The Top 10 Restaurants of London
With its eclectic mix of ethnic restaurants, London has been voted as the gourmet capital of the world. The city boasts a long list of some of the best dining establishments in the world. This international boom in food and cuisine culture has been thoroughly embraced by citizens and visitors alike. Some of the restaurants in our top 10 have been selected to represent the ethnically diverse cuisine, though all are all well established, having weathered the vicissitudes of the economic landscape.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsey
With its three Michelin stars, celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant is not what you might expect: it has a plain white exterior and is situated on a quiet Chelsea neighborhood. Restaurant Gordon Ramsey offers modern, “New French” haute cuisine without the fuss and pretensions of luxury hotel restaurants. The Head Chef presents five separate menus, including seasonal, prestige, and vegetarian listings, and demonstrates a nice understanding of modern dining choices. Restaurant Gordon Ramsey presents a classic French approach partnered with a regional focus on the best British meats, fish, and dairies (along with plenty of foie gras). Delicacy and intensity are the watchwords here, as the entrées all offer a strong balance of flavors, while the meal is served with multiple aromatic sauces at tableside. The experience comes with a fitting price tag, which many will agree is worth it as it is one of the very best in gourmet dining in London.
The French are proud of their culinary history, and there are many restaurants that cling to this tradition with some defensiveness. La Gavroche is proud to be French, and proud to offer haute cuisine at top price, along with a firm commitment to matching wine with entreés. The feature menu offers a tumbling cascade of eight courses, including soufflés, salmon, scallops, stone bass, Scottish beef, and various fine and delectable delicacies you could wish for from a French kitchen. All meals are presented with classic visual artistry, rich sauces, and elegant desserts. The a la carte menu also offers an extensive selection of dishes, which shows real courage and mastery where lesser competitors prefer to ‘play it safe’. A sturdy brick façade in the expensive Mayfair district gives you an idea of the restaurant’s gravitas: upmarket locale and top notch command performance for decades.
The Ledbury is a true haute cuisine establishment that presents a menu using mainly local English ingredients. Some might mock the choice to embrace anything that an English farmer puts on the table, but the Ledbury is not put off. Dining at the Ledbury is a pleasure, with its smoked eels, Cornish turbot, grilled cuttlefish, Herdwick lamb, and dessert. The Ledbury does not neglect the classic ingredients, such as foie gras, Iberico pork, and scallops, nor does it shy away from the exotic, with Jerusalem artichokes and pickled wild roses on the menu.
The Hakkasan is a Chinese restaurant that embraces a fusion of western flavors with Chinese techniques. The restaurant is very creative and vigorous, operating with kitchen artistry. At Hakkasan, the notorious sweet and sour pork cliché features Duke of Berkshire meat with pomegranate accents in the sauce, lifting the old dish to new heights. The commitment to gourmet ingredients and fine execution in the kitchen takes the cuisine to an unprecedented level of excellence. The interior of the Hakkasan is quite stylish, with a dark wood décor that contrasts beautifully with cobalt blue lighting. The prices are comparatively high, but the clientele is young, professional and enjoys being seen, an attitude that matches the décor.
Japan has enjoyed a tremendous growth in popularity of its cuisine, as numerous chefs have journeyed to Tokyo and beyond, and then returned with new ideas about food and dining. In London, Umu is arguably a few steps ahead of its Japanese restaurant competitors. A small operation in the western end of Mayfair district, Umu is dedicated to bringing the best of Japanese cuisine to its clientele’s dining experience, and supporting the greater art of entreés. The ambience is inviting and good use has been made of its elegant space, featuring light brown woods, and truly reflecting the light touch of the menu. Umu offers the kaiseki menu, which is a meal designed to be shared by a whole table. The fairly short menu is matched with a long list of sakes and wines.
Tapas dining is a creation of Spanish cuisine, consisting of a full meal presented as a series of small and intense dishes. For the true experience of tapas in London, look to Barrafina, a small and bustling locale in the eastern part of Soho. The restaurant does not accept reservations, and the idea is to order food at the bar’s long counter, enjoying several drinks as you work through your little meals. The social aspect of rubbing elbows and comparing dishes is an important aspect of this establishment, so diners who prefer solitude or romantic isolation should seek other venues. Perfect for dining, drinking and dashing off to one of London’s excellent theaters, Barrafina offers wonderfully inexpensive tapas, filled with intense Spanish seasoning, that can make a filling meal for an amazingly low price.
London is highly regarded as a center for international flavors and cuisine, with the restaurant landscape dotted with numerous Indian restaurants. Amaya provides a remarkable blend of serving styles with classic Indian cooking. Indian food, presented in the style of Spanish tapas, is the highlight of Amaya’s menu, and the dining experience takes place in the midst of beautiful dark granite and modern art. Traditional tandoori baking is featured here, along with lesser known Sigri and Tawa grilling techniques. The menu has no regular dishes listed because the kitchen is constantly updating the offerings, thus keeping things fresh and exciting.
Italian cuisine is creative, passionate and healthy to boot. London, being an eclectic centre of world cuisines, boasts some of the best Italian restaurants in the world. La Ballerina is a a top notch Italian restaurant that presents a retinue of classy Italian dishes. The prices are affordable, allowing the customer to enjoy a hearty meal with some change left in their pocket. The menu is one of the theater/dining partnerships of London, designed to offer the fans of the Royal Opera House a great three-course meal that allows them to eat in time before the next show. There are no pretensions of haute cuisine glory, but the restaurant provides great and tasty meals that fit most palettes.
This is one of the most completely English restaurants in London. Its devotion to the seafood sourced in the United Kingdom is commendable. The menu features numerous fish entreés. The prices are very reasonable, with high levels of customer satisfaction. While not designed as a pub, the beautiful social ease of the typical British pub can be experienced at the Sea Shell, and the location excellent for both visitors and locals. The Sea Shell provides a tasty insight into the grand London dining tradition at a real bargain.
Sometimes, to really enjoy the best in French cuisine, you have to spend a fortune. However, Brasserie Zedel will give you a chance to savour some of the great French cuisines at a reasonable price. It is the creation of Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, and it attempts to bring French cuisine to London’s entertainment districts with style and substance. Coq Au Vin is the house specialty, and the wine list is well matched, and the determination of the establishment to keep prices down makes it one of the best bargains in the city. This may not be haute cuisine, but it is just great French food with great wine. You will enjoy the excellence of Beef Bourguignon without the frills and frippery.
We hope this guide gives you a taster for the restaurant scene in London. You may not agree entirely with our choice, but that is fine. If you were to send out 100 people to list the 10 best restaurants in London, chances are that you will get 100 different answers. Let us know if you feel there should be other restaurants in this top 10.