London’s Best Restaurants According to the London Lifestyle Awards

We’re pleased to announce that Pall Mall Barbers has been nominated for the London Lifestyle Awards Hair Salon of the year! We’re in good company – the list features some of the capitol’s best bars, restaurants and cultural attractions. You can check out the shortlist and cast your vote here until October 14th: https://www.londonlifestyleawards.com/vote. In the meantime, here’s our take on the best restaurant nominees.

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Best Restaurants in Mayfair

Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
53 Park Lane, W1K
Nearest Tube: Hyde Park Corner

We once spotted a ceramic Bugatti parked outside the Dorchester. It’s that sort of place. Alain Ducasse once owned three three-star Michelin restaurants at the same time. He’s that sort of chef. Entry to this temple of French haute-cuisine doesn’t come cheap. Three courses will set you back at least £100, and that’s before you’ve even glanced at the wine list. Unless you happen to be the owner of that Bugatti, you might want to save up.

Coya
118 Piccadilly, W1J
Nearest Tube: Hyde Park Corner

Peruvian cooking and pisco sours suddenly became A Thing a few years back. Coya is London’s most upmarket example of that cuisine – it is Mayfair, after all. Seafood lovers should be happy as clams (sorry) with endless varieties of ceviches, sashimi and tuna creations. There’s also an adjoining bar called Pisco – no prizes for guessing their speciality.

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Isabel by Casa Cruz
26 Albemarle Street, W1S
Nearest Tube: Green Park

Carbs are in scant evidence on the vaguely Argentinian inspired menu of Juan Santa Cruz’s second London restaurant. Small plates come daintily presented, and more than half the dishes are lactose, gluten and refined sugar-free. The two-story dining space is a mix of art deco and 70s design, and the downstairs bar transforms into a club after 10pm. Like all Santa Cruz affairs, Isabel is a glamorous affair, so make sure you dress up.

Le Gavroche
43 Upper Brook Street, W1K
Nearest Tube: Bond Street

Le Gavroche takes its name from the unlucky street urchin of Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables, but street clothes are strictly banned if you want to make it past the coat check. It’s perfectly possible to spend a fortune in the unapologetically formal Michelin-starred dining room. In fact, three diners did just that in 1997 when they racked up a bill of £20k in one evening. You won’t need to take out a second mortgage to dine well here, though – the set lunch menu is one of the best-kept secrets in London. £69 gets you three courses, half a bottle of wine and coffee to finish.

Mews of Mayfair
10 Lancashire Court, W1S
Nearest Tube: Bond Street

Once an 18th century townhouse, Mews of Mayfair is now a 21st century bar, restaurant and club. As with any British restaurant worth its Maldon sea salt, they’re quite keen on provenance. Even the halloumi is made in Sussex. The menu in the first-floor restaurant is a carb-heavy affair, all the better for soaking up their enormous collection of gin and rosé champagnes.

MNKY HSE
10 Dover Street, W1S
Nearest Tube: Green Park

What MNKY HSE lacks in vowels, it makes up for in flavours. The menu is divided into the same reassuringly pronounceable sections as your average Tex-Mex joint – the difference here is the innovative use of everyday ingredients. Soft tacos come stuffed with braised lamb and peppers, cauliflower appears as both a ceviche and a chilli-spiced gratin and there’s more Wagyu beef than you can shake a padron pepper at. Nothing comes cheap in Mayfair, and this is no exception. Mains start at £16 and go up to £260 for a steak (Wagyu, of course). Atmosphere is free if you log on to Sound Cloud where musical director Francesco Mami regularly uploads live music recordings from the upstairs lounge.

Novikov
50a Berkeley Street, W1J
Nearest Tube: Green Park

Who among us hasn’t faced the difficult decision of what to eat on their private jet? Fortunately, Novikov is on hand to help. The vast dining room is actually two restaurants in one – upstairs for pan-Asian, downstairs for Italian. Or you can mix and match from the takeaway menu – with 48 hours’ notice, they’ll be happy to deliver it straight to your Gulfstream G650 at any airport in the London area.

