Restaurants for groups
Low-key and minimalist (there’s no name above the door), this modern Italian in Peckham wows with a confidently simple line-up of big-flavoured, technically flawless dishes. Groups of eight or more should book the communal table in front of the kitchen and partake in the family-style sharing menu. With a little notice, the chefs can also rustle up mighty suckling pig feasts.
A polished tribute to the ultimate French brasserie (by way of NYC), Balthazar in Covent Garden is charged with je ne sais quoi dynamite – thanks to a combination of whizz-bang customer service, swinging celeb vibes and a nostalgic France-meets-the-US menu. Tables of six are comfortably accommodated in the restaurant, while bigger parties should consider the luxe private dining room on the first floor.
A larger, airier sequel to the smash-hit Soho original, Bao Fitzrovia delivers all the usual favourites and some spectacular new dishes for sharing and grazing (we love the ‘mapo’ aubergine served over sticky rice). Big groups can book – so bag a spot for dinner at one of the communal tables in the dimly lit basement, and plump for the ‘P.P.P feast’.
Noise, smoke, clubby vibes, strong cocktails and belting Turkish BBQ are the attractions at this hip grill house underneath Haggerston’s railway arches. Berber’s long wooden tables and bench seats are built for socialising, and groups of six or more can book – provided they order from the prixe-fixe menu or go for one of the sharing feasts (whole smoked shoulder of lamb, say).
All-out glamour in one of London’s prettiest dining rooms. Booths right at the heart of the buzzing Fitzrovia space can seat up to eight, and there’s also a table for 12 in the main restaurant – not to mention several private dining options. Berners is part of the Jason Atherton stable, so you can expect polished service and precise Anglo-European cooking too.
The hipster count is high at this East End trendsetter – but so is the quality. Come here for friendly but professional service, bags of fun and eclectic cooking with a Gallic slant. They can seat up to 12 people on one table for brunch or dinner and can also accommodate up to 20 across two tables at off-peak times (special menus are available).
It’s almost too cool – and too affordable – for the sharp-suited expense-account crowd, but this trendy take on a British chop house is still a cut above when it comes to deliciously crusted, smoky meats, herb-flecked flatbreads and jazzy cocktails. Blacklock City is a big beast occupying a 100-seater industrial-style basement, so booking for large groups is never a problem.
It’s summer all year round in Blixen’s covered and heated back garden near Liverpool Street, where the largest table seats ten amid real trees, plants and cacti. To start, snack on truffle popcorn over cocktails (these guys shake up a mean martini), then tuck into the likes of crab with leek, parma ham and crispy rice or lamb loin with carrot and black olive ham.
Deep South revelry. The youngest of London’s Blues Kitchen group adds a party atmosphere to the tried-and-tested formula of blues, barbecue and bourbon. There are live bands seven nights a week and DJs play till 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. Groups can book generous leather booths (seating up to eight) in the restaurant and/or an area in the club space.
Venue says We're making Saturday 29th one to remember with two live shows of The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones by our incredible house band 🎸🎶
The clamorous celebrity vibe is as important as the food at this enduringly popular Soho Italian, but if you’re hungry like the wolf there’s much to enjoy from a rolling menu with oodles of artisan cred. Groups of up to ten can be slotted into the rear dining area; bigger parties need to book the separate Remus Room.
This is big-ticket dining at bus-ticket prices, just off Piccadilly Circus. Corbin and King’s homage to the grand Parisian brasserie was made for group dining: the menu’s a crowd-pleaser, service is swift, and the vast space has plenty of room (they can seat 14 on the large table at the back). And at £10.50 for two courses, there’ll be no quibbling over the bill either.
Venue says Every Saturday night, join us in Crazy Coqs following the 9.15pm ticketed event to enjoy our free, late-night music show – Round Midnight.
The guys from Breddos are Soho taco traders with a few aces up their sleeves. Their namesake specialities are creative enough, but we prefer elote (tantalisingly sour grilled corn with smoky chilli mayo), and their off-the-clock excellent take on ceviche. Service is properly charming too. Groups should book the big communal table in the narrow, cramped and atmospheric room.
Think of Brigadiers as ‘Hoppers for people with money’, because this Indian barbecue restaurant in the City has all the calling cards of its high-stepping owners, the Sethi family (Gymkhana, Bao etc). Groups wanting some privacy away from the main restaurant can choose from three bespoke spaces including the ten-seater Kukri Room, where the table turns into a post-prandial games table for after-dinner amusement.
Berlusconi-inspired debauchery in Battersea. There are dancing waiters, cocktails served in giant horses’ heads and karaoke when the whole place turns into a nightclub after dinner. Book the late sitting for antipasti and (surprisingly good) sourdough pizza, and make sure any group over eight is a mix of both signori and signore – otherwise you won’t get through the door.
The grown-up Chelsea sibling of Marylebone’s Pachamama, the pulsating Chicama is all about Peruvian small plates and über-fresh seafood served against a bubbly backdrop of deep Latin beats. Groups of eight or more can sample the wares in the main restaurant, while larger parties (12 upwards) are better suited to the rustic candlelit private dining room within whiffing distance of the kitchen.
A gift from the god of fried chicken – with a Korean twist. The Seven Dials place’s vibe is somewhere between a basement house party and a Prohibition speakeasy, there’s a liquor bar in the middle and a playlist of absolute bangers. To eat? The game-changing KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) and the K-Pop burger – preferably with a gaggle of mates at one of the bookable ‘family-style’ tables.
Timeless, rustic Gallic food is the deal at this lovely revamped Clerkenwell boozer, which is now home to celebrated chef Henry Harris – a cook famed for his calves’ brains with salty capers. Groups (up to ten people) should plump for the art-filled 1920s-style Blue Room, and there are bigger tables in the atmospheric Back Room or the Garden.
A smoky small-plates joint occupying Peckham Rye’s old ticket office, the Coal Rooms is now a top shout locally, with seats at the counter and a super-cool dining room that’s reassuringly calm by Peckham standards. Groups can be fitted in here, although the dark, intimate 12-seater private dining room (in the defunct ladies’ bathroom) is a better bet.
Sizzling steaks and fish cooked over coals are the headliners at this handsome London offshoot of Brighton’s Coal Shed. Groups of eight or more can book the private dining room upstairs, where diners can choose from a £45 carte or a £60 feasting menu featuring a selection of sharing dishes for the table. Brilliant staff ensure that everything goes swimmingly.
Venue says Celebrate the festive season in our private dining room with a delicious feasting menu!
The only female chef to bag three Michelin stars in the UK (at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, FYI), Clare Smyth is now going it alone. A plus-sized zone in Notting Hill, Core is elegant, vibrant and great fun, while the food is already two-Michelin-starred special – but with a playful streak. A ten-seater table overlooking the open kitchen represents the holy grail for big groups.
With three open kitchens, multiple dining rooms and curtained-off private spaces, this City offshoot of Mayfair’s Coya bear Bank station promises pisco-fuelled Peruvian entertainment for those with fat wallets. Expect big hits on small plates, backed by thumping music, bright Incan-themed decor and hugely welcoming staff. Just be aware of the constant upselling, or you could be stung with an embarrassing bill.
A spin-off from Peckham’s popular Mr Bao, this hip Asian hangout is a dark, buzzy, atmospheric spot in Tooting dedicated to fluffy Taiwanese buns and much more besides. This big Daddy is also cheap, great fun, really friendly and just about bang-on for flavour. Note: in the evenings they only take bookings for parties up to 12 people from 6-9.45pm.
Venue says Vegan baos are on the menu! Our milk-free buns are available with a variety of vegan-friendly fillings. Not to be missed!
Bombay on a plate – a witty interpretation of urban India, tastefully updated for trendy, spice-loving Londoners. This Granary Square branch of the high-stepping chain is the best-looking yet – a magnificent three-storey warehouse with bookable tables in the evening for groups of six or more amid the hubbub of the buzzing ground-floor space. Smaller groups can always book for breakfast and lunch.
Recycled furniture, workshop light fittings, a bar serving craft beers: it might look like another booze and burger joint – or maybe a NY Italian ‘small plates’ place – but The Dairy in Clapham, doesn’t churn out a formula. Seasonal British ingredients are treated with real finesse and a touch of class, while groups can take full advantage of the easy-going vibe – provided they book in advance.
