London restaurants with one Michelin star
The latest occupant of a dining space that has also been home to Viajante and The Typing Room, Da Terra is fronted by the dream team of Paulo Airaudo (chef/owner of San Sebastian’s Michelin-starred Amelia) and his able sidekick Rafael Cagali. The setting is a compelling mix of informal elegance, courtesy and good taste, while the kitchen delivers precise, unimpeachable but playful Latin-inspired food with Italian undertones.
Located between Petersham Nurseries and the Petersham Hotel in the verdant expanses of Richmond Park, this ornate-looking former pub is now the culinary domain of former Roux Scholar Kenneth Culharne – a chef who cares about provenance. Seasonal ingredients, rare-breed meats, heritage vegetables and sustainable fish are the building blocks for a roster of high-end contemporary dishes with the odd Japanese nuance.
Formerly executive sushi chef of the Zuma group, Endo Kazutoshi is the driving force behind this self-named 15-seater Japanese restaurant housed within the Rotunda (at the top of the old BBC Television Centre). Expect a mix of Edomae nigiri and new-style sushi, plus some unashamedly luxurious grills, tempura and other hot dishes – all complemented by international wines and fancy east-west cocktails. Prices take no prisoners.
Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes (of Chiltern Firehouse fame) has teamed up with James Brown (from the Hostem fashion brand) to create Mãos – an intimate supperclub-style restaurant within the Blue Mountain School. Sixteen guests are invited to dine around a communal table, while the kitchen serves up a startlingly inventive, no-choice tasting menu of progressive Portuguese/Japanese cuisine loaded with umami – it’s like a high-end dinner party, but with a £150 price tag per head (before drinks).
Forget gilded dragons, book-length menus and stir-fries by numbers, Andrew Wong’s big-hitting but pared-back Pimlico Chinese is a singular affair offering elevated cuisine at everyday prices. Preserved duck egg with marinated tofu, chilli and soy is typical, as is poached razor clam with sea cucumber, vinegar tapioca and wind-dried sausage. Park up at the bar-counter if all tables are taken, and enjoy at your leisure.
Schooled under Marcus Wareing, Alyn Williams is flying solo at this plush panelled dining room within the equally plush Westbury Hotel. Expect all the usual fine-dining flurries, along with hushed tones and formal service, but also look out for a surprisingly on-trend vegetarian menu alongside the more usual Michelin-standard offerings. Groups should book the Wine Room with its towering displays of vintage bottles.
Make the most of it and book a stay at The Westbury.
Specialising in stylish pan-Indian tapas, sleek, clubby Amaya struts its stuff for well-heeled Belgravia professionals with inquisitive palates and deep pockets. Ask for a table by the theatrical open kitchen, where you can watch the chefs manning their battery of tandoors, tawa skillets and sigri grills. Service is as smooth as Indian silk, and the sexy cocktail bar hots up as the evening wears on.
Michelin-starred seafood cookery is the lure at this swanky City restaurant on the seventh floor of the South Place Hotel. The food’s ultra-modern, technically excellent and impeccably crafted – a perfect fit for the dining room’s sophisticated vibe and gleaming monochrome interiors. It’s not the most daring restaurant in town, but the combination of consistent cooking and ultra-polished service is bang-on for the City’s expense-account crowd.
Make the most of it and book a stay at South Place Hotel.
Venue says Join us this Autumn on our rooftop terrace and enjoy our partnership with Talisker, to bring a taste of the Isle of Skye to the City.
With its sleek design-mag interiors and Michelin-starred pedigree, this upmarket London sibling of NYC’s Aquavit is as Nordic as an episode of ‘The Bridge’ – so expect intriguingly upscaled food from northern climes, ranging from innovative takes on the smörgåsbord theme to moreish small plates and some bigger offerings that (worryingly) wouldn’t look out of place is an Ikea canteen.
The move from Frith Street to its current home alongside the Hart Brothers’ Quo Vadis hasn’t dented Barrafina’s allure – or shortened the seemingly endless queues outside this no-bookings star of London’s tapas scene. Fans still clamour for perches at the L-shaped marble counter, while the chefs continue to dole out dazzlers such as oozing tortillas and milk-fed lamb sweetbreads to go with picks from a knockout Spanish wine list.
