Restaurants are opening up again, and what better way to see friends than to book an al fresco dining experience? Here’s our guide to London’s best outdoor restaurants.
After months of lockdown, there’s a lot of excitement around the re-opening of some of London’s most-loved restaurants. Once again we’ll have a place to meet friends, eat, drink and be merry.
While this is cause for celebration, safety is still at the forefront of our minds. This means that we’re keen to prioritise dining at restaurants with outside areas, with plenty of space where we know we can social distance.
If you’ve been looking forward to booking yourself a dinner date with your best friends but are now unsure of where is open, welcoming customers and, most importantly, is safe – we’ve created a nifty guide of the best al fresco restaurants in London for outdoor dining.
We’ve been careful to include a mix of locations, from a hip bistro in Brixton to a secret garden in Chelsea, these venues are not only stylish with great menus, but will allow you to dine out safely.
Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings
Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places to eat in London. Tucked away in the heart of Farringdon and just under the nose of Exmouth Market, this stylish spot serves up British fare in a botanical-inspired setting.
Inside you’ll find leafy friends hanging overhead and from the corners of rooms, balanced on shelves and even reflected in the floral upholstery of the restaurant’s seating. We particularly love the greenhouse at the back, which feels like a secret haven for plant lovers.
While you’re keen to eat outside, though, Bourne and Hollingsworth Building’s delicious menu can be enjoyed from tables outside at the entrance of the building. It’s a quiet street with a lovely park opposite, often becoming a pink-hued sun trap in the evenings.
Right now, the space is only open at the weekend and serving up a special set menu on Saturday evenings from Mark Jarvis of Anglo. It comprises of six courses, with stand out dishes including shoulder of Sophie’s Lavinton lamb, crushed peas, preserved lemon, mint and Vernon’s marinated English tomatoes, soft herbs with wasabi mascarpone.
Opening hours: Saturday and Sunday from 10am until late.
Address: 42 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, EC1R 0HU
Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden
Petersham Nurseries’ Covent Garden branch, known as the vibrant Italian restaurant La Goccia, already has plenty of outdoor and open plan space which has no doubt made its re-opening easier.
Guests are invited to dine inside or out in the secluded courtyard hidden between King and Floral Street. Here, you can sit in the middle of one of London’s busiest areas surrounded by lemon trees and fairy lights in a tranquil haven.
The restaurant has always been inspired by Italy’s al fresco dining scene, inviting guests to enjoy a scoop of homemade sorbet, ice cream or a glass of granita in the sunshine. Come evening, you could sip on limoncello spritz and campari soda and pick some small plates for the table, such as anchovies with garlic, chilli and parsley and fried zucchini flowers.
Opening hours: 11.30am-10pm, Wednesday to Saturday. 11.30am-6pm, Sunday.
Address: 1 Floral Court, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9FB
The Laundry, Brixton
The Laundry is Brixton’s ultra cool neighbourhood bistro, coffee and wine place, which has launched its new terrace so diners can eat outside and social distance.
It’s a south-facing sun trap, with Parisian-style rattan chairs and chic marble tabes, perfect for taking shots of the grazing and sharing dishes.
There’s also a great wine list which has been carefully curated to include refreshing rose and white wines for the warmer months. Please note, there are no bookings on the terrace, so be mindful that you might want to ring ahead or refrain from coming with a large group.
Opening times: 8am-11pm, Monday to Wednesday. 8am-midnight, Thursday to Saturday. 9am-11pm, Sunday.
Address: The Laundry at Walton Lodge, 374 ColdHarbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8PL
Vinegar Yard, London Bridge
Vinegar Yard is an open-air street food hub located just by London Bridge, tucked away from the usual hustle and bustle.
A great place for grabbing a casual bite to eat, the space is populated by six street food vendors serving up a mix of Indian inspired burgers and pachos, authentic Italian street food, hand-pressed burgers and croquettes and much more.
As tables have traditionally been shared by all guests, Vinegar Yard has made a lot of changes to ensure that the venue is Covid-19 safe. For example, you must obtain a track and trace ticket from the website to enter, no more than six people in a group will be admitted and you must stay sat at your table at all times.
Opening hours: 5pm-10pm, Monday to Wednesday. 5pm-11pm, Thursday. 5pm-midnight, Friday. 11am-midnight, Saturday. 11am-8pm, Sunday.
Address: Vinegar Yard, 72-82 St Thomas St, London SE1 3QU
This secret garden sits in the middle of Chelsea and is inspired by the character and charm of historic English country houses. Like a breath of fresh air, it’s hidden from the busyness of King’s Road and the shopping district, as a relaxed, comfortable place to share some food and drinks.
The outdoor space has been redesigned to ensure it’s social distancing safe, with plenty of room and big, plump seats to sink into and while away the afternoon.
Stanley’s menu is about finding the beauty in simplicity and serving quality, honest food with the best possible ingredients. We like the sound of the Westcombe cheddar doughnuts with burnt leek or sourdough crumpet with Cornish crab and potted shrimp, both of which sound tastier than anything we’ve made at home over the last few months!
Opening hours: 10.30am-11.30pm, Monday to Saturday. 10.30am-7.30pm, Sunday.
Address: 151 Sydney St, Chelsea, London, SW3 6NT
The Nest, Marylebone
The Nest is a rooftop bar with impressive 360 views of London’s skyline from atop of swish hotel, Treehouse London.
The vibe feels laid back and bohemian, with decor touches like layered Berber rugs on the floor, rattan lampshades covering the mass of glowing, suspended ceiling lights and a textured mix of throws and cushions. Saying that, The Nest has an unapologetically glamorous edge, too.
The menu is rooted in the UK, featuring a range of British suppliers and hearty dishes such as corn-fed chicken breast with heritage tomatoes and spring onion salad, along side steak and chips.
There’s plenty of space on the roof terrace and tables have been positioned two metres away from each other for social distancing, while servers will be wearing Liberty London face masks which are also available for guests to buy.
Opening hours: 8am-1am, Monday to Saturday. 8am-10pm, Sunday
Address: 14-15 Langham Pl, Marylebone, London W1B 2QS
Images: The Nest / courtesy of venues