Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in London Holborn
Hardens guides have spent 32 years compiling reviews of the best Holborn restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 67 restaurants in Holborn and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing Holborn restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured Holborn Restaurants
French restaurant in Holborn
115 Chancery Lane - WC2
The sun-drenched flavours of Provence – both food and wine – are brought into focus at this Chancery Lane outpost of Pascal Aussignac’s Club Gascon group, which occupies an engaging glass-ceilinged room, originally built as an auction house. The downstairs cocktail bar, Baranis, also boasts the UK’s only indoor petanque pitch. The worst comment? “OK but not inspiring”.
. Holborn Dining Room
British, Traditional restaurant in Holborn
252 High Holborn - WC1
It’s not been a vintage year for this grand British brasserie, known for its Pie Room, grills and charcuterie. Feedback has been very unsettled, with poor ratings across the board and reports of “stodgy and tasteless dishes”, “breathtaking mark-ups”, and “famous pies that were poorly cooked and really not worth the hype or the money”. In June 2022, after the conclusion of our survey, the executive chef for the last eight years, Calum Franklin, moved on. Given that change seems to be afoot, we have left it unrated.
. Prufrock Coffee
Sandwiches, cakes, etc restaurant in Clerkenwell
23-25 Leather Ln - EC1
“Great coffee” (and also stone-rolled and limited-edition tea) wins praise for this well-known brew stop near Hatton Garden, which also offers pastries, sarnies and other light bites.
British, Modern restaurant in Farringdon
30 St Cross Street - EC1
“A tiny spot with just over 20 covers and food to die for” – the focus is very much on the “very clever cooking at an affordable price point” at this “personal” Farringdon address, run by head chef Anthony Raffo and manager Marie Danzanvilliers. The food is “super-seasonal” (“sometimes foraged within a stone’s throw of the restaurant”), “traditional techniques are revived with pickles and ferments” and the resulting dishes have “exceptional flavour combinations and contrasts”.
. Roka, Aldwych House
Japanese restaurant in Covent Garden
71-91 Aldwych - WC2
“Nailing it every time” – Arjun Waney and Rainer Becker’s upscale Japanese-inspired operations endure on a deceptively simple formula of “great buzz… awesome food”. Centre stage are the “expertly prepared” small plates – “a lovely combination of hot and cold Japanese-fusion dishes” featuring “gorgeous sushi, sashimi and robata” (from the centrally placed grill) – that are “pricey yet exceptional”. As an offering, you could quibble that “it hasn’t really evolved” in recent years, or you could say ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’
Burgers, etc restaurant in Midtown
95-97 High Holborn - WC1V
“Doing what they do very well” – “top burgers” are presented with a veneer of Parisian sophistication at this seven-strong chain, popular not just for their value but their “lovely” styling too.
. Eat Tokyo
Japanese restaurant in Holborn
50 Red Lion St - WC1
“Spartan surroundings…”, “efficient service but can be stilted and without a smile…” yet “all is ultimately forgiven” at these “always busy” and “always reliable” Japanese canteens. “Given the price, you’d expect real mediocrity” and yet meals are almost invariably “acceptable and good quality (if somewhat formulaic)”. Top Tip – “lovely bento boxes”. (The ‘G2’ Golders Green branch specialises in Shabu Shabu – a variety of broths).
. Daddy Donkey
Mexican restaurant in Clerkenwell
50b Leather Lane - EC1N
“Still The Daddy!… I was glad to return to the office and find it was still trading!” – “Leather Lane Market may not be the most relaxing venue for al fresco dining” but this busy takeaway draws fans with its “great burritos, plus a wide variety of toppings”.
. Bleeding Heart Bistro
French restaurant in Clerkenwell
Bleeding Heart Yard - EC1
“Overlooking the atmospheric and historic Bleeding Heart Yard”, this “agreeable” if “slightly cramped”, “old-school” bistro (with a splendid terrace in summer) is “well worth the venture outside the City perimeter” for finance-types, both for a “fun and not too formal” client lunch or a “so romantic” evening meal. “Dependable quality French-ish fare” completes the picture.