We think the first solo venture from Welsh whizz-kid Tomos Parry (late of Kitty Fisher’s) is (almost) brilliant; service is switched-on, you feel like you’re right there in the kitchen, and the food is full-frontal, no-frills stuff from the wood-fired grill – including a show-stopping dish of turbot (aka ‘brat’) cooked Basque-style in an iron cage. Small plates and wines by the glass add to the all-round fun.
Elegant, bright and visually luxuriant, this big-money reboot of the Lanesborough’s flagship dining room is all bas reliefs and dangling chandeliers beneath a domed glass ceiling – a luxe backdrop for food with serious culinary gravitas. The kitchen gives proud British ingredients a pan-European makeover with spectacular results – no surprise, given that chef-patron Eric Fréchon also has a pocketful of Michelin stars in his French homeland.
Make the most of it and book a stay at The Lanesborough as well.
Venue says Serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner daily under the spectacular glass-domed ceiling. Make your reservation online.
Like a well-cut blazer, Chez Bruce may not be especially original, but it’s largely reliable and one of Wandsworth’s prime neighbourhood assets to boot. The look is a study in classic (if slightly dated) restaurant decor but the cooking is timeless, led decisively by the Franco/European school without much deference to culinary fads. Expect big-boned muscular flavours supported by one of the finest wine lists in the capital.
Promising low-key glamour in high-rise surroundings (the 24th floor of Tower 42, to be precise), City Social is one of super-chef Jason Atherton’s more conservative ventures – a go-to for City suits wanting to impress or let off steam. The gorgeous, sexy space comes with all-enveloping wraparound views and the cooking is all about precision-tuned contemporary flavours – from pretty-pretty salads to slabs of beefy protein.
Everything about the Clove Club screams ‘look at me’: from the austere dining room and blue-tiled kitchen within Shoreditch’s Old Town Hall to the intentionally avant-garde cooking and the tasting menu – it’s a masterpiece of contemporary aspirations in nine courses. It’s British yet esoteric, accessible yet obscure, and it delivers absolutely ravishing flavours. Hot tip: the corner bar is a prime spot for cocktails and snacks.
Duck, foie gras and the flavours of main man Pascal Aussignac’s native Gascony point up this serene Michelin-starred homage to French regional cuisine – although there’s also a lighter side to the cooking these days with veggie (‘garden’) plates now sitting alongside their heftier flesh-based bedfellows. Cosy up amid the heavy wooden screens and marble-clad panels with a bottle from the stonking Provence-inspired wine list.
You know the score: meticulously presented high-end food served in warm low-lit surrounds with a suitably hefty price tag. However, the fact that Elystan Street is fronted by Phil Howard (ex-The Square) may persuade you to give this sleek Chelsea rendezvous a go. In return, you’ll be rewarded with a roster of immaculately crafted, Euro-accented dishes backed by big-ticket wines.
A bijou Chelsea spot and a showcase for chef-proprietor Taylor Bonnyman’s gloriously fresh flavoured food – much of it from British growers, fishermen and his own gardens in East Sussex (his gardener used to work for Raymond Blanc). Intriguing flavour combos such as ‘sea and earth’ just beg to be tried, and desserts include some wonderfully playful sweet/savoury riffs. You’ll want to try the cocktails and global wines too.
Brother Jeff’s patch of the Galvin siblings’ empire, La Chapelle is an awe-inspiring architectural behemoth with ecclesiastical overtones and a menu of impressively rendered modern French cuisine. Service is as smooth as béarnaise, with staff suggesting champagne aperitifs, pointing out the menu’s signature dishes (lasagne of Dorset crab sounds too good to refuse) and advising which bottle of Hermitage La Chapelle to choose.
Less botanically minded than its Kew address might suggest, The Glasshouse is formal but neighbourly with pristine staff touring the neutral dining room and the kitchen delivering its take on gutsy Euro-themed cuisine with impressive aplomb. The Michelin-starred menu and serious wine list are reminders that this west London hotspot is related to Chez Bruce and La Trompette – both stars in their own right.
