British, Modern Restaurants in St James's
1. 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”.
2. Ormer Mayfair by Sofian, Flemings Mayfair Hotel British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair 7-12 Half Moon Street - W1
“A choice of four 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. 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.
4. 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”.
5. 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.
6. 45 Jermyn St. British, Modern restaurant in 45 Jermyn Street - SW1Y
Fortnum & Mason’s “luxurious” and “cosseting” restaurant (with its own street entrance) makes “a top central destination at any time! – for breakfast, coffee, lunch, tea, dinner or for drinks” (as the bar does “superb cocktails”). “With its many booths, alcoves and corners, it’s the ideal place to meet someone” (particularly on business), and “discreet staff will ensure your liaison goes swimmingly”. Less kind reports feel “there’s nothing to distinguish the inoffensive upmarket international food”, but harsher critiques are absent. Top Menu Tip – “Be sure to try the caviar – served from a trolley”. And, for breakfast, this is “an excellent alternative to the nearby Wolseley as it’s much less frenetic” and available “with rare-breed eggs, caviar, winter or white truffles in season”.
7. Quaglino’s British, Modern restaurant in St James's 16 Bury St - SW1
As one of the late Sir Terence Conran’s landmark openings, this big D&D London basement bar/brasserie in St James’s was the talk of the town back in the 1990s, complete with racily dressed cigarette girl, and signature ‘Q’ ashtrays (a collectible selling for £70 online nowadays). Increasingly left to tourists and business-accounters, it still has fans for whom it’s “exceptional all-round”, but the proportion of disappointments over the years often hinders a more whole-hearted endorsement.
8. Locket's British, Modern restaurant in St James's 25 St James's Street - SW1A
2021 Review: The owners of Wilton’s and Franco’s launched this third establishment in November 2019 (bringing their average opening rate up to almost one restaurant a century!). It’s a casual, all-day café and evening wine bar in the now re-named, wackily 1960s former Economist Plaza in St James’s.
9. Amethyst British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair 6 Sackville Street - W1S
Carlo Scotto, formerly of short-lived but excellent Xier (RIP), is the chef at this highly ambitious and heavily trailed Mayfair newcomer, which opened in May 2022 (too late for survey feedback) about nine months later than originally announced. It occupies a dramatic two-floor site near Green Park tube, where the main action surrounds a striking, zig-zag chef’s table on the ground floor seating 20 around an amethyst and quartz centrepiece, in view of the open kitchen. The 12-course tasting menu (£150) incorporates Nordic, Japanese, French and Arabic influences and one early fan was The Times’s Giles Coren, who – awarding it 27/30 – noted the meal’s “delicacy and dedication to detail”, with every dish “belaboured intensively at the pass by Mr Scotto”. In the ‘Wine Cellar’ basement seating 16, there’s also the option of a six-course menu.
10. The Keeper's House, Royal Academy British, Modern restaurant in Piccadilly Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, - W1
2021 Review: In the bowels of the RA, this subterranean venue (with bar, garden and dining room) is praised by fans for providing “reliable food in a civilised space”. Typically for Peyton & Byrne though, it doesn’t impress everyone, with the odd report of some “terrible” dishes.
11. The Wolseley British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair 160 Piccadilly - W1
“The sheer style of the room” helps create an “unbeatable buzz” at this “very classy and smartly located” Continental Grand Café by The Ritz, which has, for nearly 20 years, established itself as London’s premier venue for a “reliably impressive” business occasion; and as “the absolute go-to for a totally unrivalled breakfast” (“a cliché, but really it is the best place to enjoy eggs Benedict in London”). And “afternoon tea is excellent too, with a good choice of sandwiches and cakes.” Established by Christopher Corbin and Jeremy King in 2003 in an erstwhile Edwardian car showroom (which provided the restaurant’s name), it has perennially been “the permanent buzz not the average food that’s created the magic of the place”. The “simple comfort fare at West End prices” has often rated poorly next to the “sparkling” atmosphere and “star-studded people watching” carefully cultivated by its well-connected founders. So “whether the place will survive the recent departure of those same founders remains to be seen”. A shareholder battle post-Covid saw Corbin & King edged out by their financial backers, the Thai Minor group, and many reporters fear “a ravens-leaving-the-tower moment” (“fingers crossed they don’t let the money-men spoil this…”; “it’s wait-and-see time…”; “if they ruin it, we will revolt…”). The schism happened in April 2022, immediately prior to our survey, and ratings this year are significantly down across the board. It could be that Brexit-induced staffing shortages bear some of the blame, but already some reporters fear the reason is clear: “it’s lost its soul now Jeremy and Chris have been ousted”.
12. Stork Restaurant British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair 13-14 Cork Street - W1S
2022 Review: When it opened in April 2019, this heart-of-Mayfair restaurant aimed for a blend of British Modern cuisine with accents of West Africa, but nowadays a more confident Pan-African narrative is dominant, both in the styling and cooking. No survey reports as yet; online feedback has its ups and downs, but – for anyone interested in African cuisine – this is London’s most poshly located destination.
