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The 100 best restaurants in London: British

Looking for the best British restaurants in London? Here you’ll find our favourite places serving brilliant British cuisine

London restaurants truly know how to shine a light on British cuisine. In among Michelin star restaurants serving traditional tucker, you'll find modern and accessible bistros and cafés doing quality food from around the country.

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Beagle

Located under the railway arches of Hoxton Overground, this enticing three-in-one offering (bar, restaurant and café) owes its hip looks to New York’s coolest districts, with bare brickwork, industrial lighting and grown-up colours adding an edge to the proceedings. Chef James Ferguson deals in gutsy platefuls of seasonal ingredients, but his light touch lifts the likes of rabbit rillettes with pickled cucumber or juicy Suffolk lamb with grilled aubergines, chickpeas and labneh to another realm. Cocktails on the terrace – which is heated and covered when necessary – are a must.

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Hoxton

Berners Tavern

Jason Atherton’s third opening of 2013 took a different turn from his highly successful Social ventures (Pollen Street Social, Little Social and Social Eating House) with an impressively showy setting. From opulent chandeliers to floor-to-ceiling framed art, enjoy Atherton’s signature Modern European dishes in the grandest of settings. Your credit card is sure to get a battering – this kind of decadent dining doesn’t come cheap. But for a special occasion it’s the ideal place to get your glad rags on and eat in style. Be sure to enjoy a cocktail in the Punch Room (booking advisable) before heading into the glitzy dining room.

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Fitzrovia

Bistro Union

Claphamites are lucky indeed to have such a good neighbourhood restaurant. Self-styled as a British bistro, it’s a place where the staff are chummy, the look rustic and the clientele ever appreciative – it’s seriously popular. The food at this second Clapham venture from Adam Byatt – who also runs The Trinity, the even smarter Modern European restaurant – riffs on a range of hearty Anglo, American and French influences, but gives them a British sheen. The likes of toad-in-the-hole and fish pie sit comfortably alongside chicken liver parfait and mac ’n’ cheese – and all are prepared with impressive precision. For the best spectator seats, head to the tall stools by the bar.

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Clapham Park

Clove Club

A self-consciously hip affair, with a no-choice tasting menu of on-trend ingredients in out-there combinations, The Clove Club unashamedly puts food at the centre of its experience. The stark, Shaker-style dining room with its attractively utilitarian furniture and most open of kitchens feels part pop-up, part school dinner hall. But the food is a major departure from both. Seasonal, esoteric ingredients fill the ever-changing menu, although some signatures are a constant, such as chef Isaac McHale’s buttermilk-fried chicken with pine salt – a throwback from his days at east London residency Upstairs at The Ten Bells. The cosy bar is worth a try, too, with excellent bar snacks that make a lighter (and cheaper) alternative to a full meal.

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Shoreditch

Dabbous

Chef Ollie Dabbous and his eponymous restaurant (pronounced ‘Daboo’) were the runaway success of 2012. Within weeks of opening, the phones were ringing off the hook and tables became some of the most sought after in London. Dish names may be simple, but the execution of this inventive food is of the highest standard. The four-course set lunch (£35) is terrific value, but for a show-stopping special occasion dinner, it’s worth saving up for the £68 tasting menu. (There’s also a middle ground: the four-course set dinner, at £56.) Whichever way you pay and play, you won’t be disappointed.

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Fitzrovia

Dairy

This might look like just another Clapham wine bar, but the dishes at The Dairy are the sort you’d expect from a very big cheese. Chef Robin Gill and his wife Sarah worked at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, among other high-end restaurants, and the pedigree shows in dishes that may look rustic but display exceptional finesse. The monthly-changing menu is divided into snacks, garden, land, sea and sweets. They do in-house curing (for things like applewood-smoked butter) and grow their own (including honey, up on the roof). Attention to detail verges on the fanatical, yet the effect is of simplicity rather than showiness. Claphamites – and everyone else – should hurry over and lap up the cream.

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Clapham

Dean Street Townhouse

A permanently buzzing hidey-hole for London’s social animals, this grand dame of the Soho scene puts its serious face on during the day. That’s when media types hold meetings and those old enough to know better soothe their hangovers with brunch. And then it plays hard with the best of the rest come clocking-off time. The long bar and polished loucheness of the Georgian-era dining room are great for cocktails and people-watching, while the menu of comfort food – think rib-eye with chips and béarnaise, or Dover sole – is familiar and failsafe. The main draw, however, is being in the thick of it all.

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Soho

Harwood Arms

This is the sort of place that makes one proud to be British. While it’s a wee bit posh with its thick hessian napkins and bread in linen bags (and one Michelin star), its heart is still firmly set in the gastropub tradition. Owners Mike Robinson and Brett Graham (head chef of The Ledbury) have put in a lot of effort, heavily promoting the ethos of using seasonal, local and natural produce. The ‘pub’ part is not forgotten either, with the bar dispensing fashionably good British ales. Chef Stephen Williams, who led the kitchen from its inception, has moved on to pastures new; but we’re confident that the current high standards will be upheld.

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Fulham Broadway

Hawksmoor Seven Dials

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 you’re inside you see it’s a real beauty of a basement bar and dining room, 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, of course, but dining here is an experience that every omnivore should have at least once.

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Covent Garden

Jar Kitchen

There’s more than a whiff of Ottolenghi influence at this superb Covent Garden café - and that’s definitely no bad thing in our eyes. It’s no simple homage, however. There’s clearly plenty of imagination in the kitchen, and the veg-heavy menu features some genuinely inspired dishes. Even a simple green chopped salad is noteworthy. Jar Kitchen hits the mark when it moves toward fish and meat, too – the roast pork belly is superb, and a ‘ceviche-style’ sea bass with creamed avocado, chopped fennel and a multi-seed dressing is a real winner. Sure, it might go a little, erm, nuts with nuts and seeds, but this Drury Lane spot is leading the way in new-wave café dining.

