You gotta love the British weather, it could be sunny when your starter arrives but torrential rain by the time you pick up your fork. Take your hands off the umbrella, peel off the raincoat and dip into the best gardens in London restaurants. Here, you'll find giant tropical palms, trailing hibiscus, dangling vines and not a raincloud in sight.
The best gardens in London restaurants
There's an outdoor vibe throughout Blixen, but it's the covered garden where this comes out to play. Creeping plants curl around the naked dark wood frame and there's an abundance of tropical palms, their fronds almost bending over luxe conservatory-style seating. A very controlled and stylish take on the wilds of nature.
This latest venture from Bourne & Hollingsworth creates a modern interpretation of turn-of-the-century Englishness. Floral prints and cane furniture sit amongst full-grown trees, hanging baskets hover from elegant wrought iron, and all are set within sparkling white walls. It's like a pretty film set where you could imagine Maggie Smith entering stage left at any minute.
This hidden covered terrace in Bloomsbury is a real treat. Not only does it come fully heated and with a retractable roof, but it's also draped in foliage. And try not to be charmed when the sun drops and the fairy lights entwined in the wisteria start blinking. If you find yourself waxing lyrical, don't be alarmed – not only is this restaurant named after Virginia Woolf's eponymous character but the site itself is teeming with the memory of historical literary residents.
Up on level 36 of the 'walkie-talkie' building there's the double whammy of an astonishing view of the City and the breathtaking sight of the Sky Garden, a terraced landscape with tranches planted in different themes that evoke a South African mountain range or a lush prehistoric forest.
Venue says: “Frederick's is a family-run restaurant and bar in Angel, Islington. Fixed price menu from £15.50 for two courses, cocktails and a fab garden”
It’s easy to understand why couples choose family-run Frederick’s for their wedding reception; the large Garden Room is home to a full-grown tree that reaches up to the conservatory-style roof while the floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto a tasteful garden starring two Himalayan birch trees personally planted by Frederick’s MD Lou Segal.
Set within the grounds of a garden centre, this extremely pretty and pricey Richmond restaurant thrives on greenery. Not only is it drenched in plants but the shrubbery and herb life directly inspire the dishes served. With the swagged roof covering, dirt floor and family photos, it's easy to imagine you have been magicked into the deep countryside.
Part of the Ivy family, this expansive former-American-grill has been completely revitalised with an elegant and light touch. The Orangerie is marble-floored with an upper class disarray of conservatory furniture and upholstered leather, a verdant ceiling, potted trees and trailing ivy (of course). A class act.
What an elegant, airy space. Large, crowded pots boasting tall trees and trailing evergreens stamp their presence between cane seating and stylish tables in this newish addition to Spring at Somerset House. The natural theme continues through an elegant gunnera leaf frieze repeating across the walls that somehow suggests an Ancient Egyptian or Babylonian temple.
Understated, cute and charming all have their place, but when you want to make a statement, book a table under the eight-storey glass atrium of The Landmark London. Between the sweeping staircases and curving wrought iron railings stand potted trees and some seriously huuuuge palm trees. It's the kind of scale and grandeur that Gatsby might have built to impress a peckish Daisy.
Entering this spectacular Thai restaurant in Fulham is like arriving in Bangkok minus the jet lag. The décor is stunning and palatial; wide lush palm leaves stand to attention between gilt dragons and intricate woodcarvings. You can almost convince yourself of a balmy heat swaying the canopies of trailing greenery.
Fancy braving the elements?
London is full of cafés, bars and restaurants that let you take it outside. Still, for every rose-trimmed terrace there's a caff with two tables plonked next to traffic lights – so it helps to know where the good outdoor spots are. Here's our area-by-area alfresco dining guide, including restaurants in central London.
We’d gladly revisit Cigala for its unusual by-the-glass sherries and its heavenly salt cod; our most recent visit also saw a sublimely nubbly almond and medlar tart. Set on a lively street corner, it’s a light, modern sort of place, with big windows, whitewashed walls, and pavement tables on warm days. On a weekday lunchtime, the room was more than half empty – just a few elderly diners and local businessmen – but the sizzle of oil and sound of Spanish coming from the kitchen were enough to whet our appetites. Cigala’s owner/chef Jake Hodges (also a co-founder of Moro) has scoured Spain for its best dishes and added a little élan of his own. The cooking can be slapdash – our grilled cuttlefish was partly raw – but slip-ups are rare. A smoky, splendidly macho pork chop was vibrant with lemon and rosemary, and accompanied by crisp, liberally salted fries. Rabbit and pigeon terrine was punchily meaty and came with pickled carrots, a pleasing departure from the Spanish veg-phobic norm. Our León-born waiter took some warming up, but his gruff manner was nothing if not authentic.