Best lesbian clubs in London
Lesbian venues aren’t ten a penny in the capital. London has an array of bars and clubs that attract mainly gay and bi men, but there’s a huge lack of permanent spaces catering specifically to queer women, trans and non-binary people. In fact, She Soho is our only dedicated lesbian bar. Still, a growing number of thriving club nights are kicking back, providing safe spaces for lesbian, bisexual and queer women to be themselves – and there’s no room for discrimination of any kind. Here’s our pick of some of the best.
Where to watch the Women’s World Cup in London
It may not have come home last year. But now we’ve dried our eyes, it’s time for another summer of quality international football. Held in France this year, The Fifa Women’s World Cup kicks off from Friday June 7 to Sunday July 7. The England team are ranked third, so we’re all feeling hopeful. Here’s our guide to the best places in London where you can grab a pint and watch all the action play out. From screenings in small, local pubs and bars, sports bars offering World Cup themed pizzas and beers, to football parties at major alfresco spots and huge events offering up panel talks, workshops and five-a-side matches at screenings – here’s the score on the best places to catch kick-off. Recommended: Sport and fitness in London
Listings and reviews (41)
Sons and Daughters
Tucked away in Coal Drops Yard, Sons + Daughters is all about so-called gourmet sarnies. Inside, the small room is sleek and attractive, with a pastel colour scheme and chic chequered furnishings. So far, so good. The sandwiches themselves, sadly, were overpriced and inconsistent. A high point was the S+D take on prawn cocktail. Between two slices of soft granary bread, the crustacean filling had been elevated by a spot of genius: the inclusion of crunchy prawn crackers. Inventive and fun. Plus, the shredded napa cabbage, alongside a pickled ginger and jalapeño vinaigrette, gave it all a lovely, sharp juiciness. Also good: a side of fries sprinkled with sriracha salt. They were fluffy and fresh, though they did need more seasoning. But there were issues. Our baguette with merguez (spicy lamb sausage) was a flop: under-filled and unexciting. The meat too, though full of flavour, was greasy and gristly. It was okay, but not £9 okay. Later, a salad with red rice and beetroot looked delicious, but was completely bland except for pieces of crisp, roasted kale. Service was mostly friendly, but was somewhat spoiled by a lone gruff waiter. Sons + Daughters looks the part, and the sarnies are nice enough, but it’s just not worth the price.
‘Ah, Legare,’ I sighed to myself before visiting. ‘Yet another spot claiming to be a neighbourhood restaurant in a city where most people don’t even speak to their neighbours.’ Legare, though, has succeeded in uniting Tower Bridge’s throng of chattering workers: on a late Tuesday evening, it was busy and bubbling. There’s a refined menu: simple dishes made from high-quality ingredients. On the antipasti front, the stracciatella (like the gooey insides of a burrata) with roasted radicchio and mellow hazelnuts was sheer class. Oozing into the surrounding slick of olive oil, the creamy cheese was balanced by the sharpness of the soft chicory, all fragranced with sprigs of thyme. Next, the cuttlefish with white beans and devil’s mortar (a spicy, spreadable British sausage, similar to ’nduja) was a bowl of chilli-infused comfort. Verging on a stew, tender fish chunks were interspersed between hot blobs of the sausage and cooling pulses. Anyway, on to the main event: the handmade pasta.The pappardelle was meaty, carb-laden goodness. Its broad, al dente ribbons wrapped around the rich ragù of fennel sausage and cavolo nero. Also great: the veggie orecchiette. For pud, the cannoli were bliss: crisp pastry, pumped with ricotta and studded with pistachios. There was the odd pitfall. The chocolate torte was overdone, and the pasta here isn’t as pristine as at nearby Padella (but, where is?). And the setting is too stark: white walls and tiny exam-style tables gave me flashbacks to my
My first impressions of Seabird? Laidback, Californian vibes. Enticing rooftop views, with the shimmering Shard nearby. And, bizarrely, the whiff of paraffin from the lamps on the tables. Scent-wise, it was like standing outside Heathrow. The stench of airport runways aside, the food was generally brilliant. An octopus tentacle, squidgy and soft, came encased in a nicely fried brioche bun, with slices of sharp padrón pepper and a gentle heat, thanks to the zig-zagging squiggles of sobrasada (spiced sausage) aioli on top. An ace combo. Then, a whole mackerel, de-boned and flaky, came in a pool of oily, spicy goodness. Both fish and seasoning worked in harmony: smoked paprika, fresh chilli and slivers of mild garlic. The dessert of Portuguese doughnuts, too, was fantastic. Three dough balls were filled with a citrussy, vanilla custard: one was topped with icing sugar, the next with hazelnut and lava-like dark chocolate, the last with sticky caramel and salt flakes. However, the good grub was dragged down by sluggish service. While our second waiter was lovely, the first seemed bored by her job. Also, this place is pricy: the small plates, in particular, upsettingly so. Still, for quality seafood and gazing at the cityscape, Seabird won’t disappoint. Just brace yourself for that bill.
