National Restaurant Awards: Which Central London restaurants made the top 100?

Over half of the top 100 restaurants in the country came from the capital, and these are the best from Central London.

<p>Hay-aged Bresse duck, at The Ritz.  (Credit: National Restaurant Awards/The Ritz)</p>

Hay-aged Bresse duck, at The Ritz. (Credit: National Restaurant Awards/The Ritz)

London has cemented itself as the gastronomic centre of the UK, with 61 of the top 100 eateries at the National Restaurant Awards.

Seven of the capital’s foodie hotspots appeared in this year’s top 10.

There are an impressive 32 restaurants commended on this list from Central London alone.

The National Restaurant Awards also handed out special awards for particular places, and many of them are included in this list.

‘Chef to Watch’ was awarded to Spencer Metzger of The Ritz, ‘Opening of the Year’ was awarded to BiBi, ‘The Service Award’ was given to The Ritz, and ‘Cocktail List of the Year’ was awarded to Kol.

The Ledbury in west London headlined an array of other edgy eateries listed in the top 100.

Brat in Shoreditch headlined east London’s trendy joints and Trinity in Clapham was the best ranked restaurant in south London.

And here are the restaurants named in the top 100 at the National Restaurant Awards which are based in Central London.

4. The Ritz

Address: The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 9BR

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 compliment 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 a 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.”

The exceptional dining room, at The Ritz. (Credit: The National Restaurant Awards/The Ritz)

5. BiBi

Address: 42 North Audley St, London W1K 6ZP

Chet Sharma’s progressive Indian restaurant, BiBi, blends traditional subcontinental cookery with a development and produce-led approach.

Combining his experience of working in restaurants as a teen, and his studies in science, he has been able to blend the right amount of culinary geekery, with a love of traditional Indian dishes.

The menu at BiBi includes an ever-changing à la carte menu that offers a selection of large and small plates. As well as a chef’s selection for those that want the kitchen to choose for them.

The judges said: “Part of the reason the menu changes so regularly is Sharma’s commitment to top-quality produce, with an unusual level of effort going into securing ingredients from small-scale UK suppliers, as well as artisan produce from India.”

7. A. Wong

Address: 70 Wilton Road, Pimlico, Victoria, SW1V 1DE

Head chef Andrew Wong took over his parents’ Anglo Chinese in 2012, following the death of his father.

According to the judges, he turned this “on first inspection at least, unremarkable-looking Chinese restaurant into 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 added: “Run by Wong’s wife Nathalie, the 42-cover dining room is relaxed and unpretentious.”

9. Ikoyi

Address: 1 St. James’s Market, St. James’, SW1Y 4AH

Ikoyi was set up by Jeremy Chan and his Nigerian-born business partner, Iré Hassan-Odukale, in summer of 2017. They named it after a district in the Nigerian city, 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.

13. Fallow

Address: 2 St James’s Market, St. James’s, London SW1Y 4RP

The pop-up turned permanent restaurant, combines a killer creative-edge with a focus on sustainability, according to the National Restaurant Awards.

Chef owners Will Murray and Jack Croft take a ‘sustainably focused’ culinary approach, with much of the produce sourced from their smallholding (farm), near Esher.

The menu at Fallow is split between snacks, large and small plates, with all offering big flavours. Fallow’s signature dishes include - corn ribs with lime that are a heightened way of eating corn on the cob, and striking cod’s head with sriracha butter.

Some of Fallows signature dishes. (Credit: The National Restaurant Awards/Fallow)

The judges said: “There’s more meat on the menu than at some sustainable restaurants that have taken a plant-based approach, but its inclusion is considered, with steaks coming from venerable dairy cows and whole animals used creatively.”

15. Sabor

Address: 35-37 Heddon St, Mayfair, W1B 4BR

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 to the judges.

At the counter, customers watch chefs prepare a daily changing menu of small plates, focusing on the regions of Galicia and Catalonia.

While upstairs, diners sit at communal tables and share dishes cooking in a traditional wood-fired oven.

The award said: “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.”

19. Kiln

Address: 58 Brewer Street , Soho, W1F 9TL

The Thai eatery, Kiln opened in late 2016, and within two years was named National Restaurant of the Year 2018.

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 uses parts of the animal that don’t typically make it to the plate.

“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.”

This Soho gem offers authentic flavoursome Thai food, that’s unfussy, with a warm but brisk service.