Moored on the Grand Union Canal outside Paddington Station, Darcie Green and May Green aren’t simply floating barges; they’re also floating pieces of art, and with owners from Down Under, it’s no surprise that fair dinkum Antipodean-inspired dishes are the order of the day. Groups of eight or more can even reserve a section of the boat for exclusive use.
Eat like a Spanish family on the first floor of queen bee Nieves Barragán Mohacho’s solo gaff – and, yes, you can book a communal table up there. The downstairs counter may be all about small-plate grazing, but wood-fired feasting is the name of the game in El Asador’s convivial dining room. The food’s all-round flawless and the tempranillo flows freely.
Everything is turned up to 11 in this hip Covent Garden basement, and your initiation starts with the banging rock music that greets you before you even make it down the stairs. Groups of more than six can book and it’s decent value if you’re planning to share from F&B’s ‘drinking food’ menu – don’t miss the sexed-up s’mores dessert.
You’ll probably know the shiny all-day Florentine eatery for its snazzy interiors, brunch deals, flatbreads, Herculean burgers and gargantuan Sunday roasts, but it’s also a great spot for a group outing in the evenings. Accommodating big parties is no problem for the bubbly staff at this unexpectedly soulful and upscale adjunct to the rather anonymous Park Plaza Waterloo hotel next door.
You might think you’d stumbled into a post-catwalk party during London Fashion Week, what with all the svelte glamour pusses, David Gandy lookalikes and sundry hangers-on mingling in this capacious marble-hued Covent Garden outpost of the San Carlo brand. If you’ve come here to eat rather than pose, the food is excellent Italian fare at comfortable prices, with plenty of sharing dishes for big groups.
Set in a big, buzzy basement, Hawksmoor is great for a long lunch, a birthday dinner and everything in between. It may be swanky, but priceless staff keep things refreshingly casual and the place has an irresistible dressed-down appeal. Come in a group and chomp your way through some of the best British beef in town – there are special set menus for big parties too. Similar deals are available at Hawksmoor’s branches in Knightsbridge, Spitalfields, Borough, Guildhall and Air Street.
Part of a hugely ambitious three-storey project, Ollie Dabbous’s latest gaff is on a different scale to his bijou self-named Fitzrovia debut. ‘Above’ is the Michelin-starred flagship, where the young chef serves up a signature ten-course tasting menu built for ‘whole table’ dining – although parties of eight-plus should decamp to one of the more discreet private dining spaces. For something simpler, try Hide ‘Ground’.
A second hurrah for Hoppers, this Marylebone offshoot is the civilised grown-up cousin of the sexy Soho original – and you can book. For big groups that means one of the semi-private vaults on the ground floor (seating up to eight people) or a bigger bash in the semi-exclusive party-time basement. Either way, Sri Lankan ‘hoppers’ (bowl-shaped savoury crêpes) are the eponymous star turns.
Visit this acclaimed but under-the-radar Chinese and you’ll be asked if there’s anything you can’t/won’t eat and what level of spice you like. After that, you’re in the kitchen’s hands as wave upon wave of esoteric regional dishes appear. Guests are encouraged to share, and catering for big tables is no problem – just be sure to check out the brilliant wine list.
Forget liking it hot: Indian Accent is for those who like it swish. The dining room looks like one of those international Raj hotels, almost everyone wears a suit and the swanky-pants setting is matched by food that’s out of the top drawer. Up to eight people can be seated in the main restaurant, while the private dining room caters for 14-18.
Venue says Taking reservations for Christmas parties, with options available for full venue hire and private dining. For more information, email us!
Jamavar’s vibe suggests a smart, colonial-era gentlemen’s club, but don’t let that put you off. What makes it worth a serious punt is the food, a succession of luscious, delicately spiced small plates bursting with purity and depth of flavour. For group dining, opt for the eight-seater private room, a luxe space complete with its own wine vitrine and views of a lovely garden.
Although ‘yakitori’ translates as ‘fry chicken’, there’s nothing dixie about the koji skewers served at this sociable Japanese joint. There’s plenty of good stuff on offer here, so grab some mates and try as much as you can – preferably in the downstairs karaoke room, where groups of 8-12 can graze through a tasting menu while revealing their guilty pleasures at the mic.
