11-15 Swallow Street, St James's, London, W1B 4DG
Tucked away in the pedestrianised Swallow Street, just off London’s bustling Piccadilly Circus, Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill restaurant has been bought out and revamped by the talented Richard Corrigan of Michelin-starred Lindsay House fame. The handsomely-cut masculine dark woods and crisp white tablecloths ooze charm; and the air of traditional, polished and perfected Britishness matches one of the best seafood finds in town. Start off by comparing a selection of rock and native oysters (for which Bentley’s is justifiably famous) and move on to a marine-inspired take on beef Wellington with monkfish with cep duxelle wrapped in pastry.
2 Bellevue Road, London, SW17 7EG
Lauded by nearly every guide, critic, website and diner, chef Bruce Poole's restaurant offers a wine list and cooking that is among London's very best. Pitched firmly at the City bonus and special anniversary crowd, the atmosphere is hushed, the prices high. But once you get past the shock of finding a Mayfair restaurant overlooking Wandsworth Common, the sybaritic pleasures reel you in. The bright colours of some dishes evoke the Mediterranean, such as a starter of yellow tagliatelle with broad beans and amber girolles. With others it's the flavours that have most impact, such as a dun-hued courgette soup with the sharp, oxalic tang of sorrel, topped with the crunch of fresh croutons.
The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane, London, W1K 1QA
The Dorchester's luxurious Cantonese restaurant offers a fabulous mix of art deco design and David Tang's gutsy modern take on Chinese cookery. The opulent underground dining rooms counterbalance shiny dark wood with bold patterns to fine effect.
57 West Smithfield, London, EC1A 9DS
Diners need a sense of adventure at Club Gascon, as well as deep pockets (it's unsettling to hear a £23 dish described as a 'taster-size plate'). Still, it's a pleasure to sit back and enjoy the ride.
22 Harcourt Street, London, W1H 4HH
Dinings' kitchen takes the best parts of Japanese minimalism and Latin American flavour profiles, and melds them into something more than the sum of their parts. Bookings are essential, as the restaurant consists of just a ground-floor sushi bar and a tiny basement room. It makes for intimate dining, but service is efficient, with staff moving quickly and unobtrusively through the room.
33-34 St Martin's Court, London, WC2N 4AL
Like Paris's Le Grand Colbert or Café Florian in Venice, J Sheekey is in danger of becoming an institution whose uniquely local appeal stretches far beyond London. The addition of this two-unit oyster bar creates an imposing procession of branded red canopies along St Martin's Court. What could appeal more to tourists than the chance to knock back a couple of native oysters amid the nation's finest stars of stage and screen? Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Gambon, that bloke from 'Rebus'… if they're not sitting close by they are at least hanging on the walls; regulars will recognise many of the photographs from the main restaurant.
54 Brooks Mews, London, W1K 4EG
The London offshoot of one of Nice's most feted and famous restaurants, La Petite Maison has breezy, white-painted walls, waiters in striped aprons, and trademark table centrepieces of fresh lemons and tomatoes. It certainly looks the part – as do the customers, with their open-necked shirts, glowing tans, and conversations revolving around yachts and golf (be warned: the smaller tables along the banquette are a tight squeeze).
1A Launceston Place, London, W8 5RL
We're not the only ones to proclaim chef Tristan Welch's cleverness, but in December 2011 he moved on – to a consultancy role for the same restaurant. But Launceston Place still offers characterful cooking of great style and originality.
8 Seymour Street, London, W1H 7JZ
The decor, with its frosted glass curtains and mirrors, may strike some as more Miami Beach than West End, but at night Giorgio Locatelli's dining room is cosy and warm, and a fitting setting for some of London's best Italian food.
160 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9EB
This opulent brasserie is something of an enigma. With its loyal following and dedicated book, ‘Breakfast at The Wolseley’ by AA Gill, it displays the hallmarks of a grand café that has witnessed decades come and go, yet it has been open less than a decade.