clock menu more-arrow no yes
Koya, in Soho, before closing last night. One of the best Japanese restaurants in London on the eve of the coronavirus lockdown in England
Koya, in Soho, before closing last night
Michaël Protin/Eater London

Filed under:

On the Eve of Lockdown, Last Orders in London’s Restaurants

A peculiar atmosphere of celebration befell the city yesterday as restaurants are more prepared for closure, but no more certain about their future

In March, restaurants were forced to close. In July, steadily, they began to reopen. In August, a £10 government voucher scheme obscured the fact that COVID-19 had not gone away. By September, there was a 10 p.m. curfew; by October, restaurantgoers were restricted to visits with guests only from their own household. And then, last weekend, at the end of a long seven months, all nonessential businesses in England were given notice that they must close once again.

Yesterday evening, at 10 p.m. they did just that. Almost all hospitality businesses are better prepared than they were in March, but myriad uncertainties remain: When and how can they reopen? Who will come when they do? What happens to rent?

Below is a collection of photographs of some of London’s most well-known and most-loved restaurants, cafes, bars, and bakeries as they served guests for the last time. Many will remain open for takeaway; others, now furnished with delivery infrastructure, will hope to mitigate lost sales. And unlike the novel eeriness that fell on the city in March, yesterday and last night felt like a celebration: the last supper, with restaurants and their patrons bowing out with a we’ve-been-here-before-and-we’ll-get-through-it-again-like self-assurance. They had little choice.

The reality is — restaurants cannot be confident that they will be licensed to reopen before the new year. At which point, they will be left facing a new year and new cycle of uncertainty all over again.


Esters — one of the city’s best coffee shops and brunch cafes pulls down the shutters in Stoke Newington, east London. Owners Jack Lloyd-Jones and Nia Burr will continue to offer takeaway and local delivery through the November lockdown.

The frontage of Stoke Newington Cafe Esters, with a grey shutter rolled down halfway Michael Prötin/Eater London

Jolene, possibly London’s coolest bakery, serves its last customers yesterday afternoon. Co-owner Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim told Eater on Monday: “We can survive this of course as well as flourish: this is a time to experiment and being more fluid with offers and formats.” That will see the bakery open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily serving “easy, popular food and drinks items including pastries, bread, sandwiches and pizza as well as coffee and wine.”


Mangal 2, the popular Turkish ocakbasi in Dalston, relaunched in July with a new image and new menu under the direction of brothers Ferhat and Sertaç Dirik. It will remain open for takeaway and offer delivery via Slerp and Big Night through lockdown.


Dalston bakery Dusty Knuckle preparing to close yesterday afternoon. It will remain open for preorder takeaway through lockdown.

Dusty Knuckle bakery in Dalston on the eve of national coronavirus lockdown in England Michaël Protin/Eater London

Claire Ptak’s inimitable cafe, cake shop, and bakery Violet recently underwent a refurbishment after the pandemic had forced the owner to pull out of her second project this summer. Violet will remain open for coffee, cake, and pastries throughout the next month.


Hill & Szrok stood out among the few real success stories of lockdown 1.0: a butcher offering high quality meat added a range of provisions and some choice takeaway food items, such as excellent cheeseburgers and first-rate sandwiches. Open for takeaway for the next month.


Pavilion bakery on Broadway Market folds its cardboard and prepares to close yesterday.


One of London’s best restaurants — 40 Maltby Street in Bermondsey — serving its last customers last night. It will remain open for fresh and frozen takeaway provisions Wednesday to Saturday, 12 — 5 p.m.

The front of London restaurant 40 Maltby Street, a blue arched entrance with bricks and a blackboard outside Michael Prötin

Left: Faye Gomes’ recently relocated Kaieteur Kitchen, which serves outstanding Guyanese food in Elephant and Castle will remain open for takeaway through the next four weeks. Below, preparing to close last night. Right: Noble Rot 2.0, the Franco-Hungarian restaurant which opened on Greek Street in Soho in September, yesterday evening. Noble Rot will be closed through lockdown.


The last customers leave chef Nick Bramham’s Quality Wines in Farringdon last night. It will re-pivot to Quality Wines at Home from tomorrow.


Left: Flor, by the team behind Michelin-starred Shoreditch restaurant Lyle’s, with its last remaining tables yesterday evening. Flor will remain open for takeaway through lockdown and will see the return of ASAP Pizza on Sundays for the foreseeable future. Right: Padella, a restaurant which never doesn’t have a queue outside, will sell pasta kits nationwide this lockdown.


After the last coffees at one of London’s best cafes, Rosslyn, in the City,


Left: Outside one exceptional Malaysian restaurant, Roti King. Right: Inside another, Normah’s. Both will remain open through lockdown, the former for takeaway; the latter for both takeaway and delivery.


On the last night of service, Soho enjoyed a carnival-like atmosphere. Below, outside the Soho House group’s trendy pizzeria, Cecconi’s Pizza Bar. And on the right, the iconic Bar Italia cafe.


Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Gymkhana will sell curries, grills, and breads to celebrities and lay food enthusiasts throughout lockdown, via both takeaway and delivery.


The great Koya, Shuko Oda and John Devitt’s Japanese udon noodle and small plate specialist, prepares to close yesterday evening. It will remain open for click-and-collect and delivery through lockdown.


The Laughing Heart in Hackney bids farewell to its last guests yesterday night. Owner Charlie Mellor used the first lockdown to develop a new delivery business to challenge the likes of Deliveroo. It’s brought on big names like Luca, Mangal 2, and the Camberwell Arms.


Left: The last guests sit on the terrace outside Italian restaurant Mitshel Ibrahim’s Ombra, a restaurant whose constant innovations and adaptations through the pandemic have set it apart from so many others in the capital. Right: Its doors closed. Ombra will launch a full online pastificio and shop this week to service its customers’ lockdown needs.


“Cash & Gre” — what remains of the former “Great Wall” Chinese takeaway sign above P. Franco, the singular Clapton wine bar and Eater restaurant of the year, 2017. It will remain open for off-sales through lockdown...

...cheers to that.

Quality Chop House

94 Farringdon Rd, London, Greater London EC1R 3EA +44 20 3490 6228 Visit Website

St. John

26 Saint John Street, , England EC1M 4AY 020 7251 0848 Visit Website

Broadway Market

Broadway Market, , England E8 4QJ

BRAT

4 Redchurch Street, , England E1 6JL Visit Website

Hill & Szrok

60 Broadway Market, London, Greater London E8 4QJ Visit Website

Luca

88 Saint John Street, , England EC1M 4EH 020 3859 3000 Visit Website

The Camberwell Arms

65 Camberwell Church Street, , England SE5 8TR 020 7358 4364 Visit Website

Gymkhana

42 Albemarle Street, , England W1S 4JH 020 3011 5900 Visit Website

The Dusty Knuckle Bakery

Abbot Street, , England E8 3DP 020 3903 7598 Visit Website

Blacklock

24 Great Windmill St, London, Greater London W1D 7LG +44 7841 754858 Visit Website

Mangal 2

4 Stoke Newington Rd, London, Greater London N16 7XN +44 20 7254 7888 Visit Website

Pavilion Bakery

130 Columbia Road, , England E2 7RG Visit Website

The Laughing Heart

277 Hackney Road, , England E2 8NA 020 7686 9535 Visit Website

Bleecker

205 Victoria Street, , England SW1E 5NE 020 7828 8016 Visit Website

Kiln

58 Brewer Street, , England W1F 9TL Visit Website

P Franco

107 Lower Clapton Road, , England E5 0NP 020 8533 4660 Visit Website

BAO

590 Valencia Street, , CA 94110 (415) 658-7453 Visit Website

Roti King

40 Doric Way, , England NW1 1LH 020 7387 2518 Visit Website

Master Wei

13 Cosmo Pl, Holborn, Greater London WC1N 3AP +44 20 7209 6888 Visit Website

Violet

47 Wilton Way, , England E8 3ED 020 7275 8360 Visit Website

40 Maltby Street

40 Maltby Street, , England SE1 3PA 020 8076 9517 Visit Website

Flor

1 Bedale Street, , England SE1 9AL 020 3967 5418 Visit Website

Brawn

49 Columbia Road, , England E2 7RG 020 7729 5692 Visit Website

Soho House

76 Dean Street, London , W1D 3SQ Visit Website

Sushi Tetsu

12 Jerusalem Passage, , England EC1V 4JP 020 3217 0090

Moro

34-36 Exmouth Market, , England EC1R 4QE 020 7833 8336 Visit Website

OMBRA

1 Vyner Street, , England E2 9DG 020 8981 5150 Visit Website

Esters

55 Kynaston Road, , England N16 0EB Visit Website

Marksman

254 Hackney Rd, London, Greater London E2 7SJ +44 20 7739 7393 Visit Website

Koya Bar

50 Frith St, Soho, Greater London W1D 4SQ +44 20 7434 4463 Visit Website

Noble Rot

51 Lamb’s Conduit St, London, Greater London WC1N 3NB +44 20 7242 8963 Visit Website

Smoking Goat

64 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ

Dishoom

12 Upper St Martin's Lane, , England WC2H 9FB 020 7420 9320 Visit Website

Bar Italia

22 Frith Street, , England W1D 4RF 020 7437 4520 Visit Website

Spitalfields Market

56 Brushfield Street, , England E1 6AA 020 7377 1496 Visit Website

Kaieteur Kitchen

, , England SE1 07466 616137

Padella

6 Southwark Street, , England SE1 1TQ Visit Website

Jolene

54 Great Jones Street, Manhattan, NY 10012 (646) 429-8383 Visit Website

Normah's

, , England W2 4QJ 07771 630828 Visit Website

The Wolseley

160 Piccadilly, , England W1J 9EB 020 7499 6996 Visit Website

Quality Wines

88 Farringdon Road, , England EC1R 3EA 020 3602 8115 Visit Website

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater London newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world