This eatery is Thai BBQ from the guy who gave us Smoking Goat. The ground floor is for pyromaniac thrills and cheffy action, while downstairs is a different kind of fun – and tailor-made for groups. This dark, loud space is for your very best mates – simply ring up in advance, ask when the suckling pig will be in, then book yourselves a basement table.
Whizz-kid Welsh chef Tomos Parry has moved on to open Brat in Shoreditch, but this cosy velvet-clad homage to eighteenth-century courtesan Kitty Fisher is still delivering zesty, up-to-the-minute cooking. Big groups (25 max) can book in advance and get a chunk of the restaurant to themselves. Much like its namesake, a visit to Kitty’s boudoir will put a big smile on your face.
Good-looking staff, good-looking interiors and a good-looking menu – this stylishly sophisticated bricks-and-mortar reboot of Kricket’s original Brixton pop-up deals in carefully considered Anglo-Indian small plates and dinky little ceramic bowls loaded with complex in-your-face flavours. While the L-shaped counter and ground-floor space are for walk-ins only, big groups can book dinner at one of the communal tables in the basement.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘sex shop’ exterior – there’s nothing sleazy about this dark, loud, basement rendezvous. La Bodega is dressed to thrill and its homely take on Mexican cuisine always looks pretty – check out the beautifully presented tacos, ceviches and tostadas. This place is made for big groups – despite small portions and two-hour table limits.
Venue says Get 50% off food this October if you dine before 7pm! Book using the code 'FRIDA'. Sunday to Wednesday only.
An achingly stylish Burmese star now holed up in on the fringes of Shoreditch, Lahpet’s cross-breed of Thai and Indian cuisine is very much its own – if you don’t believe us, try one of their zingy signature salads. Groups of more than seven can book, and it’s worth reserving one of the booths if possible; once installed, order as much as you possibly can.
Backpacker café meets urban-chic restaurant at this funky Covent Garden hangout, where the traditional cooking of Laos gets some welcome publicity (think northern Thailand meets Vietnam). Eager clued-up staff are on hand to advise, whether you’re playing it safe or going gung-ho. They happily cater for tables of eight (or more), but you do need to book in advance.
The giant marble table in the centre of this ‘fermenting kitchen’ also doubles as a display area, with jars and plates in the middle and chairs along one side. Anywhere you sit, expect an eyeful of the pickling projects. There’s even a muslin bag suspended from the ceiling, containing the Picklery’s own labneh, of course. Little Duck/ The Picklery lives up to its name – it’s basically a sexy, edible version of the Grant Museum of Zoology. Like its big sisters Rawduck and Ducksoup, there’s a scribbled blackboard menu of natural wines and daily-changing seasonal plates, featuring a well-stamped passport of global ingredients. Except here, obviously, many are pickled or fermented, while others are so fresh they’re almost still on the allotment. Hunks of carosello cucumber came dolloped with that labneh, while cuttlefish in its ink was like mopping up a salty, satiating black hole. I could have eaten ten more plates of sardines: tender, chilli-cured fish, with enough piquancy to go at them slowly, savouring every mouthful of Med warmth and crunchy pickled walnut. A finger bowl of daikon kimchi was so moreish I asked to buy some (alas, it’s just for diners, although there’s a kaleidoscope of bottled goodies for sale in the corner fridge). Little Duck is beautifully low-key and serves some seriously cool combinations. Plus, though pricy in the evenings, it does a great lunch deal (£10 for a main and a glass of wine). May it last – and ferment – far longer than our DIY kefir kits
In the shadow of The Shard, Londrino is home to Portuguese chef Leandro Carreira – a master of native regional cooking and a fan of British produce. The glass-walled space can seem stark, but there’s plenty of chatter and groups are well served by two separate semi-private dining spaces overlooking the open kitchen – with floor-to-ceiling windows opening up for alfresco dining in the summer.
From the bods behind the Clove Club, this classy joint serves up ‘Britalian’ cooking in a hyper-smooth setting of billowing drapes, burnished mirrors and deco-rustic fittings. Best bets for groups of eight or more are the Italianate Garden Room and the Pasta Room, which is designed to look and feel like a traditional kitchen. This is, of course, where the chefs make their pasta.