Koi Ramen – Elephant & Castle
A snug little joint away from the mayhem of Elephant & Castle, Koi Ramen is a hip space with fashionable industrial vibes. Staff are charming and extremely helpful, too. As for the food, it’s a mixed bag. Ironically, the star creation was not the ramen, but a dish of chicken gyoza: fried crisp on one side, juicy and well-filled. But on to the eponymous soup. A bowl of tonkotsu pork ramen was the best of a very average bunch. The noodles had a bit of bite and there was a nice spread of garnishes, from pickled ginger to earthy black mini-mushrooms. The broth was creamy to an extent, but ultimately low on the necessary richness. The other two bowls were similar, with the broths also lacking that much-needed depth of flavour. Plus, the noodles in both were too soft. The mellow miso version with tofu was particularly disappointing: there was barely any flavour to the soup, while the bean curd was painfully bland. Still, the warm service, stylish decor and cheap price tags – it’s £7 for any bowl of eat-in ramen at lunchtime – are big plus points. A handy lunch spot for workers in the area.
Lucky & Joy
Inside Lucky & Joy, there are seriously kitschy party vibes: funky lighting (all UV and pink neon), 1970s houseplants and loud, hip music. It’s a cracking atmosphere and unashamedly trendy. Come on, this is Hackney! The menu is short and simple, inspired by the chefs’ travels through China and Chinatowns all over the world. Grab a pencil from the pot on the table, then mark on the menu what you want from the hot and cold sections. On the chilled front, the sesame noodles were fantastic: hand-pulled, cooked to a good level of bite, licked all over in a rich, nutty sauce, then sprinkled with earthy white and black sesame seeds and sharp spring onions. Beyond the stellar noodles, though, everything else was good but not exceptional. The hot lamb skewers with a smattering of fragrant cumin were a bargain at £2.90 a pop. A plate of fried squid came with a nice, crisp batter, flecked with chilli. Still, it was a stingy portion for £14 and the accompanying cabbage salad was, well, just chopped cabbage with some coriander chucked in. Generally, there was a reliance on roughly chopped coriander, which was liberally thrown into pretty much everything, including my coconut-steeped vodka cocktail. Yet, we found ourselves having a great time. The friendly staff, banging tunes and vibrant atmosphere make this spot a great place for a cool evening out with friends. Sure, the food could be better, but it’s a lot of fun.
