or guinea fowl breast stuffed with almond and pistachio cream.
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