20. KOL

Address: 9 Seymour Street, Marylebone, London, W1H 7BA

Kol is Mexican chef’s Satiago Lastra’s first solo venture, which was 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 options like confit pork cheek, and whole grilled octopus.

21. Noble Rot Soho

Address: 2 Greek Street, Soho, Soho, W1D 4NB

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.”

Dishes include eggs “casino”, goulash as well as pan European dishes like roast chicken with morels, Vin Jaune and riz au pilaf.

According to the judges, the wine list at Noble Rot Soho is “the stuff of dreams.”

A dish from Noble Rot Soho. (Credit: The National Restaurant Awards/Noble Rot Soho)

28. Kitchen Table

Address:  70 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 4QG

The team at Kitchen Table in Fitzrovia consists of husband and wife pairing, chef James Knappett and sommelier Sandia Chang.

They worked in world famous restaurants Noma, in Copenhagen and Per Se, in New York - before returning to London to open this counter dining restaurant in 2012.

The National Restaurant Awards said: "Knappett still serves just 15 sitting around the horseshoe-shaped bar - that surrounds the kitchen, with Chang on hand to guide customers through the eclectic wine cellar.”

The price of the tasting menu has soared to the point that Kitchen table can now be considered one of, if not actually the most expensive restaurant in the capital.

30. Sessions Art Club

Address: 24 Clerkenwell Green, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 0NA

Sessions Arts Club is a place you want to get lost in, according to the National Restaurant Awards.

The restaurant is situated in the beautifully restored Old Sessions House and is led by artist and entrepreneur Jonny Gent, alongside chef Florence Knight. It has been designed as a unique space that’s based on the pillars of art, food and music.

Sessions Arts Club offers a seasonally-led menu, which is inspired by British, French and Italian cooking. The chef’s preference is for simple food, with carefully grown and sourced ingredients at its heart.

The judges said: “The alluring setting and Knight’s confident cooking have combined to great effect and captured the imagination of London’s dining scene.”

31. St John

Address: 26 St John St, Barbican, EC1M 4AY

St John  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 are even more pressing today than they were when St John opened in 1994.”

Eating at St John is considered a rite of passage, which usually includes tucking into trotters, roasted bone marrow, and an Eccles cake to finish.

The awards added: “Few restaurants in this country have a menu so inviting, where you can feel the heart and soul of the place in every dish.”

40. The French House

Address: 49 Dean St, Soho, W1D 5BG

The French House is a tiny upstairs dining room above a standard Soho boozer, with 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 hearty, fuss-free French food.

Hearty, fuss-free French food, at The French House (Credit: National Restaurant Awards/The French House)

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.”

42. The Guinea Grill

Address: 30 Bruton Place, Mayfair, W1J 6NL

The Guinea Grill is set behind a pub, down a narrow mews is one of the capital’s oldest steakhouses. It has been open since 1952, and it appears little has changed in those 70 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 ‘compliments’ that include lamb cutlets, calf liver, lamb kidneys, ox hearts, and sausages as well as sauces and sides such as pancetta confit potatoes.”

The restaurant provides a pause in time in the capital’s dining scene, and an experience that feels a million miles away from its glitzy neighbours - like Sexy Fish and Amazonico.

43. Frog By Adam Handling

Address: 34-35 Southampton St, Covent Garden, WC2E 7HG

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 - is not to be missed.

45. Pollen Street Social

Address: 8-10 Pollen Street, Mayfair, W1S 1NQ

The place where Jason Atherton’s career as an international restaurateur began, remains the jewel in his crown, according to the National Restaurant Awards.

Pollen Street Social has a sophisticated, modern British menu, with a Michelin star standard and quality, whilst the dining room remains rather informal, with a laid back vibe.

Atherton has created a stellar tasting menu using British-grown ingredients. There are numerous different menus available including those suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

The restaurant is named after the street, as it was made apparent to Atherton that even black cab drivers couldn’t find it - he wanted to get the place on people’s radar.

49. Maison Francois

Address: 54 Duke Street, St James’s, SW1Y 6DF

Maison Francois, named after owner Francois O’Neill, is a French brasserie which takes its interior design cues from Barcelona.

The menu is designed by MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Matthew Ryle, who focuses on making traditional, hearty French cuisine.

It includes some lesser known Gallic dishes, such as egg and cubed ox tongue, with a masterful pastry section.