Tucked away in a railway arch, Dandy oozes peak industrial chic: concrete floors, metal barstools and a corrugated ceiling. The tunes are loud and bopping, the staff are young and good-looking. On atmosphere alone, it’s a winner. Then there’s the food, which was tremendous. All of it. Even the bread: practically half a loaf of crusty sourdough, alongside an ice-cream-scoop-sized ball of soft, salted butter. For starters came a bed of warm ’nduja ingeniously topped with a blow-torched egg yolk. It was playful: I grabbed a fork and gleefully cracked into the caramelised yolk, which trickled into the well-seasoned meaty mess. Hot, spicy and oily happiness. And perfect for dunking in those chunks of bread. Things just got better from there, really. A dish of sliced pumpkin, pickled for over 20 hours, was tart and tangy, the sharpness balanced by velvety goats’ curd. Another hit: an al dente raviolo (basically, a huge single piece of ravioli), lounging in a pool of sage and brown butter sauce. The pasta was stuffed full of sheep’s ricotta and another molten egg yolk. Carby, creamy brilliance. And, the culinary crescendo: a simple rack of lamb ribs. The most glorious I’ve ever eaten. The meat, cooked in its own juices, was fatty and tender, with glorious hits of citrus. But, it didn’t stop there. To the side of the rack sat a mound of lamb shoulder: succulent and saliva-provoking. Then, there was the accompanying rich paste of tamarind, coconut sugar and ancho chillis. Even now,
On true Dalston form, Oren is cool. Ridiculously cool. Inside, it’s like a dimly lit, sepia-toned stylish grotto, the sort where you have to squint to read the menu, to the sounds of knowingly funky music. Oh, and everyone looks exceptional, from the punters to the friendly, model-worthy waiters. The food? Less charming, but overall good. A highlight was the grilled beef onglet skewer. Following instructions, we slid the succulent, blushing meat into the accompanying oceanic pool of roast pepper harissa and tahini. It was a fleshy supernova, the kind where your tongue is left skimming your mouth for every last lick of oily sesame paste. Another hit was the cardamom panna cotta topped with soft chunks of rhubarb, which had just the right amount of spice. Still, a fair few dishes were underwhelming. The flatbread was only slightly better than the stuff from your local supermarket. Soft but anaemic, it lacked those beautiful char blisters – disappointing given that this place has a proper charcoal grill. Generally, we were left craving scorch marks and smokiness. The fried cauliflower, too, was bland and boring, while the well-cooked lemon sole was let down by the lone, lazy dollop of chraime sauce (made from smoked paprika and tomatoes). The grub here isn’t groundbreaking, but the trendy ambience does at least make it a chilled evening out.
It’s all industrial chic in Loyal Tavern: metal furnishings, rustic floors and regal-looking wooden chairs. The aesthetics give it a gourmet pub vibe, while the big steel cage behind the bar would look at home in any BrewDog joint. And the food? Most of it was excellent. Four shards of chicken skin crackling came as a snack. They were crisp – emitting a nice crack when snapped – and greasy. A good greasy, where you’re left sucking your fingertips for every last trace of fat. The best main was the buttermilk-poached cod. Artfully cooked, the fish was soft and came apart nicely: it was as flaky as my least reliable friend. The milk added a light sweetness to the fish, which was lounging in a chilli-flecked white-bean stew. The broth was ace, too. Seasoned with ’nduja, it was fragrant, gently spiced and fulfilling. Also fantastic: sliced rump of lamb, which was tender, juicy and pink in the middle. It came lying on top of a smooth and buttery mound of celeriac purée, lifted further by chopped fresh chilli and olives. All of it was drizzled with a glistening, rich sauce, punctuated with lamb’s tingly best mate, mint. From the puds, the banana bread impressed. It came as a slice, smothered in a mascarpone topping and sprinkled with toasted buckwheat and pistachios. The combo worked well: it was creamy and sweet, with the seeds adding crunch and a wholesome savouriness. But there was a niggle. While the beef-dripping chips were hand-cut and glorious, we got a meagre six for £4.50.
Seven Park Place by William Drabble
The interior of this Michelin-starred establishment, which was relaunched in late 2019, makes it ideal for having an affair: tactfully placed walls and gauze-covered windows mean that any secret rendezvous is easily shielded from view. It’s carpeted and quiet, but the curtains are chic and the wallpaper is very Designers Guild. The food, which has French and British leanings, was almost flawless. Seared foie gras was succulent, the richness offset by rhubarb and, ingeniously, biscuit-like gingerbread. A plate of perfectly cooked scallops was balanced by discs of apple and puréed celeriac. Then, a main of honey-glazed duck came red and blushing. It tasted of imagination, from the bird’s shoulder wrapped in savoy cabbage to the segments of grilled, thyme-flecked pear. A warning to the salad-lovers, though: this is all rich, heavy food. The toffee apple dessert was another highlight. Again, it was creative: a chef-made rendition of the fruit, which came encased in a red jelly. Inside, there was a delectable filling, dotted with chunks of real apple. The only items less than spectacular were the amuse-bouches. But, hey, they’re free anyway. But this swanky spot hasn’t mastered it all. The muzak in the background was dire, at best, fit for an elevator. And while the waiters were friendly and well-meaning, there were sloppy mistakes (having to be asked twice for the bill, forgetting an order). Still, if it’s fine dining you’ve come for, you’re in the right place.
