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In determining what constitutes one of the best restaurants in London, there are many factors at play. The ingredients need to be fresh, sustainable, locally-sourced where possible, or unusual. The restaurant’s menu needs to be inspired, mixing myriad international flavours with dashes of artistic creativity. The menu also needs to change seasonally, quarterly, weekly, or even daily, depending on what can be foraged or found at the market. To be one of the top restaurants in London, it also needs to have a hook, a theme, a hidden gem appeal, in addition to the chef’s expert creations. An excellent wine list, an inventive cocktail menu, impeccable and friendly service, and smart, edgy decor are all must-haves for London’s restaurant scene. A no-booking policy is optional, though.
Notting Hill / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
Three brothers grew up on a Sussex farm. One became a farmer, one grew up to be a chef, and the third went into restaurant management. This is the basis of a truly British, farm-to-fork, family restaurant experience, in which everything you eat (and sometimes drink - yes, the farm has its own vineyard) comes from that Sussex farm, from brother to brother. Seasonal dishes are always high on the changing menu. This cosy Notting Hill restaurant is great way to show everyone that you know all the cool places in London.
City of London / Restaurant / Cuisine: Japanese
The fourth and largest restaurant in the Roka family, Roka Aldwych serves contemporary Japanese robatayaki cuisine amongst an earthy designer decor. The dynamics of the restaurant revolve around the centrepiece robata grill, where food is cooked over charcoals for a Japanese-style barbecue. Hear the meat, fish and vegetables sizzle on the grill, and watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen, as you tuck into sushi, sashimi, tempura, tataki and yaki dishes and sip on an exotic cocktail inspired by the Yaeyama Islands.
100 Wardour St Restaurant
Soho / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: European
Residing on the site of legendary Marquee Club, 100 Wardour Street is an eclectic restaurant in Soho. Reaching across two floors, the venue includes a restaurant, a lounge bar and a club, making it the perfect destination for a night out in London. The cosmopolitan menu features highlights such as Catalan-style beef tartar, and fillet of beef with Madeira jus, while the drinks offer focuses on champagne and whisky, without forgetting cocktails. Choose the bar for robata grill and tapas-style sharing plates.
West End / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
With a concept of finding the best foraged food and game native to the UK, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience in the serene surroundings of Neal's Yard, Covent Garden. The menu reads like a best of British cookbook with dishes such as Brixham crab, South Downs venison and baked Brogdale apple. Drinks include a smattering of British beer, cider, wines and sparkling wine as well. A two-course dinner starts from less then £30 per person.
Silk & Grain
City of London / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
Silk & Grain has a fondness for all things aged. There's aged grass-fed Scottish steaks and even aged whisky butter sauces on the food menu, but the stars of the show are their aged cocktails. Find out what happens to a classic Cosmo conditioned for a month in a bottle, a Martini that's done time in a flask, or a Negroni rested in a barrel. Or try one of their original creations with ingredients aged in metal, leather, glass and oak for subtle new flavours and tones.
Clapham / Restaurant / Cuisine: Modern European
Sister venue to The Diary next door, Counter Culture is a teeny tiny laid-back snack bar set around an open kitchen. Seasonal and sustainable ingredients are pickled, cured, fermented and bottled, before being paired with meat, fish, vegetables or something sweeter to create striking little plates full of flavours. Snack on one or two items from the short menu, or order one of everything for a tasting menu-style experience. And there's even the option to BYOB.
Shoreditch / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
This isn't your classic Michelin-starred restaurant. Located in front of Box Park in Shoreditch, Lyle's industrial settings and approachable staff guarantee a relaxed and almost informal dining experience. The no-choice four-course menu changes daily: each beautiful dish is an outstanding example of chef James Lowe's skills, and a celebration of the best of seasonal British ingredients. A top-notch vegetarian alternative is available, or you can come for lunch if you're more an "à-la-carte" type of person.
City of London / Restaurant / Cuisine: Thai
Consistently one of the most popular restaurants in London since opening. Som Saa is situated in a former fabric house in the hip Commercial Street area of the East End. It is primarily a walk-in establishment with limited bookings available for larger groups and lunch visits. Their regional Thai cuisine is famous for being uncompromising in flavour, so expect authentic fiery Thai spices in your meal. They also offer cutting edge Thai cocktails which are ideal for pairing with the food.
Soho / Restaurant / Cuisine: Asian
Offering innovative Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu food not seen elsewhere in London, this great restaurant also has a no reservations policy. It does have a handy text messaging system for when your table is ready. It is handily located on Frith Street amongst a quality selection of bars and cafés. The restaurant serves an enticing selection of hoppers, dosas, rice, roast, kothu and arrack and is widely regarded as one of most exciting dining establishments to have opened in recent years.
Hackney / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
Indulge in a creative array of fabulous little dishes at trendy Legs in East London. Aussie chef Magnum Reid puts together an original menu of sharing plates boasting extravagant but successful flavour combinations. Brunch options are also quite quirky: try the hot smoked salmon pate with fired egg on toast, and you'll never go back to the old eggs royale. Located in Hackney Walk's fashion district, Legs is also an excellent wine bar, serving selected wines from small and independent producers.
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