Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in London St James's
Hardens guides have spent 32 years compiling reviews of the best St James's restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 298 restaurants in St James's and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing St James's restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured St James's Restaurants
1. Coya Peruvian restaurant in Mayfair 118 Piccadilly - W1
Resident DJs are intrinsic to the vibey style of Arjun Waney’s “very opulent” Peruvians, which since their launch ten years ago now feature Paris, Monaco and Mykonos on their list of locations alongside those in Mayfair and near the Bank of England. The “exciting” Latino cuisine is “beautifully presented” and contributes to an “amazing overall experience”. The crowd is “a bit flash” for some tastes, but you can always “ignore the bankers and the Gulf trust fund babies and focus on the plate”.
2. Ormer Mayfair by Sofian, Flemings Mayfair Hotel British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair 7-12 Half Moon Street - W1
“A choice of 6-course or 8-course tasting menus and a fantastic selection of wines” greets visitors to this 1930s-style, oak-panelled chamber in Mayfair, which scored uniformly high marks this year for Sofian Msetfi’s accomplished, seasonal British cuisine. There are also vegetarian and vegan alternative menus (the latter of which requires 48 hours notice).
3. Butler’s Restaurant, The Chesterfield Mayfair British, Traditional restaurant in Mayfair 35 Charles St - W1
2019 Review: “Like an old London club”, this traditional Mayfair dining room is “spacious” and “there is absolutely no rush to serve you and get you out”. In a similar vein, “you wouldn’t necessarily go there for the food”, except for the afternoon tea in the adjoining ‘Conservatory’, go for the classic or novelty-themed version (it’s currently ‘The Original Sweetshop’).
4. Maddox Tavern British, Modern restaurant in Westminster 47 Maddox Street - W1S
A very characterful Mayfair site – once a posh gentlemen’s outfitters and more recently a branch of Browns – now hosts this July 2022 newcomer (which opened too late to be included in our annual diners’ poll). Steaks feature prominently on a menu of ‘elevated’ British classics and there’s also a seperate all-day ‘tavern’ selection.
5. The American Bar American restaurant in St James's The Stafford, 16-18 Saint James's Place - SW1A
“A quick lunchtime drink can turn into several hours of cocktails and delightful bites” at this St James’s institution: “a bar full of Americana and with staff who put on a great show of mixology”. The Med-inspired brasserie menu is arguably “limited” but suits the venue, which is a “very buzzy” and “efficiently run” space.
6. Vasco & Piero’s Pavilion Italian restaurant in Soho 11 D'Arblay Street - W1F
“Welcome back!” Every cloud has a silver lining and “having been unceremoniously evicted from its longtime Poland Street location during Covid”, this “delightful” Soho veteran has “found a new, better site just round the corner” (it’s actually the second time the restaurant, founded in 1971, has had to move). “Traditional, Tuscan food as it is meant to taste, with a wine list to match” are served by the “superb” staff in a “most convivial” setting. “They are good at remembering their customers” and “it’s a great place to have a conversation, as they play no music”.
7. Wiltons British, Traditional restaurant in St James's 55 Jermyn St - SW1
“Like a London club but with infinitely better food” – this “very civilised” St James’s veteran (London’s oldest restaurant, established in 1742, but not on this site) is “a real throwback to another era” (“it’s probably not the place to attract ‘influencers’, whoever or whatever they are!”). The menu (which majors in fish and seafood) is “as traditional as one can expect (as is the clientele)” – you are served “classic food, classically executed and classically served” and at its best results are “simply exceptional”. “Service is old-school professional” although, perhaps due to the strains of Covid, did not enjoy its customary 5/5 rating this year. Even so, Wiltons remains “a great place for meeting on business” and its pricing is such that it’s best to let the corporate credit card take the strain whenever possible. Top Menu Tips – “the Dover sole is still the best in the capital” and “their lobster thermidor is rich and everything you want in an indulgent food item”. Game is excellent in season and they do a “magnificent bone-in rib served from the trolley”.
8. Bellamy’s British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair 18-18a Bruton Place - W1
“With its quietly thrumming ambience, well-spaced tables and unobtrusive service from staff used to looking after royalty”, this “eternally discreet” brasserie hidden in a cute Mayfair mews is a long-established favourite for a blue-blooded, establishment crowd (and “perfect for doing business in”). Elegantly suited owner, Gavin Rankin, smoothly commands the space – “his team are wonderfully welcoming” and “all this is supported by classic French food, an excellent and keenly priced wine list, and a set lunch menu that’s a bargain (ideal for when Finance put a cap on your entertaining budget)”. Top Menu Tips – “Martinis, oysters and staples like steak tartare are prominent”.
9. Benares Indian restaurant in Mayfair 12a Berkeley Square House, - W1
Sameer Taneja’s “exceptional” cuisine continues to maintain the high standing of this well-known Berkeley Square destination. Despite the odd “unexciting” report, most accounts are of “fabulous” meals from “a menu that’s very spice-led and refined-tasting”. Located on the first floor, its modern design “doesn’t feel too ‘posh Mayfair’ in ambience terms”, with meals here said to be “well-paced” and “refreshing”.
10. The Game Bird British, Traditional restaurant in St James's 16-18 St James’s Place - SW1A
“A hidden gem in the heart of London” – this “discreet” dining room is tucked away in an Edwardian St James’s five star, but well worth discovering nowadays as its “top-of-the-range”, classic British cuisine is going from strength to strength, and its plush, traditional style is suited to many types of occasion including business and romance. In August 2021, Lisa Goodwin-Allen of Northcote in Lancashire (same ownership) was named as the new overseer from afar of the menu here. Perhaps she’s behind the boost in ratings, although there’s been no discernible revolution in its general culinary approach.
