Set over two floors, Bentley's restaurant is an absolute gem, well known for its fish selection and with celebrity chef and Irishman Richard Corrigan at the helm. The chef and owner of Corrigan's Mayfair has brought his passion for fresh, quality produce to Bentley's and created a fun and authentic place to dine. If you have a partiality for the odd oyster this is the best place in town. Enthusiastic diners can have the full works - the ritual with chopped onion and Tabasco, the gentle squelchy slip down the throat and the saltwater aftertaste followed by the obligatory gulp of Guinness that restores your mouth to normality once more. The Oyster Bar downstairs is alive with a vibrant buzz and general joviality. Incidentally, the infectious noise and merriment is pretty much restricted to the Oyster Bar but we think thats the idea. The marble, wood-panelled room is full of rowdy, oyster appreciating folk its a lot of fun. Serene, sophisticated and elegant, the interior is made up of blue and whites, warm wood and Bentley's fish prints. The waiters are in tails and the seating space generous. Up at the Grill there is a good balance between fish and meat dishes. No doubt, folk will also welcome the element of foreign influence visible in parts of the menu. The Singapore crab and mussel soup is a big hit. Many of the dishes flaunt their provenance. If you're resolutely keen to eat only Irish produce, the menu lets you know exactly where your smoked salmon originated from, which is always handy. The whole place has been restored by Corrigan and the menu is his brainchild. However, don't expect to catch a glimpse of him gutting fish in the kitchen. He doesn't work here. A deservedly popular venue.
Best British Restaurants in London
If you have a partiality for the odd oyster Richard Corrigan's fish restaurant Bentley's is an absolute gem.
11-15 Swallow Street, St James's, Mayfair, London, W1B 4DE
Intriguing meat dishes and tempting desserts.
168 Highgate Road, London, NW5 1QS
Tube: Tufnell Park Station
To the south east of Gospel Oak Railway Station, the Bull & Last was opened under the ownership of Freddie Fleming and Ollie Pudney in the summer of 2008. The duo has already built up a following with the Prince of Wales in Putney. At both, the emphasis is on the gastro side of things with food made from quality ingredients and unusual cuts of meat, and you can bet they're on first name terms with the farmer who has hand reared your beef. The hearty menu ranges from intriguing meat dishes including Haunch of Roe Deer and Dedham Vale Steak to a delicate and tasty Beetroot salad, plus a generous range of atypical desserts and cheese options for afters.
Beautifully presented, simple food.
2 Bellevue Road, London, SW17 7EG
Tube: Balham Station
Chef Bruce Poole cites Elizabeth David as one of his major influences, and it really shows. Instead of the elaborate fiddliness that characterises many top restaurants in London, Chez Bruce offers hearty peasant ingredients, tough, exciting textures and superb ingredients. The wine list and the cheese board also speak of a disturbing devotion to perfection. It's the kind of simple but flawless meal you would cook at home, given infinite patience and a bottomless shopping budget. Of course, you don't get a Michelin star without a certain amount of flashiness, and everything on the menu is beautifully presented. But above all, this is a restaurant where texture and flavour reign supreme.
Sweet and sticky patisseries plus meals made from top of the range ingredients.
124 Kensington Church Street, Kensington, London, W8 4BH
You wont find a more salubrious setting than Kensington Church Street where antique shops mingle with designer boutiques, sweet smelling perfumeries and sweet and sticky patisseries. It's no mere coincidence that this pristine setting forms the location for Sally Clarke's acclaimed eatery. A stickler for detail, quality, service and precision, Clarke's high standards are reflected in her restaurants food and atmosphere. Fresh, top of the range, seasonal ingredients, carefully sourced and delicately served, form the key to the restaurants success, while a unique, part-British, part-Californian style cuisine offers diners a refreshing twist for the tastebuds. Originally noted for her bold, no-choice menu, Clarke has over recent years relaxed her approach towards her menu now offering diners a limited choice of well-considered dishes, which she updates daily. Despite this concession, an overriding air of control still pervades the restaurant (especially the kitchen) which runs with exacting attention to detail. Dont arrive too early - the interior may be snug and spruce, but it is small and Clarke much prefers diners to arrive on time so arrivals can be suitably accommodated. Opt for a four-course evening extravaganza complete with cheese and wine (try something from the varied Californian range) or ease into the weekend with one of the restaurants excellent Saturday brunches. Whatever your food fancy, Clarke's will fulfil it without any fuss.
