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South Kengsiton Club- Iddu Cafe' - Food and Interior Photography
Photograph: Rosangela Borgese

The best restaurants in South Kensington

There's more to this affluent bit of town than tourist-baiting, museum-orbiting chains, y'know.

By Time Out London Food & Drink
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FEBRUARY 2020: We’ve added Ceru (a cute Levantine diner just off Old Brompton Road) and Min Jiang – upscale Chinese food on the eastern edge of High Street Ken (and just ten minutes from the Royal Albert Hall).   

Thronging with museum-bound tourists and suited diplomats it may be, but bustling South Ken has a very fertile – if inevitably spenny – food scene. From superlative Michelin-starred spots to upmarket chain restaurants, timeless Eastern European stalwarts and faux-rustic haunts for the Barbour brigade, there’s something for everyone in this flash part of town (with some of London’s outright best restaurants and best dishes chucked in there, too).

Agree with our choices? Tell us in the comments box below.

The best restaurants in South Kensington

Bibendum Oyster Bar

Restaurants Seafood South Kensington

After a spot of retail therapy in the nearby shops, stick-thin ladies who lunch (and others) repair to this relaxed all-day seafood café in the tiled foyer of the Bibendum building. Oysters, crabs and lobsters are the prime attractions (naturellement), but there are also elaborate plateaux de fruits de mer for those who fancy sharing. Prefer something meaty? Try a burger or steak tartare with fries – preferably with a classy tipple from the thoroughbred wine list.

Casa Brindisa

Restaurants Spanish South Kensington

Pedigree and provenance are everything at Brindisa (the much-vaunted importer of Spanish provisions), so it’s no surprise that this family-friendly tapas bar, deli and shrine to jamón is a hot proposition on one of South Ken’s main drags. Top picks range from Catalan spinach with pine nuts and raisins to grilled Galician octopus with potato cream and paprika aïoli, while sherries, super-sized G&Ts and regional wines seal the deal. Handily placed for the museums and the Royal Albert Hall.   

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Ceru

Restaurants Middle Eastern South Kensington

‘Fresh, clean, fun and colourful’ sums up the food, the decor and the merry staff at this cute Levantine diner just off Old Brompton Road. A bustling open kitchen turns out the best from a region covering Turkey to Israel (and everything in between), so expect a raft of fragrant dips, ‘green bits’ and meze morsels followed by intriguing kebabs, skewered grills, Persian kaftas (beef patties) and other specialities, all liberally strewn or stuffed with jewel-like pomegranate seeds.

Claude Bosi at Bibendum

Restaurants French South Kensington

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 by signature dishes such as the no-rice ‘nosotto’ with English snails, chervil and vine jaune.

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Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
Paul Winch-Furness

Daphne's

Restaurants Italian South Kensington

It has perked up following its post-fire refurb in 2014, but Daphne’s current incarnation will forever be compared to its Princess Di glory days. Togged out like a snazzy Italian townhouse (complete with a canopied conservatory), it serves punchy regional food – leavening its muscular pastas, grills and seasonal black truffles with more delicate salads, carpaccios and briny-fresh seafood. Service remains a strong point, honed by years of attending to a gaggle of Bolly-glugging regulars.

Daquisepicfor2069.JPG
Daquisepicfor2069.JPG
Lisa Förare Winbladh

Daquise

Restaurants Polish South Kensington

A home-from-home for expats since 1947, this much-loved grand-dame among London’s Polish restaurants strides valiantly onward – although it has a breezier, shabby-chic brasserie look these days. The exiled Polish president was a regular, and punters still come for flavourful no-nonsense dishes from the old country (and beyond). All the classics can be relied on here (zurek soup, pierogi, confit goose etc), so expect bowls and plates of gut-busting, cockle-warming comfort washed down with punchy beers and head-banging vodkas.

