Great Queen Street

A straightforward, decent, gastropub found between Covent Garden and Holborn. It belongs to the same stable as Southwark’s ‘Anchor and Hope’, but is both more convenient for the centre of town and, to my mind, has both a better atmosphere and nicer food.

It’s one of my favourite places for imaginative, honest grub.

A minor caveat: on my most recent visit (January 2012) things seemed to have slipped a bit, though of course I might just have been unlucky.

For more details phone them on +44 20 7242 0622, or see Google Maps.1

Last visited January 2012.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Second album syndrome seems a common problem in the music industry, but whilst Dinner is no Fat Duck, Mr Blumenthal has created another wonderful place.

One of Dinner’s gimmicks is that all the dishes hark back to some earlier, sometimes much earlier, recipe. Although it’s a nice idea, I’m not sure that it adds much to the experience.

The first, and perhaps best dish on the menu is meat fruit: a perfect liver parfait skinned in citrus jelly. It appears to the diner as a perfectly normal tangerine, served on a plain wooden board, and accompanied by perfectly toasted brioche. Meat fruit claims a pedigree stretching back 1500, but today’s dish is pure 21st-century.

The rest of the menu is less theatrical but the ingredients, recipes and presentation are all top notch. The staff too are all you could wish for: enthusiastic, attentive, and knowledgeable. It’s true that there’s not the same sense of fun one finds in Bray, but ‘The Fat Duck’ is a very special place.

Dinner’s not without its own charms though: several of the normal tables overlook the kitchens and you can watch the chefs at work. It’s a truly impressive sight to see such a well trained team practising their art, and like Feynman’s appreciation of a flower2 I think seeing how things are done adds to the enjoyment.

For more details visit their website,3 or see Google Maps.4

Last visited January 2012.

Les Deux Salons

Although both London and Paris both have a goodly number of really fine places to eat, I’m often disappointed that London loses out in the brasserie stakes.

Happily ‘Les Deux Salons’ addresses this, albeit only un petit peu. Put simply, it’s a very fine brasserie just off Trafalgar Square. I’ve eaten here several times now, and always enjoyed it.

Both surroundings and the fare seem plausibly French, and even though Paris is easier to visit than ever, this is even more convenient!

Update: I visited in September 2012 looking for a simple steak frites. Although the meat was fine, the chips were awful!

For more details visit their website,5 or see Google Maps.6

Last visited September 2012.

Hawksmoor Guildhall

There are now three Hawksmoor restaurants in London, and the Guildhall branch is a fairly large subterranean affair. There’s a definite buzz to the place, which verged on being too noisy for my taste.

Hawksmoor claim to serve the best steak in London. I can’t vouch for that, but it’s certainly the best I’ve had. They serve a damn good gimlet too!

For more details visit their website,7 or see Google Maps.8

Last visited February 2012.


Rupert Street is hardly the most auspicious site, given that Spuntino is surrounded by strip joints and massage parlours: indeed the restaurant dares not to advertise its name!

Should you dare to enter you’ll find a small room of quasi-industrial faux-grunge Americana. The food’s a fun take on casual fare: truffled cheese-on-toast, a quartet of posh burgers, and wonderfully stringy fries in my case. The pulled-pork burger got top marks: melting meat and crisp crackling.

For more details visit their website,9 or see Google Maps.10

Last visited March 2012.

L’Atelier du Joël Robuchon

This is the second of Robuchon’s eight ateliers I’ve had the pleasure of sampling, and the skills and artistry seem to have survived the short trip from Paris quite perfectly.

I tried the tasting menu this time and was treated to a wonderful procession of elegant and beautiful dishes, which tasted even better than you’d expect.

Warmly recommended.

For more details visit their website,11 or see Google Maps.12

Last visited March 2012.

Roux at Parliament Square

I’ve long been a great fan of the bar upstairs in Roux’s establishment near Parliament Square: they make the most interesting cocktails around. Sadly though, the restaurant’s always been booked when I’ve wanted to eat there.

This changed quite recently and it was worth the wait. Elegant French food, presented in a quiet relaxing surroundings. A blessed relief from the hustle and bustle of life.

The dessert was probably the best course: a wonderfully refreshing pear creation.

For more details visit their website,13 or see Google Maps.14

Last visited December 2012.

Dean Street Townhouse

A perfectly delightful dining room in Soho. As you might expect, the townhouse has rooms too, but I just had lunch. The food was good, and the ambience excellent. it’s not haute cuisine, but I think you could happily eat here regularly and never get bored.

For more details visit their website,15 or see Google Maps.16

Last visited January 2013.