Gaze around the Goring Hotel’s plush dining room as bow-tied waiters glide serenely by and imagine you’re back in the Edwardian era – mobile phones are most unwelcome here. The decor has been updated while preserving the refinement and understated luxury of the vintage interior – although the food is anything but stuffy, with highly sophisticated interpretations of British classics outshining more outré ideas.
Make the most of it and book a stay at The Goring.
Gallop to Mayfair for this hot-ticket offer from Karam Sethi and co (of Trishna, Hoppers and Bubbledogs fame). Done out like some wood-panelled Indian colonial club (without the strict dress code), Gymkhana lays on a splendid spread of tiffin treats, superlative game dishes and re-treads of old regional favourites, while bar staff wheel out Indian punches in sealed medicine bottles for pouring into silver goblets.
Launched back in 2001, this Michelin-starred Cantonese trendsetter remains a benchmark against which all high-end Chinese restaurants should be judged. It’s one for the moneyed crowd, who lap up its revelatory dim sum and dazzling signature dishes such as roasted silver cod with champagne and honey while living it up in suitably sultry surrounds. Don’t be fazed by the back-alley location: Hakkasan is sexy, moody and oh-so-cool.
Like its Fitzrovia sibling, Hakkasan Mayfair is slick, sleek and sexy – a high-end Cantonese restaurant that turns heads and sets pulses racing in a moody high-groove basement. The food may be Michelin-starred but it’s less showstopping than you might expect for the price – although signature stunners such as the jasmine tea-smoked ribs (now served off the bone) are still perfection on a plate.
Is it a pub? Is it a restaurant? In truth, this upmarket Fulham boozer is a bit of both – although with a serious wine list and a Michelin star to its name, we know where its priorities lie. Seasonal bags of furred and feathered game receive special attention, whether you’re noshing in the chunkily furnished dining room or boozing and snacking at the bar.
Part of a hugely ambitious three-storey project off Piccadilly, Ollie Dabbous’s latest gaff is on a different scale to his bijou self-named Fitzrovia debut. ‘Below’ is the bar, ‘Above’ is the restaurant where the young chef serves up a signature ten-course tasting menu bursting with taste-bud excitement and visual mischief. To drink? Consult the leather-bound iPad for access to some 6,000 bottles courtesy of Dabbous’s backers, Hedonism Wines.
‘Bold heat and umami’ are the twin lures at Ikoyi, a hip little terracotta-walled joint specialising in Nigerian ‘jollof’ cuisine – although the kitchen uses this as a jumping-off point for cooking that transforms West African food into boundary-pushing hyper gastronomy. It may sound like a thrilling ethnic anomaly, but Ikoyi dishes up something truly new for London’s ever-curious diners.
For more than 20 years, Malaysian-born Bernard Yeoh and his team have been teasing Londoners with their ‘liberated’ take on Chinese cuisine in an exotic Mayfair dining room that exudes confidence. The kitchen shows its inventive streak from the off and the momentum never dips, while accommodating staff also get our vote. This being Mayfair, Kai’s culinary liberation obviously comes at a high price.
A hook-up between Phil Howard (ex-The Square) and Rebecca Mascarenhas (of Sonny’s Kitchen fame), Kitchen W8 is understated Michelin-starred charm personified. Low-key decor (with a touch of refinement), personable staff and easy prices set the tone, while the brilliantly rendered Anglo-European food never veers into snobbiness – there’s no shame in staying with the set menus here or picking from the lower end of the wine list.
Ellory is dead, long live Leroy. It’s the same team, and (almost) the same name as before, but this EC2 reboot of the short-lived Hackney star is miles better than the original – mainly because the whole package is much more relaxed. The new site was originally a wine bar and the ethos of pairing Euro-style small plates with glasses of vino lives on. Hugely welcoming staff really know their stuff.
One of London’s most 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.
Dinner at Lyle’s is a leisurely affair, so kick back, take in the understated interiors and chat to the sweet staff before getting stuck into some palate-dazzling food from one of the most talented cooks in town. Formerly part of the ‘Young Turks Collective’, chef James Lowe regularly hits his mark when it comes to fine-tuned new-breed British cuisine. There’s no table-turning (hooray!), so stay as long as you like.
