Nieves Barragan-Mohacho’s buzzy tapas bar Sabor was the highest ranked restaurant in central London at the National Restaurant Awards Credit: Sabor/National Restaurant Awards
London cemented itself as the gastronomic centre of the UK, with 49 of the top 100 eateries at the National Restaurant Awards.
And five of the capital’s foodie hotspots came in the top 10.
A whopping 30 of the restaurants commended are from central London.
Andrew Wong, the founder of A Wong, which came eighth on the list, was named Chef of the Year, with the awards saying that “it’s difficult to think of a UK chef who has done more for the image of Chinese food in recent times”.
Tom Booton, who became head chef at The Grill at The Dorchester aged just 26, was named as the Chef to wWatch after reinvigorating the five-star hotel’s restaurant.
But these are the restaurants named in top 100 at the National Restaurant Awards which are based in central London.
Address: 35-37 Heddon St, Mayfair, W1B 4BR Price: £££££
Nieves Barragan-Mohacho and Jose Etura’s Sabor is a two-in-one Spanish restaurant, which is “both a buzzy tapas bar and a communal dining room”, according the judges.
At the counter, customers watch chefs prepare a daily changing menu of small plates, focusing on the regions of Galicia and Catalunia.
While upstairs, diners sit at communal tables and share dishes cooking in a traditional wood-fired oven.
The awards says: “Star of the show has to be the Segovian suckling pig, available in single portions or as a half or whole animal, although the Galician rib of beef and Iberian lamb ribs are also hard to resist.”
8. A Wong
Address: 70 Wilton Road, Pimlico, Victoria, SW1V 1DE Price: £££££
Head chef Andrew Wong took over his parents’ Anglo Chinese in 2012, following the death of his father.
And according to the judges, he turned this “on first inspection at least, unremarkable-looking Chinese is one of the capital’s most interesting and progressive restaurants”.
The restaurant showcases classics - there are takes on sweet and sour chicken and crispy duck with pancakes – with Chinese flavours and dishes that are virtually unknown in the UK.
The chef points to China’s 14 international borders with each one offering a diverse cuisine, and at A Wong the intention is to give a flavour of them.
The awards add: “Run by Wong’s wife Nathalie, the 42-cover dining room is relaxed and unpretentious.”
Address: 74 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 4QH Price: £££££
Mere is the brainchild of MasterChef: the Professionals judge Monica Galetti and her husband David.
The pair blend classic French cooking with South Pacific influences, and the restaurant, pronounced Mary, is named in honour of Monica’s Samoan mother.
The food is influenced by Monica’s training at Michel Roux Jr’s two Michelin star Le Gavroche, and her Pasifika heritage from New Zealand and Samoa.
David runs the front of house, and there is a six-court tasting menu for under £90.
13. Davies and Brook
Address: Claridges, Brook St, Mayfair, W1K 4HR Price: £££££
Swiss-born chef Daniel Humm has taken over the Claridge’s restaurant, named Davies and Brook after the street intersection.
His other restaurant, Eleven Madison Park in New York, was named the best in the world in 2017.
The judges said: “The cooking – which is regularly overseen by Humm himself – is incredibly precise with example dishes including white asparagus with celtuce and broken rice porridge, apple and ginger.”
The restaurant offers a seven-course tasting menu for £145 or a four-course a la carte option at £110.
Address: 85 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 7NB Price: £££££
This grand three-storey Mayfair restaurant is the exact opposite of its oxymoronic name Hide.
It is situated in an enormous building, with a spiral staircase, and is a place to see and be seen in.
Chef Ollie Dabbous runs an all-day kitchen called Ground, and his flagship restaurant Above - with uninterrupted views of Green Park - which has five and eight-course tasting menus.
The judges said their favourite dish was “the roast Huntsham Farm suckling pig with spring turnips and homemade black pudding”.
20. Noble Rot Soho
Address: 2 Greek Street, Soho, Soho, W1D 4NB Price: £££££
Noble Rot’s second restaurant, based in Soho, was launched during the pandemic - and has been an instant hit in London’s food scene.
The National Restaurant Awards said: “While Noble Rot Soho shares much of the same DNA of its older sibling on Bloomsbury’s Lambs Conduit Street, it has its own identity thanks to the involvement of former Sardine chef Alex Jackson.”
