British, Modern Restaurants in London
1. Seven Park Place French restaurant in St James's 7-8 Park Pl - SW1
“Consistently lovely food” over the past 10 years has earned an ecstatic, if limited, foodie following for low-key chef William Drabble, who “remains a hit in the kitchen rather than on the TV screen”. The “cosy” and “romantic” dining room of this hideaway luxury hotel in St James’s also benefits from “cute, quirky decor and friendly, helpful staff”.
2. Marcus, The Berkeley British, Modern restaurant in Knightsbridge Wilton Pl - SW1
“Outstanding in every way”, say fans of Marcus Wareing’s calm Belgravia temple of gastronomy: “a big room, where the setting of each table feels very private”, and where the “expertly crafted and seasonal” cuisine (under chef patrons, Mark and Shauna Froydenlund) is, they feel, “expensive, but oh-so-worth it”. For a large minority, though, its “daft” prices defy comprehension, and those who remember the era when Marcus himself was more regularly at the stoves feel that “compared with ten years ago, it’s not a patch on what it was”.
3. 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.
4. 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, is – 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.
5. Trinity British, Modern restaurant in Clapham 4 The Polygon - SW4
Adam Byatt’s “classy” Clapham star is “at the top of its game” and there are only a few restaurants south of the river that give it a run for its money: “a trip always feels special, no matter what the occasion”. “Outstanding”, contemporary cuisine (from a three-course, or four-course menu) is at the heart of a “wonderful”, straightforward formula incorporating “service that’s always on point”, plus the “relaxing atmosphere” of a room whose “exterior view is much improved now the public WC has been demolished and the area landscaped!”. “Really good cocktails” and a “diverse and interesting wine list” complete the picture – look out for vintages marked ‘Chef’s Cellar’. See also Trinity Upstairs and Charlie’s at Browns.
6. Levan British, Modern restaurant in Southwark 3-4 Blenheim Grove - SE15
“Fantastic food + great wine list + super-friendly people + brilliant music = cool vibes!” – this new restaurant and wine bar near Peckham Rye station (baby bro’ to Salon in Brixton) has cracked the formula for winning fans from SE15 and beyond: a “casual-yet-special” operation, it can become “extremely busy” and “crowded”. Its “incredible” small plates are a foil to the “very good wine list” and arguably a form of “wildly indulgent nursery food”, but are so “creative and fun” and with “flavours that sing!”
7. Aulis London British, Modern restaurant in Soho Soho - address on booking - W1
Lakeland-based uber-chef Simon Rogan’s eight-seater development kitchen offers “a fascinating and unique experience”, featuring “some of the most creative dishes in London”. Diners pre-book (at £195 a head) and go to a secret Soho address, where a dozen surprise courses and paired wines are prepared in front of them by two chefs. “We went for our anniversary but the other six diners pulled out; what could have been awkward became a once-in-a-lifetime exclusive pampering!”.
8. Roux at the Landau, The Langham British, Modern restaurant in marylebone 1c Portland Pl - W1
“Smooth-running and elegant” – the recently-adopted, more modern and svelte style of operation (no tablecloths, and a new central bar for counter-style dining) is suiting this Roux-branded dining room: part of a luxurious five-star hotel, opposite Broadcasting House. Despite the harder-edged look, the ambience remains “delightful” and the cuisine is “first class”, with the option of eating à la carte, or from the six-course tasting menu. “Spot-on service”, in particular, featured in numerous reports this year.
9. 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”.
10. Smith's Wapping British, Modern restaurant in Wapping 22 Wapping High St - E1
“Panoramas over the Thames” and “an excellent view of Tower Bridge” provide extra incentive to discover this popular fish brasserie, at the foot of a Wapping development (sibling to a long-standing original, in Ongar). It offers a “well-put-together” all-round experience, incorporating “professional” service that “goes the extra mile”, with “well-cooked and presented” fish and seafood.
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