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A plate of grilled stone fruit, fresh cheese, and herbs at the Garden Cafe
A plate of grilled stone fruit, fresh cheese, and herbs at the Garden Cafe
Garden Museum Cafe [Official Photo]

7 Excellent London Restaurants in Unexpected Places

Discover great food in galleries and theatres, gardens and on a boat

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A plate of grilled stone fruit, fresh cheese, and herbs at the Garden Cafe
| Garden Museum Cafe [Official Photo]

London has brilliant restaurants in spades — at least 38 of them. Dining out in the capital has always been about the locale as much as the food, but often the most exceptional locations fall short on their offering: the dismal art gallery café, the overpriced theatre ice-cream. Now, there’s a whole new wave of restaurants opening in the most unlikely of places. Theatres, cinemas, art galleries — many have featured places to eat before, but seldom on this scale, or with this level of acclaim. Some of London’s hottest chefs are embracing the new trend, just as some of their forbears, not to be left behind, are reinventing themselves, too.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. St. John at The Bridge Theatre

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3 Potters Fields Park
London SE1 2SG, UK

The seminal St. John restaurant group has found a new locale in which to set up shop — at the much-anticipated Bridge Theatre. With the building led by Nicholas Hytner, who is by all accounts British theatre’s answer to Fergus Henderson, the match could not be more perfect. Dishes will include the legendary madeleines and doughnuts, along with small plates including terrines, crispy pig skin and potted beef.

Pate and cornichons at St. John, a classic London restaurant Eater London

2. London Shell Co.

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The Prince Regent, Sheldon Square
London W2 6DS, UK

Floating restaurants are normally an unquantified nightmare, which is why the brilliant London Shell Co is such a revelation. Turn up for a three-hour cruise from Paddington to Camden and back, eat delicious oysters, chilli and crab linguine and buttermilk pudding, and watch Regent’s Canal go by.

Dorset estuary rock oysters at London Shell Co., one of London’s best waterside restaurants
London Shell Co.
Crummbs

3. Petersham Nurseries

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Petersham Nurseries
Richmond TW10 7AQ, UK

With its new outpost in Covent Garden opening its restaurants early next year, it’s worth remembering that the original Petersham Nurseries Cafe, near Richmond, still excels at superb — if spendy — Italian cuisine, which might feature risotto with amarone and radicchio or baked lemon sole with lentils.

Petersham Nurseries Richmond
Petersham Nurseries
Marimo Images

4. Townsend

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Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7QX, UK

Replacing the also-lauded Whitechapel Refectory in 2020, Nick Gilkinson — formerly of fellow listee Garden Museum Cafe — and Joe Fox — formerly of fellow listee Petersham Nurseries — Townsend has gone from strength to strength in its short, pandemic-clipped life. Dishes like fried Wensleydale with heather honey and smoked chilli; wild mushrooms with egg yolk, Berkswell cheese, and truffle; and poached root vegetables with potato cake and green sauce betray the fact that this is a modern British restaurant aware that much of modern British is really old European with an accent.

Whitechapel Refectory
Whitechapel Refectory
TripAdvisor

5. The Other Naughty Piglet

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12 Palace St, Westminster
London SW1E 5JA, UK

The combination of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and modern British cuisine might initially cause an outburst of “Jesus Christ!”, but this restaurant really is a superstar. Based at the Lloyd-Webber owned The Other Palace theatre in Victoria, raves pour in for the likes of flame-grilled mackerel with seaweed and beetroot or Fallow deer with smoked bone marrow.  

The Other Naughty Piglet
The Other Naughty Piglet
Naughty Piglets

6. The Store Kitchen

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180 Strand
London WC2R 1EA, UK

The Store, an offshoot of Soho House Berlin, specialises in fusions of unusual and interesting ideas, and the food is no exception. An upcoming pasta restaurant from chef Mateo Zielonka and a debut restaurant from art festival Frieze’s co-founders promises an exciting evolution in the place’s ethos.