Quaglino’s
16 Bury Street, SW1Y
Nearest Tube: Green Park

The history of Quaglino’s goes back to 1929, though it was never so iconic as in the 90s when it was the favourite haunt of fashion royalty, media types and celebrities of all stripe. After a £3m facelift it relaunched in 2014, but the menu remains largely unchanged. Harissa, agave and sourdough make cameo appearances to remind us that this is indeed the 21st century, but it’s mostly classic European bistro fare. Go elsewhere for innovation, but for a good dose of nostalgia, it can’t be beat.

Roka Mayfair
30 North Audley Street, W1K
Nearest Tube: Bond Street

Roka started as a single restaurant on Charlotte Street, but has since expanded its empire with another three London sites. No matter the postcode, you’ll find an enormous robata grill in the heart of the dining room cooking up fish, lobster and Wagyu beef as the assembled diners look on. The £88 tasting menu gets you the full tour of the menu, but the signature dish is black cod marinated in yuzu. Those in the know insist that it’s to die for – as it should be for £37 per plate.

Sexy Fish
Berkeley Square House, W1J
Nearest Tube: Green Park

“If a sheik with a taste for chinoiserie fell out of an episode of ‘Poirot’ and opened a restaurant” is how one Time Out critic described the décor of this Mayfair newcomer. Opulent, aquatic themed Sexy Fish has been dividing opinions since it opened in 2015. The one thing they can agree on is that the food is beside the point. You don’t come here for maki rolls or Chilean sea bass. You come here for the people watching, and to gaze upon the proudly trashy bronze mermaid sculptures by none other than Damien Hirst. Jacket and tie optional, sense of humour essential.

sketch
9 Conduit Street, W1S
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus

The dress code at sketch is what they call “art smart”. More specifically, guests should dress “with a sense of style and character.” Which character exactly isn’t clear, but you will feel out of place in the (presumably) Alice In Wonderland inspired dining rooms if you don’t at least make an effort. The menu is similarly eccentric, veering from fish and chips to hare and sauerkraut via cheese and crackers. Don’t miss out on the toilets – no, really. Each pink or blue lit pod comes with its very own soundtrack of birdsong, flight announcements and other strange noises to leave you amused and unsettled.

The Wolseley
160 Piccadilly, W1J
Nearest Tube: Green Park

The building at 160 Piccadilly has been awash with money since it was built in 1921. It was originally occupied by now-defunct Wolseley Motors, a luxury car manufacturer that was popular in the 1920s. Barclays Bank took over the premises in 1927 and stayed for nearly seventy years. Since 2003, it’s been The Wolseley, the jewel in the crown of restauranteurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King. The menu of British and European bistro favourites is flawlessly executed and actually quite reasonably priced given the address and surroundings. You’ll need to book well in advance for dinner or Sunday lunch. Breakfast is a better bet for last-minute dining – it’s so good that food critic AA Gill wrote an entire book about it.

Pollen Street Social
8-10 Pollen Street, W1S
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus

Jason Atherton is having a good year – he’s got not one but two restaurants in the running for a London Lifestyle Award. Pollen Street Social is no stranger to accolades. It was awarded its first Michelin star within six months and regularly makes the cut for top ten restaurant lists. The food and atmosphere teeter somewhere between fine dining and top-notch gastropub – a memorable experience, but not a religious one. The star of the show is the British produce – so British that they know exactly how far your butter travelled to reach your plate (106 miles). Vegans, rejoice! There’s even a tasting menu just for you.

Best Restaurants in the West End

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Aquavit
1 Carlton Street, SW1Y
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

If your idea of Swedish food is the (admittedly delicious) meatballs at Ikea, you’re in for a surprise at Aquavit. The brass chandeliers and soaring ceilings are reminiscent of grand European brasseries, but this is a strictly Scandinavian affair. Okay, there are meatballs, but fish is the star of the menu. It’s even in the mash. If you’re lucky enough to work nearby, check out the express lunch menu. At £15 including a beer or glass of wine, it’s a little slice of Mayfair glamour for not that much more than a Pret sandwich.

