Rupert Hohwieler 02/12/22
The Best Fancy Restaurants in London | Where To Get Your Chequebooks Out…
If you’re looking to drop serious dough on a meal in London…
…you have a wealth of options.
Every celebrity chef and their mother has a fine-dining restaurant in the Capital, usually fitted with the following criteria: Michelin stars; extravagant decor; intricate, ingredient-led menus that read like top-secret intelligence; hard to secure reservations; and an abundance of the two c’s – champagne and caviar. There’s five star hotels, swanky French brasseries, sushi in the clouds and – you guessed it – a tortilla factory.
So, whether you have a special occasion that calls for something above the ordinary or you’re simply the sort who just can’t resist a good splurge, here’s our list of the best fancy restaurants in London for when you’re feeling flush…
Bob Bob Ricard | Soho
At gold and brass-outfitted Soho swank pad Bob Bob Ricard, the clientele treat champagne like table water (there’s a famous button at each booth that you can press to have bubbly magically appear until your wallet can take no more) and the most common item you’ll likely read on the food menu is caviar. Dishes see a random blend of Russian and British, translating to expensively assembled things like steak tartare topped with Siberian Sturgeon caviar; deep-fried oysters with black truffle; a rather ironically-named truffle and champagne humble pie; and a creme brûlée that’s theatrically flambéed at your table by a waiter in a pink-lapelled suit.
Note: Meet it’s sister restaurant Bob Bob Ricard City which is more French-leaning, but still has the famed champagne buttons.
Details: 1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF | Book here
Claude Bosi at Bibendum | Chelsea
The ritzy Kensington restaurant known as Claude Bosi at Bibendum (also known as the old Michelin HQ, and one of the best Michelin star restaurants in London) must be thanking its lucky stars that the legendary French chef decided to move in back in 2017, immediately winning two of the suckers for his fancy French dining. Today the running theme is still finely-detailed amuse bouches, an oyster bar, and a vintage carvery trolley, all of which you can enjoy under the approving eye of the Michelin Man, who dons the design of the surrounding stained glass windows with an appropriately large cigar in his hand.
Details: Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, SW3 6RD | Book here
Sucre | Oxford Circus
Sucre sports the kind of imposing interior that requires a minute or two to gawp before even thinking about what to eat or drink. It’s set inside the striking 310-year-old building that used to be the London College of Music where marble columns line the walls and chandeliers (made from a thousand cut-glass decanters) dangle from the ceilings. Once you do reach the menus, you’ll find food scorched over an open charcoal fire-pit by Argentinian supremo chef Fernando Trocca, while Renato “Tato” Giovannoni deals with the drinks. He’s also the owner of Florería Atlántico in Buenos Aires (which has the minor distinction of being the current 5th best bar in the world), so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s doing…
Details: 47 Great Marlborough Street, W1F 7JP | Book here
Maison Francois | St James
Maison Francois’ founder Matthew Ryle carries the clout of being a finalist on MasterChef 2018, following which he set up this classy French brasserie in St James (as it happens, it’s also one of the best restaurants in St James’s). It’s a terracotta-toned and natural wood-accented affair that runs the gamut of all your buttered-up Gallic greats like pâté en croûte, celeriac remoulade and hanger steak with pomme frites. Pace yourself in anticipation for the grand finale at the end – a dessert trolley teeming with eclairs, truffles and approximately twenty other tempting pastries which you might or might not know considering the whole menu is in, well, French…
Details: 34 Duke Street, St James’s, SW1Y 6DF | Book here
Sessions Arts Club | Clerkenwell
Sessions Art Club – a grade II listed ex-courthouse – is a place that you could pop into just on the basis of taking a few neat pics for the ‘gram, as not only is it one of the best fancy restaurants in London, it’s also insanely good looking. Although… that wouldn’t quite be doing it justice. While the space is certainly swoon-worthy (it looks like it’s been pulled from a dreamy Italian indie film, with peeled-back, pastel-shaded plaster walls and arched windows, filling the space with streams of sunlight), the food isn’t here to play second fiddle. Polpetto’s Florence Knight is the unstoppable force behind the menu, sticking to a ‘three-to-four central ingredients’ rule, whilst also keeping things fresh, changing the menu almost weekly.
Details: The Old Sessions House, 22 Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0NA | Book here
Kutir | Chelsea
Sitting on the opposite side of the spectrum to your cheap takeaway curry shops is Kutir, a fine-dining Indian temple (and one of the best Indian restaurants in London) tucked away on a discrete stretch of Chelsea, decorated with parquet flooring and pale olive walls. The man in charge Rohit Ghai has the distinction of being the first Indian chef to bag a Michelin star in under a year and with Kutir, he touches on the early days of his career cheffing in fancy hotels within Indian wildlife sanctuaries and the free-for-all feasts that were a regular occurrence there. Picture visually stunning dishes in the vein of prawn masala, guinea fowl biryani, quail naans and saffron and green cardamom tarts.
