Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in London
Hardens guides have spent 30 years compiling reviews of the best London restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 5,716 restaurants in London and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing London restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured London Restaurants
1. The Five Fields British, Modern restaurant in Chelsea 8-9 Blacklands Ter - SW3
“More like the Elysian fields!”: Taylor Bonnyman’s “congenial” but “unpretentious” Chelsea HQ (founded in 2013) doesn’t court publicity, but emerged with the survey’s highest food rating this year. With its “sophisticated” interior, “spectacular wine list” and “wonderful” service – “impeccably timed, professional, yet warm” – it’s long been hailed as an “outstanding all-rounder”. But it has hit a particularly impressive and consistent culinary stride in recent times, with not a single negative report received this year (and we received many reports). Head chef, Marguerite Keogh “strives for perfection, and the care and attention to detail of ingredients processed and plated is second to none”, delivering “divinely flavoured dishes” in a mould that’s “classic in style, but very modern in execution” – “witty and inventive, without being up itself or over-fussy”. Much of the produce is sourced from the restaurant’s own garden in East Sussex. Choose at lunch or dinner from a prix fixe three-course menu or alternative tasting option.
2. Chez Bruce British, Modern restaurant in Balham 2 Bellevue Rd - SW17
“Still peerless as a neighbourhood restaurant delivering exquisite, modern French cuisine” – Bruce Poole’s immaculate “mainstay of South West London”, by distant Wandsworth Common, was – for the 15th year in succession – the survey’s No. 1 favourite restaurant, and “well worth the trip south of the river”. “Whether you are going for a celebratory meal, or just a casual lunch or supper”, “its consistency is astonishing, and comes at fabulously reasonable prices” (especially given the “little extra touches like Parmesan biscuits at the beginning of a meal, and chocolate truffles and palmiers at the end”). “What’s brilliant about the seasonal cooking is its perfect, pure – not gastronomic – tastes and palate: classics are flawlessly cooked, and there is innovation without it being bound in any way to the latest fads and fashions”. And “although there must be heaps going on behind the scenes, the set-up manages to be effortlessly elegant in an unpretentious style that feels like it comes easy to them”, with “engaging” staff who are “professional without being obsequious”. IF there’s a gripe, it’s that the “bright and compact” room that most reporters feel is “delightful” and “fitting for pretty much any occasion” (especially a romantic one) is, for a small minority, too “cramped” and un-fancy.
3. Wiltons British, Traditional restaurant in St James's 55 Jermyn St - SW1
“The Best of British” – London’s oldest restaurant (founded 1742, but not on this site) feels – with its “muffled conversations and refined decor mixing deep reds, browns and greens” – “akin to a compact version of an old-fashioned club”; and its St James’s quarters provide a “top drawer”, “old-school” experience for those of an “old-fashioned” disposition (“jackets are required for men”). “Acoustics are civilised” and “tables are very discreet, so it’s perfect for business lunches or dinners”; while service operates “with class and efficiency”, yet “without being unctuous”. “If you want first-class, traditional cuisine”, in particular fish and seafood (also game in season), this is the place for you – “sublime ingredients” are “presented impeccably, but without frills”. Do try to ensure you are there at the invitation of your tax advisor or art dealer, however: “the bill is always brutal”.
4. Clarke’s British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 124 Kensington Church Street - W8
“Never failing to excel, even after years and years…” – Sally Clarke’s Kensington HQ (opened in 1984) is nowadays a “classic”; and even those who say “it’s a bit of a time warp nowadays”, concede that her California-inspired cuisine is nigh-on as “modern and fresh” as ever. “The moment you step in, often to be welcomed by Sally herself, you know you are in for a wonderful evening, with imaginative but unpretentious dishes that are impeccably prepared – with great ingredients that are allowed to stand out – while service is always professional and present-without-hovering”. The atmosphere here has always been slightly divisive: for a few “dull” or “formal”, but to most diners – “with its artwork, soothing colors, and low noise level to allow plenty of engaging conversation” – romantic and “always a delight”.