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Dishoom
12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane, WC2H
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square

The Covent Garden branch of Dishoom packed in the crowds when it first opened a few short years ago, and you’re still likely to find a queue during peak hours. It really is that good. You could call it street food, but the idea is grounded in the once-ubiquitous Irani cafes of Bombay, opened in the early 20th century by Zoroastrian immigrants. You’ll be familiar with some of the dishes from your local curry house, but the cooking here is light years beyond Friday night takeaways. Go for breakfast and try the bacon naan if you really want to start your day with a kick. Trust us, we’ve never had a bad meal here.

Percy and Founders
1 Pearson Square, W1W
Nearest Tube: Goodge Street

Percy and Founders is part of the same group that owns The Thomas Cubitt in Belgravia. Like its sister site, the food is mainly British gastropub favourites. Unlike it, the three dining rooms are spacious with ample seating, so they’ll likely have a table no matter what time you turn up. Sundays are dedicated to Bloody Marys and of course, the Great British Roast.

Piccolino Heddon Street
21 Heddon Street, W1B
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

There are a lot of different menus at Piccolino. We counted twelve. Early lunch, drinks, desserts, bar, bar dessert, kids – we could go on but won’t. The one thing they have in common is that they’re Italian, from tiny crostini to a rather impressive aperitivo list. Trouble is, the a la carte menu is intimidatingly huge. Our advice is to stick with the early dinner menu. With just eight options per course, it’s much easier to digest.

San Carlo Cicchetti
30 Wellington Street, WC2E
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden

San Carlo Cicchetti is actually part of a vast chain of restaurants with multiple outposts in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Bristol. They’re big on Italian provenance, but the menu is an odd mix of Italian and British favourites. There’s antipasti and pasta on the main menu, but you could also stop by for a full English breakfast or even afternoon tea. Something for everybody, then?

Smith and Wollensky
1-11 John Adam Street, WC2N
Nearest Tube: Charing Cross

There’s a certain swagger about the London outpost of Smith and Wollensky. The famous Chicago steak house arrived in 2015, promising the best steak in London. Voters will have to decide for themselves whether they believe the hype. The dry-aged steaks start at £45, so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Fortuntately, the cavernous dining room seats 300, so getting a table should be a snap.

The Delaunay
55 Aldwych, WC2B
Nearest Tube: Temple

The Delaunay is the follow-up act to the much-acclaimed Wolseley. The grand European café inspired menu borrows heavily from its elder sibling, but ventures into heartier German territory with an impressive selection of schnitzels, sausages and strudels. It’s easier to get a booking here, or you can just rock up to the Delaunay Counter next door for coffee and prodigious slice of Black Forest gateau

The Best Restaurants in Soho

Berners Tavern
10 Berners Street, W1T
Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Road

There’s no explicit dress code at the Berners Tavern, but you’ll still want to look sharp before heading out. Chef Jason Atherton’s restaurant is inside the achingly hip London Edition Hotel and it won the GQ award for best interior design a few years back. Oh, and the food is pretty decent too, as you might expect from a Gordon Ramsay protégé. It’s the sort of stuff found in descriptions of medieval king’s feasts – pork pies, roast partridge and lamb shoulders, with the occasional triple cooked chip to keep in step with the ultra-chic surroundings. As with most Michelin-starred joints, go for lunch if you want to dine like a king at a fraction of the price.

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Burger & Lobster
36-38 Dean Street, W1D
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus

Burger & Lobster does what it says on the tin, really. Choose from the menu of eight items, including burgers, lobsters, lobster rolls or burgers and lobsters. All with chips. There’s a cocktail menu, but it’s beside the point. You’re here for the burgers. And lobsters.