Venue says The restaurant serves high quality ingredients from around the British Isles with a focus on pasta.
Previously members-only, Lutyens Grill at The Ned is now officially open to the public – but it’s still exclusive. Once a bank manager’s office, it comes on like a clubby wood-panelled NY steakhouse with imperceptible staff patrolling around placidly. Doing suited-and-booted business feels just right here, especially if you’re entertaining a large party of clients who like their beef.
Doing for Deptford what its elder brother Artusi did for Peckham, Marcella is all about classy simplicity and artisanal Italian food – much of it made on the premises. Brilliant sauces give the already excellent handmade pasta some extra oomph, and everything sings a seasonal song. Staff are smiley, and they’re very flexible when it comes to booking tables, of any size.
It may be known as a yummy-mummy’s brunch spot, but this terribly cute and cosy branch of Megan’s is also a favourite with big groups of gals (and guys too) who come to graze on everything from sourdough pizzas to deconstructed Levantine kebabs. With its fairy lights, paper flowers and pale blue walls, this place is a rollicking party-friendly asset in the ’hood.
From the crew behind Salvation in Noodles, this chummy Vietnamese hangout is a sleek Hanoi-meets-London mash-up specialising in huge portions of Vietnamese BBQ with all the trimmings. Meaty items such as velvety beef short-rib over squidgy rice are great for sharing around, but veggies also do well here. You can book the big communal tables, but the kitchen counter is for walk-ins only.
A market stall turned permanent deli-cum-diner, Monty’s is a legend with a cult following – not just for its absurdly good salt-beef sarnies, but also for its peppery pastrami, latkes, rugelach and more besides. Best of all, parties of four-plus can book a special ‘shabbat dinner’ (£24 for four courses) on Friday and Saturday nights – just reserve a booth and get stuck in.
Homely and snug, this family-owned Eritrean restaurant welcomes groups of all sizes with open arms. Guests sitting at low tables are invariably treated like long-lost friends and meals become increasingly cosy as more people arrive. For added authenticity, ditch the cutlery and eat with your right hand – all stews and curries are served with injera flatbread.
Genre-bending Japanese soul food from one-time ‘MasterChef’ winner Tim Anderson. Nanban translates as ‘southern barbarian’, so you know what to expect from a riotous menu that covers everything from mentaiko pasta to the must-try goat ragù ramen. Up to 12 can be accommodated on the ground floor, although smaller groups should ask for one of the weird-looking arched booths on wheels upstairs.
A fine-dining restaurant trapped in the body of a bistro, serving ingenious modern food within earshot of Oxford Street’s mayhem. Although the setting says ‘no frills’, prices scream ‘full-on destination’ – so gather together some food-loving friends and linger over the great-value tasting menu. Six is a comfortable fit in the dining room, while groups of 11-16 can be seated around the beautiful oak table.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s grown-up take on his café theme, with prices to match the slightly more formal surrounds. Parties of six can book a spot in the street-level dining room, but bigger groups do better by opting for Downstairs at Nopi, where two huge communal tables are perfect for party-style bashes – just be aware of the strictly enforced two-hour slots.
Originally set up by Alan Yau, this hugely atmospheric Mayfair rendezvous channels 1930s Shanghai with its jazz lounge and slinky velvet-toned restaurant. Three VIP rooms are tailored to big groups, from the nine-seater Salon Noir on the ground floor to the 18-seat Opera, a semi-private space in the main dining room. Either way, expect upscale Chinese food presented in distinct European-style courses.
Venue says Park Chinois is an entertainment restaurant that pays homage to the opulence and decadence of 1930’s Shanghai, with exquisite Chinese food.
Swathes of brick, concrete and steel provide the regular urban-by-numbers backdrop at this buzzy branch of Pizza East – a live-wire space full of long, shared tables. Groups of 13-18 can have a ‘pizza party’, with generous amounts of antipasti, salads, pizzas and desserts in the semi-private area to one side; parties of 12 or less are treated like any other table.