Details: 10 Lincoln Street, Chelsea, SW3 2TS | Book here
KOL | Marylebone
KOL’s founder Santiago Lastra was headhunted to run the show at the Mexican iteration of Noma. No biggie, right? Once he said his goodbyes to that project, he hopped over here to open one of the most fancy restaurants in London, his wildly-anticipated solo debut (complete with its own tortilla factory, we might add). The dishes, which are all pretty big on wow-factor – things like the smoked chilli langoustine tacos, grilled octopus with bone marrow and the confit pork cheek carnitas – are Mexican in character, but brim with British personality thanks to a solid chunk of the ingredients being sourced from the UK. If you want to see the restaurant in full flight, book in the Kol chef’s table experience which plops you into the development kitchen where all the magic happens.
Details: 9 Seymour Street, Marylebone, W1H 5BT | Book here
Aqua Shard | London Bridge
At Aqua Shard (also our favourite of The Shard restaurants) you can enjoy the high life quite literally thanks to its location 31 stories up. With that, the chance to see the London skyline from all angles is definitely a big selling point but, aside from the dizzying views, you can also enjoy dappered-up British mains (think Cornish red mullet with bay leaf butter sauce) and elaborately crafted cocktails at a rather breath-taking central bar.
Details: 31st Floor, The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street, SE1 9RY | Book here
Roka | Various
If Roka had its own dictionary you wouldn’t find ‘thrifty’ or ‘tight’ in there. It’s a destination to loosen your purse strings. There are four of these fancy restaurants in London and each one is as swish as the next. Chefs who are scarily skilled with knives churn out luxury-laden nigiri and maki rolls at rapid pace or dazzle the well-heeled diners from open kitchens with their robata-grilling theatrics. The bottomless brunch (one of the best bottomless brunches in London) exclusive to the Canary Wharf and Aldwych branches (including welcome bellinis, free-flow wine and a small plates buffet) is also a beautifully excessive experience.
Details: Locations around town | Book here
The Ritz Restaurant | Piccadilly Circus
The Ritz Restaurant is in a league of its own when it comes to supremely fancy restaurants in London: the hotel invented the word ritzy and its majestic Louis XVI- furnished dining room is widely-regarded as the most spectacular in the world. Exec Chef John Williams MBE has the tough act in following the setting, tending to a menu of fetching Michelin-starred French and British accented food (Cornish turbot with Oscietra caviar, beef wellington, Suffolk lamb, apricot soufflé… those sorts of things) that you almost feel bad eating… almost. For a true lap of luxury, score a table on a weekend evening when entertainment (like live professional dancing and piano performances) takes place.
Details: The Ritz Hotel, 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR | Book here
Berners Tavern | Tottenham Court Road
Calling it a ‘tavern’ is where the modesty starts and ends at Berners. Berners Tavern is the all-day restaurant part of London’s Edition Hotel with a grand ol’ dining-room dominated by a gilded chandelier centrepiece and chic, gold-framed artwork that fill every inch of the coffee-coloured walls. They love a trolley here (the champagne one will be wheeled past you more than a dozen times) and the dishes themselves are all worth stumping up the cash for – like grass-fed Scottish steaks and the richest (in more ways than one) mac & cheese you’ll ever eat, fancified with braised beef blade and poached lobster.
Details: The London Edition Hotel, 10 Berners Street, W1T 3LF | Book here
Hélène Darroze at The Connaught | Mayfair
An all-conquering superstar chef at the helm? Check. Extremely detailed and exquisitely presented food? Check. An interior that’ll have you fumbling over your phone to snap pics of? Check. How about those Michelin stars then, huh? Check, check, check. You’ll also be getting the chequebook out at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, but it’s basically the full package when you want to empty your bank account on a meal. We had the privilege of touching base with Darroze earlier on in the year to see what makes it all tick – you can read our interview with her here.
Details: The Connaught Hotel, Carlos Place, W1K 2AL | Book here
Dinner by Heston | Knightsbridge
Culinary wizard Heston Blumenthal and partner in crime/protégé Ashley-Palmer Watts delved deep into the archives and logged long hours in the British Library to conceptualise the ambitious history-inspired menu at Dinner – Blumenthal’s only restaurant in London. Found in Hyde Park’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, it’s a throwback to simpler times (going back to the 14th century) with re-imagined dishes from early eras given Heston’s signature science-y stamp such as the Meat Fruit; a mandarin made of chicken liver parfait.