The judges said: “There’s also no denying the kitchen’s mastery of pastry, thanks to head pastry chef Jérémy Prakhin: the pâté en croûte maison is as good as any served in Paris.”

50. Native

Address: Browns Hotel, 39 Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 4JE

Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis’ Mayfair flagship is proof that sustainable dining and an opulent setting can go hand-in-hand, according to the National Restaurant Awards.

The restaurant was initially launched in the form of a street food stall in 2015, and has since continued to serve up delicate flavour and artful presentation in their dishes - this includes the mainstay on the menu, the pigeon kebab.

The judges said: “It’s a playful dish that effortlessly underscores Native’s mantra of making sustainable-conscious food accessible.”

Native champions seasonal produce and ethical dining, with a menu of small plates, natural wines and cocktails.

The décor inside Mayfair restaurant, Native. (Credit: The National Restaurant Awards/Native)

51. Evelyn’s Table

Address: The Blue Posts, Cellar, 28 Rupert St, London W1D 6DJ

Evelyn’s Table occupies the basement of a well-known, West End pub, The Blue Posts.

The tiny counter restaurant serves just 12 seats and is led by three brothers - Luke, Theo and Nathaniel Selby.

Luke, the oldest brother, is a highly-driven culinary talent who has held senior roles at some of the country’s best-known restaurants, often assisted by his two younger siblings.

The judges said: “The Selbys’ food is produce-led, blending French, British and Japanese elements. There’s minimal gadgetry, with the brothers tending to gravitate towards more classic technique.”

Standards are sky high at Evelyn’s Table, with the small, close-knit team, and only a dozen guests per service - attention to detail is the name of the game.

59. SO|LA

Address: 64 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 4QQ

SO|LA is a portmanteau of Soho and Los Angeles, which 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 to the National Restaurant Awards.

SO|LA serves lunch and tasting menus that display fusion cooking that takes influences from a range of countries including Japan, Mexico and France.

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.”

60. Trattoria Brutto

Address: 35-37 Greenhill Rents, Clerkenwell, London, EC1M 6BN

Russell Norman, who is the co-founder of Venetian restaurant Polpo, has named his Clerkenwell eatery after the Italian word for ugly.

The use of the word ‘ugly’ is actually a reference to his restaurant putting flavour before looks. There is an Italian expression ‘brutto ma buono’ which translates to - ugly but good.

The judges said:“His Clerkenwell trattoria is a smartly observed homage to the dining rooms of Tuscany, complete with red gingham tablecloths and curtain tiers, wood panelled flooring and numerous pictures dotted all over the duck-egg blue walls.”

Trattoria Britto has a variety of starters to offer, from chicken livers on toast, to various pasta mains. Few dishes break £15 and many come in at around £10. For those willing to fork out, there’s always Brutto’s signature Florentine T-bone steak – a 21-30 day, dry-aged loin, from nearby Smithfield Market.

62. Frenchie

Address: 16 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8QH

Frenchie was chef Greg Marchand’s affectionate nickname when he worked at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, and it is now the name of his Parisian-style bistro.

Marchand said: “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 judges said: “Frenchie’s signature bacon scone with maple syrup and Cornish clotted cream is inspired by the west country; and his lamb ragu pappardelle with kalamata olives, espelette, and preserved lemon recollects his time cooking at Fifteen.”

Michelin starred eatery, Frenchie, has two and three course set menus on offer, costing £33 and £38 respectively, with a tasting menu set at £80.

63. Hélène Darroze at the Connaught

Address: The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, W1K 2AL

French chef Hélène Darroze’s restaurant at the five-star Connaught hotel has received three Michelin stars.

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 £95,  there is the option to really go to town with numerous supplements such as lobster.”

Hélène Darroze at the Connaught has a grand dining room, with wooden tabletops and wooden panelling, but without the stuffiness that often comes with five-star dining.

A dish being carefully prepared, at Hélène Darroze at the Connaught. (Credit: The National Restaurant Awards/Hélène Darroze at the Connaught )

68. The Grill at the Dorchester

Address: The Dorchester, Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1QA

In 2019, Tom Booton became the youngest head-chef to oversee The Grill at the Dorchester, when he took over at just 26 years-old.

The prodigious chef says his vision is “fine dining without the fine,” and offers his own personal interpretation of a modern-day British grill.

Booton has created a place that can confidently stand side-by-side with any of London’s top Michelin-starred restaurants.

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.”

69. Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill

Address: 11-15 Swallow Street, Mayfair, London, W1B 4DG

Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill has been going strong for more than 100 years - selling oysters and fish and chips to the masses.

Although a lot has changed since those days, the seafood restaurant values remain to this day, championing local produce, independent suppliers and ethical eating - whilst the staff deliver a warm and informal service.

The menu features an array of classic seafood dishes, such as fish pie made with haddock, prawn and salmon, the Cornish dressed crab with mayonnaise, the royal shellfish platter with lobster, oysters, cherry clams, and mussels.

The awards said: “the star of the show will always be Bentley’s selection of wild and native oysters, sourced across the British and Irish isles from Whitstable to Cork.”

71. Gymkhana

Address: 42 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, W1S 4JH

Michelin starred Gymkhana in Mayfair, 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.”

Gymkhana’s design is inspired by India’s Raj-era gymkhana sports club. It features both dining-room style and booth seating, as well as a bar area.

Signature dishes include the wild muntjac biryani served in a pastry-sealed bowl with pomegranate and mint raita, and masala lamb chops with walnut chutney.

73. The Quality Chop House

Address: 88-94 Farringdon Rd, Clerkenwell, EC1R 3EA

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 Victorian décor and church pew style seating, serves as an interesting backdrop to chef Shaun Searley’s modern and innovative cooking.

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.”

75. Café Deco

Address: 43 Store Street, Bloomsbury, WC1E 7DB

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 restaurant is as much for its neighbourhood clientele, as it is for foodies wanting to see what Tobias is all about.”

Café Deco’s menu includes Tobias’ Roast Tomato & Saffron Quiche with salad, Roast Sirloin, Spring Onion Fritters, and her Berry Mille-Feuille dessert - all delicious options.

76. Decimo

Address: The Standard, 10 Argyle Street, Bloomsbury, WC1H 8EG

Bristolian chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias runs the slick restaurant Decimo, which can be found on top of The Standard hotel.

Accessed by a red lift that runs up the side of the hotel, it transports diners to Decimo’’s stunning dining room - heavily inspired by the 1970s.

Key dishes on the menu include croquetas de jamón, tacos and a tortilla topped with caviar.

A dish from chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’s, slick restaurant, Decimo. (Credit: The National Restaurant Awards/Decimo)

The 130-cover space has views of the St Pancras Renaissance and the London skyline.

The judges said: “The Standard and Sanchez-Iglesias have created one of the capital’s most transportive restaurants, bringing a slice of sun-soaked 1970s Los Angeles to London.”

82. Hide

Address: 85 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 7NB

A grand three-storey Mayfair restaurant, Hide was one of the biggest restaurant launches in 2018. It is a place to see, and be seen in - so it’s name is most definitely an oxymoron.

The enormous building has a magnificent spiral staircase and a rustic but expensive aesthetic.

Chef Ollie Dabbous’s Hide has three sections, holding two restaurants and a bar. The top floor known as ‘Above at Hide’ is a light-filled dining room - with uninterrupted views of Green Park.

The all-day kitchen called Ground is more informal serving breakfast, lunch & dinner, and a sizable a la carte menu. The Bar Below is the basement bar, where diners and drinkers alike can enjoy a classic cocktail, or some wine.

The awards said: “The wine selection does include some of the world’s rarest and most expensive wines (bottles priced into the tens of thousands of pounds are not unusual).”

95. Muse

Address: 38 Groom Place, Belgravia, SW1X 7BA

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.

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.”

Dishes at Muse are prepared in front of diners in an open kitchen, with a limited number of seats - which suits Aikens’ precise and ambitious cooking style.

The design rulebook has been thrown out of the window with this restaurant, as it offers very different, yet distinct styles on each floor.

98. Benares

Address: 12a Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London, W1J 6BS

Benares in Mayfair, is a Michelin starred modern Indian Cuisine restaurant, led by Executive Chef Sameer Taneja

Chef Taneja has not followed the traditional route of other high-end Indian chefs, as he started his career honing his skills in European cooking techniques and working in French restaurants.

Benares launched in 2007, and Taneja joined in 2012, leading the kitchen for three years before leaving to pursue other ventures - he then re-joined the restaurant in 2019.

The restaurant has a variety of menus, with a la carte, tasting and set menus all available.

The judges said: “Desserts at Benares are a must and are where Taneja’s training with some of France’s best chefs shines through the most. Here, dishes such as mille-feuille, and praline tart are given an Indian accent.”