When internationally acclaimed chefs like Alain Ducasse state that London is the restaurant capital of the world, we all tend to listen.
Over the last twenty years the Capital’s dining out scene has evolved into the current fashion led world of gourmet dining. How to check out all the new openings without breaking the bank and without having to wait for months for a reservation?
Well, it’s good to lunch!
Set menus at lunchtime are often an excellent and relatively well priced way to dine. And, you are unlikely to be hurried over a lunch because unlike evening service, restaurants rarely stage bookings, so you can arrive at mid-day and stay till 3pm if that’s what you want to do.
Wondering where to try first? Here are some recommendations for what’s best in Town right now.
Best Newcomer – Tartufo
Downstairs at boutique hotel No. 11 Cadogan Gardens, this elegant dining room has a discrete charm and fabulous food. Backed by Michelin Starred Alex Gauthier, most of the staff have worked at his eponymous restaurant or at Gauthier’s original London base, Roussillon. Both restaurants quickly earned a Michelin star, and I’m sure Tartufo will be there soon. The service is impeccable and the food exceptional.
Young head chef Manuel Oliver serves up a light, seasonal three course menu with half a bottle of (better than house) wine from a short but perfectly formed wine list, coffee and petit fours included for a total of £35. Food is modern European, with a French/Italian bias.
Tartufo, No. 11 Cadogan Gardens, London SW3 2RJ
Best for Food Lovers – Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental
It may seem strange to go for lunch at Dinner, but the set menu is only available for lunch service and will enable you to sample Heston Blumenthal’s unique take on British food at a Michelin starred restaurant that also ranks 7th in the world on the San Pellegrino list. The three course lunch menu is £38 and will give you a choice of two historic dishes at each stage. The kitchen is headed up by Ashley Palmer-Watt and you’ll be able to peek in to his vast glass fronted empire and watch the chefs meticulously prep each stage of your meal.
Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
Best for Leisurely Drinking and Dining – Pollen Street Social
Another Michelin Starred restaurant, Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social is, so the Chef told me, the restaurant he and his wife wanted to create. The warm, modern layout is unique. Wander downstairs and you’ll be able to see the meat aging in specially designed glass fronted refrigeration rooms. And upstairs, the restaurant has a comfortable cocktail bar area, formal dining section and, bliss, a dessert bar when you can watch your perfect pudding being created. The set menu at lunch is £26 for two courses or £29.50 for three.
Pollen Street Social, 8/10 Pollen Street, London W1S 1NQ
Best for Glamour on a Budget – Brasserie Zedel
Part of Jeremy Corbin’s select group of restaurants along with the Wolseley, The Delaunay and the Colbert, Brasserie Zedel offers a menu which challenges its pricier brothers. Of course, that may have something to do with the basement location right by Piccadilly Circus, but, the glamorous mirrored décor and French bistro styling just doesn’t feel cheap. The Prix Fixe is just £11.75 for three courses. There’s an a la carte menu that still won’t break the bank and a chic cocktail bar too.
Brasserie Zedel, 20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED
Best for Shoppers –Bond & Brook, Fenwick
Right in the heart of the designer fashion floor, Bond and Brook is an oasis of calm. The Brainchild of Fay Maschler and Simon Davis, the menu focusses on ‘oversized appetizers’ (you’ll get a choice of three for £18.00). From Asian fusion dishes like the tempura of Monkfish with apple, chicory & mango relish to comfort plates such as slow cooked lamb with soft herbs & polenta, there’s plenty of choice. Of course there is a main dish menu too – and a rather splendid afternoon tea. This is somewhere for the design conscious shopper to relax in style.
Bond and Brook, Fenwick 63 New Bond St, London W1A 3BS
An award winning freelance writer and marketing consultant, Fiona Maclean currently writes about travel and London lifestyle for a number of publications and runs her own London lifestyle blog, London-Unattached. In addition to winning three blogging awards in 2012, she was listed as one of the Woman and Home top 100 food bloggers in the category of food and travel. Fiona has an MBA from Warwick Business School and lives in central London