From cutting edge cuisine to firm culinary favourites, British food has made a dramatic comeback in the past decade. Whether you're looking for a simple pub lunch or a new twist on an old classic, there's an abundance of great British restaurants in London. We've rounded up a few of our favourites below. Do you agree with the choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
Restaurateur Jason Atherton has had a great year. Berners Tavern is the third restaurant he’s opened in the West End this year; the other two, Little Social and Social Eating House, were very well received for their playful and appealing dishes. This new venture is more of the same, but in a much grander setting. It’s housed in the new Edition hotel in Fitzrovia, which looks like the older, more sophisticated sister of the Sanderson hotel just down the road. Both places were given makeovers by hotelier Ian Schrager, but Edition is an exercise in slick metropolitan taste, with opulent chandeliers, framed art-by-the-yard covering entire walls, and improbably elegant staff. The huge lobby bar looks fabulous; but the vast dining room, with its ornate plasterwork ceiling, very low lighting and lively bar area, looks even better. The menu’s prices are alarmingly high – but most of the dishes we tried were very good. Head chef Phil Carmichael turns out tender pork belly with a sauce of sharp capers, golden raisins and apple coleslaw to cut through the fat. The flavours of this and a pan-braised halibut (perfectly cooked) with a little saucepan of savoury squid ink risotto were sublime. A starter of ‘egg, ham and peas’ updates a signature Atherton recipe; a breadcrumbed duck egg is held upright by a purée of fresh peas, the crisp Cumbrian ham almost a garnish. The only culinary disappointment was a chocolate éclair dessert, as the pastry – which should be very slightly stale – wasRead more
This Spitalfields steakhouse has wooed much of London since opening in 2006; word-of-blog has only served to create an even bigger buzz around the restaurant and its food. A case of the emperor’s new clothes? We think not. Hawksmoor’s USP is in supplying excellent produce cooked well, focusing on top-quality beef from renowned London butcher Ginger Pig. There’s a serious attitude to beef provenance and an impressive list of breeds; Longhorn is always available, but guest breeds range from Herefords to Lincoln Reds. The savvy staff do a terrific job of explaining the differences. Steaks are seared on Josper charcoal grills to crusty-outside, tender-inside perfection. The menu doesn’t stop at the bovine, with Tamworth pork ribs, crab and samphire salad, and lobsters all making an appearance. The luxe burger, studded with nuggets of bone marrow, might seem to be gilding the lily, but it’s certainly pretty good. For dessert, chocolate fudge sundaes and strawberry trifle are dependable options. Hawksmoor’s looks aren’t a forte (it occupies a mundane, low-ceilinged room behind a drab frontage), but owners Will Beckett and Huw Gott have long had dreams of expansion, and a new Covent Garden branch opened in 2010.Read more
If ever proof were needed that all caffs are not equal, this Grade-II listed greasy spoon on Bethnal Green Road is it. The food may not be much more than reasonably above-average caff grub, but the atmosphere and decor are second to none. Opened in 1900, and still in the hands of the same family, Pellicci’s is an east London landmark. It has an almost opulent feel, harking back to a time when caff culture was king. Chrome-lined Vitrolite panels line the outside, and the wood-panelled interior is filled with Formica tables and art deco touches. Food is still prepared with pride every day by Mama Maria – queen of the kitchen since 1961. The kids, Anna and Nevio Junior, serve it up with a wink, a smile and as much banter as you can handle. Fry-ups are first rate, and the fish and chips, daily grills and Italian specials aren’t half bad either. Desserts, from bread pudding to Portuguese pasteis de nata, are worth a punt too. But it’s the vibrant welcome, served with a healthy helping of mickey-taking, that makes the place so special. Check out more of London's best breakfasts and brunchesRead more