The menu references the Hungarian restaurant’s storied past, it was where the downfall of Margaret Thatcher was plotted.
Dishes include eggs “casino”, goulash as well as pan European dishes like roast chicken with morels, Vin Jaune and riz au pilaf.
The judges said the wine list was “the stuff of dreams”.
21. The Quality Chop House
Address: 88-94 Farringdon Rd, Clerkenwell, EC1R 3EA Price: £££££
The site of the Quality Chop House in Farringdon, which opened in 2012, has been home to a restaurant since 1869.
The Grade-II listed building has Victorian decor and church-style pews which harks back to its past.
The awards said: “Simplicity is the key here, with the restaurant serving an à la carte menu for lunch and dinner.
“Dishes change daily although you can always expect a chop on the menu as well as a large steak and its legendary confit potatoes are seldom missing either.”
Address: 1 St. James’s Market, St. James’, SW1Y 4AH Price: £££££
The restaurant - set up Jeremy Chan and his Nigerian-born business partner Iré Hassan-Odukale - is named after a district in Lagos.
“The foundation for Ikoyi’s menu is a large collection of spices with a focus on sub-Saharan West Africa,” the judges said.
Ingredients include Grains of Selim, a smoky peppercorn with the scent of eucalyptus, plantains and scotch bonnet chillies, which the restaurant ferments, burns and pickles.
The restaurant offers a £160 dinner tasting menu, which is served blind based on seasonality.
26. Frog by Adam Handling
Address: 34-35 Southampton St, Covent Garden, WC2E 7HG Price: £££££
Frog by Adam Handling is the flagship site of the chef who shot to fame on MasterChef: The Professionals.
The aim is for fine dining without a stuffy atmosphere, and the Frog’s dining room has a stripped back feel.
The judges said: “Handling’s menu is focused on creative British dishes with international influences, and presentation ranges from elegant to more theatrical.”
There are both a la carte and tasting menus, and the snacks section of the menu - with cheese doughnuts, waffles and caviar - not to be missed.
29. St John
Address: 26 St John St, Barbican, EC1M 4AY Price: £££££
St John - the original nose to tail restaurant - is one of the few famous eateries in London that can claim to be truly iconic, according to the National Restaurant Awards.
The judges said: “For almost three decades Henderson’s nose-to-tail approach to cooking has helped raise the profile of British food across the world, as well as teach a legion of chefs about how to respect the whole animal and reduce food waste.
“These themes that are even more pressing today than they were when St John opened in 1994.”
Eating at St John is a rite of passage, which usually includes trotters, bone marrow and an Eccles cake to finish.
“Few restaurants in this country have a menu so inviting, where you can feel the heart and soul of the place in every dish,” the awards added.
31. The French House
Address: 49 Dean St, Soho, W1D 5BG Price: £££££
The French House, a tiny upstairs dining room above a standard Soho boozer, has an illustrious history of head chefs, including Fergus Henderson of St John.
It is now run by Neil Borthwick, husband of Angela Hartnett, who cooks heart, fuss-free French fare.
Menus are handwritten daily and prone to change but you’re likely to see oysters, pig’s head terrine with pickles and calf’s brain with brown butter, capers and parsley.
The judges said: “Borthwick has created a democratic and deeply satisfying restaurant the likes of which Soho had been crying out for since the Hendersons, and more recently Florence Night of Polpetto, vacated the upstairs room. The only challenge is getting a table.”
Address: 9 Seymour Street, Marylebone, London, W1H 7BA Price: £££££
Kol is Mexican chef’s Satiago Lastra’s first solo venture, with the launch delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The judges said: “Kol has a Mexican soul using British ingredients and this isn’t a stance to which Lastra merely pays lip service.
“With the exception of the corn used in his tortillas, chillies and chocolate – which can be shipped over with minimal environmental impact – every other ingredient comes from the UK, with the chef-patron deftly swapping out ingredients such as lime juice for homegrown sea buckthorn.”
There are two set menus, of six and nine courses, which give diners the choice between confit pork cheek and whole grilled octopus.
Address: 16 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8QH Price: £££££
Frenchie was chef Greg Marchand’s affectionate nickname when he worked at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, and the name of his Parisian-style bistro.
Marchand said: “I had always wanted to open a restaurant in London.