L’Escargot
48 Greek Street, W1D
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

At 90 years of age, L’Escargot claims to be the oldest French restaurant in London. True or not, the Greek Street landmark has been through a lot. The name comes from the signature dish of Georges Gaudin, a man so fanatical about quality control that he built his own snail farm in the basement. It’s long gone, but escargot served with garlic butter are still the star of the menu.

MASH
77 Brewer Street, W1F
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

Not a temple to the humble root vegetable, but an acronym for Modern American Steakhouse. The menu shouldn’t be much of a surprise, then – the only tough choice is between South American, British, Australian or American cuts, but helpful waiters are on hand to guide you through. The Wine Spectator approved, twenty-seven-page wine list is heavy on big, bold flavours that will stand up to all that red meat.

The Palomar
34 Rupert Street, W1D
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

Jay Rayner describes the food at the Palomar as “Mediterranean fringes”. If you’ve ever eaten at Honey & Co or tried an Ottolenghi recipe, you’ll know what he means. This is Middle Eastern food (specifically, Jerusalem) but off the falafel-lined beaten path. Expect harissa and tahini, but paired with pork belly, chargrilled octopus or grilled courgette. One important word to know before you go is “josperised”. It roughly translates to “really expensive grill”.

Best Restaurants in Knightsbridge, Kensington and West London

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Restaurant Ours
264 Brompton Road, SW3
Nearest Tube: South Kensington

The menu at Restaurant Ours is loosely divided into four sections – Land (stuff that ran around on the ground), Earth (stuff that grew in the ground), Sea (stuff that swam) and Fire (stuff from the grill). It’s a subtle twist on provenance, a reminder that what’s on your plate once lived – perhaps giving you brief pause to contemplate The Circle of Life before diving into the salt and pepper squid. If you’d rather not, the short and sweet cocktail menu also claims inspiration from the bounties of Mother Nature. You can decide for yourself where the “Pornstar Spritzer” fits into the theme.

The River Cafe
Rainville Road, W6
Nearest Tube: Hammersmith

The kitchen of the River Café has produced more than a few culinary superstars. Jamie Oliver, Hugh FW and Theo Randall have all slaved over the stoves before becoming household names. Founders Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey were pioneers of the “well-sourced ingredients simply served” approach to cooking that seems ubiquitous today. The menu of Italian cuisine changes daily depending on what’s in season, but their signature risottos and chocolate nemesis cake are year-round favourites. Prices are steep, but clearly worth it. The place has been going strong for thirty years now.

Layalina
2-3 Beauchamp Place, SW3
Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge

You might smell Laylina before you set eyes on it. The elegant little place around the corner from Harrods serves the falafels, houmous and grilled meats you’d expect from a Lebanese restaurant, though there are a few surprises. Beef fillet with foie gras springs to mind, but then again, this is Knightsbridge. The big draw at Layalina the shisha experience. If, like us, you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to smoke a gummy bear, the weird and wonderful flavour menu has the answer to your prayers. They’ll even recommend a tea to match.

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Marcus at The Berkeley
Wilton Place, SW1X
Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge

Another Ramsay protégé done good – Chef Marcus Wareing has graduated from Petrus and into his own kitchen at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. It’s a bit more relaxed than Petrus, but the modern British food is served with the same kind of precision, as you might well expect from a two star Michelin restaurant.

Petrus
1 Kinnerton Street, SW1X
Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge

Plush surroundings, food served with military precision and a wine list that doubles as a doorstop? So far, so Gordon Ramsay. Protogee Marcus Wareing opened Petrus in 2003, just before his boss began turning the airwaves blue on Kitchen Nightmares. This is Old School Ramsay – modern European haute cuisine that would scream “Don’t try this at home!” if it wasn’t sacrilegious to raise your voice in this dining room. As with most Michelin starred restaurants, the set lunch menu is the best option if you’ve got Krug tastes on a Carlesberg budget.

The Best Restaurants in the City and Clerkenwell

Aprés Food Co
72 St. John Street, EC1M
Nearest Tube: Farringdon

Founded by a fine dining chef and a nutritional therapist, Apres attempts to blend the best of both worlds into a gluten and sugar free menu that promises to nourish both body and soul. Check the opening hours before you go – it’s mostly a daytime venue, but stays open a few nights each week for sharing platters and biodynamic wines.