It’s all about the buzzwords here: ‘bistronomy’, communal and counter dining, low-intervention wines and – of course – small plates. The centrepiece of this converted 1930s garage is a big wooden table seating up to 16 people, with benches running alongside the open kitchen and concertina doors opening on to the street. Food-wise, everything hinges on the daily blackboard menu and its roster of French-accented seasonal dishes.
The name means ‘purity’ and that’s what you get at this Camden outpost of the UK’s first vegan pizzeria. The setting is buzzy, modern and relaxed, while the terrific plant-based pizza toppings involve everything from smoked tofu to beetroot carpaccio. Although Purezza is primarily for walk-ins, groups of eight or more can book big tables in advance (note that 16 is the upper limit).
A celeb in its own right and something of an icon when it comes to riverside dining, the River Café attracts plenty of mwah-mwah luvvies, but it’s not all veneer. The cooking is faultless (in an artisanal Italian way), the wines are just fabulous, and the mood is – of course – casually expensive. Perfect for a big celebration – if someone else is paying.
Sister to the edgier Shoreditch original, the Greenwich branch of Rivington Grill has an appropriately maritime feel, although its seasonal British food is still served on starched linen. There’s room for ten people on one big table, while many more can be accommodated on the semi-private mezzanine. Expect to gorge on dressed crab, spring chicken with coleslaw, cod with butter beans etc.
Rochelle’s ground-floor café at the ICA is for chatting over coffee and toasties, but the serious action takes place upstairs in two swish mezzanine dining rooms with arched windows overlooking The Mall. Stripped-back bare-white interiors allow the seasonal British food to shine (think St John without the Michelin gongs), while switched-on staff cope admirably with groups of all sizes.
Sit and eat for under a tenner at this intensely cosy, family-run Italian – a true neighbourhood restaurant in the old-fashioned sense of the word. Regulars know the menu by heart, there’s an ice-cream bar up front and a couple of alfresco tables for that faux-Neapolitan vibe. Pizzas and pastas are the go-to choices for the garrulous groups who regularly pack the place.
Sleek, modern interiors, exquisite crockery and double-ended chopsticks strike a swish, authentic note at this Japanese ‘steak kitchen and saké bar’ – a tone that’s matched by Sakagura’s beautifully presented sushi feasts, DIY yakiniku BBQ and wagyu beef sizzled on hot stone. Screened-off booths are great for groups, and there are some big tables in the dining room too.
Having wobbled in Shoreditch, the new incarnation of Santo Remedio near London Bridge is simply brilliant. Low-lit, inviting and spread over two floors, it seduces punters with easy-listening Latin grooves, flickering tea lights, and some inspired food. Groups of eight or more can lap up the Mexican feasting menus in the upstairs room, while punishing alco-shots keep the party going.
Venue says A vibrant Mexican restaurant with an upstairs tequila and mezcal bar, serving authentic regional Mexican cuisine and cocktails.
Keep your coat on when visiting this laidback eatery in Tooting’s chilly Broadway Market, even though Sea Garden’s pimped-up seafood classics, veggie ideas and meaty grills are guaranteed to warm your cockles. The walk-in counter gets rammed, but groups can book the communal tables in the covered market corridor. They don’t take cards, so remember to bring some ready cash with you.
This place has Insta-friendly food in hip surrounds with a rocking soundtrack, courtesy of the team behind Bone Daddies. There are booths for up to six people, and more can be accommodated on the large sharing table, while the private dining room seats 16. Food-wise, there’s something for everyone on the playful Japanese fusion menu – don’t miss the ‘prawn toast masquerading as okonomiyaki’.
Barnyard chic. Seasonal farm-to-table food is dished out in relaxed worn wood surrounds, with piggy portraits on the wall and bits of tractor serving as furniture. If that sounds a bit contrived, trust that the atmosphere and the cooking (largely based on ingredients from the sibling owners’ farm) are both excellent. Book the ‘Butchers Table’ for birthday parties and other bashes.
This place offers smack-in-the-face Thai BBQ in a jam-packed industrial-meets-rustic setting – it’s all smoke, noise, music and alcohol. The flavours may hit you for six (try the lardo-fried rice or the signature fish-sauce chicken wings), but your wallet won’t be seriously dented, even if you go heavy on the booze. Big groups can book ahead for communal tables amid the riotous hubbub.