“We find the same restaurant DNA and the same vision, but with an expression of Frenchie cuisine that is resolutely London, more electric, more alive.”
The two and three course set menus cost £29 and £34 respectively, with a tasting menu set at £70.
Address: 58 Brewer Street , Soho, W1F 9TL Price: £££££
The Thai joint was named National Restaurant of the Year in 2018, and is accessible and fun.
The judges said: “The restaurant deals in incredibly punchy - when the team at Kiln say something is hot, take heed - small plates of carefully cooked Thai food that often use parts of the animal that don’t typically make it to the plate on the shores.
“They include half lobster with curried head meat, a wild ginger and beef neck curry from Burma and fried curry of monkfish and its liver.
“The food is unfussy and the service is warm but brisk.”
Address: 38 Groom Place, Belgravia, SW1X 7BA Price: £££££
Set over two floors of a former Georgian townhouse in Belgravia, Muse is an intimate restaurant serving dishes inspired by moments from head chef Tom Aikens’ life.
There are two open kitchens on each floor, with just 25 covers at the whole restaurant.
The judges explained: “One dish ‘Conquering the Beech Tree’ is inspired by Aikens as a child challenging himself to climb the tall beech tree at the bottom of his garden, while a dessert of ‘wait and see’ recalls what his mother would say when asked what was for pudding.
44. The Ritz
Address: The Ritz, 150 Picadilly, Mayfair, W1J 9BR Price: £££££
A meal at The Ritz must be one of life’s finest pleasures, according to the National Restaurant Awards.
The judges said: “To sit and eat among the gilt mirrors, ornate gold chandeliers and pink colour palette, designed to complement a lady’s blush make-up, is to have a dining experience like no other in the country.”
Diners can eat a la carte, choose five or seven course tasting menu or try the dishes served tableside - the most opulent experience at The Ritz - which includes beef wellington and hay-aged Bresse duck.
The judges added: “It’s not cheap but when eating at this level of luxury you wouldn’t expect it to be. But it is truly exceptional.”
46. The Guinea Grill
Address: 30 Bruton Place, Mayfair, W1J 6NL Price: £££££
Set behind a pub down a narrow Mews is one of the capital’s oldest steakhouses.
The Guinea Grill has been open since 1952, and it appears little has changed in the 69 years.
The judges said: “The classic steak cuts all feature, and to fully ramp home the meaty message diners can choose to amplify their meals with ‘complements’ that include lamb cutlets, calf liver, lamb kidneys, ox hearts, and sausages as well as sauces and sides such as pancetta confit potatoes.”
Address: 64 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 4QQ Price: £££££
SO|LA – a portmanteau of Soho and Los Angeles – brings a taste of The Golden State to central London.
The restaurant places an emphasis on using local and sustainable ingredients with an attention to seasonality, according the National Restaurant Awards.
It serves two menus – a prix fixe with five courses or a full, 10-course tasting menu.
The judges said: “Garvey’s creative cooking is served in an elegant, intimate dining room, where abundant plants and sculptural lighting evoke the lush greenery and sunshine of The Golden State.”
56. Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill
Address: 11-15 Swallow Street, Mayfair, W1B 4DG Price: £££££
The beloved seafood restaurant first opened back in 1916, humbly selling oysters and fish and chips to the masses.
Much has changed since then, but Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill still champions local produce.
Chef Richard Corrigan’s menu features an array of classic seafood dishes included fish pie with haddock, prawn and salmon and Cornish dressed crab with mayonnaise.
The judges said: “The star of the show, though, has and always will be Bentley’s selection of wild and native oysters sourced across the British and Irish isles from Kent to Achill.”
Address: 88 St John Street, Clerkenwell, EC1M 4EH Price: £££££
Luca is a polished Italian restaurant, using high-quality British produce to rethink Italian classics.
The judges said: “The pasta is an especially good example of this.
“Tortelli alla cacciatora is inspired by the rustic hunter’s stew of the same name and served with smoked ricotta, summer vegetables and san marzano tomatoes.
“Simple rigatoni with pork ragu is enlivened with anchovy and mint.”
Address: 42 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, W1S 4JH Price: £££££
Michelin starred Gymkhana is inspired by the elite clubs of India.
The National Restaurant Awards said: “The restaurant’s menu of refined yet punchy North Indian dishes has seen it become a leading light of London’s high-end Indian restaurant scene.”
