There's no danger of your toast turning up cold at this sophisticated all-day designer diner - here you get a toaster on your table at breakfast so you can serve yourself from 7am. This Soho eaterie is headed up by James Walker, former head chef at Le Pont de la Tour and boasts a David Collins design (responsible for makeovers at the Wolseley, Claridge's Bar and, lately, the Artesian bar at the Langham). Bob Bob Ricard (BBR) brasserie and bar puts the emphasis on English comfort food with the front of house overseen by the former maitre d' of the The Ivy - adept at dealing with diva-like celebs. A champagne trolley and fab late night cocktails like Bramley Apple Martini add glamour to this hotly tipped spot. The extended opening hours until 3am - sadly the exception rather than the norm even in a city as thriving as this - ensure the party atmosphere gets going especially on weekends.
London's Most Romantic Restaurants
Impress your date by ordering champagne with the press of a button.
1 Upper James Street, Soho, London, W1F 9DF
Dinner with unrivalled views of London.
33rd Floor, The Shard, 96 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2TH
Tube: London Bridge Station
Like the Hong Kong original (on the 28th Floor of One Peking), Hutong in London occupies a lofty spot, high up on the 33rd floor of The Shard, London's tallest building. Hutong is a restaurant with a view - even the loos have that view. David Yeo's Chinese restaurant is, according to Jay Rayner writing in the Guardian, a "high-end take on the fiery food of northern China". Yes, the prices may be "a poke in the eye from a chopstick dipped in salty Korean chilli sauce" (Jay Rayner), "but the views from The Shard are undeniably worth it", writes Matthew Norman in The Telegraph. Established in Hong Kong in 2006, the restaurant is well known for its sophisticated Northern Chinese flavours including dishes of braised beef rib wrapped in lotus leaf, crispy de-boned lamb rib, soft shell crabs in spicy peppers and crispy Peking mutton. The interior is decorated with traditional Chinese red lanterns, hand-carved wood-panelled 'Moon Gates', and a wall of tiled tea bricks (compressed dried Chinese tea) while vintage 1940s tea canisters are a nod to the link between China and London and its old tea warehouses. One of two restaurants in the Shard operated by Yeo's Aqua Group, Hutong sits above Aqua Shard which serves a modern British menu on the 31st level of the skyscraper building.
Hidden in a cobbled courtyard, this is an excellent spot for a romantic dinner.
Bleeding Heart Yard, off Greville Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1N 8SJ
Journalists mix with lawyers, sitting across from merchant bankers, as the great and the good of the business world come together in pursuit of a yummy lunch. They are obviously not disappointed with the French cuisine as the tables of this effortlessly elegant restaurant are filled with new and familiar faces from Monday to Friday. Almost hidden in a cobbled courtyard, this is also an excellent place for a spot of romantic dining - no one does it quite like the French after all. There is an award-winning wine list and the chef cooks up market-inspired specials each day to add a pinch of variety to the imaginative a la carte menu. Bleeding Heart has two private dining rooms adjoining the main restaurant. Wine connoisseurs or just lovers of the stuff will be at home in The Wine Cellar, which seats up to 35, while The Parlour, seating 18, offers a truly intimate experience in the style of a Victorian dining room.
With chandeliers, oak tables and a changing British menu, this is a grand romantic option.
10 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NP
Jason Atherton, the man behind the Michelin starred Pollen Street Social and the Social Eating House, is responsible for the restaurant within the London Edition, a stylish Marriot hotel in Fitzrovia designed by legendary hotelier Ian Shrager. Atherton's Berners Tavern, named after the hotel which was built on this Soho site in 1908, serves modern British food using the best of British ingredients which changes with the seasons. Dishes include Orkney scallop Carpaccio, chargrilled quail served with Alsace bacon, and grass fed Baccleuch beef cooked on a charcoal grill. Shrager's dining room design includes chandeliers suspended over the tables which were inspired by NYC's Grand Central Station. Furnished with banquettes in chestnut mohair and taupe leather and round, bleached oak tables, there's a Parisian feeling to the room, a nod to the Edwardian origin of the building and London's adoration of all things French.
An intimate restaurant with a Venetian style menu.