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Covent Garden

J Sheekey Oyster Bar

The Sheekey brand is so well-established, and so well-known among tourists, that you’d be forgiven for assuming it couldn’t possibly be maintaining high standards. Wrong. They buy the cream of the marine crop and serve it in (mostly) simple styles that do it justice. The menu in this lovely, capacious bar, fronted by a line of red canopies along St Martin’s Court, differs relatively little from that of the main restaurant. It offers convenience (this is the heart of Theatreland), and comfort. You can eat quickly to make your curtain, or dawdle if you wish. A classic.

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Covent Garden

Kitty Fisher's

As with the eighteenth-century courtesan it's named after, you pay Kitty Fisher’s a visit if you want to leave with a smile but don’t mind paying for the pleasure. One signature dish, beef from ten-to-12-year-old Galician milking cows (chargrilled and served with cheese-stuffed potatoes and blackened onion), costs £80 for two. Happily, other dishes are equally good and easier on the wallet. The basement dining room is intimate and atmospheric; the street-level wine bar best on a sunny day (as are the two alfresco tables overlooking so-picturesque-it-should-be-in-a-Richard_Curtis-movie Shepherd Market). Putting your meal together from small plates is the best way to leave without having spent a fortune.

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Mayfair

Lyle's

If patience isn’t your strong point (or you’re just really picky), then visit this excellent Shoreditch eatery at lunch: you’ll be able to choose what you like, and in what order. Come in the evening, however, and you’ll get a no-choice tasting menu of around seven small courses (plus bread and petits fours) that takes a good two-and-a-half hours to get through. (The good news: at least you can choose your start time.) It’s well worth the wait. Expect plate after plate of modish British cooking from James Lowe. His mother’s maiden name was Lyle, and he is a young chef to watch.

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Shoreditch

The Manor

Some 'hoods get all the luck. Already blessed with 2013’s hot newbie The Dairy, in November 2014 Clapham welcomed its sibling, The Manor. Larger and airier, with pale woods and clean lines, it has a grown-up elegance (though the loos are graffitied to the point of vandalism). As at The Dairy, the cooking will knock your socks – and probably the rest of your clothes – right off. Unusual ingredients, cutting-edge techniques – it’s all here. Clued-up and cheery young staff are an added bonus, as is the excellent dessert bar, affording you a front row seat to some liquid nitrogen-fuelled theatre. A third restaurant from the group – Paradise Garage – has opened its doors in Bethnal Green. Clapham, it seems, has got competition.

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Clapham

Restaurant Story

London’s Victorian lavs get put to many unusual new uses, but a modernist restaurant in Bermondsey must be one of the more bizarre. For such a young chef, Tom Sellers has plenty of ambition and a clear idea of what he wants. The style mimics the set-price, multi-course, deconstructed and playful approach that has swept across Europe, spanning San Sebastian to Copenhagen – and he does it with aplomb: think dill-scented cucumber ash, desserts served in tiny milk bottles, ingredients such as hay or foraged greens. The interior owes much to the time Sellers spent working in Scandinavia, with its clean lines and understated colours.

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London Bridge

Rochelle Canteen

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 for an illicit nicotine fix. The blond tables of the airy dining room are populated by designer-y, arty types enjoying the seasonal modern European menu with an ingredients-led approach and simple style. Expect characterful ingredients: smoked cod's roe and crisp pig's skin or grilled ox heart served with borlotti beans.

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Shoreditch

Scott's

Some of its younger A-listers may have migrated to Chiltern Firehouse, and it’s hard not to think about that Charles and Nigella incident, but one thing’s for sure about Scott’s: it’s still one of the finest fish restaurants in this fair town. The setting oozes glamour, from the grand oyster bar (a great place to perch and survey the room), to the impeccably groomed clientele and suave staff. Caviar, lobster and Dover sole may be pitched at the money-to-burn crowd, but there are also humble sardines and deep fried haddock (complete with mushy peas), plus pretty much every variety of seafood in between.

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Mayfair

The Shed

The three brothers behind this jolly venue have filled their rustic dining room with tongue-in-cheek farm references such as reclaimed tractor parts, bright portraits of cows and oil drums for tables. However, their intentions are sincere: many ingredients, plus wines, are sourced from the family’s West Sussex farm and vineyard. Start with inventive ‘mouthfuls’ such as hake rillettes, then choose from ‘fast cooking’ or ‘slow cooking’ selections, including the terrific pastry-wrapped beef ‘cigars’, served with the house-made mustard. Each plate has a spring in its step, and smiley staff encourage sharing – you’ll wish it were your local.

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Kensington

Social Eating House

Ramsay protégé and unstoppable wunderkind Jason Atherton had a belter of a year in 2013, opening three restaurants in quick succession to universal praise. This, his first Soho venture, was definitely the funkiest of the three. The dark, low-slung dining room, with its mirrored ceiling and modern artworks, feels cool and informal, while chef Paul Hood’s menu delivers dishes that are at once highly sophisticated, accessible and above all delicious – often throwing in a welcome touch of theatricality when you least expect it. Efficient, attentive staff keep this star-studded show on the road.

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Soho

St John

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 continued 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, 21 years after opening its doors. Forgotten cuts and obscure ingredients grace the twice-daily-changing menu, and despite the reputation for concentrating on meaty things, fish cookery is expert and very serious. While this stripped-down luxe doesn’t come cheap, neither is it as expensive as roughly comparable places. St John remains a model other restaurants aspire to.

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Farringdon
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