Best Restaurants in London
London woos business travelers with its stellar dining options.
From the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to the Summer Olympics, 2012 is a big year for London. And the English capital shows no signs of slowing down, especially business-wise, as evidenced by the recent opening of the already iconic Renzo Piano–designed Shard (the tallest building in Europe). And there’s no shortage of spots for the corporate traveler to find a good meal—jokes about greasy fish-and-chips and mushy peas long a thing of the past, London has emerged as one of the world’s leading culinary destinations, with Michelin-starred chefs Heston Blumenthal and Fergus Henderson leading the way. But visitors can also expect to find enduring British traditions like afternoon tea and a good curry, so on your next trip across the pond, consider the following dining options. Cheers!
66 Knightsbridge; + 44-20-7201-3833
Best: Fine Dining
The Mandarin Oriental’s signature restaurant is by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, whose Fat Duck, in Bray, is considered one of the world’s best. The menu, under the direction of executive chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, puts a modern spin on traditional British recipes (many from the 18th century), including spiced pigeon with ale and artichokes, and cod in cider with chard and fired mussels.
5 Threadneedle St.; + 44-20-7657-8090
Best: In the City (Financial Center)
In the Threadneedles Hotel in the heart of the City, Bonds is steps from the Bank of England and near the Norman Foster–designed Gherkin building. Start out with a gin and tonic in the bustling bar, where you’re likely to hear bankers in Savile Row suits discussing their latest deals, followed by seared foie gras with quince purée and pork belly with pea-and-ham croquettes in the columned dining room.
Fourth Floor, Canada Place, + 44-20-7715-7100
Best: Private Dining
This restaurant with futuristic interiors (Saarinen Tulip tables, Arco floor lamps) is located on the fourth floor of Canada Place in Canary Wharf, another of London’s major business and financial centers. From the main private dining room (seating up to 30), facing a wall of wine, or the more intimate Fumoir Room (up to 20), savor French-inspired dishes like honey-spiced duck and slow-braised cod cheeks.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
145 Fleet St.; + 44-20-7353-6170
Best: Historic Pub
Referenced in Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, this 17th-century Fleet Street landmark with low-ceilinged, dark-wood interiors is the perfect pub to knock back a few pints of Samuel Smith’s bitters after a long meeting. Sidle up to the bar as London journalists once did, or settle into one of the booths to tuck into British staples like steak and kidney pudding, bangers and mash, and Welsh rarebit.
Albemarle St.; + 44-20-7493-6020
Best: Afternoon Tea
If you’re seeking a business get-together beyond a typical restaurant lunch, book a table at one of the city’s five-star hotels for afternoon tea. One of the most famous is Brown’s, dating from 1837, where in the English Tea Room you can sample fresh-baked scones, strawberry jam, clotted cream and finger sandwiches served on silver-tiered stands while sipping one of 17 teas (have the tea sommelier choose).
20 Queen St.; + 44-20-7629-3561
Best: Upscale Indian
London has countless curry joints, but for more refined Indian cuisine, try Michelin-starred Tamarind in a lower-level space in Mayfair with gold-painted columns and leather chairs. Chef Alfred Prasad dazzles diners with his nouvelle Moghul-style dishes of boneless lamb braised with garlic and Kashmiri chiles and saffron-and-ginger-marinated kingfish kebabs along with house-made chutneys.
55 Aldwych; + 44-20-7499-8558
Best: People-Watching This new restaurant on the corner of Aldwych and Drury Lane, sister to the always-buzzing Wolseley, attracts a similarly fashionable crowd of theater people, celebrities and business types who appreciate its open-all-day policy (breakfast is quite popular), the elegant David Collins–designed wood-paneled dining room and the classic European menu (beef au poivre, Wiener schnitzel, chicken Kiev).
26 St. John St.; + 44 20 3301 8069
Best: Nose-to-Tail Dining
Much has been made of London’s “nose-to-tail eating,” and if you’re curious to sample the style of cooking in which none of the animal is wasted, head to St. John Bar and Restaurant from Fergus Henderson, one of the movement’s highest-profile advocates. Rolled pig spleen and bacon, ox tongue with carrots and horseradish, and chitterlings with radishes are menu items for adventurous palates.
Jill Fergus writes travel and lifestyle pieces for numerous publications, including The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons and Spa Magazine.