Home to more than 13 million inhabitants, 300 languages, and 65 Michelin-starred restaurants, London has never had a shortage of adventurous culinary offerings. But with a recent advent of restaurants and bars that span cuisines, neighborhoods, and mixology methods, there’s now more reason than ever to plan a food- and drink-focused field trip across the pond. Here are eight spots to eat and sip well in London now.
East London continues to gain culinary prowess with the opening of Lyle’s, which debuted in the city’s perennially hip Shoreditch quarters earlier this year. The opening reunited St. John restaurant alums James Lowe and John Ogier, and it’s connections like this that continue to fuel Lowe’s culinary approach: His dish ingredients come primarily from farmers and purveyors he’s befriended in his eight years in the business. It’s no surprise, then, that ingredients are spotlighted, inventively tweaked, and often capable of raising eyebrows (think ceps mushrooms and Spenwood cheese).
What to Order: Leave the food selection to the kitchen, which drums up a five-course, daily changing menu that includes seasonally in-tune dishes, such as pumpkin with Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, and fallow deer with celeriac and pickled blackberries.
Craft cocktails slide into grasp in record speed at Hoxton hangout White Lyan, and it makes sense—every single one of them is ready-made. The wait time-diminishing appeal is just one of the reasons bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana and his team adhere solely to house-made products—others include the ability to control every aspect of the drink, from pH and alcohol levels to temperature and mouth feel. Even H20 gets high maintenance: The team filters and remineralizes London’s water to use in their Mr. Lyan spirits, which are also available for retail. After enjoying a bottled cocktail at street level, head downstairs to the dance floor, where another bar serves up pre-batched shots and carbonated alternatives.
What to Order: Get the Beeswax Old Fashioned, with Mr. Lyan Scotch poured from a beeswax-coated bottle, sugar, and bitters.
Kensington and Chelsea locals flock to Clubino, a members-only piano lounge that opened within the Baglioni Hotel a few months ago. Time stands still in the dimly-lit and far-reaching subterranean space, where live entertainment from a rotation of international musicians greets diners as warmly as the host staff itself. Dishes from chef Claudio Milani are rustic, restrained, and reflective of Italian home cooking—an appropriate balance of welcoming and satisfying cuisine that was methodically built for the hours-long social gatherings that Clubino draws.
What to Order: Try the Branzino in Costa di Sale (baked sea bass in salt crust) for two, and the Clubino's Fizz, with Hennessy Fine de Cognac, fresh pineapple juice, strawberry puree, Cointreau, and Lanson White Label Champagne.
The Beefeater Bar at The Beefeater Visitors Centre
This May saw the opening of the Beefeater Distillery Visitors Center and its accompanying bar in Kennington, and this means two things: Locals and visitors alike can learn firsthand about the gin that’s been filling martini glasses since Beefeater’s 1820 launch—and now they get a chance to drink a gin and tonic at its source. After an hourlong guided tour through the history of gin, its botanical makeup, and its copper still production process, guests are greeted with a round of gin and tonics that they can enjoy in the adjacent Beefeater Bar, where chandeliers and Brit-themed décor adorn a space built for post-lesson imbibing.
What to Order: Don't pass up a second round of gin and tonics with—you guessed it—Beefeater.
The team behind Soho’s Michelin-starred Social Eating House and cocktail haven Blind Pig decided to give guests a new view this spring with City Social, a restaurant serving recalibrated British classics on the 24th floor of the City of London’s Tower 42. Head chef Paul Walsh, whose culinary CV spans The Savoy Hotel and Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, collaborated with chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton for the menu—an offering of straightforward dishes featuring high-quality British ingredients.
What to Order: Start with the Pea-lini, a prosecco-forward cocktail with salted pea cordial, spearmint, and Butterfly absinthe, then proceed to the Cornish sea bass, complete with deep fried oysters, cauliflower, and oyster veloute.
Chefs and royals alike can be found dining on any given night at Mayfair’s Gymkhana, the second Michelin-starred venture from chef and owner Karam Sethi. Contemporary Indian dishes, with a focus on tandoori and chatpatta sharing plates, make up Sethi’s menu. The bar follows regional suit: A wide array of Indian spirits, tonics, and mixers are used for the venue’s signature punch recipes. Diners are surrounded by Jaipur-sourced wall lamps, hunting trophies from the Maharaja of Jodhpur, and Indian sports prints, all of which serve as a nod to Indian Gymkhana Clubs, the social meeting spots for high society during the British Raj era.
What to Order: Opt for one of the restaurant’s seasonal curries or biryanis, such as The Wild Muntjac Biryani, with pomegranate, mint and raita.
If the walls of Scarfes Bar could talk, they would be the voice of British artist and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, who created more than 70 original pieces for the Midtown cocktail saloon. The bar program features a wide array of pre-batched and made-to-order libations in addition to more than 200 single malts and a forte for sloe gin—not short of its own house made variety. When guests aren’t viewing or tasting works of art, they’ll be hearing them: A mix of live jazz and cabaret grace the space every night, further adding to the sensory stimulus of this gallery-meets-drinkery.
What to Order: Sip on the Bubble & Shrubs, with Sipsmith Gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, berry shrubs, orange bitters, egg white, and Champagne.
There’s no confusion about what’s on offer upon entering Tramshed, where artist Damien Hearst’s “Cock and Bull”—a colossal glass tank of formaldehyde preserving a Hereford cow and a cockerel—acts as the elevated focal point for the chicken- and beef-centric restaurant. As such, chef Mark Hix looks to serious sources for his proteins: Swainson House Farm for Indian Rock Chicken and Glenarm Estate for Mighty-Marbled Steak, all of which is aged in a Himalayan salt chamber. And while meat governs here, the turf-averse still have a chance for satiation with the modest vegetarian and pescaterian menu section.
What to Order: Get the Yorkshire Pudding with whipped chicken livers or the roast barn-reared Indian Rock chicken with stuffing and chips.
Nicole Schnitzler is a freelance writer who covers travel, food, drink, lifestyle, and culture. When she is not planning her next adventure, she can be found exploring bakeries, record shops, and drink lists in her Brooklyn neighborhood. She is most comfortable with a pen in one hand and a fork in the other. Follow her on Twitter: @write_to_eat