11. The Drawing Room at The Dukes Hotel Afternoon tea restaurant in Westminster 35 Saint James's Place - SW1A
“Very peaceful… staff were lovely… we had an extra plate of sandwiches and I chose the mini set of Martini which were totally lush…” – this posh St James’s hotel’s top culinary attraction, according to our survey, is afternoon tea in its very comfortable drawing room or conservatory.
12. Franco’s Italian restaurant in St James's 61 Jermyn St - SW1
“An old classic that always feels fresh” – this spry 75-year-old Italian in St James’s is “very consistent” and provides “a lovely, busy atmosphere” that’s “suited to eating with clients or friends”. That it’s “a bit pricey” is a theme running through most reports on it, though (“very pleasant, but I have a strong sense that many – most? – diners are on expenses… lucky them!”; “…lovely for the deep-pocketed, with traditional fare that’s well done, but at astronomical prices”). Top Tip – “they do a decent line in business breakfast”.
13. Bentley’s Fish & seafood restaurant in Piccadilly 11-15 Swallow St - W1
“A classic for oyster lovers!” – acclaimed Irish chef, Richard Corrigan, continues to be a superb steward of this 106-year-old veteran (established in 1916), cutely tucked away in a side street near Piccadilly Circus, which he has rebuilt over the years into one of the Top 40 destinations in our annual diners’ poll. “For outstanding oysters or fish, you can’t go wrong”, with tips including “cracking fruits de mer” and “simply delicious fish stew”. His “fabulous” and “professional” staff help create a “lovely” atmosphere, although the top ‘craic’ in the ground-floor bar is often tipped over the grander but more sedate upstairs restaurant. (Another excellent option, particularly in summer, is the superb heated outdoor terrace). On the downside, the pricing is somewhat “prohibitive of a frequent visit”, but fans say “despite the expense, a meal here is an all-round package that is predictable in a good way”. Top Menu Tips – “oh-so-tasty options from the specials board” and “ask for more soda bread!!”
14. San Carlo Cicchetti Italian restaurant in Piccadilly 215 Piccadilly - W1
These “slick and professional” Italians (offshoots of the national San Carlo chain) are “buzzy and convenient sorts of places, where you can enjoy an upbeat bite without hanging around too long”. They serve “an extensive menu of small Venetian sharing plates”: “at best they’re excellent” and almost invariably a meal is “good fun”. The best known outlet is steps from Piccadilly Circus – “it might look like a tourist trap in its prime location but it’s a reliable and smartly decorated venue”.
15. Wild Heart Japanese restaurant in Westminster 20 Warwick Street - W1B
“Great name… even better food” say fans of this casual, Japanese-inspired dining experience within a Soho hotel, whose all-day dining possibilities (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea…) were conceived by star chef Garry Hollihead. Too limited feedback as yet, though, for a full rating of its mix of poke bowls, salads, sliders and main plates, complemented by an oriental cocktail list and sake menu.
16. Ginza Japanese restaurant in St James's 15 Bury St - SW1Y
Some “outstanding fine Japanese cooking” is reported at this upmarket St James’s basement, which has been through a number of names and owners in recent times, and re-opened in its current guise in Autumn 2021. It comprises a ground-floor bar, plus 70-seat subterranean dining space, incorporating three six-seat counters for teppanyaki, a robata chef’s table, and a sushi counter. There is still the odd “disappointing” report, but the overall direction of travel here seems promising.
17. Chucs Dover Street Italian restaurant in Mayfair 31 Dover St - W1
“A throwback to old-school dining” – this wittingly old-fashioned chain (created in the last 10 years) channels an imagined La Dolce Vita lifestyle into its “enjoyable if slightly stuffy” mix of chic Italian cafés and restaurants (if you are of a certain age, think 1980s Tatler). They look “pretty” and are “attractive in their own way”: “not bad if a bit overpriced”. That’s the kind view anyway: harsher critics say they “could do better” and “don’t deserve a revisit”. But they must be doing something right, as in July 2021 they opened in St John’s Wood.
18. San Carlo Italian restaurant in St James 2 Regent Street Saint James's - SW1Y
This “sophisticated Italian restaurant” north of Pall Mall, from Sicilian-born Carlo Distefano’s national group, inspires relatively limited feedback despite (because of?) its heart-of-the-West-End location. It’s consistently well-rated, though – fans say it “can always be relied on for business and social meals”.
19. GBR (The Great British Restaurant) at The Dukes Hotel British, Traditional restaurant in 35 St James’s Pl - SW1
“Tucked away in Dukes Hotel, off St James’s Street”, this swish brasserie provides food that’s “remarkably good and relatively inexpensive”. “I have found it more or less empty at lunch-time, so peace and quiet reigns”, but arguably “it deserves better support”. Top Tips – “well-cooked breakfast” and “very reasonably priced set menus”.
20. Seven Park Place French restaurant in St James's 7-8 Park Pl - SW1
“In a part of Mayfair heaving with Michelin stars, William Drabble and his team (operating out of a townhouse hotel) continue to knock it out of the park”, providing a “wonderful and very extravagant time”. “William is always in the kitchen where he belongs, not in the TV studios” and some fans feel he “doesn’t get all the plaudits he deserves” for his “exceptional cuisine, with big bold flavours. Nothing is done only for effect, as every ingredient on a plate serves a purpose. The tasting menu delivers upon this, course after course. Combine all that with knowledgeable and approachable staff and this really is a place to rave about”.
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