A labour of love between the snail porridge pioneer and his cooking partner Ashley Palmer-Watts.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, Hyde Park, London, SW1X 7LA
Heston Blumenthal's first foray into London opened in February 2011 amid much fanfare - and quite rightly so. Located on the ground floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel in Knightsbridge, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is a labour of love between the snail porridge pioneer and his long-time cooking partner Ashley Palmer-Watts. Offering a new historical take on British recipes, Dinner was labeled a "theatrical tour de force" and "colossal fun" by The Telegraph's restaurant critic Matthew Norman. The playful and adventurous menu offers creative delicacies such as Hay Smoked Mackerel (c.1730), Rice & Flesh (c.1390) - an intense combination of braised calves tail and saffron risotto - and, the piece de resistance, Meat Fruit (c.1500), a smooth chicken liver parfait covered in a savoury orange jelly and moulded in the shape of a mandarin. Mains include a sumptuous Beef Royal (c.1720) which is cooked at an exceedingly low temperature, sous-vide, for 72 hours, while the pudding menu boasts Tipsy Cake (c 1810), a cinnamon-cream-infused brioche served with roast pineapple. It's not just the food itself that is fun: guests are surrounded by all manner of zany contraptions - including a trolley-mounted churning device for making ice-cream and a clockwork pineapple-roasting spit - while 35 chefs are on duty in the open, glass-fronted kitchen. The menu is set to change seasonally four times a year, while there are plans for a private dining room, a kitchen table service and afternoon tea. Heston may not venture down much from the Fat Duck, but this is British refined brasserie cooking at its very best. For more information please visit www.dinnerbyheston.com.
This gastropub goes far above the usual standards.
27 Coldharbour, Docklands, Tower Hamlets, London, E14 9NS
Tube: North Greenwich Station
This 250-year-old pub was a sailor's favourite, home to smugglers and site of secret trysts between Lord Nelson and Emma Hamilton. Closed down by fire three years ago, it has been bought and refurbished by Tom and Ed Martin, proprietors of The White Swan in Fetter Lane and The Well in Clerkenwell. For their third venture they've secured the services of Chef Scott Wade, formerly at Mirabelle, Drones and Thyme. The combination of the Martin brothers' hospitable ethos and Wade's culinary flair has created not just a fine local pub, but one of the better eateries in the Docklands. The Gun boasts an outdoor terrace with commanding views over the Thames, an excellent spot for a pre-dinner drink even on a chilly night like the one we chose to visit. Back in the elegant dining room, the beaming faces of other diners suggested we might be in for a treat. Friendly staff fetched us a drink from the bar and we settled in for what proved to be an excellent meal, far above the standards of a run-of-the-mill gastropub and more akin to a good restaurant meal. Potted duck with chutney and brioche made a delightfully indulgent start, and my dining companion's ballottine of chicken with wild mushrooms, capers and tarragon was unusual and very pleasing. The real kickers came in the main courses. Barnsley lamb chop with roasted garlic mash, cepe duxelles and mint jus was a perfect wintry treat and a lasagne of halibut, smoked salmon, leeks and warm aioli sauce showed the chef could work his magic with fish as well. Already completely over-indulged, we made room for a creme brulee and a chocolate pot to round off a sumptuous feast. The Gun is a lovely pub and the food is something special. We strongly recommend a visit.
Hearty, traditional British food that's ideal for lazy Sundays.
Walham Grove, Fulham, London, SW6 1QR
Tube: Fulham Broadway Station
The Harwood Arms has upped its gastro offering, moving away from being just another West London pub and blossoming into a place where fine food flourishes. The critics seem to agree and the Harwood has steadily built up a collection of awards and accolades, including the first and only London pub to be awarded a Michelin star. From the people who own the highly rated Pot Kiln in Frilsham, the food is along the same best of British lines, think great game and wild produce, much of which is sourced from the nearby Berkshire countryside. Resolutely down to earth, they get the basics just right. Their signature dish, to give an example, is a venison Scotch egg, to be enjoyed as a bar snack, and they serve the best potatoes in London - crushed and fried to perfection. Sunday is a celebration of all things delicious and British, try choosing between roast Wicks Manor pork belly with sweet and sour turnips or the rib of red ruby beef with smoked bone marrow and Yorkshire puds. If you haven't exploded with satisfaction by this point then you must try a bowl of warm rhubarb jam doughnuts with ginger sugar and sour cream.
Steak is the main event at this meaty restaurant.
