Dare to dine at one of these four world-class restaurants in London.
‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ was meant to be a one-off event back in 2002 – a cunning stunt for a British restaurant magazine called, uh, Restaurant. But the tantalising promise of industry kudos so gripped the culinary world that it’s been an annual event ever since, which seems a little rich, until you realise that Michelin stars were originally a ruse to sell car tyres. (See our guide to every Michelin-starred restaurant in London.)
In any case, this year four London eateries managed to make the list, with two Shoreditch restaurants among them. So here they are, winners all. (Well, not winners, the top one came 33rd, but sitll.) Dig in!
#33: Clove Club, Old Street
On the one hand, it’s a chill Shoreditch restaurant with simple decor and a casual attitude. On the other hand, there are just two menu choices – a £75 five-course menu or a £110 tasting menu, with an extra £80 for wine pairings – and you’ll get what you’re bloody well given. (You also need to pay in advance, and it’s non-refundable. Controversial perhaps – although they do call it ‘buying tickets’ as a sly way of pointing out this’d be completely standard if you were going to a gig.)
Dishes change all the time (and aren’t specified in advance) but recent sneak peeks include buttermilk fried chicken and pine salt, grouse with elderberry puree, clapshot, bread sauce and green juniper, slow-cooked suckling pig with south Indian spices, and seabass poached in brown butter with cod’s roe emulsion and spinach. Ready to give it a whirl? Visit their website. 380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT.
#38: Lyle’s, Old Street
Even more spartan than Clove Club, Lyle’s does at least deign to tell you what you might be eating before you sit down. A four-course dinner is £59 and tonight’s menu (it changes daily, naturally!) offers heritage tomatoes, horseradish and smoked mackerel; pollack, sea aster and whey; mangalitza, lettuce and anchovy; and summer pudding with vanilla ice cream.
Alternatively, stop by for lunch where you can order your choice of dishes; plates are £10-£20. Find out more on their website. 56 Shoreditch High St, E1 6JJ.
#42: The Ledbury, Notting Hill
We’re getting proper posh here, with two Michelin stars on the board and, gasp, actual tablecloths! For a proper blowout, consider the nine-course tasting menu at £150 a head (or £260 with wine) – fresh hazelnuts, cod caramelised in honey and Herdwick lamb are among the dishes vying your affection.
There’s also a lunch option which is (checks notes) um, also £125, or an a la carte dinner which is (surely not…) also £125. Ah well, time to tap that credit card. It is proper good though! See their website for more. 127 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AQ.
#45: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Knightsbridge
The brain-child of everyone’s favourite space-age mad-scientist telly-chef (though now headed up by Ashley Palmer-Watts), this restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in fancy-pants Knightsbridge has been a destination dining experience for the past seven years.
Dishes are ostensibly inspired by delicacies from British history: the ‘frumenty’ of grilled octopus is ripped straight from a 12th-century recipe, they claim, while the spiced pigeon was allegedly big in the game (excuse the pun) back in 1780. An a la carte dinner here works out just under £100 before drinks and service, and the team are positively forthcoming on the menu and choice front. (The ‘meat fruit’ filled with parfait is the most famous dish, if you’re stuck.) If you want to get really audacious, a nine-course dinner at the chef’s table clocks in at £225. Shame not to, eh? Book on their website. 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA.
Don’t forget the most important meal of the day: our guide to the best breakfasts in London will sort you out.
Also published on Medium.