Clove Club
380 Old Street, EC1V
Nearest Tube: Old Street

Tom Aikens, The Ledbury, Eleven Madison Park – chef Isaac McHale’s CV reads like a checklist of the world’s greatest restaurants. Unsurprising then that his first restaurant should win a Michelin star less than a year after opening. A meal at Clove Club requires a degree of trust – you don’t get to choose what you eat. Instead, a succession of small plates appear at your table – take it or leave it. The ethos of using often overlooked British ingredients makes for some occasionally strange pairings – blood orange and fennel sorbet, anyone? It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does.

Hawksmoor Spitalfields
157a Commercial Street, E1
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street

Simply put, Hawksmoor is one of the best steakhouses in London. Actually, probably THE best. Don’t come here with your veggie friends unless they’re happy to subsist on side dishes. Carnivores will be in paradise with a menu of steak, a different kind of steak, lobster, or steak with lobster. The excellent cocktail menu is divided into day parts, which is helpful if you need a reason to drink at lunch.

Searcy’s at the Gherkin
30 St. Mary Axe, EC3A
Nearest Tube: Aldgate

One does not simply book a table at Searcy’s. Unless you’re a member or resident of the Gherkin, you’ll have to check the calendar for the next “open night”. Chef Barry Tonks, formerly of Les Deux Salons and Arbutus heads up the kitchen, but let’s be honest – you’ve come for the panoramic view across London. Or maybe even to pop the question over brunch with their £500 proposal package. Price includes one glass of champagne and private dining room, ring must be supplied by guest. Good to know: it’s about a five-minute walk away from Pall Mall Barbers Bishopsgate, since you’ll need to look sharp no matter what the occasion.

The best restaurants in the rest of London

Dinings
22 Harcourt Street, W1H
Nearest Tube: Edgware Road

There are three branches of Dinings, but the Marylebone original is the heart of the operation. Chef Tomonari Chiba uses the sparsely furnished townhouse as a testing ground for his innovative Japanese dishes paired with touches of Latin American spice. If you can forgo the plush surroundings of Mayfair, you can feast on Nobu-caliber dishes here at a fraction of the price. The basement dining room is tiny, so make sure you book well in advance.

Radici
30 Almeida Street, N1
Nearest Tube: Angel

Rustic Italian cuisine cooked with Michelin star precision – that’s the ethos behind Radici, chef Francesco Mazzei’s third restaurant in London. Critics raved when it opened in 2017 just opposite the Almeida Theatre. Unlike his pricier fine dining restaurants, it’s perfectly possible to eat well here and still have change from £20. The star dish on the menu has to be the zucchini fritti – crispy, moreish and yours for £6.

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Shaka Zulu
Camden Market, NW1
Nearest Tube: Camden Town

This 27,000 square foot Camden resident isn’t just London’s largest South African restaurant, it’s the only one to open with a blessing from the Zulu King, his Royal Highness Goodwill Zwelithini. A Royal Warrant seems positively common in comparison. Over the top doesn’t begin to describe Shaka Zulu. Anything that sits still is likely to end up a mural, mosaic or pedestal for a warrior statue. You could play it safe with peri-peri wings and chips, but that is why God gave us Nando’s. You’ve made it past the Zulu guards, so why not play along and try the alligator or crocodile instead?

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Plot
Broadway Market, SW17
Nearest Tube: Tooting Broadway

Picky eaters should look elsewhere. The tiny kitchen of Plot in Tooting Market does just a handful of dishes, but it does them very well indeed. You’ll be familiar already with the small plate concept of locally sourced ingredients. Expect Spenwood cheese and mushroom tarts, monkfish with spiced lentils, truffled macaroni cheese – that sort of thing. Your typical daily menu runs about six items long, so if you can’t decide, you can just order everything.

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