The Store Kitchen London
The Store Kitchen
Twitter

7. Garden Museum

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5 Lambeth Palace Rd
London SE1 7LB, UK

Calling “hidden gem” overused is by now as dead as “hidden gem” itself, so stay with the idea that the Garden Museum cafe is ... A hidden gem! Concise and considered, unlike so many museum/cultural institution cafes that seek to deaden themselves to all comers, expect the likes of confit mackerel with tomato and caper; john dory, served whole with black olives and fennel; and mammole artichokes served Roman-style, all in another dead cliché that is here breathed back to life: the “urban oasis.”

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1. St. John at The Bridge Theatre

3 Potters Fields Park, London SE1 2SG, UK
Pate and cornichons at St. John, a classic London restaurant Eater London

The seminal St. John restaurant group has found a new locale in which to set up shop — at the much-anticipated Bridge Theatre. With the building led by Nicholas Hytner, who is by all accounts British theatre’s answer to Fergus Henderson, the match could not be more perfect. Dishes will include the legendary madeleines and doughnuts, along with small plates including terrines, crispy pig skin and potted beef.

3 Potters Fields Park
London SE1 2SG, UK

2. London Shell Co.

The Prince Regent, Sheldon Square, London W2 6DS, UK
Dorset estuary rock oysters at London Shell Co., one of London’s best waterside restaurants
London Shell Co.
Crummbs

Floating restaurants are normally an unquantified nightmare, which is why the brilliant London Shell Co is such a revelation. Turn up for a three-hour cruise from Paddington to Camden and back, eat delicious oysters, chilli and crab linguine and buttermilk pudding, and watch Regent’s Canal go by.

The Prince Regent, Sheldon Square
London W2 6DS, UK

3. Petersham Nurseries

Petersham Nurseries, Richmond TW10 7AQ, UK
Petersham Nurseries Richmond
Petersham Nurseries
Marimo Images

With its new outpost in Covent Garden opening its restaurants early next year, it’s worth remembering that the original Petersham Nurseries Cafe, near Richmond, still excels at superb — if spendy — Italian cuisine, which might feature risotto with amarone and radicchio or baked lemon sole with lentils.

Petersham Nurseries
Richmond TW10 7AQ, UK

4. Townsend

Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX, UK
Whitechapel Refectory
Whitechapel Refectory
TripAdvisor

Replacing the also-lauded Whitechapel Refectory in 2020, Nick Gilkinson — formerly of fellow listee Garden Museum Cafe — and Joe Fox — formerly of fellow listee Petersham Nurseries — Townsend has gone from strength to strength in its short, pandemic-clipped life. Dishes like fried Wensleydale with heather honey and smoked chilli; wild mushrooms with egg yolk, Berkswell cheese, and truffle; and poached root vegetables with potato cake and green sauce betray the fact that this is a modern British restaurant aware that much of modern British is really old European with an accent.

Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7QX, UK

5. The Other Naughty Piglet

12 Palace St, Westminster, London SW1E 5JA, UK
The Other Naughty Piglet
The Other Naughty Piglet
Naughty Piglets

The combination of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and modern British cuisine might initially cause an outburst of “Jesus Christ!”, but this restaurant really is a superstar. Based at the Lloyd-Webber owned The Other Palace theatre in Victoria, raves pour in for the likes of flame-grilled mackerel with seaweed and beetroot or Fallow deer with smoked bone marrow.  

12 Palace St, Westminster
London SW1E 5JA, UK

6. The Store Kitchen

180 Strand, London WC2R 1EA, UK
The Store Kitchen London
The Store Kitchen
Twitter

The Store, an offshoot of Soho House Berlin, specialises in fusions of unusual and interesting ideas, and the food is no exception. An upcoming pasta restaurant from chef Mateo Zielonka and a debut restaurant from art festival Frieze’s co-founders promises an exciting evolution in the place’s ethos.

180 Strand
London WC2R 1EA, UK

7. Garden Museum

5 Lambeth Palace Rd, London SE1 7LB, UK

Calling “hidden gem” overused is by now as dead as “hidden gem” itself, so stay with the idea that the Garden Museum cafe is ... A hidden gem! Concise and considered, unlike so many museum/cultural institution cafes that seek to deaden themselves to all comers, expect the likes of confit mackerel with tomato and caper; john dory, served whole with black olives and fennel; and mammole artichokes served Roman-style, all in another dead cliché that is here breathed back to life: the “urban oasis.”

5 Lambeth Palace Rd
London SE1 7LB, UK

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