It’s cold; it’s dark; the news is unremittingly terrible. There’s only one thing for it: park up by a blazing hearth and eat like a bear preparing for hibernation. Whether it’s at a centuries-old pub with a cracking kitchen or a headline-grabbing newcomer, here’s where to warm the cockles in style — presenting Eater’s pick of the top places in London with open fires.Read More
Where to Eat by an Open Fire This Winter
The cosy kind, not the trendy kind
1. The Drapers Arms
One of London’s best Sunday lunch offerings coincides with one of London’s best fireplace set-ups. Beloved Islington institution The Drapers Arms has two blazing stoves downstairs, in the vicinity of which diners fortify themselves with slow-cooked shoulder of lamb, pheasant with lentils, bacon and green sauce or suet-crust salt-beef pie. The dessert menu is given over to the holy trinity of cosiness: sticky toffee pudding, bread and butter pudding and apple crumble with cream.
2. Chiltern Firehouse
The regulars might be reluctant to pull on a fleece, but more fool them: those who brave the cold are rewarded handsomely at Chiltern Firehouse. Come the winter a roaring fire is installed in the courtyard, along with blankets and squashy sofas. There’s an oyster-cart and a hot-toddy menu, plus a seafood-focused menu (including a beautifully executed fruits de mer platter). Just remember to spare a thought for the chilly paparazzi on the other side of the wall.
3. The Holly Bush
Ah, a wintery walk on Hampstead Heath — it’s all fun and good-for-the-’gram games until it starts to rain and someone falls in the mud. Stomp from east to west before retiring to The Holly Bush, a Dickensian Grade II-listed pub at the top of the High Street with a kitchen that has an instinctive feel for comfort food. Thaw out by the crackling fire then repair to a table for rabbit and chestnut pie with celeriac mash, parsnip gnocchi, and an all-British cheeseboard.
4. temper Soho
Every night is bonfire night at the original Temper. Unconstrained by the mimsy, milquetoast likes of a fireplace surround, the towering inferno (a 6m-long central firepit) works its magic on huge sides of meat and whole fish, which then come to the table on tacos, tostadas and buttered parathas. While a ringside seat won’t singe the eyebrows, the flames certainly keep things toasty — woodsmoke wafts around invitingly.
5. The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell
Both Zetters feel like the kind of places Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson might have frequented after a hard day’s case-cracking: snug, soothing, soundtracked by gentle murmurs and the hiss of glowing logs. For sheer overstuffed charm, the Clerkenwell one has the edge — settle down in one of the armchairs in front of the fire with a cocktail and order some substantial snacks, like smoked pork jowl croquettes with tarragon mayo.
6. The Palmerston
East Dulwich’s best boozer has not one but two fireplaces, both of which blaze invitingly when there’s a nip in the air. The Victorian building feels homely and well-loved, with chintzy wallpaper and a hotchpotch of wooden chairs, and the food is reliably excellent, whether it’s brunch — ‘nduja toast with poached eggs, cinnamon-bacon waffles — or a special-occasion supper — hake with orzo and mussel cream, girolles with kohlrabi, cavolo nero and black truffle. There’s a strong wine list, too.
7. Noble Rot Wine Bar & Restaurant
If a fireside glass, carafe, or bottle here doesn’t generate a warm glow, nothing will. Noble Rot’s crackling hearth is in the bar, but its bonhomie pervades the whole place, helped by the fact that the restaurant is lit only by candles. At this time of year the menu is replete with rib-stickers — smoked Devonshire eel risotto, gnocchi with garlic cream and chanterelles, treacle sponge — all of which go very nicely with a Gaston Chiquet black velvet.
8. The Cleveland Arms
Paddington’s brightest star has a fire-warmed snug that feels very old fashioned, and a kitchen that’s anything but. Head chef Louis Lingwood is ex-Oldroyd, and the same kind of quiet confidence that’s in evidence over in N1 runs through the menu: think duck and chanterelle pappardelle, romanesco with red peppers and almonds, bavette in a verdant pool of garlic butter.
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9. St Leonards
Wood-fired grills are ten a penny right now; but log-fuelled ‘hearths’ are harder to come by. London’s most magnificent is at St Leonards; it’s the kind of cheering fire that marshmallows could conceivably be toasted over in the wild. It’s not just for show, either — it gets its own section of the menu, full of the likes of coal-roasted pumpkin, whole Challans duck and 100 day-aged Hereford sirloin with anchovy hollandaise.