Details: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA | Book here
Core by Clare Smyth | Kensington
Clare Smyth’s claim to fame was running the show at Restaurant Gordan Ramsay while it went on to win three Michelin stars (becoming the first woman in the UK to do so) and at her own restaurant, situated at the peak of Portobello Market in Notting Hill – her first time flying solo – she’s only gone and done it again. Seasonality and sustainability play key roles in envelope-pushing dishes like Herwick lamb with sheep’s curd and Charlotte potato with herring and trout roe (a cheeky nod to her Northern Irish heritage) and while the atmosphere leans more towards casual sophistication than stiff fine-dining – it’s still one of the most fancy restaurants in London (as evidenced by the footstools they put out for you to rest your handbags on).
Note: If you have £2,000 lying around, the chef’s table is a true once-in-a-lifetime dining experience.
Details: 92 Kensington Park Road, W11 2PN | Book here
Zuma | Knightsbridge
Unless you’re in with the ballers (big wig business folk, celebs, models or the odd footballer) that make up this glam Japanese restaurant’s regular customer base, convincing your pals to dine at Zuma with you may take a bit of persuasion – as it’s noooot cheap (that’s where the old birthday comes in handy). It’s an exercise in extravagance where you can make yourself comfortable at a giant granite counter-bar and watch chef’s scorch, slice and dice nothing but the best of the best from the sea (plus a mix of meats from the robata grill). They also take great pride in their 40-plus sake collection, which are implemented into first-class cocktails. Definitely get acquainted with those, it’s a special occasion after all…
Details: 5 Raphael Street, SW7 1DL | Book here
Endo at the Rotunda | Shepherd’s Bush
Endo at the Rotunda – Endo Kazutoshi’s one-Michelin-starred sushi sanctuary on the 8th floor of the old BBC television centre – is an impressive specimen. He’s a third-generation sushi chef (sorry, *master*) who scours the country and beyond (the water for the rice is obtained from Fukuoka) to get the absolute premium ingredients. He personally presents the dishes to you omakase-style (If you’re looking for where to order to omakase in London and have a bit of disposable income, come here) on a gleaming ten-seater counter-table carved from 200-year-old Hinoki wood, a swish cloud-shaped light installation hangs from above, and with a floor-to-ceiling view of White City to top it all off. And wait until you get to the food: fatty otoro tuna, langoustine nigiri, cornish spider crab and scallops dressed in 7-month aged caviar to name a few…
Details: White City House Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, W12 7FR | Book here (warning: there’s a bit of waiting list…)
Aqua Kyoto | Oxford Circus
At Aqua Kyoto, be prepared to splash out. It’s the sort of the spot where everyone and everything is dressed to impress: from the high rollers who go, to the food itself (read: Scottish salmon and Orkney scallop maki clad in smoked daikon and beetroot caviar, and gyozas stuffed with fancy fillings like Iberico pork and black cod). Outside of the opulent red-tinted dining area there’s also a rooftop terrace that peeks over Regent Street, where you can clink glasses of Veuve Clicquot while grooving to house sounds from their resident DJs.
Details: 5th Floor, 240 Regent Street, (entrance on 30 Argyll Street), W1B 3BR | Book here
Norma | Fitzrovia
A trip to Norma is how you’d picture your perfect summer’s evening in Sicily to be – just minus the nice Southern Italian weather. It’s set inside the soft glow of a three-storey Georgian townhouse in Fitzrovia – all geometric tiling and suave ochre-shaded booth seating – and comes from the Stafford Hotel people (where Game Bird resides). Naturally, they do a very tidy line in antipasti and pastas (special shout out to the crab linguine served inside a Cornish crab shell), but it’s the crudo bar on the ground floor that nails the first impression. Fresh plaice, bright red prawns and cherrystone clams are all at your mercy…
Details: 8 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 2LS | Book here
HIDE | Mayfair
Despite its name, HIDE hasn’t done the best job of staying out of the spotlight. It has, however, done a faultless job on everything else. Within a year of opening it got the Michelin star pressure off it’s shoulders (promptly winning one) and its three wood-heavy levels – tied together through a treeish spiral staircase – heave with diners looking to splurge on mightily impressive dishes from owner/wunderchef Ollie Dubbous and his trend-setting team; anything from croissants caked in bird sap to chalk stream trout cooked over charcoal and Cornish monkfish with sweetcorn. The neverending wine list is one to get lost in too, up there with the largest in the world thanks to their partnership with Hedonism Wines.
Details: 85 Piccadilly, W1J 7NB | Book here
You know what pairs well with one of London’s most fancy restaurants? One the best rooftop bars in London.
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