Here are ten of the top names to consider trying to book for a last-minute pre-Christmas celebration… or for a table in the chill post-VAT-increase era of the New Year.
Bar Boulud, Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park
Top NYC chef Daniel Boulud’s London offshoot has overcome its basement location to become what is, for all practical purposes, one of London’s best Gallic brasseries. But with a bit of Big Apple pizzazz too.
The back-to-town venture of one of the star London chefs of the ’90s, this reasonably priced Clerkenwell bistro has been an ongoing hit with press and punters alike.
Terroirs – the Charing Cross wine bar/bistro – has become emblematic of the wave of improvement that’s sweeping through the West End restaurant world at the moment. Its (even more) stripped-down recent sibling – a similarly compelling formula – is already doing great business out East.
Is the cooking a bit too fancy-pants for somewhere that looks so authentically like a Parisian brasserie? That’s the main issue most commentators have on the latest and grandest – and hugely successful – venture from the Arbutus boys, not far from Charing Cross.
Dishoom, Covent Garden
OK it’s got chain ambitions written all over it, but this welcoming Indian brasserie makes a really comfortable stand-by for lunch in Covent Garden (or pre-theatre).
Gosh, how we hated our early-days dinner at the ex-Roussillon chef’s Soho townhouse. No denying,though,that it’s also been the recipient of a whole lot of well-informed praise, both in the papers and elsewhere, and the aim is classically ambitious in a way that’s still quite rare in London.
Surfing the we-love-the-Big-Apple Zeitgeist, Russell Norman’s Greenwich Village-style Italian wine bar – an instant smash hit – was almost instantly replicated nearby (Polpetto). Look out for another riff on the formula in Covent Garden early next year.
Scandalously little-reviewed so far, this elegantly-proportioned Marylebone dining room is, for our money, a great all-rounder, and one of the best hotel restaurants in town. Good-value lunches too.
Let’s hear it for Gordon! Not all the critics have been impressed, but Ramsay’s recent relaunch of this famous ‘power restaurant’ has picked up some notably positive reviews of late.
The very survival of Nuno Mendes’s ambitious and challening restaurant out in Bethnal Green is perhaps the most eloquent testimony to how far our restaurants have come in ever the past half-decade. But it’s doing more than surviving, it’s flourishing. Book well ahead if you want to enjoy his wanderers' cuisine.