13. Charlie's at Brown’s British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair Brown’s Hotel, Albemarle Street - W1S
“Jesus has worked another miracle” at this Mayfair landmark: the Jesus in question being Jesus Adorno, former maître d’ of Le Caprice, who joined in September 2021. It was an inspired appointment, and with his “quite exceptional” team he has helped further raise the game of this “beautiful” Mayfair dining room, where Adam Byatt (of Trinity) and his head chef Matthew Stirling have, since 2019, been brought on board to provide a “lovely” seasonal British menu of upscale brasserie fare. Despite its “well-spaced” tables and fine wood panelling, the venue has never in recent decades fully capitalised on its virtues as one of London’s better traditional hotel dining spaces. That time is now!
14. Fallow St James's British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair 2 St James’s Market - SW1Y
“Love the vibey new location even though it’s big” – in late 2021, Jack Croft and Will Murray moved from 10 Heddon Street (where their original 12 weeks residency lasted over a year) to this “stylish” new 150-cover site in St James’s, incorporating a bar, terrace and chef’s counter. One or two diners dismiss the new version as “nothing special”, but most accounts are full-on raves for the sharing-styles plates, originating from the UK and their Esher smallholding: “this has to be future of restaurants – sensational food, sustainably sourced, creatively used… magic!”
15. Park Row British, Modern restaurant in Soho 77 Brewer Street - W1F
“A wonderful themed entrance, through a bookcase in a library and down dark, futuristic stairs” sets an appropriate scene at this Marvel-themed basement (in association with Warner Bros), just off Piccadilly Circus. “The décor of the restaurant itself, though, contains rather less fantasy… without the entrance you might not even guess the Marvel-connection… it feels more jazz-age New York or an ocean liner”. (“Contrary to my impression from the website, it is essentially one big room containing most of the different restaurants and bars, although the differences between them are subtle.”) “The food is a mixed bag”: some items are “excellent”, but “despite the talented chef, other dishes are overpriced or subpar”. Overall, though, leaving aside the cartoonish prices, everyone accepts that there is some serious culinary endeavour going on here. And such feedback that we have on the most expensive option (the exotic tasting menu in the separate ‘Monarch Theatre’ experience) says it’s “exceptional”.
16. Wild Honey St James British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair Sofitel, 8 Pall Mall - SW1Y
“Perfect, joyous French cooking with pitch-perfect flavours” inspires fans of Anthony Demetre’s well-regarded venture, which he moved here from Mayfair pre-Covid. The very “spacious” and “tasteful” dining room and its superb position – just off Trafalgar Square, but away from the madding crowds – makes it an excellent business choice (or pre/post-theatre). In terms of value, many diners tip any set options here over the à la carte.
17. Langan’s Brasserie British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair Stratton Street - W1
“Not the old Langans by any means” – the relaunch in late 2021 of this treasured old-faithful brasserie (est. 1976) near The Ritz has proved “a little mixed” to say the least, and a return to its A-list past now seems a very distant prospect. One or two fans do “love the entire experience” of this business favourite and its plutocratic comfort food. But more common are those whose “excitement turned to huge disappointment in the face of abysmal service and astronomical prices” for staple dishes, to the extent that some diners loath the place: “arguably the most overrated restaurant in central London, made clear by all the Z-list celebrities I assume they get to dine for free…” – “should be rated zero zero zero!”
18. Ham Yard Restaurant, Ham Yard Hotel British, Modern restaurant in Soho 1 Ham Yd - W1
“A quiet haven tucked away near Piccadilly Circus” – in summer, the outside courtyard is so peaceful it’s hard to believe just how central you are. “A lovely afternoon tea at sensible prices” is the top culinary attraction here. At other times, the “stylish” setting is “conducive to a relaxed meal” but its “bistro-style fare” is a case of “nothing to criticise, but with vastly better places in easy reach”.
19. Above at HIDE British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair 85 Piccadilly - W1J
“There can be fewer better outlooks in London than the view over Green Park from the first-floor windows” of this beautifully appointed, modern Mayfair dining room. Overseen by Ollie Dabbous, the kitchen achieves “phenomenal flavour combinations and presentation” and “exceptional” overall results (“one of my best meals in London, maybe in life…”). And the “extraordinary wine list” is perhaps even more impressive: you can order any vintage from the acclaimed list sold by Hedonism Wines (who are under the same ownership), “or you can opt for the unusual and interesting wine pairings”. But “any temptation to choose a nice bottle can be financially crippling!” – “when the final bill comes, it’s a good job that you’re already sitting down…”.
20. Farzi Cafe Indian restaurant in Westminster 8 Haymarket - SW1Y
2021 Review: In the heart of the West End, this decidedly glam yearling scored better in our survey than the mixed rep it received in press reviews. The first UK outpost of a 30-strong international chain hailing from India and the Gulf, its repertoire of tapas-y offerings are very much of the funky, evolved school of Indian cuisine, and reporters salivate over “an amazing choice of inventive dishes” that are “far better than you would expect” in this touristy locale.
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