. Only Food and Courses
British, Modern restaurant in Covent Garden
5 Little Essex Street - WC2R
In one of Pop Brixton’s hip containers, Robbie Lorraine’s 6-course tasting menu aims to take guests on a nostalgia trip to the 80s and 90s and is almost as much about pop culture as it is about the food. On limited feedback, though, the latter is much more than an afterthought. STOP PRESS: in July 2022, Lorraine announced that he would be leading the kitchen at the new Boys Hall in Kent and there’s no availability shown here till for the remainder of 2022, so its future direction seems up in the air.
. Vivat Bacchus
International restaurant in City
47 Farringdon Street - EC4
This duo of venues in Farringdon and London Bridge have some of the capital’s best collections of South African wine, alongside a selection of ‘Old World’ vintages. To soak them up, there’s a miscellaneous assortment of dishes majoring in steaks, with some Saffa-inspired garnishes, and SA-style dried meats providing the most exotic options. Save space for the cheese, chosen in a walk-in room.
. Sycamore Vino Cucina, Middle Eight Hotel
Italian restaurant in Holborn
Middle Eight Hotel, 66 Great Queen Street - WC2B
This “stylish” two-year-old in Covent Garden, “puts a different, modern spin on the usual Italian type offerings”. Service is only “good in parts”, though, and that it can feel compromised by being “too near the hotel lobby” (or “too integral to the lively bar of the hip hotel it’s part of”) is a repeat complaint.
International restaurant in St James's
180 The Strand - WC2C
“Flavours not experienced before” – “inventive haute cuisine takes on West African dishes using ingredients like plantain and sorghum” – continue to propel Iré Hassan-Odukale and Jeremy Chan’s St James’s trail-blazer to ever-greater heights of fame, as confirmed by the restaurant’s further promotion by Michelin in January 2022. “With the second star comes the elevated price tag” however, and formerly stellar ratings here have sagged under the heightened expectations. Many “masterpieces” are still reported amongst meals, but a worrying new vein of bitter disappointments has also crept into diner commentary (“I was excited to try Ikoyi and discover its new approach, but hand on heart it was not worth the money…”; “we were angry and so disappointed, the food was really average, massively over-spiced and too hot”). Perhaps it’s no coincidence that shortly after our diners’ poll ended, Chan and Hassan-Odukale announced they were putting the original St James’s Market site on the market with a view to moving to an upgraded site (with options mooted including a move to the 180 Strand building).
Mediterranean restaurant in Covent Garden
1 Surrey Street - WC2R
“A sparse interior in a Brutalist building” off the Strand “disguises a fantastic place to enjoy excellent food” at this new arrival from the founders of the art fair, Frieze: “a big, classy concrete space”, complete with “a massive terrace that looks like a brilliant draw once the weather turns summery”. “British seasonal dishes” are done to a high standard, although service is “a bit hit ’n’ miss”.
. The Delaunay
East & Cent. European restaurant in Covent Garden
55 Aldwych - WC2
“Calmer in tone than The Wolseley” (although still “tending to be noisy”): its “understatedly glamorous” sibling is even more in the “Austrian Grand Salon style” than the mothership. And being “well-located for the City and West End” (just off Aldwych), combined with “professional service” and “well-spaced tables”, all foster its massive popularity for a “textbook business lunch”, or the “archetypal City power breakfast”. True to the group’s culinary DNA, the food can seem “unimaginative”. Viewed more positively, “the undemanding but reassuring menu” is “solid” and “reliable” and the specials of schnitzel, tarte flambée and sausages add to a “pleasing and cosseting” effect that “transports you to Mittel Europe”. So, “even if it’s never going to provide a top gastronomic experience, a meal at The Delaunay always feels special”. Given the recent changes at The Wolseley Hospitality Group (as the business is now called), many reporters voice “trepidation” at the recent loss of the founders: “it’s an example of Corbin & King at their best… whither now that they’re no longer running the show?” That said, the ratings, here, actually improved on last year in our annual diners’ poll. Top Menu Tip – “wonderful gateaux to go with good coffee” either after a meal or during the day.
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