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Four customers tuck into a meal at at table inside Silk Road in Camberwell

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Reservations and Relief as London’s Restaurants Reopen Their Dining Rooms, Again

After over five months of closure London’s dining rooms and cafes opened their doors on 17 May

Customers tuck into a meal at Silk Road in Camberwell
| Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

On Monday 17 May, one hundred and fifty-two days after London restaurants last closed their dining rooms, they reopened for customers.

It has been a long time coming. After months of pivots, adaptations, and new roles within communities, on 12 April, hospitality businesses were given permission to offer outside seating — an experiment, which, owing to unseasonably cold and wet weather, has had mixed results.

Feelings of relief and gratitude are mixed with nervousness and hope; above all, restaurateurs and their staff want never to have to close again. They don’t yet know if this is it such is the frequency with which all involved have been met with uncertainty over the course of the last 12 months. But, as they welcomed back customers for the first time in a long time, they now have to hope it is. Only time will tell.

So under grey skies and intermittent rain showers, the dining rooms of London’s restaurants, the cafes, and the pubs once again welcomed in guests and allowed them to stay.

Here’s what that looked like, with a collection of photographs from Camberwell, Brixton, Shoreditch, Soho, Mayfair, and Chinatown.


A customer sits at a table inside O Cantinho De Portugal in Brixton on the day dining rooms reopened in London.

Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Inside the dining room at O Cantinho De Portugal
Inside the dining room at O Cantinho De Portugal
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

Food House on Chinatown’s Gerrard Street has remained open for takeaway and delivery throughout the whole of the pandemic. On Monday, it opened for dine-in once more.

Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Food House on Chinatown’s Gerrard Street
Food House on Chinatown’s Gerrard Street
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Outside Food House on Gerrard Street in London’s Chinatown a gazebo offers shelter for those still wishing to dine outdoors
Outside Food House on Gerrard Street in London’s Chinatown
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Two guests sit at a table inside Food House in Chinatown, one of the city’s best restaurants
A table for two inside Food House in Chinatown
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

Chef Anna Tobias’s debut restaurant, Cafe Deco, on Store Street in Bloomsbury opened last autumn, and has since functioned as a provisioner and deli. Until this week, it has hardly known what’s it’s like to be a dine-in restaurant.

Cafe Deco during a busy lunchtime the week dining rooms reopened in London
Cafe Deco during a busy lunchtime the week dining rooms reopened in London
Adam Coghlan/Eater London

Noble Rot’s second restaurant — on Greek Street in Soho — opened in September 2020, just two months before restaurants had to close for the second time and only three months before they shut down for what would be five months. Here’s what it looked like inside on Monday night.

Guests inside Noble Rot, which opened last autumn, weeks before the second national lockdown
Guests inside Noble Rot, which opened last autumn, weeks before the second national lockdown
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Noble Rot Soho on Monday night, with fencing erected outside it
Noble Rot Soho on Monday night
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

The iconic, unchanged, and inimitable Bar Italia, with guests back inside, on Soho’s Frith Street this week.

Bar Italia, on Soho’s Frith Street
Bar Italia, on Soho’s Frith Street
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
A barista prepares a coffee inside Bar Italia on Monday afternoon
A barista prepares a coffee inside Bar Italia on Monday afternoon
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Punters sit inside Bar Italia on Frith Street in Soho
Punters sit inside Bar Italia on Frith Street in Soho
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

The India Club Restaurant inside the Strand Continental Hotel defied an eviction notice to reopen on Monday. The restaurant, one of historic significance, is engaged in a fight for survival, after its landlord has proposed an 80 percent increase in rent if it is unable to “modernise and run [its] own hotel” from the property. And still, it welcomed guests back this week. Guests who will continue to campaign for its ability to remain right where it is.

A blackboard hung outside the India Club on Strand announces that it is open for eating in or takeaway
The iconic India Club on Strand is now open after a fight for its survival
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

The doors to Soho’s Brasserie Zedel flung open once more.

The doors of Brasserie Zedel in Soho are open once more
The doors of Brasserie Zedel are open once more
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

Staff await guests at the intimate udon noodle bar Koya, on Soho’s Frith Street.

Members of the front-of-house team at Koya in Soho
Members of the front-of-house team at Koya
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Koya Soho has remained closed since Christmas but opened again on 17 May. Tables lay unset outside the front of the restaurant
Koya Soho has remained closed since Christmas but opened again on 17 May
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

Cafe TPT, which remained open for delivery and takeaway through lockdown, welcomes guests back this week.

Cafe TPT’s doors are open for indoor dining again this week — one of Chinatown’s best restaurants for Cantonese roast meats and specialities.
Cafe TPT’s doors are open for indoor dining again this week
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

Camberwell’s Silk Road again reopened its dining room this week.

Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

Also in Camberwell, the newer, but no less popular Nandine was back open for business having relied on takeaway and delivery for the last five months.

Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Wait staff prepare to run dishes to guests indoors at Nandine in Camberwell
Wait staff prepare to run dishes to guests indoors at Nandine in Camberwell
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

For Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant Gymkhana, lockdown presented fewer troubles than many other restaurants in that category. Its meal kit delivery initiative wasn’t a total replacement for lost trade, but it enabled the business to tick over in tough times.

A bartender prepares drinks for guests inside Gymkhana, the Michelin-Starred Mayfair restaurant by JKS Restaurants
A bartender prepares drinks for guests inside Gymkhana
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

On Piccadilly in central London, The Wolseley’s doorman says goodbye to a guest; the restaurant’s owner Jeremy King this week said: “I can confirm that all our restaurants will be fully open — albeit some with slightly modified hours. That’s the good news. The bad news is this will be against a background of having much of the hospitality sector remaining on the precipice of major failure.” The main problem, he reiterated, was rent debt.

The Wolseley’s doorman says goodbye to a customer leaving the restaurant
The Wolseley’s doorman says goodbye to a customer leaving the restaurant
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

The Clove Club, the Michelin-starred Shoreditch favourite welcomed guests back this week, with a more formal approach to service. Table cloths appeared. Will the second star finally be forthcoming?

Ejatu Shaw/Eater London
Michelin-starred restaurant in Shoreditch, The Clove Club Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

London restaurant dining rooms, open again.

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

O Cantinho De Portugal

137 Stockwell Rd, London SW9 9TN, UK, London, 44 020 7924 0218 Visit Website

BRAT

4 Redchurch Street, , England E1 6JL Visit Website

Cafe TPT

21 Wardour Street, , England W1D 6PN 020 7734 7980 Visit Website

The Clove Club

380 Old Street, , England EC1V 9LT 020 7729 6496 Visit Website

Silk Road

49 Camberwell Church Street, , England SE5 8TR 020 7703 4832

Gymkhana

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

Blacklock

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

The India Club

Hotel Strand Continental, 143 Strand, London , WC2R 1JA Visit Website

Nandine

82 Vestry Road, , England SE5 8PQ 020 8001 8322 Visit Website

Bleecker

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

Kiln

58 Brewer Street, , England W1F 9TL Visit Website

Cafe Deco

43 Store St., London, WC1E 7DB +44 20 7323 4501

BAO

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

Food House

48-36 Gerrard Street, , England W1D 5QH 020 7287 2818

Master Wei

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

Brawn

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

Marksman

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

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

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