By Guy Dimond Recycled furniture, workshop light fittings, a bar serving craft beers: it might look like another beer and burger joint, or maybe a New York Italian ‘small plates’ place, but the Dairy doesn’t churn out a formula. Seasonal British ingredients are treated with a level of finesse that would be the envy of many Japanese restaurants. You realise this from the very start. A robata grill is used not just for grilling meats, but for smoking the butter (using applewood chips). A pat of this butter is served on a big beach pebble, with some of the Dairy’s wholesome own-made bread. This sort of attention to detail permeates the kitchen’s menu. Beautifully crafted rustic plates are used to present simple dishes such as a warm salad of new potatoes, sorrel leaves and a generous amount of fresh truffle, grated at the table. A fillet of mackerel is charred on the grill then placed on fennel, with its complementary hint of anise flavour; the plate decorated with a smear of cucumber and a fresh dill frond. Beef short rib is slow cooked for 24 hours before being served with grilled spring onions and bone marrow.This is fancy cooking: not what you expect in a neighbourhood restaurant. Chef Robin Gill and his wife Sarah used to work at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. They’ve also acquired plenty of experience at several other high-end restaurants in London and elsewhere. They both hail from Dublin, but are now Brixton locals, and, with their colleagues, have created this food-leRead more
Cast an eye over the menu and it’s evident that Golden Union can talk the talk – fish delivered daily from sustainable waters, grade-A potatoes, a combo of two frying oils changed at least four times a week, and freshly made beer batter. The point is, it can walk the walk too. Fish is chunky, flaky and perfectly cooked in a light, crispy, complementary casing; chips are crisp, firm and fluffy; pies and fish cakes are own-made and look it – there seems to be no weak point. Decide to eat-in and the top-of-the-range large cod and chips will set you back £12.95. Side dishes are priced at the expensive end of the scale. The decor is retro with a knowing wink: tiled walls, plastic-topped wooden tables and chairs, and plastic tomatoes filled with ketchup. The music is up to date and not too intrusive, combining well with the busy atmosphere – and the vibe is maintained by young staff who seem genuinely proud of what they’re serving. Chances are you’ll be planning your return visit before you’ve even paid the bill.Read more
It’s not easy to open a spate of brand-new restaurants and maintain high standards, but chef-patron Jason Atherton has clearly moved on from being the sorcerer’s apprentice (under Gordon Ramsay) to being the sorcerer himself. His Little Social deluxe bistro only opened in March 2013, right opposite his fine dining Pollen Street Social in Mayfair. He followed this up, weeks later, with an even more ambitious restaurant in Soho, by delegating the chef role to his buddy and long-time head chef at Pollen Street Social, Paul Hood. The ground-floor dining room has a mirrored ceiling to create the sensation of space in a low room; upstairs is a smart cocktail bar, called the Blind Pig, which also has a separate entrance. Most of the action is in the dining room, though, with a kitchen brigade who are clearly at the top of their game. Smoked duck ‘ham’, egg and chips is a dish that’s typical of Pollen Street Social’s playfulness. ‘Ham’ is cured and smoked from duck breast on the premises, served with a breadcrumbed duck egg that’s molten in the middle, but with an aroma of truffle oil. Umami – savouriness, the taste that enhances other flavours – was also plentiful in a roast cod main course that uses powdered Japanese kombu seaweed in a glaze, served with a creamy sauce of roasted cockles and just-in-season St George’s mushrooms. Presentation is a strong point of Hood’s dishes, just as they are for his mentor Atherton. A starter of ‘CLT’ – crab meat, a fan of blonde castelfrancoRead more
This former fruit warehouse is now Carnivore Central in Will Beckett and Huw Gott’s confidently expanding empire, and the bar a place of pilgrimage in its own right for cocktail geeks. Winner of Time Out’s Best New Restaurant award in 2011, the discreet-fronted basement location is elevated to a high-end destination with a characterful interior of reclaimed materials and the fan-boys’ zeal for premium meats and other taste sensations. The bad news is, with a similar appreciation of gustatory pleasures (a couple of cocktails, say, followed by crab or lobster, sirloin and side dishes, wine and pudding), dinner here can easily set you back £100 a head. The good news is the express menu (ideal pre-theatre when tables are easy to snare) proffers two courses for £22 and three courses for £25 – and still allows enjoyment of fine Ginger Pig Longhorn ribeye (a more-than-strictly-needed 250g), and bone marrow with onions. Desserts here, in our experience, don’t benefit from the same obsessive attention to detail as the beef dripping chips, kimchi burger, hot dogs or historic anti-fogmatics – still, there’s the post-prandial cocktail list to peruse featuring the likes of Climpson’s espresso martini. See more mouthwatering Sunday roasts in the capitalRead more
Venue says: Why not come in and try some delicious seasonal red cabbage with your pie and mash, don't forget to include lashings of gravy!
