The yearly unveiling of the Michelin Guide’s Great Britain and Ireland edition is always big news in the food nerd world. For very good reason, too – London’s one of the top-ranked cities in the world for fine dining. And it’s got plenty of stars to cement that status.
While Michelin’s expertise on expensive, upmarket restaurants is well-known, the Michelin Guide has also been criticised for its relevance to ordinary diners. Conspicuous by their absence are more affordable places to eat.
And this year, in particular, the unveiling of the list (which is usually revealed in the autumn, but was delayed for very obvious reasons) has been critisised for adding an extra layer of pressure to venue operators in, quite frankly, diabolical times for hospitality. Many of London’s Michelin Star mainstays had to close this year, with social distancing unfeasible on their smaller premises. But, nevertheless, the list has been announced without them.
On a more positive note, though, this year’s announcement sees restaurants led by Clare Smyth and Hélène Daroze awarded the full three stars – a very good thing for a lineup typically dominated by male chefs.
The canny eater, it should be said, should consider aiming at the board’s Bib Gourmand list – a kind of ‘highly commended’ round-up that doesn’t require the formal fripperies of the starred system. Really, it’s where the most exciting stuff lies – newcomers on the list this year include Time Out faves Peckham Cellars and Flor, and plenty more places that also appear in our meticulously compiled list of the best restaurants in London.
However, if you’re feeling flush then read on to find all London restaurants with a Michelin star and consult our lists of meal kits and London restaurant delivery services to see how you can recreate the magic from your own kitchen while their fancy doors remain closed.
Newbie Behind was open for all of 20 days last year and we have to confess, that wasn’t long enough for Time Out to get a table. But bravo to the team at the London Fields newcomer for pulling out all the stops in a difficult launch year. It’s an 18-seater chef’s table experience, with a tasting menu from Andy Beynon – a former development chef for Jason Atherton – focusing on sustainable seafood. And its addition to the 2021 guide after such a short stint of service comes as the biggest surprise on the whole list.
A longstanding favourite for Indian fine dining, Benares sacked chef-patron Atul Kochhar in 2018 (over anti-Islamic tweets directed at the actress Priyanka Chopra). As a result of the disgraced chef’s departure, the restaurant saw its star rating removed. Now it’s back to its one-star glory with chef Sameer Taneja on the pans. The kitchen produces modern cooking in the haute-cuisine league across its a la carte and six-course tasting menu – all of which packages up pretty nicely in its new Benares at Home concept, too.
A tasting menufor £39? Yes please. And not a starched tablecloth in sight. Instead, it’s a place serving a cutting-edge line-up of seven small courses, plus freebies (bread, petits fours). All in a single Hackney dining room. Dishes are the surprisingly, relentlessly ambitious kind, with the kitchen led by ex-Pidgin head chef Adolfo de Cecco. Quite simply, one of the best-value tasting menu gigs in town.
This large, ruggedly handsome restaurant turns out dishes – with a special emphasis on seafood – that are meticulous and restrained. When you consider who’s behind all this, it’s no surprise. Chef-owner Tom Brown is Cornish and trained under the acclaimed Nathan Outlaw (a Cornish seafood maestro). This is quiet finesse, in a genuinely buzzy, attractive space, and wherever you sit, you’ll feel like part of the action.
This is the first project in London for restaurateur Daniel Humm, who previously worked as a prep cook at Claridge’s, the hotel in which Davies and Brook now resides. Humm is also tied to three Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park in New York, and he’s brought over with him the restaurant’s executive chef Dmitri Magi. As such, this entry onto the Michelin list may not come as a huge surprise. That Claridge’s is suddenly one of London’s hottest destinations again might do, though.
Tom Aikens opened Muse at the start of 2020 at a time when anything felt possible. Despite the trials and tribulations, Muse still made it onto this list. The 25-cover restaurant takes over a Georgian townhouse and serves dishes based on stories from Aikens’ own life experiences (yes, really). If he’d had to draw on inspiration from 2020, dishes could have included deconstructed banana bread.
This Californian restaurant sits on the former site of Rambla and comes from the very same chef, Victor Garvey. The name? It comes from ‘Soho via LA’, apparently?! That translates to dishes like flambé native lobster and burnt figs with toasted buckwheat ice cream. And a very nifty delivery service – Sola at Home – under current restrictions.
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.
Sushi fans: gather round. Endo is not like any other omakase restaurant (omakase being the ‘chef’s selection’: like a tasting menu, but more personal). At least, not like one you’ll find in this city. Endo Kazutoshi is a third-generation ‘sushi master’, who introduces most of the dishes – all of which are dazzling.
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.
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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. In 2020, it was one of the stars of Soho’s outdoor dining scene.
We think the first solo venture from Welsh whizz-kid Tomos Parry (late of Kitty Fisher’s) is 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. And after 2020, we like Brat even more for dreaming up the best outdoor dining spot imaginable over in Climpson’s Arch – which is going permanent in 2021.
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 executive head chef Steeven Gilles worked under Eric Fréchon, who has a pocketful of Michelin stars in his French homeland.
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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 destination in its own right, complete with creative cocktails and a bespoke small-plates menu.
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 on hand to suggest champagne aperitifs, point out the menu’s signature dishes (lasagne of dorset crab sounds too good to refuse) and advise 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.