2-3 Cowcross Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1M 6DR
Since launching the original Polpo in Soho's Beak Street in October 2009, Russell Norman and business partner Richard Beatty have expanded the brand at breakneck speed. With Polpo Smithfield, their sixth London restaurant (and the first outside Soho), they've decided to consolidate three sites under the Polpo name - da Polpo becomes 'Polpo Covent Garden'. Polpo Smithfield will offer the same Venetian style menu on offer at the Soho and Covent Garden restaurants, with 70 seats in the main dining area, seating for 20 outside, and a Negroni Bar in the basement. Libby Greenfield has left the Polpetto kitchen where she was senior sous chef to Florence Knight to head up the Clerkenwell restaurant. July also sees the launch of Russell Norman's long-awaited cookbook, Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (of Sorts). The company's other five restaurants, listed in order of opening, are: Polpo Soho, Polpetto, Spuntino, Polpo Covent Garden - previously known as da Polpo, and Mishkin's.
This restaurant successfully combines outrageous flair with the solid virtues of a bistro kitchen.
57 West Smithfield, City, London, EC1A 9DS
If Jamie Oliver thinks that turkey twizzlers and chips are the most unhealthy food in Britain, then he obviously hasn't been to this extraordinary Michelin-starred restaurant in a former Lyons tea house in Smithfields, whose 'French tapas' style - ordering three to five small dishes per diner - fails to disguise a menu that gives your arteries palpitations. The speciality is foie gras, available on its own, as a major or minor ingredient in around a third of the dishes, and even as an ingredient in one of the puddings. Other delights include sturdy mixtures like lobster with black pudding, and the buttery pleasures of traditional French fare such as confit de canard. Club Gascon well deserves its superb reputation and raft of awards. This is food which matches outrageous flair to the solid virtues of a bistro kitchen - just don't tell Jamie.
The tasting menu here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Connaught, 16 Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL
Tube: Bond Street Station
Following Angela Hartnett's departure from the restaurant at The Connaught hotel in Mayfair in 2007 the restaurant reopened with Helene Darroze as the two Michelin-starred Executive Chef from July 2008. Great ingredients, often sourced from small producers, are the secret to a relentlessly inventive menu packed with star dishes. The lunch/pre-theatre menu is particularly good value, but the tasting menu is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Like the hotel's stylish Coburg Bar, the design is by Parisian designer India Mahdavi.
There's nothing like a little high altitude to get hearts racing.
Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH
Tube: Temple Station
Up the Oxo Tower drinkers and diners are treated to some of the best views in London, a gourmet menu, classy cocktails and occasional live music. Oxo Tower Restaurant is the ultimate date restaurant and the solicitous but discreet staff are well accustomed to making couples feel special. The commanding panorama which takes in the whole of London rivals the views from the London Eye. A very expensive but utterly special treat. Many may prefer to stop for a cocktail (easier on the pocket) and the bar welcomes casual drinkers, and serves the best martinis we've had in London. Their team of sommeliers will be on hand to help you select a wine from the impressive 800 strong list. An iconic spot with tons of London charm that has been put to its best possible use, the Oxo Tower Restaurant is a cut above.
Breathtaking views and Michelin-starred food are a match made in heaven.
22 Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 1BE
Tube: Hyde Park Corner Station
There are two genuinely terrifying things about the Hilton's 28th-floor restaurant Galvin at Windows: the first is the sheer distance from the ground; the second is the scale of the bill. Chris Galvin is most famous for a wonderful bistro in Baker Street, where he serves a similar menu of traditional French cuisine (though with fewer gourmet flourishes) for around half the price. There is nothing wrong with the food at Windows, which offers a combination of simplicity and style that is rare in top-end restaurants. It is just a bit galling to think that you could be eating the same stuff for so much less money. But of course, this is not a restaurant where the bill simply reflects the food: the view is absolutely as spectacular as you would expect, making this a wonderful place to take a date, impress a client or simply check out the greatest city in the world. Just be careful about which table you are booking, because there are a couple in the middle where you can hardly see anything.
Dark, sultry and seductive. Hakkasan oozes Oriental romance.