With bargain prices and proper British food, this pie and mash house is something of an anomaly among the tourist traps of Covent Garden Market. It’s housed in one of the refurbished subterranean arches, keeping the traditional exterior and flagstone floor, but the fixtures and fittings are stylish and modern: bright white tiles, polished marble tables and a shiny counter. Besides the traditional fillings such as steak and mushroom with stout, minced beef and onion, or chicken and mushroom are less expected versions such as butternut squash and goat’s cheese or salmon, cod and prawns. They all have pleasingly firm crusts. A chicken and mushroom costs a mere fiver and creamy, well-whipped mash an extra £2.75. Rich red-wine gravy arrived separately in a miniature jug. Ingredient quality was exemplary throughout – so much so that, even though full, we attempted to finish a sticky toffee pudding (£4.75 and also tip-top) between two of us. Even for a counter-service place this little caff is terrific value – and is the exception to the rule that central Covent Garden is best avoided by the bargain hunter.Read more
This simple operation on Regent’s Canal towpath (near the Whitmore Bridge) was a novelty when it opened in 2010 in three shallow units. Three years later, it has expanded into four units, and continues to lure in passing walkers and cyclists with its original setting and enticing food and drink. Wing a table in the sunshine on a summer’s day, and you might end up staying for hours. Relaxed entertainment is provided by families of swans, coots tending their nests, and passing bikes whizzing by. Our last visit, however, was a rainy affair – yet it proved that Towpath shouldn’t only be reserved for fair weather. Huddling inside the covered, homely (think beaten-up furniture and cultural posters) open unit watching rain pummelling the canal was a comforting experience, made more so by the addition of delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and decent coffee. Come here for breakfast and the menu will usually include fried eggs on toast or granola with yoghurt, fruit and maple syrup. In the afternoon or early evening, choose from a range of alluring cakes (the beautifully light olive oil and lemon cake is a favourite) or savoury dishes such as pork tenderloin or own-made quiche.Read more
The Goring Dining Room
Venue says: Three-course dinner with Champagne and tickets to Buckingham Palace State Rooms - book direct at thegoring.com/food-drink/the-dining-room/
Gaze around the plush dining room at this exquisite, family-owned hotel as bow-tied waiters glide serenely by, and only the branch-like Swarovski chandeliers remind you we left the Edwardian era a long time ago. Carpets and drapes are thick, colours muted, mobile phones most unwelcome. A recent refurbishment by Viscount Linley’s design company gently updated the decor while preserving the refinement and understated luxury of the 103-year-old restaurant. Food is anything but stuffy, with sophisticated interpretations of British classics to the fore. Much is made of the only-the-best ingredient sourcing policy, and the quality is clear. A light hand in the kitchen is evident in the likes of a flavour-packed ham knuckle terrine with a zingy cider apple foam, or a generous slice of poached Wester Ross salmon surrounded by painstakingly sliced slivers of crunchy spring vegetables.Those were both from the pre-theatre menu, which though not exactly cheap at £33 for two courses, is more affordable than the £49.50 for three on the à la carte. Puddings and cheeses are served from a trolley, as is beef wellington, in a wonderfully traditional manner. An indulgent experience: old-world English glamour with a modern touch.