Over the last few decades, London has become celebrated as one of the best dining destinations in the world. Top British and international chefs have flocked to the city to leave their mark on the growing, vibrant restaurant scene. As a result, the capital’s cuisine is as cosmopolitan as the city itself – from diverse foreign cuisine to homemade comfort food and trendy takes on street food. But if there is one thing London gets absolutely right, it is fine dining, complete with top service, haute cuisine, and magnificent, grandiose interiors. Here are some of our favourite fine dining restaurants in London.
1. Apsley's, a Heinz Beck restaurant
Yorkshire rump of lamb, Apsleys
With 2 private dining rooms and 2 wine-tasting rooms, as well as exclusive taster menus to tantalise your taste-buds, the Michelin-starred Apsleys, a Heinz Beck Restaurant at the world-renowned Lanesborough Hotel, offers a sophisticated dining experience with a healthy dose of Italian theatricality. Housed in a Venetian-inspired, Art Deco, glass-roofed dining room flooded with sunlight during the day, the restaurant is transformed into a seductively elegant affair when the lights are dimmed in the evening. Under dramatically shimmering chandeliers, indulge in a menu of spectacular Italian cuisine, complete with edible flower petals, and including the sublime carbonara fagotelli, comprising silky parcels of pasta in a creamy sauce, with morsels of pancetta adding a divinely smoky flavour to the mix.
Please note, The Lanesborough hotel and Apsleys restaurant are closed while undergoing an exciting refurbishment. Check back for the much-anticipated unveiling in the latter quarter of 2014!
2. Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester Book Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
Apple composition, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
The brainchild of chef extraordinaire, Alain Ducasse, who at last count has 21 Michelin stars to his name, this restaurant serves some of the most critically-acclaimed French cuisine in the country. A cornerstone of fine dining in London, and a favourite among celebs like Kate Moss, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester is one of a handful of restaurants boasting 3 coveted Michelin stars – and with good reason. Nonetheless, it is far from starchy and ostentatious: serving haute cuisine with playful presentation, the restaurant is set in the perennially fashionable area of Mayfair, and also boasts a bespoke wine cellar. Try Ducasse’s signature dish: the sauté gourmand of lobster with truffled chicken quenelles and homemade pasta – an aromatic medley of flavours, cooked to perfection.
3. Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley Book Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley
Langoustine with Black Pudding, Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley. Photo credit
Holding 2 prestigious Michelin stars, Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge offers an extraordinary dining experience which combines first-class food with understated glamour and superior service. You will feel like royalty as you feast on delicious, delicate signature dishes by celebrated chef Marcus Wareing. Peruse the weighty wine list, and try the tasting menu, which will take you on a delectable journey of deconstructed dishes. For added dimension, take a seat at the chef’s table and experience an exciting glimpse into the establishment’s bustling kitchen.
4. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Meat fruit, Dinner by Heston
Devised by the celebrity molecular gastronomist chef himself, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is set in the award-winning Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel in Knightsbridge. An unconventional tribute to historical British gastronomy, the menu comprises recipes dating back to the 15th century. For a taste of the quirkiness Blumenthal is famous for, try the controversial meat fruit – a mandarin filled with unexpected creamy chicken liver parfait and served with toast. One of the world’s most celebrated fine dining restaurants, Heston’s restaurant also features a unique spit-roast pulley system, modelled after an original used in the Royal Court.
5. Pollen Street Social
Full English Breakfast, Pollen Street Social
Hosting London’s first-ever dessert bar, Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social is a whimsical gourmet experience from renowned chef Jason Atherton. Try the ‘deconstructed’ full English breakfast (complete with a hay-encased egg and crispy bacon), and indulge your inner child with the signature dessert – ‘PBJ’, a creative remix of the beloved peanut-butter and jam sandwich – which features peanut-butter mousse, cherry jam, and rice puffs. The restaurant also enjoys a private dining room housed entirely in its rustic wine cellar.
6. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Book L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Iberian ham with textures, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
For a London fine dining experience that’s ‘shaken, not stirred’, step into L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. With its lacquered black floors, its sleek Japanese-inspired layout, and the red leather seats, you’ll feel like you’ve just stepped onto a James Bond set. Awarded a Michelin star and 3 AA Rosettes, the restaurant serves French cuisine and a selection of eccentric cocktails, such as the ‘Salt & Vinegar Martini’, which are the perfect debut to a culinary experience like no other. One of the most desirable fine dining restaurants in London, L’Atelier has a dining counter that surrounds the open kitchen on the ground floor, encouraging diners to converse with chefs, and with each other. La Cuisine on the first floor is a more conventional eatery, serving delicious dishes created by the celebrity chef.
7. The Ledbury
Shoulder of lamb, The Ledbury
A culinary success story in trendy Notting Hill, The Ledbury retains the charm and disposition of a neighbourhood restaurant. Serving down-to-earth, modern French cuisine with hints of Pacific and British influence, it is refreshingly free from gimmickry and focuses instead on offering a celebration of bold and sometimes unexpected flavours, offering an authentic fine dining experience without the stiffness so often associated with it. Try the daring and lauded signature dish: tender, flame-grilled mackerel with smoked eel paste in a small cigar, Celtic mustard and shiso, offset by a wheel of cucumber. No wonder The Ledbury has been voted Best Restaurant in London by Zagat, Harden’s and The Sunday Times.
8. sketch: Lecture Room Book sketch - Lecture Room
Amuses bouches, sketch Lecture Room. Photo credit
A veritable pleasure-dome and experiential playhouse set in the old House of Dior in Mayfair, climb the impressive staircase up to sketch: Lecture Room and you’ll feel like you’ve found your way into a painting. An exercise in extravagance, it offers a unique gourmet experience in a deeply theatrical space where fire-colours of gold, burnt orange and decadent reds vie for attention. A delight to the senses, sketch is one of the most unique fine dining restaurants in London. Showered with awards including 5 AA Rosettes, the menus are constructed by 3 Michelin-starred master chef Pierre Gagnaire, and include such innovative sample dishes as cocotte of vegetables with smoked orange peel, and foie gras soup with sarawak pepper.
9. Le Gavroche
Sauté Lobster, Le Gavroche
A London culinary landmark, internationally renowned for excellence, Le Gavroche, opened in 1967, has been serving unabashedly old-school French cuisine through the generations. Experience the celebrated, lighter-than-air ‘Soufflé Suissesse’ – served in a rich, silky cream sauce, accompanied. For decades, people have scrambled for a table at the restaurant, which has become something of a dining institution. Well-loved among food critics, including AA Gill, the Mayfair restaurant led by acclaimed head chef Michael Roux Jr sets the bar for fine dining, offering revolutionary flavours and an extensive wine list.
10. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
Banana Parfait, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Photo credit
One of a handful of establishments awarded 3 Michelin stars, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay exudes elegance with a menu of creative French cuisine, making it an especially popular fine dining restaurant in London. Boasting exceptional service, this Chelsea restaurant uses the finest ingredients to create ground-breaking dishes, along with a top-notch wine list. Led by the highly-acclaimed celebrity chef, notorious for his meticulous attention to detail, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay boasts excellent service and delightful signature dishes, such as the ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon poached in a light, delicate bisque with lemongrass & chervil velouté.