U.K. Top Chefs Select London’s Finest Restaurants for Visitors

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Prune and tamarind tart at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Photographer: Ashley Palmer-Watts/Fat Duck Group via Bloomberg

If a visitor to the U.K. asked you which London restaurant is currently best, what would you say?

I put that question to more than 40 chefs and restaurateurs for their recommendations. Here are their comments:

Tom Aikens (Tom Aikens): “Roganic. It’s great, adventurous food, striving for perfection, using the best and most interesting ingredients. I like the fact that they push some boundaries, but the bottom line is that the food is delicious.”

Joel Antunes (Kitchen Joel Antunes): “Bar Boulud. It’s got a great ambience and it’s good value for money, plus Daniel Boulud has always been a friend and supporter.”

Jason Atherton (Pollen Street Social): “Quo Vadis is the most exciting restaurant in London at the moment. Jeremy Lee’s cooking is outstanding.”

Pascal Aussignac (Club Gascon): “Dabbous is best for food.”

Sat Bains (Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham): “The Fat Duck is just the best restaurant in the U.K. for me. I’m still as excited whenever I go as the first time.”

Claude Bosi (Hibiscus): “Arbutus. It’s relaxed and the quality of food is to the highest standards. Anthony is one of the best cooks in London and it’s not to be missed.”

Daniel Boulud (Bar Boulud): “CUT by Wolfgang Puck for steak; The Ledbury for British haute cuisine; Dinner by Heston Blumenthal for casual British fare.”

Sally Clarke (Clarke’s): “The Delaunay. It’s just such a beautiful restaurant, particularly at night.”

Anthony Demetre (Arbutus): “Hibiscus for a unique and individual experience at top-end level. There are a lot of places: All differ enormously in style and pocket. I’ve had two excellent meals at Hedone.”

Chris Galvin (Galvin at Windows): “The Square.”

Alexis Gauthier (Gauthier Soho): “Bob Bob Ricard is one of my favorite places on earth, it has to be a contender for one of the most unique restaurants in London.”

Brett Graham (The Ledbury): “Petersham Nurseries is hard to beat on a sunny day. The food is beautifully cooked, always delicious and seasonal.”

Trevor Gulliver (St John): “Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, although it’s a bit like Les Mis: Everything is great but every night is the same performance.”

Des Gunewardena (Launceston Place/D&D London): “Dinner by Heston Blumenthal for a visitor, because it’s Heston, and for a restaurant experience, it’s still hard to beat Scott’s.”

Skye Gyngell (ex-Petersham Nurseries): “Dinings. I really like it there and that’s where I would take visitors.”

Anna Hansen (Modern Pantry): “Dabbous.”

Sam Harris (Zucca): “Magdalen, on Tooley Street. It’s not a new restaurant but it’s always amazing, I’ve never had a bad meal there, and I can be really fussy.”

Sam Hart (Fino): “River Cafe has long been my favorite in London. They only used the finest of ingredients, cooked perfectly. Fiendishly expensive but splendid for a treat.”

Angela Hartnett (Murano): “Le Gavroche, if you want old-style classic London; for a family, one of the Hix restaurants. At Christmas, with my brother and his family from New York, we went to Hix at Selfridges: Great menu and pleased everyone.”

Mark Hix (Hix Belgravia): “Trishna. I went along expecting just another of these fancy Indian places but the food was really good.”

Jacob Kenedy (Bocca Di Lupo): “Sweetings. It isn’t du jour but it is the most ‘London’ eating experience you’ll find and one of the most enjoyable.”

Tom Kitchin (Kitchin, Edinburgh): “Koffmann’s. I have never had a bad meal and its always seasonal and robust.”

Pierre Koffmann (Koffmann’s): “Texture. I’ve never had a bad meal there. The food is very good and the people are nice. The Ledbury is fantastic, too, and the Square.”

Atul Kochhar (Benares): “Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.”

Adam Perry Lang (Barbecoa): “River Cafe. It’s my absolute favorite because they always deliver on their promise; fight for the integrity of product, not overly staged assembly-line cooking, balanced and thoughtful from start to finish. It is unmoved by economy when embracing the seasons.”