The Gilbert Scott

A most conveniently sited restaurant given its proximity to Kings Cross station, and thus trains to Cambridge. The food’s good too, though arguably a trifle overpriced. In practice I think the architecture is the real star of the show: the dining room sports an elegant curve which lends the place an open, airy feel: though that’s surely in part down to the gorgeous high ceilings.

So, despite the location, I find myself only wanting to dine here with friends. If I’ve got time to kill before a train, I tend to head instead for the Booking Office Bar or the Hansom Lounge of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, where fine cocktails and delicious bar-snacks are served in more relaxed surroundings.

For more details visit The Gilbert Scott’s website,17 the St Pancras Hotel’s website,18 or see Google Maps.19

Last visited January 2013.

Bocca di Lupo

A nice Italian reastarant in Soho, boasting a kitchen-facing bar. A fairly wide variety of simple dishes are on offer, and almost all of them are available in two sizes: three ‘small’ dishes makes for an interesting lunch.

I visited in truffle season when patrons are encouraged to bring their own. Should you lack such foresight, the fine gelaterie across the street Gelupo20 will sell you one.

For more details visit their website,21 or see Google Maps.22

Last visited November 2013.

Brasserie Zédel

Their website calls this ‘a grand Parisian brasserie transported to the heart of London’, and I find it hard to improve on that. I’d add that it’s a stone’s throw from Picadilly Circus (exit 1 from the Tube station), and that the prix fixe menu is a steal!

For more details visit their website,23 or see Google Maps.24

Last visited December 2015.


Fabulous and imaginative dishes and drinks, flawlessly executed. Highly recommended.

Highlights for me were the buttered kale with chestnuts, which had all the good things about a cottage pie in a novel and interesting way, and the wonderful avocado and sorrel based dessert.

For more details visit their website,25 or see Google Maps.26

Last visited January 2016.


Google makes it easy to find Scott’s: just search for ‘best fish restaurant in London’. Happily, reality matches Google’s view: the ingredients seemed top-notch, and the preparation highlighted this.

I had some memorably fresh sashimi, followed by miso salmon. Although I’ve eaten similar things before, the balance of flavours in this salmon dish seemed to be the ideal which previous attempts were approximating.

Good cocktails too!

For more details visit their website,27 or see Google Maps.28

Last visited February 2016.


Whilst there’s a time when you really want food which delights you with its imagination and novelty, there are other times when nothing’s better than a comforting menu of dishes, and the confidence that they’ll be prepared perfectly. For such times, Latium is ideal.

My main course stands for the whole: filetto di manzo but so carefully sourced and lovingly cooked that I’ll savour it for years.

For more details visit their website,29 or see Google Maps.30

Last visited February 2016.


If Latium covers tradition, Murano is its perfect complement. Here the perfect execution is matched with imagination and flair: rabbit with a palette of contrasting flavours; baked celeriac and pear.

As you’d guess from the name, there’s some funky glasswear to enjoy too, both on the table and the lights. Overall though, the ambience is just lovely.

For more details visit their website,31 or see Google Maps.32

Last visited March 2016.

The Greenhouse

An astonishing oasis of tranquility in Mayfair.

I’m making these notes six months afterwards, and I still remember how the short walk from the street to the restaurant seemed to take you miles away from the city.

The food was excellent: I found it hard to fault either the ingredients or the cooking.

For more details visit their website,33 or see Google Maps.34

Last visited April 2016.

Bar Boulud

The Picadilly Line has many virtues, but its trains lack any kind of restaurant car. This can be awkward if you get a bit peckish on the way back from Heathrow!

Happily, if you leave the train at Knightsbridge, you can walk straight into Bar Boulud, part of the Mandarin Oriental. Inside it’s a perfect bistro: simple food, perfectly prepared.

They are proud of their burgers: I think with good reason.

For more details visit their website,35 or see Google Maps.36

Last visited summer 2016.


A fun French tapas place in Soho. A fairly low-key affair, but a great place to have a slightly funky lunch.

For more details visit their website,37 or see Google Maps.38

Last visited summer 2016.

Hélène Darroze at the Connaught

Their website39 describes the restaurant as ‘this London temple of French gastronomy’, and I find that hard to better. Food, ambience and staff were all faultless.

The menus are varied and deep, and they have a funky ordering system: each course maps to a marble, and you just place as many marbles as you want onto a cute little plate.

One of the very best, and most expensive, meals I’ve had anywhere. Warmly recommended, but only infrequently.

For more details see Google Maps.40

Last visited early 2017.

Pollen Street Social

Fine, modern cooking, just south of Oxford Circus. Somewhat more down-to-earth and much better value than many Michelin restaurants, which makes a nice change.

They have a most amusing ice-cream surprise too!

For more details see their website,41 or Google Maps.42

Last visited March 2017.