One of a trio of high-quality wine bar/restaurants dreamed up by chef Agnar Sverrisson of Texture, 28°-50° is all about quality. Staff are bright as a button, the wine list is a thing of joy (with up to 30 offerings by the glass or carafe), and the French-inspired menu offers sharing platters, cheeses, deli staples and more refined examples of French bourgeois cooking.
Just luxe enough for Marylebone, this snug brasserie from sommelier Xavier Rousset (ex-Texture) promises a polite blend of English and Mediterranean comfort – with a strong emphasis on excellent wines by the glass. The food is Gallic, meticulously crafted and pitched just the right side of fussy – think juicy roast quail with truffle boudin and turnip. The best seats are at the buzzy counter.
A butcher’s with an in-house restaurant (or is it the other way round?), Boxcar spreads itself over two floors: downstairs there are tables overlooking the open kitchen; upstairs looks like a deli, with fridges of meat on two sides. Expect a brief menu ranging from burgers, pies and well-hung rare-breed steaks to seasonal salads and calorific puds – plus some daily specials. Bespoke cocktails too.
Set up by chef Maurizio Morelli (ex-Latium, RIP), Briciole is as close to a proper Italian trattoria as you’re likely to find in London, complete with effusive staff who greet everyone like long-lost friends. The food follows suit, with a wide-ranging selection of small plates, first-class salumi, cheeses, pastas and regionally inspired mains – it’s rustic Italian cuisine at its most honest and inviting.
The heat (and the hype) may have died down and you no longer need celeb cred to guarantee a table, but Chiltern Firehouse is still in demand for business or pleasure. Staff ooze professionalism, standards are sky-high, and the food (overseen by red-hot chef Nuno Mendes) is stunningly inventive modern stuff. Perching at the counter is the most fun you can have here.
Manna for the ladies who lunch, the high-ceilinged Delamina brims with shabby-chic elegance, while the food has a supposedly ‘wholesome’ imprint. Emphatic Middle Eastern and Mediterranean accents shine through, although we suggest staying with the snacks and mezze, before homing in on the must-have pud (two slabs of tahini halva with date syrup and hazelnuts). Ask for a street-side table if you’re into people-watching.
Once one of Marylebone’s best-kept secrets, Dinings now has a reputation larger than its pokey townhouse setting. It may be cramped, and the downstairs room does resemble a concrete bunker, but the Nobu-inspired modern Japanese food is indisputably excellent – with some noticeable Peruvian flourishes added to its ‘tapas-style’ line-up. With polite, efficient chefs and waiters too, Dinings is a top performer.
Donostia is the Basque name for the prestigious gastronomic hotbed of San Sebastián, and this minimalist tapas joint rightly basks in the reflected glory of its namesake. Understated flavour revelations are the order of the day, from pintxos skewers to veal fillet with ratte potatoes. The drinks list is also worth careful consideration, from biodynamic riojas to natural Basque cider poured from a great height.
A little taste of Mittel Europe transported to Marylebone, this grand café from Messrs Corbin & King has its culinary compass set to Austria, although it also absorbs ideas from neighbouring countries. Everything about Fischer’s is polished, from the acres of smooth, varnished woodwork to the all-encompassing menu, which satisfies from breakfast to late suppertime. It’s as seductively captivating as a full-dress Viennese waltz.
Venue says An informal neighbourhood café-restaurant with a classic Viennese menu. Buzzing from breakfast until late, seven days a week.
Cavernous and showy, with ‘look at me’ design features including an undulating brick ceiling with massive bulges, Fucina comes from serial restaurateur Kurt Zdesar (of Ping Pong fame). Food-wise, things are more low-key but equally stylish, with sharing plates of increasing size listed under the headings ‘Uno’, ‘Due’, Tre’. Head to level three for barnstorming dishes blasted in their own ‘fucina’ (aka a micro furnace/forge).
A handy option if you’re stuck for something veggie in Marylebone, this branch of The Gate mini chain is a bit like that good-on-paper date – nothing to complain about, but no real spark. The interior is understated, sleek and minimal, while the food mixes up flavours and influences from around the globe. On the plus side, they have a brilliant selection of organic wines.
Standing proud like some Andalusian mansion in Marylebone, this smart branch of the Ibérica chain dishes up a wide-ranging menu covering everything from matchless jamón, charcuterie and cheeses to small plates and hot stews. Service is very Spanish, and staff are happy to help when it comes to choosing from the patriotic list of regional wines and sherries. Also check out the deli next door.
Hoppers’ second branch is larger, smarter and more grown-up than the sexy little Soho original – and you can book. You’ll clock most of the old favourites on the menu (including the eponymous ‘hoppers’ and bone marrow varuval), but also expect some more fusion-style offerings (not always successful, we have to say). Downstairs is for big parties – and brain-freezing cocktails while you wait.
It’s all about roll-your-sleeves-up DIY at Kintan – a bargain-basement Japanese eatery specialising in yakiniku, a variant of Korean BBQ involving a smoky thick-ridged grill built into each table. The fully illustrated medley ranges from USDA kalbi short-rib to tiger prawns, although we’re hooked on the pre-marinated spicy pork. Wipe-clean menus are splashed with red-sticker deals, while extended ‘happy hours’ add extra value.
There are cheese boards and then there are La Fromagerie cheese boards. We’d like to live in a world in which we were only ever served the latter – carefully sourced, themed by nation (with suggested wines to match) and prettily arranged on a wooden slab at the back of a shop filled with wonderful chutneys and handmade French tableware. A slice of cheese heaven.