Marcus Wareing’s grandiose blue-blooded dining room within the renovated Berkeley Hotel now trades as Marcus – a richly panelled, claret-toned Belgravia cocoon where the Anglo-French food is fashioned with surgical precision and sommeliers wheel trollies of champagne on ice while advising on a mighty global wine list that rises to all occasions. If you think £55 for five courses is a good deal, go at lunchtime.
Make the most of it and book a stay at The Berkeley.
We happen to think that Angela Hartnett’s flagship is Mayfair’s least stuffy fine-dining restaurant. Yes, there are beautifully dressed tables and carpets so thick you’d slip out of your shoes if only they were Manolo Blahniks, but the focus is resolutely on the good times: cue generous portions of big-flavoured Italian dishes, ferried by smiling, down-to-earth staff. (Psst: the set lunch is a steal.)
Big-name chef Jun Tanaka has been around for years, and this chic, contemporary venue in Fitzrovia is the ninth restaurant he has been involved in (geddit?). Although small plates with a French slant are the focus, the cooking doesn’t really lend itself to sharing-is-caring – still, Tanaka is a genius when it comes to pointing up flavours, creating harmonious marriages and making ingredients sing.
A womb-like room enveloped in shades of pearlescent pink and dusky greys, this Belgravia outpost of Gordon Ramsay’s empire is famed for its centrepiece circular wine store holding vintages of titular Château Pétrus and much more besides. The food is all about indulgence and luxury ingredients, although the Ramsay connection draws those on a salaryman’s salary too – in other words, it’s possible to dine here affordably.
A bijou Fitzrovia aristocrat, Pied à Terre trades on intimacy and purrs like a pedigree Persian cat. From sensational amuse-bouches onwards, the attention to detail is mightily impressive as the kitchen sends out wave after wave of stellar dishes that look a million dollars on the plate. Prices are top-end, but superb-value set lunches make this the perfect setting for tête-à-têtes, business-related or otherwise.
Midas-touch Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred Mayfair flagship promises near-perfect fine dining without over-egging the formality. British ingredients form the backbone of a seasonal menu that picks up influences from Spain, Japan and elsewhere, while the setting speaks of smart, sleek and unfussy sophistication. Well-drilled staff are some of the most professional in the business, and the globetrotting wine list is a real corker.
A cool and thoroughly grown-up Fitzrovia gem, serving up bold, powerful and surprising food from his perch in Portland’s visible open kitchen. Diners congregate at bare Scandi-style tables for reasonably priced small plates and larger sharing dishes in the modern idiom. Turn over the menu and you find a list of ‘textbook’ food-friendly wines.
It may look more like a bland business lounge than a top-end Indian culinary destination, but if you blot out the corporate hotel surrounds there’s much to enjoy here. Michelin-starred Quilon specialises in serving exquisite regional seafood from the subcontinent’s coastal southern provinces such as Kerala – although there’s also plenty for meat-eaters and veggies too. A comfortable refuelling point for residents and tourists.
Don’t expect to be given a menu at this Michelin-starred outpost of modernist cuisine. Instead, tattooed chef Tom Sellers wheels out a cavalcade of playfully artistic plates – the self-proclaimed ‘chapters’ in a gripping gastronomic tale that requires your full sensory attention for a goodly amount of time. It’s easy to digest, although the full extent of this seriously weighty tome is only revealed once the bill arrives.
Chef John Williams MBE has presided over the unimaginably opulent Ritz restaurant since 2004, serving precision-tuned dishes (old and new) to punters ensconced in the Louis XVI-inspired dining room. Aside from the Michelin-starred food and the glorious gilt, what you are buying here is a conservative formula, complete with coat-tailed politesse, cloches, a tinkling piano and the reassurance that all is unruffled in this privileged world.
Make the most of it and book a stay at The Ritz.
