London's top 50 restaurants: British

Where once were fish and chips now stand incredible steaks, hearty roasts and the world's very best comfort food. Keep calm and chow down



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Cool Britannia! The British restaurant revival has given us a lot more to chew on than meat and two veg. Read on for great chefs and British produce to be proud of. Do you agree with the choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.

Britta Jaschinski

Hawksmoor Seven Dials

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

The original Hawksmoor in Spitalfields is a great bar and grill – but this newer branch is a truly sensational one. The entrance is a bit hidden, despite the Covent Garden location, but once inside it’s a real beauty of a basement which looks as if it’s been there a century – in fact, it only opened as a restaurant at the end of 2010. The meat’s better quality, and better cooked, than at many more expensive Mayfair steak restaurants. Hawksmoor’s not cheap, though – you’ll easily part with more than £50 per head, but dining here’s quite an experience, and very ‘now’. 

When to go: When your carnal urges will only be satisfied by something big and bloody.

What to have: A small steak – because the large ones would feed a family of bears.

  1. 11 Langley Street, WC2H 9JJ
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Hereford Road

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

When it opened in 2007, the trend for bold, British cooking wasn’t as prevalent as it is now. Tom Pemberton, who cut his teeth at St John and St John Bread & Wine, was one chef who helped propel British cuisine into the limelight. The menu continues to change daily (it’s updated online diligently), and common ingredients include plenty of offal (calves’ brains and kidneys, lamb's sweetbreads) and classic British puddings (vanilla rice pudding, apple crumble). Hereford Road may no longer seem as revolutionary as it did back then, but the food still has the power to wow.

When to go: When you want solid British cooking on the west side of town.

What to have: Hone in on the mains made for sharing – whole lamb shoulder or oxtail, say.

  1. 3 Hereford Road, W2 4AB
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Photographer Credit : Ed Reeve

Photographer Credit : Ed Reeve Ed Reeve

Hoi Polloi

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4

When the hip US boutique hotel chain Ace arrives in town, you might expect the catering to be as distinctive as the eclectic décor – and Hoi Polloi doesn’t disappoint. Rocking a retro fifties look, somewhere between a school canteen and a Scandinavian cruise ship, it’s a place to see and be seen. As for the food, it’s the best of British from the team behind equally innovative Bistrotheque in E2 and Shrimpy’s at the old filling station in King’s Cross. Expect hearty British ingredients such as turnip and horseradish soup with crispy beef, or hake with cavolo nero and braised celeriac, celery and hazelnut.

When to go: When you want to up your hip-factor.

What to have: The slow-braised pork cheeks with chunks of spiced apple and pickled carrots are a real treat.

  1. Ace Hotel, 100 Shoreditch High St, E1 6JQ
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© Rob Greig

Rochelle Canteen

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Fondly remember that sneaky fag round the back of the bike sheds? It was never like this, as Rochelle School’s former bike sheds are far too salubrious a setting. The blond tables of the airy dining room are populated by arty types enjoying the seasonal modern European menu.

When to go: For a leisurely lunch - bring your own if you want to make it boozy.

What to have: The menu changes daily, but don’t miss out on old-school desserts such as sticky date pudding.

  1. Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, E2 7ES
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© Scott Wishart

St John

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

As ‘British cuisine’ continues to establish its own identity, it becomes clearer how groundbreaking Fergus Henderson’s Smithfield restaurant really was. It’s far from faddy, and St John’s commitment to well-sourced, simply cooked traditional food has stood the test of time: it’s still one of the most reliably exciting places to eat in London. Forgotten cuts and obscure ingredients grace the twice-daily-changing menu, and while this stripped-down luxe doesn’t come cheap, St John remains a model other restaurants aspire to.

When to go: When entertaining serious food lovers.

What to have: Something you’ve never heard of or wouldn’t normally try. It will be great.

  1. 26 St John Street, EC1M 4AY
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