11 Langley Street, Seven Dials, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9JG
Carnivores will be delighted with the opening of this branch of The Hawksmoor in Covent Garden's Seven Dials. Will Beckett and Huw Gott's British steakhouse and cocktail bar, whose flagship venture in Spitalfields fast became a favourite amongst the capital's meat lovers, gets a West End makeover with this second enterprise on Langley Street which opened in November 2010. The subterranean venue (which seats 128 in the restaurant and 50 in its stylish cocktail bar) is housed in a former brewery and looks slick: Victorian cast iron columns hold up a vaulted ceiling above Manhattan-style exposed brickwork walls and oak panelling; the tables are spruced up casts-offs from old laboratories, while the lower walls are also covered from tiles sourced from London Underground. But it's all about the steak: sourced from the Ginger Pig's Yorkshire farm, some of these succulent slices are aged and hung for a whopping 55 days. Besides the steaks, the Hawksmoor Burger with crunchy beef-dripping chips has legendary status, while the menu also boasts the likes of lamb chops, lobster, ribs, oysters and sausages. There's an express menu for lunch and pre-/post-theatre which includes two courses for £22 or three for £25, while the Hawksmoor Sunday roasts have been championed by the Observer Food Monthly. It's rather expensive, but for steak this good it's money well spent.
Meaty dishes dominate at this highly regarded restaurant.
66-70 Brewer Street, Soho, London, W1F 9UP
Highly regarded British chef Mark Hix has chosen Brewer Street as the location for his second London restaurant, Hix in Soho, where artworks by Tracey Emin and a clubby bar in the basement score points in the hip stakes. Celebrated for his Hix Oyster & Chop House, close to Smithfield Market, Mark is well known for his British dishes perfected at well known eateries Le Caprice and The Ivy. With meaty dishes dominating the menu including a rib steak burger, partridge and even a whole suckling pig on the feast menu; this is a carnivore haven. Vegetarian options are provided however with Bubble 'n' squeak and sprouting broccoli being two of the four options; it doesn't really suggest that they've received the same love and attention as the other dishes.
Michelin-starred restaurant that boasts and ever-changing seasonal menu.
26 St John Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1M 4AY
This gory Michelin-starred restaurant often slips into those "Best 50 restaurants in the World" lists - and it's not hard to see why. Although picky eaters and the squeamish should best avoid St John: the ever-changing seasonal menu boasts delights such as rolled pig spleen, chitterlings (stewed pig intestines), brains, offal, tongue, bone marrow, and the odd little squiggly bits that even a vet wouldn't recognise. Since Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver opened St John in 1994 it has been credited with the creation of a whole Modern British food movement - of the 'nose to tail' type, using all conceivable parts of the animal. But it's not all that outlandish: classics such as roast middlewhite pig, mallard duck, brill, crumbed veal and braised rabbit still feature at the former smokehouse, situated in a Georgian building around the corner from London's Smithfield Market. For a convivial meal, the best thing to is order in advance from the feasting menu, which gives your whole table a single dish to share, like Whole Roast Suckling Pig, or a huge Pigeon, Beef and Trotter Pie. The advance ordering allows them to time their baking and roasting to perfection. They also do a nice line in foraged food, with leaves, dandelions, and wild mushrooms often available on the specials board, and puddings plucked from hedgerows and woods. In fact, they even have some very decent vegetarian options... so long as you don't mind what your carnivorous neighbours are eating.
Reasonably priced high quality food.
12 St George Street, Mayfair, Mayfair, London, W1S 2FB
Tables are hard to come by at Anthony Demetre's Michelin-starred contemporary restaurant, and it's easy to see why. In the reliable hands of head chef Colin Kelly, the food is exceptional, and consistently so, but the afters are where they excel. Desserts are as sweet as the restaurant's name suggests - the ingredient it's named after is put into practice in dishes like the wild honey ice cream with honeycomb. A sticky but not sickly way to follow the belly pork or the mackerel tartar. The narrow oak-panelled room marries the antique formality of a gentleman's club to subtly contemporary design, and it makes for an entirely civilised setting. And, for somewhere this good, in such an exclusive neighbourhood, it's a pleasant surprise to learn that the prices won't leave you smarting (the superb wine list is particularly sensibly priced).
3rd September 2015
IN THIS ARTICLE
Bentley's Oyster Bar and Grill
Bull & Last
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
The Harwood Arms
The Hawksmoor Seven Dials
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