Set back from the Thames Path, the Michelin-starred River Café is a riverside icon in its own right. Warm, buzzy and expensive (in a semi-casual way), it’s dedicated to serving unfussy yet stunning Italian food based on artisan seasonal ingredients. Okay, the prices are painful, but portions are generous – so go for a summer lunch, sit on the terrace, and live it large like an A-lister.
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.
Tapas fans prepare to cheer loudly. After years as executive chef at Barrafina, Spanish queen bee Nieves Barragán Mohacho is now presiding over her first solo gaff – a highly distinctive set-up spread over two floors (small-plate counter fun downstairs, regional wood-fired feasting upstairs). The food’s all-round flawless with a noticeable rustic edge: don’t swerve the plumped-up, just-runny salt-cod tortilla – it’s sheer eggy bliss.
The original ‘nose-to-tail’ pioneer and a Michelin-starred restaurant for those who run from the very idea, St John is a defiantly casual, bare-bones kind of place with come-as-you-please decor and famously full-on cooking. Born-again British dishes are given a sophisticated spin that often belies their humble origins – we all know about that bone marrow and parsley salad. Powerful stuff, with French(!) wines provide unpatriotic support.
The strikingly patterned wallpaper, patterned carpets and patterned seating might set your eyeballs spinning but sobriety reigns at this standalone restaurant within the palatial surrounds of the St James’s Hotel & Club. There’s a French slant to William Drabble’s menu, although the kitchen is bolstered by supplies from top British producers. It’s all very swish and fancy, with wines listed in a hefty 40-page book.
Make the most of it and book a stay at the St James Hotel & Club.
Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred Soho outpost is one of his more frenetic outposts – a sprawling dining room with a mirrored ceiling, bare concrete, Victoriana and a menu of reimagined British cooking delivered by chef-patron Paul Hood and his skilled brigade. Sharing jars, steaks and sundaes sit alongside pitch-perfect dishes in the contemporary Anglo-European mould, supported by a terrific Atherton-standard wine list.
The name’s unassuming and the entrance nondescript, but we’re talking Bruton Street, Mayfair here – so unashamed, cash-splashing refinement is the order of the day. Once synonymous with chef Phil Howard, The Square has been spruced up by new owner Marlon Abela (of Umu and The Greenhouse fame) – although the cooking is as haute as ever and it’s underscored by a heavyweight European wine list.
One of the pioneers of new Nordic cuisine in London, 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.
Balancing smart decor and smiling service with exemplary wines and cutting-edge Michelin-starred cooking, Trinity is king of the hill in Clapham – a restaurant that gets the swish/casual balance just right when it comes to creating a neighbourhood vibe. Chef-patron Adam Byatt knows how to put on a show without showboating his talents or puffing up his food. A dead-cert for special occasions and celebratory splurges.
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.
Chiswick’s favourite ‘posh’ neighbourhood restaurant just keeps trundling on: the tables are still decked with starched white tablecloths and gleaming glassware, service is impeccably polished and the diners tend to be plummy-voiced locals with cash to splash. The revamped interior may have lost some of its original intimacy, but the cooking is as classy as ever – so too, the magnificent wine list.
Proof that good things come to those who wait, venerable Veeraswamy finally bagged a Michelin gong 90 years after opening in 1926. If you’re expecting staid, however, think again: old Veera styles it out like Iris Apfel, with exotic colours, tinted lamps and turbans, not to mention some top-end, perfectly spiced food: we head straight for the signature dishes. The only thing that jars is the cost.
London restaurants with two Michelin stars
The fact that the first UK restaurant from French mega-chef Anne-Sophie Pic is located in the City outpost of the Four Seasons hotel chain should tell you everything you need to know about this overtly ostentatious and eye-wateringly expensive venue. That said, the food is dazzlingly skilful, meticulously detailed and chock-full of powerful, unexpected flavours from France and the whole wide world.
A bona fide London institution with a new fine-dining powerhouse at the helm, Bibendum remains London’s nattiest and most heart-warmingly pleasurable dining room – although über-chef Claude Bosi (of Hibiscus fame) is putting his own dizzyingly technical and dazzlingly creative stamp on proceedings. Prices are unnervingly high, but the food is overwhelmingly excellent – so go on, blow the budget and prepare to be blown away.