Unusual Restaurants in London | The Ones That Stand Out From The Crowd
Sometimes – certainly more often than any of your friends would know – you like to indulge your quirky side. And such occasions must be celebrated in a place that’s as strange as we all know you really are.
Fortunately there’s a fair smattering of cool and unusual restaurants in London where you can fully indulge your oddness. Behold a few of our favourites…
An opera-themed, Mediterranean/Turkish restaurant with live music on Drury Lane that offers actual operatic performances by both professional singers and staff alike. If you were to go, it would be for the theatre of it all (and to experience what it feels like to be in a restaurant that’s managed to fit twice as much stuff inside as should be physically possible).
Address: Drury Lane, WC2B 5SU | Book here
Step 1: head to Old Compton Street. Step 2: find the illuminated entrance to a seedy-looking sex shop; an entrance so raw, authentic and unforgiving as to give you no reassurance whatsoever that it’s not exactly what it appears to be. Step 3.
This eccentric yellow building in Peckham is your go-to for all things Persian, minus the cats. Run by a friendly couple, always in high spirits, who go by the names of Mr and Mrs Shopkeeper, the first section is a corner store serving spices, various knick knacks (kebab skewers, teapot warmers, Kurdish house trousers etc.) and sweet and savoury food bits. Hiding on other side of the venue is one of London’s many great vegetarian restaurants, Snackistan, where they whip all that good stuff (the food bits, rather than the trousers) onto heaving platters of mezze that feature Turkish delight, labneh, honey-glazed halloumi, chickpea stew, baked eggplant and even Iranian-imported Cheetos.
The Supermarket of Dreams: a grocer by day, and by night, a sleek, gleaming Japanese izakaya helmed by two of the best sushi chefs in London (Jamie Finol of Sumi and Juan Cardona of Endo at the Rotunda; two ridiculously good sushi restaurants), who slice and dice top-notch cuts of tuna and the rest for a long, candle-lit communal table. This isn’t some food shopping-inspired dream that you’ll wake up from with a bit of drool hanging down your mouth, by the way. It’s actually a real thing in Notting Hill…
Details: 126 Holland Park Ave, W11 4UE | Book here
Bob Bob Ricard City | Bank
The original Bob Bob Ricard in Soho was already one of London’s more unusual restaurants, thanks to its all-booth seating and famous ‘Press for Champagne’ buttons at every table. But the City version one-ups all that, because now those buttons summon Jeroboams and Methuselahs from a Champagne cabin; there are private dining rooms inspired by a royal yacht; and the entire restaurant is suspended, blimp-like, above the foyer of the Cheesegrater building…
Hill & Szrok | Hackney
By day, a butcher’s specialising in rare-breed, low-intervention, directly sourced meat. By night, a butcher’s specialising in rare-breed, low-intervention, directly sourced meat, cooked to perfection and served with lashings of wine.
Address: 60 Broadway Market, London Fields, E8 4QJ | Book here
Spaghetti may be the antithesis of unusual (everyone’s heard of a spag bol, hopefully…), but Oi Spaghetti, a restaurant in Peckham’s Copeland Park named in the pasta’s honour, is located inside a tiny wood shed. Which, assuming that there aren’t any other Italian restaurants in London located inside tiny wood sheds that we’ve forgotten about, makes it pretty unusual. For the record, the spaghetti here – made fresh on the daily and topped with black truffle, chestnut mushrooms and organic avocados, among other local ingredients – is first class. Strangely enough…
Circolo Popolare | Fitzrovia
A cavernous, bombastic Italian restaurant filled with 20,000 bottles of liquor; an overgrown jungle on the ceiling; metre-long pizzas; giant puddings; and cocktails served in boob-shaped mugs.
Turnips isn’t your ordinary fruit and veg stall. At least, as far as we’re aware, morphing at night into one of London’s best restaurants – where underneath the rumble of trains overhead and in the industrial surroundings of Borough Market, the former executive chef at City Social Tomas Lidakevicius whips all the day’s leftover produce into an extremely good looking menu of small plates (that don’t taste half bad either either) – isn’t your ordinary fruit and veg stall. We’re happy to stand corrected on that…
Details: 43 Borough Market, SE1 9AH | Book here
Love this place. That’s an order. A nice pan-Asian menu and one of the most unusual restaurants in London because each course is punctuated by a series of acrobats swinging on hoops from the ceiling, and fire-eating dancers carefully flipping over the wine glasses on your table. The same table you’re likely to be dancing on by the end of the night, you crazy fool.
