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Food & Drink

There’s never been a better time to eat out in London. British cooking is better than it has ever been, and the capital still has some of the most diverse restaurants of any city in the world. You’ll find Bangladeshi and Burmese, Ethiopian and Turkish, as well as fine French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Thai restaurants. And if none of that appeals to you, there’s always good old fish ‘n’ chips.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

£££

The Japanese-inspired L’Atelier is dimly lit, but the open kitchen makes an impressive focal point. Small tasting dishes are the best way to explore the work of French super-chef Joël Robuchon, although a European-style menu format is also available.

  www.joel-robuchon.com

Address
13-15 West Street, Covent Garden
Telephone Number
020 7010 8600
Closest Station
Leicester Square Tube

Cow

££

Tom Conran’s highly popular Cow gastropub has a retro-Irish vibe and some excellent seafood to go along with a nice range of drinks. The Cow knows it’s cool and the crowds do nothing to dissuade it.

  www.thecowlondon.co.uk

Address
89 Westbourne Park Road, Westbourne Grove
Telephone Number
020 7221 0021
Closest Station
Royal Oak or Westbourne Park Tube

Eagle

££

Widley credited with being the first London gastropub, this is still recognisably a pub serving terrific Iberian/Med-influenced food. It’s noisy and often crowded, with no-frills service. The dining room is dominated by a giant open range, where T-shirted cooks toss grills amid theatrical burst of flames.

  www.theeaglefarringdon.co.uk

Address
159 Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell
Telephone Number
020 7837 1353
Closest Station
Farringdon Tube

Geales

££

Geales opened as a chippie in 1939, but it has long been the habitat of Notting Hill’s casually dressed middle class. Fish remains the focus of the menu, and the likes of cod, hake and haddock arrive beautifully battered and fresh as the new tide.

  www.geales.com

Address
2 Farmers Street, Notting Hill
Telephone Number
020 7727 7528
Closest Station
Notting Hill Gate

Hakkasan

£££

Where Alan Yau opened this glamourous take on the Shanghai teahouse in 2001, he redefined Chinese dinging in the UK. Today its dark, moody, nightclub feel, chillout lounge music and high-ticket dining still pull some of the liveliest, richest crowds in town.

  www.hakkasan.com

Address
8 Hanway Place, Fitzrovia
Telephone Number
020 7907 1888
Closest Station
Tottenham Court Road

J Sheekey

££

Unlike many of London’s period pieces, Sheekey’s buzzes with fashionable folk and famous faces. Tables are cramped, but it’s all part of the fun. The menu stretches from comforting favourites (fish pie, dense salmon fish cakes) to accomplished modern British and European cooking.

  www.j-sheekey.co.uk

Address
28-32 St Martin’s Court, Leicester Square
Telephone Number
020 7240 2565
Closest Station
Leicester Square

Manze

£

Manze’s is surely the finest remaining purveyor of pie and mash – the super-cheap traditional dish of London’s working classes. It’s not only the oldest pie shop, established in 1902, but also the most beautiful, with tiled interior, marble-topped tables and worn wooden benches.

  www.manze.co.uk

Address
87 Tower Bridge Road, Southwark
Telephone Number
020 7407 2985
Bus
1, 42, 188

Moro

££

Moro is fully booked night after night, so phone at least 48 hours ahead if you want to sample the secret of its success: consistently high-quality cooking and cheerful dining space on fashionable Exmouth Market. The inventive menu focuses on North African and Spanish cooking.

  www.moro.co.uk

Address
34-36 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell
Telephone Number
020 7833 8336
Closest Station
Farringdon

National Dining Rooms

££

Choose from a bar menu, sample an array of tempting baked goods, or even take a cultured afternoon tea. But the real attraction remains the main menu of British staples, delivered with skill and efficiency – it’s more impressive than the institutional location might suggest.

  www.thenationaldiningrooms.co.uk

Address
Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
Telephone Number
020 7747 2525
Closest Station
Charing Cross

Roast

££

Perched above Borough Market, Roast celebrates its marvellous location with a menu inspired by British produce, much of it sourced from the stall-holders below. Seasonality and freshness are the buzz words – there’s no doubting the quality of the ingredients.

  www.roast-restaurant.com

Address
Floral Hall, Borough Market, Stoney Street, Bankside
Telephone Number
020 7940 1300
Closest Station
London Bridge

St John

££

A leading light in the revival of British cuisine, St John is an austere-looking and modest place, opened in the shell of a former Smithfield smokehouse. The focus is on seasonal British ingredients (heavy on the pork), which are simply cooked and presented.

  www.stjohnrestaurant.co.uk

Address
26 St John Street, Clerkenwell
Telephone Number
020 7251 0848
Closest Station
Barbican or Farringdon

Sketch

£££

Of the three sections of Pierre Gagnaire’s legendarily expensive Sketch – including extravagant destination dining at the Gallery and the Lecture Room’s haute-beyond-haute cuisine – the glade is the most egalitarian. Its menus are appropriate artful and not unreasonably priced for the quality.

  www.sketch.uk.com

Address
9 Conduit Street, Mayfair
Telephone Number
020 7659 4500
Closest Station
Oxford Circus

London Hack

Note that most London restaurants serve food from noon to 2.30/3pm, and from 6pm/7.30pm to around 11pm.