The 10 Best Restaurants in London’s Knightsbridge
You might think affluence and fine dining would go together like caviar and blinis, or martinis and olives.
You might be wrong.
Some rich London neighborhoods are poor in gastronomy. Take Knightsbridge. This ritzy home to Harrods and Harvey Nichols is outstanding for shopping but can be a challenge when it comes to finding somewhere great to eat. One of its best restaurants, Racine, just closed.
Here are 10 places to try in the area—including a few that won’t even bust your budget.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Chef Blumenthal is best known for the Fat Duck, where you may wait months for a table and a meal costs 220 pounds plus drinks and service. Dinner by Heston serves more accessible food at less elevated prices, but it’s still not cheap. Most mains cost 30 pounds to 40 pounds. The set lunch is 38 pounds for three courses but isn’t very exciting—although it includes the restaurant’s signature “wow,” the Meatfruit (a liver parfait in a mandarin gel). 66 Knightsbridge, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, SW1X 7LA; +44-20-7201-3833.
Drinks Before? Avoid the bar next to the restaurant; the hotel’s Rosebery bar is a world apart and much better.
The low-key Indian restaurant is the London outpost of a chain that started life in Nairobi in 1991. You can watch Haandi’s chefs at work in an open kitchen that turns out dishes whose flavor volume is set to maximum, channeling the flavors of East Africa with interesting, contemporary twists. There are vegetarian, meat, and seafood set lunches costing about 15 pounds to 17 pounds. The Chandni Chowk Ka Keema (minced lamb with peas) is particularly good, as is the Dhaba chicken with black lentils. 7 Cheval Place, SW3 1HY; +44-20-7823-7373.
Drinks Before? The Capital Bar at the Capital Hotel is discreet and sophisticated, with a chic, traditional feel. It’s a good place for almost any guest.
Hawksmoor singlehandedly raised the standard of steak restaurants in London when it opened in Spitalfields in 2006. The new Knightsbridge outlet has similarly top-notch meat, along with fried oysters and a lobster roll with sriracha mayonnaise and yuzu. The attention to detail in the menu and the design means Hawksmoor is still a winner, although it can still be expensive. The Porterhouse steak is great, at 9 pounds per 100 grams. Try it at lunchtime, when the set lunch is 24 pounds for two courses and 27 pounds for three. 3 Yeoman’s Row, SW3 2AL; +44-20-7590-9290.
Drinks Before? Hawksmoor is known for its cocktails. The bar here is the best bet, though there is a pub on the corner.
This casual-ish spot in the Mandarin Oriental is better than the original in New York. The service is friendly and the prices are reasonable. It’s a great place to go for cocktails or for a burger and beer. The set lunch is 17 pounds for two courses and 19 pounds for three, including a glass of wine and coffee. It’s a French brasserie menu, with particularly good charcuterie. But the specialty at Bar Boulud is a range of burgers that are among the best in London. Having trouble choosing? Pick all three for 54 pounds ($82), including what looks almost like a bucket of fries. 66 Knightsbridge, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, SW1X 7LA; +44-20-7201-3899.
Drinks Before? The restaurant’s bar is actually one of my favorites in London.
Pierre Koffmann is one of the most respected chefs in the U.K. He won three Michelin stars at La Tante Claire, where he was a mentor to Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay, and other culinary stars. He has now abandoned fancy gastronomy in favor of simpler dishes. The set lunch at Koffman’s is a refreshing 26 pounds for three courses, and it’s also an excellent place to grab a bite before or after the theater. Dishes to try include the pig’s trotter and the pistachio soufflé. 1 Wilton Place, The Berkeley, SW1X 7RL; +44-20-7235-1010.
Drinks Before? The Blue Bar at the Berkeley is strikingly beautiful, one of the neighborhood highlights.
Marcus Wareing was a protégé of Gordon Ramsay, who formerly owned a two-Michelin-star restaurant in this space, Petrus. Wareing has loosened up a little since those days, and after a 2014 makeover the room is now lighter and brighter. I had my doubts about whether the basics would be much different until I dined there last month. The service at the new Marcus is friendly and less formal, while the food is as good as ever. More accessible even. There’s a lunch menu for 49 pounds, though it’s worth splashing out on a la carte for dishes such as venison, chestnut, Muscat, and black pudding. 1 Wilton Place, The Berkeley, SW1X 7RL; 44-20-7235-1200.
Drinks Before? Stick with the Blue Bar or Bar Boulud.
This French establishment is the hidden gem in Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant empire. Having moved more than once, it now sits on a quiet street and there are no fireworks in the décor. But the new chef, Neil Snowball, is putting fizz into the menu with a cooking style he developed at the Fat Duck. Better still, his mentor is Ramsay’s star chef, Clare Smyth. The word isn’t out yet on just how good the food at Petrus has become, with dishes such as Anjou pigeon with smoked onion purée, glazed turnips, pigeon pie, and ginger jus. The lunch menu is 37.50 pounds for three courses. 1 Kinnerton Street, SW1X 8ED; +44-20-7592-1609.
Drinks Before? The Pantechnicon Rooms.
Rivea is tucked away in the basement of the Bulgari Hotel. It’s easy to miss and worth seeking out. It’s an Alain Ducasse restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine. The dishes are fresh, colorful, and vibrant. The place should be packed but is usually quiet at lunchtime, when a selection of dishes from the a la carte menu costs 35 pounds, with water and coffee. Two dishes not to miss are the Rivea salad wrapped in a socca (crepe), and potato/sage/Parmesan gnocchi. 171 Knightsbridge, Bulgari Hotel, SW7 1DW; +44-20-7151-1025.
Drinks Before? Il Bar at the hotel is fine.
While this glamorous Italian restaurant traces its history to the 1980s, it has reopened after a two-year refurbishment. The cooking and ingredients are good, as is the wine list. The service is old school, in the sense of being charming and attentive. Lunch at Toto’s is 19.50 pounds for two courses and 24.50 pounds for three. The courtyard is the perfect spot for lunch, once the weather warms up. The pasta dishes are a must, and the beef tagliata, arugula, and Parmesan shavings with balsamic dressing shows the quality of the ingredients. Lennox Garden Mews, Walton House, SW3 2JH; +44-20-7589-2062.
Drinks Before? Barts Bar is fun and modeled after a speakeasy.
I’ve always loved Zuma for its sexy vibe and its modern Japanese dishes, which are better than you might expect in an establishment that feels as much like a nightclub as a restaurant. The bar scene is always lively, fueled by (among other things) inventive cocktails. Having said that, the food wasn’t as good as I remembered it when I dined there a few weeks ago. Chef/owner Rainer Becker’s focus might have been on New York: Zuma opened on Madison Avenue last month. (Other outposts include Hong Kong, Istanbul, and Miami.) Dishes to try include crispy fried lemon sole with spicy ponzu sauce and green onions. 5 Raphael Street, SW7 1DL; +44-20-7584-1010.
Drinks Before? Zuma.
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines.)