390,000 people work in the City.
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…
Pitt Cue City
When Pitt Cue reopened in the City, it’s fair to say we expected good food. What we didn’t expect was that besides serving up barbecued meat and fish alongside killer cocktails in the main restaurant, it’s also a butchery preparing fresh cuts of meat on the daily, and a brewery pumping out IPA, a Porter, a Bitter and the Bourbon Brown – made with oak chips from the smoker and whiskey from the bar.
Mac & Wild
Since Pizza Pilgrims started calzone-fying mars bars, the Scots have had to come up with a new national cuisine. And you’ll find the best of it at this Scotch pop-up, which not only serves haggis pops, Venison Scotch eggs and Highland fried pheasant, they’ve also got the Burger of the Year 2016 – the Venimoo, a basement whiskey bar and er, game hunting simulators in the gun room. In short, ‘Scot everything you could need.
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 a second branch in the City. 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.
Temple + Sons
Behold Jason Atherton’s temple for foodies: a two-storey grill restaurant serving family-style sharing feasts, with a basement styled like Victorian grocers that transforms into a cocktail bar by night. Here they’re offering carbonated and bottled concoctions, drinks in cartons, and their own home-brewed lager.
…is the noise you’ll make when you look at the bill, but it’s fair enough when you consider the slick retro roof terrace overlooking Broadgate Circle, replete with exclusive food menu, cocktails and flowering cherry blossoms. Inside, meanwhile, there’s more sleek seating and intimate lighting as dim as its sum. Go all out with the Peking Duck topped with caviar, or pop in for one of their exceptional teeny tiny patisseries.
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.
Fancy hitting up vintage pinball machines, sipping on retro cocktails (yes, there’s Snowballs all year round) and sinking into plush 70s seating as you watch the kitchen’s remaining Chicken Kiev counter hit zero? Then this place is for you.
The Polpo restaurants were, for a very long time, kings of the restaurant scene. And while the novelty factor has worn off a little, it doesn’t change the fact that they serve damn fine food. Nor that in this branch, there’s a dedicated Negroni bar.
Sliiiightly pushing the 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.
They do steak. Excellently. That much, you’ll already know. What you might not be aware of, however, is that in this branch they also serve ports by the glass, power bourbon-cornflake breakfast shakes, and a couple of exclusive menu tweaks. All housed within a classy, wood-panelled Gentlemen’s Club-style set-up.
Never was a restaurant less aptly named, for here the eggs are decidedly good, and come lolling about on smashed up burger hash, scrambled in chipotle-spiced breakfast tacos, and nestled on avocado, for those who don’t fancy a coronary with their bottomless mimosas.
If you’re going to serve some of the best Provençal cuisine in London, doing so in a double-height, sunlit dining room with romantic, secluded dining booths shaded by olive trees and fresh lavender isn’t the worst idea. And they’ve thoughtfully popped it on top of Baranis, so you can pop down for a round of pétanque afterwards.
Main image credit: Temple & Sons
Venturing further afield? Check out the best restaurants in Shoreditch and Spitalfields.