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Andy Parsons

Dinings SW3

Restaurants Japanese Belgravia

Everything about this follow-up to Japanese hotspot Dinings in Marylebone is an improvement, from the glitzy, capacious dining room to the quietly ambitious, head-turning menu. Signatures such as the ‘modern’ sushi and bang-on teriyaki wagyu beef buns have made the trip down to SW3, but also look for palate-jangling newcomers including josper-charred ibérico pork with savoy cabbage and walnut miso vinaigrette. Tiny portions and complex precision-tuned flavours are the norm – as are big-city prices.

Elystan Street

Restaurants British South Kensington

Chef Phil Howard’s casual follow-up to The Square in Mayfair (RIP) is a sleek but casual rendezvous, serving up meticulously presented high-end food in warm low-lit surrounds with a hefty price tag – although the £30 set lunch is a steal in this well-to-do part of town. Expect a procession of tip-top Euro-accented dishes such as Cornish mackerel fillet with crushed potatoes, glazed lettuce, vichyssoise sauce and rhubarb, backed by a strong list of big-ticket wines.

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Iddu
Iddu
© Rosangela Borgese

Iddu

Restaurants Italian South Kensington

Bridging the cultural and culinary gap between sunny sybaritic Sicily and London SW7, Iddu is a bijou light-filled spot that deals in highly pleasurable food with emphatic healthy overtones. Organic ingredients, fresh raw combos and gluten-free panini abound on a menu that sings with bright flavours – try the virtuous Aeolian vegetable salad, the flawless caponata or the tuna tartare with dried tomatoes. Genuine Sicilian coffee and gutsy Sicilian wines are a must-have too. Open from breakfast onwards.

food_min_jiang.jpg
food_min_jiang.jpg
© Tricia de Courcy Ling

Min Jiang

Restaurants Chinese Kensington

We’re very fond of Min Jiang, not least for its superlative daytime views of Kensington Gardens. Set high on the tenth floor of the Royal Garden Hotel, this glassy dining room is a serene space, but it’s also warm, welcoming and approachable. The kitchen is famed for its superior version of Beijing duck (served in three stages), but the menu also offers high-end variations on the regional classics – plus upscale dim sum at lunchtime. Just brace yourself for a big bill.

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Squirrel

Restaurants British South Kensington

Given Squirrel’s quirky rodent-themed interiors, indoor trees and bird-house cutlery holders, you might be tempted to go nuts and indulge your inner muncher at this cosy health-food spot. We like the clever themed bowls, but the menu covers everything from hipster salads and things on toast to warming stews such as chipotle beef with cheddar and rocket. Breakfast is a good call, and it’s also worth dipping into the list of wild and wacky soft drinks.

Wright Brothers South Kensington

Restaurants Oyster bars South Kensington

It’s diddy compared to some of their outlets, but this offer from the Wright Brothers (London’s uncrowned oyster kings) scores with its cracking atmosphere, basement cocktail bar and exceptional seafood. Oysters top the bill, although you can also share out the spoils from gargantuan fruits de mer platters and other briny treats such as whole gilthead bream with heritage beetroot, watercress, orange and chilli – all dictated by the catch from the West Country boats.
 

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Tendido Cero

Restaurants Spanish Earl’s Court

Pitched somewhere between fancy-pants Cambio de Tercio and no-frills Capote y Toros (a sherry and tapas bar from the same group), Tendido Cero’s relaxed chilled-out vibe is much favoured by South Ken’s tapas-scoffing hordes. Ham croquetas, tortillas and padrón peppers keep it traditional, but also expect the odd new-wave combo such as salmon tartare with wakame and grapefruit to go with an epic list of Spanish wines and sherries. Elsewhere, big pans of paella are built for sharing.

Yashin Ocean House

Restaurants Japanese Earl’s Court

Japanese chefs often go where others fear to tread, and ‘nose-to-tail’ gastronomy is part of their DNA – just look at this offshoot of Yashin Sushi, which serves all manner of esoteric piscine delicacies ranging from crunchy deep-fried mackerel skeleton and fish skin to ‘paradise’ prawn tempura (served ‘head to tail’). We’re also sold on the hot tapas and more outré ideas – anyone for aubergine brûlée, miso-cappuccino-topped tofu espuma or marinated black cod with candy floss?

Still looking for a spot to dine out in south-west London?

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