Top 10 restaurants in London this summer
From open kitchens to historical dining destinationsNoah May & Victoria Gill
1. The River Café
Without the groundwork done by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray at the River Café, restaurants would not be where they are today. This powerhouse duo opened up their kitchen in 1987 and redefined what it meant to eat out well. Twenty-five years later little has changed as things are going stronger than ever at this Hammersmith institution. A long open kitchen dominates the back wall and breaks down all notions of the barrier existing between chefs and diners. If there is one restaurant to visit while in London, this is it.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA
Tel. +44 (0)20 7386 4200
There is nowhere in London that serves more precisely considered Japanese cuisine than Umu. This discreet venue is inspired by the grand restaurants of Kyoto and the ancient ritual of the Kaiseki, a banqueting form where balance and purity of flavour are paramount. This stylish restaurant is a masterclass in elegance; each element of the design is presented perfectly. Chef Yoshinori Ishii watches over the dining room whilst preparing intricate creations from some of the finest ingredients on the planet. There is quite simply nowhere else like Umu.
14-16 Bruton Place, Mayfair, London W1J 6LX
Tel. +44 (0)20 7499 8881
3. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Joel Robuchon is one of the world’s most feted chefs with more Michelin stars than most chefs can dream of – 25 at the time of this publication. His L’Atelier restaurants span three continents and are known internationally for accurate modernism and superb ingredients. The concept is one of a ‘workshop’ where diners sit in rapt awe as craftsmen work with care to create masterpieces on the plate. The black and red, Japanese-inspired décor creates a sultry environment of nighttime glamour which allows one to forget where they are and dream.
13-15 West Street, London WC2H 9NE
Tel. +44 (0)20 7010 8600
4. The Oxo Tower Restaurant
Boasting the capital's best views, the iconic Art Deco façade of the former OXO headquarters has survived various incarnations - from power station to cold store, threatened building to the food and retail destination you find today. Harvey Nichols acquired the eighth floor of the Oxo Tower in the 1990s, and ever since discerning diners have enjoyed 360-degree views over London's iconic skyline along with modern European cuisine in this riverside destination. Booking a table by the windows is a must.
OXO Tower Wharf
London SE1 9PH
Tel. +44 (0)20 7803 3888
5. Criterion Restaurant
One of the capital's most glamorous locations, this neo-Byzantine dining room sparkles, having retained all the splendour of its 1874 opening. Like stepping into a mermaid's cave, the golden ceiling shimmers against the marble, mosaic and mirrored interiors. The Criterion has welcomed everyone from Suffragettes, presidents to movie stars who've filmed blockbusters here in recent years. With a modern European menu offering well-executed, beautifully presented dishes, this is an occasion restaurant on the sightseer's map.
224 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HP
Tel. +44 (0)20 7930 0488
As London's oldest restaurant, established in 1798 by the eponymous Thomas Rules, it comes as little surprise that Rules' roster of diners reads like a 'Who's Who' of literary and cinematic stars, having hosted everyone from Charles Dickens to HG Wells, William Makepeace Thackeray to Graham Greene and Laurence Olivier to Buster Keaton. Today the restaurant retains its quintessential English air, its menu faithful to its classic British origins, specialising in game, oysters, pies and puddings.
35 Maiden Lane
London WC2E 7LB
Tel. +44 (0)20 7836 5314
Bibendum is a must-visit on the London gastronomic map. The princely example of Art Nouveau architecture is named after its origins: Bibendum, the Michelin Man (this was the tyre company's headquarters for 75 years). It hums by day and glows by night, fringed by the stained glass windows depicting the Michelin Tyre Company's iconic mascot. Classic French dishes with a British influence, exemplary service and a discerning clientele complete this dining experience. Downstairs lie the oyster bar, crustacea stall and florist.
81 Fulham Road
London SW3 6RD
Tel. +44 (0)20 7581 5817
8. Galvin LaChapelle
The timbers of the vaulted ceiling span 30 metres high in this Grade II listed Victorian former school chapel in the parish of St Botolph's, the origins of which date back to 1212. It's consistently popular among business diners and atmosphere-seekers, who come for the dramatic, gothic interiors and rich, beautifully executed dishes. Multi-award-winning, the two brothers with a flair for French cooking followed the success of this, the third in their stable, with Galvin Demoiselle, which opened in Harrods in summer.
35 Spital Square
London E1 6DY
Tel +44 (0)20 7299 0400
9. The Lecture Room and Library
There can be few more fashionable destinations than the former Christian Dior headquarters, and this pantheon of pleasure certainly lives up to its legacy. Pierre Gagnaire's London flagship is decorated in studded ivory leather walls, an ornate plasterwork ceiling, crystal-encrusted bathrooms and deep purple and crimson armchairs. Pioneering modern European dishes are inspirationally presented and multi-layered. The labyrinth of high-design, high-concept eating and drinking enclaves in this Grade II sited building envelops The Gallery, The Parlour, The Glade and the East Bar downstairs.
9 Conduit Street, Mayfair
London W1S 2XG
Tel +44 (0)20 7659 4500
The quintessential traditional English dining experience, Wilton's was established in 1742 as a shellfish stall and has been resident in St James for 250 years since, evolving into a shop and then a fully-fledged restaurant from 1840. Specialist in seasonal wild fish, shellfish and game, it attracts a discerning clientele who chime with Wilton's' sense of establishment and tradition at the present patrician premises in historic Jermyn Street.
55 Jermyn Street
Tel. +44 (0)20 7629 9955
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