Esteemed designer, feminist and Londoner Vivienne Westwood once said, “There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.” And we have to say, we agree with her, especially when it comes to the city’s dining scene.
This colourful, bustling, ever-changing metropolis is bursting with enough unique people and places to entertain you for years. But, arguably, the jewel in the centre of London’s bright lights is the capital’s expansive food offering.
They say the kitchen is at the heart of the home and, for many Londoners’, exploring and socialising in the city they call home is best done by going for dinner. It’s easy to see why; every week there’s a new pop-up food market, immersive dining experience, supper club or concept restaurant opening.
West End Musical Brunch
The Murdér Express
This glittering gem in the crown of Mayfair is known, yes, for its delicious food, expert cocktail menu and decadent atmosphere, but also for its outrageous cabaret shows. Walk down the spiral staircase and you’ll find Club Chinois, where all of the magic happens.
Here romanticism, comedy, sensuality and music reign supreme, thanks to the start of a new show, which transports guests back to 1930s Shanghai in all its splendour. From acrobatic performances to risqué routines, the talented dancers will entertain your socks off.
The menu sounds pretty delicious too, with highlights that include soft shell crab, tea smoked beef ribs, grilled black cod and an intriguing truffle Old Fashioned.
Address: 17 Berkeley St, London W1J 8EA
Dine in a library at The Ned
Library Bar is the, wait for it, 17th bar to newly open at The Ned. This cosy nook is tucked away, just for hotel guests and members, behind a sweeping jacquard curtain, with all the old-world charm you could dream of.
Unlike the rest of this bustling establishment, which resembles a party from The Great Gatsby, Library Bar feels like a best-kept secret. The limited seating creates an exclusive feel and the dark wood features, combined with carefully selected props, conjure speak-easy vibes without the faff or gimmicks.
Think the freshest of oysters, specialist champagne and a martini trolley. Talk about living the high life!
Please note: Library Bar is temporarily closed and due to re-open later in the year.
Address: 27 Poultry, London EC2R 8AJ
If you’ve got a pal visiting from out of town and you’re looking to impress, Sketch is the place to take them. This café, restaurant, bar and afternoon tea venue is the height of uniqueness. Nestled on a side street in central London, this unassuming townhouse’s façade gives nothing away on at first.
But stepping inside is like falling down the rabbit hole. Push aside a thick, velvet curtain and you’ll see the outline of a hopscotch on the floor (feel free to practise your playground skills), neon signs interspersed with avant-garde artworks on the walls and utterly over-the-top furniture. There are three main rooms (and an extra, secret one only available on special request), each serving up different menus in a themed setting.
You can gorge on pastries and tea in the Glade room, which is carpeted with a dense, moss-like fabric to replicate the feeling of adventuring into a woodland. Or, in the completely millennial pink Gallery, treat yourself to afternoon tea featuring caviar and quails eggs and served in ‘drink me’ cups. That’s all we’re giving away for now, you’ll just have to explore it for yourself to know more…
Address: 9 Conduit St, London W1S 2XG
Mare Street Market
If you like your brunch, lunch and dinner served up in an achingly cool industrial space curated by some of Hackney’s creatives, Mare Street Market will undoubtedly be a hit.
The old, “drab” job centre (as founder, producer and pub owner Marc Francis-Baum describes it), has been completely reinvented as a meeting of creativity, food and commerce all under one roof.
The market is open every day from 8am ‘til late’. This means locals can pop in for an artisan coffee on their way to work, browse the Pinterest-worthy florist and shop for vinyl records as well as enjoying pizzas, rotisserie chicken, straw fries and cocktails when the sun goes down (or before, depending on how you roll).
Address: 117 Mare St, London E8 4RU
Dine on the canal with London Shell Company
Worlds away from the over-subscribed tourist trap cruises that rattle along the Thames, the London Shell Company offers a quaint, specialist dining experience with beautiful views of Regent’s Canal.
Brother and sister team Harry and Leah Lobek run the two-hour canal cruises which specialise in five-course menus of the finest seafood Britain has to offer. From Wednesday to Saturday, you can climb aboard the Prince Regent at 6.00pm for a 7.00pm departure and sail your way through the depths of the Maida Hill Tunnel, past iconic landmarks such as London Zoo and Regent’s Park.
Set menus are priced at £50 but if you just fancy a bite to eat in an extraordinary, water-bound setting, you can try the static Grand Duchess for lunch or dinner from Tuesday to Sunday in Paddington Central.
Address: Sheldon Square, London W2 6DL