Address: Endell Street, WC2H 9BA | Book here
A fine dining chef’s table experience hidden behind a fake kebab store front, hidden inside a real kebab restaurant. And if that wasn’t unusual enough for you, every dish is served directly onto a heated dining counter that’s essentially one long, giant plate.
Oslo Court | St. John’s Wood
In many ways, the original Sketch. Heavy salmon pink drapery and elaborate napkins give way to French dishes swimming in brandy, cream, and butter; served by the head waiter who’s been at Oslo Court for three decades – when the rest of the clientele were a sprightly 60.
Address: Prince Albert Road, St John’s Wood, London NW8 7EN | Book here
London Shell Co. | Paddington
A quirky bohemian-styled restaurant on a canal boat that serves fresh seafood, English Champagne and cocktails as the waterways of London glide past your window.
Ekstedt at The Yard | Westminster
Gas? Electricity? What is this? 2023? Ekstedt at The Yard’s is so cutting edge that they’re only cooking with fire and wood. It’s an effective method, shockingly enough, and produces delicious dishes like ember-baked mackerel and pine-smoked monkfish. Probably helps with the energy bill too…
Details: 3-5 Scotland Yard, SW1A 2HW | Book here
Mare Street Market – Dining Room | Hackney
A dining room crammed with glittering chandeliers, mirrors, and the occasional giraffe neck, with food from The Shed‘s Dominik Moldenhauer. Aaand 10,000sq foot of bars, pop ups, florists, record stores and podcast studios surrounding it.
Address: 89-115 Mare Street, E8 4RT | Book here
The Cheese Barge | Paddington
The cheese barge is, well, a cheese barge. If that’s not an unusual restaurant in London, then pretty much nothing is.
Address: Sheldon Square, Paddington, W2 6HY | Book here
A stalwart in the little black book of unusual London restaurants, Sketch combines outlandish interiors with self-playing pianos; Victoria Sponge trolleys; cocktails in a découpage woodland and Michelin starred dining… with egg toilets.
A little gastronomic oasis away from the chaos of Shoreditch, which gains unusual restaurant status by virtue of being hidden behind a garden gate in a wall and largely operating out of an old school bike shed.
Archipelago | Fitzrovia
Unarguably unusual. Archipelago is a moodily-lit, exotic and mysterious restaurant adorned in Buddhas, palms and peacock feathers, serving crocodile, wildebeest, garlic crickets and scorpion.
Address: 53 Cleveland Street, W1T 4JJ | Book here
Dinner by Heston | Knightsbridge
An unusual Michelin-starred restaurant from the notoriously experimental chef Heston Blumenthal, serving a time-travelling menu including a 600 year old starter; something called ‘meat fruit’; and a pudding made with the assistance of a historically accurate pineapple roasting pulley.
Address: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA | Book here | More of the best Knightsbridge restaurants
Barge East | Stratford
Just your typical, run-of-the-mill, restaurant and bar on a 114-year-old Dutch cargo barge, sailed by the founders themselves from Holland to Stratford. Not only is it moored on a particularly scenic spot, there’s a private games room for hire in the captain’s cabin, and the food (internationally inspired small plates) is genuinely some of the best going in London.
Hawksmoor Wood Wharf | Canary Wharf
What’s so unusual – besides the exceptional cooking & service – about a Hawksmoor, you ask? Well you’ll find their latest branch in Canary Wharf – or rather, in the water, next to the docks at Wood Wharf. And it’s huge, with one floor for eating, one floor for drinking, and a private dining room perched above it all…
An Indian restaurant from the team behind Trishna and Gymkhana. Which doesn’t sound like it would make for one of London’s unusual restaurants, save for the the self-pour beer taps; whisky vending machine; pool tables and the personal croupiers that come with hiring a dining room there…
Address: 1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR | Book here
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