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 retreads of old regional favourites, while bar staff wheel out Indian punches in sealed medicine bottles for pouring into silver goblets. For lockdown times, you can enjoy its Gymkhana at Home delivery service.
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 tasting menu – eight dazzling courses bursting with excitement for the tastebuds 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. Ikoyi dishes up something truly new for London’s ever-curious diners.
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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.
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).
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 £50 for three courses (without wine) is a good deal, go at lunchtime.
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.
This cool, pared-back and thoroughly grown-up Fitzrovia gem serves up bold, powerful and surprising food from its visible open kitchen. Diners congregate at bare Scandi-style tables for reasonably priced small plates and larger sharing dishes in the modern idiom – check the blackboard for the latest specials. Turn over the menu and you’ll find a list of ‘textbook’ and ‘leftfield’ wines, plus privately sourced single bottles.
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.
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.
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.
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 providing 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.
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.
It’s all about attention to detail at Yoshinori Ishii’s Japanese enclave, from the futuristic entrance to the chef’s handcrafted tableware and the procession of surgically precise, extraordinarily delicate dishes emanating from the kitchen. If you’re celebrating, go for the full-strength multi-course tasting menu highlighting the intricacies of Kyoto kaiseki cuisine. Be warned: prices will slice through your wallet as mercilessly as a samurai sword.
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.
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. Take a trip round China with the spectacular tasting menu or simply park up at the bar-counter and nibble away at your leisure. Andrew Wong had to close Kym’s restaurant in 2020, so it’s good to see this restaurant survive and thrive.
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 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.
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.
While Heston B’s flagship Fat Duck in Bray celebrates futuristic flamboyance and childhood nostalgia, Dinner plunders the annals of British food history for a catalogue of date-stamped reboots cooked with flair and precision by protégé Ashley-Palmer Watts and his team. Anyone for salmagundi, powdered duck, meat fruit or tipsy cake? No wonder this dining room within the luxe Mandarin Oriental hotel is a favourite with heritage-hungry tourists.
Unapologetically old school, this restaurant colossus remains the go-to choice for wealthy diners craving the glories of ‘haute cuisine ancienne’. Founded by the late Albert Roux and Michel Roux in 1967, and still in the family, it offers gracious service, fabulous food and imperious wines in the cocooned surrounds of a windowless basement room. Prices are sky-high, of course, although the all-inclusive business lunch (£74) is still one of Mayfair’s high-end bargains. Its founders sadly passed away in 2021 and 2020 respectively, but Michel Roux Jr is continuing the family legacy.
A semi-secret space squeezed in at the back of Bubbledogs, the U-shaped Kitchen Table allows up to 20 punters to perch at stools while getting their kicks from James Knappett’s 12-course tasting menus. The day’s blackboard gives few clues apart from single-word pointers such as ‘oysters’, ‘chicken’ and ‘potato’, but the chefs explain everything and the results are off the scale for invention and flavour. In 2020, its owners made the tough decision to close Bubbledogs, so that Kitchen Table could continue under social distancing.
Don’t expect to be given a menu at this seat of modernist cuisine. Instead, tattooed chef Tom Sellers wheels out a cavalcade of playfully artistic plates – an ad hoc selection of thoughtfully matched tasting dishes served in an open-plan Scandi-style dining room with sculpted birdlike figures and big windows looking out on the street. Of course, the fun ends when the seriously weighty bill arrives.
The crowning glory of sketch’s theatrical pleasure palace, the Lecture Room & Library delivers unadulterated opulence and OTT indulgence in spades. Flooded with light from a glass ceiling dome, and governed by immaculately tailored staff, it promises fantastical food sans frontières – all deftly presented as a procession of pretty, witty and gay mini-banquets. Just make sure your bank balance is primed for such unrelenting complexity.
It sounds like the ultimate posh-dosh dream-ticket: a jet-setting superstar chef with three Michelin stars overseeing a restaurant in a legendary Park Lane hotel. Alain Ducasse’s Dorchester enclave may have many loyal fans, but it’s too rich and too restrained for our palates. Prices take no prisoners in this reverential French gastro-temple, although the three-course ‘lunch hour’ menu is a steal in such privileged, rarefied surrounds.
Clare Smyth is no stranger here. She was the first female chef to bag three Michelin stars in the UK when at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. But how sweet it is to see her back at these lofty heights since going it alone. Core in Notting Hill is elegant, vibrant, not pompous, and great fun too. The food is special with immense technical brio but also a playful streak that makes it all very accessible.
Of course, Mr ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ doesn’t cook here these days and his former chef-patron Clare Smyth is now wowing ’em at Core, but Gordon Ramsay’s beloved Chelsea flagship remains the absolute pinnacle of sophisticated fine dining in the capital. The vibe is never too starchy, legendary maître d’ Jean-Claude Breton is a master orchestrator, and the intelligently inventive food is guaranteed to blow your socks off.
Given an elegant and artful facelift in 2019, the Connaught’s flagship dining room now has a bold contemporary edge – all curved lines, blush shades and bare wooden tabletops. This being three-Michelin-star dining, your Primarni handbag will be rested reverently on an upholstered footstool by solicitous staff (awks), and the size of the delicacy-laden dishes will be inversely proportional to the enormity of the bill. It’s all very French, very refined and very memorable.