London’s dining scene is one of the world’s busiest, with restaurants coming and going seemingly in the blink of an eye. Despite the high turnover, though, many make the grade. Here are six terrific restaurants that appear to be in it for the long haul.
Canteen. It’s all posh pies and trendy British classics at this ultra-modern diner in Spitalfield’s finance district. With booths and communal oak tables, a lunch crowd wolfs down pies of chicken and tarragon or steak and kidney. The hearty dishes are coupled with mashed potatoes, greens, or mushy peas, and completed with a treacle tart or Eton Mess (strawberries, meringue and cream). There’s also Coronation chicken, Macaroni cheese, and everything is reasonably priced. 2 Crispin Place, The City, 0845/686-1122. ££
The Table. Close to Borough food market, the Table is the smartest self-service salad bar in town. Help yourself to a spread of Mediterranean-inspired salads, pastas, bakes, and garnishes, laid out on a long table at this first-floor modern canteen in an architects’ office on Southwark Street. Self-service never looked or tasted so good. 83 Southwark St., South Bank, 020/7401-2760. £-££
Arbutus. Award-winning serious cooking at mid-range prices has boosted Arbutus into the winner’s circle of favorite Soho eateries. The £17.50 three-course, pre-theater special is the steal of the year. Chef Anthony Demetre might surprise with Cornish sardines or pork belly carpaccio, and lead off with a Valrhona chocolate soup. All 80 wines are offered in mid-size carafes, a cool way to match different wines with grub. 63-64 Frith St., Soho, 020/7734-4545. £££
Acorn House. London’s top eco-friendly restaurant in resurgent King’s Cross has only been open a few months but it’s already leading the trend toward green dining. All ingredients are seasonal, sustainable, organic, and fair-trade. The water’s purified on site, the packaging is biodegradable, and all waste is recycled. London’s ethical eaters love the concept; they get to choose the size of their portions to help reduce over-consumption. 69 Swinton St., Bloomsbury, 020/7812-1842. £££
Original Lahore Kebab House. London’s best budget curries draw droves to this kebab house in insalubrious Aldgate. It may be BYO, no-frills, and feel like Karachi inside, but — wow! — the Pakistani home-style cooking is brilliant and cheap. Mutton tikka, grilled lamb chops, tarka daal, and karahi chicken are all fiery and super spiced. A meal’s nothing at £15 a head, and knocks spots off anything on offer in nearby Brick Lane’s Curry Mile. 2 Umberston St., The City, 020/7481-9737. £
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. London’s A-listers sit side-by-side at the counter and graze tapas-style at French legend Joël Robuchon’s super seductive outpost. Decked out in plush red and black, counter seating frames the ground-floor open kitchen, creating a spectacle that is pure culinary theatre. Navigate exquisite French tapas — from frog’s legs to veal rib and quail with truffle mash. The £80 six-course tasting menu is a neat way to experience multiple flavors. There’s also a smart cocktail bar, and a sit-down restaurant, La Cuisine, on the first floor. 13-15 West St., Covent Garden. 020/7010-8600. ££££
Lunching in London in the near future? In search of the world’s very best meals? For more recommendations see: