Living Travel:

A Food Stylist’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in London

WORDS AND GUIDE BY ROMILLY NEWMAN.

London has become an indisputable hub for culinary talent, fabulous produce procurement, and innovative restaurants. Pretty much all the time I spend in London is devoted to eating. I find there to be an overwhelming loveliness and I feel very much at home walking Portobello Market in search of (absolutely gorgeous) silverware I don’t need, or having three desserts for one at Rochelle Canteen

I feel a strong sense of comfort and inspiration from the city unlike one I’ve felt anywhere else. I’m drawn to the exquisite care, tradition, and craftsmanship that goes into everything, but am equally taken by the eccentric innovations and rambunctious fun to be had. I see the city as an exciting amalgamation, with each different neighborhood having its own way of doing things and uniquely defined aesthetic. Perhaps it’s my cold English blood, penchant for Offal, or the fact that there’s a Romilly Street, but I do love London in a very deep way. 

One thing to note is that London is an ever-evolving food scene with endless young talent opening up shop. There are many places I did not get to on my last trip that I’m eager to try. This will have to be seen as an ever-expanding list and permanent work in progress!  

Here are my favorite places to eat, and a few places to shop… 

RESTAURANTS

A Food Stylist’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in London

Sessions Art Club 

Sessions Art Club is a new restaurant housed in what was formerly the old judge’s dining room in Sessions House, a historic listed building. The scale is breathtaking, and the room is covered in beautiful panache with peeling green paint, flora and fauna, fireplaces, and dramatic arches. Florence Knight is at the helm cooking subtle and fresh fare highlighting quality English produce. 

Old Sessions House, 24 Clerkenwell Grn, London EC1R 0NA

Brat

Most everything at Brat is cooked over the wood-burning grill to your left as soon as you enter the restaurant. That’s not the only reason everything is so ridiculously scrumptious, but it’s certainly a factor. One of the things I love about this place is that their hardly-cooked oysters with sorrel are just as impressive as the massive charred beef rib entree. The grilled bread with anchovies is a masterpiece, and the roast duck rice is a sensual experience. Everything at Brat is cooked to perfection. The menu has many different directions, but everything is conceptualized and prepared with the same level of mastery and restraint. If you left without getting the Burnt Basque Cheesecake… no you didn’t!

4 Redchurch St, London E1 6JL

Noble Rot

A wine bar with very special food, and a very cool wine magazine. Everything is good here, but, if you go, the two things you must get are the bread service (trust me), and Slipsole with smoked butter—a must!

51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, WC1N 3NB

A Food Stylist’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in London
A Food Stylist’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in London

Rochelle Canteen

This is a perfect restaurant. I make that incredibly bold statement with full confidence. It was founded in 2004 by chefs Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson and is housed in the bike shed of the former Rochelle School. It has a number of outdoor tables in the lush garden and some more in a small shed with white brick walls, wooden chairs, and a large number of straw hats. Every element of this restaurant is simple and without frills, but simultaneously revelatory. The menu changes daily but is always full of things you’re dying to eat. Expect dishes like violet artichokes, goat’s curd, mint on toast, and pheasant & bacon pie. For dessert, meringue, and poached quince & cream. I could go on, but all I need to tell you is that it’s all just perfect.

16 Playground Gardens, London, E2 7FA

Bocca Di Lupo

This absolute institution in Soho serves comforting Italian dishes that taste like the home cooking of my dreams. Almost everything is made in-house and the menu showcases recipes from all different regions of Italy. Their homemade pasta is simply divine, and the fettuccine with chicken gizzard ragu tastes familiar and home-y while being unlike any other pasta dish I’ve ever had. Go here before a play, after a play, or just whenever you’re ready to eat well. 

12 Archer St, London W1D 7BB

Kiln

Kiln is a Thai restaurant in Soho that’s so good I hardly know what to do with myself. It’s a great place to sit alone at the bar and order everything on the menu. All plates are small and unbelievably delicious. Standouts are the aged cull yaw (ewe) and cumin skewers, and the clay pot baked glass noodles with Tamworth belly and brown crab meat. 

58 Brewer Street, London, W1F 9TL

A Food Stylist’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in London

Sumi 

Sumi is relatively new and the second restaurant from sushi master, Endo Kazutoshi. It’s meant to be a relaxed neighborhood restaurant serving superbly fresh fish and composed Japanese dishes—and that’s exactly what it is. The quality of everything is unparalleled and the environment is beautiful and serene.

157 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2RS

The River Cafe

The River Cafe feels like a restaurant from an idyllic scene in a movie. It’s so great I have to remind myself it’s not a made-up place. It’s positioned on the water and the first thing you notice when you walk in is a hot pink oven with a roaring flame. The menu is also handwritten in cursive—you can just barely read it. This place feels like a special occasion no matter what day or time it is, and the food never misses. Ruth Rogers (one of my idols) cooks very simple Italian dishes with the highest quality ingredients. It’s sometimes hard to believe how certain plates can be so simple and yet so utterly mesmerizing. That’s the magic of the River Cafe. Obviously order a slice (or two, or three) of the Nemesis cake. It’s a famous chocolate indulgence that almost feels like it has never been cooked because of how lusciously it melts in your mouth. 

Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, London W6 9HA

Bibi 

The name means “lady of the house” and the décor feels like you’re on the most glamorous train car you could imagine. The food is contemporary and has a strong emphasis on the grill and chaat. Sharmaji’s Lahori Chicken with Cashew and yogurt whey is one of my favorite things I’ve eaten in a long time. 

42 N Audley St, London W1K 6ZP

A Food Stylist’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in London
A Food Stylist’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in London

Tea at Claridges

If you don’t want to leave London without having the proper English tea time experience, Claridges is my go-to. You’ll feel like the British equivalent of Eloise at the Plaza as you sip out of mint-green striped porcelain tea cups and eat perfectly trimmed cucumber tea sandwiches. 

Brook St, London W1K 4HR

St John

This place is a nose-to-tail carnivorous delight. At its core, it is most definitely a traditional English restaurant, but everything is undeniably excellent. Admittedly, the first time I went I had to look up what many of the menu items were under the table (Hare saddle?). But once the plate is served, take one bite and you’ll find the rest hard to resist. The roast bone marrow and parsley salad are as good as everyone says they are, and you must save room for a heaping plate of still-warm madeleines fresh from the oven. 

26 St. John Street, London, EC1M 4AY

The Pelican

A fabulous interpretation of a classic English pub. It’s not fussy, and it’s not fancy, but the food is smart and the space looks like Rose Uniacke was commissioned to design it. Everyones is friendly and happy here, and it’s a jolly good time. Order a pint, have some plates, and indulge in English culture. This is the perfect gate-way pub. 

45 All Saints Rd, London W11 1HE

A Food Stylist’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in London

Gymkhana

The interior design is so masterful that you feel like you’ve been given access to a very special place, in a different time, and you need to know someone to get in. Luckily, you can make a reservation, and experience the most delicious Northern Indian fare. Either sit upstairs in the rich wood-paneled dining room or walk down the mirrored staircase to the lower level and prepare to be transported.

 42 Albemarle St, London W1S 4JH

Koya Soho

Koya is a small udon restaurant in Soho with stools surrounding a kitchen where you can watch the masters at work. It serves the most deliciously chewy handmade noodles in delicate but flavorful broths. 

50 Frith St, London W1D 4SQ

Red Room at the Connaught

Designed by interior visionary, Bryan O’Sullivan of Bos Studio, The Red Room at the Connaught is a fantastical hideaway. The walls feature works by Louise Bourgeois, the furniture is covered in varying tones of pale pinks, and there is an impressive cocktail and wine list. 

Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL

SHOPPING & TREATS

A Food Stylist’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in London

Columbia Road Flower Market

A wondrous fresh flower market that pops up every Sunday in Shoreditch. Make sure to check out the surrounding antique shops while you’re there. 

Columbia Rd, London, E2 7RG

Rellik 

It wouldn’t be possible for me to write a guide to London without including Rellik. It’s a vintage shop on Golborne road with the most amazing collection of collectible pieces. It’s been a long-time resource for stylists and magazines, and it’s simply the place to find special threads you’ll own and cherish forever. 

8 Golborne Rd, London W10 5NW

Notting Hill Fish Shop

Notting hill fish opened during peak London lockdown and for a while felt like the closest thing to a party you could experience. They’ve partnered with butcher HG Walter for the meat counter, have a vast array of thoughtfully sourced fresh produce, Neals Yard dairy, and, of course, the fish speaks for itself. Exceptional quality is really on display here.

287-289 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2QA

Hjem

Hjem is a Danish coffee shop and bakery that my mom and I will (and have) walk miles for in winter, spring, summer, or fall for their absolutely exquisite cardamom buns. Pick up a bag of their granola which has a delectable toasty buckwheat undertone while you’re there. 

3 Launceston Pl, London W8 5R

Monmouth Coffee Company

Really, really, really good coffee. 

27 Monmouth St, London WC2H 9EU

Neals Yard Dairy

This is the place to go for outstanding English and Irish dairy. Their Montgomery cheddar is a classic and a personal favorite. They also offer a cheese subscription service that delivers three surprise kinds of cheese to your door once a month. Honestly, does anything sound better than surprise cheese?

17 Short’s Gardens, London WC2H 9AT

Borough Market

An actual food wonderland. This is not a gimmicky type of food hall/market that might come to mind. They have everything under the sun, and every time you go, you’ll discover new tastes and elements that will offer loads of inspiration in the kitchen.

8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL

Share this Swoon   –  

More Swoon

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get exclusive access to recipes, promotions, videos, and original content.
We'll never share your information.