Jeremy Lee (Quo Vadis): “River Cafe. Lunch on the terrace in June is glorious. Razor clams and a Bloody Mary at the bar of Le Caprice are splendid. Set lunch at Le Gavroche. I’m surprised at Fergus (Henderson) not yet receiving a dukedom and the Garter for St John.”

Rowley Leigh (Le Cafe Anglais): “River Cafe. Sorry to be boring but nowhere else stands out, apart from, perhaps, Le Gavroche. The Ledbury should get a mention not just for the food but for the really exceptional and fair wine list.”

Bruno Loubet (Bistrot Bruno Loubet): “The Ledbury. This may be the restaurant of the moment but it is completely justified. Brett Graham is an enthusiastic young chef, delivering exceptional food, but he still has more to come.”

Francesco Mazzei (L’Anima): “Hakkasan. They’re keeping up the standards.”

David Moore (Pied a Terre): “The Ledbury. It’s not just good cooking, it’s brilliant cooking, from the inspirational Brett Graham. A rare thing, a chef who is in his kitchen.”

Nuno Mendes (Viajante): “Young Turks at the Ten Bells. It’s different but still produces food that is pure and fun.”

Russell Norman (Mishkin’s): “The River Cafe for occasion dining with exceptional cooking. For casual dining with a great atmosphere, Barrafina is hard to beat. It depends on what you mean by best.”

Jamie Oliver (Jamie’s Italian): “St John Hotel. I’ve had two amazing meals there and they are doing a brilliant job. The food is earthy and robust but with a lightness of touch. Brett Graham at The Ledbury is one of the hottest chefs in the city right now. Yes he’s got two stars, but he’s also out there foraging and shooting his own produce. Top talent.”

Stevie Parle (Dock Kitchen): “St John. It’s wonderful and kind of British, so good for visitors.”

Gary Rhodes (Rhodes Twenty Four): “Galvin La Chapelle or any of the Galvin restaurants.”

Simon Rogan (Roganic): “L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, on a stool on the ground floor. It’s a fairly laid-back atmosphere, with amazing food. I order a few things, watch what the chefs are doing, and order some more. The music is great as well.”

Michel Roux Jr. (Le Gavroche): “34, Richard Caring’s new place. It’s worth popping in for a grill. It’s always exciting to go somewhere new. Zuma is the kind of place I always end up going back to and the sushi is just damn good.”

Silvena Rowe (Quince): “Roganic is always the place to recommend to U.K. visitors, I love the young genius that is Ben Spalding.”

Mark Sargeant (Rocksalt, Folkestone): “Quo Vadis. It’s a stunning building and now that the legendary Jeremy Lee is there the food is great: very simple. Or Hawksmoor Seven Dials. The steaks are incredible. I could go off the rails in that place.”

Leonid Shutov (Bob Bob Ricard): “Veeraswamy if the visitors are Americans. It’s old school. For Eastern Europeans, I’d recommend somewhere new and glittery, like Novikov.”

Rick Stein (Seafood Restaurant, Padstow): “Bocca di Lupo is the place I keep returning to. You could best describe it as Italian tapas, lots of small dishes. They do good deep-fried artichokes and roast suckling pig and chestnuts with wine and bay.”

Agnar Sverrisson (Texture): “Dabbous is fantastic: Creative yet simple flavors, well-executed cooking. I like their small plates and there is nowhere else like it in London.”

Ben Tish (Salt Yard): “Quo Vadis. I’ve already been twice since Jeremy Lee recently took over as head chef and I think he has taken it to a new level. It’s lots of fun and the new-look dining room is beautiful.”

Clive Watson (Riding House Cafe): “The Ivy. Call me unfashionable and out of sync but I’m confident that any visitor will enjoy a memorable experience and generous atmosphere.”

Mickael Weiss (Coq d’Argent): “Le Gavroche is an institution, one of the best restaurants where service, food and ambience are always faultless.”

Alyn Williams (Alyn Williams at the Westbury): “The Ledbury for dinner, and Roganic for a long lunch. Both are pushing culinary boundaries with innovative dishes and friendly service, but at the heart of it are serving beautiful food.”

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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