Everyone loves a list. So, in the spirit of Gourmet Chick turning one this year and having eaten my way around London over the past two years and the world prior to that the following is my list of what I think are the top ten restaurants in London. Of course such a list is subjective. I can’t pretend to have eaten at every restaurant in London and my taste in restaurants may not be the same as yours. What’s more clearly there are a lot more than ten good restaurants in London.
Bone marrow at St John
In the interests of brevity I have culled down my favourites to this list of ten. I have eaten at each of these restaurants during the past year, sometimes several times and I think they are all good enough to be recommended to you as a London top ten. I am sure lots of you have your own view. Let me know where you think I have gone wrong or which hidden gems (or not so hidden) you think I should explore during the next year of Gourmet Chick. Each summary links back to my more detailed review of the restaurant.
This atmospheric winebar also serves damn fine food. The atmosphere is bustling and lively thanks to the no bookings policy. You will probably have to wait for a table but you can pass the time with a glass or bottle of wine while leaning on the bar. The food is worth the wait: think sea bass and fregola stew or tender char grilled bavette steak with chunky chips. Cost: reasonable.
2. St John
Across the road from Vinoteca is my next top pick, St John’s. An iconic London restaurant my meal here of an entire suckling pig was a revelation. The white walled aesthetic puts the focus firmly on the food which was ahead of its time in celebrating the whole animal. Not a good choice for vegetarians but otherwise St John’s is a must. Cost: Pricey.
Bocca di Lupo opened this year too much acclaim and after a meal there you will be clamouring to join the fan club. This Soho restaurant offers a modern take on Italian food served in small plates. Sit at the chef’s counter and enjoy the theatre of the kitchen while you sample pork and foie gras sausage served with farro or a dessert of cannoli filled with chocolate spotted ricotta. Cost: pricey.
4. Pham Sushi
Pham had to make this list probably as the restaurant that I eat at most often. The restaurant is small and unassuming but the sushi is fantastic. Super fresh with the clean flavour that marks it out as top quality. Those in the know order the crunchy tuna rolls which never fail to disappoint. Cost: Reasonable.
5. The Ledbury
The Ledbury sparkles because of the sheer effort and care that goes into each dish. At this Michelin star restaurant in Notting Hill you will feel like royalty as you are served exquisitely presented amuse bouches. The menu is modern European and on my visit there was an Asian influence to dishes such as lamb roasted in balsamic and served with miso glazed aubergine. Cost: budget breaking (there is a set price lunch menu though).
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know by putting Tayyabs in this list. While technically a Pakistani restaurant this is widely regarded as London’s best Indian restaurant and what’s more it is ridiculously cheap. Service is brisk and the speciality is grilled meat such as the sizzling seek kebabs. Cost: such a bargain my mother would approve.
Just thinking about the food at Ottolenghi makes my eyes gain a far away distant look as I am transported into a world of fresh pomengrates, pistachios, lemon and yoghurt. Everything on offer at Ottolenghi from the salad to the huge, fluffy meringues looks beautiful and tastes even better. My favourite spot in London for a light lunch or a treat to takeaway. Cost: reasonable.
Try to get there early to avoid the queues at this tiny Soho tapas bar. Barrafina is the real deal. You sit perched at a white marble counter savouring cheesy croquettes and slices of sizzling grilled chorizo. In my view, the best tapas in London. Cost: Pricey.
Corn fritters at Lantana
This Australian cafe serves one of the best breakfasts in London because lets face it Aussies know how to make a good breakfast. I freely admit that I am biased in this regard. Think corn fritters with poached eggs and Monmouth coffee made in a gleaming Marzocco espresso machine that churns out consistently brilliant coffee. Cost: Reasonable.
I had to have a gastro pub on this list because I do love a good pub meal. The Bull and Last fits the bill perfectly. Tucked away in Kentish town this is a pub that serves real ale and really good food. The triple cooked chips are without a doubt the best chips in London. They are the perfect accompaniment to classic menu offerings such as roast chicken or battered fish. Cost: Reasonable.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my tips for visitors who have 12 hours in London.