Delivering a full-frontal assault of never-dumbed-down flavours from Thailand’s north-eastern provinces, the cooking at Som Saa is guaranteed to blow you away. The restaurant now takes bookings for groups of any size, and a reservation will also guarantee you some of the better seats in the house. Also look out for the weekly changing ‘Tem Toh’ (‘full table’ tasting menus).
Cool but classy, with a look that says casual, cutting-edge elegance, spacious St Leonards is dominated by an icy raw bar and a smouldering wood-fired oven. It’s not especially radical, but the food is quietly self-assured, with dabs of creativity applied to its modern European plates. Bills can add up, but groups can always share the financial pain – the exclusive private dining room seats 12.
Small but lovely, this sibling of Mayfair’s Chisou offers the best of both worlds: it feels old school, but the music’s upbeat and the blowtorch-wielding chefs are from all nations. While singletons and couples congregate at the brightly lit sushi counter, bigger groups book their places down in the sizeable basement where cosy banquettes and soft lighting create a more intimate mood.
Old-fashioned English chop house meets fiery, smoky Indian small plates – that’s the deal at this Covent Garden charmer, which has sociable class written all over it. Closely packed tables, an easy-going vibe and some of the cheeriest service in town make this a theatreland hit, while the gently spiced food hits all the right comfort buttons.
The ‘stack ’em high’ mantra goes for everything – spicy lamb chops, tandoori naan breads, customers – but it’s hard to beat this cut-and-thrust Whitechapel Punjabi for a cracking curry to kick off your night. It’s BYO, and the local offies command a premium, so bulk-buy your beers before you arrive, and pre-book a big table to avoid the queue.
Fire in the hole. Temper’s Soho dive is a semi-industrial spot in a windowless basement, with a mighty six-metre firepit, a huge rectangular counter (great for dates), big tables and comfortable booths – worth booking if you’re with a group of mates. Slabs of juicy meat on flatbread, tacos loaded with soy-cured beef, scotch-bonnet chilli nachos, delirious riffs on cookie dough… need we go on?
Venue says Christmas bookings now being taken for parties of all sizes!
Highbury’s star Italian has made the restaurant biz look like child’s play since day one by combining irresistible food with spot-on service and affordable prices. It’s home to some of London’s best pasta and there’s brilliant stuff from the charcoal grill too, while a comprehensive all-Italian wine list emphasises Trullo’s true calibre. Groups of all sizes can be fitted in among its many tables.
A polished organic wine bar and Californian fusion joint up holed up in the chilly expanses of Peckham’s multi-storey car park (now repurposed as the Peckham Levels complex), West serves up culinary hits galore at prices that won’t offend cash-strapped locals. It’s mostly walk-ins, but parties of six or more can book and the big communal tables are just right for a get-together.
Occupying what was once a not-so-beautiful laundrette, this sibling of Islington’s Primeur is also the kind of neighbourhood hangout where the menu is scrawled on a blackboard, the small plates are modish in style and fish is a strong suit. It’s great for groups too, with big communal tables at the front of the dining room overlooking the breezy Provençal-style terrace.
As iconic as nearby Fortnum & Mason, The Wolseley remains the mother of all grand cafés, the gold standard of civilised socialising – whatever the time of day. Small groups can get together in the fabulous high-ceilinged space, but for a real treat it’s worth booking the elegant but discreetly hidden 14-seater private dining room with its spectacular arched windows.
Venue says Our celebrated breakfasts are served every day from 7am during the week and 8am on the weekend.
From the crew behind bun sensation Bao, Xu’s mission is to create some seriously smart dishes from the treasures of Taiwanese cuisine. The narrow interior has been carved up into a bundle of mini spots spread across two floors, but groups (15 max) should hire out a semi-private long table – or one of the exclusive mahjong/poker rooms, for some added distractions.
This ultra-slick expensively decorated Malaysian restaurant may be only a Jimmy Choo-ed totter from the King’s Road, but you don’t need to spend silly money here – especially if you stick with the good-value street-food dishes. Zheng’s outstanding ‘mix and match’ menu is also custom-built for big marauding groups, who are easily accommodated around its velvety green banquettes and black tables.
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