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.Read More
7 Excellent London Restaurants in Unexpected Places
Discover great food in galleries and theatres, gardens and on a boat
1. St. John at The Bridge Theatre
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 include the legendary madeleines and doughnuts, along with small plates including terrines, crispy pig skin and potted beef.
2. London Shell Co.
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.
3. Petersham Nurseries
With its new outposts in Covent Garden now established, 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.
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.
5. The Other Naughty Piglet
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.
6. The Store Kitchen
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 Toklas, the very nearby debut restaurant from art festival Frieze’s co-founders, are bringing exciting evolution in the area’s ethos.
7. Garden Museum
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.”