Is there such a thing as British food? Other than fish and chips or a greasy spoon, London is a veritable goldmine of British restaurants and has everything you could possibly want from steakhouses to burger joints, historic dining to culinary treasures.
The capital has been flooded with international cuisines so Londoners are truly spoilt for choice. But who could pass up an Eton mess or a treacle tart?
There’s no denying that the burger is an iconic dish. It can be sloppy or sophisticated, depending on your preference, and there are so many variations to tickle your fancy – from veggie to very spicy. Joe Allen, handily located right in the middle of Covent Garden, recently invited some of the world’s best-loved chefs to create their own take on the burger for the first time ever in its 40-year history.
Alternative ingredients included oyster, sticky onion relish and Swaledale chuck mince. Neil Rankin’s Louisiana-inspired Aged beef and oyster po’ boy burger included a scrumptious serving of Buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomato and basil inspired by his recent cookbook “A Table in Venice.” Rankin’s choice to blend the delicate brioche bun with crispy oyster offered a delicious alternative to the classic humble hamburger.
To start or as a side, you must try the crispy fried squid with spring onions, coriander and jalapeño dip, preferably with a refreshing cocktail. “Bottom of the Barrel” was superb yet subtle, filled with all sorts of fruity fresh aromas. Although these experimental burgers are no longer being served at this historical theatre land, keep your eyes peeled for future events and similar guest appearances.
Led by husband and wife Georgie Godik Hayward and Adam Hayward, Bucket is the sort of restaurant that transports you away from the hustle and bustle of the city, an imaginary world that makes you feel like you’re located in a far-flung destination – if only for a brief but sweet moment. The breathtaking decor is light and beachy, a purposeful reminder of the sort of design you stumble upon in Mykonos, Greece.
Interiors and branding are owed to Patsy Godik, who previously oversaw Gaucho’s design, and the sensation of being surrounded by sand and sea in a cosy beach hut works perfectly.
Opting for the taramasalata served with a trio of homemade bread is the best way to wet your appetite, followed by a bucket of calamari, sautéed prawns and a side of some mouth-watering seaweed and cucumber salad. Sharing a generous selection of the small buckets is enough to keep you going, leaving the right amount of room for dessert. Chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream? Check. Smiling all the way home? Check!
Created in partnership with independent hospitality group CH&Co and Historic Palaces, the independent charity that cares for the Tower of London, Sargeant’s Mess promises the quintessential British outing – which is largely due to its incredible historic location.
Signature dishes, including the Atlantic cod and chips with mushy peas and tartare sauce or the whole grilled Cornish plaice with herb butter, are best consumed in the outdoor terrace surrounded by spectacular views of the Thames and Tower Bridge. You also have the option to get cosy in the cafe-deli area, serving takeaway grab-and-go bites for speedier pit-stops.
If you have extra room in your stomach, make sure to try the treacle tart with honeycomb ice cream and the strawberry and vanilla cheesecake which both go down a treat after a hearty British meal and a glass or two of Clef d’argent sauvignon blanc.
If you’re on the lookout for a stripped back, minimalist and dialled down restaurant that concentrates on a refined dining experience, then let Lyle’s be your latest stomping ground. It’s located in the heart of Shoreditch in the Blitz-surviving Tea Building, promising fresh ingredients and seasonal British dishes served as à la carte lunches and set dinners.
The whitewashed walls, enormous Crittal windows and bare concrete floors exude a casual and airy ambiance with a mixture of utilitarianism, transporting you to a Scandi-inspired Pinterest board you’ve probably got saved as a reference point for your future minimalist apartment.
The micro-seasonal menu showcases an array of delicious and unexpected ingredients, including dulse and nettles and herbs like sweet cicely and lovage. Opt for the smoked eel, hispi cabbage and seaweed for lunch, filled with woody and smoky flavours, followed by tingling treats like the vibrant black fig & fig leaf ice cream. Let the waiter know you’re veggie and they’ll bring along an alternative menu offering a selection of nuanced vegetarian dishes – arguably the best of the bunch!
The Clove Club
Love fine dining, decor and design? Then head to The Clove Club for the ultimate haute cuisine experience. Opening in March 2013 thanks to a successful crowdfunding initiative, the restaurant quickly earned a reputation as one of the capital’s hottest restaurants.
Located in Shoreditch Town Hall, the restaurant is named after the former Dalston-based supper club that brought founders Daniel Willis, Isaac McHale and Johnny Smith together. The trio worked with Mango London Architects to achieve an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere. Think whitewashed halls, large bay windows and a lofty ceiling.
Flamed Cornish mackerel and buttermilk fried chicken are some of the many delights that make up the tantalising five-course menu. Some dishes are inspired by McHale’s Scottish roots, so expect traditional treats with a modern twist, including haggis doughnuts made with originality and flair.
Chef’s aside, The Clove Club can be whatever you want it to be – a relaxed rendezvous or an elegant engagement. You decide.
Explore London’s best Japanese restaurants with Citizen Femme’s recommended list