8 Hanway Place, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1HD
Boasting the first Michelin Star ever awarded to a Chinese restaurant, Hakkasan can justly claim to be the best of its kind in London. The food here really is exceptional. Straying from the traditional route to provide Western variations on Chinese staples the cuisine is both modern and mouth-watering. Also described as the "sexiest" restaurant in London, Hakkasan's appeal doesn't just rest with its food. Lurking underground at the end of a fairly unappealing (bordering on dingy) side-street, initial impressions aren't great. However, as you walk step by step down the dimly lit staircase, surrounded by cooling slate walls embedded with tiny ruby red lights, a whole new world opens up before your eyes. Bathed in a mysterious, icy blue light, the dining room's discretely placed arrangement of tables appear to emerge gleaming under the moonlight of an exotic Oriental night. Carefully placed screens create an air of privacy and subterfuge, further enhanced by the shadows created by flickering candles and dramatic spots of light. The suavely dressed waiters who slip silently in between tables and behind screens provide an appropriately unassuming yet attentive service, which is key to this whole dining experience. Expensive this is - it doesn't deserve to be anything else - but it's worth every penny.
Let love blossom in the delightful Petersham Nurseries.
Off Petersham Road, Petersham, London, TW10 7AG
Tube: Richmond Station
When a top chef claims to be opening a 'simple', 'low-key' restaurant, it is usually press-speak for some folie de grandeur two doors down from the Ivy with an £85 tasting menu. Petersham Nurseries is the exception. Located in what can only be described as a shed (spacious, light and furnished, but definitely a shed), it's the sort of restaurant where you'll see the chef popping out of the kitchen to pick herbs from the garden, and where homemade lemonade sits above the Pinot Noir on the drinks list. And it's absolutely perfect, especially in summer, when you can sit in the garden. Superb meat and glowingly fresh vegetables peep from beneath mountains of herbs. Of course, all this rustic simplicity doesn't come cheap. Dirt floors, rickety furniture and food bought directly from tiny organic farms all over Europe are ferociously chic and prices are high for a restaurant that is such a long way from anywhere. Still, if you'd prefer a relaxed meal in a lovely location to an army of uniformed staff, then this is the place to go. As a lighter alternative, you can always settled for a cup of tea (from exotic flower teas to the traditional English Breakfast) and a nice slice of cake in the Teahouse.
A slice of old-fashioned French romance, this quaint bistro will set hearts a flutter.
22 Richmond Road, London, SW15 2RX
Tube: East Putney Station
Far away in the land of Putney there is a small French bistro run by husband and wife team the Ardillys. This charming little restaurant has been loved by locals for over ten years, outliving many of the other eateries that have come and gone in the area. Indoors you will find a cosy, homely scene which adds the necessary touch of French romance to your meal. You'll find all the classic dishes on the menu at L'auberge, frogs legs, foie gras, d'escargot, veal and boeuf borguignon. All cooked in traditional French style and served with affection. Be sure to save room for desert, the chef originally trained as a patisserie so the puddings are truly not to be missed. The typical creme brulee is reinvented here with a divine honey and lavender twist. Spotting a gap in the market for people sick of bog-standard takeaway pizzas. They created the 'French bites at home' service which allows fans of French gastronomy to dine on L'auberge delights in their own home, at quite easy-to-swallow prices. They also put on lots of event evenings which offer great food and wonderful wine at really great value. Bon appetit!
A romantic, fairytale bar/restaurant.
45 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, , Notting Hill, London, W11 2AA
This mad, gorgeous, fairytale fantasy of a bar/restaurant is usually full of glamorous young singles flirting like mad over their cocktails - but it's also hard to think of a more romantic spot for a couple to go drinking. Hundreds of candles light the way through a maze of corridors, where huge fireplaces, and crazed decor - part ancient Rome, part Versailles - leap out of the darkness. Concealed little nooks with low ceilings offer the perfect opportunity to duck away from the noise of the bar. The cocktails are excellent, the wine list interesting and fairly priced, and the decor is beyond belief. The food is overpriced, but it is very good, and you know that you're paying for more than just a meal when your choice of dining rooms include the chapel, crypt and scullery. Guests can also opt for private dining at Beach Blanket Babylon with the choice of the Ballroom, a decadent room that can seat up to 60 guests or play host to a champagne reception for 110 guests or the Chapel, a semi-private enclave within the restaurant. The beautiful ballroom, nestled away on the first floor, is one of Notting Hill's best kept secrets.
Rustic wooden furniture, cosy booths and dim lighting.