A daytime café from leather bag company Beara Beara isn’t the first place you’d think of when on the hunt for somewhere dedicated to the joys of cheese. Yet, here it is, wonderfully plonked on Upper Street in all its swish, minimalist splendour. And, unexpectedly, it really works. It really is all about the cheese here. Bar the salad (although one has crumbled feta, to be fair), pretty much everything here centres around the dairy stuff. The house classic toasted sandwich arrived like a cheesy gut-punch – in a good way, promise – with the molten blend of mature cheddar, ogleshield, mozzarella and colston bassett proving rich, deep, and delightfully greasy. Enticing cheesy crusts peeped outside the sandwich, while sharp spring onion and chilli stopped you drifting into a dairy-induced stupor. Next, the vegan toastie – that’s right, Beara Beara has got it all covered – came with treacly plant-based cheddar, with roasted red peppers, spinach and avocado adding a craved lightness. And then, oh goodness, the macaroni cheese scotch egg arrived. An absolute triumph. The sizeable ball came encased in panko breadcrumbs, regally sitting on a pool of sweet, chunky tomato-and-onion chutney laced with juicy, plump raisins. Busting it open was heartbreaking, but getting inside reaped the rewards: the yoke of the egg oozed all over the gooey lava of cheeses. Heart-stopping, blood-clotting and delicious. Sure, there were a couple of niggles. The chai latte could have had more spice (though
Bloomsbury Street Kitchen
The big smoke’s fifth outpost under The Kitchens group, Bloomsbury Street Kitchen is all about Japanese and Mediterranean small plates. The fusion kind? Nah, it’s just two separate menus. On paper, that looks pretty peculiar. But oddly enough, the concept delivers. A starter of battered aubergine and courgette chips was the first indicator of BSK’s mostly high standards. They arrived crisp, not too greasy, and liberally sprinkled with chilli salt. Perfect, then, for dunking into the cooling tzatziki dip that came with them. Next, out came some Japanese flat tacos, topped with lush ponzu mayo (a citrus-based sauce) and elegant slices of raw tuna, plus a kick of truffle. The beef tataki was perfection. Each thin, lightly seared, slightly pink-middled slice came adorned with spring onions and garlic crisps. It got better: two gyros arrived filled with lamb shoulder, a lemon-feta yoghurt and fries. Wrapped in paper and playfully tied together with string, they were a late night takeaway-inspired bit of genius. Desserts were fun, too. A coconut meringue mousse was dotted with splotches of potent white rum jelly, accompanied by a tangy pineapple sorbet. Like a deconstructed piña colada, yes. Another big plus point: staff here are friendly, polished, and care about your dietary needs. There were a couple of niggles, though. Portions are somewhat petite for the price (although this is possibly to be expected for a small- plates menu in a smart restaurant). Also, the slow-cooked lamb
On the seventh floor of the fancy Stratford Hotel, Allegra is almost comically swish, with gently dimmed lighting, stone surfaces, funky plants and smooth jazz music. Happily, the food is every bit as good. A savoury choux bun snack that came filled with chicken liver parfait was the first saliva-inducing hint of what was to come. Topped with crushed pistachios, it was creamy and rich, with citrussy preserved kumquat giving it a much-needed bite of acidity. Next up, an artichoke velouté was a good-looking bowl of pure comfort: smooth, velvety and moreish, with a pool of sharp quince to balance it all out. It also came with a sweet little fried brioche bun, topped with some shaved chestnut. Mains were similarly strong. Poached Cornish brill, artfully wrapped in charred green leaves, fell apart at the prick of a fork. The wild venison loin, meanwhile, was sheer decadence on a plate. The tender, pink-middled slices came doused in meaty gravy, with pickled blackberries adding a lightness, while the accompanying celeriac was roasted and well seasoned. Desserts, too, were on-point: a highlight being the ginger cake, deconstructed and delightfully crumby, also with crunchy, caramelised pecans. But there were a couple of low points, too. A cottage pie of braised venison shoulder, which came with the deer-themed main, was upsettingly salty; and a waiter tried to upsell us on the wine. On the whole though, service was top-notch: staff were friendly, explained all the dishes, and eve