Signature dishes include the wild muntjac biryani served in a pastry-sealed bowl with pomegranate and mint raita.
73. Maison Francois
Address: 54 Duke Street, St James's, SW1Y 6DF Price: £££££
Maison Francois, named after owner Francois O’Neill, is a French brasserie which takes its interior design cues from Barcelona.
The menu, designed by MasterChef: The Professionals finallist Matthew Ryle, is hearty French cuisine.
It includes some lesser known Gallic dishes, such as egg and cubed ox tongue, with a masterful pastry section.
80. The Grill at the Dorchester
Address: The Dorchester, Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1QA Price: £££££
Tom Booton became the youngest head chef to oversee The Grill at the Dorchester, when he took over in 2019 aged just 26.
The prodigious chef says his vision is “fine dining without the fine”, and offers an intepretation of modern-day British grill.
The judges said: “Dishes are rich and extravagant, although prices remain moderate – at £30, the three-course lunch is arguably one of the best deals in the capital.”
82. Hélène Darroze at the Connaught
Address: The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, W1K 2AL Price: £££££
French chef Hélène Darroze’s restaurant at the five-star Connaught hotel has achieved three Michelin stars this summer.
The National Restaurant Awards said: “Darroze serves up modern French cuisine, created from carefully selected produce and served with panache.
“While you can choose three courses from the a la carte menu for £75, which is incredibly good value for a three-star restaurant, there is the option to really go to town with numerous supplements such as lobster.”
83. Pollen Street Social
Address: 8-10 Pollen Street, Mayfair, W1S 1NQ Price: £££££
The place where Jason Atherton’s career as an international restaurateur began remains the jewel in his crown, according to the National Restaurant Awards.
Atherton has created a stellar tasting menu using British-grown ingredients at the Pollen Street Social.
There are vegetarian and vegan menus available, which bear the chef’s hallmark of classic techniques.
Address: The Standard, 10 Argyle Street, Bloomsbury, WC1H 8EG Price: £££££
Bristolian chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias runs the slick restaurant Decimo on top of the Standard hotel.
Key dishes include croquetas de jamón, jalapeño aguachile; and a tortilla topped with caviar.
The 130-cover space has views of the St Pancras Renaissance and the London skyline.
Address: 61 Rupert Street, Soho, W1D 7PW Price: £££££
Paradise takes authentic flavours and ingredients from Sri Lanka and turns them into non-traditional dishes.
The menu printed daily features the likes of wagyu beef tartare, calamansi, coconut, chilli, gotukola, roast paan crumb and coconut-brined lamb shoulder and wild garlic curry.
The kitchen is helmed by Sri Lanka-born MasterChef: The Professionals semi-finalist Malin de Silva.
Address: 58-59 Great Marlborough Street, Soho, Soho, W1F 7JY Price: £££££
Manteca, the Soho British-Italian joint, is one of the most affordable fine-dining restaurants in central London.
Chris Leach and David Carter’s eatery is inspired by regional cooking from Leach’s travels through Rome and Naples.
Sample dishes include pig head fritti with apple ketchup, house-made ricotta with raw trombetta and brown crab cacio e pepe.
96. Cafe Deco
Address: 43 Store Street, Bloomsbury, WC1E 7DB Price: £££££
Cafe Deco chef patron Anna Tobias has worked in some of London’s most influential restaurants, including 40 Maltby Street and the River Cafe.
The judges said: “ Café Deco’s tight four, four, four formation menu features dishes bereft of pomp or indeed any sort of reference to the zeitgeist but which are instead just comfortingly delicious.”
They added that the resturant is as much for its neighbourhood clienetele as it is for foodies wanting to see what Tobias is all about.
Address: 21 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 3LP Price: £££££
Akoko, which translates as ‘time’ and ’the first’ in Yoruba, takes inspiration from the family recipes of British Nigerian restaurateur Aji Akokomi.
The restaurant only serves a tasting menu, which includes Guinness bread with yassa butter, maafe – a dish of Galician octopus with peanut and cacao, as well as its signature jollof rice.
The judges said: “There’s more to Akoko than the food alone, the entire restaurant experience has been curated to give an expression of west Africa.
“Its interiors, inspired by the natural beauty of rural West Africa, feature walls covered in terracotta clay and contemporary African art.”