5. Sukho Fine Thai Cuisine Thai restaurant in Fulham 855 Fulham Rd - SW6
“Carefully prepared cuisine is served with charm and experience” at this accomplished dining room: West London’s top-scoring Thai and, oft-tipped by its fans (from as far afield as Cornwall) as “the best Thai in town”, full stop. It occupies a shop conversion deep in Fulham that’s attractive but tightly packed.
6. Frog by Adam Handling British, Modern restaurant in Covent Garden 35 Southampton Street - WC2E
“Eating at The Frog is like allowing your palate to go to a firework display” – Adam Handling and his teams create a series of dishes of “always-surprising ingenuity, with quirky presentation and mixture of ingredients” both at his Hoxton Square original and his even-more-successful Covent Garden flagship. Both locations offer a mixture of à la carte and tasting menus – the latter incorporating vegan and vegetarian alternatives as well as beer-matching and wine-matching options. The results inspire massive support,not just for being “a well-devised journey expertly executed”, but for food that’s “wow, wow, wow beyond delicious!”. In keeping with the main man’s free-thinking philosophy (and, at E1, a big emphasis on sustainability), his locations have a youthful energy at odds with the fayne dining ethos: an approach that also seems to inspire “impeccable service” from his staff (with a special shout-out to his sommelier – “I’ve never been disappointed when asking Kelvin for a recommendation!”). Where his taste is a tad more divisive is the ambience – to fans admirably un-stuffy and energetic, but to critics slightly “odd” or “nondescript”, and with “loud and dreadful music” in N1. Top Menu Tip – “those cheese doughnuts are the stuff of legend”. See also Adam Handling Chelsea.
7. Cabotte French restaurant in Bank 48 Gresham St - EC2V
“A stunning treasure trove of Burgundy wine” is just one of the attractions of this “buzzy and down-to-earth” three-year-old, near the Guildhall. The serving crew are “super friendly” and “knowledgeable”, while the regional French cuisine from head chef Edward Boarland is “luscious, beautiful, and nourishing (almost comfort food, but the quality is super-high)”. Often tipped as a top choice for business entertaining, it’s nevertheless “one of the very few such City restaurants in which you would want to actually spend your own money!”
8. Coya Peruvian restaurant in Mayfair 118 Piccadilly - W1
2018 Review: “Wow! What a lot of fun”. This “exciting” Peruvian in Mayfair is “that rare restaurant” which can deliver “a truly spectacular meal”, with an “amazing atmosphere (especially when the band starts playing)” and “exquisite flavour combinations” that “set the palette alight”. Even fans though say “the prices are as outstanding as the cuisine”.
9. La Trompette French restaurant in Chiswick 5-7 Devonshire Rd - W4
“We schlep across town from E18 two or three times a year and we always have a wonderful experience!” – this “consistently fabulous” destination occupies a low-profile location in a Chiswick sidestreet, but remains the “go-to-choice in West London” for many reporters and “rivals many more high-profile West End temples of gastronomy”. Like its even-more-famous stablemate, Chez Bruce, its “bright”, neighbourhood-style interior is smart but far from flash – the “spoiling experience” it delivers derives from its “seriously imaginative and beautifully executed” modern cuisine and its “seamless and charming” service. And it offers “very good value”, too: “this is exactly what every restaurant at this price point should aspire to”. On the downside, the table layout can seem “too crowded”, and there were also very occasional good-but-not-great meals reported this year: “are they a bit stretched since they added more covers?”
10. Caraffini Italian restaurant in Pimlico 61-63 Lower Sloane St - SW1
“The maitre d’ remembered me from over 10 years ago and treated me like I’d given them my patronage every day of those 10 years!” – this “neighbourhood” stalwart trattoria is “a staple of the area” south of Sloane Square: “unchanging from year to year” and “like a home from home” for its many (generally silver-haired) regulars. “The menu may not have changed in years, but who cares?” – it’s “always reliable, and well-priced for the locale” – and its USP is its “wonderful staff”, who “treat you like royalty” and are so “friendly” (“they knew exactly how to banter with my grumpy daughter and exactly when to point out a good wine on the list”). “Heaven help us when it finally changes hands…”
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