390,000 people work in the City of London.
And 125,000 tonnes of fresh produce are traded through Billingsgate and Smithfield Markets a year.
…Which works out as a pretty decent ratio of 3.12 tonnes per person.
Two facts that led us to strongly suspect that someone, somewhere, that isn’t Pret, is offering high-quality nosh to the people of the Square Mile. And upon closer inspection, it seems there’s quite a few such places.
So here they are, the finest restaurants in the City of London…
THE HOME OF NOSE-TO-TAIL EATING: ST. JOHN, SMITHFIELD
Sliiiightly pushing the geographical boundaries of the City of London, but remaining firmly on the list by virtue of it being one of the most incredible restaurants in London, full stop(.) The former townhouse/smokehouse/greenhouse now plays host to a restaurant that champions the use of offal and unusual cuts of animals – and has received a Michelin star for its troubles.
Address: 26 St. John Street, Smithfield, The City, EC1M 4AY
A CHOPHOUSE LIKE NO OTHER: BLACKLOCK CITY
The City. It’s the best place for bringing home the bacon. A fact clearly not lost on the ex-Hawksmoor trio behind Blacklock, who have brought the bacon right back, by opening the second of their restaurants in the City of London. They’ve set up shop in an old electricity substation that’s been built on the site of a medieval meat market – appropriate given both their chosen fare, and the fact that their Soho branch was founded in a former brothel.
Address: 13 Philpot Lane, Bank, EC3M 1DE
FOUR HUNDRED-PLUS WINES AND ZERO PRETENTIOUSNESS: HUMBLE GRAPE
Scientifically proven to be more delicious than humble pie, this eatery-cum-wine-bar serves light Modern European cuisine designed around their meagre 200-strong cellar. Oh, and the whole complex is set within the atmospheric three-centuries-old vaults of St. Bride’s Church, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Not that they like to brag about it.
Address: 1 St Bride’s Passage, Fleet Street, Central London, EC4Y 8EJ
18 YEARS AND STILL GOING STRONG: MORO
Inspired by a three month journey through Spain, Morocco and the Sahara, husband and wife team Samuel and Samantha Clark decided to open Moro, a relaxed neighbourhood restaurant showcasing all of the exciting Moorish flavours they discovered along the way. It didn’t take long for the queues to start. And they’re still there, 18 years, and two younger sisters later. Which says it all really.
Details: 34-36 Exmouth Market, Farringdon, EC1R 4QE
FRESH PASTA & SPRITZES: LINA STORES CITY
Lina Stores plugs an important gap: amongst the sandwich shops and uber-luxe, client-schmoozing restos of the City, here’s a restaurant to take a date to, catch up with friends, and let your hair down a bit. It’s the third outpost of the fresh pasta specialist, where you’ll also find Italian dishes to share and a beautiful chrome-topped cocktail bar…
Address: 19 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR
15-COURSE SECRET TASTING MENUS: RESTAURANT ST. BARTS
Restaurant St. Barts comes to us from a highly talented team, and it takes you on a literal journey around the restaurant (which overlooks the tranquil cloisters of London’s oldest church) and a slightly more figurative journey across your own palate.
It all starts in their cozy bar where the waiter will give you a small brown envelope containing the menu, leaving it to you as to whether you decide to look or not. Then, you’ll get the first few courses served up to you while you sip cocktails and wine, before they move you into their beautiful Nordic style dining room for at least half a dozen main courses, followed by a couple of desserts, and a lot more wine…
Address: 63 Bartholomew Close, EC1A 7BG
A GRADE II-LISTED FARRINGDON INSTITUTION: THE QUALITY CHOP HOUSE
The Quality Chop House first opened as a working-man’s caff back in 1896 and has stayed as a restaurant of some sort since, meaning it’s been feeding the good folk of Farringdon for over 150 years. The latest incarnation opened up again eight years ago, keeping all of the original features – dark wood pews and a charming black and white chequered floor – but modernising the menu to serve expertly-cooked, seasonally-led Modern British food, alongside a small but well-considered list of New and Old World Wines.
Address: 88-94 Farringdon Road, Farringdon, The City, EC1R 3EA
STEAKS, ON THE WATER: HAWKSMOOR
Hawksmoor’s never been a place to go for ground beef. And now, they’ve one-upped that by opening a floating restaurant. Enjoy all of their trademark dictionary-thick, Ginger Pig-butchered steaks and classic cocktails, in what’s easily the most impressive setting in Canary Wharf.
Address: 1 Water Street, Canary Wharf, E14 5GX
A SWANKY INDIAN, FIT FOR ENTERTAINING: BRIGADIERS
There’s no stopping the Sethi Siblings. With countless Michelin-starred restaurants already under their belt (Trishna; Gymkhana; Hoppers etc.) they’re now trying their hand at Indian BBQ, served-up in a swanky, City-slicker playground with cocktails on tap and a private pool room boasting its own whisky vending machine.
Address: 1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, Bank, The City, EC4N 8AR
TOTAL BLOW-OUT: BOB BOB RICARD CITY
Finally locked down that deal at the business factory? Time to celebrate, City-style: welcome to one of London’s most wonderfully flamboyant restaurants, with polished wood, vintage-styled chandeliers, mirrors and shimmering metal as far as the eye can see. Sibling to the original Bob Bob Ricard in Soho, BBRC follows up with that signature booth seating, those Press for Champagne buttons, a Franco-Russian menu and a cellar full of Armagnac from 1888…
Address: 122 Leadenhall Street, The City, EC3V 4QT
Venturing further afield? Check out the best restaurants in Shoreditch