Occupying an old banking chamber deep in upper-crust Marylebone, Les 110 is only slightly more approachable than its starry elder sibling in Paris – so sit up straight, polish your accent and be sure to use your cutlery in the right order. The food is lavish French fine dining at its best, while 110 (yes!) wines by the glass cater to novices and connoisseurs alike.
One of London’s more highly regarded Italian chefs, Giorgio Locatelli presides over this glamorous, well-groomed destination, allowing the dining room’s suave interiors to soothe his well-heeled clientele while his kitchen doles out food that deserves to be relished as well as admired. Superb hand-crafted pasta is the top shout, but everything screams quality. Wines offer a positively educational survey of Italy’s regions.
A tiny Basque enclave in Marylebone, Lurra is the baby sister of Donostia just down the road. Lap up the buzzy atmosphere and smoky aromas as you pick from a menu of rustic-luxe tapas and pintxos inspired by the bars of San Sebastián. Also, don’t ignore the appetising drinks list with its sprightly, spritzy txakoli wines alongside other indie regional tipples.
Just getting into this cult destination can feel like cause for celebration. Not only is the queue epic, but Meat Liquor employs ‘good cop, bad cop’ strategies to manage it. Inside, it’s dark and violently loud: more hell-raising nightclub than restaurant. The Deep South-style cooking is gutsy stuff (crunchy-coated ‘bingo wings’, cheese steaks, dogs etc) although the real show-stoppers are the burgers.
Serene and elegant, with bucolic views through its arched windows, Orrery achieves the almost impossible – serving up a lunchtime menu of exceptional beauty, glamour and flavour in demure grey-toned surroundings that are the toast of Marylebone. Yes, the three-course deal is a business no-brainer, but Orrery’s refined French-inspired food and gorgeous wines are equally seductive for a romantic evening à deux.
Named after Peru’s ‘Mother Earth’, Pachamama is certainly a place to revere if you’re a Marylebone hedonist – this gorgeous-looking low-lit basement hotspot has it all, at a price tag mere mortals can afford. To eat, there are modish (but never wacky) Peruvian plates full of finesse and flavour, all accompanied by party-time DJs at the weekends. Psst: the bottomless brunch is a local legend.
It may be a squeeze, but Patty & Bun’s original bare-bones branch has carved out a reputation for serving some of London’s finest burgers. All-day queues are testament to the fact that its amiable staff have the format spot-on: they don’t mess around with ingredients (British wherever possible), the menu is witty without seeming contrived, and they’ve even had the nous to offer takeaways.
Decked out in lavish oriental style with banners, screens and dragons galore, Phoenix Palace is a favourite of international businessmen – although its easy-going bustle also suits local Chinese families who crowd round circular tables for the excellent weekend dim sum (reservations are a must unless you fancy queueing). Tip: dinner is a firecracker fest during the Chinese New Year.
London’s first full-on ‘fusionista’, Kiwi chef Peter Gordon is still preaching the gospel, and fans of world cooking still descend on his flagship Marylebone project for the real thing. The buzzy ground-floor Tapa Room heaves with locals knocking back top-quality coffees, New Zealand wines and eclectic small plates, while proceedings are ratcheted up a notch in the more formal first-floor Providores restaurant.
Simon Rogan’s original Roganic popped up and went, but now the starry chef from Cartmel’s L’Enclume has reprised the idea and gained himself a permanent foothold in the capital. The food is tiny and technical, course after wondrous course shot through with Rogan’s trademark flavours from nature – the full-price tasting menu must take all night to consume, but lunch is cheaper and (marginally) quicker.
Located within a naan’s hurl of Oxford Street, Roti Chai offers Indian thrills on two levels. Office workers pack the ground-floor ‘street kitchen’ for lunchtime ‘shack snacks’, ‘railway’ curries, dhals and the like, while the sexier basement room comes into its own for full blowouts in the evening. Wherever you’re seated, a bevy of alert, young multinational staff keep things pacy.
As the exclusive name suggests, this premier link in the Royal China chain has an air of quiet five-star elegance, right down to the faint tinkling of a piano. Lunchtime dim sum is a star attraction, but the kitchen also turns out consummate Cantonese cooking based on prized ingredients such as abalone and lobster. Meanwhile, polished staff make everyone feel like a visiting dignitary.
One of the pioneers of new Nordic cuisine in London, the sophisticated Texture is fronted by Iceland-born head chef Aggi Sverrisson who looks to nature for culinary inspiration, gives butter and cream a wide berth and applies a clean-cut but luxurious approach to tip-top ingredients. A light-filled bar sets the scene with its exhaustive champagne selection, while utterly professional service tops things off.
They now have a string of hits to their name (think Gymkhana, Hoppers and Bao for starters), but this is where it all began for the all-conquering Sethi siblings. The setting is smart and quietly conservative, while the kitchen thrills punters with its interpretations of Indian regional cuisine – especially seafood from the south. And the thrills continue with Sunaina Sethi’s globetrotting wine list.
Neapolitan chef Eduardo Tuccillo has embraced the small-plates tapas concept and given it a twist by loading his little dishes with high-quality British produce. It’s a casual, fun-loving idea that yields lots of colourful fusion riffs – all served up by unfailingly attentive, smiling staff. The wine list is diverse enough for most palates, while set lunches and weekend breakfasts are also worth checking out.
It’s mostly about deconstructed, small-plates Argentinian cooking at this counter-focused restaurant – and with dishes as good as this you’ll want to hoover up as many mouthfuls as you can. Alternatively, get your chops around a classic sirloin, ribeye or asado – a flank steak served with grilled hispi cabbage, oxtail and oyster mayo. All you need is a side of hand-cut chips ‘provenzal’.
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