46 Lexington Street, Soho, London, W1F 0LW
Widely regarded as "the most romantic restaurant in London", the rustic wooden furniture, cosy booths and dim lighting certainly make Andrew Edmunds a great place for a date. Pretty flowers and classic drippy candles decorate the intimate (also known as small) tables and the place buzzes with loved-up vibes. The menu is a very British take on modern European dining with lots of sticky sauces, roast meats and crackly fat, as well as simple and breathtakingly fresh fish and seafood. The menu is handwritten daily and sits alongside a very pleasing wine list. Nestled in the backstreets of Soho, this townhouse bistro may lack a little modern slickness. But the friendly, efficient service and an absolute lack of pretension keep the customers coming back to this old romantic.
This upmarket Russian restaurant is sure to impress.
116 Knightsbridge, Hyde Park, London, SW1X 7PJ
Tube: Knightsbridge Station
Following the success of sister restaurants in St Petersburg, Moscow and New York, upmarket Russian restaurant Mari Vanna opened in London in December 2011. Dmitry Sergeyev and Vadim Lapin founders of the Ginza Project chain - a group which owns more than 70 restaurants in Moscow and St. Petersburg - have teamed up with and Luca Del Bono, a co-founder of Quintessentially, to bring us Mari Vanna in Knightsbridge. It's a nostalgic take on Russia and the restaurant is filled with ironic touches including traditional nesting dolls, trinkets and kitsch knicknacks. The food may be home cooked and the atmosphere cosy but the high ceilings adorned with elaborate chandeliers, not to mention the glamourous Russian model clientele, make Mari Vanna a luxurious place to eat. The menu includes traditional dishes such as Pelmeni, Russian veal dumplings with a herb sauce, and Mari Vanna's signature dish - Borsch with Pampushka (beetroot soup with beef). There are Georgian and Ukrainian influences evident in dishes like Harcho, a rich Georgian lamb soup with rice, and Galubtzi, spiced meat and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves. And, as you'd expect, there's a vast range of vodka and cocktails made from vodka jars infused with horseradish, pineapple, cucumber, oat and honey - used in Mari Vanna's version of the Moscow Mojito.
The best French restaurant in London within this price range.
3-7 Devonshire Road, Chiswick, London, W4 2EU
Tube: Turnham Green Station
This Chiswick restaurant is one of London's best kept secrets. La Trompette is the best French restaurant in London within this price range. Dinner for two with a good wine will leave you with a wonderfully full stomach and only a mildly depleted wallet. The menu features regional delights from around France that will please any palate. Simply sublime. Sister restaurants of the same calibre, also owned by Nigel Platts-Martin and Bruce Poole, and most certainly worth a visit for a special occasion are Chez Bruce in Wandsworth and the Glasshouse in Kew.
An affordable bistro style restaurant offering a simple French menu
5 Pollen Street, London, W1S 1NE
Tube: Oxford Circus Station
Across the road from his Michelin starred Pollen Street Social restaurant, Jason Atherton branches out to open Little Social on a site previously occupied by Livio Bisterzo's fashionable Italian restaurant and which was originally a pub called The Black Lion and French Horn - the signboard lives on in the basement. With Little Social, Atherton gives diners an affordable bistro style restaurant offering a simple French menu and an interior based on the bistros of France with ox-blood coloured banquettes. Cary Docherty, who has worked with Atherton at Maze, is head chef, and brings with him six years of experience at Zuma, at Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road and then at the Ramsay owned Foxtrot Oscar where he was head chef. Little Social is one of two new restaurants from Atherton to open in 2013, to be followed by The Social Eating House which opens on Poland Street, Soho, a month later on 18th April.
28th August 2014
IN THIS ARTICLE
Bob Bob Ricard
Bleeding Heart Restaurant
Helene Darroze at The Connaught
OXO Tower Restaurant
Galvin at Windows
Beach Blanket Babylon
A Traditional London Picnic
Best London Cafés
Restaurants for Kids in London
Celebrity Chefs in London
Best Gastropubs in London
Best Sunday Lunch in London
Top London Restaurants
London's Al Fresco Food Spots
LondonTown's Favourite Restaurants
London's Most Romantic Restaurants
London's Best British Restaurants
- A Traditional London Picnic
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