South Kensington is, undeniably, home to some of the best museums in London, boasting three of the city’s greatest repositories of artistic, scientific and cultural artefacts, painstakingly curated and collected for Londoners and visitors alike.
And in the spirit of this noble tradition, we’ve painstakingly curated and collected the greatest South Kensington restaurants, so that after finding some food for thought, you won’t be stuck for… well, actual food.
From seafood restaurants with hidden bars to Michelin-starred cuisine in one of the city’s most unusual buildings, South Kensington’s dining scene is evolving more quickly than the specimens of the Natural History Museum. Here’s our pick of the bunch:
Ceru | ££
A warmly lit, spice-scented love letter to Levantine cuisine, serving dishes like honey-spiced chicken wing; zucchini and feta fritters; roasted aubergines with chermoula; and lamb shoulder slow-roasted for five hours in twelve different spices. There’s a selection of striking Levantine wines to wash it all down with, and if you head there for brunch, you’ll find three types of baked eggs to pick from.
Details: 7–9 Bute Street, London SW7 3EY | Open weekdays noon-11pm, Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-10pm
Wright Brothers South Kensington | £££
Upstairs: a cosy, wood-panelled, Belle Epoque-styled seafood restaurant serving roast Dorset crab, grilled wild Argentinian prawns and house-cured smoked salmon. Downstairs: a moody, low-lit cocktail and oyster bar, serving oysters, cocktails, and oyster cocktails, in the case of their trio of bivalve-toting Bloody Maries.
Details: 56 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3DY | Open daily from noon (bar from 5pm Wed-Sat)
Elystan Street | ££££
Only Phil Howard could launch one of London’s most successful restaurants (The Square), run it for 25 years, and hold 2 Michelin Stars there for 17… and still feel like he had “unfinished business” with the London food scene. Luckily, the finishing off of said business takes the form of Elystan Street, a beautiful, subdued Chelsea spot that’s won itself another Michelin Star for the refined, harmonious combinations of seasonal British ingredients.
Details: 43 Elystan Street, SW3 3NT | Open daily
Hawksmoor Knightsbridge | £££
Hawksmoor Knightsbridge is the grand, sixth member of the family, and beside the usual Hawksmoor draws – romantically low lighting, buttery leather banquettes, dictionary-thick steaks – there’s a couple of cosy local touches, too, like the blackboard of daily caviar specials, and football-sized giant Ferrero Rocher for dessert.
Details: 3 Yeoman’s Row, SW3 2AL | Open daily 12-3pm and 5-9.30pm (all day Sundays)
Zuma | ££££
Bestowed delicately upon you by the man behind Roka and Oblix at the Shard, Zuma is a striking Japanese spot that feels like it’s been hewn from one single piece of rock. A smooth granite counter encircles the open kitchen, where highly trained chefs slice up fresh sashimi and toss meat and veg onto the robata grills. It’s theatrical dining at its very finest.
Details: 5 Raphael Street, SW7 1DL | Open for lunch weekdays 12-3pm, weekends 12-3.30pm; dinner Mon-Sat 6-11pm, Sun 6-10.30pm
Claude Bosi at Bibendum | ££££
For years, Bibendum was trapped in the nightmarish cycle of serving food inside a building covered with Michelin branding… without a Michelin star. Enter French chef Claude Bosi, who promptly won the place a spot on the coveted list – with a debut of 2 stars – within the year. Downstairs is a more laid-back seafood restaurant, while upstairs takes on more of the typical fine-dining feel you’d expect – often with price tags that you wouldn’t.
Details: 81 Fulham Road, SW3 6RD | Open for dinner Tues-Sun, lunch Thurs-Sun
Casa Brindisa | ££
The perfect place tapas the time between museums, Casa Brindisa’s homely restaurant has perfected all your typical Spanish dishes like salty Padrón peppers; anchovy toast with black olive tapenade; and clams in sofrito broth – as well as a few less typical ones, like the Irish ribeye in shiitake and brandy sauce. Naturally, there’s sangria, gin & tonics, and plenty of sherry to wash it all down with – in fact, better get the museums done first.
Details: 7-9 Exhibition Road, SW7 2HE | Open weekdays 11am-11.30pm; Sat 10.30am-11.30pm, Sun 11.30am-10.30pm
Rabbit | £££
Turns out Rabbit food is actually delicious. Which is unsurprising, given that the produce is all sourced directly from the family farm and childhood home of Rabbit’s founders, Nutbourne. Expect British seasonal cuisine served in strikingly elegant and inventive ways, plus cocktails in wellington boot-shaped glasses.
Details: 172 Kings Road, SW3 4UP | Open Mon dinner, all day Tues-Sat, and Sunday lunch
Dinings SW3 | £££
Dinings SW3 are all about fusion – specifically, Japanese and Mediterranean cuisines. In practice, that means dishes like fresh sashimi made from fish caught around the British coast; French poussin in teriyaki sauce; seared wagyu beef with porcini ponzu; and seabass with tosazu jelly and fresh truffle. Which is ironic, because you’re unlikely to have mushroom by the end.
Details: Walton House, Lennox Gardens Mews, Walton Street, SW3 2JH | Open for lunch daily 12.30-4pm, dinner weekdays 6-10.30pm, Sat 6-11pm, Sun 6-10pm
Main image: Claude Bosi at Bibendum
Already visited South Kensington’s museums? Peruse our collection of unusual museums in London
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